These Shows Look Exciting

For some of these TV shows, I already posted trailers, but recently new trailers were introduced at the New York Comic Con, which got me enthused all over again. Now these are surefire shows and returns that I will definitely be watching when they air, usually because I enjoyed the first season, or read the book, or because I just like the premise and actors.

Wolf Creek Season 2 – Dec. 15th/?

Some of these shows, I don’t have concrete dates for, and for some of them I don’t even have a network, nevertheless, I will be scrolling through my TV guide to find them at the appointed times.

I remember doing a mini review of this when it first aired. The series was unexpectedly good. I say unexpected because I hated the movie on which this was based. Wolf Creek is based on the story of a real life serial killer who roamed the Australian Outback, several years ago, and I had trouble watching the film because it was more like torture porn than a legitimate movie, and seemed to be glorifying the killer, and I seriously didn’t like that. I also hate films where the soundtrack consists entirely of women screaming. I was sort of expecting that with this series, but what I got was a tension-filled thriller, where the  usual “Final Girl” plays a long cat and mouse game with the man who destroyed her family.

This time around I didn’t see any of that in the trailer, and there seems no continuation of the fallout from the first story, as far as I can tell. I think this is an entirely new cast, although once again, there’s a little bit too much glorification of the killer for my comfort. I’m not a fan of portraying real life serial killers as funny and entertaining, but I will tolerate that, if the show is really, really compelling.

We’ll see.

Good Omens – 2019/ Amazon/BBC

I’m a big David Tennant fan, so I will probably be here to watch this. No, I didn’t read the original story and have no great urge to do so. Sometimes I like to watch a source based show, solely on its own merits, and I want to do that with this one. I like the premise, and it looks hilarious, which I’m told is also true of the book its based on.

The Passage – 2019/Fox

I mentioned being excited about this earlier this year. Now this series, I did read the book but not because I knew it would become a TV show. I read it because it has some truly scary vampires in it, and I really liked the writing. The trailer heavily reminds me of Carey’s The Girl With All The Gifts, and I can’t help but think this may have been influenced by it, (although it wasn’t.)

The one problem I had with the first book in the trilogy by Justin Cronin was about halfway through the first book the story really slowed down, especially after those great first 200 pages. I seriously considered simply dropping the book, but I persevered, and I’m glad I did, because it picked up again for the last 50 pages or so, and the last part has some relevance to the next book in the series, called The Twelve.

The makers of the show have said they plan to stick pretty close to the first book as much as possible, including that 100 year jump that happens just after the events in the first 100 or so pages. Now I’m curious as to how they’re gonna pull that off without losing their audience. I almost didn’t finish the book for that reason.

Titans – DCEU Streaming/Today

I have no plans to subscribe to this network. I’m not buying one more damn app to watch shows on. I spend enough money now on cable. Nevertheless, I’m still excited about this show, not so much because of Anna Diop, but because I’m a big fan of Beastboy, mostly from watching Teen Titans Go, with my niece. (I’m probably one of five people, in the US, who doesn’t give a single  gotdamn that Starfire is being played by a Black woman. I think she looks gorgeous! I still hate her outfit.)

Star Trek Discovery Season 2 – Jan. 17th/ CBS All Access

The more of this I see, the more excited I am for the new season. I hope to get more insight into the Bridge crew, and I actually like Pike with his cocky ass. It’s still kind of bittersweet when you consider his life trajectory, though. It’s fitting there would be some Spock in this season, as Spock eventually comes to serve with Pike on the Enterprise, before Kirk became Captain. I really like Michael, and I love how she was so much of the focus of the first season, as is fitting, but I’d also like to see a little less focus on just her, and a little more of a focus on her interaction with the rest of the crew, and what their lives are like together.

And I have to watch it for the promised reunion between Culber and Stamets.

Siren – Jan. 2019/Freeform

I mostly enjoyed the first season which was kind of uneven as far as pacing and character. It seems like this season the show is going to focus on Indigenous shapeshifters, not just the mermaids, which I think is very exciting, and it appears the show will  continue to  slam it out of the park on the diversity angle, by adding more Indigenous people to the cast.

Daredevil Season 3 – Oct. 19th/Netflix

I’m almost excited for this new season because the trailer looks great. I was okay with the last season. I give it a C, as it could’ve been better, and mostly I just seemed to see all its faults. Well, it had a lot of faults. But I really like Vincent D’Onofrio though, so I’m looking forward to seeing the Kingpin again, only because Vincent is so damned good at playing him. The fight scenes look really good, and I’ve heard the other characters on the show get some major screen-time, separate from Matt’s shenanigans as Daredevil. Frankly, Foggy deserves it.

American Gods Season 2 – 2019/Starz

Do I even need to talk about how excited I am for the second season of this show. I do have a few misgivings though because the prolific Bryan Fuller is no longer in charge of this season. I think Nei Gaiman has taken over the writing or something, which is good, but Neil is not Bryan and I don’t know how or if he will approach the racial issues of the story the ay Bryan did. I’m always wary of White writers when it comes to the subject of race, unless they have proven track record of care and improvement. I like Neil, and have read many of his books, but I don’t know how he planes to approach the show.

Nevertheless, I’ll remain optimistic based on this trailer, which looks pretty good. I’d watch the show even if I hated the trailer, because I’m looking forward to meeting all the other Gods, like Mama-Ji. There’s also an Indigenous character, a young woman, that was added from the book, and another Asian woman called New Media, since Gillian Anderson left the show. New Media represents the god of social media and the internet, and is strongly aligned with Technical Boy. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of the Native gods of America, even though they were briefly mentioned and seen in the first season, although I have to say that such beings don’t show up til the end of the book, not that I think we should wait to see them.

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Weekend Linkspam: Television

Here, have some more interesting article links.

On Hannibal: The Series

 

I loved this mashup video of all the different iterations of this specific scene in Hannibal.

 

 

http://www.vulture.com/2013/06/seitz-on-hannibal-its-a-dream-and-it-hurts.html

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/10/the-moral-universe-of-hannibal

http://www.vulture.com/2015/08/hannibal-redefined-how-we-tell-stories-on-tv.html

 

 

On Whitewashing and Other Concerns

The Seven Strategies for Defending Your Problematic TV Show or Movie—and Why They Don’t Work

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2017/03/24/filmmakers_and_actors_keep_defending_casting_controversies_but_here_s_why.html

 

On American Gods:

 

https://blackgirlnerds.com/american-gods-realities-race/

 

On Popular Media and Racism Vs. Historical Accuracy

https://eidolon.pub/how-to-be-a-good-classicist-under-a-bad-emperor-6b848df6e54a

https://sarahemilybond.com/2017/09/10/hold-my-mead-a-bibliography-for-historians-hitting-back-at-white-supremacy/amp/

https://www.publicmedievalist.com/race-racism-middle-ages-toc/

 

On The White Savior Trope

Oh Come All Ye White Saviors

http://www.salon.com/2013/02/21/oscar_loves_a_white_savior/

 

 On Daredevil and the Yellow Peril Trope

Black Mask, Yellow Peril: Anti-Asianism in Netflix’s Otherwise Brilliant <i>Daredevil</i>

https://io9.gizmodo.com/marvel-s-got-an-asian-problem-and-it-s-not-getting-any-1781448797

 

On Furiosa and  Disability in Film

Cover Photo: Frock Flicks

https://catapult.co/stories/love-disability-and-movies

http://www.popmatters.com/feature/194573-power-and-disability-in-mad-max-fury-road1/

https://serfbazaar.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/furiosa-disability-representation-and-empowerment/

https://www.inverse.com/article/15806-one-year-later-fury-road-resonates-on-disability-sexuality-and-the-end-of-days

https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/more-our-machines/aesthetics-and-prosthetics-science-fiction

The Defenders Season Review

Image result for defenders gifs

 

Instead of reviewing every episode, one by one, like most other reviewers, I’ve decided to just review the entire season.  Rather than 13 episodes, the series has been reduced to eight, which I feel was a really good idea, as this helps the story move along a lot more swiftly, and with less filler, than in the individual shows.  Since the plot is moving faster, and interludes are shortened, it’s not possible to get too irritated by any particular plot point (The Villain), or character (Danny), because you just don’t have much time for it.

Overall, I enjoyed the series. I can definitely say that I like certain characters much better in a team setting, than I did in their individual stories, because a lot of their weaknesses of character aren’t on full display here, and when they are on display, there’s a reason for it. I especially enjoyed all the team action, even just sitting around and talking to each other, because these guys are  a lot of fun together. Their fighting styles and attitudes just mesh really well, and they have great chemistry with each other, which makes for some interesting, and cool fight scenes, and some funny and snarky dialogue.

I think the show played up the reluctant hero angle a bit too much. The characters are always having conversations about how they’re not heroes, and don’t want to be heroes, especially Luke and Jessica. Matt is trying to quit  the superhero game as if he were going cold turkey from some kind of -ism. Danny is the only one who wants to be a hero, and he’s not  remotely equipped to be one.

