Where is ‘Hulk’ going? [Spoilers]

Few characters are as iconic as the Incredible Hulk… or so malleable. Over the years, the Hulk’s been a thug, a genius, a cynical lump of cruelty; but he’s best known as being the slow-witted brute. And now it appears he’s changing things up again. Spoilers below.  Continue reading

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‘Ms Marvel’ Captures The Rookie Heroine Perfectly [Spoilers]

The third chapter of Ms. Marvel cements us in Kamala Khan’s journey to becoming a superheroine. Marvel (and G. Willow Wilson) have made some daring choices across the board with a smart, clumsy, insecure young woman.  Spoilers follow.

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‘Superior Spider-Man’ Ends on a High Note [Spoilers]

Superior CoverAfter two years of following the Superior Spider-Man‘s heroics, it’s a grand thing to see Marvel’s favorite son back in the swing of things, and in his right mind. Regardless– the finale is one of the finest comics released this year. [Spoilers below.]  Continue reading

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Hannibal’s ‘Yakimono’ Takes Risks, But Disappoints [Spoilers]

HannibalYakimono is a dish that’s marinated, skewered, then fried. It’s an appropriate title for the latest installment in a grand series… but the premise of the second season is beginning to flag under its own weight. Spoilers follow. Continue reading

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Hard to Keep a Lid on Hannibal’s ‘Futamono’ [Spoilers]

Far and away, Hannibal is one of the strongest, most consistent, well-done shows on the air right now. It is also, at times, damned confounding. Strap yourself in for the big blows from episode six: FutamonoContinue reading

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My Friend Was Sexually Abused And There’s Almost Nothing I Can Do About It

This is not going to be pleasant, but then, neither is what happened last week. (No, this is not fiction.) A friend of mine was hanging out with her friends and acquaintances, before one of these men tried to rape her, in his car. If not for a well-timed phone call, I shudder to think what might have happened.

For the record, I asked my friend for permission to write about this, first. I have nothing but respect for her, and the bravery she’s summoned is nothing less than monumental: she went to the police. I know this because I went with her as moral support. Continue reading

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On Hannibal and ‘Takiawase’ [Spoilers]

There are any number of things that can be said about last night’s episode of Hannibal. “Holy $#!t” and other such euphemisms come to mind. Three different stories, barely cross-pollenating. That buzzing noise you hear is the sound of human beings, dropping like flies. [Spoilers below.] Continue reading

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On Daredevil #1: The Devil in ‘Frisco [Spoilers]

After the whirlwind of events last month, the Man Without Fear has picked up stakes and moved out west. He’s wasted no time getting into trouble. [Spoilers below.]

Matt Murdock wrapped up his affairs in the Big Apple when he confessed under oath that he was Daredevil. After years of ‘wrongly’ influencing the courts– and prosecuting criminals he’d personally apprehended days before– Murdock has been disbarred in New York state.   Continue reading

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On Walking Dead’s ‘The Grove’ and Darwinism (Spoilers)

Tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead was, sadly, nothing special. Carol, Tyreese, Lizzie and Mika had found a possible home, faced some hard decisions, and decided to move on. (Spoilers below.)

I’m not going to lie, I have zero sympathy for Lizzie, or the fact that she was put down.  If this were the modern functioning world, with therapists and no walkers roaming around trying to kill everyone, I’d want her to get the years of therapy required to break her of the belief that the zombies (or, y’know, ‘Walking Dead’) were still people.

That’s not the world these characters live in. It’s not the world Lizzie lives in, anymore. She’s dead. And rightly so. She wasn’t just a liability, she was a danger to the people around her– the actual people, still having thoughts and not craving human flesh.

The utmost need these characters have is survival. They have to eke out a living, however they can, wherever they can. They literally do not have time to deal with delusional ten-year-olds who feed mice to zombies, or wrongly sense a deep personal connection to a walking corpse in a wedding dress.

