“Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” – with four words Joss Whedon defined the character of Tony Stark for a generation. But it was never the words alone that transformed a b-level character into a worldwide icon and the anchor for a groundbreaking interconnected cinematic universe. It was the man inside the armor delivering those lines. While it’s easy to forget, eleven years and twenty-two films in, back in 2008 Marvel Studios was far from a sure thing. Marvel had sold their most successful characters (Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four) to other studios and was left to make their own movies with their second tier. Robert Downey Jr. made it work. He incarnated Tony Stark perfectly, seamlessly blending cockiness and charisma, arrogance and vulnerability, snark and heart. He presented a character who resonated and who meant something. He carried the world of comic books into the mainstream on his armored shoulders, all but single-handedly paving the way for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. No matter how much brilliance followed in his wake, this is why Tony Stark will always be Marvel’s cinematic masterpiece to me. Continue reading
When I was growing up, no one talked about comic books, not really. Sometimes teachers would disparage comics as books for kids who could not—or would not—read. Sometimes librarians would do the same. Even five years ago, I still knew teachers and librarians who did not believe reading comics counted as reading. Perhaps there were students in my classes who did read comics. But, in a culture where liking comics was equated with laziness and stupidity, I can see why no one would have dared to talk about them. Continue reading
Growing up as an adolescent of the ‘90s the discussion of whether you preferred Mission: Impossible or James Bond for your spy-faring feature films was a resurrected area of pop culture discourse. In 1995 Pierce Brosnan would debut as James Bond in GoldenEye, the first Bond film in six years, the longest gap ever between films in the franchise (at least as of this writing). In 1996, Tom Cruise would star as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible, the first film adaptation of the TV series that ran from 1966-1973. I’ve always gotten the sense that James Bond is the more beloved pop culture figure. He obviously has the wider reach, with a film series spanning fifty-three years and twenty-six films. But for my money (metaphorically speaking as well as literal money in the form of movie tickets and first VHS (!) then DVD purchases), 007 has nothing on the Impossible Missions Force. Continue reading
When David and I saw Avengers: Infinity War for the first time opening night, a lot of thoughts ran through my mind. I wrote about many of them that weekend. While I grant it was an ambitious event and it certainly stayed true to how a large comic book crossover works in comic books, I wasn’t impressed with how it worked as a film. I said then and still believe now it’s one of the weakest entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. My initial/lasting disappointments aside, I was struck by something I saw in the theatre as the climax of the film was unfolding. I noticed an inherent power in the film, even if it was a power unable to affect me.
As should be obvious, THIS WILL BE FILLED WITH ALL SORTS OF SPOILERS SO DON’T READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEE AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR YET. OKAY?!? Continue reading
This story is not for the faint of heart. But enough time has passed that I feel I can talk about it. What follows is a true story, not embellished for either humor’s sake…or horror’s sake. It is a tale of primal fear. It is a tale of crushing fear. It is a tale of waking before work to find yourself wrapped in your worst possible nightmare come to life. But it’s also a story of survival (which, uh, is kinda obvious because I’m writing this). Are you ready? Then let’s go… Continue reading
This isn’t a memorial piece. I don’t feel there’s anything I can really say to memorialize Tom Petty. His music will forever speak for him and they way it makes us feel will forever speak to what he meant to those who loved him. Nor is this a piece that explores his place in music history or his contribution to the world of music. I’m certainly not qualified to write a post like that. Rather, this is just a thought, that’s been going around and around in my head since I heard of his passing. Well, that and a few of my favorite songs of his too. Continue reading
This is an important post for this site. Well, it’s an important post for me I guess, that’s a better way to put it. It doesn’t have a strong, driving social justice message. It isn’t a call to action. It isn’t a heavy analysis or anything like that. But for the first time in almost twenty years, I’m finally reading The Amazing Spider-Man again every month. For someone who’s always loved Spider-Man as much as I do, this is important. It turns out, being back in the current life of Peter Parker means even more to me than I thought it would. Continue reading