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New Escapist Column! On “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and How the MCU Grew Up With Its Audience…

I published a new piece at The Escapist earlier this week. With the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and the end of Phase 4, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at one of the more interesting trends within the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe: the way that it has grown up with its audience.

The audience that went to see Iron Man fourteen years ago are no longer teenagers, or even young adults. They are now adults, many of whom will have settled down and started families. It is entirely possible that a couple who went to see The Incredible Hulk on their first date ended up taking their child to Thor: Love and Thunder. One of the more interesting aspects of the modern MCU has been the way that its plotting and themes have evolved to reflect that, with many of its once roguish heroes becoming biological or surrogate parents.

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

New Escapist Video! On “Black Adam” and the Debate Over Superheroes Killing…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will typically be separate from the written content. 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, we took a look at the debate over superheroes killing, which is a major thematic point in the recent blockbuster Black Adam. It’s an interesting point of discussion, but one that often overlooks and misses the larger trend within the superhero genre. That sort of debate doesn’t happen over other pulp heroes, like cowboys or gangsters or pirates, so what is it that makes superheroes a special case?

New Escapist Column! On How “She-Hulk” Relates To Its Audience…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday. With the show wrapping up its first season this week, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about She-Hulk, and the show’s interesting and provocative relationship with its audience.

Setting aside the fact that big villains of She-Hulk are arguably a bunch of internet trolls, She-Hulk is engaged in a literal and constant ongoing conversation with its audience. However, what’s fascinating about that dynamic is the tone of it. Jen often seems to feel trapped by the expectations of the audience for fan service and continuity references, and the need to shape her show in such a way as to hit all of the beats expected of a Marvel Studios project.

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

New Escapist Video! On How the Streaming Era Has a Writers’ Problem…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will typically be separate from the written content. 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, we took a look at one of the more under-explored and unspoken issues facing the so-called “streaming age.” In an era where there is so much content, and so much content derived from intellectual property that major corporations protect so severely, where are these studios going to find the writers and storytellers to guide these series? One of the more interesting shifts in television over the past decade has been a slow creep away from the idea of it as a writers’ medium, but that shift comes with a surprisingly high cost.

New Escapist Column! On “She-Hulk” and Unnecessary Origins…

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

Like a lot of these streaming shows, She-Hulk suffers from an identity crisis. It is caught between the show that it clearly wants to be and its obligations to the familiar formula of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In particular, She-Hulk begins with an extended and unnecessary origin story, which the show itself doesn’t seem particularly enthused about. It’s strictly formula. Giving the first thirty-odd minutes of the show over to this generic and paint-by-numbers exercise undermines a lot of the show’s potential appeal.

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

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.

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 “Moon Knight” and the Limits of the Marvel Cinematic Universe…

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 penultimate episode of the show released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

As Moon Knight enters its end game, the show demonstrates the limits of the ambition and experimentation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, boiling an interesting and compelling premise down to a fairly simplistic and straightforward illustration of cause and effect. There’s something rather depressing in the show’s commitment to easy answers to its central character, and it is all the more frustrating because this is a major release from a company that holds such an important and influential place in the popular consciousness. There’s no excuse for this lack of ambition.

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

New Escapist Video! On How “Moon Knight” Approaches Marvel’s “Villain Problem”…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. 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 Moon Knight, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the show. In particular, how Moon Knight offers an interesting approach to the long-standing “villain problem” facing Marvel Studios.

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.