Look, I hypothetically like the idea of Batman. You’ve seen the title. Over the past decade, Batman has become the patron saint of white male internet geekiness. That’s why I feel I have to jump on the defensive. I like Batman, I do. Just, he’s boring right now. Batman has stagnated since he was re-invigorated for the mass audience by Burton. The Batman of Keaton is only marginally different from the Batman of Affleck, or even the Batman of Bale. For twenty-nine years, Batman has remained a brooding, black-clad, boring bastion of a male power fantasy.
I’m a big fan of Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. Look, there are plenty of reasons to not gel with this film. It has weird tonal problems, the villain wants to commit genocide and feels weird about his boner, it’s an adaptation of a French novel that seems largely concerned with architecture over people. In my younger years, I was certainly more of a Lion King fan but as I entered adolescence my tastes changed. Hunchback was now the film for me. There is a lot to like thematically in Hunchback of Notre Dame, and themes tend to pull me in. The tyranny of godly men, the oppression of minorities, don’t judge a book by its cover, and so on. When I was an angst-ridden teen, convinced that I was an un-loveable monstrosity, that last theme appealed a lot. Now that I’m older, there’s another theme that grabs me. How do the men of Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame view and objectify Esmeralda?
Alright! Welcome to 2018. Now, time to talk about a book that came out eleven years ago and a movie that came out eight years ago. Now, in case you missed the whole thing I am going to spoil the series as a whole. So, let’s recap. Harry Potter is the story of a racist dictator, obsessed with immortality who was defeated by a teenager. Voldermort’s belief system is based on a belief that only ‘pure-blood’ wizards are true wizards and that ‘mudbloods’ are dirty pretenders and usurpers. This, despite the fact that he’s a Muggle-born wizard himself. That little hypocrisy is part of the theming used within the series. Overall, JK Rowling is very wise with her theming. There is a general throughline in the text about respect for those are downtrodden and discriminated against. Racism is bad! Yay! Only the worst of the worst people would utterly disagree with that sentiment.
However, I believe that there’s another aspect of Harry Potter that falls by the wayside a bit. Now, before I talk about my issues with the epilogue of Harry Potter, first I’m going to talk about S.P.E.W. (more…)
You might have been following the news recently when there was talk of Valkyrie in Thor Ragnarok being bisexual. You, like me, might have seen the movie and thought ‘well, when it comes to representation, that was a whole lot of nothing’. Later interviews revealed that the scene had been cut for timing, or pacing, or such. However, it might have struck you about how often that we might hear about a character potentially being LGBT or such in a major blockbuster and then nothing comes of it. And why you may ask?
[Spoilers for Thor Ragnarok]
So, some weeks ago I was watching the latest offering in the Marvel Cinematic Universe about a superhero whose mythos and supporting cast are drawn from Norse mythology. Here’s the thing. I know most of the work of director Taika Waititi and eagerly awaited Thor Ragnarok purely because of the comedy stylings of its director meeting the solid structure powerhouse that is Marvel Studios. The film was loved for its humour and action. For my money, it’s not my favourite Taika Waititi film (What We Do in the Shadows) or my favourite Marvel movie (Captain America The First Avenger), but that’s a matter of personal taste and there’s certainly lots to love about the film. The thing I want to discuss in regards to Thor Ragnarok is a couple of scenes in particular. However, first, I have to talk about Hela.
So, at this point in history, we’re nine years in and sixteen films deep (seventeen as of Thor Ragnarok) with this Marvel Cinematic Universe thing. Next year will mark the ten-year anniversary of the MCU and the culmination of an arc that started in the first Avengers film. With the MCU officially being the biggest grossing film franchise of all time, the question might arise: how did they do it? It might seem obvious in retrospect that the MCU is the biggest franchise in the world but this has only been the state of the world for about five years. There are a few things I want to look at with this piece, all tying back to the central idea: The Marvel Experiment. What were the risks? How did they pay off? How did they not? Finally, what makes the whole universe tick? How does this monolith shake off the legitimate critiques of its world, i.e. lacklustre villains, same-y plots, and the like?