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New Escapist Column! On the Colonial Fears of “Shazam!”

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Shazam! Fury of the Gods this weekend, it seemed as good a time as any to take a look at the superhero sequel.

One of the interesting things about Fury of the Gods is the way in which it seems like it is in conversation with the earlier films in the DCEU, lifting several cues directly from films like Man of Steel, Wonder Woman, Batman v. Superman and Zack Snyder’s Justice League. In particular, it’s a film in which the existential threat is inherently nostalgic, the fear of an imagined past intruding into the modern world and overwriting it.

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

226. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (#86)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Graham Day, The 250 is a fortnightly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Zack Snyder’s Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Following the death of Superman, Batman sets about putting together a team of superheroes to fight a threat that is charging at Earth from across the cosmos.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 86th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – “Wonder Woman 1984 is Anything But a Wonder”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard for our first episode of the year. Because we’re easing ourselves back in, we really only focus on one movie this week. We go in-depth on the divisive Wonder Woman 1984.

You can listen to the episode here, back episodes of the podcast here, click the link below or even listen directly.

Non-Review Review: Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984 is ambitious and messy.

In many ways, the original Wonder Woman could be said to be the first true blockbuster of the Trump era, in much the same way that The Dark Knight was the closing blockbuster of the Bush era and Star Trek was the opening blockbuster of the Obama era. It is not a literal or a chronological distinction, but instead that acknowledges the film’s place as a cultural marker. The original Wonder Woman spoke to the question of what it meant to be good in a world that is not, which resonated in the second half of the decade.

No spoilers.

As such, it feels appropriate that Wonder Woman 1984 will be the last blockbuster of the Trump era. Part of this is simply down to factors outside the film’s control – it was originally meant to release earlier in the year, and Warner Brothers had originally planned for Dune to take the Christmas release slot that ultimately went to it. Still, it’s hard to watch Wonder Woman 1984 without getting a sense that director Patty Jenkins has a lot to say about the current moment. Even insulated by its mid-eighties setting, Wonder Woman 1984 is a movie anchored firmly in the present.

There’s a lot of rich thematic material here and grand ideas. Indeed, Wonder Woman 1984 might just be the first superhero blockbuster that serves as a metaphor for the idea of an economy. However, the execution is a little too broad and too clumsy. Wonder Woman 1984 works best when it is anchored in its characters and giving them room to breathe. It struggles a bit when it tries to position itself as a brand extension of a recognisable franchise.

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New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – “Its All About DC Fandome!”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and Bob Chipman for the first episode, a discussion of all things DC Fandome.

It was a packed schedule, with new footage from Wonder Woman, The Snyder Cut and The Batman, along with behind-the-scenes peaks at The Suicide Squad and a tease of what Dwayne Johnson has lined up for Black Adam. As one might expect from the DC Extended Universe, the output varied dramatically in terms of both content and tone. There was a lot to unpack.

You can listen to the episode here, back episodes of the podcast here, click the link below or even listen directly.

New Escapist Column! On “Wonder Woman” and What It Means to Be a Hero In a World Where Men Are Not Always Good…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. Wonder Woman celebrated its third anniversary this weekend, and Wonder Woman 1984 was originally scheduled for release this weekend.

Wonder Woman is a fascinating film, in large part because it manages to feel like a decidedly old-fashioned story of heroism that reflects the anxieties of a modern world. Too many modern superhero films divorce themselves from even the idea of heroism, embracing the power fantasy of superheroism as an end of itself. In contrast, Wonder Woman asks what it means to try to be a good person in a world that is not.

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

31. Wonder Woman – This Just In (#213)


Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney are joined by special guest Marianne Cassidy for This Just In, a subset of the fortnightly The 250 podcast looking at notable new arrivals on the list of the 250 best movies of all-time as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman.

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Non-Review Review: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is an impressive piece of work, one worthy of its central character.

Wonder Woman is an impressive blockbuster from director Patty Jenkins. In many ways, it is an archetypal superhero origin story. It hits many of the Joseph Campbell beats expected of it. Superficially, the film looks to be a hybrid of Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and Superman, which is quite the pulpy cocktail. Jenkins plays into that, delivering her action set pieces with great skill and hitting all the requisite beats.

To the wonder.

However, the most interesting aspects of Wonder Woman are happening under the hood. It is too much to describe the film as a superheroic deconstruction in the style of Logan or The Dark Knight, but it is a film that has put a lot of thought into what it is doing and why it is doing it. The movie’s best beats are cheekily subversive, in an unobtrusive way. Wonder Woman is aware of the weight pressing down upon it, as the first female-led superhero film of the post-Iron Man era, but it never breaks its stride.

More than that, Wonder Woman is pure and unadulterated fun. It is a movie that is very clever and astute, but which never lets those attributes crowd out its sense of adventure and momentum. Wonder Woman is a sprawling period piece superhero fantasia, executed with deft skill and an engaging attitude.

Waiting for Gadot.

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Geoff Johns’ Run on Justice League – Throne of Atlantis (Review/Retrospective)

23rd July is Batman Day, celebrating the character’s 75th anniversary. To celebrate, this July we’re taking a look at some new and classic Batman (and Batman related) stories. Check back daily for the latest review.

Geoff Johns on Justice League should be one of the defining superhero comic books of the twenty-first century.

After all, Johns has done a lot to define DC over the past decade or so. Johns is one of the defining voices in superhero comics. He has enjoyed long and successful runs on iconic characters. His work sells well and has generally garnered positive reviews over the course of his career. Johns knows how to “centre” a character and to help cut to their core. 52 is generally regarded as a high watermark of twenty-first century DC comics, and Johns is the only one of the four authors still consistently working at DC comics.

Everybody out of the water!

Everybody out of the water!

So putting Geoff Johns on Justice League is a no-brainer. Indeed, many fans had been expecting a high-profile run from Geoff Johns on the title long before the “new 52” relaunch. Given Johns’ successful runs on Action Comics, Green Lantern and The Flash, writing all of these characters together should be a recipe for success. When it was announced that writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee would be handling the relaunched Justice League title, it seemed like a veritable worldbeater of a title.

In sales terms, Johns’ Justice League remains a success. However, it has been less satisfying from a creative standpoint. Artist Jim Lee departed the book after a year – with several fill-in artists along the way. However, even with DC drafting Ivan Reis to replace Lee, Justice League is not as satisfying as it should be. There are lots of reasons for this, but the biggest problem with Johns’ Justice League is that it always seems so fixated on what is happening next that it never appreciates the moment.

She really sweeps him off his feet...

She really sweeps him off his feet…

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52 (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of Man of Steel this month, we’re going Superman mad. Check back daily for Superman-related reviews.

If you are looking to get a taste of the shared universe that DC have created, a glimpse at the diverse characters and their overlapping worlds who have been cultivated as part of the publisher’s comic book line, then it’s very hard to go wrong with 52. A weekly series set in the wake of one of the company’s line-wide “everything changes” events, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the workings of the minor characters dealing with their own problems and issues in a world without Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman.

Published as fifty-two weekly issues, it serves as something of “a year in the life” of this fictional world. Written by four of the best writers in contemporary comics, each of whom has made outstanding contributions to the company’s output in the not-too-hazy past, 52 might not be the best or most consistent comic book that DC ever published, but it is one of the most insightful, original and fun.

Falling from the sky...

Falling from the sky…

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