Why Black Widow is the Best Marvel Movie of All-Time

As soon as I saw Black Widow last summer I felt this thought wiggling around in my brain.  Is it…?  Could it be…?  Is…is Black Widow now my favorite Marvel movie?!  Because I’m me, I certainly couldn’t say definitively.  First, I’m not the type of person who can throw a term like “favorite” around lightly.  To say I like or love something is one thing.  But to say it’s “my favorite” or “the best” or “the greatest” of all-time?  That requires a lot of thoughtful discernment for me.  Second, there’s this odd reaction/habit within our culture, especially within our fandom cultures, where whatever is newest is automatically the best.  It’s new!  It’s shiny!  It’s the best ever!!!  So, while that’s never been me, I wanted to be sure I wasn’t having that sort of reaction when I first saw Black Widow on July 8th.  I said I loved it.  I said it was easily one of the best films the MCU has to offer.  And I said it may be my all-time favorite movie within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Still, I needed time before I could say that with any certainty.  Now I know.  Black Widow is the best Marvel movie of all-time!  And here’s why…

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My Brand New Perspective on Spider-Man’s Brand New Day

My first Spider-Man comic was Web of Spider-Man #12.  It came out in March of 1986 when I was just three-years-old.  I got it from the spinny rack at the grocery store and I read it so many times the pages eventually ripped away from its tattered cover.  Always one to encourage reading, Mom regularly let me get comic books when we were at the grocery store, drug store, or gas station.  When I was seven-years-old, my parents got me a membership to our local comic shop (perks included a 20% discount off the cover price and a pull list).  Weekly trips to Books Galore were a part of my life until I turned sixteen.  All of a sudden things like gas money and the outings driving fostered began to make demands of my budget so, with conflicting emotions, I decided to stop collecting comics.  My last was Peter Parker: Spider-Man #98.  Released in November of 1998, it was the “end” of Peter and Mary Jane’s story (until the next month’s reboot) so it felt like a fitting end.

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Three’s Company: Why the Thirteenth Doctor, Yaz, and Zoe Heriot are a Dream TARDIS Team

The finale of Doctor Who: Flux aired Sunday night.  I’ve lots of thoughts and lots of feelings.  But they’re still percolating so, instead of writing about Doctor Who: Flux, I want to write about the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill) and the dream TARDIS team I’ve had bouncing around in my mind since I finished watching the Second Doctor’s era of Classic Doctor Who last summer.  While I struggled at first to connect to the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton), the wonder of his era came alive for me when he and his longtime companion Jamie McCrimmon (Frazier Hines) began travelling with Zoe Heriot (Wendy Padbury).  As soon as I met Zoe the seeds for this piece were sown.  I want – nay, I need – some sort of story (be it novel, audio drama, comic, or all of the above) where she reunites with the Doctor to travel with her and Yaz.  It would be perfect!  I think it’s a story that needs telling, too…and here’s why.

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Should I Watch Doctor Who? / How to Begin Watching Doctor Who

Once upon a time, I didn’t watch Doctor Who.  I didn’t know why the blue phonebooth was important and I didn’t know if that garbage can thing with the whisk and plunger was a good guy or a bad guy.  Once upon a time, I was too intimidated to even think about watching Doctor Who.  Then I started a new job and met Theresa!  We became fast friends and the only way I survived my first year teaching was because of her friendship and guidance.  Theresa’s the best.  One of the many things we bonded over was our shared love of Marvel, Star Wars, and all those nerdy corners of pop culture fun.  But I couldn’t discuss one of Theresa’s favorite shows/characters/universes with her – Doctor Who.  Eventually, trusting Theresa and her taste, I jumped into the world of Doctor Who and my life has become better in every way for it!  But you may not know Theresa.  Maybe that’s why you’re here.  Maybe you’re curious if you should watch Doctor Who and/or how you even begin watching Doctor Who but you don’t have Theresa there to help you.  Well, that’s why I’m here.  I hope this short piece helps answer your questions, calm your concerns, and ignites your excitement for Doctor Who in the way being friends with Theresa did for me :D.

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Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Ghostbusters: Answer the Call – Honoring the Ghostbusters Legacy

Making a sequel to Ghostbusters (1984) is tricky.  Ghostbusters is one of few perfect movies.  Everything about it works!  It was one of my all-time favorite movies when I was five-years-old and it still is now at thirty-nine.  Already a fan of the cartoon show, my world was forever changed when my uncle gave us a VHS tape on which he’d recorded a Ghostbusters movie with real people in it from HBO.  I was a little thrown (at first) as they looked different and I am 99.99% sure it was what scarred me and made me scared of dogs all through my youth (as they constantly refer to the demonic forms of Zuul and Vinz Clortho as “dogs”) but none of that really mattered.  It was love at first viewing and it’s the only movie from my youth I still watch multiple times a year.  It spawned three sequels – Ghostbusters 2 (1989), Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016), and the new Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021).  One I loved!  One disappointed me.  And one was a straight up traumatic experience.  With thoughts of Ghostbusters: Afterlife fresh in my mind, I felt it’d be fun to discuss which is which!

