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.
This is the third installment in my li’l series where I try to figure out where the Marvel Cinematic Universe should go after Thanos. As I know Kevin Feige and co. are regular readers of the blog, I like to help them out when I can. What can I say? I’m a giver. For ten years all the narratives across the MCU slowly converged, bringing all our heroes together to battle Thanos on his quest for the Infinity Stones. While Covid has delayed the beginning of the MCU’s Phase Four, we’ve still got a new overarching story about to unfold. So what has the gravitas to follow the MCU’s epic, medium-defining Infinity Saga? My first two ideas were character-centric, considering which villain could be intimidating and powerful enough to follow the Mad Titan. This time I’m focusing more on tonal issues. What type of story would be a worthy successor to the Infinity Saga? Turns out the best way to follow Thanos is with a Marvel Cinematic Universe rendition of the WAR OF THE REALMS. Huzzah!
All the creatives and stars of Avengers: Endgame joined in a massive social media campaign asking everyone to be decent human beings and #DontSpoilTheEndgame…for two weeks until Marvel Studios used MASSIVE spoilers for Endgame in their trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home. It was clear they were seeking to use all the emotions flowing in the wake of Endgame to motivate advanced ticket sales for Far From Home. Marvel Studios was very direct about how Spider-Man: Far From Home served as the epilogue to Avengers: Endgame. I enjoyed the film but was – and remain – frustrated by a plot point with seriously troubling implications.
Note, this has spoilers for both Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home (obvs.). Continue reading
Quarantine brings lots of time to read so I guess there’s a little silver lining to be found in our lives of social distancing and self-isolation. While I’ve been at home, I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading. Since I’ve had Bucky Barnes on my mind lately, I thought the time was right to finally read Ed Burbank’s “Winter Solider,” the 2005 storyline that served as the inspiration for one of the MCU’s most well-received films. I figured I’d use the format I chose when I wrote about Marvel’s epic “Civil War” storyline a little over a year ago, too. With a story so widely known and discussed in popular (comic) culture circles, where there any surprises left to be found reading it fifteen years after the fact? Continue reading
I’m normally not a huge fan of lists like this. It’s always so subjective (naturally) and they can change rather frequently (at least for me). So I don’t often write them. We can be mercurial in our fandom love, you know? But this term I’m teaching a new course on the intersection of comic books and social justice. In the course, we read several comics and watch several comic book films and then we deconstruct them, exploring their messages and symbolism, with an eye towards justice issues. As we discussed what would be in the course, several students asked me what my favorite comic book movies were. I couldn’t just brush aside the question – my students are seeking to better understand the preferences and passions that have shaped me and this course! I also can’t answer a question like this without way overthinking XD. So here are the results of the deep introspection and soul-searching brought on by my students’ inquiries. Continue reading
I went into Captain Marvel with pretty high expectations. While I felt the marketing Marvel did for the film was subpar, this was still the Marvel movie I was most excited about this year. It was also the one I had the highest expectations for. Yes, I will be in line for Avengers: Endgame with everyone else, ready to see how the first generation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes to an end. But Captain Marvel’s the movie I was waiting for. With that in mind, I wanted to talk a little bit about the film (no spoilers) but also about the MCU in general After my first (and second) viewing of the film, I found myself contemplating how Carol Danvers was brought to life on the big screen and also what the future of the MCU will look like with her and Black Panther at the fore. Continue reading
Like everyone else in the world, I fell in love with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse when I saw it. Miles Morales’ story began when I wasn’t reading comic books and, when I returned, it was one of the things I couldn’t wait to explore. In fact, for the first year of my return to comic reading, it was his Spider-Man exploits alone I followed, wary of jumping back into Peter Parker’s world after having missed out on so much. To see Miles take center stage in this movie was exciting! But it wasn’t just Miles in the film. My excitement to see his story unfold on the big screen was matched by my intrigue at seeing Gwen Stacy’s Spider-Woman. I wasn’t halfway through my first viewing of the film before I knew I had to start reading Spider-Gwen for myself. Continue reading
The brilliant new podcast Pods & Ends – “the junk drawer of pop culture” – asked me to write a piece for them about Spider-Man movies. Hot dog! I excitedly agreed and I think you should excitedly read this. In the post, I reflect nostaligically on everything from this Spidey movie whose name I cannot find no matter how hard I try from the ’80s up to and including the MIND-BLOWINGLY AMAZING Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I was honored to write for this great show and would love you to check it out.
I wasn’t planning on writing tonight. But I saw Venom and, after being pretty open about how awkward I thought the movie would be in presenting a Spider-Man-less Venom, I felt I had to write something. Why? Because I was wrong. I thought this film was going to be a rushed, convoluted mess and it wasn’t. Now, it didn’t redefine the genre like Wonder Woman nor did it fully embrace the idea of the antihero in the way Deadpool did. But it was an enjoyable night at the movies and with it currently sitting at a 29% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I wanted to take a few moments to write a short, spoiler-free reflection on why Venom was better than I thought it’d be. Continue reading