Solo: A Star Wars Story is Charming If a Bit Lazy—Just Like Han Himself

Solo: A Star Wars Story

If Han Solo is by-and-large the world’s favorite Star Wars character (they’ve done polls: he is), then any film focusing on him should be a sure thing. And despite a handful of mega hiccups during production, and some concerned side-eye from lifelong fans before the final trailer dropped, that’s precisely what Solo: A Star Wars Story is—an adventure-packed, yet riskless, sure thing.

[Major spoilers for Solo

Set roughly ten years before A New Hope, Solo fills us in on Han’s youth, covering his escape from slavery on Corellia to his very first smuggling gig that started him on the path toward scoundrel-hood. Alden Ehrenreich had some enormous shoes to fill, and while he’s not Harrison Ford (because no one else can be), he manages a charming performance that feels like the same character while still making the part his own. Much of the character’s backstory from the Legends ...

Solo: A Star Wars Story

If the Deadpool Movies Don’t Want Me to Think That Deadpool is Queer, They’re Doing a Terrible Job

We’re in a weird place right now, cinema-wise. People in the film industry keep trying to mollify fandom by suggesting that any number of characters could be queer, then finding out that fans aren’t interested in this game anymore—they want action and quantifiable results. They want representation that doesn’t come after publication, or without on-screen verification, or with a promise that it will show up in a few years.

But with that said, there is no possible way that you can convince me that Wade Wilson is straight. There’s just too much evidence to the contrary—and I don’t mean the number of slash fanfics with his name attached.

[Spoilers for Deadpool 2]

I should begin with a few pointed reminders. For one, Deadpool is pretty queer in the comics; he’s got a crush on Thor, and probably Cable, and he adores Spider-Man so much that when a bunch ...

Deadpool, Wham!
David Bowie, Life of Mars
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Frozen, Let It Go

On Deadpool 2 and the “Art” of Fridging

Deadpool 2 coffin

Deadpool 2 did such a great thing with Vanessa, Wade’s soon-to-be baby mama!

Wait. I think it did? Maybe it didn’t. Hang on, I’m confused…

[Spoilers for Deadpool 2]

Ah, the action narrative. The superhero conundrum. The “fridging” thing. How do you solve a problem like the frequent death of female characters for the sake of catalyzing male action? How do we talk about this constructively? Deadpool 2 tried, fascinatingly enough. It made an attempt to have a conversation about the murder of fictional women, and its use as a plot device, and what it means when more than one genre of movie has been built on this foundation like there’s nothing remotely lazy or regressive or depressing as hell about it.

So to begin, Deadpool 2 did the worst thing it could think of: It fridged Vanessa Carlysle, Wade’s fiancée.

It’s telegraphed to high heaven, so you know ...

Deadpool, Wade and Vanessa
Deadpool 2, Wade and Vanessa
Deadpool, Vanessa
Deadpool 2, Vanessa

Deadpool 2 is a Breakneck Action Comedy About Found Families

Deadpool 2, Wade

How do you up the ante on arguably the world’s biggest surprise superhero hit since 1989’s Batman? Well, on any other film, you’d probably have bigger set pieces, better CGI, and a villain that appears infinitely more powerful than the last.

But this is Deadpool. Which means that our meta jokes are just gonna get more meta.

 [Spoilers for Deadpool 2 below] 

Whereas Deadpool billed itself as a superpowered carnage fest with swears that is truly a love story, Deadpool 2 bills itself as a superpowered carnage fest with swears that is truly a family story. The fact that it succeeds on those fronts is a testament to how well the people working on it understand their hero and his brand; Deadpool may be full of dismemberment, death, and humanity’s ugly side, but Deadpool himself actually cares about people and love and George Michael’s discography. This is how the character ...

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Deadpool 2, Negasonic and Yukio
Deadpool 2, Cable
Deadpool 2, Russell Collins
Deadpool 2, Domino

Coping With Aliens and the Unknown Through Pop Culture

Pop culture loves its pop culture references. They say nostalgia is in right now, but the truth is that nostalgia has always been in, and it will always be in, and we only act surprised when the focus shifts to a different decade. But nearly 20 years ago, before the wide-spread saturation of nerd culture across mediums, there was one show that used pop culture with devastating effectiveness. That show was Farscape.

Look, this is how it works now: Even outside of narratives that are set in times past and geared toward this sensibility (think Stranger Things), plenty of stories are built on the framework of nostalgia. Ready Player One is the convergence of that brand of fiction, a veritable pop culture buffet that was so explicitly tied to a place and a time that Steven Spielberg felt the need to alter the source material when adapting it for ...

