Tag Archives: michael b. jordan

Michael B. Jordan Joins Static Shock as Producer

Static #1

DC announced during their FanDome event that Static Shock was getting the movie treatment. The Hollywood Reporter has the scoop that Michael B. Jordan and Outlier Society will produce the film.

Jordin joins Reginald Hudlin on the project. Outlier Society is Jordan’s Warner-based banner.

In a statement, Jordan said:

I’m proud to be a part of building a new universe centered around black superheroes; our community deserves that. Outlier Society is committed to bringing to life diverse comic book content across all platforms and we are excited to partner with Reggie and Warner Bros on this initial step.

Static is 15-year-old Virgil Hawkins who gains electromagnetic powers and becomes a costumed crusader.

Static first appeared in Static #1 in 1993 as part of the Milestone Comics imprint. Milestone was a comics imprint founded in response to the underrepresentation of minorities in comics. The comic imprinted the Dakota Verse, filled with minority superheroes and characters. Static was created by Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek T. Dingle. When Milestone folded, Static eventually joined the regular DC Universe.

Milestone is currently being revived by DC. Hudlin will be writing a new Static Shock digital comic series that launches in February 2021 as well as a graphic novel with art by Kyle Baker.

Static has also appeared in other media including his own animated series which ran for four seasons and 52 episodes.

Around the Tubes

Powers of X #5

It’s new comic book day! What’s everyone excited for? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below. While you wait for shops to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Newsarama – Michael B. Jordan Launches Naruto-Inspired Fashion Line with Coach – Intriguing.

Engadget – Court rules the FCC can’t block state net neutrality laws – That’s a good thing for some.

Reviews

Comic Attack – Neon Future Vol. 1
Talking Comics –
Powers of X #5
Newsarama –
Skies Over East Berlin #1

Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Both Win at the Critics’ Choice Awards

Cast of Black Panther

This Sunday the Critics’ Choice Awards were held and both Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse walked away winners.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won “Best Animated Feature” repeating its Golden Globe win in the same category. The film has momentum going into the Oscars. It beat The Grinch, Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Mirai, and Ralph Breaks the Internet to walk away with the latest win.

Ruth Carter won for “Best Costume Design” for Black Panther besting Alexandra Byrne for Mary Queen of Scots, Julian Day for Bohemian Rhapsody, and Sandy Powell for The Favourite and Mary Poppins Returns.

Black Panther also walked away a winner for “Best Visual Effects” besting Avengers: Infinity War, First Man, Mary Poppins Returns, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, and Ready Player One.

But it wasn’t all celebrations. Black Panther walked away empty handed in numerous categories as well.

Black Panther was nominated for “Best Picture” which it lost to Roma. in “Best Acting Ensemble” this film lost to The Favourite. Michael B. Jordan was nominating for “Best Supporting Actor” for his role as Killmonger in Black Panther. He lost to Mahershala Ali for his role in Green Book. Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole were nominated for “Best Adapted Screenplay” for Black Panther. They lost to Barry Jenkins and If Beale Street Could Talk. Rachel Morrison was nominated for “Best Cinematography” for Black Panther and lost to Alfonso Cuarón and Roma. Black Panther was also nominated for “Best Hair and Makeup” losing to Vice.

Numerous comic films lost in “Best Action Movie” to Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, and Deadpool 2 were all nominated as well as Ready Player One and Widows.

In “Best Comedy,” Deadpool 2 and The Death of Stalin lost to Crazy Rich Asians. The Favourite, Game Night, and Sorry to Bother You were nominated as well.

Ryan Reynolds lost in “Best Actor in a Comedy” to Christian Bale for his role in Vice. Reynolds starred in the title role in Deadpool 2.

When it comes to music Black Panther came up empty handed as well. “All the Stars” lost to A Star is Born‘s “Shallow” in “Best Song” and and in “Best ScoreLudwig Göransson lost to Justin Hurwitz for First Man.

Comic adaptations were absent from television awards at the show.

Top Movies of 2018

Well, 2018 was quite a year. While I didn’t have a hard time picking my top five favorite films of the year, what I was surprised by was the “big middle” of everything I saw this year. Of the hundreds of movies I saw between theaters, film festivals, and originals thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, my average for everything I rated was a 3.461765 stars (out of 5). And while I only had a single 5 star movie (spoiler, it’s my #1), my most common rating for the year was a 4.5 (15 films) and a 3.5 (14 films). In terms of raw scores, my #36 isn’t that far off of my #6. That’s all to say we had a lot of really good movies– mixed with a few truly greats.

Because of that (call it indulgent, IDC) I’m giving you my Top 40, just like Casey Kasem back in the day.

