Sunday, July 24, 2016

Brie Larsen will play Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel

Brie Larsen tweeted this picture, announcing to the world that she is Captain Marvel.

At the beginning of June, Variety reported (and other websites like Entertainment Weekly picked up on it) that Oscar-winning actress Brie Larsen was "in talks" about playing Carol Danvers, AKA Marvel Comics' Captain Marvel.

Yesterday, at San Diego Comic Con, the official announcement was made. Here is a smattering of websites on which it was reported, as of right now (look at the time stamp on this post).

NBC News
Time
Time
CNN
CNET
CBC News
Entertainment Weekly
SlashFilm 
Glamour
Vanity Fair
Huffington Post
USA Today
The Guardian 
Cinema Blend
Mashable
Cray News
Screen Crush
ComingSoon
WeGotThisCovered
Particle News
Inquisitr
Women and Hollywood
2 Hours
Refinery29
OnlineNews8
Virals Online1

One fascinating, but not unexpected, thing about this list is the high-profile, female-targeted websites (Glamour, Vanity Fair, etc). This will be the first major company, female-led superhero movie ever. Other female superheroes like Wonder Woman have been on TV, female characters from smaller companies like Barb Wire have had their movies, and Halle Berry's Catwoman was technically a "villain," had a movie, but in this new wave of high-profile, mega-blockbuster, critically acclaimed superhero movies, no females have been the headliner. This is the first.

This has been such a big deal that the clickbait mill has been working overtime on the casiting. Names like Emily Blunt, Katherine Winnick, Katie Sackoff, Natalie Dormer, Rebecca Ferguson, Ronda Rousey, etc, have appeared in headlines designed to make it sound like it was "news" that someone thought they would be right for the role. Some, like Rousey, were vocal in campaigning for the role, but some of these women even embarrassingly had to admit that not only were they unfamiliar with the character, but had never been contacted by anyone about it!

Many of the articles have given capsulized descriptions of the character, but  suppose the needs and resources of the medium have led them to leave out a few details. I think it is notable to mention that thought this Captain Marvel will be the first female lead of a Marvel movie, Carol Danvers is not the first female Captain Marvel.

The first female superhero named Captain Marvel was Marvel Comics' Monica Rambeau in 1982. She was also the first black Captain Marvel and one of the few black female superheroes. DC came next with Jerry Ordway's version of Mary Batson, who, in the "Power of Shazam" series in the 1990's, transformed into a female Captain Marvel. She was not known as "Mary Marvel" until after the series ended. At the beginning of the 2000's, Marvel came back with Phyla-Vell, the cloned sister from a newly-created replacement universe (don't ask) of the then-current Marvel Captain Marvel, Genis-Vell. She was Captain Marvel for a while.

Danvers herself has been Captain Marvel before, in the "House of M" storyline in which the Scarlet Witch had changed reality. That experience kicked of her new Ms. Marvel series, which built up her character until she took on the Mantle of Captain Marvel after the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline.

I am going to be open-mindedly optimistic about this casting decision. Marvel has not gone too terribly wrong yet in their Avengers-related movies (I am not thinking of any of the recent "Fantastic Four" movies), so there is no reason to expect them to have done so now.

On a related note, I would say that with every new news report and mention of Marvel's Captain Marvel movie, my confidence that DC's "Shazam" movie will include a character named "Captain Marvel" gets lower and lower. So far not a single use of the classic name has passed my eyes in anything from DC about the movie that has been announced to be released in 2019. This further makes me think that the hero of that movie will be based on the "New 52" superhero named Shazam. I can't help but think that such a movie would have an uphill battle with regards to being something that would be...well...good. I have nightmarish visions of overblown, confusing mash-ups of concepts, characters, and storylines from DC Comics mixed with things that would be completely made up for the movie.

I really hope that is not the case.


Videos regarding the Brie Larsen announcement:
These videos are all of the "announcement," which was actually a surprise addition to the Marvel movie panel at San Diego Comic Con. Pretty much all these videos seem to be from the video camera-phones of people in the audience.
...and a bit of pre-announcement clickbait video...
 
If 
If you want to see more reports and reactions to the news that Brie Larsen was "in talks" back in June, go here, or just search for "Brie Larsen Captain Marvel"

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Why all the casting reports, rumors, and speculation about Marvel's Captain Marvel movie are BS



When I worked in the insurance industry, I looked up everything I could on the Interwebs about the Affordable Care Act (at the time I even wrote a parable about insurance that a comic book fan would understand. It's called "The Comic Book Reader's Protection Act"). Through this research I found out a lot about the ACA, aka "Obamacare." But I found out even more about people's opinions about the ACA, and I figured out a lot about how the Internet works.