Ready Player One, Iron Giant
Farscape, Premiere
Farscape, Scratch'n'Sniff
Farscape, rollercoaster
Farscape, Revenging Angel

The Wachowski’s Speed Racer is a Candy-Colored Whirlwind That’s Good Enough to Eat

Warner Brothers had been trying to develop a Speed Racer film for nearly two decades, but the project never really launched until it was suggested that perhaps the Wachowskis should direct something beneath an R-rating to introduce them to family audiences.

The movie wasn’t very well received, and that’s wrong. Cosmically wrong. Speed Racer is brilliant.

Going in, I had no idea what I was in for. Per instructions from my colleague Leah, I went to Hulu first to watch an episode of the 1960s cartoon for reference. This proved to be useful for a few reasons: I now know the theme song; I got a feel for characters and plots and relationships (the Racer family’s littlest brother has a pet chimpanzee that he likes to pal around with, for example); I also learned that Speed Racer was an actual name, not some cute nickname or callsign. But having ...

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Why Would Any Parent Send Their Kids to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?

Much of children’s literature creates fantastical scenarios in which the young protagonists can endure all sorts of danger that reality would never permit. It is the nature of fiction to allow us to do whatever we cannot, and when you’re a child—a point when your suspension of disbelief is at an all-time high—taking advantage of this will never be easier.

But if we stop to consider carefully, reality will eventually clock in. And it’s then when you realize that you would never make it through your education at Hogwarts. Lasting a term would be a miracle. Why do parents send their children here? It’s madness.

I understand that we’re not meant to take certain elements of the series seriously (particularly in the earlier adventures), and that some aspects of the books are engineered to ensure plot development and excitement throughout. But if I’m going to suspend my disbelief for this ...

Let’s Talk About What Avengers: Infinity War Did to All Your Favorite Characters

Avengers: Infinity War

We’ve all been asking the same question about Avengers: Infinity War since we knew it was part of Marvel’s long game: How can you possibly fit this many beloved heroes into one feature-length film and actually do anything with them? Why would you inflict this on the world? But the pull of the crossover is strong, my friends. You’ll never know if you can make it work until you try.

And it did work. The crossover part, at least.

[Plentiful spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War.]

Despite the secrecy in which Marvel shrouded the movie, Infinity War is not a film built for shocking twists. It’s the darkest-before-the-dawn climax that leads to the mega victory. If you’ve been paying any attention at all to where these films are going, you know that we have another Avengers film incoming next year. This is essentially an Empire Strikes Back sojourn. We’re here …

Avengers: Infinity War spoiler review Doctor Strange
Avengers: Infinity War spoiler review Hulk
Avengers: Infinity War spoiler review Vision
Avengers: Infinity War spoiler review Wanda Scarlet Witch
Avengers: Infinity War spoiler review Steve Rogers Captain America
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Avengers: Infinity War spoiler review T'Challa
Avengers: Infinity War spoiler review Shuri
Avengers: Infinity War spoiler review Bucky Sam
Avengers: Infinity War spoiler review Mantis Drax
Avengers: Infinity War spoiler review Rocket Groot Thor
Avengers: Infinity War spoiler review Gamora Thanos
Avengers: Infinity War spoiler review Nebula
Avengers: Infinity War spoiler review Star-Lord
Avengers: Infinity War spoiler review Peter Parker Spider-Man
Avengers: Infinity War, Tony Stark

Avengers: Infinity War is the Superhero Crossover Event You Have Been Reading For

Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos

Ten years. Eighteen movies. Dozens of characters. One threat. Pulling off The Avengers was hard enough, and the fact that Marvel Studios managed it is still one of the most impressive feats in blockbuster cinema. But could every single one of these stories come together for the climax that we were promised?

Yeah. They could. Are you really surprised at this point? This is the only job they had left, you gotta stick that landing.

[No spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War]

I should start out by saying, if you’re not incredibly invested in the MCU, this movie is a hard sell. And that’s not wrong, obviously; some people just want to see the next big movie and they’re not in it for the backstory. But Infinity War is emphatically not here for people who are lukewarm about the journey. If these are fun flicks for you, the journey might …

Avengers: Infinity War is the Superhero Crossover Event You Have Been Reading For

Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos

Ten years. Eighteen movies. Dozens of characters. One threat. Pulling off The Avengers was hard enough, and the fact that Marvel Studios managed it is still one of the most impressive feats in blockbuster cinema. But could every single one of these stories come together for the climax that we were promised?

