superman all american

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: how a recent Superman comic is bringing out the worst side of America…and revealing what this country is supposed to stand for.)

In Action Comics #987, Superman faces a simultaneous barrage of small and large-scale calamities that see him harried, flying faster than a speeding bullet from crisis to crisis. One of them is an AR-15-wielding white guy sporting an American flag bandanna who opens fire on a group of Spanish-speaking factory workers. At the very last microsecond, Supes flies in front of the workers, shielding them from the bullets. He then berates the gunman for attempted murder (can you imagine!) and when the would-be killer bleats out that the workers stole his job and ruined him, Superman spits back that he should take responsibility for his own life.

With an ungodly to-do list, Superman then jets off to stop a spiteful activist from burning down a mansion to give the 1% what for, leaving the gunman and the workers in the hands of the local police. Yes, Superman is both against the mass murder of innocent people and against the destruction of private property. Yet his sense of fairness doesn’t work for Fox contributor Todd Starnes, who has twisted the issue to make it seem like Superman protecting innocent people is a new, liberal conspiracy meant to give pro-immigration forces a powerful ally. In Starnes’ take, Superman should have flown all the of the Spanish-speaking workers back across the border to Mexico. Since he didn’t, Starnes’ rhetorically asks, “Remember when Superman stood for truth, justice, and the American way?”

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Editing in-flight movies

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: Delta Airlines should provide uncut movies on their flights.

What’s the deal with airlines editing in-flight movies for content? (/end Jerry Seinfeld impression) But seriously, folks: I’ve recently taken a few trips across the country using Delta Airlines, and while their in-flight film selection is admittedly impressive, the glow of having a myriad of options at your fingertips immediately fades when you realize that each movie they offer comes with the following message beforehand: “This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen and edited for content.” The result? You aren’t truly watching the movies you think you’re watching.
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is it a horror movie

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: It is a horror movie, even if the internet insists otherwise.) 

You’d think that when a horror movie – in this case Andy Muschietti’s It – shatters box office records (to the tune of a $123 million), it’d be a joyous occasion. To be clear, it is. Yet, as horror fans know, this kind of event does not bring praise and congratulations from onlookers, but instead one of cinema’s nastiest trends – the “X isn’t a horror movie” stans who refuse to let horror fans have even the slightest moment in the sun.

Nah, I’m not going to let this slide this time. Let’s have a chat, internet.

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titans tv show dick grayson casting

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: the Titans TV series casting of Brenton Thwaites goes against the character of Dick Grayson.)

First things first, Dick Grayson is my favorite DC Comics character. So I may be a little protective of the former Robin as he makes his move to the live action realm, subjecting him to the limits of reality.

And I realize there will be limits to how the actor playing him will fulfill my expectations of Dick Grayson: as a hero with a diverse background and a sex symbol who eschews the hypermasculine stylings of most DC Comics superheroes. You may scoff, but that is what the Robin-turned-Nightwing hero has been known to be in the comics and his animated iterations. And this is why Brenton Thwaites — who joins the long line of generic, charmless actors who Hollywood keeps trying to push on audiences as our “next big movie star” — is so wrong for the job of bringing Dick Grayson to life in the Titans live-action TV series.

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Girls Trip

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: Hollywood’s diversity reports are meaningless if no one actually does anything with that information.)

Can we have a real conversation for a moment?

You know how every so often Hollywood likes to release a “survey” or a “study” that “reveals” there is a dismal percentage of women filmmakers assigned to new projects? Or that people of color make up a fraction of everyone else in the writing room? Or even that — surprise! — studies show that diverse casts actually do perform well in both domestic and international box offices.  We all react to the news like it’s something we haven’t heard before and been talking about for at least the past decade, rehash our gripes, and then…nothing comes as a result of the discussion. How long is Hollywood going to conduct these frivolous tests and do literally nothing about the problem?

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joker

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: why the very concept of a Joker origin movie is a terrible, no good, very bad idea.)

Some questions are better left unanswered. This basic notion is anathema in modern Hollywood, where every character must have an origin story and every origin story must be given the full franchise treatment. Thus, earlier in the week, Warner Bros. announced that it was working on an origin movie for The Joker, the infamous supervillain who has plagued Batman and Gotham City throughout decades of films, TV shows, and comic books. Much of the early reaction was focused on the baffling combination of people involved in this potential film: right now, Todd Phillips of The Hangover is slated to direct and co-write the film with Scott Silver (8 Mile), and Martin Scorsese — Martin Scorsese — will produce it.

