The new Black Panther trailer has been released and I’m beyond hyped. February can’t get here soon enough! Coming off the heels of Wonder Woman’s success and a wave of support for inclusion of marginalized voices, Marvel finally released a trailer with a non-white male lead. I got to see the intersection of Black Twitter and Nerd Twitter come out in full force, so with all this excitement, I should probably explain why it looks so great.
Way back at SDCC when Marvel announced Black Panther: World of Wakanda, a comic spinning off of the popular and critically acclaimed new Black Panther ongoing comic, I was immediately pretty hyped. Then it was revealed that the major focus of the comic would be the history of Ayo and Aneka, the badass former Dora Milaje duo who fell in love and rebelled against what they saw as T’Challa’s misguided rule. Then it was announced that the series would be penned by queer Black feminist Roxane Gay, and my hype levels skyrocketed to unchartable levels. Add in an additional story co-written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Pittsburgh poet Yona Harvey, and you have a recipe for my money.
The first issue in the new ongoing series was finally released last week, and it was everything I hoped it would be.
Spoilers for the first issue below!
I love a story that surprises me with compassion. One of the reasons I fell in love with Doctor Who back in the Ninth Doctor’s day was because of the Doctor’s dedication to peaceful solutions—his eagerness to rejoice when he’s able to navigate a problem so that everyone survives it. So it was with surprise and joy that I discovered that a new Marvel series that I had picked up entirely for its lineup, which consisted of many of my favorite characters, was serving up these sorts of storylines.
Spoilers for The Ultimates after the jump.
I feel like I’ve been waiting for Captain America: Civil War to come out for most of my adult life, even though it’s only been two years since Winter Soldier. Needless to say, it barely felt real going into the theater on Thursday night. I had no idea what to expect, no idea how high I should allow my hopes for the writing to be, and no idea whether I’d leave the movie emotionally devastated. (Okay, that’s a lie—I knew it was a question of how emotionally devastated I’d be, not whether it would happen at all.) And with the bad taste of Age of Ultron still in my mouth, I was generally worried for the state of the franchise.
I am happy to report that Captain America: Civil War was almost exactly the big-screen, action/adventure, Stucky-focused hurt/comfort fic I was desperately hoping to see. Spoilers after the jump!
Okay, Marvel, I have been patient, but it is time for more diversity in your movies. No more blonde actors named Chris starring in everything. Yes, I know there is some diversity in the MCU, but really, it’s only good in comparison to DC Comics, who aren’t as strong at diversity. But Civil War is a perfect opportunity for the MCU to become just as diverse as its comics.
The night before the Civil War trailer dropped, I spent a solid half hour complaining to my long-suffering mother about the lack of a Civil War trailer. It was just unconscionable to me that it had neither been leaked nor officially released yet, and I was growing more and more nervous about what the movie would be like.
Apparently, the Marvel powers that be heard my complaints, because the very next morning I awoke to the glory of the above trailer. Continue reading
It’s been nearly three weeks since the Age of Ultron trailer was leaked to the public. I was on vacation at the time, so, while I did get to watch first the grainy leak footage (and then the HD damage-control release from Marvel) in my condo while jumping up and down with excitement, I haven’t had a chance to write about it yet. I’m here to remedy that right now.
If you’ve read much of my other work on this website, you’re probably looking at the title and going, “What? But he’s always linking to that piece over at Jezebel about how brown kids deserve more brown superheroes!” Well, two things about that: 1) I’d probably do just as well linking you to “A Superhero That Looks Like My Son” and 2) they absolutely do, but I’m concerned that this mandate might encourage us to settle for just about any Black superhero, when that is simply not enough. We do owe it to children of color, to say nothing of LGBTQ+ youth and others, to represent their diversity in superheroes. But first, let’s deal with why it is that comics and superheroes matter so much.
The easy answer is that superheroes aren’t just fantasies; they’re deities. In our modern context, where our media at least appears to be pluralistic and decentralized, our deities come in all forms, and some of them wear capes. I say that to express that superhero stories are modern mythologies. They’re a method by which we represent the best of our culture to ourselves, and also by which we work out the issues currently facing our society. We’re prone to associate the word “myth” with things that didn’t actually happen—events strictly in the realm of fantasy. But take, for example, the story of Perseus and Medusa. Perseus goes on a hero’s journey, beheads Medusa, rescues Andromeda, etc., etc. Clearly a story. Many of the great mythographers of the 20th century, however, regard this myth as a representation of an actual event. From the third volume of Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God:
The legend of Perseus beheading Medusa means, specifically, that “the Hellenes overran the goddess’s chief shrines” and “stripped her priestesses of their Gorgon masks,”…that is to say, there occurred in the early thirteenth century B.C. an actual historic rupture, a sort of sociological trauma, which has been registered in this myth.