Yeah. They could. Are you really surprised at this point? This is the only job they had left, you gotta stick that landing.

[No spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War]

I should start out by saying, if you’re not incredibly invested in the MCU, this movie is a hard sell. And that’s not wrong, obviously; some people just want to see the next big movie and they’re not in it for the backstory. But Infinity War is emphatically not here for people who are lukewarm about the journey. If these are fun flicks for you, the journey might …

Why Does Everyone Hate on The Lost World: Jurassic Park?

I maintain that if The Lost World was not automatically pitted against Jurassic Park by virtue of being its sequel, people probably would have gotten a kick out of it.

That doesn’t change the fact that the movie couldn’t beat its predecessor without blindfolding it, hogtying it, and sending it into the raptor cage first, but come on—there’s nothing wrong with letting Dr. Ian Malcolm carry a film with a baby T-Rex in it. So why all the hostility?

Jurassic Park entranced us for many obvious reasons, but so much of it was bound up in structure, in its conceit. It was frightening because the protagonists were isolated, because they were forced to deal with a threat the likes of which no human being had ever encountered. At the end, everyone is safe but traumatized, and what’s worse, no one in the world knows what has happened to them. Even ...

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How the Lost in Space Movie Prepared Me for Hollywood’s Reboot Obsession

Lost in Space movie, 1998

Before you say anything—yes, I have watched the original Lost in Space television show. Yes, it is kinda weird because I was born decades after its premiere. Yes, I did enjoy it. Yes, I am obsessed with stories featuring kids who have friendships with robots, and queer codified villains. I also learned that John Williams had written the theme song, which was a very high recommendation in my kid playbook.

The 1998 reboot came along and also swept me off my feet for a brief period of time. (I was very young, shh.) But looking back on the film now—awkward as it was—it’s strange to realize how much I learned from it.

It’s important to note that Lost in Space was far from the first reboot the world had ever seen, but rather part of a quickly growing trend. That year it lost the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst ...

Lost in Space movie, 1998
Lost in Space movie, 1998
Lost in Space movie, 1998
Lost in Space movie, 1998
Lost in Space movie, 1998

Han and Chewie Get Their Big Break in the Final Solo Trailer

Han Solo, Solo trailer

The final Solo: A Star Wars Story trailer is here, and we’re getting a few lessons about honor among thieves. But we probably should have expected that.

Here it is, folks:

Perhaps the most tickling part of the trailer is Han finding out the Chewie is nearly two centuries old. (This has been a long-known piece of canon that is happily resurfacing in a beautiful way on film.) We also see Chewie hug a fellow Wookiee, and while it could be anyone at all, it would be wonderful if it turned out to be his wife, Malla. And then there’s a cool space train and Chewie hanging on to Han for dear life, so expect to have a lot of feelings about those two.

We’re getting a better idea of precisely what the film is about and what the dynamics are between the characters. Safe to say that you ...

Stop the Hogwarts House Hate: Hufflepuffs and Slytherins are Great, Too

When J.K. Rowling first revealed that Harry and Ginny’s son, James Sirius Potter, had been sorted into Gryffindor, she also noted that Teddy Lupin—son of Remus and Tonks, and the Head Boy of Hufflepuff House—was disappointed by the hat’s decision. Teddy’s disappointment was shared by some members of fandom. And while it’s hard to be surprised that a kid named for James Potter and Sirius Black would be a Gryffindor through and through, that frustration plays into a long fought battle among diehard Potter fans about how the Hogwarts Houses should be viewed, and who might be getting the short end of the stick.

While Slytherin and Hufflepuff both have their share of intensely dedicated fans, it’s no secret that among the general Potter-reading population, most would prefer to be a Gryffindor or a Ravenclaw. Why? Do people prefer lions and ravens? Red and blue? Or is it something to ...

Cedric and Amos Diggory, Quidditch World Cup
Harry Potter, Albus Severus, Deathly Hallows epilogue

FACT: Rey’s Next Star Wars Mentor Should Be Ahsoka Tano

Ahsoka Tano, Star Wars Rebels

Rey’s training with Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi may have been cut short, but she could probably use a little more guidance in the Force if she’s planning to save a galaxy from tyranny and help a new generation rebuild the future. Lucky for her, the perfect teacher is probably still out there somewhere in the galaxy! Someone who has already told the Jedi Order what for, who is full of wisdom, who more interested in doing what is right than adhering to any group doctrine.

