Weekly links

I’m going to be doing some weekly link things. Sort of a reading list, though the subjects will be very different.

The Art of Deleting Scenes

Tim Blake Nelson’s O adapts Shakespeare’s Othello as a modern, moody, lush, teenage Southern Gothic. Sixteenth century Venice becomes a South Carolina prep school, Palmetto Grove, in the late 1990s….


I finally got to write a snooty Josh Hartnett O piece, which is legit a bucket list item. I had an interesting process for note-taking his performance, which I thought might be something I could turn into some kind of content, but then decided no. Maybe for something else (with that same process), but not O. I do have a couple video pieces I’m planning on doing with the film, but next week. Or later. Not on a schedule.

When prepping the post for publishing, I went back and forth on pictures. Should I have stills from the film, should I use publicity shots or screen-grabs. When I started writing it, I intended to have quotes amidst the text and went ahead and did quotes. But not until I looked at the second disc of the old Lionsgate DVD special edition and found the deleted scenes. I skipped through them, trying to see if there’d be interesting shots to use for post images.

And what appears to be in the deleted scenes is all the “teen movie” stuff and way too much of it. It looks like the deleted scenes probably ruin Mekhi Phifer and Julia Stiles’s relationship, give Josh Hartnett and Elden Henson a lot more morose antics (without hurting their performances), and I don’t know what else. It’s really good they went, especially given where Tim Blake Nelson takes the movie. He really doesn’t get his due as a director.

It’s really good this scene of Hugo/Iago (Hartnett) trying to con Desi/Desdemona (Stiles) with Michael/Cassio (Andrew Keegan) isn’t in the film. It would completely screw up Hugo and Desi’s “relationship.”

Todd McFarlane is still Todd McFarlane

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Todd McFarlane is none of the things mentioned above, though he’s a great example of why you can be nuts if you can draw a way enough people like. I mean, Spawn? It’s objectively tripe.

No surprise he’s about to jump ship from his own movie. No surprise.


Disney is now the only one with its hands on Hulu?s steering wheel. Disney and Comcast announced a deal under which Disney will assume full operational control of Hulu, effective immediately.?

Let’s all go to the Disneys, let’s all go to the Disneys, let’s all go to the Disneys…

I didn’t care much about Disney growing up. Cartoons were too kiddy. Touchstone was too bland. I was a Miramax fan in my teens, but fickle. It didn’t last until college. So I stopped caring about even that Mouse House tentacle. But I was also not a fan. Eisner seemed like a dick, old man Disney had some icky politics, whatever.

I didn’t even start caring when they bought Marvel because the first batch of Marvel movies from Disney weren’t any better than the first batch of Marvel movies not from Disney. Feige didn’t bring back Ed Norton. That I cannot forgive. Though I have zero interest in seeing Edward Norton do what they made Mark Ruffalo do. Ruffalo being turned into “90s Tom Hanks but a sidekick” is fine for Ruffalo, I guess. I didn’t have the hopes for him I had for Norton. Didn’t have the investment.

And there was also when Feige split from New York. It seemed like New York had the better ideas. I mean, they got Chris Evans for Captain America didn’t they. I always assumed Feige was against that casting.

I may be entirely wrong. I may even be able to google it and find out. Don’t care enough.

I started being vaguely interested in Disney after the Walter Isaacson Steve Jobs book. Jobs really liked the Disney brand and how it was cultivated, curated. Jobs had interesting takes on everything. Thoughtful. Insightful, sometimes of the not obvious. I like those takes the most. Insightful of the not obvious.

So Disney getting all of Hulu, cementing further entertainment control? I don’t give a shit. Maybe I’ll get more “Jessica Jones”? Probably not but maybe. There’s a better chance of it than there was before Disney got Hulu. Even if it’s infinitesimal.

I love “Jessica Jones.” I even love the end of Season Two.

Just imagine a Jessica Jones/Captain Marvel team-up. Krysten Ritter and Brie Larson doing bad cop, good cop.

Le sigh.


I don’t really agree with calling Disney a monopoly though. Because all they’re a monopoly on right now are things people like. Marvel, Star Wars, the Princesses, the live action movies, Pixar. X-Men, Aliens, Predator, Die Hard? Those are thinks people used to like. Whether they like they again. Whether they like the new things again… remains to be seen.

Umm. So they’re not hooking up? Worse, are they?

If you’ve ever read Swamp Thing (not “New 52” Swamp Thing I don’t think but maybe), Abby and Alec hook up. A lot. They even hooked up in the movie.

But this teaser for the new show with vines covering Abby’s mouth and eyes?

I mean. Is this a Fifty Shades of Grey thing or… is “Swamp Thing” going to fail to deliver the entire reason the comic’s great? Of course it is.

ENTER ABBY ARCANE. Via: @CrystalmReed #swampthing #dcuswampthing #dcuniverse @dcuswampthing @thedcuniverse?

Artist find: Gigi Cavenago

I found Cavenago thanks to a tweet of this old Ripley piece.

