Joss Whedon Watch: Batgirl director uses teen cancer survivors as political weapons

At what point does a man look in the mirror and say to himself, “I’m politically unhinged and I need help before I sink into an ideological abyss and drown.” If your name is Joss Whedon, now would be a good time to ask that question.

For those who haven’t been paying attention to social media today, you missed the moment when Warner Bros.’ Batgirl director decided it would be a good idea to use teenage cancer survivors as a cudgel with which to beat President Donald Trump. Seriously. We have reached the point in Mr. Whedon’s life when children who somehow survived countless rounds of chemotherapy are fair game as weapons in a rhetorical war against political enemies.

Warner Bros. executives, if you’re listening, I have a question for you: Do you really want a man who is this unhinged — a man who brings this much baggage with him — at the helm of a big-budget superhero film? If so, then you too might want to consider getting your heads examined.

Check out my latest YouTube video to see Joss Whedon publicly demonstrate how easy it is for a man to die inside from ideological hemlock poisoning. Then, when you’re done, take a moment and vow never to emulate his behavior. You’ll be glad you did upon your own deathbed.

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Whedon Watch: Political radiation turns Joss into ‘rage’ monster

Question: What happens when a man plays with political gamma radiation for far too long?

Answer: Just like Hollywood director Joss Whedon, he turns into a rage monster who will destroy anyone in his path to achieve ideological ends.

I covered Mr. Whedon’s slow-motion descent into partisan madness on this blog for years, but a new segment on my YouTube channel has officially launched with the name Whedon Watch.

If you’re interested in seeing how talented men often go from artistically inspired to hulking partisan hacks, then check out my latest YouTube video. Given that Mr. Whedon shows no signs of pulling back from a poisonous void, I fully expect there to be many episodes of Whedon Watch in the years to come.

Joss Whedon unravels as political cancer eats his soul

Hollywood director Joss Whedon has been on a slow-motion political implosion for about six years, but last week it became much more obvious when he wished one of his fellow Americans were raped — by a rhino. Yes, as bizarre as it is for your friendly neighborhood blogger to chronicle this sad turn of events, on some level it is not the surprising. After all, Mr. Whedon also began using coup-like rhetoric after Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

If you want more details on Mr. Whedon’s embrace of Ultron-level hate, then check out my latest YouTube video and let me know what you think in the comments section below. And, if you like the format, then be sure to subscribe for regular updates.

Zendaya plays race card while looking as white as Joseph Gordon-Levitt; better luck next time, ‘Homecoming’ diva

zendaya

It was only a few weeks ago that your friendly neighborhood blogger said he was looking forward to Zendaya’s performance in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but now the actor had to complicate matters by playing one of the worst race cards of all time.

CNN reported Thursday:

Zendaya has alleged a grocery clerk of racism after refusing to sell her $400 in gift cards.

The “K.C. Undercover” actress posted a Snapchat video Tuesday about a shopping experience in which she said a clerk told her she couldn’t afford the gift cards, and tossed her wallet.

“The lady that was helping, I don’t think she was a huge fan of our skin tone,” Zendaya said.

“This is what we deal with…” — before a male friend in the video added, “Because we’re black.”

A store manager came over and eventually helped Zendaya, 20, complete the gift card purchase.

The store eventually clarified (for those who have lived under a rock for several years) that there are limits to how many gift cards can be purchased on a single credit card. The wealthy entertainer — who should know by now that criminals who steal credit card information prompted such rules — was initially denied a $400 purchase.

So here is the situation: A Hollywood star who looks as white as Joseph Gordon Levitt walks into a Vons grocery store. She looks like some random teenager, plops down a credit card, wants to charge $400 on gift cards, and then gets upset when the store clerk looks at her like she’s crazy.

Is it more likely that the clerk — who must deal with black people in California every single day  — is racist, or is it more likely that a spoiled Hollywood star wasn’t recognized and then treated (ironically) just like everyone else?

I will go with the latter option, but I’m open to convincing in the comments section below.

jg-levitt

Note to Zendaya: People are sick and tired of the race card. It doesn’t work.

Sometimes, what you perceive as racism is just people behaving rationally to your immaturity or moronic behavior.

Sometimes, what you perceive as racism is just someone having a bad day.

Sometimes, what you perceive as racism is nothing of the sort because the person on the other end of the conversation thinks you look like a small white child.

Note to Sony and Marvel Studios: Tell your future “MJ” that it may be okay to be a diva on the big screen, but that doing so in public just makes Spider-Man fans less inclined to see her work.