Step 1: Find a news item about something.
Step 2: Make up an exciting, incindiary headline, in the form of a question if possible.
Step 3: Use enough keywords, search engine optimization, and clickbait techniques to get people to go to the page.

Such has been the techniques used to flood Google Alert settings of "Captain Marvel" with reports of everyone from Natalie Dormer to Emily Blunt to Natasha Richardson to Katheryn Winnick to Charlize Theron to Rhonda Rousy as being someone who may play Carol Danvers in the movie scheduled for release in 2018, regardless of the fact that THE SCRIPT ISN'T EVEN WRITTEN YET! (But then again, Dwayne Johnson has officially announced that he is going to play Black Adam in the2019 movie, so what do I know?)

Well, finally, president of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige and producer Jeremy Lachtman have come out and explained why there have been no official announcements about who will play, or is even being considered to play, the lead role in Marvel's first female-led superhero movie ("Elektra" doesn't count because it was not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and she was really more of an anti-hero, anyway).

I will let you read this, which appears to be the first article on the subject, by DCMarvelFreshman on ComicBookMovie dot com yourself, and I simply am TOO DAMN BUSY to do a click-bait roundup on the inevitable flood of websites, blogs, videos, etc that will inevitably follow.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Carol Danvers to appear in "Avengers: Infiity War"? Clickbait speculation


Based on both confirmed and unconfirmed reports and creative speculation, the idea is now kicking around the Interwebs that Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel will be appearing in one of the upcoming "Avengers: Infinity Wars" movies before her own eponymous film.

I first stumbled upon this concept in this post by Athena Parnada on YouthHealthMag (gotta love Google Alerts for finding it). what a Youth Health on-line magazine is doing chating about internet rumors about superhero films I do;t know, but the post provided links to a bunch of other articles and posts, including what seems to be the origin/source of this concept, this post by Eleanor Tremeer on MoviePilot.

To sum up, it has been confirmed by the people who made such decisions that 1) Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel was, at one point, going to appear in "Avengers: Age of Ultron," but then was written out, and 2) that she is not going to appear in the next "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie. with rumors and reports running rampant that several major characters are going to be killed in the Infinity Wars, this would make room for a character like Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel to fill in the void.

Personally, as I posted in my first article in MoviePilot, I think that it would be very nice if somehow Captain Mar-Vell, Marvel's first Captain Marvel, the Kree warrior/cosmic space hippie, were to be involved with Carol's storyline and origin. It was his heroic example of courage, decency, and self-sacrifice that inspired Carol to be the superhero she is; his mission to Earth, battle with Colonel Yon-Rogg, and DNA that gave her the powers to become Ms. Marvel; and his battle with Thanos that put the villain on the map. To have Carol, Thanos, Ronan, the Kree, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, and the Cosmic Cube all in the same Cinematic Universe and not have the one character that tied them all together in the comics appear in the movies just seems like a waste of a great character.

What do you think?


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan fights Islamophobia!

Sometimes a superhero gets to be a real-life good guy – or girl.

At least three Captain Marvels have had stories in which they face, and battle, bigotry, prejudice, and disctimination. In "Mr. Tawny Gets a New Home" from 1947, the original Captain Marvel helps Mr. Tawny against a neighborhood group that doesn't want tigers moving into the neighborhood. Marvel Comics' Captain Mar-Vell, as a "white" Kree, not of pure "blue" Kree blood, found himself to be a pawn of the political maneuverings of Zarek, a high government official who hated the "inferior" white Kree. Monica Rambeau faced the "glass ceiling" as a woman at her job in the New Orleans Harbor Patrol, and later appeared in a one-shot issue about racial bigotry on a college campus.

Now the new Ms. Marvel it taking on anti-Islamic sentiment on the streets of San Francisco.
Not too long ago the mantle of Ms. Marvel was dropped by Carol Danvers, the character who had carried it from its inception as that of the “First Feminist Superhero” in the 1970's. Now it has been taken up by Kamala Khan, a teenage Muslim Afghan-American girl in New Jersey. She has the power to make herself or parts of her body change shape or grow bigger or smaller according to her imagination and willpower.

In both cases these heroes have stood for a minority that had recently become talked-about in the news and were finding their voice. The feminist movement had grown in the 1960's and hit the mainstream in the 1970's with Ms. Magazine and the drive for the Equal Rights Amendment. Since the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001, Muslims in America have become more visible, even if a lot of that visibility comes from people noticing them for the first time and associating them with the terrorists who committed the attack.

