Movies

Dear Marvel, stop telling us about LGBT+ characters, show us.

Dear Marvel

I have a bone to pick with your movie studio.

0cc4ef97e51af49643164fcadbcf152f

 

With Thor: Ragnarok, we’re roughly 17 movies into Marvel Studios’s historic cinematic universe, and we’re set to get a culmination of this universe building with the arrival of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 not long thereafter.

Marvel Studios has given us exciting adaptations of it’s properties. This year, they’ve delivered with Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, Spiderman Homecoming, and recently Thor: Ragnarok.

While the movies have been unending fun, something which isn’t necessarily the best in the long term, they have been methodical at building the cinematic universe, but it has ultimately paid off for the studio.

I do know the studio has had their three phase plan, and stuck to it with an impressive level of devotion.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) have given us a vast array of movies, choosing to go with quality over quantity, with 2017 being the first year they upped their output from two movies a year to three.

The thorough process, despite its successes, has not come without its failures – namely that the MCU has been slow on incorporating diverse voices and actors into it’s world.

While Marvel had a bigger head start over DC, it was Wonder Woman who made it to screen as the first female led superhero movie – overlooking Elektra and Catwoman – going on to become the top origin story of all time.

tenor

Marvel has its first female lead in Ant-Man and The Wasp, in 2018 before following that up with Captain Marvel, who will be the studio’s first solo female heroine in 2019.

The first black female lead character came with Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, and while her introduction was badass, it’s a little frustrating that it came now only.

The Marvel stable however, are forgiven for this slow delivery because they are in fact blessing us with a predominantly black cast in Black Panther – which is the first movie with a predominantly black cast to have a big action superhero blockbuster budget.

blackpantherposter

(The Blade trilogy did exist, but Wesley Snipes was always surrounded by predominantly white actors)

Black Panther is a pretty big deal because there will be disenfranchised and disillusioned young black boys and girls, who will get to see themselves represented on screens as heroes, and while to some this may seem trivial, it’s actually a huge deal.

Representation matters. Seeing yourself represented in the various media you consume matters.

Which is why as a member of the LGBT+ community, it’s frustrating when in interviews directors speaking about queers characters existing in the MCU but not showing that, or saying characters are bisexual, but having them acknowledge that on screen.

James Gunn, director of both Guardians of the Galaxy films was asked about this, in a previous interview, and then later again clarified his remarks saying:

“You know, somebody asked me will there by any gay characters in Marvel movies, and what I meant was there’s a lot of characters in the MCU and very few of them have we delved into what their sexualities are – whether it’s gay or straight or bisexual,” Gunn said.

“We don’t really know. So, I imagine there are probably gay characters in the Marvel Universe, you know. We just don’t know who they are yet.”

While his remarks seem harmless, it is frustrating when all you hear is about these fictional LGBT+ characters, but you never see them.

It’s an empty gesture. A form of tokenism to allow the studios to appear more queer friendly without having to put action to their words. It creates false hope.

Queer people don’t want to see ourselves represented as token characters because in our everyday lives we are the heroes of our own story. We aren’t tokens that exist for people to brag about showing off how accepting they are.

We battle our own demons, villains and face our own challenges. Sometimes we are the villains of our own story, but in reality we live complicated queer lives.

On film screens, we’re sorely lack the same level of complicated portrayal.

We’ve been so starved for on screen heroic representation, it’s why the #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend social media campaign galvanized so many people.

It was their way of expressing their desire to see the lead hero, Captain America get a on screen boyfriend.

The request, which isn’t unfounded or unreasonable when taking into account the high level of queer baiting which exists between Steve Rogers and James “Bucky” Barnes.

[Queerbaiting is the practice to hint at, but then to not actually depict, a potential same-sex romantic relationship between fictional characters. The potential romance may be ignored, explicitly rejected or made fun of.]

It’s also alarming when your lead character has more romantic chemistry with his best friend than that of Sharon Carter – whose romantic development was so rushed in screen it’s comical and not in a good way.

tumblr_inline_o6xd4kev4g1tzzqqs_500

There is however a bigger picture to consider – global audiences and their conservatism…especially in big profit areas such as China and India.

Marvel is a movie studio, and movie studios need money to continue making more movies. The more money the better for them. It’s why they’ve started paying attention to releasing their films in the international markets.

Within some of these countries, they have restrictive guidelines about what may or may not be shown, and with Hollywood eager to captalise on the vast profit potential that these regions offer, they will certainly stick to these guidelines.

In China, the biggest film market outside of America, the The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) board pulled and banned LGBT related shows, which were successful as these shows went against what they perceive as normal.

An example of this was a show I have watched called “Addicted” – which deals with the development of a relationship between a teenage same sex Chinese couple.

To quote a Guardian article the show was banned as:

“The government said the show contravened the new guidelines, which state that “No television drama shall show abnormal sexual relationships and behaviours, such as incest, same-sex relationships, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and so on.”

