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New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – What If – “… Zombies!?”

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the fifth episode of What If…?, streaming on Disney+.

New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – What If – “… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?”

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the fourth episode of What If…?, streaming on Disney+.

New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – What If – “… Earth Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?”

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the third episode of What If…?, streaming on Disney+.

New Escapist Column! On “What If…?” and “Mary Sues”…

I published a new column at The Escapist today. I’ve been covering What If…? for A Marvelous Escape, and it’s been a very fun experience. However, I have noticed that’s there’s a weirdly pervasive school of criticism that argues that the show has turned characters like Peggy Carter and T’Challa into “Mary Sues”, a criticism that has become increasingly common in discussions of modern franchise media.

Of course, it’s often very hard to come with a clear definition of what a “Mary Sue” is that doesn’t manage to encompass characters that the person using the description would never describe using such a term. It often seems like an “I know it when I see it” accusation, which can apply to Rey Skywalker but not Luke or T’Challa but not Steve Rogers. More to the point it demonstrates how blind some observers are to the appeal of these sorts of empowerment fantasies, and the double-standard that they appear to hold in an era where most franchise media is effectively fan fiction.

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

New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – What If – “… T’Challa Became a Star Lord?”

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the second episode of What If…?, streaming on Disney+.

New Escapist Column! On “The Animatrix”, “Into the Spider-Verse”, “Star Wars: Visions” and “What If…?” and the Potential of Animated Spin-Offs…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of What If…? on Disney+ and the trailer for the anime series Star Wars: Vision, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at how best to approach the idea of an animated spin-off.

Animation is a unique medium, with its own particular strengths and weaknesses that distinguish it from live action filmmaking. The best animated films and shows understand and exploit this distinction, and it’s frustrating how committed What If…? is to trying to emulate live action rather to take advantage of the opportunities that animation provides like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse or The Animatrix.

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

New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – What If – “… Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?”

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the first episode of What If…?, streaming on Disney+.

New Escapist Column! Reviewing “What If…?”

I published a new column at The Escapist today. I took a look at the opening three episodes of the new animated series What If…?

What If…? is an interesting step into the Marvel multiverse. It is a series of adventures that depart from the existing shared continuity in interesting ways, imaging alternate possibilities within the established superhero framework. The series itself is at its most interesting when it embraces the possibilities of the shared universe, but it suffers from a weird conservatism. At its worst, What If…? feels far too beholden to what has been rather than would could be.

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

Non-Review Review: What If?

“Can men and women ever really be friends?” is so familiar that it’s practically a cliché. The line that exists between platonic male-female friendship and romantic entanglement was the engine that drove When Harry Met Sally, one of the best-loved romantic comedies ever produced. What If? covers familiar ground, charting the awkward friendship that develops between a young animator in a long-term relationship and a medical school drop-out working through his own issues.

To be fair, the tension between “romantic entanglement” and “platonic friendship” is somewhat undercut by the fact that What If? positions itself as a romantic comedy. The movie plots a familiar arc, hitting the expected plot points along the way. The structure is very clearly that of a romantic comedy, right down to the somewhat contrived (and inevitable) third act obstacles. Imposing the genre constraints of the “romantic comedy” upon a film like this cannot help but suggest an obvious answer to the  driving question.

What If? works despite the familiarity. That is largely down to the charm of its two lead performers. Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan play well off one another, creating a wonderfully intimate dynamic that suggests genuine affection rather than simply superficial attraction. What If? is a light comedy, but one that is executed with sufficient charm and wit.

Why can't we be friends?

Why can’t we be friends?

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Star Trek: Myriad Universes – Shattered Light: The Embrace of Cold Architects by David R. George III (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films.

It’s amazing to think what happens if you shift events just a little to the left or a little to the right. Part of what’s most fascinating about David R. George III’s The Embrace of Cold Architects is that the alternate universe isn’t created by altering the outcome of any major event. Instead, the alternate universe is created by shifting a single date slightly forward in time. Moving one event out of its original context – in this case the conference from The Offspring – and transposing it later into the third season of the show has any number of radically unforeseen side effects.

Of course, this all feels like very clever meta-commentary by author David R. George III. As much as The Embrace of Cold Architects is about shifting around the order of events inside the narrative, it’s also about shifting around the framing structure itself. The Embrace of Cold Architects doesn’t just offer a glimpse of what might have happened had certain events within the framework of Star Trek: The Next Generation occurred out of their previously-established context, it is also about reimagining The Next Generation itself.

Quite a lot of The Embrace of Cold Architects feels like glimpse of an alternate version of The Next Generation, one where the show itself has been shifted so that it might be written in the context of the War on the Terror.

st-shatteredlight

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