One particular example of this attention has over the past few years, been coming from a group calling itself “The American Freedom Defense Initiative.” This is a group founded by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer in 2010 and also goes by the name “Stop Islamization of America,” which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about its political leanings. (the Wikipedia listing is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Islamization_of_America, and if you want to see what they write about themselves, go to http://freedomdefense.typepad.com/)

One of the things for which it has become known is buying ads on buses. In the particular instance of interest to the Captain Marvel diaspora, is this one (shown in versions seen on Washington DC and San Francisco buses, respectively):



It purports to show one Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, “Leader of the Muslim world,” in conference with Adolph Hitler, leader of Nazi Germany

In January of this year (2015 for those of you reading this in some other year and don't bother reading the dates on the post) they managed to raise enough money through an Indiegogo.com campaign to defray a part of the cost of posting this ad on buses in Washington D.C. A similar ad also ran on buses in San Francisco. You can read the details over and over again in The Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dr-gridlock/wp/2014/05/15/in-metrobus-ads-pro-israel-group-features-photo-of-hitler/, The Huffingtn Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/20/anti-muslim-ad-dc_n_5360246.html, The Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/19/dc-bus-ads-feature-hitler-anti-quran-campaign/, International Business Times http://www.ibtimes.com/new-american-freedom-defense-initiative-sponsored-anti-islam-ad-hits-public-bus-dc-1584340, Newsmax http://www.newsmax.com/US/Adolf-Hitler-Haj-Amin-al-Husseini/2014/05/19/id/572169/, DCist http://dcist.com/2014/05/pamela_geller_is_back_with_another.php, and Loonwatch http://www.loonwatch.com/2014/05/washington-dc-geller-is-back-with-another-anti-islam-metro-ad/ (be prepared for some fascinating opinionating in the comments sections).

I looked up this Grand Mufti on Wikipedia and a few other sites. He is a very interesting character with an adventurous history of wars, revolts, riots, nationalism, conflict and cooperation with various sides of colonial issues, arrests, etc, etc. His title of “Grand Mufti” was apparently gained through some nifty maneuvering and assistance by British authorities, and though it did give him great influence over many Muslims and Islamic organizations and leaders, he was not exactly “leader of the Muslim world,” as the poster says. Nonetheless, he did have meeting with Hitler and did actively work to forward the cause of Axis victory. He did state that he wanted to rid the Muslim world of Jews, although whether or not he supported their extermination seems to depend on which website you read.

The point here, however, is that this poster attempts to equate Islam with hatred of Jews, and that we therefore should hate Islam. There are some people in this world who object to characterizing Muslims this way.

It just so happens that the new Ms. Marvel is Muslim, an Pakistani-American teenage girl in Jersey City, New Jersey named Kamala Khan. She has proven to be a very popular character not only among Muslims and girls, but comic readers in general, even expanding her popularity beyond the general comic book audience.

In a brilliant piece of unsanctioned guerrilla usage of a culture-specific superhero icon, someone in San Francisco used images of Ms. Marvel and text expressing indignation against hatred, bigotry, and Islamophobia to deface the bus ads there, covering them up almost entirely. The only words left clearly visible were “STOP THE HATE...to Islamic countries.”





Ms. Marvel writer and Kamala Khan writer C. Willow Wilson tweeted about this, supporting the First Amendment rights of free speech of both the advertisers and the artists, and supporting the message her character was being used to spread.

You can see accounts or this at the following websites:
Most of these acounts dscribe the artist as “anonymous,” but
https://baqup.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/saying-no-to-hatred-with-superheroes/, saying they did this, but the blog post on the web page is somewhat equivocal on whether or not it was actually them who did it.

And you can find an incredibly diverse collection of opinions, conspiracy theories, and revisionist history at the Facebok post of Street Cred – Advertising for the People https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=348076972052222&id=102257986634123

The defacement was clearly illegal, and the ads were protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, but implying that all Muslims have the same objectives as Nazi Germany is wrong.

I think the most insightful comment about this was these tweets by Ms. Wilson, who supports the right t the AFDI to post their ads:

“To me, the graffiti is part of the back-and-forth of the free speech conversation. Call and response. Argument, counterargument.”
“To me that says free speech is working--it is enabling and fostering public exchange.”

What do you think?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Rebecca Ferguson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers?

