Tag Archives: Joss Whedon

The 50/50 Fallacy [Yes, It’s Another Big Hero 6 Post]

So, as I said I probably would, I did end up seeing Big Hero 6 this past Tuesday. While I ended up enjoying it a fair amount the problem, if I can call it that and which the post I just linked to addresses, was in the back of my head the entire time. To reiterate it here, the idea that both a city and almost the entire cast of superhero team had to be altered to make it more relatable, presumably to a Western [read: American] audience.

As mentioned I did like it, but during and after the film I was struck by the fact that a balance, if that’s what the creators were truly going for, was never really attained. To start with, San Fransokyo.

Based off of the name one would assume that this would be equal parts American and Japanese city, a blend that encapsulated the best of both worlds. The actual design approach is laid bare when considering the words co-director Don Hall used when describing the setting [emphasis added]:

an alternate version of San Francisco.

“I love the Painted ladies. We gave them a Japanese makeover; we put a cafe on the bottom of one. They live above a coffee shop.”

“Where Hiro lives, it feels like the Haight. When you get to the downtown area, that’s when you get the most Tokyo-fied, that pure, layered, dense kind of feeling of the commercial district there. When you get out of there, it becomes more San Francisco with the Japanese aesthetic.”

To put this in more musical terms, this isn’t so much a mashup as it is a remix. The former is a blend of two or more parts with both being displayed prominently, the latter is a modified version of something, the original of which is typically easily identifiable. Continue reading

Culture War Correspondence: Minority Representation

EVAN: Gordon’s always been better at the fancy introductions, so I’m going to start by saying that this all began with this image-

See the rest of the image here.

– in which trans women [as well as a few others, I’m sure] tear Joss Whedon apart for answering a question about writing strong female leads with a joke. The problem being, of course, that the joke was trans-exclusionary.

This of course could be expanded into all jokes being trans-inclusionary, at which point Gordon had something to say about the number of trans men and women out there-

GORDON: Current estimates, for the US anyways, are holding at roughly 700,000, give or take, making up just about %0.3 of the population.

As Evan and I discussed in our first reaction to the outcry surrounding Whedon, this places people identifying as transgendered at somewhere above the number of folks hit by lightning and lower than the number of people born with more than five fingers on a hand.

Point being- it’s a very, very small group. Continue reading

Why Writing Strong Female Characters Is[n’t] Hard

For the past several months I’ve been compiling what different people on the internet have been saying in regards to creating strong female characters, while also observing how others feel about those three words in general.
While not a topic you’d think would necessitate a lot of discussion, the truth is that there’s a lot more to this discussion than “Yes, I like them they’re great and we need to see more of them.”
As a disclaimer I would like state that I let the research in this post come to me. I did not do Google searches for “female writers’ opinions on strong female characters.” All of the quotes and articles below I found organically, if we can use that word to describe my internet browsing habits. Continue reading

This S.H.I.E.L.D. Needs a Little Colour

In the wake of The Avengers‘ 1.5 billion dollar success it was inevitable that Disney/Marvel would be creating a sequel. They also decided to broaden both the universe and the franchise by green-lighting a TV series based on the organization in the comics, titularly named S.H.I.E.L.D.

It marks Joss Whedon’s return to television, as he will be both directing and producing the pilot. Acting as directors and producers, however, are his brother Jed Whedon and his sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen. The three formerly worked together on the online cult classic Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which actually leads me to the point of this post.

The DVD and Blu-Ray versions of Dr. Horrible a commentary track titled Commentary! The Musical, which consists of entirely new songs performed by the cast and crew. Track 10 was written and performed by Tancharoen, and I’ve embedded it here:

While obviously very tongue-in-cheek, as an Asian-American in the entertainment industry she’s more than a little aware of the imbalance in roles for racial minorities. Having her and Jed Whedon take off as showrunners if the pilot is a hit, this is a huge opportunity for a show other than Hawaii Five-0 to feature a good number of Asians in their main cast.

The perfect opportunity for this takes the form of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent James “Jimmy” Woo. Originally starting out with the FBI, he created and led the first ever super-hero team to exist with a government mandate. Although he later left to join the Agents of Atlas, Woo was a high-ranking member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and definitely a possible addition to the upcoming series.

In general, it’s exciting to have the comics come to the small screen as a live-action show. Cartoons like The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the classic Batman: The Animated Series have proven very popular, but were directed at a younger audience. In recent years  The Walking Dead is the only program based on comics that has received any amount of positive attention.

Disney/Marvel have a chance, as they often do, to bring diversity through a form of media, this time television. With Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen at the helm, here’s hoping that we might even see our first ABC series headlining an Asian actor that is also a spinoff of a major motion picture based on a comic book.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe Moves On [Without The Black Panther]

We all saw The Avengers; let’s not lie to ourselves here. It’s the third highest grossing film of all time, and we are the reason for that. As of earlier this month Joss Whedon was confirmed as returning to direct the sequel, with the film due to hit theatres on May 1st, 2015.

With a bit of a wait between movies, a buffer of films is currently in the works, including sequels Captain America: The Winter SoldierThor: The Dark World, and, probably the most highly anticipated, Iron Man 3. Also on the docket is the spacefaring super-group Guardians of the Galaxy.

