Monday, December 31, 2018

Diversity in the MCU: Where are the Black Women

MCU to be more Diverse

So Kevin Feige suggests that moving forward, Marvel movies are going to be more diverse.

"Yes, absolutely," elaborated. "Sometimes people have asked very directly, 'Is [Black] Panther a one-off?' in terms of inclusion representation and the answer is no, it's the beginning. That it worked out as well as it worked out just encourages to head in the direction that we were going to head anyway. You look at that film and the experience of the was incredible. That movie, obviously, would not have been what it was if everyone sitting around the table looked like me or you and that's actually true for all the movies."

 Werd?  This sounds like something someone would say because its the correct thing to say, but words without action are just words.  And as much as I enjoy the MCU, their track record is far from diverse and like many cultural things, diverse often means adding more white women.   Lets look at the movies thus far and we are gonna take out Black Panther because one movie out of 20 is not showing diversity.

Iron Man 1-3
* No Black women

Incredible Hulk
* No Black Women

Thor 1-3
*One Biracial/Black Female in Valkyrie

Captain America 1-3
*Black women make an appearance in Civil War but that is really just setting up world building for Wakanda.

Guardians of the Galaxy 1-2
*No Black Women ( Gamora is not Black)

Dr Strange
*No Black women

Spider-Man Homecoming
*Liz and Mary Jane...both biracial Black women

Ant-Man 1 and 2
*One Biracial/Black woman in Ghost

Avengers 1-3
*really just a rehash of characters and the only Black women are the women of Wakanda in Infinity War.  The first two movies are devoid of Black women.

So without doing the math and just using the eye test, the MCU, outside of Wakanda, has no Black women( and other women of color) in it and, as an aside,  the entire universe is devoid of LGBTQ characters.  This is not in dispute unless you want to "what about Wakanda.." me to death.  Yet there is no shortage of white women characters, both heroes( Lady Sif, Black Widow, Wasp) and supporting roles( Pepper  Potts, Agent Carter(2x), Jane Foster, etc).  Those roles do not exist for Black women in the MCU and no matter what they say, it still feels like Black women and LGBTQ characters are just being pushed aside for more white women.  Case in point....

Phase four of the MCU kicks of Captain Marvel, another white female hero.  Granted, there has been a hint of showing a Black woman who may actually speak with Photon but its suspect until it actually happens.  The other Phase four movies allegedly are Black Widow( another white woman), Black Panther 2( a given), Dr Strange 2, and Shang Chi.... an Asian character who are also horribly underrepresented in comic book movies.

Maybe, MCU is going to put all the Black women in the Fox Universe but their record there is not strong either.  Storm and Angel the only Black women in all those X-Men movies and both are played by light skinned Black women.  Fantastic Four... well Kerry Washington played Alicia Masters, right? Don't that count for something?

Its really just sad how two groups of people, who are passionate about these movies and characters are really just a forgotten group and cast aside as if their fandom does not matter.  We constantly are preaching that representation matters and MCU and other companies should know this by now.  2018 fully proved that if you make a quality movie with diverse cast members, people will show up and throw money at your projects.

I can hear fanboys already with the excuses.... "You got Black Panther, stop bitchin"! "Or there are not that many Black women or LGBTQ characters to put in the movies" Really?  Isn't that really the problem then?  The industry has catered to male fan boys and the male gaze for 50 plus years and has constantly looked over heroes of color; especially women heroes of color.

Give us Misty Knight! Give us Storm( a dark skinned one)! Give us Shard!  Make sure Photon shows up in Captain Marvel!!!  Hell give us RiRi Williams and Moon Girl!!!  The characters are there and I hope phase four introduces MCU to them!
I see better than I hear tho!

The Producer

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #1 Review

Something that often gets lost is that modern comics are often driven by the movies.  While the comics may drive the stories in the MCU and other comic book movie universes, the movies often serve as a jumping on point for new fans and the comics often respond in kind.

