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New Escapist Column! On “Peacemaker” and “Watchmen”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the penultimate episode of Peacemaker released this week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at how the show – along with a lot of James Gunn’s work – exists in conversation with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen.

Gunn has been very candid that Watchmen is a major influence on his films, particularly his superhero films. However, what’s most striking about Gunn’s use of Watchmen as a source of inspiration is the fact that he actually engages with the text. Many of Gunn’s projects, particularly The Suicide Squad and Super, are very much in conversation with Watchmen, asking what that core text means in a slightly different modern context. That is just as true of Peacemaker, which not only draws from the comics that inspired Watchmen, but also extrapolates boldly out from Watchmen.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Peacemaker” Turns Its Weaknesses Into Strengths…

I published a new piece at The Escapist last week. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of James Gunn’s Peacemaker, which is streaming weekly on HBO Max. The fifth episode of the show released last week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

Understandably, given that the show is built around a piece of established intellectual property and superheroes, much of the discussion around Peacemaker had focused on creator James Gunn’s earlier work on films like Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and The Suicide Squad. However, with its (relatively) lower budget and scrappier aesthetic, Peacemaker arguably hews closers to Gunn’s earliest films as director, movies like Slither and Super. Enjoying incredible creative freedom and lack of ocersight, Gunn is reconnecting with the aesthetic of his earliest work.

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

New Podcast! Your Feature Presentation – “Peacemaker is Wonderfully Weird and Fun”

The Escapist have launched a new pop culture podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard for the fourth episode. Jack and I get to talk about Peacemaker, which I am really enjoying.

New Escapist Column! On How “Peacemaker” Explores Children Trying to Escape the Shadows of Their Parents…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re hopefully doing a series of recaps and reviews of James Gunn’s Peacemaker, which is streaming weekly on HBO Max. The fourth episode of the show released today, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

Gunn’s projects return time and again to the relationship between parents and children. In particular, Gunn’s films and television shows are often about childrens trying to escape from the shadow of their abusive parents. This was true of Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and The Suicide Squad. It is also true of Peacemaker, with the show placing a lot of emphasis on the relationship between its central character and his racist father, Auggie.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Peacemaker” Juxtaposes Eighties Nostalgia and Modern Masculinity…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re hopefully doing a series of recaps and reviews of James Gunn’s Peacemaker, which is streaming weekly on HBO Max. The first three episodes of the show released today, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

Gunn’s filmography is saturated with an affectionate nostalgia for the eighties. It comes to the fore in Peacemaker, down to the casting of John Cena. Cena is a lead actor in the style of classic eighties “hard body” action heroes like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, that nostalgia does not exist purely for its own sake. Peacemaker is a show engaged with modern masculinity, in particular deconstructing the sort of eighties masculinity embodied by its central character. Peacemaker is a story about whether its lead character can change and evolve, emerging from a cocoon as he investigates “Project: Butterfly.”

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

New Escapist Video! On What Makes “The Suicide Squad” the Year’s Best Blockbuster…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am doing some film critic work at The Escapist. Part of that includes long-form video criticism, such as this piece which is now available to watch at YouTube, editted by the wonderful Matt Laughlin, looking at what makes The Suicide Squad the best blockbuster of the year to date.

New Escapist Video! On How “The Suicide Squad” Uses Idris Elba…

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.

With the release of The Suicide Squad last week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at one of the things that the film did very well. In particular, the movie used its lead actor to great effect. The Suicide Squad is a movie that understands Idris Elba’s movie star persona and understands how it enhances the general mood of the film around it.

New Escapist Column! On How “The Suicide Squad” Uses Idris Elba…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of The Suicide Squad, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at one of the keys to the film’s success. James Gunn understands how to use Idris Elba as a leading man.

Movie stardom is a fascinating concept. So much of what makes a particular person a movie star is ineffable. It is hard to quantify or gauge. It can also be difficult to harness with intent and purpose. This is particularly true in an era where Hollywood seems to be moving away from movie stars, and films like Jungle Cruise seem to struggle against their leads’ screen personas. However, part of what makes The Suicide Squad so effective is that it understands exactly what makes Idris Elba so compelling as a screen presence, and finds a way to play into that to the movie’s benefit.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “The Suicide Squad” Deconstructs Amanda Waller…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of The Suicide Squad, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at one small-but-clever aspect of James Gunn’s superhero sequel.

The character of Amanda Waller is a pop culture archetype. She is an example of the ruthless intelligence operative who will cross whatever line it takes in pursuit of what she believes to be the greater good. Outside of comic books, one need only look at the character of Jack Bauer. Within the modern superhero landscape, the archetype is embodied by Nick Fury. These characters might be edgy or ambiguous, but they are also undeniably cool. Gunn’s approach to Waller in The Suicide Squad is interesting in large part because it rejects that idea of effortless cool in favour of something a lot blunter and more horrific.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Guardians of the Galaxy” as the MCU’s Best Exploration of Loss…

I published a new column at The Escapist yesterday. With all the talk about how so much of the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe is about “loss”, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is not a machine that is designed to deal with concepts like loss head on. After all, most of its major departures were down to contract negotiations rather than narrative priorities. Characters are often resurrected, and losses are often temporary. This is what makes Guardians of the Galaxy so compelling. Director James Gunn understands that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a space into which the audience and characters escape to avoid dealing with loss, even if it haunts them still.

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