The ban also extends to smoking, drinking, adultery, sexually suggestive clothing, even reincarnation. China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television told television producers it would constantly monitor TV channels to ensure the new rules were strictly adhered to.
The clampdown follows an increase in cultural censorship in China since Xi Jinping came to power in November 2012

The same goes for it’s films.

In India, another big film market, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) besides, having banned a gay film, Ka Bodyscapes – they also had Oscar winning film, Moonlight allegedly recut removing pivotal scenes from the film which directly reveal it’s handling of homosexuality.

In India, homosexuality is still seen as a taboo.

It is for this very lucrative reasons that one can understand why Marvel has been so slow and been dragging its feet when it comes to LGBT+ representation, and giving vague answers, trying to appease those who want to see LGBT+ representation.

It’s also maybe for this reason why the Valkyrie scene in which it was suggested that she was bisexual was removed.

So in closing…

screen-shot-2017-07-24-at-4-44-20-pm

Dear Marvel, If you’re not interested in tackling or adding LGBT+ characters then please say so.

It’s your prerogative to do as you wish, and decide if you will tackle LGBT+ characters or not, it’s also our prerogative to decide what movies I am going to spend my money on.

Who knows…maybe DC will be the first movie studio to do that too…

shade-of-it-all

Regards,

The Lion Mutters.

PS: I know your TV shows have been delivering some LGBT representation, but let us not get started on how TV and film differs. Also how they had to separate y’all because you couldn’t place nice.

Advertisements

Call Me by Your Name – Twitter Book Review

DAWdrVAW0AAp2yW

Read “Call Me by Your Name” and I was frustrated. At the start it was just another gay romance being about how characters don’t even get to enjoy the romance.

I did a live-tweet reaction to the book which I will post here:

After finish reading Call Me By Your Name, I realized that it was a beautiful piece of text. Plot got iffy in the middle but the way it was written was beautiful.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experienced.

Loved the touch of melancholy and “the better to have loved and lost than never loved at all” thing was sweet. I still am tired of this type of narrative though…where all queer men just get unhappy endings but Aciman gets a pass because the story that he told was beautifully done.

At least no one died for the romance to end. It was just life.

DATGq8WWsAY1MGI

Film adaptation review: http://variety.com/2017/film/reviews/call-me-by-your-name-review-1201966646/

call-me-by-your-name

Power Rangers – Movie Review

Plot: Five teens unwittingly find themselves tasked with defending the universe when they inadvertently unlock the powers of a spaceship buried for thirty five million years.

powerrangers_cast

Review:

Go Go Power Rangers! Talk about a Mighty Morphing time had at the movies.
I was fortunate enough to attend the press screening, and I say fortunate because my scheduled so packed that day that it was miracle that I got to the screening.
The new Power Rangers film is better than it had any right to be, and it is such a fun experience.
I was a big fan of the Power Rangers when I was younger and I tried to watch it as often as what I could. Unfortunately I missed out a few seasons, but whenever it was on, I would repeatedly find myself sitting in front of the TV getting caught up in the action, the angst and difficulty in being teenage superheroes.

hqdefault
The new movie hits on all of those notes, but does so in a modern way.
The new era of Power Rangers aren’t goody two shoes, but rather good-hearted kids who make mistakes and aren’t always perfect. They make mistakes and have challenging home lives or facing challenges that they can’t speak openly about.
By removing the squeaky clean image of what we knew about the Power Rangers, it automatically gave the writers the ability to craft three dimensional characters, and for them to have done that with almost all of the Rangers in such a short time is a massive achievement.

powerrangers1280jpg-fe18ca_1280w
The film took risks in terms of character portrayals, and plot points, and witnessing that was exciting as a viewer as it gave the film a sense of individuality.
What I really enjoyed about the film is that when the Rangers do come together initially, it’s a coincidence, and felt natural. These are a group of teenagers who have detention together, and forcing them to become friends and bond too soon would have felt ingenuous but instead the movie uses that as a plot point.trinipowerrangers

Also what added to my enjoyment of the film was the use of a diverse cast, which was really something to behold. So many young children will get to see themselves represented as heroes on the screen and that is so exciting.

Not only that, but also children who differ from the norm. I would go into more details here, but I don’t want to reveal anything because part of the fun was discovering it for the first time on the screen without it being spoiled.

Elizabeth Banks was so good as Rita Repulsa, and I will confirm the theory that she was originally the green who then went bad.

This fact is revealed within the first few minutes of the film, and honestly it adds a wonderful dimension to her villain knowing that she used to be one of the good guys.

PR_D037_06737_R.JPG

POWER RANGERS (2017) Trini the Yellow Ranger (Becky G) and Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks)

Bryan Cranston and Bill Hader were really entertaining as Zordon and Alpha 5 respectfully. While Hader’s character is for comedic effect, Cranston’s character, Zordon, is a little more serious.

His character was originally this wise advice giving computer in the series however in the movie he is far more interesting with a intricate back-story. His motives are not without thought.

One of the reasons the movie is so good is because it knows how silly and outlandish the plot is, and doesn’t try to take itself too serious. The film knows exactly what it is, and in doing so, it allows itself to really play up its cheesy aspects.