Her name is Ahsoka Tano. Former pupil of Anakin Skywalker, former Jedi Padawan, former general in the Clone War.

Guardian of the light.

Master of her own destiny.

[Spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels]

Ahsoka became a part of the Star Wars universe in the canonical animated dual series The Clone Wars and Rebels. In the first ...

Ahsoka Tano, Star Wars Rebels
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Harry Potter and the Battle For Gun Control

Emma Gonzalez, March for Our Lives

Voldemort shouts the Killing Curse over and over, and every time he expects that he will win.

And every time, Harry moves to disarm.

The March For Our Lives was this weekend. I didn’t bring a sign, just a body that could be counted in a tally. This isn’t for me, I thought to myself. It’s for the children around me. Children who are standing with parents and friends and doing their best to still smile and laugh and make the day triumphant. That’s what we expect of children. That they must continue to be children in spite of everything. They must maintain some semblance of innocence, no matter how callous the world has become.

These children were raised on dystopia, we are told. They are growing up with Resistance fighters in Star Wars and superheroes who avenge. With Katniss Everdeen’s love for her little sister. With Maze Runner ...

What We Mean When We Call Something “Shakespearean”

Thor, 2011, Marvel

What makes a work of art “Shakespearean”?

It’s a stranger question than we might think, mostly because no one agrees or realizes that they don’t agree. It’s a term that we apply across the artistic gamut, from plays to films to novels, for every age group and every genre. It seems a clever shorthand because practically everyone in the modern world knows who William Shakespeare is, and has at least read a play or seen one up close at some point in their life.

But that doesn’t actually clue us into what Shakespearean means.

It does seem a term that falls into two categories: (a) a term used to denote high quality, or (b) a term used to denote a certain type of story. Sometimes it is used to indicate both of these things at the same time. But we see it everywhere, and often reapplied past the point of ...

Pacific Rim: Uprising Keeps the Spirit of Its Predecessor Alive

Pacific Rim: Uprising

While it was exciting to know that we would finally get a Pacific Rim sequel (with John Boyega!), I had to admit some trepidation after sitting at their panel at New York Comic Con last year. Director Steven S. DeKnight—who is far better known for his well-choreographed actions sequences than deft character work—could not stop talking about how cool the new jaegers were going to be. How many amazing abilities they had, and how great the designs were, and so on. There was just one problem…

…jaegers are not what make Pacific Rim great.

[Some spoilers for Pacific Rim: Uprising.]

Sure, they are real fun to look at, and action sequences are important to action movies. But part of the reason Pacific Rim garnered such a avid fanbase was due to all the places where it departed from average action movie schlock; it prioritized character arcs and emotions, ...

Remembering Mr. Nimoy: What Spock Meant to One Geeky 12-Year-Old Girl

Star Trek, Spock, Leonard Nimoy

Today would have been Leonard Nimoy’s 87th birthday.

Marking the passage of time with birthdays and anniversaries can make absence even more perplexing. This is even more true when memories of a person are easy to access, to wit; I watch Star Trek: The Original Series constantly. It’s comfort food. So to me, Spock (and by way of him, Leonard Nimoy) is as vibrant and present as ever. Which in turn is another invaluable source of comfort—because Spock made such a difference to the impressionable child version of me.

Wanna hear something weird? When I was very young, I didn’t know that Original Series Star Trek existed. My parents watched Next Gen sometimes, and I had seen the movies without context. I assumed that the movies were somehow a spin-off of Next Gen or vice versa. I remember being a little confused at the closeness of the characters, but I ...

I Don’t Want to F*** Him, I Want to BE Him

There was a moment in Jessica Jones’s second season that floored me, despite its seeming mundanity. It was when Trish Walker, former child star and Jessica’s best friend, turned down a marriage proposal from all around-great-guy and super-reporter Griffin. As Trish tries to handle the blowback from her toxic mother (who keeps insisting that Trish is throwing away her life by refusing the engagement), she finally puts her angst into words: “I don’t want to be with Griffin—I want to be him. I want to do what he does. And that’s not love, and it’s not fair to either one of us.”

This problem, this exact one, is wrapped around me like cling film, impossible to spot and harder to eradicate. I took a moment to try and count up the number of times I had been told that my admiration or emulation of a man (even a ...

Luke Skywalker, A New Hope
Captain Kirk, Trouble With Tribbles