Related: Dan Slott plays ‘Captain White Privilege’ after Zendaya-MJ casting reported

Zendaya as Mary Jane? Ask about red hair for the next year and you’ll be called a ‘racist’

Zendaya

And so it begins — the great new excuse to call people “racist” for the next year.

News broke on Thursday afternoon that Zendaya will be playing the iconic role of Mary Jane in next summer’s latest Spider-Man movie, Homecoming.

The Wrap reported:

Zendaya will be playing long-time Spider-Man love interest Mary Jane Watson in next summer’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” two individuals with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

Diehard Spidey fans have long speculated about whom the 19-year-old Disney Channel star would portray in Sony’s high-profile reboot of the superhero franchise, starring British actor Tom Holland as a teenage Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man.

Also Read: All 43 Marvel Movies Ranked From Worst to Best, Including ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ (Photos)

At least one recent draft of the script has Zendaya’s character dropping several clues to her identity as Mary Jane, one of the most familiar love interests in the Marvel superhero’s universe — and played by Kirsten Dunst in Sam Raimi‘s 2002-07 movie trilogy starring Tobey Maguire as the webslinger.

Zendaya, the star of the Disney Channel series “Shake It Up!” and “K.C. Undercover,” was cast back in March to play a “key role” as a character named Michelle.

Your friendly neighborhood blogger has plenty of thoughts on Sony’s movie, but what concerns me most is the knee-jerk reaction by race-obsessed goons to label anyone who wants to see a beautiful redhead on the big screen as “raaaaaaacist.”

Peter MJ

One of the first race-runners out of the gate was Devin Faraci of the website Birth. Movies. Death. He worries about the “next racist fanboy outrage,” (because honoring source material is apparently ‘racist’ nowadays).

Devin Farac

The comments section of websites like The Wrap (You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy) was just as bad.

Wrap comments Homecoming MJ

Ah, yes, all those “racist white nerds” who like their Blades and Rhodeys black and their Mary Janes white with red hair…they’re so weirdly racist!

The good thing about Sony’s habitual screw-ups when it comes to…pretty much everything…is that at this point fans only want to see a good movie. My prediction is that Zendaya — who is certainly beautiful  — will do just fine.

It’s hard to do a worse job than Kirsten Dunst, so as long as Zendaya captures the essence of MJ’s character then most long-time fans will forgive the studio’s deviation from the comics.

It is much harder to turn the other cheek, however, with writers who salivate at the chance to spit out charges of racism over the slightest disagreement.

What do you think of Zendaya’s casting? Do you agree? Disagree? Do you think it was strange of Sony to keep it a secret for so long if the casting is not supposed to be a big deal? Let me know in the comments section below.

Update: Dan Slott decided to weigh in on the issue, and he was in rare form with his Straw Man arguments and specious claims. I cover it in the comments section, but decided to take a screenshot of the embedded tweets since he has a habit of deleting them when things get out of hand.

Dan Slott Homecoming Zendaya

Marvel bows to China, releases lame ‘Ancient One’ statement

Ancient One Tilda Swinton

Hollywood has bowed before China for years now, but for numerous reasons its power players refuse to publicly acknowledge their Communist overlords. Reuters did superb reporting on the subject in July 2015, and fans of the MCU remember all too well the decision to make Mandarin a white guy for 2013’s Iron Man 3.

The release of Marvel’s Doctor Strange trailer put a giant spotlight on the latest capitulation to China — the casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One — and now the studio is in full spin mode. Marvel released a statement to Mashable on Tuesday that laughably cast its creative servitude in a self-congratulatory way:

“Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life. The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic. We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.”

Do not buy the diversity pivot. It is a cheap illusion, which is doubly sad because a film about Doctor Strange deserves top-notch propaganda smokescreens if studio executives decide to go that route.

Here is the truth, given by Doctor Strange co-writer C. Robert Cargil during an appearance on the Double Toasted podcast:

“Every single decision that involves the Ancient One is a bad one. And just like the Kobayashi Maru, it all comes down on which way you’re willing to lose. …

He originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bulls**t and risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political. If we decide to go the other way and cater to China in particular — if you think it’s a good idea to cast a Chinese actress as a Tibetan character, you are out of your damn fool mind and have no idea what the f**k you’re talking about.”

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Cargil, at least his statement comes from the heart. 

One can appreciate the honesty of a man who says it all comes down to cold, hard cash. Marvel Studios resists stating the obvious because to do so sends a depressing message to fans: Fidelity to a character’s integrity ends where China’s censorship bureau begins.

Is Tilda Swinton a great actor? Yes.

Will she do a good job with the role she’s been given? Highly likely.

Will Marvel throw its own characters under the bus if communist thugs threaten to block the movie from China’s market? There is no doubt about it.

