A mere week after I wrote a post swearing off of sharing fan news, the fandom insidiously pulled me back in.
This week, rumours began circulating that Tilda Swinton was in casting negotiations for Marvel’s upcoming Dr. Strange film starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the titular role. Swinton is being considered for the role of the Ancient One, a nearly-immortal Tibetan sorcerer who becomes the young Dr. Strange’s mystic tutor and personal mentor.
That’s right. Tilda Swinton — a British actor whose Wikipedia article notes that she can trace her Anglo-Scot heritage back to the Middle Ages and who is about as far from “Tibetan” as one might get — may be cast to play a racebent and genderbent version of one of the few Asian characters of prominence in the Mystic Marvel world.
Last week, I saw Mad Max: Fury Road, and I really enjoyed it. Yes, I found the film refreshing for all the much-discussed feminist reasons — although consider for a minute what it says about us as a society that we think a film with a strong female lead who is on equal footing with her male counterpart is unusual and refreshing — but I also found the movie refreshing for another completely unexpected reason: for the first time in a very long time, I had a chance to just fall in love with a movie and its franchise.
I’m a child of the 80’s, but I never saw the Mad Max movies. When the decision was made to reboot the franchise, I knew nothing about it. The first time I saw the Mad Max: Fury Road trailer was in a movie theatre. I was ignorant of any online spoilers or speculation. I knew nothing about the premise or the formula of Mad Max movies. My introduction to the Mad Max character was in the opening scene of Fury Road. As the film unfolded, I was able to discover the Mad Max world and its characters — and the story of the movie (such as it is) — how George Miller intended for me to learn about them: as finished products.
It was incredible. It was amazing. I didn’t even realize how much I had missed that feeling.
And, that’s when I realized how much of what passes for fandom today has spoiled so much of what I love about being a fan.
Got a heads-up this week about the latest song by artist Jason Chu: “Marvels”, featuring a haunting hook sung by songstress Sarah Jake. The music video, which dropped on March 17, stars a young Hudson Yang (@HudsonDYang) of Fresh Off The Boat fame.
Chu’s song is poignant, and speaks to my own personal and shifting relationship with comic books.
I’m happy to announce Episode #2 of Reappropriate: The Podcast!
In this episode, guest Snoopy Jenkins (@SnoopyJenkins) and I explore the “Thinking Man” superhero movies, and delve into the kinds of themes that appeal to us as adult fans of geek culture. We touch on a number of movies including Man of Steel, Robocop, The Matrix Trilogy and (of course) the Nolanverse Batman trilogy. I mention that the topic of this episode was inspired by my recent appearance on Flights, Tights and Movie Nights, a fandom podcast which you can find at the link provided and which is hosted by Bubbawheat (@bubbawheat).
You can view the podcast through YouTube, stream or download just the audio through the player below, or subscribe to Reappropriate: The Podcast through the iTunes Store.
NEXT EPISODE: On episode #3, I invite guest and fellow Asian American blogger Byron Wong (BigWOWO) on to tackle the question: “Should Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders support or oppose affirmative action in college admissions?” That podcast will be recording on August 11 at 11pm at this link, so mark your calendars!
As always, we invite viewers to submit questions before or during the podcast recording. You can submit questions through Twitter (@reappropriate) or through Google Hangouts before or during the recording. This episode should be a fun and lively debate, and I strongly encourage you to tune in!
Listen to audio-only version of Episode #2 using the player below:
Last week, Marvel blew the lid off the Internet when they announced two major changes to beloved Avengers heroes, both of them clearly a nod to fans demanding increased comic book diversity.
Just over eight days ago, Marvel allowed The View, a day-time talk-show with an overwhelmingly female audience, to break the news that Thor — the Asgardian Thunder God played by Chris Hemsworth in the Marvel Studios movie franchise — will now be a woman. Although the details of the storyline is unclear, in an upcoming arc, Thor will presumably no longer be able to wield Mjolnir (the hammer that serves as the symbol of his power); instead, a female peer will take up Mjolnir and adopt the name of Thor. Although fan reception was largely positive, many fans were perplexed at the news since — as my friend Will pointed out — Thor is not a title like “Superman” or “Batman”, but the character’s actual name.
Then, just a few days later, Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada appeared on Colbert Report to announce a major storyline shift involving the launch of a new title All-New Captain America: long-time sidekick Sam Wilson (aka The Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie in the most recent Winter Soldier installment of the Captain America movie franchise) will become the new Captain America, making him a contemporary African American Captain America, and the second African American Captain America in history.
Response to Blaptain America (credit to Will for that name) has been largely mixed, possibly because the timing of the announcement immediately after the announcement over Thor, along with the clear “where’s our pat on the back for our diversity initiative?” tone coming out of Marvel, has led many to conclude it’s all gimmick and publicity stunt. Like Snoopy Jenkins and Will (who podcasted about it over the weekend — go watch!), I have no particular love for superficial diversity that fails to challenge the inherent failings of the superhero genre; last week’s announcements seem like yet another skin-deep comic book diversity initiative that focuses on the appearance of diversity for its own sake.
But beyond that, I have some specific issues with the tactic here. I have specific issues with what I’m dubbing “Cowl Rental”.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!