 

Luke Cage:

 

Image result for defenders gifs matt

We get a slightly deeper understanding of Luke as a person, although there are no huge revelations, or anything. He still doesn’t want to be a hero, he’s still living in Harlem, still trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life, all of this is just as in his own show.  We see the opening moves of a friendship between him and Danny, and Luke and Claire finally go out for that coffee, before being awkwardly interrupted by Luke’s former one night, Misty.

All of the characters get a chance to interact, one on one, during the series, although there’s not a lot of forward momentum in their characters, or relationships. Just hints of things to come. We get hints of a reconciliation between him and Jessica. In the comic books, the two are married and have a baby, but I don’t know if these shows will move in that direction. I’m opposed to it because of Jessica having killed his wife, (and then lied to him about it), and Jessica is also  not in any kind of emotional shape to have a relationship with anyone. Also, she is, ethically speaking, the complete opposite of  Luke, and I just don’t see those two  styles of personality meshing well.

As I mentioned, the showrunner doesn’t do anything new with the character. Luke remains a deeply principled guy who, while okay with kicking ass, is opposed to killing. He is not afraid to call someone on their shit, the way he does to Danny.

I love that all the characters have their place and purpose  in the team, and how their differing fighting styles are showcased. Luke is like Superman. He’s invulnerable to most harm, and is often a shield for the others, when the guns come out. He’s not completely invulnerable though, as Danny is one of the few people that can knock him off his feet (well…Danny and unexpected trucks). Seriously, the man is like a tank. He’s even immune to fire.

The team needs Danny whenever they need a huge, loud distraction, as in the finale, when they needed to reach a safe place, but The Hand was being an obstruction. Danny is like a large explosive device, delivering concussive sound and force, and I like the way his powers are used here, although yeah, the glowing fist still looks kinda silly. Still, Luke and Danny are definitely the team’s two heavy hitters.

One of the most annoying parts of the show is the Rap music that appears whenever Luke shows up on screen. To the showrunner: Hey! Luke does not  need a soundtrack to announce his presence!

Matt is the resident Ninja, and while Danny isn’t too bad in that department, Danny has a different purpose. Matt is the kind of team member who can move in and out of a situation quickly and quietly, warn the team of any impending danger, (and get them out of trouble with the law,  if necessary, I guess.)

 

 

Matt Murdock:

Image result for defenders gifs matt

 

Matt spends a lot of the first couple of episodes trying not to be heroic, or save people. I think we’re meant to believe that he gave it all up after losing Elektra, but since I wasn’t buying his relationship with her, I didn’t care. The two of them have no chemistry, and the emotional intensity of a pair of titmice, especially when it comes to passionate exchanges.

On the other hand, it was nice seeing him put his lawyer-ly shit down, it was nice to see Foggy and Karen again, and I’m glad the three of them made some effort towards reconciliation, especially after last season’s events, when Karen found out he was Daredevil. The two of them treat, and talk about Matt, as if he were a recovering junkie, so that’s kind of weird, made even weirder by scenes of Matt “staring” longingly at his Daredevil outfit, as if it were an ice cream sundae.

Actually, a lot of Charlie Cox’s acting is off in this series. There’s story movement, but his character remains pretty much the same. His fighting skills are awesome as ever, but Charlie looks like he’s phoning in  his performance. When I called him a Floor Lamp Ninja, I meant that he could pretty much be swapped out by any other martial arts actor, and this would not  greatly affect the plot.

I did enjoy the scene where he tails Jessica on the streets and she susses him out, and when they meet for the first time in their superhero guises. Matt steals that big gray scarf she wears everywhere, to wrap around his face, and Jessica rolls her eyes at him.

 

 

Jessica Jones:

Image result for defenders gifs jessica

This show went a long way towards making me like this character. As much as she hates people, Jessica really does work well in a team setting. She takes nothing seriously, which ends up making her the funniest person in the group. Her one on one interactions with Matt are especially funny, and she gives absolutely no fucks about who  Danny is, and is quick to say so, which I thought was hilarious.

A lot of the weakness of Jessica’s show is that its very White Feminist, and her mistreatment of PoC in the show really started, not just to grate on my nerves, but to make me actively dislike her, no matter how much I sympathized with her issues. I know and understand  that she is dealing with the severe trauma of what Killgrave did to her, but trauma is not an excuse for her abuse and mistreatment of characters of color.

I actually had a problem, not just with her,but with the show’s writers as well. Despite women’s trauma issues being  the center of  the story, they still managed to erase  WoC entirely, which is something White Feminism keeps doing, in stories that are supposed to be empowering to women. (The stories end up being empowering only  to White women.) But I still applaud the show for its messages and the general treatment of its (White) female characters. I see why some people liked it, but ultimately the show wasn’t for me.

That’s just the logical reasoning for why I disliked the show. The other reason is there was a lot of triggering shit in that show. I had to stop watching it, for my own self care, because I was not ready!

I liked Jessica in The Defenders, because the focus wasn’t on Jessica’s pain, so we got to see her reacting to other things. She’s still an unlikable, alcoholic, snarky mess, but that’s okay. Who says heroes have to be likable? Its especially interesting because unlikability is rare in female characters, and Jessica is thoroughly unapologetic about herself. At one point she very openly steals a can of beer, from a passed out homeless man on the subway, (because she’s had a long day,) right in front of Matt and Luke, who handle  the act with no more than raised eyebrows.

Jessica is definitely the team’s Tony Stark to Luke’s Steve Rogers. There’s much of the same personality dynamics present, except some of the motivation for  Jessica’s rather  loose ethics stem partially from her trauma at the hands of Killgrave.

 

Danny Rand:

Image result for defenders danny

Yeah, for someone who talked a lot of shit about the Iron Fist series, I think you guys will be pleasantly surprised that I didn’t actually dislike Danny Rand in this show. As I mentioned, the shorter running time for the series means that Danny’s scenes are kept to a minimum, so he doesn’t have as much time to be irritating. Not that he doesn’t give it a big try.

Finn Jones has also had the benefit of some practice on his fight choreography, and better directors and it shows. His fight scenes aren’t the trash fire that they were in Iron Fist, so he actually ends up looking competent. Plus, he just works better with a team of people, than he does on his own.

The team dynamics go a long way towards making Danny likable here, and really, in the next season of Iron Fist, the show runners really need to lean in to the ridiculousness of his story, rather than playing it straight, because yeah, Danny sounds like he’s insane. None of the other team members take his backstory seriously, rolling their eyes every time he mentions he’s the Immortal Iron Fist, an attitude I thought was incredibly funny. And then there’s the silliness of him walking around with a large dragon tattoo on his test. His powers aren’t funny, and the audience is never given to laugh at those, but his backstory is kinda nuts. Mr. I Punched a Dragon!

Another reason I like Danny here, is because the showrunner makes an effort to make his character understandable, in a way that he wasn’t in his own series. In his own series, his behavior is incredibly rage inducing, and frustrating, (and I can’t help but think that this change has at least a little to do with the showrunner being a man of color, who understands the issue in a way the last showrunner didn’t). But here, Danny’s behavior is in smaller doses, and he has more well developed characters reacting to his wtf*ery, so he’s  a lot easier to understand. Granted, if the character had been cast as Asian to begin with, we wouldn’t need all these careful repairs.

http://www.indiewire.com/2017/08/luke-cage-iron-fist-marvel-defenders-netflix-privilege-1201868048/

For example, at one point, he and Luke square off, with Luke confronting Danny about his privilege as a rich White man, who chooses to come into his part of town and beat up the impoverished Black people, rather than finding some other way to defeat The Hand’s purposes. The Hand is able to operate with impunity in such neighborhoods because all they have to do is offer money. Luke’s statement is a reminder to Danny that there’s a bunch of other things he could’ve done, as a wealthy White man to defeat the purposes of The Hand, besides beating up the citizens. But then you notice that Danny’s go-to, when dealing with The Hand, is only ever violence. He never tries to thwart them any other way, and thinks he can  simply punch his way to the proper outcome.

For example: Danny and Colleen find a warehouse full of bodies. The Hand is hiring young men from Luke’s  neighborhood to  clean up any evidence that might lead to their organization. Danny and Colleen do not know this. They don’t ask questions, have not investigated the situation, and haven’t bothered to understand the why of any of it. The two of them immediately jump to kicking ass. Danny and Luke first meet when  Luke steps in to protect one of the young men, who has lost his family to The Hand, and feels coerced to work for them.

Luke’s statement about his privilege is meant to remind Danny that there are other perspectives  besides his own. It’s made very plain  that when it comes to The Hand, Danny has a huge blind spot.  Danny doesn’t  think, he just reacts, and that was what happened at the warehouse, which  resulted in Danny brutally beating a (Black) teenage boy. He’s  reckless, impulsive, and has anger issues. He and Colleen don’t have any kind of a plan, beyond destroying The Hand. This gets mentioned a couple of times during the show.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/18/16118680/the-defenders-netflix-marvel-iron-fist-sucks

On to the good part: Danny doesn’t get any better at being impulsive, but he does listen to what gets said to him. And the showrunner is a lot better at making clear what Danny’s motivations are, something which is cloudier on his own show. Danny is looking for a purpose. Since he abdicated his responsibilities to K’un L’un (Why?), he’s not only been looking for a way to atone for that, but looking for a new purpose to replace it, and probably looking for a new family too, as he’s one of the few characters that’s at all excited about teaming up. But again he is blind to his rage about The Hand, and as long as he remains blind to his lack of control, as regards them, he can accomplish nothing.