ELLEN RIPLEY by Gigi Cavenago

His blog, linked above, is out of date. But he’s got a current Deviant Art gallery going with some great pieces. Looks like he illustrated Dylan Dog covers, wherever Dylan Dog is a popular comic. Europe?

He’s got a wonderful sense of movement.

Also… is Groucho Marx a character in Dylan Dog?

Right hand meet left hand

Back in MFA school, I was watching a lot of movies over again. Sea of Love, Sling Blade, Gone in Sixty Seconds are the main examples just because Stop Button still has the posts. I remember talking in class about how it didn’t seem like Billy Bob Thornton actually realized what he did with Sling Blade and so it screwed up the film, which got into whether or not a creative could not realize what they were doing with their creation.

The mid-aughts were a weird time for indie film breaking out. If you missed it in the nineties, you were still able to catch up. Most of the people who made excellent films then were still making movies, even if they were Broken Flowers and not Ghost Dog. So I got some push back from classmates but then agreement from the instructor. You can make a thing and have no idea what you made.

So seeing Endgame co-writer Christopher Markus disagree on how time travel works in the movie? Not a surprise. What else would you expect from the guy who wrote Dark World? But it also shows just how smoothly Kevin Feige keeps the trains running; on a Feige production, you can apparently fundamentally disagree with your other creatives with no negative result to the end product.

Basically Feige is the guy J.J. Abrams always wanted to be but couldn’t.

Avengers: Endgame’s Directors and Writers Disagree on the Ending

Presenting the New Team!


Until Batman, I was a Marvel kid. Much to my father’s dismay. I had all the Spider-Man books, I got Captain America (because he was “The Captain” because Reagan had pissed him off or something and even at ten I knew fuck Ronald Reagan), but I don’t know what else. Not X-Men. Maybe Hulk? I probably got Hulk.

So in winter 1988/1989 when Avengers #300 came out, I was pretty excited. It was an all-new Avengers team, The Captain, Thor, Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman, and Gilgamesh. I don’t know why Gilgamesh. Because someone at Marvel who moonlighted at the Strand secretly knew there were some dumb kids out there who’d buy a used copy of Gilgamesh just because of a comic.

I mean, give me a better reason.

I did the Marvel summer crossovers when I was a kid; Secret Wars—especially it being sold in toy stores—trained me. But I didn’t make it to Marvel’s 1989 crossover. Summer 1989 happened and I became a Batman reader and then just a DC reader.

But one of the things about Avengers over the years was the book could support some wacky teams. Scott Mendelson talks about how Avengers 5 could conceivably team-up Brie Larson, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Rudd, and Evangeline Lilly. Plus maybe Tessa Thompson or Anthony Mackie. Presumably Mark Ruffalo will be in it because he’s given up on range. It’s a good post from Mendelson, who remains the only box office guru person I read.

Would you get equally excited about a Black Panther/Captain Marvel/Spider-Man/Valkryie team-up movie?

Mendelson says three years from now for Avengers 5. Okay. So what about the one six years from now. Disney seems to appreciate Kevin Feige; he’s peerless in what he does. So there will be an Avengers 6, right?

Presumably Fantastic Four will have hit by then, Chris Evans might be ready to come out of whatever “retirement” he’s done (he’ll probably follow Chris Pine to TV but maybe streaming), Chris Hemsworth will have bombed out on his third franchise attempt. But who could play Gilgamesh?

Tony Stella’s “Endgame” Poster

What if it’s the Rock. What if Justice League 2 starring all the popular heroes versus the Rock bombs and the Rock goes to Marvel.

I mean. He was really good in Moana so why not bring that character over into the MCU. If Disney/MCU is that far along, I mean.

I hate vampire movies

My favorite vampire movie is probably Innocent Blood. I haven’t watched Nosferatu lately so Blood is also my de facto pick for best vampire movie. I’m not sure why I don’t like the genre or why it fails me so often; I was never a big Bela Lugosi Dracula fan, I liked Bram Stoker’s in the theater because I was fourteen and fourteen year-olds are going to like bad things too. I wrote an essay for a class getting my MFA in Creative Writing about not liking vampire movies. Or books. Dracula is bad.

I did have a vampire period, however. 1992 or thereabouts. I read all the Fred Saberhagen Dracula novels, which are their own post someday (or not). But once I got out of the vampire thing–probably starting when I tried watching Bram Stoker’s on video and it was bad–I never looked back.

So I didn’t notice when What We Do in the Shadows came out. I didn’t watch “Flight of the Conchords.” People who liked it liked some good TV, some bad TV, not in the right proportions for me to trust them. Then I didn’t like Thor 3 so I didn’t go back and see more Waititi.

I chose poorly there. Should’ve seen What We Do in the Shadows. It’s great.

Inevitable Spring 2019 MCU Ranking Post

With Avengers: Endgame, Marvel/Paramount’s/Universal’s/Disney’s “The Infinity Saga” has come to its end. Even though producer Kevin Feige now says the upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home is the actual end of “Phase Three,” which started back in 2016 with Captain America: Civil War, or: The Avengers 2.5, Endgame is the right place to stop. (No spoilers, but on so many levels it’s the place to stop).