As I said April 14, Marvel’s track record for making quality movies is impressive and will probably continue with Doctor Strange. It’s just a shame that it is willing to sacrifice its own creations at the alter of political correctness and the almighty Yuan.

Yuan

Doctor Strange trailer: Marvel goes mystical for the win

Doctor Strange Ancient One

Marvel just released its first trailer for Doctor Strange, and once again the world has been reminded just how laughable it was for Steven Spielberg to say superhero movies are primed to go “the way of the Western.”

Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange and Tilda Swinton look ready to launch yet another franchise in what will be a welcome change of pace for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Doctor Strange NYC

The narration to the trailer gives fans a good glimpse of what they can expect from director Scott Derrickson’s take on The Sorcerer Supreme.

Ancient One: You’re a man looking at the world through a keyhole. You’ve spent your life trying to widen it. Your work saved the lives of thousands. What if I told you that reality is one of many?

Strange: I don’t believe in fairytales about chakras or energy or the power of belief.

Ancient One: You wonder what I see in your future? Possibility. … There are other ways to save lives … so much you don’t know.

Strange (after being introduced to the spirit world): Teach me.

Nothing can make this blogger — a man of faith, a lucid dreamer, and a fan of meditation — happier than to see Marvel Studios utilize a hero who travels to different dimensions, the spirit world, etc.

Doctor Strange

At the start of the trailer an unknown person (Perhaps Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo?) says: “Stephen Strange, might I offer you some advice? Forget everything that you think you know.”

If that is the message at the heart of Doctor Strange, and it is coupled with Inception-like special effects, then Marvel Studios will have one heck of a movie in theaters on Nov. 4, 2016.

Marvel’s creative well is much deeper than the average moviegoer realizes, and the successful introduction of Steve Ditko’s character to a wide audience will help ensure that it is tapped for many years to come.

What are your thoughts on the new Doctor Strange trailer? Let me know in the comments section below.

‘Captain America: Civil War’ trailer: Spidey, and more proof Russo bros. on point

Tony Stark Civil War

The second trailer for Captain America: Civil War was released Thursday, and it is good. Correction: It is excellent. It looks as if directors Joe and Anthony Russuo, along with writers Christopher Markus Stephen McFeely, will handle “Civil War” like is should have been years ago in the comics. Who is right? Who is wrong? The comic books — predictably — went with stupid political potshots instead of exploring complex issues in ways everyone could enjoy.

How do political leaders maximize security and individual liberty when man is fallible and capable of horrendous deeds? It’s a good question. Markus and McFeely appear to understand that’s it’s not as simplistic as “Conservatives, bad! Liberals, good!” as the writers in Marvel’s comics division would have you believe.

The exchange between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers in the trailer portends good things to come on May 6:

Tony Stark: That’s why I’m here. We need to be put in check. Whatever form that takes, I’m game.

Stever Rogers: I’m sorry, Tony. If I see a situation pointed south, I can’t ignore it. Sometimes I wish I could.

Tony Stark: Sometimes I want to punch you in your perfect teeth.

Steve Rogers: I know we’re not perfect, but the safest hands are still our own.

It is telling that Captain America’s rebuttal to Tony’s call for a “check” on people with superpowers is to acknowledge that he has no self-control.

Steve Rogers is obviously a good man, but a.) Not all men are good, and b.) The individual with an all-consuming desire to right wrongs in a fallen world is, in fact, dangerous.

Captain America Civil War

Captain America: Winter Soldier showed that there are legitimate reasons to fear and distrust the federal government, but Rogers appears to have decided that because man-made institutions are subject to the shortcomings of men, then he should be given a license to act outside the rule of law. When Stark talks about punching Rogers in his “perfect teeth” it resonates with viewers because Captain America smugly but unwittingly stands upon a moral pedestal.

How strange is it that Tony Stark understands The Federalist Papers better than Captain America?

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” — Federalist 51, James Madison.

These are the questions the Russo brothers seem ready to explore with maturity and professionalism, and for that fans should be grateful. Sadly, the comic book writers tend to dish out partisan slop and then feign indignation when they’re taken to task.

Tony Stark Cap

Finally, it is good to know that Spider-Man will make an appearance in a great movie for the first time in years. While it is frustrating that Marvel Studios was not able to wrestle full control of the character from Sony Pictures, at least fans know there will be a “check” on Sony’s habitual stupidity.

Check back in at this blog opening weekend for a full review of Captain America: Civil War. I’m looking forward to your feedback.

