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New Escapist Column! On Making Sense of “For the Fans”…

I published a new column at The Escapist earlier this week. With the recent releases of Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of SkywalkerGhostbusters: Afterlife and Spider-Man: No Way Home, it seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on the argument that franchise brand extensions exist “for the fans.” What does that even mean?

As a fan myself, I find myself unsettled and disturbed by the idea that these sorts of properties should exist primarily for the satisfaction and consumption of the existing fanbase, not least because it means validating certain kinds of fans above others and pushes franchises towards an aesthetic conservativism that often strangles them. Perhaps the best thing to do “for the fans” is simply to make media as good as possible and let history sort the rest out.

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

New Escapist Column! On Willem Dafoe as the Stealth MVP of “Spider-Man: No Way Home”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. This weekend marks the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, so it seemed like a good idea to take a look at the movie. In particular, its best and most interesting performance.

No Way Home marks the return of several classic villains from early franchise iterations. Among them is Willem Dafoe, returning as Norman Osborn from Spider-Man and Spider-Man II. It’s a wonderful reminder of how Dafoe codified a lot of the modern comic book movie supervillain, establishing a template that has rarely been equalled in terms of quality across the ensuing decades. However, it’s to the credit of No Way Home that the film manages to use the character of Norman Osborn in a way that enriches and explores the villain.

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

New Escapist Column! On How Hollywood Learned the Wrong Lessons from “The Force Awakens”…

I published a new column at The Escapist this evening. With the recent releases of Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of SkywalkerGhostbusters: Afterlife and Spider-Man: No Way Home, it seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on the strange and distorted legacy of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

The Force Awakens was a massively successful and popular film. It broke domestic box office records. It also provided a new model for revitalising existing franchises, bringing together members of the older generation with younger leads to hand the torch from one generation to the next. However, Hollywood took many of the wrong lessons from The Force Awakens, and came to prioritise the resurrection of older characters over the development of these younger generations.

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

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 Video! “Spider-Man: No Way Home Is the Year’s Best Nostalgia Play – Review”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie reviews on The Escapist. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a three-minute film review of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which is in cinemas now.

New Escapist Column! On the Tangled Ethics of “Spider-Man: No Way Home”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. This weekend marks the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, so it seemed like a good idea to take a look at the movie’s big themes and ideas.

On the surface, No Way Home feels a lot like recent nostalgia plays like Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker and Ghostbusters: Afterlife, in that it’s very much an appeal to the memory of a pop culture object. However, No Way Home has certain advantages over these movies, in that it’s a film that seems to be trying to be about more than just recycled imagery. However, it never seems like No Way Home is entirely sure what exactly it is about and what exactly it is trying to say about that.

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