 (This nifty picture was posted as part of an article by ScreenCrush.com)

I feel dirty for even doing this, but...there is a new "hot rumor" making the rounds of the clickbait. sites. It is that Rebecca Ferguson is "at the top of Marvel's list" to play Captain Marvel in the 018 movie they have scheduled.

This rumor comes to us courtesy Umberto Gonzalez on HeroicallyHollywood.com, a website of which I have never heard. He claims to have heard this from a reliab el source, but does not seem to have even bothered to try to contact the actress herself or the studio itself.

the story is dutifully reported by ScreenCrush, Moviepilot, and BleedingCool (which makes repeated references to getting "the salt shaker out"), and there will no doubt be more before the night is out.

It seems that these websites use this as an excuse to post pix of the actress, the character, and review the actress' career. None of them seem to have bothered to contact the actress or the studio either.

Am I being jaded and cynical by thinking that this rumor will wind up holding as much water as any and all of the previous ones, which to say, as much as basketball net?

And why do I feel dirty? Because just to keep up my Captain Marvel scholar cred and public profile, I have to waste time posting this with all the appropriate keywords ASAP.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

What Does The Rock Know About Black Adam?


(The above image is linked from Muscle & Fitness' article announcing Dwayne Johnson's role as Black Adam in the upcoming "Shazam!" movie.)

Now this is interesting. In this interview, Dwayne Johnson reveals that he has been involved with the character of Black Adam and preparing for the role for “eight years.” That places the beginning of his relationship with the character right about the time that there were rumors circulating about him playing the hero of DC's movie about the character marketed under the trademark “Shazam!”, the original Captain Marvel.


What with the "Shazam!" movie announced to be released on April 5, 2019 (and there being a surprisingly well-informed and insightful article from Comic Book Resources), this seems like as good a time as ever the very briefly recap the history of this actor and this franchise.

Remember, there were lots of rumors going around back in those heady days of the mid '00's, as the whole superhero-movie thing was starting to heat up. "Shazam!" was being talked about as early as 2003, and was still a going concern as the decade progressed. No fewer than three scripts were written or being worked on by folks such as William Goldman and John August and at least two different directors were attached to the project, Peter Segal being the latest. Jake Gyllenhaal was at one time rumored to be playing the hero, but that proved to be a hoax. Brandon Molale promoted himself for the role very heavily at the time, there was even a MySpace (remember MySpace?) page and a fan club pushing for it.

Back in '07 MTV Movie Blogs ran a poll. Rumors were flying that Dwayne Johnson, then more popularly known as the pro wrestler “The Rock,” would be playing Captain Marvel. Johnson even came forth and said that people were talking to him about being in the upcoming “Shazam!” movie (this was before the “New 52” reboot in which the hero trademarked under the label “Shazam!” now actually goes by that name). A lot of people, however thought that he would be even better as Black Adam, the evil version of the World's Mightiest Mortal from the Middle East 5,000 years ago who had become the toughest bad guy in the DC universe). Some said this for racial reasons (the Big Red Cheese has always been depicted as Caucasian, and Johnson is a black-Samoan mix), and some just would rather see him as the Bad Guy. Johnson has played a villainous Middle-Eastern monarch before (as the Scorpion King in “The Mummy Returns”), so why not?

So Johnson and MTV Blogs put the question to the fans: who would you rather see Johnson as: Captain Marvel or Black Adam? (http://www.mtv.com/news/1570423/the-rocks-role-in-shazam-should-he-be-good-or-evil-you-decide/ http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2007/09/24/weigh-in-who-should-the-rock-play-in-shazam/) The answer was overwhelming: Black Adam, by 86% of the vote.

So Johnson humbly and good naturedly accepted the fans' verdict, admitted that he did not know much about the character, and said he would be happy to talk with the filmmakers about playing the role (http://www.mtv.com/news/1573336/the-rock-put-his-shazam-role-to-a-vote-and-the-results-are-evil/ http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2007/09/24/weigh-in-who-should-the-rock-play-in-shazam/). In the succeeding months, dedicated fans of the World's Mightiest Mortal were watching every move by Johnson and Peter Segal to see if they could get a hint of what the movie, and Johnson's performance and chemistry with Segal, would be like. Segal's “Get Smart” got particular attention, being as it was a comedy/action movie involving both of these people.

Interestingly, Michael Uslan, the producer of the Shazam! Project and longtime fan of the hero, told me that he had not heard about this. So either Johnson was making it up about talking to people about this, someone wasn't telling Uslan what was going on, or Uslan had a reason to keep some things on the downlow.

