For a villain as iconic as Candyman, whose status remains in effect thanks to Tony Todd’s timeless performance, finding a new actor to play the character is a daunting task. The challenge lies in finding someone that can honor and add to the iconic status of the character while also embodying him. Jackie Earle Haley, for instance, tried his hand at it by becoming Freddy Krueger in the 2010 reboot of Nightmare on Elm Street. While Haley turned in a great performance, the movie itself didn’t live up to expectations and the new Freddy seemed to become dimmer in the process, not to mention that there was something missing about the updated version.
Nia DaCosta’s 2021 interpretation of Candyman looks like it’s eager to avoid comparisons and unrealistic expectations by not sticking to a single manifestation of the monster. Instead, it’s going for several manifestations of the character at once by placing black victims of police violence and brutality as potential candidates for the now shared title.
The movie’s latest trailer goes as far as to confirm that the idea is to turn the monster into a kind of vessel that finds its life source in the people American culture has wronged the most. Much like the original 1992 movie, the new Candyman comes as a dark response to the racial conditions of its time.
For the ‘92 Candyman, it was the lack of support for the more “urban” sections of cities and then the misrepresented idea that illegal activity was a legitimate and natural character trait of low-income black neighborhoods.
The 2021 Candyman seems to be powered by a Black Lives Matter perspective that frames police misconduct as the primary creator of Candymen. That, in itself, does enough to put the latest iteration of the story in a spot where the original concept is allowed to continue coursing through the movie’s veins while also injecting a healthy dose of new horrors to turn the experience into something different.
As a horror fan, this has to be one of the anticipated horror movies in recent years. It has a world of possibilities riding on it and it can inspire a new generation of black horror that can continue to challenge the bad things that turn victims into dark forces of retribution.
Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloodsis a new Vietnam War movie classic, worthy of a spot among Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, and Platoon. These movies all stand on their own and are inherently different because Vietnam itself was so unlike conventional warfare. It quite simply resists a particular storytelling mold due to it being a very singular kind of conflict, a different species of war. For Lee’s movie to make it into that list it needed to honor that same level of uniqueness present in those other films. I can gladly say it overwhelmingly achieves this.
Da 5 Bloods follows a group of four black Vietnam War veterans that go back to Vietnam to look for a box full of gold they buried during a mission with the intention of retrieving it later on. The group is led by Stormin’ Norman, played by an intensely magnetic Chadwick Boseman, a leader/teacher figure that basically acts as the Bloods’ own war version of Malcom X and Martin Luther King.
The film alternates between flashbacks and the present time (where it spends the majority of its time), with no de-aging tech used for the four main guys during flashbacks. Boseman’s character is the only one that looks young in the flashbacks because he’s the only one who didn’t make it out of the war.
It was so refreshing not being distracted by any de-aging techniques, which made The Irishman such a frustrating watch for me. I couldn’t go five minutes at a time without asking myself why a another actor wasn’t cast in the role of the younger Robert DeNiro.
In fact, the decision not to make the four main characters younger digitally also plays into some of the film’s strongest themes: combat memory and PTSD. That the same actors played both past and present versions of their characters gave the flashbacks a tragic sense of remembrance that communicated the very rough reality of how combat vets never truly leave the war behind. It’s a constant thing that makes vets think their wars never really end (another theme explored in the movie).
As stated earlier, the story stays the great majority of its time in the present. Their final mission in Vietnam–the retrieval of the buried gold–brings with it discussions on reparations and why black soldiers specifically deserve what’s rightfully theirs due to fighting for an America that didn’t respect them nor acknowledged their sacrifices back on the homefront.
This theme stuck with the movie throughout, making sure it was a part of every discussion that took place between the four vets. Spike Lee makes the point come across even clearer with his signature cuts to archival footage of black protests and black leaders like MLK and Malcom X adding their two-cents on any given discussion, even if it’s in presence alone. It evokes a kind of continuity for the black soldiers, seeing in Vietnam a contradiction of the very idea of military service. Why fight when black lives are being disregarded back home? Why not find this gold and give it back to the people? These questions lie at the heart of the film.
Black Lives Matter discourses are also echoed throughout the film thanks to its aggressive focus on how black military service means an entirely different thing altogether when compared with white military service. This sets this particular Vietnam War movie apart from the others, making it so different and unique in its own right. Apocalypse Now, for instance, explores war as madness. Platoon goes for misguided leadership, the absence of order, and a complete lack of accountability in war. Full Metal Jacket approaches the war as a morally corrupt and senseless act of mass violence that’s too far gone for it to be redeemed. Da 5 Bloods is about how something as historically charged as race in America completely changes what soldiers fight for. How society treats these soldiers at home will determine how their war is fought on the battlefield.
In other words, America brings a multitude of Americas to war, each meaning something different depending on who you ask and what color their skin is.
Delroy Lindo’s character, Paul, best exemplifies all of these metaphors. Paul is the character that most visibly carries the trauma of war on his persona. He’s unstable, angry, and resistant to help from the other vets. He’s a challenging character to engage with, but the movie’s genius is often seen through him as we go from being frustrated with Paul to understanding why it’s been so hard for him to leave the war behind.
