Tag Archives: superhero

How Marvel Ruined The Movies

Over the past decade, we’ve been witness to something unprecedented in the history of film: the rise of the cinematic universe.

Pioneered by Marvel with their ever-expanding Avengers universe, this innovative and impressive model has been swiftly copied by others, and we’re already seeing attempts at DC’s Justice League universe, an expanded Star Wars, and even Harry Potter. While the success has certainly been varied, it would seem the standard is here to stay.

And here’re the reasons why that sucks.

Bigger Audiences Don’t Mean Better Movies

And while that goes without saying, the issue becomes especially apparent when movies become global phenomena in the way the MCU has become.

In his posts about the whitewashing of Doctor Strange, Evan brought up the case of film-critic-turned-writer C. Robert Cargill. In a podcast, Cargill discussed the whitewashing of “The Ancient One” and how the character of an old man from the Himalayas got turned into middle-aged woman from Scotland.

“The Ancient One… comes from a region of the world that is in a very weird political place. He originates from Tibet. So if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion [Chinese] people who think that that’s bullshit…”

-C. Robert Cargill, Double Toasted Podcast

While my co-author pointed out that the character of The Ancient One was set in Nepal, not Tibet, and while Cargill swiftly clarified that these were his thoughts, not Marvel’s, I do think he’s got a point. China has become a major consumer of western films, and the effects of that are already apparent.

2014’s Transformers 4: Age of Extinction surpassed Jame’s Cameron’s Avatar in Chinese theaters, and presently stands as the 4th highest-grossing film in the nation.

“The long and the short of it: Bay made a movie set and filmed in China, starring Chinese actors, using Chinese resources and pushing Chinese products, and in exchange, the movie gets a timely premiere across the country’s 18,000-plus movie screens.”

Nash Jenkins, TIME Magazine, 2014

The remake of Red Dawn, originally based on the idea of a Chinese invasion of the US, was hastily changed to cast North Korea as the principal villain for fear of offending Chinese viewers. Because the US getting conquered by a country smaller than the state of Louisiana is somehow believable.

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Now that’s not to say that Red Dawn would’ve been a good movie otherwise (it wouldn’t have)- just that it was made even more stupid in a greedy effort to rake in more cash. While we certainly didn’t lose a cinema classic in catering to political correctness, it does set a disturbing precedent for the future. Will films purposefully cut reference to Tibet, Taiwan, or the Uighurs? Will China’s despicable record on human rights and the environment be glossed over for box office sales?

And they’re not the only problem. Continue reading

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Why I Know “I’ll Be Back” to Watching 90’s Action Movies When I Have Kids

I came to the 90’s action party late.

Sure, I watched a few Arnie movies as a kid, but those were the blatantly child-friendly movies. I’m talking Kindergarten Cop and Jingle All The Way, fun romps to be sure, but nothing to prepare me for the awakening I had last year.

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It all began when John convinced me to watch his favourite films from the 90’s (and a few from the 80’s). I decided to indulge my husband’s nostalgia. How was I to know it would end in an movie obsession that would leave me with a classic-action-movie-sized hole, never to be filled? I’ve had a hard time identifying what it is about these action movies that is still so appealing, so I thought I’d write a post trying to figure it out.

They’re Intensely Optimistic

I recently watched SicarioIt was an intense action (/crime/thriller) flick that follows the story of Kate Macer “an idealistic FBI agent [who] is enlisted by a government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico”. While it was certainly a thought-provoking and well-executed film, it was also reeeaaaalllllllllyyy depressing.

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Have you ever noticed that? Some of the “best” films out there also happen to be the ones that leave you feeling like you’ve been punched in the gut. Perhaps it’s the gritty realism of contemporary films that sets them apart from previous action films, but that realism also prevents them from being a true escape from real-world troubles.

If you go back and watch almost any 90’s action movie you can go into it knowing your protagonist won’t come out of his adventure emotionally scarred. Instead, you know he’ll just rampage across your screen, kicking butt and taking names.

