Plenty of important (and concerning) things happened in the world this week, as has become typical in the current political and social climate we live in. But for many comic book and pop culture fans, the big news of the week was the passing of legendary Marvel Comics storyteller Stan Lee.
At 95 years old, we all knew the end was coming sooner rather than later. But it’s still hard to believe that we won’t have Stan Lee alongside us to celebrate the elevation of his creations to supreme pop culture. Yet Lee’s death also prompted more celebration than mourning as we remembered what characters like Spider-Man, the X-Men, Fantastic Four and so many, many others meant to us through childhood and into adulthood.
Though it didn’t seem like nearly enough, I wrote my own tribute to Stan Lee , praised my favorite creations and movie cameos of his, and we talked about his legacy on the Amusement Park Podcast.
It’s too bad that Lee’s death brought us the nostalgic escape and joy that we needed, but celebrating his legacy certainly provided a welcome diversion — even if it was borne from unfortunate news.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you reading this. Based on my conversations, the holiday jumped on us sooner than expected. But it’ll be nice to have a break, regardless of whether or not you spend that time with family and friends. I have ambitious plans to… watch a lot of TV and movies when I’m not eating. I might have another Not a Newsletter before we dig into our respective meals. Not sure about that yet.
Regardless, I’m certainly thankful that you care enough to stop by. And I’m grateful for both the opportunity to write and express myself. Here’s a Stan Lee quote to take you into this week’s reading:
On the latest Amusement Park Podcast, we pay tribute to Stan Lee and the Marvel icon’s role in pop culture. Also, George R.R. Martin’s struggles with The Winds of Winter, Hallmark Christmas movies update, and what we’re enjoying this week.
If you’re enjoying our podcast, please leave a review on iTunes and help boost our signal. You can also tell us what you think at email@example.com and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @amuseparkpod. We’d love to hear from you. Thank you for listening!
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Writing a tribute to Stan Lee was something I’d been thinking I should do for quite some time. After all, (Stan) the man was 95 years old and there were various reports about his deteriorating health. Just as a newspaper would get an obituary ready, I thought I should get something ready — whether the piece was written for another site or my own.
Sure, laziness and procrastination were probably the primary reasons for not getting that done. But the idea of writing something in anticipation of Stan Lee’s death was also very upsetting. He still appeared to be lively and vibrant in his many Marvel movie and TV cameos. It seemed as if Smilin’ Stan might just live forever.
Thanks to those movie cameos, even my sister knew who Stan Lee was. She grew up with me endlessly reading and collecting comic books, of course. But when I pointed out the guy who co-created Spider-Man on the screen, she recognized him every time he popped up in the handful of Marvel movies we saw together. She’ll never be able to escape superheroes entirely.
(By the way, will Lee’s last live-action cameo have been in Venom?) Unless he’s in Avengers 4, his final on-screen appearance may well be in the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which hits theaters in mid-December.)
There will and have already been so many tributes, eulogies and obituaries dedicated to Stan Lee that I’m not sure I could possibly add anything. All I can contribute is what Lee and his many iconic creations mean to me to this day. So often when people write a tribute to someone, the piece ends up being about the writer more than the subject. As much as I’d like to avoid that, I don’t think it’s possible here.
“Overzealous recycling” could be a good name for a newsletter if we ever take thing that way. That could pop in people’s inboxes, yes? Still aiming to get this out on Thursdays, or at least early Sunday mornings.
Since seeing Bohemian Rhapsody last week (my review here), I’ve been obsessively consuming all things Queen. I listen to their songs while working or driving. I’ve spent hours on YouTube, watching almost all of their music videos — some of which are legitimately terrible (surely a product of the time) — and lots of documentary footage.
One of their good videos was for “Radio Ga Ga,” made when Queen apparently steered into their sci-fi fandom after doing the Flash Gordon soundtrack. Finding some behind-the-scenes footage from the video’s production was a happy discovery.
To feed that hunger, I put together a list of my favorite Queen songs. It was supposed to be a top 10 list, and I thought I’d have trouble getting to 10. But my nostalgia trip reminded me of how big a Queen fan I’ve been since childhood and the list boiled over to 16. It probably could’ve been 20.
Reading For You
** Bohemian Rhapsody was released in theaters last weekend, but it took eight years for the Queen biopic to be made. That includes, as many likely know, Sacha Baron Cohen wanting to play Freddie Mercury but clashing with Brian May and Roger Taylor over the story. [Vulture]
** In my review of Bohemian Rhapsody, I said the mouthpiece Rami Malek had to wear for playing Freddie Mercury was distracting, especially early in the film. But maybe that was an accurate portrayal of Mercury trying to hide his teeth when younger. Here’s a fun interview with the man who made those teeth, Chris Lyons. [New York Times]
Unlucky number 13! The latest episode of the Amusement Park Podcast looked dead, but we brought it back to life! This week, we discuss the Breaking Bad movie (and Ian still not watching the series — c’mon!), a potential three-hour Avengers 4, plummeting numbers for Marvel’s Netflix shows, and Chris’s dedication to Hallmark Christmas movies.
If you’re enjoying our podcast, please leave a review on iTunes and help our signal grow stronger. You can also leave feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @amuseparkpod. We’d love to hear from you. Thank you for listening!
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How much Queen have you been listening to since seeing Bohemian Rhapsody? (If you haven’t read my review, compare your thoughts and let me know what you think.) I’ve been listening virtually non-stop while watching plenty of concert and documentary footage, and reading dozens of articles on the band.
That got me to thinking about what my favorite Queen songs actually are. Unless I’ve missed them, I haven’t seen many of the top 10-type lists that normally populate the pop culture internet since Bohemian Rhapsody was released. And many of my favorites are not what other fans might pick for theirs.
So as a way to distract myself from the 2018 midterm elections (which are now thankfully over, although nothing has been settled), note my preferences for posterity, and create some content for this blog, we have a list!
If you’re a fan of Queen and Freddie Mercury, you will very likely enjoy Bohemian Rhapsody. The movie is a celebration of the band and its music. You’ll be reminded of just how much you loved songs like “Fat-Bottomed Girls,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “Radio Ga Ga,” along with deeper cuts such as “Love of My Life.”
Whether or not the film is a fitting tribute to Mercury will depend on your view. Director Bryan Singer (who was fired from the production yet is still credited) and writer Anthony McCarten take a safe approach to the singer’s personal life, largely settling for allusions to Mercury’s homosexuality, drug use and partying. Much like Mercury did publicly, the movie keeps that away from the audience.
However, Bohemian Rhapsody does a fine job of portraying Freddie Mercury, the rock star. Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) has all of the legendary frontman’s stage moves and swagger down. Mercury commanded the stage, punching, gyrating, and thrusting with the beats from bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor. The rest of Queen effectively faded into the background because the eye was always drawn to Mercury’s energy and charisma.