Lindo puts on a performance for the ages. He grabs the audience and pulls them in close to him whether they want to or not, but it’s all for a cause. Spike Lee entrusts him with his signature monologue sequences, in which an actor stares straight to the camera to address a problem head-on and without restraint. Lindo steps up to the challenge and gives a monologue that we should be discussing for years to come as it ruminates on what happens when a country asks its most oppressed communities to go to war in its name. The monologue ties in well with the opening scenes of the movie in which we see archival footage of Muhammad Ali explaining why he refused to serve in the Vietnam War is shown.
Actors Isaiah Whitlock Jr., Norm Lewis, and Clarke Peters all do a fantastic job stepping into the shoes of the other three vets. They represent a cohesive unit that also struggles with leaving the war behind while also representing what Vietnam meant to them through their own character arcs. Clarke Peters in particular always keeps up with Lindo’s intensity, playing the part of the moral compass without falling to the trappings of passing judgment on any of his friends. Jonathan Majors as Paul’s son also becomes a mayor player as his fractured relationship with his father manifests and changes as the movie progresses. To a point, he represents inherited trauma and how the war extends beyond the combat veteran’s experience to become a generational problem.
Da 5 Bloods is a powerhouse of emotion, politics, and black history that easily fits in with the Black Lives Matter movement currently voicing their anger on the streets today, but it never takes for granted that it’s first and foremost a Vietnam War movie. It’s important it doesn’t run away from that as the black experience in war has seldom been explored with the seriousness it deserves.
Vietnam War cinema in America has largely been dominated by white experiences of it. Spike Lee’s Vietnam War movie is invaluable because it sheds light on why it’s important everyone knows that not every soldier fights for their country for the same reasons. The color of a soldier’s skin dictates which version of America they’re fighting for, and they all differ on their definition of freedom.
Humble Bundle is running a special one week bundle with 100% of all proceeds going to charities combating racism. This bundle benefits the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Race Forward, and The Bail Project.
The “Humble Fight for Racial Justice Bundle” features $1200 worth of games, books, and comics for just $30. All money raised would go to support the above organizations which all fight for racial justice.
Comics included in the bundle include the Attack on Titan Anthology, Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network, Shaft: A Complicated Man, Black History in Its Own Words, Prince of Cats, Bitter Root Vol. 1, Yo, Miss: A Graphic Look at High School, and Six Days in Cincinnati.
On top of that are books, roleplaying game books, and video games.
The bundle so far has raised over $800,000 with six days to go.
It’s a new week and we’ve got lots on tap coming your way from interviews, reviews, and more! While you wait for things to get rolling, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.
In numerous cities, “Black Lives Matter” is being painted on streets in massive letters showing their support for the cause. Some cities are taking it further allowing artists to allow their creativity flow in a letter. That’s resulted in some really interesting results. In Charlotte, North Carolina, Marvel‘s Deadpool made it into the “K” courtesy of artist Garrison Gist.
The art was done as a metaphor for the generation currently fighting injustice. Gist, the artist behind the letter, felt the character goes against the norms and embodies the spirit of those seeking justice and change. The choice was also made because Deadpool is pansexual and it is Pride month making the decision even clearer. You can hear it from Garrison below.
The art for the full statement was done by a collective of artists in the city with beautiful results which you can see below:
The Punisher skull logo has been adopted by the police and their supporters despite the character being a vigilante working outside of the law. The extrajudicial handling of crime seems to be the draw with the symbol blended with the “Blue Lives Matter” coloring and displayed in support. The symbol has been seen sported by police recently and has a long history within the police. Disney and Marvel have done nothing to curtail the use of the symbol as it’s been coopted and proliferated online and in the real world.
The Punisher debuted in 1974 and was created by Gerry Conway, John Romita, Sr., and Ross Andru. The character debuted as a villain targeting Spider-Man and over the years has generally evolved into an anti-hero though his exact depiction has varied. Conway has been vocal against the use of the symbol by the police and others and is currently attempting to take the symbol back.
For too long, symbols associated with a character I co-created have been co-opted by forces of oppression and to intimidate black Americans. This character and symbol was never intended as a symbol of oppression. This is a symbol of a systematic failure of equal justice. It’s time to claim this symbol for the cause of equal justice and Black Lives Matter. –Gerry Conway
Currently, over $24,000 has been raised for the organiztion through four designs and over 1,800 shirts sold.
Marc Guggenheim has joined Gail Simone in raising funds for Black Lives Matter. The creator is running an auction on Twitter that includes a page from Arrow #1 by Mike Grell and a piece by Arrow concept artist Andy Poon. He’s also included a copy of any script he’s written/been associated with.
The auction expires June 4 at 5pm PST. Bids should be made in response to the Tweet below.
Comic creator Gail Simone took to Twitter on Tuesday to recount her experience with Wonder Woman and the creator George Perez. She had the honor of writing Perez’s final to Wonder Woman.
Perez then gifted Simone the final two pages of the story. And as she describes them they have “more value” to her than anything else.
Simone is putting up the “very last page of George Perez’s legendary Wonder Woman work” to help raise money for Black Lives Matter.
But beyond just the page, Gail is including a signed and personalized Wonder Woman Omnibus, two signed and numbered Wonder Woman scripts, the original art signed by George Perez, a sketch by Colleen Doran, and a signed sketch of Diana and Philipus from George Perez himself. Dodeca Donuts is also donating one of their products for free to the winner of Gail’s auction.
The auction ends at 12:00 PDT/7pm GMT on WEdnesday June 3, 2020. It’s currently at $5,000. If you’d like to bid, use #WonderWomanLot.