Case in point,  Enter the Spiderverse focuses on Miles Morales as Spider-Man and shortly before that, we get a relaunch of the Miles Morales Spider-Man comic, written by Saladin Ahmed and art by Javier Garron.

Miles Morales and his Spiderman comic that came out in 2016 was cancelled a few months ago as Miles creator, Brian Michael Bendis left for an exclusive deal with DC.  At the time, there was speculation as to what and where Miles Morales was going to go; especially in light of Peter Parker coming back to full time Spider-Man duties.  Miles was still in champions but there always felt like a need for a full time Miles comic and a relaunch ahead of Enter The Spiderverse was inevitable.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man serves as a great jumping on point for those not familiar with the character of Miles Morales.  Issue one primarily serves as a get to know you issue as it explains Miles live as Spider-Man and the important people in his life.  While it does not dwell on how he got his powers, it does reference it and points out the subtle power differences between him and Peter Parker.

The book also looks at Miles live outside of school with his family, as well as his life at the school he attends in Brooklyn.  Focus is given to how his parents actually know his secret identity of being Spider-Man, but not all of his friends( except for Ganke).   Ahmed does a great job of blending the groundwork laid by Bendis, but also giving a twist and adding subtext to Miles' complicated dual life.

We do get introduced to a new character, Barbara, who is a love interest for Miles and our main plot as Barbara is hosting her nephew, whose father had been deported.  Ahmed, much like Coates has done in Captain America, placed an emphasis on using modern day politics as a point of reference to guide this plot line.

When we finally do get a bad guy to show up, its a classic Spider-Man villain in the Rhino, but all is not what it seems and we have a shocking reveal to end issue 1.

Overall, and I have written this here before, I am a huge fan of Miles Morales.  My son is half- black and half-Puerto Rican so I see my son in Miles Morales and I am hugely protective of the character.  This book was a solid entry for the creative team and has the potential to continue to move Miles past just being "Black Spiderman" or "Puerto Rican Spider-Man".  As Peter Parker is now a grown up( sort of), Miles is allowed to be that Peter Parker that most of us grew up with- fun loving, teenage Peter Parker.  The character is not burdened with all the angst of Peter, even though his life has complications.  The character and the book are fun and I am looking forward to seeing how this plays out over time.

** I will say this, tho….as someone whose wife is Puerto Rican and who speaks Spanish.  There is no way that Rio would only say two Spanish words to Miles when speaking with him and they certainly would not be Buena dia( more than likely bendicion in the morning) and loco.

The Producer

Friday, December 28, 2018

Chuck Clayton, Racism and Archie 1941

I wrote a review of issue #1 and you can find that here.

Archie 1941 #1 Review

Before I get into all of this, let me say that I am very protective of Black characters in white led comic books; especially when the writer( and artist) is not Black.  Often times, well intentioned moments can come off tone deaf  to the reader or paint the writer into a corner that they will solve by using a white savior trope which takes all the focus off the Black character to paint the white character as the hero.  This ignores any historical significance of the moment and places the Black character in debt and often deference to the white character.  So when white writers ( and artist) are dealing with Black Characters, I am often looking at their hair, their dress, and use of vernacular, language, and slang.  You see, white writers will often write what they THINK a Black person will say and they have no idea.  This also includes hairstyles and clothing.  This also includes context of the moment through racial and historical lenses.

In issue one, at the high school graduation, Mr. Weatherbee calls Chuck Clayton name at graduation.  Chuck is not seen on camera, but they establish that he attended and graduated from Riverdale.  However, this is 1941 in America. No matter what non-descript town Riverdale is set in, Chuck Clayton was not attending that school because the school and neighborhoods would have been segregated and Chuck and Nancy would have been attending the Black school near them.  The thought behind this was to establish that Chuck graduated and its a part of Riverdale for a moment that happens in issue 3 which I will deal with later.

Additionally in issue 1, there is a beach scene after graduation where the entire Riverdale gang is hanging out.  Nancy is there with the rest of the crew.  Again, there is no historical basis or backing for this because in 1941, beaches were highly segregated and Nancy being at the beach with a group of white kids would have caused an incident because it was illegal for her to be there.  Again, establishing the character but no context to the event or the historical significance.