The adults get that. Carol confessed to killing to sick inmates co-habiting with the larger group at the prison. She did what she felt she had to: she drew them out, and she executed them. And Tyreese did the intelligent thing and forgave her. He saw why she did what she did, and let go of his feelings on the matter. Will he still harbor some resentment? Probably. But it was a huge emotional step for both of them, and they came out stronger on the other side.

They just… came out on the other side with two fewer party members. Because Lizzie murdered Mika, thinking “She’ll come back”, and Carol did the responsible thing and put Lizzie down.

I get that in a post-zombie outbreak world, the adults want to coddle the children. They have innocence left (maybe), and innocence should be preserved. When it’s safe and convenient to do so.

It’s not so convenient when Mika refuses to shoot a deer, she’s too kind. A soft heart is great, unless your group is hungry and needs protein. Venison’s a great source of protein. Survival is not a negotiable need. But Carol didn’t have the heart to disappoint Mika. So they went without.

The world of The Walking Dead is full of harsh lessons. That much is clear. The lesson was reinforced when Carol and Tyreese returned from a scouting trip to find Lizzie, wrist-deep in Mika’s blood, with the knife still in her hands. “Don’t worry. She’ll come back. I didn’t hurt her brain.”

Darwin teaches us that only the strong survive. Carol rightly refused to sleep in the same house with an infant and Lizzie, who might decide at any point to ‘convert’ others to their second life.

Lizzie was stupid, or crazy, or both. These are not  good qualities for survival.

And so, Carol took Lizzie out to the field outside the house, and put a bullet in her brain. Comparisons to Of Mice and Men are obvious, and no less meaningful.

Lizzie was a danger to herself and others. She murdered Mika, because of misguided ideas of rebirth… as a rotting, flesh-hungry monster. She was wrong. Fatally wrong. Carol did the right and good thing.

I really, really hope that Carol isn’t consumed my guilt in future episodes. She doesn’t deserve to be.

What do you think?

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On Supervillains… and the Oscar-Winners That Play Them

There’s no denying that playing the bad guy is fun. You get to blow things up, kidnap the hero’s best girl, and generally ham it up as much as you like. And while it’s fun, it’s certainly not easy. That might be why so many supervillains are played by Oscar winners.

Since the original Superman The Movie, getting a proven, Oscar-winning actor to play the bad guy has practically been an institution. Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face. Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. (Christopher Walken’s turn as Max Schreck in Batman Returns didn’t exactly skimp on ham, either.)

Marvel’s gotten into the action as well, with Chris Cooper about to play Norman Osborn (Goblin or not), with Jamie Foxx as Electro. Hot damn.

Oscar nominees are no strangers to playing bad guys, either. Willem DaFoe as the Green Goblin. Thomas Haden Church as the Sandman. Ned Beatty as Otis in Superman. Soon Paul Giamatti will join their ranks as the Rhino.

Even independent hero flicks have been graced with Oscar-winning talent. Geoffrey Rush was fresh off his academy award win for Shakespeare in Love when he played Casanova Frankenstein in Mystery Men. The inimitable Christoph Waltz faced off against the Green Hornet as Chudnofsky, a costumed criminal with delusions of grandeur. (The movie was terrible, but it still counts.)

So why? Why have so many superhero flicks tapped Oscar winners to play their villains? The job looks simple enough: brandish an evil remote control, cackle menacingly. Threaten the hero’s loved ones, chuckle with malice. Fire the death ray, laugh evilly.

But there’s more to it than that. An actor’s body and voice are their instruments. They’ve trained and finessed their skills to master levels. So why not get the best to bring your villain to life? Can anyone deny that Jack Nicholson’s Joker was terrifying? Or that DaFoe’s Green Goblin was insidious as he was brilliant?

Maybe that’s the trick: while the heroes are left to do the heavy lifting, these films and others tapped Oscar-winners (and nominees) because they knew the actors would give the roles everything they had. Nothing phoned in.

Regardless, these actors brought energy and life to these villains, to the point that you might have caught yourself rooting for them. I don’t know. What do you think?

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