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.
Is the DCEU’s Harley Quinn an Antihero or Superhero?
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?
Cleo Cazo / Ratcatcher 2 and the Power of a Story
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.
My Top Five Favorite Comic Book Movies
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
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
Wonder Woman…YOU’VE GOT THIS!!!
Okay, I shouldn’t be writing right now. I should be going to bed. Tomorrow night’s Baccalaureate and Thursday night’s graduation. And my homeroom kids are graduating!! Aaaahhh!! I’ve had these kids for four years and I’m an emotional and nostalgic mess. I should be in bed. BUT I just read that Wonder Woman is currently sitting at a superhero-movie-record-setting 97% on Rotten Tomatoes!!! To give context, the best the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done on Rotten Tomatoes is Iron Man at 94%, The Avengers at 92%, Guardians Of The Galaxy at 91%, and Captain America: Civil War at 90%. (And nothing the DCEU’s offered has rated “Fresh” so far.) Now, I make no attempt to hide that I’m a Marvel guy through and through. I also can’t say I’ve been a huge fan of what the DCEU’s offered so far. But I want Wonder Woman to hold this place and take this title. DC deserves this. Continue reading
Fandom’s Gone Too Far: Our Destructive Sense of Ownership
We, as fans, can be passionate about what we love. We, as fans, should be passionate about what we love. What’s love without passion?! However, there’s a fine line between passionate love and destructive possession. If romantic love turns possessive we recognize it as an abusive relationship. This same sort of destructive possession exists in fandoms. The Ghostbusters are girls! Princess Leia isn’t being recast for Episode IX! Harry should have been with Hermione! Steve Rogers is Hydra! George Lucas made Prequels! Riri Williams is Iron Man! SOMETHING IS NOT HOW I WANT IT TO BE!!! We’re all welcome to our own opinions. We all have the right to not read/watch something we don’t like. But we have no right to spew toxicity all over the internet/real life when something upsets us. This morning I read an article illustrating this problem of the ownership we presume to have, as fans, over what we love in a saddening new light. As such, I felt compelled to write this post. Continue reading