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.
Ok, so first, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Second, so there’s a trailer for the new Matrix movie. I’ll be honest, I got a little nostalgic and a whole helluva lot excited when I watched it. After Jeff messaged me about it, I may’ve spent my entire lunch break watching it about fifteen times. Who can say for sure? But was my lunch break even real in the first place?? That seems like the bigger question we should focus on before we judge how I used the time. ANYWAY, as I like to do when a trailer drops which a) I’m particularly excited about, b) generates some serious feels – good, bad, or indifferent – in me, or c) both, I figured I’d write about it. Should I do the obligatory line about taking the red or blue pill as you decide if you want to read this? I don’t know…it feels lazy. It’s classic, yes, but also maybe too easy? Hmm. Ok, let’s skip the low hanging fruit and just dive in!
Perhaps the most oft repeated observation about the Fantastic Four is they are a family first, superheroes second. This piece of their identity has been their cornerstone since Stan Lee ushered in the “Marvel Age of Comics” with their creation in 1961. With the FF poised to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Dan Slott was given the reins of “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” in 2018. Understanding the nature of the FF – a family of explorers and travelers who save the day when needed – he uses it to examine a captivating concept which seems uniquely suited to the Fantastic Four. When their explorations take them to the planet Spyre, Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, Sue Storm/the Invisible Woman, Johnny Storm/the Human Torch, and Ben Grimm/the Thing meet the Overseer, the leader of the Spyricans, a people who have technology they claim will show you your Soul Mate with absolute certainty. Families are born in the bonds of love and there’s no love like a Soul Mate…should such a thing exist. What better place to drop explorers defined by their family than the questions raised at the intersection of loving communion and a technology that can predict the mystical movements of the heart?!!?
As readers we can’t help but take this journey with the Fantastic Four and wonder are Soul Mates real? And if they are, would we want to know?
That’s right, dear reader, you’ve read that correctly. I’m writing a book! I’ve officially signed a contract with Claremont Press to write a book for their Religion & Comics series! The volume will explore the prophetic dimension of modern superhero comic books. Ahhhhhh, I’m SO EXCITED about this project and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!
Jason Aaron’s time writing Thor – from Thor: God of Thunder to Thor to The Mighty Thor to Thor (again) to War of the Realms to King Thor – produced the defining version of the character. No one, at least in my humble opinion, has ever done more with Thor nor understood the character, their world, and its theological fertility more than Jason Aaron. Jane Foster lifting Mjölnir to become Thor herself was the heart of Aaron’s run. But for that to happen, Thor Odinson had to find himself unable to lift the hammer. This idea – the idea of Thor being unworthy – ties together much of what Aaron did. Its seeds were sown in his very first arc, as Thor faced the brutality of Gorr the God Butcher. Its actualization would lead to Jane lifting Mjölnir and becoming the mightiest Thor and the greatest of all the gods. Its effects would culminate in Thor Odinson’s climactic battle with Malekith the Accursed during the War of the Realms and it would shape the sort of king Thor would become.
The centerpiece of Jason Aaron’s epic seven year run writing Thor: God of Thunder/The Mighty Thor/Thor was Jane Foster lifting Mjölnir when the Odinson found himself unworthy to do so. She became Thor, the Goddess of Thunder, and the stories that followed were the best Thor comics I’ve ever read. It may be the best executed single story arc I’ve ever ready in any comic ever. When the Odinson eventually reclaimed his title as the God of Thunder, Jane returned her focus to her civilian life, medical career, and – most importantly – fighting the cancer raging inside her. However, her superhero career was far from over and the stories Jane Foster now finds herself in (written first by Jason Aaron and Al Ewing and now by Jason Aaron and Torunn Grønbekk) dance along the mysterious, wonderous, frightening, sacred threshold that is the dividing line between life and death. Continue reading
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag is one of those shows where I wonder how I lived without it. My first time through the series (I watch it often), I watched all of Season One in a day and Season Two the following day. My pause between them was only to allow myself time to try and process all the feelings the first season left me with. The show is hysterical while also being one of the most moving shows I’ve ever seen. It’s wildly intelligent and the emotional journey it takes you on is unforgettable. Returning to this was one of the first things I did when quarantine hit – it’s a thoughtful comfort show, making me laugh, think, and feel in equally strong waves. As I watched it, I realized I’d never written about my love for this series, something I want to do now with this reflection on a remarkable juxtaposition done in the fourth episode of the second season.
Note, there will obviously be spoilers (but not beyond S2,E4). I’ll be as general as I can be with the plot but if you haven’t seen this show maybe watch it now? I don’t wanna be bossy but it’s brilliant. Every. Single. Moment. Continue reading
One of my favorite Doctor Who tropes is the use of alien creatures to explain legends and myths (as well as integrate these creatures – in a very Doctor Who-esque way – into the show). We’ve seen a Haemovariform crash-land on Earth and be mistaken for a werewolf in Scotland in 1879 (S2,E2). There was a band of Saturnyns creating vampire-like “brides” for their remaining male population in 1580 Venice (S5,E6). The reason beings on most planets are instinctively afraid of the dark is explained with the presence of the flesh-eating Vashta Nerada, who we see as the dust in sunbeams (S4,E8). The occasional movement we see flicker, out of the corner of our eye, when we look in mirrors is the “daughter” of “the Family of Blood,” forever trapped in all mirrors by the Doctor (S3,E9). The list goes on. But the one most fascinating to me is when the Doctor and Rose encounter “the Beast.” Continue reading
Are you ready for something exciting?!? If not…you should totally stop reading this right now because this post has some CRAZY EXCITING STUFF about to come your way. Here comes the aforementioned excitement. The wonderful folks from Gods Among Geeks invited me on their Neekology 101 podcast to talk about Avengers: Age Of Ultron. We chat about the theological implications of artificial intelligence, explore the twin forces of hubris and guilt that motivate Tony in this film, geek out on all things MCU, and even talk a little about the point and purpose of art. In addition to getting to hear me instead of reading my words you also get the chance to follow their blog and podcast if you don’t already. So you should totally click here or here or here or – if you missed those chances – here and then you can listen to me on Neekology 101: Episode #31 Remember the Age of Ultron? (and yes, that was another link I hid there because I want you to listen to this). Continue reading
I was honored yesterday to travel with a group of my students to Washington D.C. to participate in the March for Our Lives. Like the movement itself, the entire trip was their idea. They wanted to go. They organized it. They talked to administration. They found chaperones. They figured out the busing and worked to raise the money. I was there because they asked me to chaperone and I was proud to march alongside them. I’ve had people asking me what it was like or about pictures I took or things like that. At the end of the day, I seemed to be able to say more with this short reflection than I could with anything I’d put on a Twitter or Facebook post. Continue reading