I try to guard myself against the “it’s newest so it’s the best EVER” reaction that often permeates fandoms. We can tend to live and breathe a movie or a show as soon as it premieres, reworking our rank lists to show how this is the best ever…until the next new movie or show in that universe comes out. I get the excitement. I often share it myself! But I’m always cautious about saying “best” when reflecting on a new movie or show. Yet it’s impossible to deny the sheer beauty and joy of Disney+’s Ms. Marvel show. Each episode fills my heart in a way nothing else in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has. As far as I’m concerned, it is easily the most joyful entry in the MCU. I think it’s far and away the most important show Disney+ has done so far, too. And it may well be the best. We’ll see ;D. So I want to explore these emotions through the lens of how Kamala’s powers changed for the Disney+ show…in a way that’s far closer to her comic roots than I first realized.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ first full trailer began with Stephen looking at a ghastly house and speaking of a recurring dream. “Every night,” he narrates while facing this dilapidated building, “I dream the same dream. And then, the nightmare begins.” As trailers go, it was a clever hook. As someone who has his fair share of weird, wild, and/or horrifying dreams, I was eager to see where this was going (and if this was even in the movie as Marvel has pulled the ol’ trailer bait and switch more than once). Well, I saw Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and now I have context for this quote! That’s what this piece explores. It will have the lightest of spoilers as I’ll discuss a line of exposition in the first 10-15 minutes of the film but won’t do much with it beyond that. Outside of that line, no other major or minor plot points or any twists will be discussed or even alluded to. The broken-up title for this piece is my (maybe?) clever way of saying this piece is about Doctor Strange and it’s about strange dreams I’ve had and it’s about Doctor Strange’s dreams and it’s about the multiverse.
This weekend, in anticipation of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, I returned to a favorite tradition of mine – marathoning old movies before I see the new one! The size of the Marvel Cinematic Universe means the last time I watched every movie was my marathon for Avengers: Endgame. Now, saner (and healthier!) parts have prevailed. Instead of ruining my life by trying to watch the twenty-eight different films and nineteen different TV series with thirty-six seasons between them that make up the MCU (at the time of this writing), I’ve just chosen to watch Doctor Strange (2015), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), WandaVision (2021), and Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021). Rewatching Doctor Strange a question struck me: whatever happened to Dr. Christine Palmer?
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…
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.
This was a guest piece I wrote back in August of 2018 for a site that no longer exists. I like it and was thinking about Thanos today (I know…dark, right?) so I figured I’d post it here with a few slight edits. Enjoy!
What’s the plural of Thanos? Would it be Thanos? Or Thanoses? Or Thani? I don’t know but I still kind of like the ring of this title anyway so I’m sticking with it. Once Avengers: Infinity War was finally upon us, one of its most discussed features was the character of Thanos. I’ve read many reviews and essays examining the film which make the point Avengers: Infinity War is more a film about Thanos than any of the superheroes, something directors Joe and Anthony Russo have said themselves. What struck me most about Thanos when I first saw Avengers: Infinity War (and has continued to warrant further reflection with each subsequent viewing) is how different his motivations are in the film from the comics. Continue reading
While Harley Quinn is often framed as an antihero in the comics, she most certainly isn’t. She is as much a superhero as anyone in the DC Universe and, being a survivor of abuse, she is stronger than just about any hero DC has, too. Since falling in love with her character (thanks Harley Quinn on HBO Max!) I’ve read every Harley comic from 2013 to the present and she’s not done anything remotely antihero-ish in any of them. Yes, Harley’s wild, a little chaotic, and has an impulse control problem (all of which she admits) but being a free spirit isn’t the same as being morally ambivalent. Her actions in the comics, again and again, are remarkably heroic. And I will die on this hill ;D. Since seeing The Suicide Squad I’ve been wondering if the same holds true in the movies. In the comics, Harley Quinn is a true superhero and the type of character we should all aspire to be like – as compassionate, loving, and open as she is brave. But what about the DCEU (DC Extended Universe)? Is Harley an antihero in the films or, like the comics, is she a superhero lacking the recognition she deserves?
This was not the piece I expected to write about The Suicide Squad. I had a completely different idea in mind as the film began but as I watched the movie I realized this was what I needed to talk about. I’ve always loved stories. Who doesn’t? Reading, watching, telling, and listening to them – I’m here for all of it! I will reread and rewatch the stories I love again and again and again. The right story takes a place in our heart like nothing else can. Years ago this blog was born, in part, as an outlet to write about the stories I love (so maybe I’d talk about them a little less in real life (but the exact opposite occurred XD)). I love thinking about stories, talking about stories, analyzing and deconstructing stories, teaching with and through stories – I love it all. So I needed to write about Cleo Cazo/Ratcatcher 2, played by Daniela Melchior and written/directed by James Gunn in The Suicide Squad, because never in my whole life has any character in any story ever moved what this character in this story moved within me. And that is certainly something worthy of exploration! This piece has a few minor spoilers for the film but you’ll be warned beforehand.
I’ve seen Black Widow! Well, I guess a better way to put it is I keep seeing Black Widow ;). It holds a special place in my heart. Black Widow marks the return of two long running traditions. My first showing on July 8th was the return of a Marvel movie opening night AND the return of seeing a movie after dinner on my birthday! The latter is something I’ve done since high school but was naturally on hiatus last year as our local Covid lockdowns were in full force. It felt so good to be back. Each time I’ve seen it since, I’ve noticed how comforting it feels to be in a darkened theatre again and hear those pages flip as the Marvel logo appears on screen. Black Widow is special for many reasons beyond my own traditions, too. Scarlett Johansson FINALLY has her own solo film as Natasha Romanoff, a character she debuted in 2010’s Iron Man 2. Yay! And what a film it is. It’s magnificent, one of the best within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Black Widow is the film Natasha (and Scarlett Johansson!) has always deserved. I’d argue Natasha, more than any other character, best personifies the most important recurring message in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and this film illustrates all she is brilliantly.
Season One of Loki has come to a close and I have lots of feelings. My relationship with Loki has been complicated from “go.” The first episode left me with more concerns than intrigue, wondering about the direction they were taking the MCU’s overarching narrative. The second episode setup so much! It got me excited! Maybe I was wrong! Episode three was disconcerting as it was just filler. Then comes four-five-six and I’ve been all over the board with how this show has made me feel. Now, with the dust only beginning to settle, I wanted to explore my at-times-surprisingly visceral reaction to the end of Loki Season One. MASSIVE SPOILERS for the Loki finale will follow. A mass of FEELINGS will follow as well. So tread carefully, based your comfort level with exposure to SPOILERS and my raging feels ;D.