Director Ryan Coogler had a thin line to walk for his sequel to Black Panther.
Following up 2018’s mega-hit that was unlike any Marvel superhero we’d seen before, reaching out to audiences and cultures that previously felt underserved by blockbuster entertainment, would have been difficult enough. Coogler had an opportunity to direct a sequel to 2015’s Creed, but passed on it to jump into the Marvel sandbox and bring comic books’ first Black superhero to the big screen.
Topping himself and continuing the story of Wakanda’s King T’Challa was going to be much more difficult — logistically and emotionally — after the death of star Chadwick Boseman two years ago. How could Marvel and Coogler, along with the amazing cast and crew that brought the fictional African nation to vivid life, keep the story going without the Black Panther himself?
Out of respect to Boseman, Marvel decided that T’Challa wouldn’t be recast. That was probably the correct decision, especially so soon after the actor’s death. Asking fans — and those who worked with Boseman — to accept a new face in the role would have been difficult. (Though during the past two years, sentiment — online, anyway — has turned toward recasting and advancing a character that was so iconic, so important to audiences.)
So Coogler and writer Joe Robert Cole (who collaborated on the first film’s screenplay) embraced the real world’s intrusion on Marvel mythology and acknowledged Boseman’s death in the story by giving T’Challa much the same traffic fate. As a result, Wakanda Forever serves as a tribute to the actor, allowing fans and colleagues to mourn and perhaps find closure with the loss.
“Your ancestors called it magic, but you call it science,” Thor said to Jane Foster in Marvel’s first Thor movie (2011). “I come from a land where they are one and the same.”
Whatever it’s called, the magic is gone. At least for the God of Thunder’s run under director Taika Waititi.
Thor: Love and Thunder has some beautiful visuals, creative set pieces, and compelling character arcs, especially for Natalie Portman’s Foster. But the story trying to hold them all together is too weak to build a satisfying film that ranks among the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
What makes this so disappointing is that Waititi’s previous Thor film, 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, was such a refreshing change of direction from the other Marvel movies with its fast pace, outlandish color palette, and bold designs influenced by legendary artists like Jack Kirby, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Moebius. (The new wave soundtrack by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh added to the alien atmosphere.)
I can’t remember much useful from school (which inspired me to try and put together a high school reading list while in quarantine), but something that reminds me of comic books I read as a kid gets my brain working.
On Wednesday, HBO Max announced the development of a limited series built around the Peacemaker character that John Cena will play in James Gunn’s upcoming The Suicide Squad film.
But the key art released with the news trigged memories of an image that’s apparently stuck in my brain over the past 30 years. The headshot of Cena’s Peacemaker, drawn like a comic book illustration, looked a lot like John Byrne’s rendition of Captain America for the signature corner boxes that Marvel Comics put on its covers from the 1960s through the 1990s.
As I was sitting in the theater before Bloodshot began (preceded by about 25 minutes of trailers, of course), I realized that this could be the last movie I’d see in public for a while. Even before chain and independent theaters implemented social distancing measures, then closed entirely, major releases had been pushed back for months (at least), so we wouldn’t have been getting new movies for a while.
So if Bloodshot was the last new movie I’d see in theaters until maybe — maybe — the summer, did Vin Diesel send us into self-imposed isolation on a high note? Well, sort of.
Joker is the big movie release of the weekend and drawing a lot of buzz, so we have a review for you (2:11). Then baseball and football radio segments from WISE Sports Radio. Up first is a preview of the 2019 MLB postseason (15:05), followed by a look at Week 5 in the NFL (27:33).
Referenced during this episode:
“[…] all the fucking funny guys are like, ‘Fuck this shit, because I don’t want to offend you.’” [Joker director Todd Phillips in Vanity Fair]