When the rest of the team find out the the The Hand is specifically after Danny, they try to get him to stand down, and stay out of their next fight, rather than just running up on ’em, without a plan. I’m always here for Danny getting his ass handed to him, which the team has to resort to, to keep Danny from fucking up, yet again. There follows a long interlude with him and Luke getting to know each other, and Danny trying to at least understand Luke’s perspective on the world.

So yeah, this show went a little way to making me, if not like Danny, at least understand where he’s coming from in terms I could easily grok.

 

Alexandria:

Image result for defenders gifs alexandra

 

Sigourney Weaver turns in a beautiful performance, as I expected, before being unexpectedly dispatched near the end of the series. My biggest problem is that her motivations as a villain are so vague and ill-defined I was completely unable to care what her goals were. We know what she and the other members of The Hand want to do, but we have no idea why they want to take over the world, other than just wanting to do it.

I didn’t focus on her unfathomable motivations. I just tried to focus on her performance.  She and Elektra have great chemistry, reminiscent of Ellen Ripley and Call, the Android from Alien Resurrection, and I found this dynamic fascinating. On a lighter note, I loved her outfits. Alexandra is always impeccably dressed. She just looks like a woman with a lot of money and extravagant but unshowy tastes.

Another problem that I have is that the women in this show rarely get to interact with each other, (although Claire and Colleen get some nice scenes together, and later, Colleen and Misty get to talk). Alexandra spends a lot of time alone. They couldn’t even bother to write her as being friends to Madame Gao, having her treat Gao like a servant, which I found especially distasteful. Here you have a wealthy White woman treating this older Asian woman as if she were the Help, although there are other factors behind why she does it, it was still ugly and racist, even if that was not what was intended.

I still don’t know why the  showrunners bothered to call Sigourney into this show, which she is simply too good for. I had noticed that her presence sidelines the Asian characters putting, them all in a subordinate position to her, and significantly reducing Madame Gao’s street cred, that she’s built over three other shows. As much as I like Sigourney, I feel like the story would have been better served without Alexandra.

 

Elektra:

Image result for defenders gifs elektra

 

I still do not like this character, because I just feel like she’s evil for no  feckin’ reason. I didn’t like her in Daredevil either, because the writers just made her seem batshit insane for no reason. Elodie Young is gorgeous and all, and can actually act, as I’ve seen her elsewhere acting just fine, but I don’t like the way she approached this character. When we first see her here, she has been brainwashed and controlled by The Hand, most especially Alexandra. She’s pretty much a perfect example of the Born Sexy Yesterday Trope.  Later,  she appears to become evil on purpose,and for the life of me, I simply could not care.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=dxgnmgk8728039vcnyat5g65

After Elektra’s resurrection, she is mentored in her evil-ness by Alexandra, and it was really interesting watching the relationship between the two of them, but she does eventually betray Alexandra, and turns against The Hand. Once again, for no reason that I could discern than that the writers needed a new villain in the plot.

The show is somewhat formulaic, with the idea of replacing one Big Bad with another, halfway through the season. This happened with Iron Fist, Daredevil, and Luke Cage, where the viewer starts out with one villain, who gets unceremoniously dispatched by the true villain of the story. Basically, a villain bait and  switch.

I wanted to like Elektra. I just don’t. I couldn’t understand her motivations for anything, and I wasn’t feeling her deep love affair with Matt Murdock. Which is not helped by Matt Murdock acting like  “Floor Lamp Ninja”, throughout most of the series. When she’s not smurking evil-ly, she has a blank, wide-eyed, look on her face, which I found kinda irritating. I got no problem with Elektra’s martial skills. Those were exemplary, as always.

 

Colleen Wing:

Image result for defenders gifs colleen

 

She has even less personality growth here then in Iron Fist. In fact, I found her much more annoying in The Defenders, than I did in that show. She didn’t make much of an impression on me for this show, either. Part of this has to do with the shorter length of the series. There’s just not enough time to develop all the characters, so some of them get short shrift and hers is especially short.

The only thing we get from Colleen’s is more of her being Danny’s support network, (as she is told by Claire) and fighting the same endless fight against Bakuto, that she fought in Iron Fist, with Bakuto making the exact same talking points. Why he wants her is anybody’s guess Is he in love? Wants her as a protege? We don’t know or understand. His motivations are pretty vague. As are most The The Hand’s motivations.

Collen’s motivations are even less discernible to us than they were in Iron Fist. That was a problem that wasn’t even approached here. We don’t know why she loves him, and the two are not especially demonstrative, but nevertheless we are led to believe they are a couple. She may be Danny’s emotional support but she’s doing an awful job at helping him deal with his anger issues ,or his ideas about who and what he is. Case in point, it took a near total stranger, Luke , to point out one of Danny’s biggest flaws. The problem may be that Colleen is unable to point out Danny’s flaws because she’s too much like him. She has a go along to get along attitude with Danny that I found irritating, never questioning what he says or does, and mindlessly following him in his quest. She has no story of her own, seemingly having gave it up to be little more than Danny’s helpmate. The writers need to do better with her. Hopefully, if there is a spinoff show with Misty, she’ll be better written.

As per usual there’s nothing wrong with Colleen’s martial skills. In fact the choreography isn’t bad for the whole series, and at least a few of the directors know how to shoot fight scenes well enough to make them all different, and compelling enough, to keep watching. My favorite fight scenes are the team fights though.

 

Misty Knight:

 

Image result for defenders gifs misty

There’s not much character growth with Misty Knight either, but at least her motivations are clear. We know exactly what she wants in the narrative and why she wants it. She wants to solve her case, and get a promotion, (or not be fired), which is hindered by the fact that the people who could help her solve it, refuse to tell her anything, and the fact that, with The Hand, she is totally out of her league.

Misty is a cop, so she has mostly cop concerns, just as she did in Luke Cage. Shit is happening, her friends are in the middle of it, and they won’t tell her anything, because they realize, but refuse to explain clearly to her, just how far out of her depth she is. I kept admonishing Luke (and Jessica) to make clear to her, that the organization they’re  dealing with  doesn’t give a flying hot damn if she’s a cop, and will happily kill her (and her entire fam), but they kept refusing to tell her this, which was becoming really frustrating.

I’ve also seen some shitty meta about how she’s a bad character because she keeps attacking people she needs help from, and I’m like Bish please! She’s not attacking your White faves! She is being a cop, who knows that the information that will allow her to do her job, is being withheld. She’s got one job in the damn show, which is solving her case, and  she can’t do it, because  the four people who know something about it, won’t tell her anything. So yeah, she gonna be irritated, and not afraid to show that irritation.  This is called DRAMA, people!( I’m trying to  remember that I’m dealing with the hysterical children of Tumblr, who think any time  characters of color show irritation at a White character’s actions,  that it automatically makes them a villain. Yep! This is the level of logic I’m dealing with on Tumblr, guys!)

But she comes through in the end anyway, and lets the team handle their bidness. Although, I suspect she’s mostly there because Luke and Claire were in danger. (Remember, Misty doesn’t know who  any of those White people are. They are just mysterious somebodies who are obstructing her job. Luke and Claire are the ones who are her friends..)

Misty is known in the comic books for having a silver bionic arm, and for teaming up with Colleen to be the Daughters of the Dragon. (On an alternate Earth, she even gets to carry Steve Rogers shield, sorta like a female Bucky.) So,  we may get to see her new prosthetic in season two of Luke Cage, and if we’re lucky we’ll get to see her and Colleen team up. Hey! If side characters like the Punisher can get their own show, they can make a Daughters of the Dragon series, (possibly in the style of the Foxy Brown Blaxploitation movies of my youth.) The series should of course be helmed by a Black or Asian woman, because I absolutely do not  trust a White, male, showrunner to get a Black woman, and an Asian woman correct.

http://mashable.com/2017/08/18/the-defenders-misty-knight-arm-daughters-of-the-dragon-spinoff/#KKkkf8UKpmqx

 

The Hand:

Image result for defenders gifs the hand

https://www.bustle.com/p/who-are-the-five-fingers-of-the-hand-the-defenders-reveals-whos-pulling-the-strings-77358

Unfortunately, the shorter the running time of the series does not seem to allow much clarity on who, or what, The Hand is, or why they want what they want. We have some idea of what they’re doing globally, not just in New York, but that’s pretty much all we get.

New York starts experiencing a spate of seismic disturbances, which are being caused by The Hand digging near some sort of fault line, under a plot of land they built an office on. Why they are digging is slightly unclear. I think some dragon bones are involved becasue its briefly mentioned tat this has something to do with how Iron Fist got his power. For some reason ,they also need to capture Iron Fist and beat him up, or make him angry so he can open some kind of doorway to K’un L’un, so the five leaders of The Hand can go back home.

I did pay attention but really that’s the best I can do regarding the rather lackluster plot. I really didn’t care, although i guess its supposed to be some sort of revelation ,that the five leaders are all incredibly old, exiled citizens of K’un L’un. Even the facts of why they’re exiled in the first place isn’t made abundantly clear. I really hope the showrunner and the writers were making some kind of point about cloudy motivations, or something becasue the villains are a mess.