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With an endless amount of bullets.

Continue reading

Jessica Jones Was Good, But It Should Have Been Great

When I saw the trailer for Jessica Jones I immediately decided it was going to be my new favourite show… until I watched it.

A lot of elements in the trailer suggested that it would resemble Netflix’s Daredevil series, which made me really excited. My love for Daredevil was a slow burn. Unlike Evan (who regularly reviews comics, like Ms. Marvel, for the blog), I’m not a comic aficionado. For me to really invest in a comic-based series I have to actually like it as a stand-alone. I’m also not a fan of dark dramas. I get depressed enough from real life, so my first choice for TV is lighthearted comedy. When John (my husband) finally convinced me to watch Daredevil with him it was a really hard sell. I was critical of the lack of diversity, the lack of interesting roles for women (although this got better as the season progressed), and the general lack of lighting in most scenes. What finally won me over was some of the best fight choreography I’ve ever seen on TV, and writing so solid that some monologues actually gave me chills.

When I saw the trailer for Jessica Jones I thought it would only perfect the good thing Netflix had already started with Daredevil. Not only would we have a dark and thoughtful plot, but we would have a much more diverse cast and more nuanced relationships between female characters.

How could anything possibly go wrong?

Apparently several things could, and did, go wrong. I’ve outlined a couple of the most frustrating aspects of the series below.

It had mediocre fight scenes

I get that it’s hard to make things look super realistic when you have a 90 pound woman throwing men around like ragdolls. I also get that choreographing these scenes would have to reflect Jones’ extraordinary strength. But is that really an excuse for scenes to look like something straight out of the 70’s?

Generally speaking, the fight scenes in Jessica Jones felt lazy. There are so many other ways you could demonstrate super strength beyond just throwing people, but for both Jones, and often Luke Cage, throwing seemed to be the primary mode of defence.

I mean, wouldn’t punching them in the face just be easier? Continue reading

BURAAQ: Two Brothers, A Superhero, And the Truth About Islam

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Kamil and Adil Imtiaz.

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to connect with Adil Imtiaz, one half of the two sibling team responsible for the comic book BURAAQ, which stars a Muslim superhero. While he was the illustrator starting out he shared, and continues to share, creative responsibilities with his brother Kamil, and was more than happy to talk to me a little bit more about how this project came to be and why.

Ms. Marvel, as you may have guessed, came up in conversation, and I ended up learning a few things about Islam that I didn’t originally know.
Throughout our talk it was clear that this character and all he presents is a passion for Adil, and that he believes it can, and has done, good things for Muslim youth.

After thanking him for finding the time to speak with me about his work we got right down to questions and answers, the latter of which he was very ready to provide.

Evan: Now I can’t wait to get into talking about BURAAQ, but before we get there would you like to say a few words about yourself?

Adil: Adil Imtiaz is my name. I’m an IT professional, just so you know. And I came here from Pakistan back in 1990; me and my  brother and my family. So we’re here with our families and that’s pretty much it as far as my background is concerned.

Evan: Would you say that your interest in comic books began at a very young age?

Adil: Absolutely. Even in Pakistan as kids, my brother and I used to have a stack of comic books by our bedside. Every night we used to read Marvel, DC, superhero stories. We were, and still are, fascinated with sci-fi and superhero stories and characters.

And movies, of course. Hollywood as you can see is all about superhero films. And we used to draw comics and superhero characters as kids. I got sidetracked when I had to focus on higher education, pursuing a career. I had to put it on the back burner so to speak.