The Top 40- 11:
(if you skip these to get to the top ten I won’t be offended)

40. Operation FinaleOscar Isaac leads a Mossad team to take down Adolf Eichman (Ben Kingsley) are you kidding me?!? Had to see this. File under: Jews kicking ass.
39. Overlord – the corollary to #40, but a black paratrooper taking out crazy Nazi scientists doing superhuman experiments. Reminds us Nazis are the bad guys.
38. The Rachel Divide -A Netflix documentary about Rachel Dolezal, mostly in her own words, the activist who claims she is trans-racial. It’ll make you think.
37. Ready Player One – This was my 13 yr old daughter’s favorite movie of the year. It reminds us that fun Spielberg is fun.
36. Ralph Breaks the Internet – It makes the list just for the Disney princess scene and “A Place Called Slaughter Race.”
35. A Simple Favor – Heavy on style, Anna Kendrick plays up the fun angle with director Paul Feig as a mommy blogger whose new best friend disappears. There’s a fun sort of “true crime” type mystery with the comedy here.
34. Mandy – this movie feels like a relic of another time — specifically, the 80’s with definite hints of Heavy Metal — and feels like it was made under the influence of a lot of drugs as Nicholas Cage takes revenge on a crazy cult who murdered his wife.

33. BlackkKlansman – I should’ve loved this movie more, but its weird tacked-on ending sort of blew it, and only in one shot in the entire movie did it feel like this was the same Spike Lee who gave us Do the Right Thing.
32. QuincyRashida Jones gives us the most intimate look at her father, master composer Quincy Jones. A great watch on Netflix.
31. Deadpool 2 – It’s a Deadpool movie. It’s great.
30. Widows – It’s a high stakes, high concept heist movie with an amazing female cast and political intrigue. It’s great.
29. Mary Poppins Returns – I love Mary Poppins. And Lin Manuel Miranda. It’s not as immediately classic as the original, but who expected it to? Emily Blunt is still amazing. And it’s great.
28. Hereditary – This is the movie that stuck with me the longest. Still, thinking about this movie makes me want to turn on all the lights in my house. Also, an amazing acting job by Toni Collette.
27. Number 37 – A movie you probably never heard of! I caught this gem at SXSW and fell in love. A South African slum gangland take on Rear Window by a first time black female director. Yes please.
26. RBG – This was a great year for documentaries. This one on the Notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg checks all my boxes.
25. Incredibles II – This sequel to one of the greatest animated movies of all time (and one of the greatest superhero movies of all time) did some really amazing things thanks to director Brad Bird,, but the ending took it down a few notches. But the fact that this ended up at 25 tells you just how competitive this year was.
24. BlindspottingDaveed Diggs and Rafael Casal‘s tale of police violence, Oakland, and hip hop was a little too pat in its ending, but was otherwise masterful. A main reason Oakland ended up on my list of “Who won 2018?”

23. Searching – We’ve now seen several of these movies where they’re told only through what we can see on the screen of a computers. Like found footage, there are good and bad, and this is a good one. John Cho and Debra Messing deliver powerful performances in a story about trying to piece together the mystery of a missing daughter through her social media footprint, intertwined with a father losing touch with his daughter in the age of screens.
22. Bad Times at the El Royale – This might’ve ended up higher on the list if it had delivered more on substance over style, but this was still pretty amazing. And that soundtrack!
21. Minding the Gap – An amazing documentary about young adults growing up as friends in a rust belt town as skate punks and how life and domestic abuse has kept them back. Fascinating and maybe a bit too real.
20. A Quiet Place – Wow. Nothing quite shocked audiences as much as this, as well as exposed the worst theater-goers in America. Shut up or the monsters win! One of several reasons why I said Emily Blunt and John Krasinski won the year of 2018.
19. Leave No Trace – Props to writer/director Debra Granik and to amazing performances by Ben Foster and breakout star Thomasin McKenzie in this heartwrenching look at a dad dealing with PTSD who lives a solitary existence off the grid in the woods with his young teen daughter. Of course, when Child Protective Services finds out. . . well, you’re not exactly allowed to do that. And drama ensues.
(18.- tie) The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – There’s a debate as to whether this is a movie, as it is currently being presented by Netflix, or a tv miniseries, which was how the Coen Brothers originally pitched it. This is peak Coen in all their forms, but if this is a movie, this is where it would fall.
18. Mission Impossible: Fallout – Finally it feels like writer/director Christopher McQuarrie leveled up his directing to the level of his writing ability. The perfect summer movie, even if I liked a few other movies from the summer of ’18 a little more.
17. Annihilation – Along with Hereditary, this was the movie that stuck with me (in my nightmares). Astounding visuals and an amazing ending, and an amazing cast.
16. Avengers: Infinity War – We knew we’d get to this eventually, right? There isn’t much more to add. Bring on 2019’s conclusion and Captain Marvel.