Alexandra gets unceremoniously dispatched and replaced by Elektra, who gives a self important speech about how she’s now the leader of The Hand. I don’t know if its the actress, or the writing, but I was bored by the whole thing. Why we were introduced to new memebers of The Hand only to have them killed right away is anyone’s guess.

Since The Hand is an egalitarian organization there’s a Japanese guy, whose name I don’t remember, a Brazilian guy named Bakuto, an African (Haitian?) guy named Sowande, and Ms. Gao, who I assume is Chinese. Sowande reminds me of the lead character from the movie Beasts of the Southern Wilds who was a procurer of child soldiers. Sowande is brutally tortured and killed by he Defenders after they capture him in an attempt to find out his people’s plans, something which did not sit well with me. And before you come into my inbox and start mansplaining about how the other members of The Hand also get killed, I have to remind you, that none of the other members of The Hand were brutally tortured first. This happens to the sole Black member of The Hand, by people who are, supposedly, the good guys.

Couple that scene with Iron Fist’s brutal beating of a young Black boy in an earlier episode,Jessica jones treatment of its Black male characters,  Daredevil’s treatment of its Asian characters as some type of Yellow Peril (which even the presence of a White woman leader cannot resolve), and Iron Fists White Savior issues, and it becomes clear that the the MCU has some serious racial issues that need addressing. The only disability on display is Matt Murdock’s blindness. Jessica Jones treament of one of its lesbian characters was, quite simply, abominable, and outside of that there is no LGBT representation in any of it. Marvel comic books are doing much better in regards to these issues than the MCU.

One of the ways they can address some of these issues is by hiring different types of showrunners, and writers and treating the creation of these shows (and the movies which have all the same problems) the same way they approach the comic books. The newest phase of MCU movies have gotten a little bit better as far as racial issues (but not by much) and it’s seriously lacking in LGBT and disability representation, and the creators of these projects need to think more deeply about these issues, most especially in its treatment of Asian characters across all of the MCU, as it’s becoming creepily apparent that maybe don’t like people of the Asian diaspora.

Despite all my criticisms though, I actually enjoyed watching it. I’m still glad I didn’t have to spend 13 hours watching it, instead of the eight. The strongest part of the series are the scenes of The Defenders working together as a team. There’s a lot of room for improvement but also a lot of promise for a season two.

Hollywood : Whitewashing (Part III)

Normally, I like to celebrate and geek out about the things Hollywood is getting right but lately there has been a number of serious fuckups, that have been pointed out to us, that shows that the PTB in Hollywood are seriously out of  touch with the rest of the American people, and need to get their shit together, and undergo a serious diversity overhaul.

I know I’ve mentioned before what a huge behemoth Hollywood is, how its so large that it can be slow to change. The problem with that theory is that even in situations where Hollywood has the time, to make different types of choices, it doesn’t. I understand that often films are years in the making and the films that have been released this year are sometimes cast months (in some cases years) in advance, so I will give a tiny bit of leeway in that direction, as Hollywood probably has not fully understood just how seriously their fuckups have been on the diversity front. What I do not give a pass to are movies that have been recently cast.

For example:

MCU: The Marvel Cinematic Universe keeps falling down on the diversity front. Given an opportunity to cast anything other than White men in heroic roles in the films it continues to get this  wrong. There are almost no Women of Color in the MCU, outside of Agents of Shield (two Asian women), and Daredevil’s Elektra (its depiction of Asian women is  a  problem that was just discussed). There is one Afro Latina in the MCU as Claire in Daredevil.  I guess they figured with an Afro Latina they got all their bases covered and don’t need to cast any more women of color.

Hopefully we can get some representation with Luke Cage, which is coming out in the Fall, and hopefully it won’t rely on a bunch of tropes, since Hollywood seems to find writing for black female characters to be one of the hardest things in the universe. (Perhaps if they had some black women writers behind the scenes in Hollywood, this might not be a problem.) My argument though is  we shouldn’t have to wait for a Black vehicle to see black women in the superhero universe. We should’ve been included all along.

Jessica Jones went a long way towards depicting white women in the MCU and I say white women because the one depiction they had of a black woman in that series (Luke Cage’s wife) was ignominiously murdered by the white heroine of that series, which mostly served to send the, I’d like to believe unintentional, message to its audience that there is no room in this universe for black and white women’s stories to exist together.

Agent Carter too, is a prime example of heroic white women existing at the expense of women of color, as if there’s no room for both to co-exist. Perhaps the writers of that show think Peggy will look less heroic next to women who are actually experiencing some next level hardship? Or maybe the writers are too lazy to write the kind of story that would make Peggy look heroic by helping the lives of women who don’t look like her?

Its as if Hollywood refuses to understand that White women and  WoC don’t have to be pitted against each other for a good story to be told. Their stories can and often do exist side by side and doesn’t detract from the the other’s story.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of white female heroes that I love. Like Black Widow, who has yet to get her own movie, even though the MCU was willing to make yet another film featuring a white man: Antman. A movie no one was asking for. We’ve been asking for a black Widow movie for over three years now and  it would also be nice to see a White Tiger (Latino),the original Captain Marvel (African American), or even Storm. (Catwoman doesn’t count. That movie was shit.)

Instead of giving us a Black Widow movie Hollywood has decided to make the puzzling decision to keep casting  Scarlett Johannson in worse and worse vehicles, as if they’re trying to destroy her career before they have to make that Black Widow movie we’ve been asking them for. What is their plan exactly? Keep making worse movies with her in them until her career flops and then use that as an excuse to call off the Black Widow movie they have no intention of ever making?

The less said about the DC Universe films, the better. The TV shows, on the other hand,which seems to exist exclusively on the CW, are at least trying, which is more than I can say for Marvel’s TV universe, which is incoherent and scattered all over the place.

While we are on the subject of Marvel, lets discuss: Whitewashing

Iron Fist/Dr. Strange: Whitewashing/White Savior trope:

I think I mentioned on another site that Hollywood has spent decades creating trope after trope after sterotype about PoC, so now that they have the ability to cast persons of color in movies, their castings are almost always going to be problematic no matter who they choose. Hollywood is an incredibly lazy and unimaginative place at times. They can be just as traditional and hidebound as that Auntie who spends all day/every day in church and walks around the house humming gospel songs to herself.

I know, I know, they are in the business of making money and they  like sure things, and don’t like to take many chances which is a great business model when your business doesn’t depend on being imaginative.

Ghost in the Shell: Whitewashing

Okay this photo gallery is for that asshole writer of Ghost in the Shell, who pretty much just killed his fucking movie by saying that they chose Scarlett Johannson because there are no good Asian actresses.

 

 

Or it could just be that their lazy asses couldn’t be bothered to look for any to star in their movie.

 

Gods of Egypt:Whitewashing

Nina Simone: Colorism

 

 

 

White Virgin/Whore of Color (Part II)

For those of you who liked the first article, you may be interested in reading the follow-up on Daredevil and its problematic depiction of Women in the MCU (when any women in the MCU are depicted at all.) I think perhaps the only show that escapes this dynamic is Jessica Jones but only because WoC, are entirely erased from that particular narrative.

And that’s without getting  into the movies, with their lone woman narrative, that results in Black Widow having to be all things to all women. Seriously, I love Black Widow, but she needs some friends or something.

Most of these are related to WoC depictions in media:

Race and Romance in Daredevil Season Two

http://www.alternet.org/truth-behind-strong-black-woman-stereotype

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/09/AR2005060901729.html

http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ899418.pdf

 

And in my ongoing series of posts featuring issues of interest on Tumblr, here are some posts discussing media representation of sex workers:

 

 

 

blackfemalescientist:

lierdumoa:

Can we talk about how the Deadpool movie, which the media has largely referred to (in so many words) as a fuckboy’s wetdream, not only gives a female sex worker an empathetic role, but treats her and her work more respectfully than about 99% of so called feminist media?

.

At no point does the movie imply that Vanessa is tainted because she is a sex worker. At no point does the movie imply that Vanessa is unworthy of love because she is a sex worker.

At no point is Vanessa portrayed as “broken.”

At no point does the movie imply that being a sex worker makes Vanessa a bad girlfriend. At no point does Deadpool ask or expect Vanessa to sacrifice her job for their relationship.

At no point is Vanessa slut-shamed for her job, by either protagonists or villains.

Think about that.

Denigrating sex workers is so taboo within the Deadpool movieverse that even the villains won’t do it.

We know that Vanessa experienced sexual abuse, and that it’s shaped the person she’s become and influenced the choices she’s made. The movie clearly acknowledges that sexual abuse is real, and that it is damaging, and that people who experience sexual abuse struggle to lead “normal” lives and get “normal” jobs.

But the movie never hands sexual abusers the mic.

There is no sexual abuse porn in this movie. There are no voyeuristic rape flashbacks. There are no misogynist monologues. The audience learns about Vanessa’s abusive past from Vanessa, on Vanessa’s terms, through Vanessa’s own words.

This seems like the bare minimum of dignity any female character should be granted, yet so much media fails to meet this extremely low bar.

