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.