Let’s get this out of the way: that trio working on this project is inexplicably odd to the point of feeling like the product of a fever dream. (If there is no other lesson here: you should have seen Silence when it opened in December, instead of neglecting it.) But the problem with this Joker origin story idea isn’t that it’s going to be directed by someone who’s made his name largely on obnoxious, bro-heavy comedies, or that Martin Scorsese is attached (which is just kind of heartbreaking). In fact, it has nothing to do with the men involved, and everything with what they’re involved in. There shouldn’t be a Joker origin story, of any kind, ever.

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guardians of the galaxy vol. 2

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: why Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is so great…and how it exposes problems in other superhero movies.)

Here we are, celebrating today’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2’s Blu-ray release, and I’m still asking myself the same question. How did James Gunn’s lovable superhero squad go from space-cowboy-nobodies to (some of) the world’s favorite comic movie heroes?

Star-Lord sauntered into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with minimal mainstream presence, flanked by a ragtag posse of oddballs. A gun-nut raccoon who talks? His walking, single catchphrase tree friend? Gunn had to establish singular origins, unite an Avengers-like alliance, and rock a grandiose space opera in Guardians Of The Galaxy. Then Vol. 2 needed to advance team-building, introduce even more characters and calcify the same emotional backbone. Frankly, none of this should have worked. Like how Suicide Squad attempted the same big-team buildup with half/a quarter/none of the same results.

Yet here stands James Gunn, with two of the most famous, successful, recognizable Marvel entries to his name. His success is even more impressive when you compare it directly to one of Marvel Studios’ “bigger” and more central movies: Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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Game of Thrones jump the shark

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: did Game of Thrones jump the shark in its most recent episode?)

KnowYourMeme defines the term “jumping the shark” as “an idiomatic expression describing a pivotal moment when a successful creative effort begins a significant decline in quality.” We won’t be able to look back and see if Game of Thrones has hit that “pivotal moment” until the series is finished, or at least until a few more episodes have aired, but from where I stand, this week’s episode (“Beyond The Wall”) feels pretty damn pivotal – and I’m not thrilled about the new direction that pivot implies.
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Everything Wrong with Cinema Sins

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about about anything and everything. In this edition: director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is fed up with Cinema Sins and we’re with him.)

Do you remember Cinema Sins? They’re the YouTube channel who puts together those “Everything Wrong with…” videos that point out what they think are mistakes in movies. We used to run them because for awhile they were harmless and amusing. But after awhile, they became far too self-indulgent, opting to point out things in a movie that weren’t really “wrong” with a title in question, but lame musings where the writer felt like desperately trying to be clever. That’s why we stopped running them with the exception of an appearance every now and then, accompanied by a single line, in our Superhero Bits column.

It turns out we’re not the only ones who are frustrated by Cinema Sins. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts recently decided to unleash hellfire upon Cinema Sins after they took aim at his latest film, Kong: Skull Island. However, he’s not mad about criticism of his movie in general, but rather what Cinema Sins has come to represent and how it dumbs down film criticism and culture while masquerading as satire.

Find out what Jordan Vogt-Roberts had to say about Cinema Sins below. Read More »

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AMC Theatres Banning MoviePass

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about about anything and everything. In this edition: AMC’s plan to block MoviePass is utterly moronic.)

Yesterday, some great news came for moviegoers. MoviePass announced that their movie theater ticket subscription service that has flown mostly under the radar since launching in 2011 was looking to increase its customer base in a big way by only charging $9.95 a month, regardless of where you live or how many movies you see using the service.

However, if you frequent AMC Theatres locations, MoviePass might not be beneficial to you for very long. At least if the executives behind the United States’ largest chain of movie theaters has their way. Not long after MoviePass announced their new price point and intentions to grow their customer base, AMC Theatres released a scathing statement saying, “AMC is consulting with its attorneys to determine if or how AMC can prevent a subscription program offered by MoviePass from being used at AMC Theatres in the United States.”

The long and short of it: AMC Theatres banning MoviePass is stupid. Let’s dig in. Read More »