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Evan: In the PDF I was given to review you and your brother’s mission was very clearly stated, and I’m just going to reiterate it for all my readers:

  • To provide a clean, fun (halal) and positive entertainment media alternative for our Muslim youth.
  • Reconnect our Muslim youth to Islam and make them feel proud to be a Muslim.
  • Enable interfaith dialogue and increase positive Islamic awareness.
  • Our principles are based on the Quran, Islamic values, and the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

How long this been in the works? It seems particularly relevant now given recent events in North Carolina [with what I’m going to call a hate crime]-

Adil: Well, no, actually. This is something, the idea was born back in 2009 actually. Especially after 9/11 things changed in the US. And in the media, traditionally, Arabs and Muslims have been portrayed in a negative light in Hollywood, but after 9/11 things really picked up steam; a bunch of crazy people around the world who claim to be Muslims and other agencies at play, not to get into politics…

Sammy Sheik as Mustafa in American Sniper.

Continue reading

The Heroes Effect

Nobody would blame you for not remembering Heroes. The show’s stint at the top was so short and its tailspin into oblivion was so swift and violent that it’s once glorious reputation and critical acclaim has almost been obscured entirely.

“Eclipsed”, if you will…

For those of you unfamiliar, let me offer a quick recap.

Heroes followed a number of seemingly unrelated people who, in the days following a solar eclipse, find that they’ve developed superpowers. As they struggle to cope with their new abilities, their storylines begin to entwine as the looming threat of destruction, along with a mysterious and sinister figure, approaches.

The show’s total simplicity made it both accessible to a wide audience (especially one that wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves comic book/superhero fans) and further made the show easy to follow, even with its large cast of characters. That large cast in turn meant that most everyone would have someone they’d be able to relate to, and kept the episodes moving along at a decent pace with no real room for boredom. And all of that went out the window.

Continue reading

What Happened To MusclesGlasses?

musclesglassesmilkA lot, and I’m telling you, a lot of people want to know what happened to MusclesGlasses of Epic Meal Time fame. For a while it was all you’d see in the comments sections of their YouTube videos, and a good number have found this blog by googling the character’s real name, “Alex Perrault”.

According to an article on New Media Rockstars Muscles stopped appearing as early as January 2013, which meant that for an entire year EMT has been without one of its strongest presences [besides that of Harley “The Sauce Boss” Morenstein himself, creator of the show]. For 365 days and change the show has been missing its most voracious eater,

bordering-on-problematic drinker,

and rap battle champion-

Continue reading

Fighting the Good Fights

Earlier today there was a fight outside my apartment.

I say “fight” in the loosest sense of the word. From what I could gather, a woman had given the wrong address to a pizza delivery man, and the gentleman who the pizza had been accidentally delivered to had been sleeping at the time and was more than a little annoyed at being woken up and compelled to give the delivery man directions to the right place. It essentially boiled down to this man and this lady shouting at each other while the poor delivery guy stood awkwardly in between them with no clue as to how to proceed. Apparently the whole ordeal of having to deal with a mix-up between apartment block 2 and apartment block 20 is on par with genocide. Needless to say, seeing two people break down into three-year olds over something so trivial didn’t exactly reinforce any hope for the future of humanity.

But that sad incident isn’t what I’d like to talk about today- at least, not entirely. What first caught my attention when the whole hissy-fit was going down was the shrill screech of the lady that “‘He’ had better not lay a finger on her or he’d be going to jail”.

Now naturally, I don’t know the whole story, but from where I was standing, the gentleman in question hadn’t given any indication of violence- from all I could see, he was just annoyed at being woken up and having to help this delivery guy find the right apartment. It did grab my attention, though- and that’s what I want to address today.

Violence- we have a long standing love affair with it in this country.

We view it as the be-all-end-all solution to our problems. When all else fails, there’s no problem that can’t be solved with a good, old-fashioned butt-kicking. From the cowboys to the noir detectives to comic book superheroes, violence is the answer. For all our advocacy of non-violence, tolerance, empathy, and understanding, we do get a rush out of seeing “justice” dispensed by means of a vicious haymaker.

Just take a look at this video that’s exploded on the internet over the past 48 hours.

Now chances are, your only complaint after watching that is that the video doesn’t go long enough for you to hear the derisive laughter of all the onlookers as this jerk slinks off with his tail between his legs. Certainly that’ my only issue with it.

Take a look at this video from a few years back.