SpiderMan Civil War

‘Batman v Superman’ trailer: Zack Snyder goes were Marvel Studios fears to tread

Batman v Superman 911The Batman v Superman trailer is out, and one thing is obvious: Zack Synder is going with a level of realism that Marvel Studios has shown no desire to duplicate. Anyone who lived through the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks will not be able to see Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne engulfed in dust and debris without thinking of that day. If they decide to accept the director’s decision, then they can appreciate what the visual does for the story — while everyone else sprints away from the carnage, Bruce Wayne hurls himself head first into the chaos. That is the kind of bravery (bordering on psychosis) a man would need for him to seriously attempt to challenge Superman.

Batman v Superman flyThere are plenty of valid criticisms that could be made of Mr. Synder’s DC Universe, but it is hard to deny that his Superman exudes raw power. When he is on the screen, he demands respect. The argument that his costume is dated and cheesy just doesn’t fly (no pun intended), because if you can be led to believe that a character possesses the power to exterminate the entire human race, then you will respect him in almost any outfit.

Batman v Superman desertThe strength Superman wields is what will (understandably) cause Bruce Wayne to fear the alien and, at least for a portion of the film, seek to destroy him.

Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor telegraphs exactly what “Batman versus Superman” is about:

“Black and blue. God versus man. Day versus night.”

If a man had the power of a god — but he wasn’t God — wouldn’t he have to be destroyed? The same question would, of course, apply to a … Wonder Woman.

Batman v Superman Wonder WomanMarvel Studios has a track record of making great movies, but for the most part it has shied away from the level of realism embraced by Christopher Nolan’s Batman films and Zack Synder’s “Man of Steel.” Both kinds of movies can happily exist in the summertime blockbuster market, but Marvel’s problem is that there are only so many times the world can be demolished in a shared cinematic universe before the cotton candy-ish tone seems weird. Perhaps Marvel Studio’s “Civil War” will finally address that problem, but as of now DC has the pole position on superhero fare that makes an audience think about real-world issues.

If you plan on seeing “Batman v Superman,” then let me know what you think about the trailer or anything else related to the movie in the comments section below.

Marvel announces ‘I am Groot’ for Phase 3; DC scrambles for response

Groot with girl Guardians of the Galaxy

Before the weekend was out on the Guardians of the Galaxy’s successful box office debut, Marvel Studios released some news the size of an oak tree. Or, perhaps a Groot. The reasoning is also likely to enrage DC fans. Marvel’s Phase 3 will include ‘I am Groot,’ to be released in the summer of 2017, which all but guarantees that the plant from Planet X gets his day in the sun before “Justice League.”

“We are Groot!” Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige said at a press conference late Saturday. “It’s a go. It’s happening. I know a lot of people are wondering how we’re going to pull this off, but I assure you that ‘I am Groot’ has an amazing creative team behind it. The screenplay is great and we’re close to sealing the deal with a director who I’m sure will knock it out of the ballpark.”

The Hollywood Reporter reached out to ‘Man of Steel’ producer Wesley Coller for a response and was told that a reply would be forthcoming. Entertainment Weekly likewise said that calls to DC’s front office were not returned.

DC’s silence, in many ways, speaks louder than words. ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ is scheduled to be released May 6, 2016, which would put Marvel Studios in a position to have ‘I am Groot’ in theaters before fans ever get a chance to see an official Justice League movie. While all comic fans can rejoice at the sheer volume of superhero films being made, it’s sure to inflame the rivalry between the two industry giants.

In a recent article with the Belfast Telegraph, actor Vin Diesel said that playing Groot was a challenge for him as an actor, due to the character’s limited vocabulary. When asked about the ‘I am Groot’ movie by the Los Angeles Times, he said “I love the character. He’s challenging, but it’s worth every second. The world fell in love with Groot this weekend because he’s innocent and pure and good. I consider it an honor to be able to bring this character to life in his very own movie.”

Besides DC fans, diversity activists voiced “serious concern” with Marvel’s decision.

“I…I can not get behind this,” said Eileen Einhorn, a Gender Studies major at U.C. Berkeley. “It’s troublesome that although Vin Diesel is not white that his true nature must be hidden behind tree bark. I’m worried that Groot’s limited vocabulary sends a coded racial message about the mental acuity of minorities and, worst of all…Groot is a man. Until Black Widow gets her own movie I urge anyone who loves diversity to boycott ‘I am Groot.'”

When asked during his press conference if Rocket Raccoon would be getting his own movie, Feige just smiled and said, “Phase 4 may have some surprises to your liking. That’s all I’ll say right now. Sometimes I feel as if all of this isn’t real. Like it’s satire. The fans have been good to us. As long as they keep seeing Marvel movies, we’ll keep making them.”

Related: Guardians of the Galaxy: Marvel gets its heroic misfits right on the first try