fragile masculinity of the mcu

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: a dissection of the fragile masculinity of Marvel movies, the overlooked homoeroticism of superhero stories, and how everyone can do better.)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whether you realize it or not, it’s considered one of the biggest pop culture institutions defining modern American manhood. Heroes like Captain America, the Falcon, Iron Man, War Machine, Hawkeye, and Thor are considered red-blooded, hypermasculine American men (despite Thor’s role as a Norse god), and even outer space heroes like Star-Lord and lower-rung Avengers like Ant-Man evoke the ideals of fanboy manhood through snarkiness and Teflon attitude.

But all of this is really just a façade for a bubbling societal fear. These characters are archetypes for the fragile masculinity that affects too many men in America. That fear of not being “masculine” enough leads to misogyny, self-loathing, fear of homosexuality, and, at its most extreme, the deaths of gay and trans people (usually trans women).

I can already feel you getting overwhelmed, so let me scale this discussion back a bit to look at the small picture: Marvel and Disney. How does Marvel and Disney’s beloved MCU perpetuate this idea of fragile masculinity? How does it affect their audience? And, most importantly, what can they do to stop the cycle? Take a journey with me as I pick apart the MCU, its men, and why Marvel and Disney shouldn’t be afraid to show them as the vulnerable, soft-hearted human beings they actually are.

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midnight texas review 1

NBC’s foray into the supernatural, Charlaine HarrisMidnight, Texas, brings the familiar flair of Harris’ other work, True Blood. But this time around, things are less R-rated and more suitable for the conventions of primetime basic cable viewing. If you’ve been hankering for a dark fantasy show while you wait on the return of FOX’s Lucifer and The Exorcist, this might fit the bill.

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planet of the apes remake 2

War for the Planet of the Apes has already received rave reviews, with many critics calling it the last great chapter in one of the best film trilogies of modern times. With so much goodwill, it almost makes fans forget about the dark point in history when it seemed like the Apes franchise was dead.

Tim Burton’s 2001 Planet of the Apes reboot effectively killed the franchise for several years. The effect of the film was such that many though Rise of the Planet of the Apes would be a huge flop as it was being made. It was unclear if the audience appetite for talking apes had recovered since 2001. Thankfully, the gamble that was Rise worked.

But why did Burton’s Apes fall so hard? It had everything going for it on paper. What made it fail so spectacularly? The simple answer is that it tried to outsmart the original Apes film franchise. It seemed to assume that just because the original franchise was old, it was outdated and needed a completely new revision to make it “fresh” and “relatable.” However, there was nothing relatable about ape characters the audience could have cared less about, and human characters who were more annoying than sympathetic.

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Spider-Man Homecoming Spoiler Review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The hype is real — Spider-Man: Homecoming is definitely the best Spider-Man movie made to date. The film, which stars Tom Holland as a fresh-faced Peter Parker, gives us our best version of the character as well as the most realistic, most diverse on-screen version of Queens in a Spider-Man film. There are a ton of positives with this film, as well as some food for thought, so without further ado, let’s get into it.

Spoilers ahead.

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Is Twitter Hollywood’s New Casting Office?

why Ava DuVernay turned down Black Panther

Can you believe that what started out as a random tweet has now become one of Netflix’s upcoming original films? The now-famous tweet of Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o fabulously attending a Paris Fashion Week show will now be realized as a project directed by Ava DuVernay with a script by Issa Rae. With so much star power behind this idea, does this mean that Twitter has now officially become the next generator of blockbuster films?

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wonder woman trailer

Wonder Woman is the hero all women can look up to. Or so she’s supposed to be. Wonder Woman was created during a time when not all women were perceived as equal, or even as women. Wonder Woman, historically, has been a hero for white women exclusively.

Wonder Woman’s fellow ‘40s feminist icon-in-arms, Rosie the Riveter, has also been created by white America for white America, despite the fact that women of all races helped with the war effort. Nowadays, Rosie the Riveter’s iconography has been updated to include women from all races and backgrounds. If we compare Wonder Woman to Rosie, has the Themysciran Justice Leaguer been updated in a similar way? Has Wonder Woman’s brand been extended to include women of color, and if so, how well have women of color been represented?

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