Now this one isn’t quite so clear cut. Yes, the smaller kid is clearly harassing the chubbier one- even getting violent, but nevertheless the beat-down that ensues is so visceral that I defy you not to feel a little twinge of guilt with your (probable) satisfaction in seeing the bullied kid defend himself.

There are, of course, more clear-cut fights. The video below offers a prime example.

For anyone who might be unclear- the guy with the tray is simply standing there, minding his own business when the other guy walks past and for no apparent reason simply decides to flip the first guy’s tray. No (knowable) provocation, no reason- just sheer, unadulterated spite.I don’t know about you, but I thought the guy falling flat was (1) hilarious and (2) a pretty strong argument for the existence of karma.

When is it ok to hit someone?

“When it’s in self-defense!”, I can hear most of you shouting, and do you know what? They’re right. All but the most hardcore pacifist would probably assert that when someone’s shoving you around, there’s really nothing you can be expected to do other than swing back. Of course, it’s never that’ clear cut.

Did the man in the first video deserve to be hit? He wasn’t presenting a clear and present threat to anyone around, unless you count wet willies as a instrument of destruction.  That being understood, did you cry out in indignation when the street performer knocked him down?

Again, probably not.

The street performer was very clearly being harassed by a guy who wrongly thought the street performer would just sit there and take it. But what if it wasn’t the street performer who had punched the guy? In the video, you can pretty clearly hear other people shouting “Leave him alone!”- what if one of them laid some smackdown? Would we be ok with that?Probably.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say we’d all still applaud this guy getting punched, though the fact that justice is dispensed by some outsider rather than by the victim may potentially diminish the poeticism of it.

So what do we have so far?

Violence is acceptable in self-defense, acceptable (in some degree) when being harassed, acceptable when someone else is being harassed- where does it end?

I don’t say that in a disparaging tone- I am simply curious as to where that line of logic takes us. Is it ok for the average man to walk around and step in to defend people from being bullied? Do we accept full-on vigilantism?

It’s not as far-fetched an idea as it might sound. If it’s alright (if not straight-up admirable) to go around attempting to defend others, how do we address the laws that (supposedly) govern our society?

Again, we do have an absolute love of violence in this country, but for all our depictions of this:

And this:

Or this:

And even this:

We rarely ever show the dark side with something like this:

The reason we can all get together and applaud the punching of the guy harassing the street performer is because it appeals to our (almost) universal sense of what is and isn’t acceptable in society, and what is and isn’t a measured response. The moment you drift away from clear cut right and wrong, the waters get very murky very quickly.

And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.

Yeah, the idea of every man, woman, and child declaring “I am the law!” is more than a little unsettling…

…but is it really any worse than what we have now? America and her allies (including Canada, which has only just recently withdrawn from Afghanistan) are engaged in the longest war in recent history with- despite repeated reassurances from the president- no clear end in sight. Do I agree with these wars? Absolutely not.  I think the bad guys who actually should be deposed (and we’re talking about everyone from the Burmese junta to the executive boards of BP and Coca-Cola) are getting off clean. You could argue that the role of ensuring justice and security belong exclusively to the police, but what has their track record been?

All that’s to simply point out that you can argue that such an anarchic system means little or no accountability, but how exactly does that differ from what we have now?

I know it sounds surreal, but if right and wrong as so arbitrarily dispensed from on high, is it really that psychotic to suggest that the front line for security and human decency is in fact you?

It’s just a thought- I’m hoping we can actually start of something of a debate in the comment section (something I’d like to see brought up is a discussion of whether or not our society might benefit from the distinct possibility of getting stomped for being a jerk- anyone and everyone who’s ever waited tables knows what I’m talking about).

Now seeing as how this post pretty much escalated to a declaration of “blood in the streets!”, here’s a picture of a baby hippo.

Be sure to check in tomorrow for Evan’s Shame-Day (yes, we’re switching up the order again- just roll with it), and understand that not leaving a comment will be taken as silent agreement on your part of everything I’ve written!