The movie makes it very clear that Vanessa has a life outside of sex work. She does not live on a stripper pole. Sex work is something Vanessa does. Sex work is not who Vanessa is. She has an apartment. She wears pajamas. What other fictional universe can say the same? I can think of one tv show, but that’s about it, and that show’s viewership is nothing compared to Deadpool’s.

Now on the one hand, I’m not necessarily happy that Vanessa’s character arc revolves almost entirely around her romantic relationship with the lead male protagonist. But on the other hand, I find it very refreshing to see a sex worker in the media whose character arc does not revolve entirely around the fact that she is a sex worker. Hate to say it, but for sex workers in the media, being relegated to the role of love interest is actually a step up.

Most feminist media would rather pretend sex workers don’t exist than write storylines of any kind for them.

I also thought it was nice that she was a sex worker and a damsel in distress. Like, you don’t often see people going out of the way to save sex workers. If they are shown in danger (rather than as dead bodies for the main character to analyze) then no one is looking for them. Its only when the villain threatens the non sex worker that the main characters mobilize to stop whatever villain is threatening. Its nice and sadly refreshing for the rescue to center on someone who hasn’t “earned” it with her “purity”.

(via christel-thoughts)

 

More Scarlett Johansson stuff:

iterativeimprovement:

triplehamburgerjack:

lovemyths:

arkynn:

“nothing against scarlett”

why not? she the one who went out for the audition and is okay with actively participating in whitewashing. its not like she cant get work lol. why we gotta act like actors have no control over their contribution to racism??

I never understand why people say things like that. Like “no offense to *insert famous actor*”. The actor who accept the role that whitewashes is just as responsible as those who casted them. All of the blame cannot just be placed on the casting director because the actor actively accepted that role. They could’ve said no but the money that they will make is much more important than combatting racism. ScarJo could’ve said no to the role. This could be said for all the other actors who have accepted roles that have whitewashed. ScarJo isn’t scrambling for roles, she definitely isn’t have a hard time getting casted.

AND SHE NOT BROKE

I want to see an actor of Asian descent in that role as much as the next guy, but something tells me we wouldn’t be having this Outrage Of The Day conversation if Johannsen didn’t take that role. Because let’s be real, if she didn’t take the role, there’s a good chance the film wouldn’t have been greenlit at all, and we wouldn’t have anything to be mad about.

Or rather, we we wouldn’t have this particular thing to be mad about. There’s always something to get worked up over.

There’s an excellent chance the movie would have happened without Scarlet Johansson. It’s been kicking around for awhile & Rinko Kikiuchi certainly proved her chops in Pacific Rim & Kumiko. If anything the casting of ScarJo is going to ensure this movie flops. See Last Airbender, Gods Of Egypt & Exodus for recent examples of what whitewashing does for these properties.

 

And, while we’re at it, let’s bust Disney’s ass for their shit:

raptorific:

Seriously, it surprises me that people still don’t get that “whitewashing” doesn’t just mean “taking a character of color and turning them white,” but also applies to “focusing disproportionately on the stories of white people,” “glossing over or altering parts of a story to make it more palatable or make white people look better,” and “treating ‘white’ as the default race”

The fact that Disney churns out film after film after film after film about white people with a maximum of one film per ethnicity that showcases a group other than white people is whitewashing.

The fact that the story of “Pocahontas” (not her real name) has been substantially altered so that some of the white people in that story don’t look like such villains, with John Smith younger and Pocahontas significantly older, as well as recounting a popular myth of her saving John Smith from near-execution (a story John Smith made up to make himself look brave, the real Pocahontas told him to stop telling and hated him for using her to make himself look good, and he started to spread like wildfire after she died because she could no longer object) is whitewashing.

The fact that the characters on “How I Met Your Mother” are all white, and they supposedly live in New York City, but apparently associate exclusively with other white people (with the exception of Wayne Brady, who occasionally visits from out of town, and a recurring taxi driver) is whitewashing.

The fact that the Doctor has now been a white man a full twelve times in a row is whitewashing even though the character’s always been white, because the idea that there’s a character whose entire appearance can change in a matter of seconds, yet ends up white twelve times in a row by pure random chance, implies that white is a neutral default and other races are a deviation from that norm.

The fact that people get really angry at the suggestion that characters like Newt Scamander or Hermione Granger could beblack because the books never explicitly say “they are black” is whitewashing.

Because that’s the thing. People often assume that when someone’s race isn’t explicitly specified, they’re white. Peopleinsist that Katniss Everdeen must be white because it is possible for them to rationalize that idea in their head. People think of white as “raceless” and every other color or ethnicity as “raced,” and that’s what we call “eurocentrism.“

And that’s the thing about whitewashing. It’s this idea that a “person” is white, and a “person of color” is black or asian or arab or latin@ or whatever they might be.

It’s why people call John Stewart the “Black Green Lantern” but just call Hal Jordan the “Green Lantern.” It’s why Miles Morales is called “Black Spider-man” but Peter Parker is just “Spider-man.” If you want to throw gender into the mix, it’s why Jennifer Walters is the “She-Hulk” but Bruce Banner isn’t the “He-Hulk.”

People think “character” is white and “character + black” is black. There is no default race. Community did a whole episode about how a truly raceless character would look something like this monstrosity:

But there’s the tricky part: Once you stop thinking of white characters as “character” and start thinking of them as “character + white,” it becomes really overwhelming how many characters are white.

I mean, I know there’s a kerfuffle over Disney Princesses right now, so let’s look at the list of official Disney Princesses, shall we? That is, let’s look at the list and include everyone’s race, not just the princesses of color:

  • Snow White + White
  • Cinderella + White
  • Aurora + White
  • Ariel + White
  • Belle + White
  • Jasmine + Arab
  • Pocahontas + Native American
  • Mulan + Asian
  • Tiana + Black
  • Rapunzel + White
  • Merida + White
    Soon to be added:
  • Anna + White
  • Elsa + White

4 of those 13 women are women of color. All four of those women of color are different races than one another. At the moment, the number of white princesses is seven, but it’s about to go up to nine. All nine of those princesses are the same race as one another, despite a few of them being different nationalities, although most of them hail from Western Europe.

And a lot of people are saying “but they’re just accurately portraying the parts of the world those stories are set in!” First of all, the presence of a person of color has never been implausible in any part of the world, in any period of human history. Hell, a bunch of these movies were set after Shakespeare had born, lived, and died, but he still managed to write a play set centuries earlier featuring a black male lead in Italy.

Second, and most importantly, it’s not like they are being assigned a setting at random and have to accommodate it in their character designs. The people at Disney choose to set film after film after film in France and Germany and Denmark.

It’s not that those areas produce more or better fairy tales and folk tales than any of the other continents, it’s that the stories that come from those areas are the ones Disney considers universal.

In the eyes of Disney, there’s a Princess for Black little girls to look up to, a Princess for Native little girls to look up to, a Princess for Arab little girls to look up to, a Princess for Asian little girls to look up to, and nine princesses for all little girls to look up to. It’s no coincidence that in almost all promotional art featuring the “Princess Lineup,” Jasmine, Tiana, Mulan, and Pocahontas are all standing in the back, usually obscured by other whitePrincesses’ dresses, while the blonde lady brigade stands in the front.

And that is whitewashing.

(via christel-thoughts)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Critique : Daredevil Season 2

I think Arthur Chu is very eloquent at expressing my misgivings about how Marvel treats Asians (and all WoC) in the MCU.

Arthur Chu

ARTHUR CHU

MORE THAN A STEREOTYPE

04.01.16 1:08 AM ET

Not Your Asian Ninja: How the Marvel Cinematic Universe Keeps Failing Asian-Americans

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/04/01/not-your-asian-ninja-how-the-marvel-cinematic-universe-keeps-failing-asian-americans.html?via=newsletter&source=Culturebeast

 

 

 

Daredevil Season Two : Episodes 5-8

 

Kinbaku:

This episode is very  Elektra heavy, as it chronicles how the two of them met, and why she left him the first time. I tried really, really hard to like this character and finally concluded that she’s not meant to be likable. Let me be blunt here: Elektra is an asshole. She’s everything I hate in a female character and she even displayed a couple of new qualities I detested.

daredevil-kinbaku-flashback

Anyway Matt, who evinces about as much personality as a hedgehog, in the flashback scenes, is totally smitten with her because she’s a risk taker, who loves danger. I don’t mean jaywalking, or sticking a fork in the toaster  type danger.  I’m talking about stealing cars and beating each other up as foreplay danger. The two of them have less chemistry than Matt and Karen though, no matter how much heavy breathing she and Matt  engage in. (And Elektra does that  breathless talking thing, a lot!) Don’t get me wrong, Elodi Young, as Elektra, is abso-tively gorgeous and her martial arts moves are adequate, but I hate the character. I’m not sure if its the acting, or the horrible dialogue, though. Elodi acts like she’s in a series that’s waaay sexier than the one in which she’s currently starring.