Which leads to the events of issue 3 with Chuck. As a point of storytelling, the book is dealing with how the people of Riverdale are dealing with World War 2.  It mostly focuses on Archie and at this point, he has enlisted in the Army.  Well, apparently Chuck is also interested in enlisting and is met with some resistance.

Right off the bat, notice the subtle red hat... a clear nod to the MAGA folks.  Secondly, Chuck is addressed as, "kid" when in 1941 the common reference would have been "boy" or "Nigger".  As the confrontation escalates, the language begins to match what woulda been close to 1941( minus nigger).

In panel 2, after Chuck decides to square up, he catches a beat down.  A fairly brutal one too and in 1941, chances are Chuck does not survive this encounter with 3 white men.  He'd either be dead or been thrown in jail for striking a white man.  Again, context is important in these situations and Waid is using this moment to get to the reveal in panel 3...which is also problematic

So Moose comes in as the white savior.  Not surprising and he immediately takes the focus off what happened and Waid attempts to excuse it through Chuck by saying "these guys are not from around here".  And Moose doubles down with his "We don't put up with that stuff in Riverdale"?  Huh? Really?  In 1941?  Yeah, this is terrible.  It passes off a hate crime to "well they are not from here?" And? Its still a hate crime!  But bigger than that, a moment to speak about segregation and racism is lost to make Moose look like a good guy.  And Moose is a good guy historically in Archie( except to Reggie) but if you are going to center this book on 1941 and the war and the society that surrounded it, you need to focus on the ugly shit that was happening in America at the time.

I hope, if Chuck does wind up in the Army, it deals with the segregation that he is going to experience there.  While many Black soldiers wanted to fight in the war and did, often times they were sent in support roles for white troops.  And less to say about Black troops treatment when they came back to the United States after the war and were treated like second class citizens in a country where all men were allegedly created equal.

Look, its Archie. I get it. I know its not real and its not meant to be.  But, they chose to center this book around a historical moment in time.  If you are going to do that, then take the time to focus on aspects of that time that may be uncomfortable.  It does not have to be the focus of the book, but to not acknowledge it does a disservice to the characters and the readers.

The Producer

Thursday, December 27, 2018

AquaMan Movie Review

I am late with this review as I was one of the lucky people who was able to see this movie before it premiered in movie theaters.  The screening was set up for comic book fans, writers, and bloggers in South Florida and was a small group of about 50 people.

Going in, and I was a late addition to this group, I was not all that excited.  The trailers for Aquaman looked good, but DCEU had burned up all its good will and credit with me after Justice League.  Yes, Wonder Woman was fun and a great surprise, but all other DCEU movies from Man of Steel through Justice League had burnt me out on the Zack Snyder take of these characters.

Aquaman or Aqaubro as he is known here @brothascomics, was at least a break from SnyderVerse and a chance to break free of the uneven portrayal in Justice League.  James Wan is a quality director and the potential of focusing on a non, Trinity character appealed to me( even tho its Aqaubro).

And the movie, at first starts out doing a great job of building a universe and reintroducing the character without doing a full on origin story.    The forbidden love between Arthur's dad and Queen Atlanna , played by Nicole Kidman, give us a great opening action scene and the basis for the plot of the movie.  When we finally do meet Arthur Curry, he is well aware of his complicated history regarding his birth and the people of Atlantis and he has settled into a life of using his powers when he can to help people.  This is when we get first introduced to the character who will become Black Mantis.  His origin story and motivation are strong and coulda carried the whole movie in my opinion.

Of course, there is conflict with who is the rightful heir to Atlantis and tension as to whom should sit on the throne and our plot leads us to a pivotal scene in Atlantis and a battle between the Ocean Master and AquaBro.  I will be honest, the first 40 minutes or so of this movie had me way more hyped than I anticipated and the fans I was watching with were hype, too.  The movie is beautiful, by the way.  It reminds me a lot of Avatar in how its shot and to how it shows the majesty of Atlantis.  Honestly, I wish they woulda stayed there longer because....

