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New Escapist Column! On How “Mythic Quest” Understands the Creation as a Collaborative Process…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With Mythic Quest wrapping up its second season next week, it seemed like a good time to take a look at what is quietly one of the best shows on television.

Mythic Quest is a workplace sitcom about a video game studio. It is also one of the most insightful studies of the creative process ever made. A large part of this is down to the fact that Mythic Quest understands that creation is an inherently collaborative process, that it does not happen in a vacuum and that it involves lots of people working together towards the same ends. It’s a very mature reflection on how creativity works.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On “WandaVision” and “Loki”, and the Challenges to the MCU Canon…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist earlier this week. With Loki delving into the continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s interesting to wonder why the modern stage of the MCU seems so preoccupied with its own history and continuity.

Black Widow will be a prequel. The Eternals will chart the secret history of a corner of the larger universe. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will potentially retcon Iron Man 3. On top of that, Spider-Man: Far From Home teased the possibility of a multiverse, while WandaVision warped reality. As such, it seems like the franchise is building towards something – but what could that be and what does it mean for the shared universe’s canon?

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Video! On the Enduring Appeal of the MCU’s Loki…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am launching a new video series as a companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch with every second Monday’s article, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel the following week. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, with Loki launching on Disney+, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s God of Mischief. The character has an enduring and popular appeal, but what is it that makes Loki such a breakout character?

New Escapist Column! On “Cruella” and Overly Determined Origin Stories…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Cruella in theatres and on Disney+, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the trend towards overly deterministic origin stories.

The origin story has arguably always been around, even if the term itself only really entered the mainstream through comic books and then making the leap into film criticism with comic book movies. Nevertheless, the recent trend of overly-determined origin stories betrays something frustrating about the state of our collective imagination. One of the most disappointing aspects of Cruella is the way that the film takes a simple but weird figure and paints an origin that is completely and predictably by the numbers.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On “M.O.D.O.K” as a Breath of Fresh Air…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist on Friday evening. With the release of M.O.D.O.K. on Hulu, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at this unusual addition to the Marvel television canon.

M.O.D.O.K. is not a perfect show, but it is a breath of fresh air. In particular, it arrives in a cultural landscape that is becoming increasingly homogeneous and consolidated, existing as one of the last projects produced by Marvel Television before it was swallowed by Marvel Studios. As such, it is a Marvel adaptation with a distinct aesthetic. More than that, it is a comic book adaptation that is completely and utterly unashamed of its comic book roots. It is a show that revels in the inherent absurdity of comic books in a way that puts many higher profile adaptations to shame.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Video! On the Tenets of “TENET”…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am launching a new video series as a companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch with every second Monday article, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel the following week. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, given that TENET is now available to stream in the United States and around the world, it seemed like a good time to take a look at Christopher Nolan’s latest. In particular, a look how the themes of TENET resonate with other films in Nolan’s filmography, from Memento to The Prestige to Inception to Interstellar.

New Escapist Column! On the Tenets of TENET…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With TENET now on streaming, it seemed like a good time to dive into the film’s position within Christopher Nolan’s filmography.

Most discussions of Nolan’s filmography focus on the director’s obsession with time, and TENET makes sense in that context. However, the film also ties into more existential anxieties that simmer through Nolan’s body of work, in particular the question of reality actually is and how best to respond to a world that can fundamentally chaotic, hostile and unknowable. TENET deals this this theme, confronting its audience and its characters with a reality that appears to be unraveling.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

 

New Escapist Column! On The Underappreciated Appeal of “Superman: The Animated Series”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday evening. With the release of Superman: The Animated Series in high-definition on HBO Max in March, it seemed like an opportunity to take a look back at the underappreciated entry in the DC Animated Universe.

Superman: The Animated Series tends to get overshadowed in discussions of the DCAU by the two shows either side of it, by the earlier Batman: The Animated Series and by the two later Justice League series. However, Superman: The Animated Series is an interesting bridge between the two, eschewing the “villain of the week” structure of Batman: The Animated Series to instead focus on long-form storytelling that developed character and built the world in ways that would pay off in the later spin-offs. It remains one of the best takes on the Man of Steel.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How the “Saw” Franchise Has Always Played With Its Audience…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Spiral: From the Book of Saw this weekend, it seemed like a good excuse to take a look back at the larger Saw franchise.

For good and for ill, the Saw movies are inexorably tied to the George W. Bush era, with their meditations on torture and their emphasis on moral hypocrisy. However, discussions of the franchise tend to overlook the way in which the films intersect with another millennial trend: reality television. The Saw franchise is the rare horror movie franchise that is actively engaged with the idea of watching horror movies. In particular, in the relationship that exists between horror movies and their audiences – and whether those watching at home are observers or participants in the carnage.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” in Conversation with the MCU…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday evening. With the wrapping up of the first season of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it seemed like a good time to take a look back at the show’s first season – and, in particular, how it positions itself within the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is thirteen years old this May. It spans 24 films, a handful of television series and almost a dozen separate film franchises. That is a lot of baggage. Indeed, it seems like the MCU has reached a point where the baggage of its earlier installments exerts almost as much gravity as the source material itself. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier feels like a prime example of this, with the series very much engaged in conversation with the films in the Captain America franchise.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.