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New Escapist Column! On the “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” as a Critique of the Marvel Power Fantasy…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at what the film says about the larger thematic preoccupations of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is built around the superhero power fantasy, with much of the franchise focusing on the idea that its central characters should be allowed to do whatever they want, to bend the world to their tremendous wills. Multiverse of Madness is an interesting and deliberate deconstruction of this power fantasy, focusing on a superhero who has internalised that idea to a dangerous degree, while teaching another character that perhaps the ends don’t always justify the means.

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

284. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Luke Dunne, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

The master of the mystic arts, Doctor Stephen Strange, is attending the wedding of his ex-girlfriend Christine Palmer when New York is attacked by a strange creature chasing a young refugee named America Chavez. Strange finds himself drawn into a chase across the vast and infinite multiverse, questioning the nature of the reality in which he has found himself.

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On the “Doctor Strange” as a Film About Time and Death…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the upcoming release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at Scott Derrickson’s somewhat underrated contribution to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Doctor Strange felt like an oddity when it was released, sandwiched between Captain America: Civil War and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. It was a very conventional origin story, stripped of the legacy character attributes of Ant Man, the crossover baggage of Black Panther or the period piece nostalgia and narrative trickery of Captain Marvel. It was perhaps the most straightforward superhero origin story since the earliest days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically recalling both Iron Man and Thor.

However, underneath the surface, there was something more interesting happening. Doctor Strange is a rare superhero movie that is about both the passage of time and inevitability of death, where the ultimate act of villainy is to pervert either flow. It’s a movie about accepting that change happens, and that sometimes a moment doesn’t last forever. It’s a theme that felt particularly relevant to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, given that it was going to lose two of its three lead characters in the very near future.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Moon Knight” Offers an Interesting Solution to the MCU’s Villain Problem…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of Moon Knight, which is streaming weekly on Disney+. The second episode of the show released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

One of the more consistent criticisms of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the idea that it suffers from a “villain problem.” While this is perhaps an over-simplification of the situation, there is some truth to the suggestion. Part of what makes Moon Knight so interesting is that the streaming series posits an interesting solution to this long-standing issue. It offers a superhero who can legitimately serve as his own worst enemy.

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

New Escapist Column! On How the Fate of the MCU Rests on “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the looming release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it seemed like a good time to reflect on how so much of the fate of the Marvel Cinematic Universe came to rely on he sequel to Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange was a solid midtier entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was warmly, but not raptuously, received by both audiences and critics. However, there is something fascinating in how the studio has positioned Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as essentially the franchise’s first true “event” movie since Avengers: Endgame. Indeed, there’s a surprising amount riding on the film, following the performance of the previous three Marvel Studios films and the success of Spider-Man: No Way Home and The Batman.

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

New Escapist Column! On What the Netflix Marvel Shows Bring to Disney+…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the arrival of the Netflix Marvel streaming shows on Disney+ last week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take stock of where the service’s brand was at.

Disney has established a reputation as a family-friendly company, often outsourcing its more adult-oriented fare to distinct subsidiaries with their own identities. This is arguably less sustainable in the streaming age, as companies are consolidating and the key to a streaming service’s viability might lie in the variety of its content. So Disney+ finds itself at a crossroads, forced to chose between its long-term appeal to a diverse array of audiences and its parent company’s history of wholesome family entertainment. The arrival of the Netflix Marvel shows provide a challenge and an opportunity.

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

266. Spider-Man: No Way Home – This Just In (#8)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, this week joined by special guests Graham Day, Luke Dunne and Bríd Martin, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Peter Parker returns home from a school trip to discover that his deepest secret has been revealed to the world: thanks to the villain Mysterio, now everybody knows that the teenage is the vigilante known as Spider-Man. Peter races to put the genie back in the bottle, but discovers that his plans might have unforeseen consequences.

At time of recording, it was ranked 8th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On “Spider-Man: No Way Home” As An Unlikely Divorce Movie…

I published a new column at The Escapist yesterday. With the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film.

No Way Home is technically Tom Holland’s sixth film the role of Peter Parker. So it’s interesting that No Way Home effectively puts his version of the character through the standard narrative beats of a Spider-Man origin story. In many ways, No Way Home feels like it’s a movie that is aiming for a clean start and fresh break. It also feels like something of a divorce movie between Sony and Marvel Studios. The movie opens with Aunt May dumping the director of Iron Man, and the film seems eager to announce that it is living its best life. The first thing that it does is to hit up some of its exes.

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

New Escapist Column! On Marvel’s All-New, All-Different Streaming Villain Problem…

I published a new column at The Escapist yesterday. The penultimate episode of Hawkeye featured a major reveal of a significant villain for the show. This is very typical of how the Disney+ streaming shows have operated, so it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about Marvel’s streaming villain problem.

Marvel Studios have long been criticised for their fairly generic villains. However, in the transition from blockbuster releases to streaming series, the company has created a new sort of problem. Instead of generic and forgettable antagonists, these shows tend to feature puzzle boxes and references, clues and riddles. The identity of villains are often hidden and concealed, treated as late-in-the-story revelations that reward long-term fans at the expense of pacing and characterisation.

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

New Podcast! Your Feature Presentation – “Ranking the Spider-Man Films From Worst to Best”

The Escapist have launched a new pop culture podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and Marty Sliva for the first episode. With the upcoming release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a look back at the cinematic adventures of the webslinger, and discuss how they rank.