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Spider-Man and Jean DeWolff: The Lonely Echo of Unrequited Love

It’s time once more for another installment in my series using only Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life)!  The last piece in this series examined the high school crush, paying special attention to all those crushes we carry deep in our heart and never voice.  This piece looks at unrequited love beyond high school pining.  While it can be present in high school, particularly as we get older there can be a heavier side to the unrequited lover.  Living with a love unvoiced wraps one of the most important parts of our being in a very lonely shell.  Jean DeWolff, in addition to being part of one of the most famous stories in the first twenty-five years of Spider-Man’s comic history, illustrates this painful reality in a particularly poignant way.

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The Third Doctor and the Shadow of the Division: A Timeless Child Reflection

One of the unique things about a show/story/character as long running as Doctor Who is its potential to fold back on itself, to tell a story that opens a new path for future narratives while also inviting you to return to older stories and see them in a new way.  As I explored last week, Chris Chibnall’s addition of the Timeless Child to the world of Doctor Who certainly does that.  This week, as I’ve been filling my time between Doctor Who: Flux “Chapter One: The Halloween Apocalypse” and Doctor Who: Flux “Chapter Two: War of the Sontarans,” I’ve been continuing my journey through all 695 episodes of Classic Doctor Who.  As I’m moving through the Third Doctor’s era (which I ADORE), I’ve been thinking of the Timeless Child.  Specifically I’ve been thinking of how seamlessly it brings together a few plot points which felt a bit disconnected to me.

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Considering the Timeless Child’s Place Within the World of Doctor Who

On the eve of the premiere of Doctor Who: Flux, “The Halloween Apocalypse” (best. title. EVER.), I figured it was apropos to reflect on the Timeless Child.  Tomorrow, the first episode of Jodie Whittaker’s final full series as the Doctor will air.  Shortened due to Covid affecting filming, Doctor Who: Flux will be one single six episode serial story.  It, along with three feature length specials with Jodie airing next year, will also mark the end of Chris Chibnall’s time as showrunner for Doctor Who.  The Timeless Child is the largest narrative plot point developed during his time at the helm.  It’s one of the most hotly debated, too.  I wanted to write about it as soon as the episode aired…but I had SO MANY feelings and I had NO IDEA how to sort any of them.  They needed to percolate.  I needed time to think.  But now, with Doctor Who: Flux about to begin, I want to discuss the Timeless Child.  And, oddly enough, it was the model set in Spider-Man comics which helped me get to the point where I could see how the Timeless Child fits within the world of Doctor Who.

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Lessons of Joy, Hope, and Love: The Gift of Wonder Woman 1984

This month marks the 80th Anniversary of Wonder Woman!!!  I didn’t read her comics as a kid but Diana of Themyscria is a character who’s come to mean very much to me.  As Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman (2017) was my gateway to Diana and her world, it felt apropos to mark this occasion by (finally) posting the piece I wrote after seeing Wonder Woman 1984.  I LOVE the movies.  Since I got my driver’s license, rarely more than a week went by in between trips to the theatre.  However, after a 10:05 pm showing of Brahms: The Boy 2 on 7 March 2020, lockdown hit.  So when I saw Wonder Woman 1984, it’d been over TEN MONTHS since I’d went to the movies.  I wanted my return to be special and WW84 was the logical choice.  I wasn’t disappointed!  Wonder Woman 1984 was a worthy successor to the masterpiece that was Wonder Woman.  Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot did it again!  They captured lightning in a bottle twice…at least as far as I was concerned.  I was stunned when I began talking to friends – close friends who often share my opinion of films – and learned not everyone felt the same.  Some did, but some didn’t.  Granting all art is subjective, I still became curious, wondering what they saw in this film.  Many conversations followed and this piece was born of my side of those conversations.  This is an exploration of all I see in WW84.

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Doctor Who, “Can You Hear Me?,” and the Nightmares of (More) Pandemic Teaching

A little over a year ago I wrote a piece reflecting on the seemingly unbearable struggles of pandemic teaching.  At the time, I used Tony Stark’s journey through Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame as my frame to help me understand what I was going through and all I was feeling.  Writing it was very personal and deeply cathartic.  In the end, I survived last year!  I didn’t quit!  I even managed to find incredible beauty in all the struggle, too.  Now I’m a month and a half into a new school year and, well, I thought it would be easier.  Yet I find myself pulled down in this dispiriting emotional mire once more.  This time Doctor Who offers a more apt lens to frame my experience.  Given today is World Mental Health Day – and we’re all struggling in our own ways and we all deserve to be heard and validated in those struggles – sharing this seemed appropriate.  When the school year returned, I needed the Doctor.  I still do.  I think we all do.

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