During Christmas a new Deadpool trailer came out! So reviewing and talking about the new trailer is, I guess, a little late, but I don’t care. I love Deadpool and I’m going to keep talking about my hopes for this movie. There were several new things in this trailer that I was happy to see, such as the parody of objectification and more emphasis on the female characters in the movie.
I have been pretty impressed with comic book movies lately. Yeah, it’s still not ideal, but both Marvel and DC Comics have far more women and people of color in their upcoming movies than they had before. At least now in Marvel we have Natasha, Pepper, Wanda, and Sam Wilson and James Rhodes, and we’re about to get Black Panther and Captain Marvel, but we don’t have one single queer character. And in DC Comics we are finally getting Wonder Woman, Aquaman (played by Jason Momoa), and Black Atom (played by Dwayne Johnson), but again, still no queer characters. It’s pretty nice to see even some progress being made—well, in some areas at least. When it comes to queer representation, both DC and Marvel Comics are severely lacking even to the point of straightwashing queer characters. Despite gay marriage being legalized in the United States, continuing to be legal in at least nineteen other countries, including countries like France, South Africa, Argentina, and Brazil, and gay rights gaining ever increasing support, it seems The Powers That Be are still hesitant about including gay characters in their comic book movies.
The musical Rent is probably not one that many people associate with Christianity—or with any religion, for that matter. There are only a few irreverent mentions of religion in some of the song lyrics, and if you have seen the play (not the movie) there is a brief scene where a priest yells at Collins for not being able to pay for Angel’s burial and uses the term “queer” to insult him. This seems pretty bleak from the religious end, but to me Rent actually has some amazing Christian themes. The basic message of the musical is to love everyone and to take care of the poor, vulnerable, and outcast in our society. Well, that’s basic Catholic Social Teaching right there. Sure, the religious institutions in Rent (and in real life) don’t always live up that message, but our small band of artists try to. In particular, they are shown how to love and live their lives by Angel. Angel is central to this story and the Christian themes of the musical, as they basically act as a Christ figure who leads the others through their actions. In this way we get an important story not just for queer people, but particularly for queer Christians. In this post, I will be referring to Angel with gender neutral pronouns since the characters refer to Angel with with both masculine and feminine pronouns and it’s not clear how specifically Angel identifies.
I was excited for the Supergirl TV show since I saw the trailer for it, but I will confess to still being anxious about the show simply because writers tend to be hit and miss when it comes to female superheroes. So it was with both excitement and anxiety that I turned on the TV to watch Supergirl. While there were a few issues, overall I was really happy about the first episode, and I’m interested to see where the series is going.
These days I try to limit the number of shows I watch, but it’s summer, most of the shows I watch are on hiatus, and a friend was gushing over this new show about bounty hunters in space called Killjoys. So, I decided to give it a shot. The pilot got me hooked. The first season just concluded and it was a fun and feels-inducing romp, introducing characters with mysterious pasts and setting up conspiracies.
Spoilers for the first season of Killjoys below.
Do I really need to talk about how awesome and in character everything in this trailer is? Probably not, but I am going to anyway! And admittedly, while I am extremely excited for this movie I am still a little worried about one thing in particular.
There are two things people know about me, even if they don’t know me very well. One, I love Jesus, and two, I love musicals. If you put those two things together you will usually make something I supremely enjoy. And while Jesus Christ Superstar is by no means perfect, theologically speaking, it is one of my favorite Jesus-themed musicals. However, I have sadly never seen the show live (other than high school versions), and many of the other movie versions of Jesus Christ Superstar were sadly lacking. Each version had certain strengths but each also failed at what I thought was the musical’s biggest strength: putting Christ in a modern setting. However, the 2012 Live Arena Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar does set the story in the modern day, and furthermore, does a great job at portraying Jesus as a social justice activist.
The 1973 version had a bunch of hippies drive out to the desert to reenact Christ’s story, which… why? I really think this would have been a lot better if they had just retold the story of Jesus, but set it during the seventies. But no, we got hippies in the desert acting out the story as if performing a play. And things got really uncomfortable when it seemed like they had actually killed Jesus. Since the show is staged as if a bunch of random people go out to perform the story of Christ, it came off particularly weird at the end when all the actors leave on the bus but the actor playing Jesus remains on the cross. In the context of the movie it looks like these people actually crucified the person playing Jesus and left him there, which is both creepy and weird. Then there was the 2000 Jesus Christ Superstar, which was all over the place, time period-wise. Jesus still looked like a seventies hippie, the apostles looked like they walked straight out of the eighties, Mary Magdalene dressed like Mimi from RENT, and the Pharisees and Roman soldiers looked like something out of a futuristic dystopia. It was a mess. Anything else good about that version was lost due to the extremely confusing mix of aesthetics.
You might think this is a silly thing to linger on, especially from a theological perspective. Why would showing Jesus in a modern day perspective be so important? Shouldn’t I be more concerned with how the musical portrays Jesus and the Biblical narrative of Christ? Well, yeah, and I am concerned about that, but Jesus Christ Superstar—just by virtue of how the music and lyrics are written—is in the unique position to show Christ in the modern day. And for a believer like me, that is extremely important. One of the main things I do at my job is try to help people understand how Christ’s radical message of love is still relevant today. For me and many others, Christ wasn’t just a nice guy, but a reformer with a radical message. People today try to claim that Christ’s message supports their beliefs, but more often than not, our pop culture, and even many practicing Christians, ignore Christ’s message of social justice. This 2012 Live Arena Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar does not ignore Christ’s social justice message. Rather, it sets Christ in a modern-day setting and shows him combating the powers that be of the time.