Anyway most of the episode is spent in flashback, as we see Elektra and Matt meet, fight, steal cars, make love, and then the deal-breaker for Matt, breaking into the house of the mobster, (now in hiding), who ordered the death of his father, so Matt can torture and kill him. Matt’s perfectly willing to vandalize the man’s house and beat him up, but killing is going too far, and he declines her invitation to commit murder. Elektra promptly walks out on him. No, really! She acts extremely gleeful about him killing a man, looks completely unhinged while encouraging him to do it, and when he says no to her, she just walks out of the scene.

Ah yeah, incidentally, I’m not impressed by love scenes where the characters grope each other like rabid hamsters. I think that type of acting is meant to convey how they just cant keep their hands off each other, and are in some kind of “people heat”, but I mostly find that kind of shit deeply annoying. (A better love scene would be Richonne’s first, from The Walking Dead.)

I thought, surely, there was a way they could have made Elektra look less batshit, but the writers decided not to go that route, I guess, in favor of making her seem like a version of “My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”!

daredevil-season-2-5-kinbaku-matt-murdock-elektra-natchios-roscoe-sweeney-elodie-yung-charlie-cox-review-episode-guide-list

(Otoh: The fight scene where Elektra and Matt meet-cute is still  a thousand times better than the movie version, between Affleck and Garner.)

Back in the present day, there’s some shady business dealings she wants to hire Matt to help her with that involve the Roxxon Oil Corporation and the Yakuza. Once again, Matt has to tell her “no”, but he is willing to spy on her to find out her true reason for coming to NY. There’s some computer hacking involved, and when her business partners discover her involvement, they hire thugs to visit her apartment, where she and Matt are waiting to kick their ass. Matt is there because Elektra has been spying on him too and knowing about his nigh-time activities as Daredevil, stole his suit.

1200

Oh, yeah. Karen and Matt go out on one of the most awkward dates ever. Awkward and gaudy. This scene hurt my eyeballs.

 

Regrets Only:

This episode is mostly about some courtroom type stuff involving Frank Castle, and Matt and Elektra breaking into a building owned by the Yakuza to steal a book. Every step of the way Matt could make different choices but doesn’t. He is seemingly unable to stay away from Elektra and her exciting world of physical danger, even though he keeps saying he wants nothing to do with her.

Regrets-Only-850x560

Karen develops a rapport wit Frank Castle as his trial begins. Reyes, the DA, wants the death penalty but Murdock and Assoc. decide they will represent Frank in court, and perhaps they can unearth exactly what’s wrong with Frank, why his family was killed and what Reyes has to do with any of it. Karen visits Frank’s home. He hasn’t visited his home since his family died.

Matt interrupts his court case to run off with Elektra and  attend a party, break into a vault and steal a book. So not only is he keeping his Daredevil life a secret from Karen, he’s keeping Elektra a secret too. This is not going to end well. Foggy is mortified at having to take on Reyes, by himself, and for the second time they fight about Matt’s extracurricular activities. This appears to be a theme this season. Apparently, Foggy has had enough of this shit.

 

Semper Fidelis:

Things come to a head when Matt reveals his night-time activities with Elektra is what’s distracting him from his court case. Foggy and Karen let him have it about his irresponsible behavior, and their relationships  become strained. As  Matt neglects his duties in The Punisher court case,  Foggy ends up having to do all the work, including the opening statements, which he hadn’t planned.

daredevil-regrets-foggy

Matt and Elektra are still running around getting into fights with the Yakuza. These fight scenes were a lot of fun and definitely reminded me of scenes from the books, where Matt fights against dozens of  ninja assailants. But for some reason I couldn’t enjoy them too much because these scenes are interspersed with scenes of Foggy, hard at work, trying to save Frank Castle from life imprisonment.  I kept thinking about all the work Matt was neglecting because he prefers  beating  people up at night. Ah yeah, Elektra is in there somewhere, and she gets wounded.

Incidentally, a lot of the fight scenes are filmed in so much darkness that I have no clue about  Elektra’s fighting style.  I’m used to watching Matt fight and Charlie Cox is always spectacular, but couldn’t get a clear picture of what Elodi Young was doing and hence don’t really remember how she fights. Sadly, the most memorable thing about her is her looks.

I have no idea exactly what Elektra and Matt are trying to accomplish in their endless fighting with the Yakuza, either, as its somewhat murky. Its hard for me to really care about the fight scenes because I’m not entirely sure what all the fighting is about beyond simply fighting. What do the two of them stand for?

daredevil-s02-e08

I also don’t like Elektra because she  is a distraction from his day to day life, and Foggy rightfully calls him on it. I also suspect she has ulterior motives beyond the reasons she states for showing up in NY and enlisting Matt’s aid. She doesn’t need Matt’s help to do any of the things they’ve been doing, and why now?

If you pay close attention, you can see that Daredevil is a distinct personality, that is mostly separate from Matt Murdock, the lawyer, but you can also see elements of Daredevil’s personality bleeding into Matt’s everyday life. Wonderful acting on Charlie Cox’s part here.

 

Guilty as Sin:

So all is revealed as Matt and Elektra are attacked by ninjas, Elektra is wounded by a poisoned sword, and then saved by Stick, Matt’s teacher and mentor. It turns out that Elektra does have ulterior motives for getting Matt into all these endless fight scenes. She works for Stick and has been assessing Matt’s preparedness to join in Stick’s ongoing war against The Hand.

daredevil-guilty-stick.jpg

 

Matt emphatically states that she and Stick are insane and he’s not joining their little war. He  and Stick argue, and Matt kicks Stick out of his home, but not before Karen has a chance to stop by and catch Elektra recuperating in Matt’s bed. Welp! I saw that coming!

Matt does agree to take Elektra back if she leaves Stick alone. Elektra goes to Stick and tells him she’s leaving him for Matt. Before they can go through with any of their plans, they’re attacked by an assassin, who is little more than a child. Matt stops just short of killing him, but Elektra, impulsively slits the boy’s  throat, while a horrified Matt watches.  The first time they had a falling out it was because Matt wouldn’t kill. Til now, he’s been in control of their relationship, and encouraging her not to kill in their many fights. This time their falling out will be because Matt won’t accept her killing people.

He really is a stickler about that sort of thing, even though it strikes me as a bit hypocritical. Beating the crap out of people, breaking their bodies, terrorizing and torturing  them for information, is all okay, but he has to draw the line at killing, because life is precious, or something.

Yeah, okay Matt. But it would be nice if he could draw the line at committing violence. This isn’t  arguing about self defense. Going out and violently inserting himself into situations is something he chooses to do, outside the law, every night. And he thinks it’s okay to do these things  because nobody’s dead by his hand.

Yet.

daredevil-season-2-8-guilty-as-sin-punisher-frank-castle-trial-ending-matt-murdock-charlie-cox-jon-bernthal-review-episode-guide-list.jpg

 

Murdock and Associates lose their court case when Frank takes the stand and purposely blows his own defense. Frank continues to be a puzzle to me. Every time Foggy and Karen try to mount a defense for him, he either deliberately blows it, or refuses to abide by it. Its like he wants to go to prison. I suppose I could see that. After all, he won’t have to look so hard to find the  bad guys and he can beat up as many as he wants.

Foggy blames Matt for their courtroom loss, and Karen ain’t too happy with him, either. Frank goes to jail, where he is led to a meeting with The Kingpin. (Its nice to see D’onofrio again being his usual excellent self.)

So, we’re a little over halfway through the season and things are moving apace. There are some parts of the narrative I really just don’t find very interesting. Or rather, they’re not as interesting as I thought they’d be. One of those plot lines is the one about The Hand. I liked the fight scenes well enough. They’re very exciting but I didn’t care very much about them because they just seem like fight scenes added to have action and with no particular meaning.

But maybe that is the point, to show Matt engaging in pointless action for action’s sake. Nothing gets resolved, no one’s  life is saved, he and Elektra aren’t fighting FOR any philosophy. His fight scenes with her are essentially meaningless, so maybe that means his  relationship with her is essentially meaningless, too. The fighting didn’t become interesting until Stick showed up (or maybe I was just excited to see Scott Glenn).

I’m bored with the Frank Castle/ DA Reyes intrigue, probably because much of it consists of Karen reading, and rustling  papers, or sitting and writing notes, although I like the dynamic that was created between her and Frank. She doesn’t let him bully her and stands her ground with him when he tries to push her away, and I like that. She’s determined to help him. She’s also dealing with the emotional aftermath of killing Wilson Fisk’s Majordomo last season, after he had her kidnapped, and I’m glad the show hasn’t forgotten what happened the previous season.

I’ve developed an amazing respect for Foggy, and Eldon Henson, the actor who plays him. Foggy is a much better lawyer than he thinks he is. I also  like that he’s pushing  Matt to make a decision about what he wants do with his life. Does Matt want to abide by the law, or be a vigilante, like Frank? Foggy’s argument is that Matt cannot serve two masters, or rather, serve one master, badly.

We’ll see how this all plays out in the last five episodes.

 

 

Daredevil Season Two: Episodes 1-4

This recap is for episodes 1-4 of season two of Daredevil, titled, in order: Bang; Dogs to a Gunfight; New York’s Finest; and Penny and Dime.