15. Upgrade – Done on a tiny budget, this movie packs a punch of a $150 million blockbuster. Brutal, fun, and thoughtful.
14. Vice – Dear Writer/Director Adam McKay, Don’t lie– you made this movie just for me to enjoy, right? Built to my tastes? The fact this isn’t in my top 10 (it would be in any other year) says a lot about the other films on this list.
13. The Favourite – Dear Writer/Director Yourgos Lanthimos, Same Question. Also, thanks for bringing back the fish-eye lens.
12. Crazy Rich Asians – I haven’t wholeheartedly loved a romantic comedy like this in ages. Just pure fun, and its stellar cast is amazing.
11. Won’t You Be My Neighbor – The movie most likely to make me cry in 2018. This is just sheer goodness. Again, how is this not in my top 10?

The answer is because those movies in my top 10 are just so great themselves. Here you go, without any further ado:

10. Roma

Roma

“We are alone. No matter what they tell you, we women are always alone.” A beautiful film by one of the best directors working today, Alfonso Cuaron. An ode to his maid, growing up in an upper-middle class house in Mexico City, this has some of the most beautiful and thoughtful cinematography of any film. The fact that it’s in black and white should also be telling. Even more importantly, the fact that Netflix is going to be in the mix for a Best Picture this year should have every movie studio quaking in their boots. If you watch this at home in your pajamas instead of in a theater, no one will think less of you, or at least I won’t. Just watch it.

9. Hearts Beat Loud

Hearts Beat Loud

Without a John Carney movie musical around for me to adopt this year as one of my favorites, I went with this one. Nick Offerman owns a record shop and tries to connect with his daughter who is about to leave for college through playing music together, when she falls in love with her first serious girlfriend. She writes a great song, they put it on Spotify, it gets some notice… and more. Just beautiful performances, great music, and a movie about love and family. Also, Ted Danson as a bartender.

8. Las Sandinistas!

Las Sandinistas!

Wait, what? Who? This documentary about the women behind the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua is one of my favorite documentaries of the year in a year with amazing documentaries. (This isn’t the last one in my list) I first saw this at SXSW and fell in love. You will too if you can find a way to see this.

7. Paddington 2

Paddington 2

There isn’t a better word for this film than just “charming,” or perhaps “nice” or “good.” This is comfort food you didn’t think you needed. It will heal your soul and fill you with good cheer. Also? Hugh Grant for Best Supporting Actor.

6. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse

Dear Sony, THIS is what you should be doing with your extended Spider-Man universe instead of. . . well, Venom. Every single one of your spider-personas in the film was perfect, but especially Spider-Gwen and Miles Morales. Peter Parker means a lot to so many of us. But it’s great that there are others who can take up that mantle: Spider-Man isn’t an everyman unless literally anyone could be him, regardless of age, gender, race, or species. This new, fresh take is so important, but so so is this animation. I’ve never seen anything like this, and I can’t wait to see more. More Miles and Spider-Gwen please! And Spider-Ham and Spider-Man Noir. Ok, just all of them.

5. Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade

This was another movie I adopted as a favorite ever since seeing it at SXSW. I can’t state this enough: as a father of a 13 year old girl, this is the most true depiction of what her life is like that I have ever seen. The rest of my favorites don’t seem to be getting much notice for major awards, so I’ll be pulling heavily for writer/director Bo Burnham and especially breakout star Elsie Fisher.

4. First Reformed

First Reformed

I sadly missed this at SXSW, and only recently caught up with it. I wish someone had grabbed me by the lapels sooner and made me watch it. What I dreaded as homework and maybe another stolid but off-putting performance by Ethan Hawke I instead found a complex narrative about faith, pain, moral imperatives, and a Christian view of our responsibility to take care of the earth. That REALLY checks a lot of boxes for me. “Will God forgive us?” Not if you don’t see this movie, she won’t.

3. Black Panther

Black Panther

Here it is. The big kahuna. The mothership. The single largest, most important piece of pop culture phenomenon in America for 2018. I literally de-friended a few fellow critics on Facebook because they didn’t like this movie, and when I pressed them for why, their reasons were bull$#!t and a cover for racism. If you can’t appreciate the filmmaking prowess on display here by Ryan Coogler, you have no business calling yourself a film critic.No other Marvel film has ever felt so little like it came off the assembly line. No other feels crafted quite so carefully, so deftly, with precision in every shot, in the delivery of every line. And to that, we have to give credit to this amazing cast. Michael B. Jordan is the greatest Marvel villain, and when he demands to see the Wakandan sunset, and die rather than live in chains, my heart breaks every time. “Show them who you are!” You did, Black Panther, you did.

2. Three Identical Strangers

Three Identical Strangers

This documentary came out of nowhere and astounded me. Sold to me as a story of three identical triplets adopted by different families who reunite by happenstance seemed like it would just be a fun little romp. Oh, cool! Nature vs. nurture– look at all the similarities between these boys even though they were separated at birth. And then. . . you find out what’s really going on. There’s a crazy twist that I still won’t reveal because not enough people have seen this. But once you find out, it will challenge everything you think you know about nature vs. nurture, no matter which side of the debate you are on.

1. Sorry to Bother You

Sorry to Bother You

This is the best movie of the year and the only film I gave 5 stars out of 5 to. Is it, in fact, a perfect movie? No. But, it’s so audacious in what it is trying to do that I will forgive any small problems it may have. And what this tries to do is skewer the intersection of class and race, delivering a stunning repudiation of Bay Area neoliberalism and technocracy. This is about the closest we get to Terry Gilliam, Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry doing a woke black power narrative, and it is fantastic. I heard from a lot of folks that liked this movie ok, until the ending, which they hated. To me, the ending was perfect and what made this so audacious– I, usually silent in most movie screenings, literally gasped, “What the f@$%?!!?!” As crazy as it was, it fit with the film’s themes and made me love it even more. For being that willing to reach for it — no compromises — this was my favorite of the year.

Fin.

So, that’s it. What do you think? You may have noticed some pretty big snubs in there. Some of those were intentional, some of those I never got around to see. Tell us what you loved and what you think I missed, overrated, underrated down in the comments.

And also here’s my list of the worst movies, and my Top 5 of Everything, along with “Who Won 2018?”

Rooster Teeth Talent Join gen:LOCK Voice Cast And New Teaser Features David Tennant Voicing “Doc”

At RTX Austin, Rooster Teeth’s annual fandom convention, Gray G. Haddock, Head of Rooster Teeth Animation and showrunner for the upcoming anime-style series gen:LOCK, announced the Rooster Teeth voice cast for the show, and released a second teaser that features David Tennant voicing the character “Doc” for the first time. In gen:LOCK, Earth’s last free society is on the losing side of a global war, and recruits a diverse team of young pilots to control the next generation of giant, weaponized robot bodies known asmecha. These daring recruits will find, however, that their newfound abilities come at no small cost.

Lindsay Jones (voice of Ruby Rose in “RWBY”) will voice Razzle, Chase’s squadron leader. Miles Luna (voice of Jaune Arc in “RWBY”) will voice Miguel “Migas” Garza, Chase’s best friend. Blaine Gibson (voice of Nerf in “Camp Camp”) will voice Sinclair, an experienced ranger recruited to the gen:LOCK program, Haddock (voice of Roman Torchwick in “RWBY”) will voice Leon, a mech unit leader, and Chad James (voice of Boomstick in “DEATH BATTLE”) will voice Jodie, a mech pilot and close friend to Miranda.

gen:LOCK’s voice cast is led by Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther, Creed) who voices the main character, Julian Chase, and also includes Dakota Fanning (The Alienist, Twilight Saga) voicing expert mech pilot and Chase’s love interest, Miranda Worth, Kōichi Yamadera (Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell) voicing Kazu Iida, one of the new recruits transferring from Japan’s military forces, to fight alongside Chase in the gen:LOCK program, and Tennant voicing Dr. Rufus Weller aka Doc, a lead scientist with the Experimental Science Unit (ESU) and the inventor of the gen:LOCK technology.

gen:LOCK is the second anime-style series and third 3D animated series from Rooster Teeth Animation. Outlier Productions, Jordan’s production company, is co-producing gen: Lock along with Rooster Teeth.

gen:LOCK will premiere in January 2019 exclusively on Rooster Teeth, available for iOS, Android, Xbox One, Apple TV, and at RoosterTeeth.com with memberships starting at $4.99 a month.

F.J DeSanto, Federico Dallocchio, Todd Farmer, and Vault Comics’ Failsafe Gets Snagged by Netflix and Michael B. Jordan

Vault Comics is on the move when it comes to their comic properties being turned into films. Netflix has snagged Failsafe from the comic publisher with a script by Joe Robert Cole (who co-wrote Black Panther with Ryan Coogler) and will be produced and star Michael B. Jordan. Alana Mayo will produce through Outlier Society Productions along with Vault Comics’ F.J. Desanto.

The comic series is by writer Desanto as well as written by Todd Farmer with art by Federico Dallocchio, lettering by Travis Lanham, and designs by Jon Adams.

The series focuses on John Ravine, an insurgent hunter who thought the haywire Insurgence Program was over when he executed the last nanotech-enhanced super soldier. Ten years later, in the wake of social unrest, its true legacy is revealed. As sleeper agents scattered throughout the country activate, Ravane must stand between a government he cannot trust and the soldiers he once hunted.

The first issue of the comic series was released in April 2017.

(via Deadline)

Movie Review: Black Panther

Lets get this out of the way, Marvel films are rather formulaic. We get the origin of the hero in the first third of the film, the second third is the set up where they are beaten down, then the last third turns into a fist fight. This is generally what we can expect and as more films are released, that formula grows a bit old. So, the question is, with each new release, can Marvel Studios deliver enough “new” to keep the audience engaged and interested. Black Panther delivers a lot new and then some, though suffers in that last third due to the formula.

The story is a bit James Bond as Black Panther must bring to justice a man who stole the country’s precious Vibranium decades earlier. Cool gadgets are plenty as illegal deals are attempted to be broken up all as we learn more about these cast of characters.

While we know some of Black Panther and the Dora Milaje (his elite bodyguards/warriors) from Captain America: Civil War where they debuted, the world of Wakanda is mainly unknown and this film is far more than the few that debuted in what seems forever ago. In a sense, this is an origin story like so many other Marvel Studios releases as T’Challa takes up the mantle of King as well as Black Panther. But, where Black Panther stands heads and above what’s come before is how it does that origin story and it’s focus on not just one man.

Played by Chadwick Boseman, T’Challa is conservative in many ways. There’s not as much ego or brashness, instead Boseman plays the character as the leader of a nation but also one who is clearly learning. He doesn’t go it alone or “have to learn,” he seeks council and relies on those around him. This is a very different superhero and the movie does an excellent job of recognizing that. Where it really stands out from those before is the supporting cast which is large and in charge. Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Letitia Wright as Shuri, it’s the women (especially the Dora Milaje) who steal the show. Wonder Woman showed us kick-ass women, this film takes it to the next level in so many ways. And, while they definitely kicked ass, their presences was a statement too. The Dora Milaje are not one size fits all. While all members are athletic, the heights, build, and skin tone differ for each. While I expected a general uniform look (something more like the Amazons in Wonder Woman), I was surprised at the vast differences. In one scene in particular one rather tall member is next to a shorter member and I can only think this was done on purpose to emphasize this. Wright especially stands out for her enthusiasm and Q like character. She delivers the tech that makes Black Panther (and Wakanda) function. As T’Challa’s sister, there’s also a healthy relationship that feels fresh and like it’s been missing from movie screens.

But, it’s not just the young brilliant and kick-ass women who add to the film. Angela Bassett as Ramonda and Forest Whitaker as Zuri add a gravitas in a way and feel like they’re passing the baton to a new generation of Black actors.

But, what is a Marvel film without its villains? Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue and Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger step into those roles in what may be the best Marvel villains to date. We’ve seen Serkis’ briefly in a previous Marvel film, but here he’s able to amp up the sleaze to the next level both having fun with it all and making the audience feel dirty. But, it’s Jordan’s Killmonger that delivers a character that’s complicated at at times sympathetic. It’s difficult to truly dissect everything without spoilers but he’s an American whose goal is to take over the throne of Wakanda. His Western Imperialism embodied but one whose past and history makes him sympathetic.

And that complicated nature is what also makes Black Panther stand out as one of Marvel’s best films. This is a film, that in numerous scenes, debates the isolationist policy of Wakanda. It debates how this wealthy African nation leaves other nations and specifically Black individuals to suffer. While it prospers it does not provide aid, instead pretending it too is a Third World Nation. It directly addresses the concept of Black individuals “making it” then leaving others, the debate about supporting one’s own community. While the film takes place in Wakanda, it’s a debate that’s had right here in American communities, about supporting Black owned businesses or creators. It’s that sort of layering and detail that again makes the film stand out and the films’ writers Ryan Coogler (who also directed) and Joe Robert Cole deserve accolades for that.

Coogler’s direction, while good, falls a bit short of my expectations. Coogler is known for Fruitvale Station and Creed (both starring Michael B. Jordan). When it comes to direction, both of those films surpass Black Panther. But, visually, the film is amazing delivering us something that would make Jack Kirby cry. This is Afrofuturism on screen and through all the wonders of the city, when we get to the streets it feels lived in and real. Visually the film is stunning and you do see Coogler’s touches with small looks and moments that create a story that feels natural and how individuals actually interact.

As I said, the film does stumble a bit towards the end with a typical battle that has become standard in Marvel Studio films. This one feels like a bit of escalation with the amount of individuals involved so it does shake things up in some ways. It’s not just the usual hero fighting bad guy. But, the film does stumble in typical Marvel fashion. If it had come out earlier, before the pattern of stories was clear, this wouldn’t have been as much of an issue. But, the pattern and formula is pretty clear now.

Black Panther feels fresh though. The women steal the show. The first 2/3s feels more like a James Bond film than typical superhero movie, and there’s a healthy dose of exploring real world issues. There’s an enthusiasm and enough freshness about the film to make it stand out from the pack as one of Marvel’s best. The fact that everyone on screen doesn’t look like me is a large portion of that. Hopefully the film is as much of a success as I expect it to be and we see much more of this to come.

Overall Rating: 8.75

11 Things to Check Out Before Black Panther

The hype is strong out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s newest addition — and not without reason. While I am prohibited from revealing major plot points or spoilers from Black Pantherwhat I would like to provide is a sort of guide to what you’re getting into. Think of it like a wine and cheese pairing list to prepare your appetite before you go into see this next film.

1. Avengers: Age of Ultron / Captain America: Civil War.

The second one may seem obvious — it was the first time we saw Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa on screen, and it tells us at least a little bit about his home country of Wakanda. But we’re also introduced for the first time to Martin Freeman as Everett Ross, who shows up a lot in Black Panther. 

But many of us will have forgotten (or tried to forget?) that Andy Serkis showed up for about 10 minutes in Age of Ultron as Ullyses Klaue, a South African arms dealer who stole vibranium from Wakanda, which Ultron then took from Klaue, along with a sizeable portion of his arm. This becomes important, so it’s worth revisiting at least that scene from Age of Ultron, and then watching Civil War, because Civil War is just so. dang. good.

It’s also worth noting T’Challa’s character arc in the film, especially as it relates to him being on Team Iron Man. In Black Panther, we’re treated to seeing just how much he respects international law and being subject to the Sokovia Accords. . . which is not at all, as we first see him in the film running an operation outside of Wakanda’s borders to rescue a colleague.

Also, note the final scenes he’s in with Zemo, and with Cap and Bucky in Wakanda. Boseman’s character work and scripting is excellent here, and this carries over into our film here.

Oh, and anyone who felt teased by this scene where a Dora Milaje is about to throw down with Black Widow?

“As entertaining as that would be. . .” Well, we get that entertainment in Black Panther. And the wait is worth it.

2. An Encomium To The Black Experience: Why I Am Excited To See Black Panther

This article by our own Troy Powell is a must-read. This is an incredibly thoughtful take on why Black Panther’s vision of afro-futurism is refreshing and exciting. Just go read it. I’ll wait.

3. Fruitvale Station and Creed

Director Ryan Coogler‘s career so far has been pretty well entangled with that of actor Michael B. Jordan and it’s great to see Jordan stretch his wings as the villain of Black Panther, Eric Killmonger. The MCU has often been faulted for relatively weak on-screen villains, but Killmonger is a rare exception.

To see their first collaboration, go back to Coogler’s first film, Fruitvale Station, which he both wrote and directed. It tells the true story of Oscar Grant who was shot by a San Francisco Transit Officer on New Year’s Day in 2009. It’s a heartbreaking story of hope and tragedy, and a film which I first reviewed as being “the best and most important film of 2013 that everyone who truly needs to see it never will.”

Coogler followed this up with the most unlikely of films– the Rocky franchise reboot/sequel Creed, also starring Jordan as the son of Apollo Creed who seeks out the aging champ Balboa to train him. The single shot of the young Creed’s first fight is such a masterwork of filmmaking it’s worth the price of admission alone.

You add onto that really brilliant character work and an intense understanding of the franchise, and you can understand why Coogler was a great choice to take on the MCU. Coogler grows as a visual director, and it’s great to see his growth from a low budget film to a medium budget studio film to using Disney/Marvel money.

4. That Kendrick Lamar soundtrack

black panther soundtrackAnother common complaint about the MCU is lack of memorable music. And especially where the films have tried to pair up with popular music, results have been. . .  mixed. Yes, I love hearing Foo Fighters play Walk in the bar in Thor (and over the credits), but it doesn’t quite mesh with the film overall. And then you have Soundgarden playing some nonsense over the credits to The Avengers — in my mind, the only problem with that film at all. They should’ve just licensed a good Soundgarden song and called it good. (How much better — and more fitting — would “Rusty Cage” have been there?)

But from the moment we heard a hip hop sample of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” in the first trailer for Black Panther, we knew we were getting something different.

You can listen to the album streaming on Spotify here and now.

5. A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates

a nation under our feet 1

While this current run on Black Panther may not have a lot to do with the movie from a narrative or character standpoint, it shares something incredibly important which is a social commentary. Coates’ opening run on Black Panther may have been set in Wakanda and been about the politics of Wakanda, but it wasn’t hard to see parallels to our current political situation in the US.

This is completely true of the film as well. It’s also clear that Coogler and Coates are of similar minds about presenting a critique of colonialism (and our current neo-colonialist attitudes towards Africa). Our film also hits hard on the oppression faced by black Americans, a struggle Coates has written on extensively and which finds itself woven into the philosophical discussions of A Nation Under Our Feet.

Beyond that, the basic premise of this run is whether T’Challa and Wakanda have some duty to the larger world or only to their country and their throne. That resonates thematically with T’Challa’s growth in the film. It’s also paced similarly– with lots of dialogue and character and less action.

Please also check out our video review of this on Facebook.

On a side note, a quick shout out to one of my favorite podcasts, Funnybooks and Firewater, which covers comics and offers drinking games and custom cocktails to go with your reading. They covered this a few weeks ago, and if you ever wanted to hear four white guys from Utah and California struggle with their privilege and talk about why they love this book so much, this is worth a listen. Also, they’re currently halfway through Watchmen and inching up on their 100th episode, so check them out.

6. Black Panther by Christopher Priest

h/t to my colleague Jon Carroll, who recommended this to me. Starting in his 1998 run on Black Panther, Christopher Priest introduced the Dora Milaje and the character of Everett Ross, whom we see a lot of in this film.

7. Static Shock

Speaking of Christopher Priest, it’s worth mentioning and recommending Static Shock, which he co-created with Dwayne McDuffie (Rest in Power– we miss you still), Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle, and Michael Davis.

For kids of a certain age who will remember this fondly from the Kids WB lineup of cartoons, this was simply the height of early 00’s superhero awesomeness. It was also important to remember how groundbreaking this was at the time to have a superhero show led by a young black hero. Sure, Storm had been on the X-Men cartoon, but only as a part of a team that also included a fuzzy purple demon.

But this was the impetus for creating the character in the first place– greater representation and diversity in the world of comics and tv. Here’s hoping we also see more of him with the upcoming Young Justice continuation on Netflix as his inclusion was a highlight of Season 2.

8. Blade II 

Yes, for all the hype about this being the first time we’ve had a black comic book superhero in a big budget Hollywood movie, we’ve forgotten that Blade was a Marvel comics character before Wesley Snipes took on the role. However, in my opinion, the first film was good, not great. But Blade II is the far superior film.

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, contender for Best Director this year for The Shape of Water, we get Blade teaming up with a vampire clan to take out the Reapers, new creatures that feed on vampires. This also reunites Del Toro with Ron Perlman from their previous work on Cronos, but perhaps more importantly, set up Del Toro and Perlman to make Hellboy. 

The major difference between the Blade movies and Black Panther? It’s missing a broader social conscience. This is something the Blade franchise always seemed to approach but never quite executed on, using vampires as stand-ins for parasitic and oppressive capitalism and the resulting income inequality. You can read that into the first two Blade movies (we dare not speak about the third one), but it isn’t quite there in the same way Black Panther wears its social commentary on its sleeve.

Some have suggested along with Blade, I should also recommend Spawn, which also starred a black superhero. But then I would be recommending Spawn. And I just can’t bring myself to do that. The Summer of 1997 was very cruel to comic books at the movies. I’m still not sure what is the bigger ignominy– nipples on the batsuit or the entirety of Spawn. 

9. Ultimates II

A Marvel animated film based off the second arc of The Ultimates, or the comics themselves, in which the Ultimate Universe versions of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (which became a sort of meta-blueprint for a lot of the MCU) enter Wakanda and meet Black Panther.

10. Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes

Because one good cartoon deserves another, this cartoon series for some reason met an early death after only two seasons despite some amazing work. Klaue shows up fairly early, and T’Challa shows himself the equal or superior of all of our Avengers.

11. Luke Cage and Black Lightning

Last but certainly not least, these are great tv shows, and certainly Luke Cage is set in the same universe. But I didn’t want to just fall into a trap of just listing every superhero adaptation with a black protagonist. What sets these apart is a clear connection with a strong social commentary on what it is to be black in America right now. It should go without saying that if you aren’t watching Black Lightning every week on the CW, you should be. And if you somehow skipped Luke Cage on Netflix, it’s a good time to catch up, especially before the next season of Jessica Jones comes out in a few weeks.

 

Well, there we go. While certainly not an exhaustive list, this should help you as you wait patiently to see this film later this week.

Did I miss anything? Have a favorite Black Panther tie-in? Leave it in the comments section. Wakanda Forever.

Michael B. Jordan Joins Black Panther

Michael_B._Jordan_by_Gage_SkidmoreActor Michael B. Jordan will be reteaming with director Ryan Coogler as it is being reported that he’ll be joining Marvel‘s Black Panther in an unspecified role.

This is the third time the actor has team with Coogler. They worked together on Fruitvale Station and Creed previously.

It was reported yesterday that Lupita Nyong’o is in talks to join the cast.

This is the second superhero role for Jordan. Earlier this year he played Johnny Storm in the box office flop Fantastic Four, another Marvel property but that one by 20th Century Fox. Jordan is also the second Johnny Storm to hop from that role in to a role in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Chris Evans played the same role twice and is now Captain America.

The film is being directed by Ryan Coogler and stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther. Coogler is known for writing and directly Fruitvale Station as well as Creed. He will be doing both for Black Panther as well. After a career mostly in television, Boseman broke through with his portrayal as Jackie Robinson in the film 42 and will be depicting Thurgood Marshall in Marshall which comes to theaters in 2016.

The film is set to release February 2, 2018 and begins filming in early 2017.

Black Panther debuted in Captain America: Civil War is the warrior king of the African kingdom of Wakanda. A teaser scene at the end of Civil War sets up the possible conflict of the film.

Movie Review: Creed

CreedThe former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.

When I saw the first trailer for Creed there were two thoughts that crossed my mind, 1) how am I just hearing about this?; 2) oh come on!

I’m a fan of the Rocky series, and other than the atrocious Rocky V, I can watch the movies over and over again, and curled up on the couch catching a marathon on television is a great way to spend the day for me. Though the films generally decreased in quality over time (with Rocky Balboa being the outlier) the franchise is one of the most enjoyable out there.

Walking out of Creed, not only have I watched the best “Rocky” film since the first (and in many ways it challenges the first), but also one of the best films of the year.

Directed by Ryan Coogler (who also has a writing credit), the film is a modern take on the Rocky myth, with Michael B. Jordan standing in for Sylvester Stallone, and Stallone taking on the mentor role. With Coogler behind the camera and Jordan in front, we also have one of the freshest films this year. It should be no surprise these two put out such an excellent film as they both shot to stardom with their first collaboration Fruitville Station.

Coogler’s choices are fantastic when it comes to direction, as well as story, with shots that modernize much of what we’ve seen. Subtle moves of the camera, especially during the boxing scenes, amp up a genre where we see mainly the same framing and use of the camera. Here a camera may start facing one boxer and in a single tracking shot back up and pivot to bring another in. We follow a knocked out boxer down, as if we’re knocked out. A face is placed low on the screen showing off the surroundings. Training is presented in a way that I feel it’s something I’ve never seen on the screen. The mitt training in particular feel like a choreographed dance with a flurry of arm movements, just beautiful and mesmerizing to watch fly through the air. It’s all masterful, as Coogler realizes the surroundings are as important as those who occupy them.

The story is almost a complete remake of the first Rocky film with some twists and turns. Jordan plays Adonis Johnson, a troubled youth who gets in to fighting then boxing. He seeks out Balboa as a mentor, and eventually fights for the championship. We’ve seen this plot, but how it’s presented and with such fantastic acting, are two ways this very much differs.

Coogler as a director clearly has the ability to bring out the best in his actors. Jordan is not shockingly fantastic. I’ve yet to see him in a role where he didn’t shine. He plays the role fantastically well with an air of privilege and trouble mixed together. He also gives an emotional performance, one which I have no problem admitting got me to choke up a few times. What’s truly surprising is Stallone’s performance, who lets face it, isn’t known for his acting ability. Here though, he plays the aged mentor well. The vulnerability he shows is amazing, especially when his life is on the line. You truly feel that this is a man who is struggling to decide if he should give up and see his wife and friend again, or keep on fighting. This film is as about Johnson’s fight for the title as it is Rocky’s fight to go on with life.

Of note are two other actors. Tessa Thompson plays Jordan’s love interest Johnson. She’s excellent for the subtlety of her performance. Her character Bianca also has an aspect not mentioned in much of what I’ve seen, a character who is losing her hearing and thus struggling with a disability. It’s an aspect of the movie I didn’t expect, and the way she talks and deals with it, you can feel her struggling to cope and having to cope. It’s wonderful to see on screen. For those also familiar with the boxing/MMA world Jacob ‘Stitch’ Duran is a fixture in the second half of the film bringing an air of authenticity. Duran is a real world cutman working in boxing/MMA/kickboxing, and though he doesn’t have much as far as lines, it was great to see him on screen.

Like a championship passing from the champ to challenger, we may be witnessing the passing of a franchise. If what’s to come is as good as this first film, I’m quite ok with that. One of my favorite films of the year, and possibly one of the bests, it’s also one of my favorite films in a while.

Overall Rating: 9.6

Director – Ryan Coogler
Starring – Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 133 minutes

« Older Entries