All that to say that the myths passed on by a society are not simply the idle results of primitive beliefs or childish minds. Even if they do not encode actual events, they record perspectives, cultural norms and ideals, and desires. Thus, when we write superhero stories, we are telling tales about idealized versions of ourselves. If my little mini-lecture about occidental mythology was not convincing, take Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That film could not more blatantly be about the relationship between freedom and security, the tension between individual liberty/honor, and the modern surveillance state. Plainly, it is a 170 million dollar exploration of one our society’s most pressing issues. Continue reading
Marvel’s 2010 crossover storyline Fall of the Hulks, which occurs sort of concurrently with the events of the Siege storyline, details among other things the plot of a cabal of evil, brainy superheroes to kidnap the world’s eight smartest people. The Intelligencia [sic], as they call themselves, arouse the ire of various Hulks in the process, leading to all sorts of hijinks and craziness, as well as the World War Hulk story and its two issue miniseries, Hulked Out Heroes.
Try not to imagine the kind of mindboggling destruction that an entity equal parts Hulk and Deadpool would wreak. Instead, let’s go back and talk about the fact that Marvel has offered up a list of its terrestrial supergeniuses. This is great! I really want to know who the smartest people on Earth-616 are, don’t you? Let’s take a look at who was worth capturing (in no particular order):
Okay, so not that I’m not excited to see Iron Man again, because I am, but I have a lot of questions for Marvel and most of those questions tend to be—why?
Why are we doing Iron Man 3?
Well, I pretty much know the answer to this. Out of all the Avengers characters Iron Man is the one who started their movie franchise, and I believe, despite the popularity of the other characters, Iron Man is still the one that makes Marvel the most money. So he gets a third movie right out the gate.
I understand wanting to start with a movie you know is going to do well, especially after The Avengers, but Tony already has two movies under his belt. So Iron Man, a straight white guy, gets a third movie, but Black Widow isn’t going to get her own movie until after the second Avengers movie. Excuse me! Let’s give all the guys second and third movies before the next Avengers, but one movie for our only current female Avenger? No, that can’t happen. Let’s not be ridiculous here. Other movies like the one based on the Runaways series, which would include several minority characters, lesbian characters, a transgender character, and a Marvel team mostly comprised of women, keep getting pushed back. Casting started for Runaways ages ago, but got delayed because of The Avengers. Which is understandable, but after Marvel’s Comic Con announcements didn’t even mention that they were going to continue to work on Runaways I am starting to worry that the movie is doomed to never be made. And other comic book heroes that would add some diversity to our Avengers cast, like Black Panther, the first black superhero, aren’t even being talked about.
Of course! No movies with women, LGBTQ characters, or racially diverse characters, because Marvel has to make some more movies about rich white guys.
Speaking of racially diverse characters, this next question brings me to our trailer. Why Mandarin?
The Mandarin is kind of racist… if not a lot racist. So, we are going to have a movie where the whole time a rich white guy is going to fight a rich Chinese guy who is trying to take over the world. Wow, talk about lack of tact. And really, let’s be honest, there is going to be another Avengers movie, so clearly Tony Stark comes out of this okay. So basically, I am going to watch a movie where a rich white guy beats up a Chinese terrorist the whole time.
Ha, take that, China. Our economic policies are totally going to beat yours. Watch as Iron Man demonstrates.
In my personal opinion, Mandarin is one of those characters that should been left in the vaults of comic-book history. He’s a character whose personality and villainy is largely built based on his race. Everything about being very stereotypically Chinese defines him. Why are we still using this character? And just from a money standpoint, isn’t Marvel really isolating Asian audiences, especially when The Avengers had such a large market in China?
Then there is the fact that Ben Kingsley is going to play Mandarin. Ben Kingsley, originally named, Krishna Pandit Bhanji, is an amazing actor (watch Gandhi), but should he even be playing Mandarin? Ben Kingsley’s mother is British and his father is a Gujarati Indian from Kenya. So… not Chinese, which is weird, considering that there are many Asian actors who could have played this role. The only thing I can think is that Marvel is trying to make his race ambiguous to avoid the yellow peril stereotypes in the character’s history, but the character’s name is the Mandarin. It’s kind of hard to avoid that.
Other than that (which is a lot), the trailer looks great. It appears that the movie is following Batman‘s lead to have the third movie really destroy the lead character so that it is all the more impressive when he does succeed. Either way, this movie looks like it is going to be tough on Tony.
Despite my criticisms, I am excited for this movie and do plan on seeing it, but I am worried that the choice of villain is ultimately going to hurt the movie and its fanbase. And after this, Marvel, let’s give Iron Man a bit of a rest so you can take care of some other characters.