Season Two of Daredevil is probably one of the hottest tickets in town right now. You can find reviews of it everywhere. I don’t normally review things that everyone else is reviewing. I do on occasion, because I watch these shows too, but I like to find those shows that no one is paying a whole lot of attention to, or shows that people might not have access too, like the ones on PlayStation, Netflix, or certain movie channels.

So, yes, I have been watching the new season of Daredevil. I don’t want to do a play by play recap but I will list some highlights of the first four episodes.

Mostly of the first episodes are devoted to the The Punisher storyline. I know some of the ladies who read my blog don’t necessarily read comic books, and have no idea who The Punisher is, so some background may be in order. The Punisher is a guy named Frank Castle, who has decided to kill as many criminal organizations and people as physically possible, and that’s a hell of a lot.

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Its the cliche movie plot about a guy who loses his wife and daughter and  decides to take revenge on the men he thinks are responsible. As a general rule, he avoids killing innocents, but he is not above a certain amount of carelessness in killing them too. It’s your typical “fridging” of women in order  to spur one man to kill more men.

Frank, is excellently played by Jon Bernthal. I fell in love with him as Shane in The Walking Dead. Yeah, Shane was an asshole, but I loved the actor anyway. Here, he’s playing another asshole, but he’s an understandable one, kind of. The benefit of a story that takes five hours is that you can spend an entire episode just getting to know one character, as they get a chance to espouse their philosophy.

The creators of Daredevil are extremely good at fleshing out their villains. They did it with Kingpin last season, Killgrave in Jessica Jones, and they do the same thing for humanizing Frank in this show. You still don’t like the villains overmuch, but at least their motives can be understood. They’re not one-dimensional, mustache twirling, laughers, impressed by their evilness.

There’s an amount of professional lawyerly intrigue going on between Foggy, Karen and a corrupt DA named Reyes, which I didn’t follow nearly as closely as I followed the fight scenes. Foggy gets some of the best lines in the series, when he goes toe to toe with Reyes, who tries to sweat him about keeping one of their clients, who is the only man to survive one of The Punisher’s assaults.

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Daredevil spends most of the first half of the season investigating who is massacreing all the local gangs, including the Irish mafia, and a local biker gang, from whom they just got their latest client, who wishes to go straight now. Daredevil has also been attacking gangs in the city but he doesn’t kill them, and he and Frank are in competition. Matt objects to the killings because, like a good Catholic boy, he believes everyone deserves a chance for redemption, including his new client.

The first couple of times he and Frank meet, it’s a draw, but Matt gets shot, which results in a brief bout of deafness later in his apartment. The show is giving us some idea of just how incredibly important Matt’s sense of hearing is for connecting him to the world. He is completely unable to do anything but sit in one spot, and hope his hearing comes back, which it eventually does. This was fascinating to watch actually. Our senses connect us to the world. If they’re lost, or become unreliable, how do we even know anything at all? He’s certainly not going to be able to fight crime while deaf and blind.

We have seen a tougher, more ruthless, Matt Murdock in these opening episodes. Again, Charlie Cox, while very pleasant as Matt, saves most of his energy for being Daredevil. He and Foggy argue about vigilantism at the top of the show,as Foggy urges him to stop. Karen still doesn’t know what’s going on, but she’s not stupid, and can see that something is happening. Matt may be blind but there’s only so many times blind people can fall down stairs, or bump into things, is her reasoning.

The survivor of Frank’s attack on the bikers is in the hospital but Frank won’t let it go. He hunts him down and tries to kill him, putting Karen’s life and the lives of the nurses, doctors and patients in jeopardy, as he shoots up the hospital. Karen manages to speed away with her client in tow. We get some brief Night Nurse action between Foggy and Claire, as he questions her about Matt’s whereabouts, after his kidnapping by Frank.  We don’t get to see nearly enough of her, but maybe there’s more in the next few episodes.

When DA Reyes crafts a plan to draw Frank into a trap, (using the survivor from his attack on the bikers),  to capture him in an effort to further her career, Foggy objects. Daredevil catches up with Frank during the trap. They both get shot by snipers during a fight on a rooftop. I loved this fight,but then I’m a sucker for rainy fight scenes. I don’t know why. I liked all the fight scenes, though. They’re not as good as the fight scenes from first season but only because some of the novelty is gone. The fights themselves are as wild and messy as they always were, especially one of the first scenes Matt has with the biker gang, in some constricting hallways, which seems to last forever.

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The Punisher spirits Matt away to another rooftop and ties him up. They have a long philosophical conversation about killing people. Matt, as a lawyer, insists that criminals should be brought to justice, unaware that some people could see what he’s doing as being self serving,  because who are these criminals going to call on to help them in court. Thats right! Pro bono lawyers, like himself. Of course, since Matt has redeemed more than a few lost souls this way, he firmly believes in it. He’s had experiences with criminals that Frank hasn’t had and that’s what informs his opinion of them as just people.

Frank’s philosophy is that there is no redemption for such creatures, they are evil, and should all die. After all, killing them will absolutely insure they will never commit another crime. This is sort of the same argument that is had in the DC Graphic Novel Kingdom Come storyline. (If you haven’t read it, you should check it out for the artwork alone, as it’s gorgeous.) This is also part of the argument from Jessica Jones series when the characters discuss killing Killgrave. Maybe this will be a theme throughout Netflix’s Marvel Universe.

At one point Frank tries to get Matt to kill his one client. He gives him a loaded gun and tells Matt that if Matt doesn’t shoot him, he will. This doesn’t work for me for two reasons. Frank had to have known, after their discussion, that Matt wouldn’t shoot anyone, including him, otherwise why give him a loaded weapon. Matt shoots himself free and attacks but Frank gets away.

Frank gets captured in the park by the family members of the Irish mafia he attacked at the top of the show. He also stole their money, which is primarily what they seem to be interested in, rather than familial revenge. But stealing their money was just a ruse to draw them to him. It’s booby trapped to blow them up.

They kidnap him and take him to their, I don’t want to say lair, but that is what it looks like. He tells them where their money is, after some amount of torture, including threatening a dog he’d rescued from them earlier. There’s people dying all over this show but I’m deeply concerned about the dog. I don’t like to watch animals get killed, but people are fine, I guess.

Matt swoops in to rescue Frank after learning his whereabouts and the two of them team up to take out Frank’s kidnappers, which was a lot of fun to watch. I don’t like it when my favorite superheroes beat each other up in the comic books. (That won’t stop me from watching the new Captain America movie, though.) I much prefer it when they team up on the bad guys. Although this doesn’t change Frank’s philosophy, their team up is, for me, an indication that Frank, at least, respects Matt’s position. (Remember what I wrote before, about fights between competing philosophies, and whoever wins is the person whose philosophy is most correct.)

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Matt, and a severely injured Frank, retire to a cemetery. Frank talks about his dead daughter, a lot. We feel for the guy even though he is a murderer several times over. It’s okay, Matt has enough compassion for both of them as Frank gets taken away by the police. I loved their little team up during the last scene and hope to see more of it later. Jon Bernthal  tore it up as Frank Castle. I’m not calling him Punisher yet, because he’s still kind of new at this and hasn’t become that yet.

There’s some romantic shenanigans as Karen puts the movies on Matt, letting him know she’s interested. I know their eventual storyline from the books, so I’m not worried that Elektra, who shows up in the last second of episode four, is going to be a problem for their relationship in the future.

I think the next four episode are going to be exciting for me as The Hand story line is introduced. Not that I don’t like Elektra, or didn’t enjoy these first episodes,  but I’m less interested in her and The Punisher, than The Hand.

Full disclosure, I was mostly interested in the fight scenes. I didn’t pay close attention to most of the lawyerly intrigue between Karen, Foggy and Reyes. I like to read mysteries but am uninterested in watching  detective work on TV shows, for some reason. I expect to be even more distracted by the fighting, as the series continues, and Stick, Matt’s mentor from season one, makes his entrance.

 

State of the Union & Daredevil Two

I love giving these little updates about what I’m doing or things I’m excited about watching. I’m very busy doing things this week, not necessarily telling you about what I’m doing, though, but here’s some stuff.

I’m currently reading a bunch of books right now:

1.) The Brotherhood of the Wheel by RS Belcher. I’m only about 30 pages into it but what I’ve read is very compelling. Since I don’t know much about the plot, and  haven’t read any reviews, there have been a few surprises and I like when a book does that.

2.) Hell’s Bounty by Joe Lansdale. It’s not a very long book. I’m maybe 50 pages in and expect to finish this weekend. Its a fun fast read. Its not an especially deep book, but I am enjoying it, and it is pretty funny, especially Lansdale’s  descriptions of Hell.

3.) I just picked up Patricia Briggs’ Fire Touched at the library yesterday. I haven’t had time to read more than a sample of it, so I can’t say what it’s about, but I’m intrigued so far.

4.) Son of the Morning by Mark Alder. I said I was looking forward to this. I picked it up at the library a week ago and I’m about 100 pages in. This one is going to take a minute, as its a Stephen King sized doorstopper. Its about one of the many French/English wars, but with each side trying to call in Angels as their nuclear option. The Angels, although they show up, refuse to take sides, so the powers that be call on some of Hell’s Angels, if you know what I mean, to help them out instead.

