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New Escapist Column! On “Eternals” as an Anti-Superhero Epic…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this week. Because it’s that gap between Christmas and New Year, there’s been a bit of editorial leeway. And so, I got to write a little bit about Eternals, one of the more interesting and complicated recent Marvel Studios blockbusters.

Eternals doesn’t quite work. It’s important to acknowledge that upfront. However, the movie is interesting because of how it engages with superheroes. Eternals is not so much a superhero movie as it is a movie about superheroes. It’s about these stories that dominate the popular consciousness, this web of corporate-controlled mythology in which so much modern culture is tangled. It asks what the function of these characters and these stories should be.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Wednesday” and the “Superherofication” of Everything…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the massive success of Wednesday on Netflix, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the show in the context of larger pop culture trends.

Wednesday is an addition to the larger Addams Family franchise, focusing on the family’s eldest child. The show is built around the decision to send Wednesday to an elite private school for freaks and monsters, “Nevermore Academy.” The series obviously riffs on the genre conventions of young adult drama, particularly the high school show. However, it is also notable for leaning into another inescapable trend in contemporary pop culture. At its core, Wednesday is a superhero show.

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?

312. The Incredibles – Bird Watching 2022 (#230)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Deirdre Molumby and Graham Day, 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.

This week, we’re continuing a season focusing on the work of one particular director: Brad Bird’s The Incredibles.

Bob Parr was living an exciting life as the superhero Mr. Incredible, until a change in public opinion forced him to hang up his tights for good. Settling down to start a family with Helen, Bob still yearns for the adventure and excitement of his youth. Out of nowhere, a mysterious woman appears with an offer that seems too good to be true, drawing Bob back into a life that he never fully abandoned.

At time of recording, it was ranked 230th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Video! “Morbius Was Bad, Black Adam is Worse”

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 five-minute film review of Black Adam, which is in cinemas now.

 

297. Steel – Shaq Week 2022 (-#47)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, this time with special guests Niall Glynn and Graham Day, 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.

This week, we’re doing something a bit unusual. To round out Shark Week, we are marking Shaq Week. So today, ending the week with Kenneth Johnson’s Steel.

Following a horrific accident during weapons research, John Irons returns home to South Central Los Angeles to discover that some of the weapons he helped design have been making their way into the hands of the local gangs. Unable to accept this, Irons crafts a superhero persona for himself, vowing to protect the local community as the vigilante Steel.

At time of recording, it was ranked 47th on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On Thor as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s One True Superhero…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the looming release of Thor: Love and Thunder, it seemed like as good an excuse as any to take a look back at the character of Thor within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and what makes him unique within the shared universe.

Interestingly, Thor is perhaps the only major character within the shared universe who feels like an old-fashioned superhero rather than a product of the military industrial complex. This is particularly apparent within Kenneth Branagh’s Thor and Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok, both of which are essentially stories about Thor being exiled from or rejecting the structures of Asgardian society. The result of all this is interesting. In a universe where so many heroes are defined by their relationship to the armed forces, Thor actually feels like a superhero.

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 Podcast! Your Feature Presentation – “What Does The Batman Say About Super Heroes?”

The Escapist have launched a new pop culture podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard for the sixth episode. Jack and I discuss The Batman.

277. The Batman – This Just In (#67)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Graham Day and Niall Glynn, 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, a new entry: Matt Reeves’ The Batman.

Bruce Wayne is in the second year of his war on crime in Gotham, and things are not improving. Indeed, the city is thrown into anarchy when a new villain calling themselves the Riddler begins targetting city officials and threatening to unmask the city’s darkest secrets. Can Bruce survive what is coming? Can the Batman? Can Gotham?

At time of recording, it was ranked 67th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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