The comedy in the film works so well. It really helps the movie not get too bogged down in the seriousness.

The movie isn’t without its flaws – the look of Goldar was seen within the trailer isn’t perfect with the monster that the rangers have to battle being a faceless villain.

maxresdefault1

Also the scenes where the rangers are battling Rita’s Putty’s for the first time use a lot of CGI, and my only gripe is that the fighting scenes could have been made to look more practical.

Given that fight scenes in films are evolving and we’re getting better action, it means that we often now judge action scenes while having seen better. While not bad, they could have put in more effort.

If you’ve seen the gritty fan film, then you will also notice a few similarities which aren’t a bad thing. It definitely gives better understanding as to why there were plans for a lawsuit against that film.

The Power Rangers movie knows exactly when to pay homage to its original history with the theme song and catch phrases being used are moments when they can pack the biggest punch, and have those of us who grew up with the Power Rangers geeking out.

The new Power Rangers movie is a definite must see, it is fun, humorous and tells a story worth being seen, especially if you are a fan of the original series.

There is a mid-credits scene which is worth sticking around for, and it definitely sets up the introduction for the sequel, which I hope there will be. This movie is really fun and enjoyable that it deserves a sequel.

maxresdefault

Lionsgate/Summit took the time to properly setup the first film, and with alleged six film movie plan in place, it makes sense. So long as they keep taking risks and pushing the story into new territory without going overboard like the Transformer movie series did, then I’m certainly going to be coming back and repeatedly watch these films.

Theo. Over and Out

REVIEW: Doctor Strange

tumblr_inline_og32lc83ff1uyxo6n_500-1

Plot:

After his hands are destroyed in a car accident, a talented surgeon travels to Nepal in order to receive healing from a mystical sect led by the immortal Ancient One. After joining their ranks, Strange learns he’s now on the front lines of a battle that spans dimensions and time itself.

Review:

The latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has arrived and boy does it take on a very strange topic, at least a strange one to the established cinematic universe. Magic.chvem5suuaad36b

Director, Scott Derrickson who is known for his horror films delivers a solid and necessary entry that continues to serve the larger plan Marvel has in the pipeline. The entire film is dripping in his visual style. The beginning of
Strange’ story could’ve definitely used more breathing room and time to develop, you eyes are still given a treat.

After watching the film in 2D, I highly recommend that you go view it in 3D or IMAX if possible only because the aesthetic of the film is so wonderful.

The comparisons to Christopher Nolan’s Inception are bound to be made because of the visuals, but thankfully the film is far enough from it to establish it as its own story and style.

A colleague of mine who I attended the screening with voiced a complaint afterwards that he did not enjoy how the film explained the magic away with science, but I feel like Marvel did this to appease fans because leaving something so important to understanding the film unexplained would cause an outcry. Given that Marvel is building towards interconnected films, they unfortunately do have to set up parameters for this new universe given that it will come into play.

Because of this, the film is exposition heavy, lots of exposition to take it, but I really didn’t notice it as mtumblr_o6v0dnwarf1sozqj6o7_400uch. These are general critiques that I read which I disagreed with. In a world like Dr Strange, you are introducing new concepts to an audience and inhabiting a new world so explanation and education is a necessary part of the process.

Dr Strange isn’t a perfect Marvel movie, but it a wonderful visual fest told with an excellent cast.

Benedict Cumberbatch is the perfect Dr Strange, portraying the Sorcerer Supreme with the right amount of arrogance and charm. In a another critique of the film that I stumbled across, some believed that he doesn’t have the right amount charisma that Robert Downey Jnr. has as Tony Stark, but as similar as their personalities are, they needed to have a difference in temperament which is something that Cumberbatch managed to achieve.

This only excites me for future interactions between the characters in which we will have two Sherlock Holmes’ butting heads.

Marvel still have a villain problem in their films that they can’t seem to fix. Mads  Mikkelsen does an excellent job, but he does feel underused…especially in light of his Hannibal role where you know he can deliver as a villainous character. I really hope that Marvel swiftly get the hang of their villains and give them legitimate reasons to do what they are doing, otherwise more and more fans will depart.

tumblr_oe75kxn4oe1t52mf4o1_500

There was the casting controversy surrounding Tilda Swinton as the ancient one, and no one can deny that Tilda Swinton took the role and delivered. There was a very interesting dynamic to her character that was quite enjoyable to watch play out, and it helped that she built that relationship with Benedict Cumberbatch.

Part of the reason why I assume Marvel change her character from comic to movie is because otherwise there would have only been one female character for the whole film.

Marvel did an excellent job in casting a wide variety of ethnic characters in roles for this film. People of colour and non-white characters are effortless sprinkled into the story, and only enrich the viewing experience, especially as a person of colour.

The signature Marvel humour is there, with enjoyable actions sequences, most notably the climatic end battle is wonderful to watch because it is the complete opposite of destruction. I would elaborate but I don’t want to spoil what happens.

Dr Strange is a quite the strange affair, but my is it a lot of fun.

Rating:  7.5/1o