I have to catch up on my episodes of Vikings and Sleepy Hollow. I couldn’t  be a fan of two more different shows. Now, I’m trying to think of two of the strangest shows I could watch back to back.

 

Alright everybody!

This March 18th, the new season of Daredevil is coming to Netflix. I’m very excited by this. Yes,  I will be binge-watching it this weekend and I probably will review  my favorite stand-out episodes, as I won’t really have the time to review all of them.

I am a huge fan of The Hand story-lines, and of Elektra Assassin, and there is all kinds of awesome Ninja shit goin’ on here. I won’t be able to binge-watch the way I wanted because I have to work the next day, but that’s not going to stop me from trying.

Here’s the new trailer for Daredevil:

 

Yeah, for those of you still wondering, I have watched Crouching Tiger: Sword of Destiny and I will have a review of that soon.

Also, I’ve been neglecting my reviews of Supernatural, so next week there will be new episodes and new reviews will be uploaded to “A Blog Devoted to Supernatural” by BellaUk.

Geeking Out: Daredevil ( Netflix)

(Note: this is Part One of a Two Part Geeking Out on This Series.)

My very first image of Daredevil, was from a comic book, in the public library. Daredevil was  lying across the arms of a statue, in a callback to Michaelangelo’s Pieta, an image I recognized from my Art History classes and I wondered why it was being used in a comic book. I had tremendous respect for the artist ,who seemed to be putting his Art History knowledge to good use. (Do you know how many times that imagery has been used on comic book covers? Hundreds of times.)

This was when I became a fan. I stopped reading the comics sometime after Matt finally defeated Wilson Fisk, been exposed as Daredevil and taken over The Hand.

I remember I was very excited about the movie back in 2003, but that was because I’d never seen Ben Affleck in inaction before, having avoided his movies up til then. I, very distinctly, remember feeling somewhat dubious about him in the role, having never associated his name with action movies.

What’s sad is, I don’t even think it was a bad film. I can see the seeds of a great film inside the mess that got released. It had a lot of fun moments, but they all clashed with  each other, as if they belonged to different movies and Colin Farrell should simply not be allowed to star in any action films, ever. I have been burned by that man too many times.  He should just stick to Horror and Drama, as he makes a great vampire and  has good angst-face. (It’s the eyebrows!)

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So, you can guess that I would be a little dubious, at the idea of a Daredevil television show. I didn’t want to get too excited because I still had trauma from the movie.

But I am geeking out about the show. I love the show.

All of the characters and episodes are excellent. By limiting it to thirteen episodes, it keeps the story lean and mean, without a lot of unnecessary filler episodes and people, which I feel is one of the drawbacks to most episodic television. I’m very glad that Cable TV has started breaking this model. It also has the added value of deepening a story that cannot be told in two and half hours.

The writers are excellent. The plot and  dialogue is on point and the fight scenes are impactful and meaningful because they also help sell the story. In a lot of American action  films, the fighting is just “we need an action scene, here”, to break up the monotony of people talking. Daredevil has opted for the Eastern Martial Arts style, of fight scenes that tell a story, based on who is fighting and why.

Bey Logan once said, that fight scenes in Chinese action movies are not actually fights, but representative of clashing view points and that the winner of the fight is also the prevailing idea that they represent. That the fight scenes themselves, are a story.(We will go into this philosophy a little more, during the second part of this piece.) They have a beginning, a middle and an end, often reiterate the basic plot of the film and also outline a character, or present a point of view, something that a lot of American action movies have not learned to do.

In part one of my posts on Daredevil, I’m going to discuss my top favorite characters and one outlier.

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Matt Murdock

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I like Charlie Cox. He’s very handsome and  a much better actor than Ben Affleck. My only drawback is that it can be difficult watching Matt Murdock on screen because he’s such a passive character, unlike his alter-ego, who is violently confrontational. But since almost nothing is left to chance in this show, I will assume that this was an intentional acting choice, on Cox’s part.  Matt Murdock seems to be lacking in personality because almost all of his energy is reserved for beating the crap out of people when he’s  Daredevil. He simply doesnt have much left over for being himself.

Incidentally, I have never understood the superhero tendency to lie about their secret identities to the people closest to them. Is it because of plausible deniability? This is a trope that needs to die. I believe most superhero narratives only adhere to it to provide some overwrought, emotional drama at some later point in the narrative.  Now, I understand one probably would not want to cry their superhero identity to the rooftops, but telling your SO, or your parents, or Hell, your legal partner, is well within those boundaries. The only reason you probably wouldn’t is if you just know that person can’t keep their mouth shut.

The show manages not to annoy me with this too much because of the manner in which it’s done, providing insight into Foggy and Matts early relationship. This is why this trope works here. There’s a plausible reason for Foggy’s reaction and an equally plausible excuse within the narrative,  for them to make up.

Karen Page

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Is Debora Ann Woll, who was last seen as a vampire in True blood and  is a much better actress than I previously thought. She begins the series as a typical damsel in distress, and I really didn’t think she’d grow much beyond that. So it was a very pleasant surprise to see this character become more outspoken and assertive as the series progressed.

She starts making choices that affect the plot and affect the other characters and that’s a refreshing change, even though the show has fallen into the trap of having multiple women in the show, who never speak to each other, even when they’re in the same scene.

Karen also keeps making the mistake of running off alone, even though she knows there are people trying to kill her or frame her or something and having to be rescued by various men in the cast, until episode 11: The Path of the Righteous, where her storyline  takes a dramatic shift.

Wilson Fisk

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As portrayed by Vincent D’onofrio, is an intriguing character. Where the movie version of Kingpin was rather one-note, this Fisk has layers, motivations and a tragic back story. He is extremely dedicated to his city, which is a commendable sentiment, except for his method of showing that love, which seems to involve victimizing the already helpless. But that is understandable as, according to his flashbacks, he never developed what I’d call, a great deal of “fellow feeling”.  He seems to care more about “the city” than the actual human lives that live in it. How does this make him different from Loki, who just wants to be “in charge”?

I would respect his motivations a lot more, except he’s gotten into bed with the worse sort of hardened criminals, and then has the nerve to act surprised, when they betray him. It is constantly being argued, in the show, that his love for Vanessa makes him weak, but I disagree. I think his fetish for “his city”, something I find unfathomable, makes him blind to the people closest to him, and there lies his downfall.

Claire Temple

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It’s Rosario Dawson as the Night Nurse, people! C’mon! She’s like the “Superhero Doctor”. Like Edna Mode from The Incredibles, only less curmudgeonly.

I love this actress. I will watch anything she is in. I couldn’t develop much deep analysis of her character except to say she’s outspoken and very brave. She loves her city too, but shows that love through service to its citizens, not control of them. This is a big difference between an authoritarian personality and a humanist one.  The big difference between her and Fisk. Matt is somewhere else on that spectrum.

And how awesome is it that she gets to be Matt’s love interest?

Stick

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This is my second favorite character in the show after Daredevil.  Stick, who is only in one episode, manages to have many layers. This is how good the writers are, people! After having been Matt’s mentor,  showing him how  to fight and exist in the world as a man,whose only abilities are having super senses, he takes his own advice about not forming emotional attachments and abruptly abandons Matt, when Matt starts to grow fond of him. Naturally, this causes no small amount of resentment in Matt.

And this is what I mean about the fighting in Daredevil telling a story and having meaning. Their fight is about their relationship and it’s told in a very specific way, where Matt starts out with a kind of boxing style, in a callback to his father, Battling Jack Murdock, and he  is getting his ass kicked, until he starts fighting in the style Stick taught him, after which he wins, and Stick accedes that his student has surpassed him. This fight was very long in the making, (and it’s set up by the flashbacks just why it needs to happen), and is built on Matt’s  resentment of Stick’s abandonment of him. It represents two differing points of view. Matt’s  point of view is the one that prevails.

You also get the distinct impression that Stick was grooming Matt for some greater purpose and that his underlying reason for fighting him was to assess whether or not  he’s ready for this purpose. (The Hand?) That all his advice about emotional distance  was not just for that purpose but also  to protect himself from getting too close to a child who desperately needed a father figure or might have to sacrifice later, if Matt doesn’t do what’s expected of him.

Vanessa

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Now we come to the character I liked the least. Not because she’s a bad character, although I think she’s badly written and probably badly acted. It’s difficult to tell. I say that because this character and her motivations are a complete mystery to me.

I don’t understand anything about her, her feelings for Fisk, what she wants, why she stays with him after she’s attacked by his enemies. Nothing. Supposedly these two are having some grand love affair but I’m just not feeling it.

Don’t get me wrong, I can see why someone would be attracted to Fisk and his antiquated, Harlequin Romance version  of love, and I can see, that initially, she’s somewhat conflicted about getting involved with him, but after he confesses his history of violence and she has reached the suspicion that he is involved in some grand criminal activities, she still decides to cling to him and that’s just puzzling to me.

Is  it because she’s fascinated by the danger? The drama? The excitement? His money? Is it fear of him? I must confess, I barely remember her from the comics. I know she’s in them but remember almost nothing about her. This is the one character in the show I couldn’t get any sense of and had no feeling for.

Part Two: The Episodes

Kalynn's Korner

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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