All of this news pleases me. What’s problematic is that when researching this article I found out that the Marvel Studios have a model of “releasing just two films per year.” So let’s see what we have here:

  • Iron Man 3 – May 3rd, 2013
  • Thor: The Dark World – November 8th, 2013
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier – April 4th, 2014
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – August 1st, 2014

With those four films taking up the next two years a horrifying fact emerges:

Marvel will not be making or releasing a Black Panther film before the next Avengers movie comes out.

Let me back up a little. Black Panther is, as comic book fans know, T’challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. It is an extremely technologically advanced country, and the character himself has a PhD in physics, as well as being a master hunter, martial artist, inventor, and politician. On top of that he wears a suit made of vibranium, the same stuff Captain America’s shield is made of. He’s like if Batman were also the president and he is awesome.

Adding the Black Panther to the Avengers’ roster is not only has precedence in the comics, but it would also add the much-needed diversity that the first film was so sorely lacking. Marvel Studios co-president Louis D’Esposito discussed the possibility of a film starring the Wakandan king by admitting that:

“He has a lot of the same characteristics of a Captain America: great character, good values,”

Which is true. But he doesn’t stop there, going on to say :

“But it’s a little more difficult, maybe, creating [a world like Wakanda]. It’s always easier basing it here. For instance, ‘Iron Man 3’ is rooted right here in Los Angeles and New York. When you bring in other worlds, you’re always faced with those difficulties.”

Cue outrage from fans everywhere. The general argument against the statement above being that a sizeable portion of Thor took place in Asgard. Asgard, the mystical dwelling of the Norse gods. But playing devil’s advocate, as I try to do, perhaps Marvel execs are afraid of portraying Africa badly. Counterpoint: Wakanda is a pretty well-to-do place. Point: maybe they’re afraid of portraying the continent insincerely? Counterpoint: it’s a comic book movie. Point: but, but, but . . . Counterpoint:

Those eyes sneer at D’Esposito’s claims.

Djimon Honsou is a number of things. An immensely talented Beninese American actor is one. The guy everyone wants to play the Black Panther is another. Honsou actually voiced the character for a short-lived TV series on BET which was essentially a motion comic.

Honsou himself has said in a 2010 interview with MovieWeb.com that:

“It is true that I have said certain things about it some time ago and that I would love to play the Black Panther. Also the opportunity came to do the voice over for the animation so I did that, maybe in the hopes that one-day they would finally get around to doing a movie. We have so many super heroes, but none that really defines the African American. I thought it could definitely happen and I have tried to push that envelope before.”

And if that wasn’t enough, Stan Lee himself is on the record as answering the question “What obscure characters would you like to see adapted into a big budget film?” in an AmA [Ask Me Anything] on reddit. His answer was this:

“Black Panther. He’s not too obscure, I hope.”

If the fans, the actor, and Stan “The Man” Lee [who also co-created the character] are all pushing for this there’s really no reason it should not or cannot happen. All that’s standing in the way are a bunch of executives too willing to take the way that’s “always easier.”

The Avengers and New Footage Fatigue

Mild spoilers, if you’re not constantly watching for comic book movie news [like I do].
                                                                                                                                                                      

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to see The Avengers this summer. The thing is, I may as well be watching it for the second time.

Joss Whedon’s biggest directorial experience to date will hit in a little under three weeks with a running time of 155 minutes. After all of the trailers, previews, and TV spots I’ve seen I think that only leaves me about half an hour of footage to experience in the theatre for the first time.

Seriously, though, today I found out that Maria Hill and Nick Fury will have an argument of some sort. I don’t know exactly what it’s going to be about, but I know that it will happen because of an interview Cobie Smulders [playing Hill] did with David Letterman. I also know that Captain America will tell the Gamma-Powered Goliath to smash something. At some point in the film I know that Black Widow will soundly thrash a general and his cronies, because a 43-second clip was released by Marvel.

I don’t mind that Marvel has been advertising this film with everything from Dr. Pepper to Wyndham Hotels. Pixar’s Cars made something like $462 million in the box office, which isn’t bad. What’s even better, though, is the $5 billion they made in merchandise. Movie tie-ins that include toys and such are not at all what worry me. What worries me is knowing too much about the movie before I see it on the big screen.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty was what the summer of 2010 held for me, and while waiting for in the ’09-10 academic year I spent a great deal of my free time trying to find out more about the game. In the process I became privy to information on seven or eight missions. That’s about a third of the game. Not only that, but I also perused a site that had posted unit models, robbing myself of experiencing them in the game first-hand.

We live in a world where information is at our fingertips, and leaks and spoilers of any kind can be found within seconds. At this point in time I have no idea what the image on the right is of, only that they are part of Loki’s army and the primary antagonists in The Avengers. I don’t want to know what they are until I see the movie, and it’s getting harder and harder to when I daily visit sites such as ComicBookMovie.com, ComicsAlliance, and io9 [the latter even has a daily feature called Early Morning Spoilers].

From this point on I refuse to watch another TV spot for The Avengers. There’s only so many seconds of new footage they can cram in there before I’ve seen more of the movie than I wanted to. I’m going to see if I can hold out until May 4, and I hope that when I finally see it in theatres I’ll be able to enjoy every second of those 155 minutes like I’m watching them for the first time.