But by 2010 news and activity about the project had slowed down, and by the time of this interview (http://splashpage.mtv.com/2010/01/12/dwayne-the-rock-johnson-on-shazam-status-and-black-adam/, and this report of it http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/markcassidycbm/news/?a=13722) it was pretty much dead.

In late 2014, however, Johnson started dropping hints that he would be in a superhero movie. By this time the “clickbait” phenomena was in full swing, and every psuedo-news website and geek-fanboy blogger with pretensions to journalistic credibility and the need for hit counts ran with the story, despite the dearth of information about the project and sometimes embarrassing lack of knowledge of the character (this alleged “investigation” from Entertainment Weekly, for instance, gets remarkable mileage out of speculation and groundless “insight.” And their conclusion turned out to be incorrect. http://www.ew.com/article/2014/08/19/dwayne-johnson-shazam-rock-black-adam).

Dwayne Johnson speaks authoritatively about the character and about superhero mythology these days. He refers to BA as an “anti-hero” who used to be a slave and at one point says that superheroes are usually “born into” greatness. This reveals a shallow surfaceness of his research. The bit about BA having been a slave is very recent in the development of his character, and there are plenty of famous superheroes who were not “born in to greatness” (Superman and Wonder Woman were, for sure, but Spider-Man, Captain America, and the original Captain Marvel himself, for instance, were not). Kudos to Johnson, however, for at least trying to give the impression of comic book super-characters as being something worth taking seriously.

Johnson is also very conscientiously maintaining the party line about the name of the hero. I have yet to hear him utter the name “Captain Marvel” in his interviews since he started with the hints and intimations in 2014. While he did say “Captain Marvel” in interviews back in 2007, he is showing himself a team player and professional spokesperson by staying up to date with the marketing of the hero of the Shazam franchise.







Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Shazam: Convergence review part 3

(continued from previous post)...Of course, a "by the numbers" adventure with the Marvel Family is still fun (especially when you add Mr. Taawny in an open-cockpit WWII fighter plane). And the subtle combination of the lighthearted elements of the Shazam heroes and villains with some logical character explorations and the deeper, darker dimensions of the Multiverse was handled with great skill, allowing the reader to enjoy the ride while appreciating the depth.



But as I said, a great opportunity was missed here. Gotham by Gaslight, on its face, appears to be a drastically different world than that of what DC called "Fawcett City" on Earth-S or Earth-5. It is a dark, scary, treacherous, mysterious, well...Gothic...place. However Billy, Mary, and Freddy are not actually strangers to such a world. On several occasions, both individually and as a family the Marvels found themselves in such environs, Freddy in particular lived in a quasi-gothic evnironment, especially when drawn by Mac Raboy. He dressed in rags, lived in a run-down boarding house, and often found himself defending orphans, waifs, and even magical fairy creatures that would not be unfamiliar to a Victorian audience.

It would have been interesting to see the Marvel Family deal with the challenges of a dark Victorian, steampunk adventure in a full-length story. In their human selves, I could see Billy, the young adventurer, intrepidly seeking clues, while Mary, the adopted daughter of privilege, and Freddy, the poor orphan boy, being concerned with the welfare of the downtrodden. As their heroic personas, Captain Marvel would be initially perplexed by the mysterious ways of the creatures of darkness, Mary Marvel would be drawn to the plight of the underclass, while Captain Marvel Junior would use his familiarity with the environment to start to see the solution. Together, their wisdom and courage would see them through. It's quite possible their strength, speed, and abilities would help the Batman of this world solve a mystery that had eluded him, and perhaps, in a more ambitious tale, would even help him solve a particular social evil.

But this was just a one-time, two issue story that was part of a bigger, company-wide, crossover epic. We will probably never see this combination of characters and worlds ever again (outside of fan fiction, of course). In time, it will be reprinted in a trade paperback collection, perhaps a giant omnibus edition, but it is unlikely that it will be one of the Great Epic Tales that will be remembered in the annals of comic book history.



So we will see what DC will do with the former Fawcett characters in whatever world will emerge from "Convergence.." I hope they will return these characters to their roots with their original names, powers, and characteristics. They cave the DC universe a lighter touch and needed balance when things got all grim 'n' gritty in the 1990's. I prefer that Billy and Cap have separate consciousnesses, but if they must have the same mind, at least have Billy be the kind of kid to whom you would want to give superpowers. If you want to have a troubled kid find redemption, make up a new character. You could even have him be in the "Shazam" family, but let the first, the original, the leading Hero of the Word be a brave, pure, good soul to set an example for the rest.