Then, we leave the ocean and head to dry land as Mera has joined Aquabro in search of a McGuffin( a Trident to rule them all).  There is this break to try and add romance and comedy with Arthur and Mera and that culminates with a fight/chase scene in a desert town that you have seen in its entirety in the trailer.  The battle between Aquabro and Mantis becomes anticlimactic and the movie meanders for about 45 minutes in the search for the Trident.  Definitely killed the momentum from the early portion of the movie and you could feel the uneasiness in the screening.  I will say this... Mera is bad ass in this.  Her power set and her ability to kick ass rival Aquabro and that is a refreshing change from how women are often portrayed in movies with male protagonist.

Thankfully, we get back underwater for the climax of the film.  It was a little clunky for me with a secret reveal, the classic outfit, and the final boss battle all rushed into about 30 minutes( plus a dragon just appeared from nowhere).

Overall, I enjoyed the movie.  I wish the middle was as good as the beginning and the end.  I think this was probably the best Aquaman movie they could've made given the circumstances.  From looking at the early fan reviews, it seems most people enjoyed it.  I think its getting a little overhyped because its better than MOS, Batman v Superman, Justice League, and Suicide Squad( that's a lot of bad movies)!  As a stand alone movie, tho, it works on its own and it will be interesting to see if DCEU even attempts to build off of this into anything other than Aquaman 2.  Stay for the post credit scenes and if you are a fan of the New 52 Aquaman, its a fun geek out moment.

Again, good fun! If I was giving out stars, I'd give it 2.5 out of 4 stars.  Bring on Shazam!

The Producer

Bumblebee Movie Review

First, let me say that if you enjoyed the Michael Bay movies, I am really not sure why you follow me or read from this page.  Those movies, save for MAYBE the first one, are outright terrible and got progressively worse as time went on.  They were loud, unfunny, racist, and just a big ego feed to Michael Bay who could give a shit about Transformers.  He just wanted to blow shit up and show off young women in an overly sexualized way that only fed into his pedophile egoism.

Ok, we good?  We can start the movie review of Bumblebee.  Now mind you, I am an older Blerd who grew up on the original Transformers cartoon and the OG cartoon movie.  I will never say to you those are quality entertainment, but they do have a nostalgic heart to them; which were totally lacking in the Bay movies.  So when I heard there was going to be a new, Transformers movie, I was less than thrilled because of the PTSD I suffered from watching Bay shit all over the characters for 15 years.

So I watched with trepidation and angst and to be honest, Bumblebee is a really good movie.  Our movie starts out on Cybretron with the battle between Autobots and Decepticons.  The EFX are great here and no over done and we get to see Optimus and Starscream and other OG Transformers battle it out on the planet.  Bumblebee is presented as a great warrior and Optimus entrusts in him the plans to save Cybetron and dispatches him to Earth to await orders.  Of course, he is followed by Starscream and they have a battle on Earth seen by the military that alerts them to the presence of extra-terristial beings.

Bumblebee is injured in this battle and goes to hide out where he is found out by, Charlie, played by Hailee Steinfeld.  Charlie is a troubled character who is  still reeling from the death of her father.  She works on cars in her spare time and that is how she discovers Bumblebee where they share an intense friendship throughout the movie.  The great focus here is that our hero is a woman ( young woman) who is nobodies damsel in distress and is definitely not presented as eye candy for the male gaze; which I am sure positively pissed off Bay fans looking for their nubile, damsel to be rescued by some clueless dude bro.

Of course, two Decepticons follow Bumblebee to Earth and that is where I will stop with the plot leaks so I don't spoil.  The action is fun and intense in some parts.  The humor, at times, cuddles very close to the Bay line but never crosses it.  The John Cena casting is probably misguided but it does not take away from the enjoyment of the movie in any way.  Also, the movie is cast in 1987 and the soundtrack is full of some quality 80's tunes!