Oh, hey, I realized “Phase Three” is the post-Perlmutter era of Marvel.

Anyway, I’ve only seen the first two Marvel movies twice and the second time on Hulk was the fan-extended version. So I’m not comfortable giving a numbered list; instead tiers.

Click the links for my full posts.

First Tier

Or: The Disneyfication of Superhero Movies Is a Good, Actually

Spider-Man (1977)

Notice they’re all from well into “Phase Three?” I’m fairly sure Feige didn’t really come into bloom as a producer of these pictures until after Perlmutter was gone and he started getting positive reinforcement from the Disney fellows. “Phase Three” is also when Feige got to stop listening to the creative committee.

Of the four films, I’d say I’m most impressed with Infinity War just because there’s so much to it. Homecoming is probably my favorite? Though Black Panther’s the best made overall. Captain Marvel… might be better than Homecoming. With these four films, Feige does exceptionally well. Panther had the most impressive cast of a Marvel movie ever, Homecoming proved Spider-Man works, and Captain Marvel has the first strong lead in a Marvel movie since Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3. Good stuff. And all of them are better than proof of concept for the Marvel-style movie, they’re successful Marvel movies.

Second Tier

Or: Almost There and Just Missed

Captain America (1990)

The second tier of Marvel movies is the “almost there” tier. The ones where, at some point during the film, it seems like they’re going to bring it all together. They’ve got all the right pieces. The Iron Man sequels have great Robert Downey Jr. performances, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth, real supporting actors—Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Rebecca Hall. But then something just doesn’t work. They can’t quite make it; the Marvel house style hasn’t been perfected.

Captain America is a little different of a situation, though it’s from Feige and Marvel’s attempt to play the second two productions “straight.” For Captain America, they got Joe Johnston (beloved for The Rocketeer, forgiven for all else) to direct. Chris Evans got the title role even though he had the Fantastic Four strike against him and, frankly, not much existing breakout potential, even though he’d been quite good in quite a few things. And they spent on the supporting cast enough—aughts standard villain Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones—and it worked. Almost.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is a totally different situation. It’s a successful proof-of-concept, which the first film didn’t provide. Marvel movies come off so finished—and, frankly, the “Phase Two” material is so weak for the most part—it’s gotten to the point it doesn’t seem they can improve in the sequel. But Wasp does, without the advantages the Iron Man sequels or Captain America had.

Then Endgame is a fine conclusion to the “Infinity Saga” but a crappy sequel to Infinity War.

Third Tier

Or: Nothing Special Albeit Somewhat Spectaculars

Thor (1988)

Thor is also from when Marvel tried to play it straight-face and hired Kenneth Branagh to make Asgard Shakespearian but not. It’s pretty good, especially considering how absurd the whole idea of a Thor movie seemed back then. Just getting to the end credits without the theater breaking out in laughter at some of the silly… well, Branagh and company did it.

Let’s talk about the two Captain America sequels which owe it all to Ed Brubaker and Mark Millar. They’re overwrought in a lot of ways, maybe because no one can figure out how to give Chris Evans a character to play. But there’s a lot of good in each of them, though I remember Winter Soldier never quite getting as close to succeeding as Civil War. Winter Soldier was a S.H.I.E.L.D. movie for Scarlett Johansson and Sam Jackson more than an Evans vehicle. Then Civil War brought in Robert Downey Jr. and all but two of the Avengers so it just felt like an Avengers movie. Again, nothing for Evans to do.

And the first Ant-Man was all right. Fun. Aimed very much at the tween audience. Paul Rudd. He’s usually reliable. Of course, the big story with Ant-Man is it was meant to be a mainstream auteur project for Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim). He walked. Presumably he got paid for some of the extensive pre-production work he’d done.

Fourth Tier

Or: Origins of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Hulk (1977)

The first two MCU movies are about on par with one another. Iron Man has a better budget, but Hulk has a better director. Both have great leads. Both have kind of crappy villains. Only Iron Man doesn’t go full CGI for the last third or whatever and, even though the CGI’s fine, it’s still just a very budgeted brawl. Hulk had more sequel promise though. Shame it didn’t get one. Also a shame the extended version never got a release, instead just fans piecing it together from the DVD.

Fifth Tier

Or: Sure, Fine, But I Never Ever Want to See It Again

Dr. Strange (1978)

Yes, Thor 3. Though it’s definitely the one I’d watch again if I had to watch once of them again. Then maybe Ultron just because Scarlet Witch is cool and Vision is awesome. After that I’d probably watch Doctor Strange before Dark World or Guardians. I know Avengers 1 is last because the first half of the movie is so boring, but Thor 2 or Guardians would depend on runtime. Less wins. And Dark World does almost have that wonderful finish. Just like the Raimi Spider-Man missed the boat on Ultimate Spider-Man, Thor 1 and 2 really could’ve leveraged Thor: The Mighty Avenger and basically given the MCU the best Superman since 1978.

Sixth Tier

Or: To the last I grapple with thee; from Hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee

Ego the Living Planet (1992)

“Man, come on, I had a rough night, and I hate the fuckin’ Guardians of the Galaxy 2, man.”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