The Superior Spider-Man : Confronting the Darkness Within

Of the many tropes to regularly wind their way through the Spider-Man comics over the years, the one that always wears on me is when some chain of events cause the “friendly neighborhood” attitude to drop from Spidey’s modus operandi and we see Peter become a dark, serious vigilante.  What can I say?  I like my Spider-Man to be a light, happy, inspiring character.  If I wanted glum and grim I’d read more Batman.  However, Dan Slott (who I’m learning more and more is nothing if not an inventive writer (who really loves Spider-Man)) upended this approach with The Superior Spider-Man.  One of the many things to happen to the web-head during the nineteen years I wasn’t reading his comics was Doctor Octopus stole his body and life for a time.  With Ock wearing the webs, we find our angrier Spider-Man but wrapped inside a tale of transformation and redemption. Continue reading

Unrealistic Career Expectations – Indiana Jones

I love being a teacher; I really do.  I consider myself incredibly blessed to be able to do what I do every day – to work where I work, to teach what I teach, and to see my students wrestle with the BIG questions the study of Theology demands of us – if we take it seriously – each and every day.  I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to leave my job for another (unless I could be a Ghostbuster (and I mean an actual Ghostbuster, with a proton pack, PKE meter, traps, and a cool car like the Ecto-1 NOT one of those lame “ghost hunters” on Discovery or TLC with infrared cameras and a stupid compass)).  However, the profession of teaching is often presented (both cinematically and literarily) in…let’s say less than accurate ways.  And, while I may dig his hat and love his adventures, there are few worse offenders of this than Indiana Jones.  So Indy, let’s see how you misled a young Michael about what his future career would entail. Continue reading

Who Is My Spider-Man?

My original plan was to re-watch all three of Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man movies, both of Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man movies and then re-watch Captain America: Civil War in preparation for Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Then I was going to write this post about which film version I liked best.  It was going to be a sort of who-really-embodied-my-Spidey-the-best kind of a thing.  But a realization hit me.  While I’ve loved each and every Spider-Man I’ve seen swing across the screen in their own way (yes, I even see a bright and enjoyable silver lining to Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2), not one of them have felt like my Spidey.  However, this has nothing to do with writers, directors, or actors.  Rather, it has everything to do with when I grew up.  Continue reading

Captain America, Black Lives Matter, and the Systemic Sin of Racism

When it comes to Nick Spencer’s work we’re all currently focused on Secret Empire.  With good reason too!  The story’s proved as brilliant as it is important.  But in the wake of the June 16th verdict acquitting Office Jeronimo Yanez of the murder of Philando Castile, I think we need to return to Spencer’s final arc in Sam Wilson: Captain America before Secret Empire began.  In Sam Wilson: Captain America #17-21, Cap finds himself facing America’s oldest systemic sin – institutionalized racism.  The story is uncomfortable to read but when we look at the news with open eyes it makes us uncomfortable too.  The idea that we’ve somehow beaten racism in this country or that it’s not a major problem anymore or that we need to “get over it and move on” is an effect of this sin.  In having Captain America confront it, Nick Spencer proves once again why he’s one of my favorite comic writers.  Who better than Captain America to wrestle with this country’s systemic sins and raise important questions about our future? Continue reading

Wonder Woman: A Salvific Triumph

Even with the Rotten Tomatoes score, I wasn’t ready for this.  Wonder Woman is a revelation.  We now have a new standard bearer for what a superhero movie can do.  There are no spoilers here, obviously.  The movie just came out last night!  Everyone needs to see this and experience for themselves just how inspiring a comic book movie can be.  Marvel, and the world, need take notice too.  DC’s cinematic comic book universe has arrived and Wonder Woman is their flagship hero, carrying both the DCEU forward and the possible potential for all comic book movies.  Finding what I did in watching Wonder Woman was the most incredible surprise.  And you deserve that surprise too!  So I’m not talking spoilers but I will speak of the film thematically and speak to how it managed to move me so profoundly. Continue reading

Guardians Of The Galaxy and the Importance of an Awesome Mix Tape

It’s a looong weekend ladies and gentlemen so let’s pop in a good mix, consider what our music says about us, and appreciate some tunes!  Yes, the music in James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy films create an unbelievably fun, catchy soundtrack we all want to play on repeat forever BUT it’s ALSO as unique and important to the plot as the crew of the Milano.  More than most films, the Awesome Mixes give Guardians Of The Galaxy its soul.  It makes sense!  Our music is an intimate part of who we are and, as a result, an honest, heartfelt mix tape is a gift where we share something deeply personal with another.  In the films, Awesome Mix Vol. 1 and 2 are gifts to Peter from his mother, Meredith Quill.  In sharing the music she loved with him she also gave him a beautiful part of herself.  So, in the Awesome Mixes, we aren’t treated simply to a fun soundtrack.  Rather, we see a picture of who Meredith Quill was and we find an important part of what shaped Peter Quill into the man he became. Continue reading

Logan – Elegy to an Era

After three viewings and two weeks, I’m finally ready to talk about Logan.  I had high expectations.  I tried to manage them but it was impossible!  Hugh Jackman has been playing Wolverine for seventeen years.  He ushered in the modern era of cinematic superheroes.  I couldn’t keep my expectations for his swansong from growing.  The film was absolutely nothing like I expected but it was brilliantly executed.  Hugh Jackman and James Mangold delivered a finale that deeply moved me.  Fair warning, this post will be filled with spoilers.  It will also be filled with emotions! Continue reading