Overall, a fun popcorn flick released at the holiday for families to enjoy and the ending does give pause to possibly restarting the Transformers universe.  I pray that they do and they lock Michael Bay a thousand miles from the filming.

The Producer

Trailers before Enter the Spiderverse

Before Enter the Spiderverse began, here is a review of the trailers that played before the main feature. Mind you I was hoping for the Avengers: End Game trailer or maybe Captain Marvel.... and I got neither.  The Regal Cinema in my home spot is not big on running trailers for comic book movies and I usually end up with trailers for scary movies( that ya'll know I don't mess with).  This week tho, trailers are full of Christs' love!!

First up, Secret Life of Pets 2. I saw the first one. I don't remember much about it other than Kevin Hart playing a white bunny.  Well he is back and if you enjoy Kevin Hart playing a white bunny, you will probably enjoy this movie.  Its a full on pass for me tho and you can take Kevin Hart with you, too!!

This movie Overcomer is a faith based movie.  I saw the trailer, and like most faith based movies, its about as subtle as a sledge hammer.  Look, I am not the one to run down faith or Jesus.  However, these movies, for all the well intention, tend to grossly overlook the shortcomings of human beings to wrap things up in Christ love in an hour and a half.  Plus, whatever this story is, its gonna take on( literally) a white- savior trope based on the casting.  Additionally, these movies NEVER address the underlying racism that often drives so- called people of faith.  So, its no Bueno for me.  Pray for my soul tho!

Breakthrough.... it stars the lady from This is Us about a boy who falls through some ice and is brought back to life in a miraculous way.  The dude who plays Luke Cage on Netflix is also in it.  Its based on a true story.... Again, if this is what inspires you, I am not gonna rain on your parade.  Its a non starter for me( keep praying for my soul)

Um, if you click this trailer, you will have seen the movie.  Like for real, it gives away the plot, climax, and ending in these 2- plus minutes.  Not really a faith based movie, but it kinda is, too.  Look, I love dogs!  But I am not watching a movie about a lost dog finding its way home.  Plus, there is some shenanigans in the trailer with a cougar.  Hard pass for me( I still may be in need of prayer)!

Last, but certainly not least, Bumblebee.  Let me first say that if you enjoyed any of the Michael Bay Transformer movies, we really cannot be friends.  Secondly, I actually saw this movie already and will write the review in a bit.  The trailer is a good look inside the movie for the tone of the movie.  For the most part, it plays itself way more serious( in a good way), than they Bay movies and this would have been ( and maybe is) a good kickstart to a Transformers universe.  Fun trailer and a fun movie.  Highly recommended!!

The Producer

Disney Focuses on Fox

MCU working soon with Fox properties

As the Disney acquisition of Fox characters finalizes in January of 2019, there has been word out that Marvel has a 6 month out plan for their nearly, returned home characters in the MCU.  From the article linked above,  MCU head, Kevin Feige, stated that he has been given the go ahead to work on the Fox characters within the next 6 months.

This is great news for folks happy to see the X-Men and Fantastic Four come back into the fold, but unhappy news for the folks who thought there may be some kind of hint in Avengers: End Game.  It seems from my perspective, MCU is more than willing to allow Fox to finish what its started( as crappy as it is) with Dark Phoenix and that New Mutants movie and allow the stink from those to disappear before they look to a fresh start.

It seems like a natural transition, especially with The Avengers ending and a smooth transition can be made to the Fantastic Four through Black Panther as they have a long and rich history with one another.  Plus, the aspect of space and space travel with Guardians and Captain Marvel can open some fun areas to play with( Negative Zone, please)

To me, the bigger issue will be the X-Men and how that relaunch is handled.  People's love for the X-Men is far greater than that of the Fantastic Four and fans have been treated pretty shabbily with X-Men movies( I'll debate you that there are only 3 good X-Movies).  I am sure, Feige and company want to get the reboot right and will look to take their time in getting it right.

But good news for all comic fans; except the #DamnDisney folks like Big Hutch who just hate on Disney for giving us quality movies.  I know... It doesn't make sense to me either.

The Producer