A lot has happened in the eight years since Thanos made his big screen debut in The Avengers. While the mid-credits scene was essentially an ingenious way to keep an audience invested in a vaguely-defined future release, it was also one of the most memorable and bold moments in blockbuster cinema – a thrilling mystery to close a world-changing event movie. Thanos’ smile promised something greater to come, but his central role in Avengers: Infinity War this year gave us more than we anticipated.
Following a streak of well-written villains from Marvel Studios’ rapidly expanding cinematic universe – with Ego and Killmonger leaving the likes of Malekith and Whiplash in the dust – as well as his own prolonged build-up across multiple movies, Thanos had plenty to live up to. Yet rather than give what comics fans were expecting – a mad nihilist hopelessly seeking the approval of the physical embodiment of death – we got something a little more human.
Continue reading →
The following is a piece I wrote for Audiences Everywhere as part of a feature they ran in March. The third month of this year is trilogy month for AE, with various interesting pieces being written about different three-film sagas and thematic trilogies, from the original Star Wars series to John Carpenter’s apocalypse trilogy. Here’s mine, articulating some thoughts I’ve had about Steve Roger’s relationship with his own symbolism across the three Captain America movies.
Iconicity is the relationship of similarity between the two sides of a symbol—its form and its meaning. The closer the form and meaning are to one another, the more memorable the symbol is likely to be. An iconic symbol is one whose form resembles its meaning in some way; the opposite of this iconicity is arbitrariness.
The red and white stripes, star, and ‘A’ of Captain America’s costume is pretty clear as to what it represents, but the man is less clear. Part of the difficulty of communication and judgement through language is the physical world’s resistance to being reduced to the same rules. The costume can be evaluated by this standard, but with a man wearing it, humanity will often fail to settle between the lines that are drawn in linguistics. Continue reading →
There’s been much of talk of “superhero fatigue” recently. As far as I see it, the superhero film is the popular idea of the moment, and while some people are bored of it, most seem to be okay with it. Either way, it’s undeniable that we see more superheroes on the big screen with every passing year. The success of Marvel Studios’ Cinematic Universe has boosted the confidence studios have in their properties, and we’re getting films based on comic books that didn’t even sell that well in the first place. But as these franchises live on past their sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and shared-universe outings, they are finding themselves in uncharted waters. When it comes to what’s canonical to the ongoing narrative and how both the creators and the audience think of continuity film-to-film, we’re through the looking glass. There’s really only one medium that is comparable, and that is, unsurprisingly, the comic book.
Continue reading →
I wrote a full (and non-spoiler) review of the movie for The Cinemachina, you can read it here.
Civil War came out here last week, but in the lead-up to its release in the U.S. today I’ve been part of a series of articles on Marvel comics and Captain America over at Audiences Everywhere. The ones I contributed to were: