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It’s No Way Home for Spider-Man in December 2021

Marvel and Sony have revealed the title of their third Spider-Man film out December 2021. Spider-Man: No Way Home completes the latest Spider-Man trilogy. Tom Holland, Zendaya, and Jacob Batalon all return along with director Jon Watts for the film.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Along with the title, we get some images of the film along with some teased, but wrong, titles.

Rumors have suggested the film will continue Marvel’s dip into the multiverse with Holland dealing with Doctor Strange and also coming across previous iterations of Spider-Man as well as villains from previous films.

Spider-Man: No Way Home Arrives in theaters on December 17, 2021.

TV Review: Euphoria Special Episode 2- Jules

Euphoria Jules

The second special episode of Euphoria that acts as a bridge between its first season and delayed (Due to Covid-19) second season focuses on Jules’ (Hunter Schafer) character, her relationship with Rue (Zendaya) and her parents as well as other things like her gender, the toughness of moving to East Highland, and how she feels like she builds stronger connections with folks online that in real life. The entire episode is framed in a therapy session that her dad, David (John Ales) wanted her to attend after she took a train and ran away from home in the final episode of season one. It blurs the lines between reality and fantasy quite a bit, and director/co-writer Sam Levinson brings a lot of Euphoria’s visual and musical trademarks into the episode with a synth-meets-sacred score from composer Labrinth and a pair of powerful needle drops from Lorde and Billie Eilish, who released a new track “Lo Vas A Olividar” with Rosalia just for this episode.

The colorful nature and the non-linear narrative that Levinson and Hunter Schafer, who is credited as a writer on “Jules” matches the titular character who wants to go to New York and study art and has amazing taste in fashion and makeup. One of the first shots of the episode is a colorful flashback montage of all of Jules’ major moments synced to “Liability” by Lorde with the poignant lyrics creating reminders of the hurt that she has been and has caused in the past year. It sets up Jules sidestepping talking about running away and instead talking about gender, and how she is tired of having it be defined by men and crafting her gender presentation to be desirable to them. She talks about going off puberty blockers and her previous fears of dysphoria and puberty’s “deepness” and “thickness” when now those things reminds her of the ocean.

Sure, the metaphor is a little cheesy, but a quick reminder that these are high school students, and it also is an opportunity for Levinson and Schafer to make a little magic in a flashback sequence. With Labrinth’s score soaring, they show us Jules at her freest frolicking in the waves at her grandmother’s house and letting them wash over her as she lies in the sand without a care in the world. This feeling is also connected to how she feels about Rue, who makes a few appearances in flashbacks, dream sequences, and one heartbreaking one in the present as she bikes over to her episode. The way that Jules talks about Rue is a real highlight of this episode as she talks about how Rue saw her real self beneath all the parts of different people that made up herself and compared to how a mother looked at a baby before that child can make any kind of memories. Levinson conveys this emotion visually through a recurring image of Rue and Jules staring into each other’s glittering eyes: Zendaya and Hunter Schafer get a lot of power out of one look. This episode is full of intimate moments between them, like Jules showing Rue how to inject her with estrogen in one scene where they’re sleeping over.

Euphoria Jules

Jules’ new therapist, Dr. Nichols (Lauren Weedman) tries to make connections out of this tangle of emotions and makes a painful, yet true one when she realizes that Jules’ fear and anger about Rue’s addiction is like her anger about her mother’s addiction. We don’t know where Amy (Pell James) is in the present, but there are some flashbacks like when Rue’s dad basically ambushes her by bringing her mom to make amends as part of an AA program. You can see the tension in John Ales’ face as he’s playing a character who wants to save the woman he loves, but doesn’t want to lose his only daughter. Amy overhears that Jules hates and doesn’t care about her so she leaves without saying goodbye, and later, we hear David on the phone about how she’s back at a psychiatric hospital after going on a bender. So, this is why Jules flinches, and Schafer’s lips quiver every time Dr. Nichols brings up her mother, especially when she’s trying to make a positive connection.

The other thread of conversation that Jules and her therapist have is about online relationships, especially her failed virtual relationship with Tyler, who turned out to be Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi), an abusive football player, who blackmailed Jules with her own nudes so he wouldn’t have to face consequences for assaulting his girlfriend in the previous season. Jules still dwells on the texts and sexts she sent to Tyler (Jayden Marcos) and talks to her therapist about the openness and vulnerability she feels in online relationships. This is shown visually during elaborate dream sequences where she fantasizes about having sex with Tyler in her fantasy New York apartment with sensual red lighting and Labrinth’s score building to a climax. But, instead, there’s a bass drop, the lights cut out, and Tyler’s face is replaced by Nate’s as she returns to reality. The relationship between Nate and Jules is one of the scariest parts of Euphoria, and his sweet, catfish texts as Tyler continue to haunt her as she thought she had a real connection with him.

The best and toughest scene in “Jules” is seeing and listening to the story of Jules and Rue’s first from her perspective. In the first season, the scene is shot from Rue’s perspective, and she initiates the kiss before backing off and running away because she didn’t know if Jules liked her like that. However, this episode reveals that Jules was already in love with Rue, and this was the first time she had ever kissed a girl so she was hesitant about making a move. The flashback drives home one of Jules’ key fears: that she will lose Rue. We see her frantically calling Rue and trying to express her feelings to her, which is mirrored in the present day by her missed calls and texts plus their quick, awkward encounter at the end of the episode. Through therapy, Jules can start to rebuild her sense of self and even have conversations about things like going off hormones and being a trans woman. However, she wonders without Rue if it’s all worth it, and the final shot of the episode with the rain pouring down on Jules’ window really captures the pain of losing a friend, and it being your fault while leaving things open ended for the upcoming season.

Although it sticks to one location just like “Rue”, “Jules” is far from lo-fi with Sam Levinson and Hunter Schafer unleashing a plethora of fantasy sequences, artsy flashbacks, and musical tracks to show Jules’ state of mind during a difficult time for her. From watching Euphoria Season One, I definitely knew why Rue loved Jules, but this episode nails how much Jules cares for her with Schafer covering her face in close-ups because she loves her so much and is afraid she is going to lose her. This episode also does a good job of finding a throughline between its Jules’ relationship with Rue and her mother and also talks about online relationships and being trans in a very nuanced way with smart writing from Levinson and Schafer.

These special episodes have shown that Euphoria has two of the most emotionally vulnerable actors on any TV show (Zendaya, Hunter Schafer) and have whetted my appetite for the upcoming season, which hopefully have the same level of insight to go with its visual and musical panache. Also, fingers crossed for a Lexi flashback!

Overall Verdict: 9.2

Alfred Molina Will Reportedly Return as Otto Octavius in Spider-Man 3

Alfred Molina Doctor Octopus

Either the rumors are all over and full of it, or Spider-Man 3 is putting it all on the table. Alfred Molina is the latest actor who is rumored to be reprising their role in Sony‘s Spider-Man universe. The actor would return as Otto Octavious, the villain from Tobey Maguire‘s Spider-Man 2 (different trilogy). Neither Sony nor Marvel commented on the news.

The actor had been rumored for some time and was spotted on the set but there have been some confirmations to various news organizations that he’ll play some sort of role, though it’s unknown as to what extent.

Molina joins Jamie Foxx who also will return as Electro. Foxx’s Electro terrorized Andrew Garfield‘s Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Foxx, in a now deleted Instagram post, hinted that Maguire and Garfield would appear in the upcoming film.

Marvel and Sony have been leaning into the “multiverse” making this sort of thing possible. Sony’sSpider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a massive hit both in grosses and awards. In that film, multiple “Spider-Man” from around the multiverse teamed up and came together, a riff on the popular Marvel comic storyline. Marvel Studio’s next Doctor Strange film has hinted at a focus on the multiverse. It’s the next logical progression for Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and directions to take it. Benedict Cumberbatch who stars in that film will appear in Spider-Man 3 which stars Tom Holland.

Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, and Tony Revolori will all return to the film with director Jon Watts back at the helm. Watts directed the first two Holland films. Spider-Man 3 is currently slated to be released on December 17, 2021.

TV Review: “Euphoria Special Episode Part 1: Rue”

Euphoria Rue

Because of restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, writer/director/creator Sam Levinson gets creative and crafts an episode of Emmy-Award winning show Euphoria that is stripped down of its usual visual, costuming/makeup, and musical flair. “Rue” begins with a dream sequence of Rue (Zendaya) living her ideal life with Jules (Hunter Schafer) complete with lots of kissing, cute conversations, and not having to sneak out of the window because Jules is in art college, and they share an apartment. However, reality floods in as Rue snorts pills and relapses. This leads to her meeting with her sponsor Ali (Colman Domingo) at a diner on Christmas Eve. They talk for the remaining 50 minutes of the episode about life, addiction, loss, their families, faith, and “real shit” until he gives her a ride home in the rain while Euphoria composer Labrinth sings a gorgeous cover of “Ave Maria” that is definitely going on the holiday playlist.

“Rue” reveals that Euphoria has a hell of a lot of substance underneath. Domingo is a veteran theatre actor, and he and Zendaya embody the old adage that “acting is reacting” in this episode. Because she is high, Zendaya plays Rue in a heightened way at the beginning of the dinner as she slurs her way through talking about how she’s a functioning addict. However, Ali is a great listener, asks good questions, and finds out that when Rue does drugs, she doesn’t want to kill herself. He responds to this with empathy about addiction is a disease, and that while some people want to keep folks like them out of sight and mind, that he knows what she’s been through. Ali even reveals to Rue that he has been clean for seven years, not 20 telling her that he had a relapse after being clean for 13 years.

Sam Levinson doesn’t really play any of the dinner between them for melodrama, but Zendaya’s delivery becomes a little less flat as they launch into a fascinating conversation about the role of faith and a higher power in Narcotics Anonymous. Levinson does a great job connecting both Ali and Rue’s current life situations to the larger world around them in a more organic way than, say, Euphoria’s pilot, which strung together Rue’s birth, the beginning of the universe, and 9/11 in a frenetic opening sequence. Ali is a devout Muslim, which Rue finds out when she wonders why he said his name used to be Martin in a quick bit of comic relief before she sarcastically defines “higher power” as something in nature or an Otis Redding. But the real reason that she doesn’t want to believe in God or a higher power is because of her father’s death because she’s tired of hearing survivors of tragic events say that God “saved them for a reason” when her dad had the purpose of raising her and her younger sister.

This scene hits a real emotional vein and also exhibits Ali’s emotional intelligence as he kiboshes the religious angle and gives a stirring, almost in character monologue about the life of Malcolm X and the Civil Rights movement. He wraps it up with a personal anecdote about Nike’s “Our Lives Matter”, and how they co-opted the Black Lives Matter movement and the work of activists like Colin Kaepernick to sell expensive shoes made by Chinese Muslim slaves. Domingo’s passion comes out in this dialogue, and Levinson crafts a study in contrasts between him and Rue, who is too busy dealing with the shit in her own life and how she can’t forgive herself, to pursue activism or revolution, which he says is “spiritual”.

Euphoria Rue

And this “busyness” flows nicely into their side conversation with Miss Marsha (Marsha Gambles), who shares Gambles’ own story of recovering from addiction and being clean from 17 years while telling Rue (Who got a “Miss you” text from Jules while Ali smoked and called his daughter, Imani) that she needs to focus on her sobriety before getting into a relationship. And speaking of relationships, the chat that Ali and Rue have about her relationship with Jules shows a tiny bit of a generation/communication gap as Rue thought she was exclusively dating Jules because they kissed a lot, said they loved each other, and wanted to get matching inside lip tattoos. However, they didn’t have an actual conversation about their relationship status and instead reveled in the messiness, which can be fun, but usually ends in heartbreak and drama like Jules getting on a train and leaving Rue behind at 1 AM. Storywise, it’s really satisfying to have Rue open up about how she feels about Jules and the connection to her addiction to a third party that is unaware of the utterly fucked up reality of her high school. (See everything about the whole Nate Jacobs situation.)

One of my favorite parts of “Rue” is the “interlude” I mentioned earlier where Rue listens to the thematically relevant “Me in 20 Years” by Moses Sumney and sees a text from Jules while Ali goes outside and tries to reconnect with his daughters (Who Rue asked about earlier) while taking a smoke break. This short scene does a good job of fleshing their characters as Rue retreats to the sanctuary of her music, and Ali tries to show his daughters that he’s a good person even though they witnessed him assaulting their mother when he was high in the past. Rue is at the stage of her life and addiction where she just wants to retreat and try to feel good for her last few years while Ali is trying to make amends. Colman Domingo really nails both sadness and emotional honesty in this scene, and this grief is why they have a strong connection and “like talking to each other” like they both say towards the end of the episode.

With clear shots of both Rue and Ali’s faces, Sam Levinson shows that this isn’t just a polite truism, but they actually like having someone that they can basically empty all their darkest thoughts, saddest feelings, and sometimes, brightest hopes around. They are both characters that are not into bullshit (Unless Rue is skirting a talk about her addiction.) and small talk, and this episode reveals this in a beautiful way with some lived-in performances from Domingo and Zendaya. Levinson also shows detractors that Euphoria isn’t just a flashbang show meant to scare mommy blogs and pearl clutchers, but is deeply invested in the emotional lives of its characters.

In “Rue”, Sam Levinson doesn’t lump Rue’s relapse with a dozen other plots, but he puts it into full, bloody focus. This allows viewers to understand the nature of her addiction, and how it personally affects her and her relationships with her family, Jules, and yes, Ali. Zendaya’s delivery and scrunched up facial expressions enhance this intense character study (Give her a second Emmy already!), and I’m intrigued to see how Euphoria Season 2 explores her addiction, depression, emotions, and relationships.

Overall Verdict: 8.9

Movie Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

Spider-Man: Far From Home

It’s difficult to review Spider-Man: Far From Home in its totality. Doing so would spoil so much of what makes the film great. The movie is easily the best Spider-Man film to be released. We’re not counting Into the Spider-verse for that debate. It also challenges the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s really that good.

The film picks up post Avengers: Endgame. Not only does it directly address events from that film, but it also answers many of our questions stemming from it. So many scenarios are thrown out about the impact of the snap. So many quick comments. And so much of it is addressed with humor and realism. And that’s the brilliance of the film.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is able to add massive amounts of worldbuilding and details through simple quick sentences. It’s a movie that’s smart in how it delivers information to the audience. It’s also clearly aware of the weight on its shoulders.

Here’s a spoiler… for Avengers: Endgame

The film deals with the fallout of the death of the heroes, particularly Tony Stark. It questions what’s Tony’s legacy and who will take up the mantle? And that responsibility is thrown on to the shoulders of Peter Parker. Tony saw something in him and that’s addressed here. Helping explore that is Happy Hogan who takes on a more involved role that’s almost fatherly.

End spoiler…

The film itself is about elementals who have come from another dimension to destroy our planet as they’ve done to others. Enter Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio, a mysterious person from a different Earth. He’s a soldier out to stop the elementals who destroyed his world.

It’s also the summer and Peter and his fellow students are off to Europe. There, Peter wants to tell MJ how he feels about her.

You’ve got action, you’ve got mystery, and you have a very cute high school romcom all rolled into one.

The film does an excellent job of using all of its cast. Other than a few students who don’t get much to do, even secondary characters get added depth. Flash Thompson has more added to his character out of two small moments than all of the previous Spider-Man films combined. That’s how smart the film is. We know more about him due to a text he sends and an interaction at the end and it all makes us understand his character. Those two moments are maybe 30 seconds combined and involve one sentence.

Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers are the writers for the film and Jon Watts directs, just as they did for Spider-Man: Homecoming. They clearly get these characters and this world and nail it in every way. Throw money at them and keep them around for as long as possible.

Every actor shines too with Zendaya particularly coming out of her shell from the first film and Tom Holland really showing some depth in acting with emotional moments. Jacob Batalon, as Ned, is given so much more to do and is so entertaining with every line delivery. Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove delivering so much humor to moments. Jake Gyllenhaal feels like he’s just having so much fun with what he’s given. He chews the scenery in a great way. Everyone is amazing and shines. There are no weak parts.

The film’s greatest strength is in every small detail in the script and on the screen. It has a lot on its shoulders with so much to do and it succeeds. It wraps up the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe phase and sets up what’s next. Boy does it. It does the impossible at every turn and delivers a summer popcorn film with humor, depth, and heart. The film has it all and I can’t wait to see it again in the theater.

Overall Rating: 10

Spider-Man: Far From Home Gets Its First Post Endgame Trailer. Spoilers Within!

Spoilers within the video!

The new trailer for Spider-Man: Far from Home is here and not only are there some spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, there’s an interesting reveal within!

Our friendly neighborhood Super Hero decides to join his best friends Ned, MJ, and the rest of the gang on a European vacation. However, Peter’s plan to leave super heroics behind for a few weeks are quickly scrapped when he begrudgingly agrees to help Nick Fury uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks, creating havoc across the continent!

Spider-Man: Far From Home is out July 2nd.

Mary Jane Watson Isn’t Just Any Redhead

Zendaya_by_Gage_SkidmoreCertain racist fans are angry that Marvel and Sony have reportedly cast a black actress as Mary Jane Watson in the new Spider-Man movie because “Mary Jane has to be a red head”.

Aside from the fact that some black people have red hair.

Aside from the fact that red hair dye exists and lord knows an aspiring actress is probably going to care a lot about fashion

Aside from all of that, if you’ve actually read Spider-Man over the years you’ll know that Mary Jane isn’t just a redhead.

Here are some of her defining traits:

She’s outgoing, ambitious, creative, artistic. Not particularly intellectual but she’s certainly no dummy. She’s not shallow.

She’s an actress both on and off the stage often putting up a confident and carefree facade even at times when she’s full of fear and doubt.

She wishes she was as carefree as she pretends to be.

Recent canon established that she grew up poor — that’s how she ended up living with her grandma and not her parents.

All along, Marvel comics had intended Peter to end up with Gwen Stacy, the “good girl” as his one true love. Mary Jane had just been added as a plot twist to bring Peter’s romantic plot-lines some tension. Mary Jane was written as a more independent woman and they realized that this made MJ a more interesting and dynamic character in their stories. Stan Lee said “we finally decided to let Peter end up with her, but it was … as though the characters had taken over!”

Mary Jane PanelBack in the Silver Age Marvel’s characterization of the Gwen Stacy/ Mary Jane Watson / Peter Parker love triangle often veered towards a sexist Madonna/Whore complex. Gwen Stacy was the shy, studious “good girl” and MJ was the outgoing party girl.

Fans really responded to Mary Jane. More so then Peter’s intended true love, Gwen Stacy. Yes, MJ’s a hot redhead but they also liked her because she had a fun personality and seemed like someone you’d want to grab a drink with.

So why are certain fanboys today reducing her to the color of her hair?

Some writers haven’t actually conveyed her personality in their work. Sometimes they just write her as Peter’s dream girl with no inner life. Many artists have reduced her to her looks. Or her thong. And her trademark red hair IS legitimately iconic.

But countless writers have written her with a pretty damn consistent personality, not just in decades worth of comics but in many cartoon shows and movies.

Our sexist culture and the generally fetishistic nature of a lot of super hero art explain why certain readers don’t notice MJ’s personality even when she is well written.

So if you think that the only thing that matters about MJ is her hair you are reading the wrong comics. Or maybe you are objectifying the real women you interact with too.

Maybe do something about that?

Addendums: I haven’t read a new Spider-Man comic in years. But if Slott et all have completely erased her personality since I last picked up an issue, that would sort of prove my point. But I suspect she’s still the same old MJ fans have loved for decades.

Also, Rob Wilson tweeted me that the Spectacular Spider-Man animated series played the study-party dichotomy without making it “Madonna/whore Complex” and did an admirable job calling out Peter on his BS. That sounds like great progress.

It’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for the Next Webslinging Film

It’s CinemaCon where studios are showing off upcoming films and revealing their plans and today Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman along with the new Spider-Man Tom Holland revealed the new Spider-Man film’s title, Spider-Man: Homecoming.

This film is the first of the partnership between Marvel and Sony, the character will debut in May’s Captain America: Civil War. Spider-Man’s solo adventure will hit theaters July 7, 2017.

The character will be fighting alongside Team Iron Man in Civil War and when Peter Parker is introduced he already has his powers, so, no need for an origin story in his solo film.

The movie also stars Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, Zendaya as a high school friend of Peter’s and Robert Downey Jr. will also make an appearance as Tony Stark.

The five films that have already been released just by Sony have earned a total of $3.9 billion and average $792.7 million a film making it one of the most lucrative superhero franchises and characters.

Around the Tubes

scalped_1It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone excited for? We’ll have our picks in a few hours, but until then, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

ICv2 – Vertigo Series ‘Scalped’ Gets Pilot Order – Hope this gets picked up.

The Comichron – February 2016 comics sales estimates online: Dark Knight III #3 tops 146k copies – For those that enjoy what sales numbers there are.

The Outhousers – Zendaya Cast as Michelle in Upcoming Spider-Man Reboot – Well ok then.

The Consumerist – Supreme Court Won’t Hear Appeal In Batmobile Copyright Case – Not surprising.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Lucky Penny Vol. 1