Well, I guess I know what's going to be my lead topic on this week's episode of El Fanboy...
The clip above is from Showtime's Masters of Sex- Season 3, Episode 5.
Simply sharing this because I think it's one of the most beautiful speeches on issues of Love and Sex that I've ever heard.
Let me know what you think. Curious to see if it has the same impact on folks who don't watch the series.
I've long championed the idea that geeks around the world put too much stock in continuity, and today I aim to finally put this discussion to bed.
Continuity. Is. Over. Rated.
(Okay, I know "overrated" isn't two words. But you get the point!)
Now, I should start by saying I don't blame the percentage of geek film fans out there that think continuity is incredibly important. After all, we're really only in the first decade of this "Geeks Have Taken Over Pop Culture" generation. So the fandom is young; It's still learning how to adapt to being in control of Hollywood. For all intents and purposes, the modern Superhero Boom can be traced to 2008. That was the year that gave us both The Dark Knight and Iron Man.
While we'd been given tastes of what it'd be like for the comic book genre to dominate pop culture in the seven years leading to that- thanks to the X-Men movies and Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy- 2008 was the year that would officially kick off the era where Superheroes and Cinematic Universes became the central focus of Hollywood. Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight was a crossover smash that proved that films about dudes in capes can also be serious, classy, high-minded entertainments. Iron Man singlehandedly kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and I really shouldn't have to explain the significance of that. So I won't.
So if we're sticking with that, then our beloved Fandom is only 9 years old- Hardly mature enough to understand its place in the world or how things are supposed to work. Therefore, I'll cut it some slack.
But now it's time to explain to this well-intentioned 9 year-old why continuity doesn't make or break a great film.
In this age of endless sequels, spinoffs, prequels, and shared universes, we've been made to think- by certain franchises- that everything (everything!!) must be interconnected. While certain companies have done a commendable job of keeping things fairly airtight in that department (Marvel Studios. Though, if you look at how flimsy the supposed "shared world" of their Film and TV universe is, even they can't seem to keep it all together), others have played fast and loose with the "rules." While, in theory, all of Fox's X-Men films exist in the same continuity, poking holes in them is easier than playing "Pin The Tail On The Empire State Building."
And yet, does that matter?
We were just treated to Logan, a film considered by many (including yours truly) as a classic of the superhero genre. And almost exactly a year ago, fans everywhere were marveling at what an awesome movie Deadpool was. And yet, when we examine how these films "fit" in the X-Men Cinematic Universe (XCU), it's easy to see that the connections are fairly dubious. The character of Deadpool was introduced in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played by the very same actor (Ryan Reynolds), with a completely different origin. Fox and the Deadpool Creative Team's decision to completely disregard all that resulted in a fantastic movie. And no one complained. Why? Because they loved the movie.
Logan, in theory, follows up on the last two standalone Wolverine movies, and even picks up on seeds planted in the last two X-Men movies...and yet, does it really? I've seen articles and video dissections everywhere about how certain things just don't fit. This morning, for example, we found out about some deleted scenes from Logan that reveal a Jean Grey subplot...and yet, wasn't all of that fixed in X-Men: Days of Future Past? Some fans are scratching their heads and asking questions about that. Elsewhere, I've seen fans wondering about the Adamantium bullet and how he could've gotten that from WIlliam Stryker considering how much of that history has been revised in the last few X-movies.
All I ever want to say to the people obsessing about that kind of minutiae is: Lighten up! It doesn't matter. Just enjoy this beautiful, self-contained story!
Logan treads extremely lightly on the established continuity. It borrows the elements from previous films that help elevate the story it's trying to tell, and it pretty much ignores the rest. So the history you're "required" to know in order to get the most out of the film is very minimal.
And thank god for that.
I've long argued that being a slave to continuity actually hinders your storytelling possibilities. What once was one of the most exciting aspects of the MCU, is slowly revealing itself to be a pair of handcuffs. While we loved finding out that Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America all existed in the same world, where does that leave us these days? It's still pretty cool, but- if we're being honest- aren't the Marvel Studios movies starting to feel more and more safe and predictable? I know that I, personally, am rarely surprised anymore. The films feel like they're all forced to stay within a certain mold because if one veers off too greatly, then it throws off things in the 73 other Marvel movies that are currently in some stage of development.
Right now over in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) they're reportedly having their own troubles with issues of continuity. While they'd seemingly love to introduce a somewhat soft "reboot" of the franchise, following the polarizing responses that Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad all received, they're in a tough spot now with how to move forward. Wonder Woman and Justice League were made under the apparent assumption that people were going to love those first three DCEU movies. Director Matt Reeves has already said he wants to make The Batman "an emotional new take" on the Dark Knight's mythos, and he even initially bailed on negotiations to replace Ben Affleck as the director of the film because he wanted full creative control over where to take Batman next. So Geoff Johns and DC Entertainment are trying to figure out a way to pivot away from those first few films while keeping enough ties to them to say that it's still all a continuation of what we've seen.
What a headache.
Then there's 20th Century Fox who, once again, don't seem to give a damn. Oddly enough, their approach is closer to the comic books than either the MCU or DCEU. What I mean by that, simply, is that comic books are known to continuously reboot themselves. When you consider that many of the most beloved comic book series of all time have been around for over 60 years, and have had to basically constantly tweak their continuity in order to remain relevant, isn't Fox's approach much closer to that than anything else? After all, the XCU is the grandaddy of all these new shared universes, having been around for 17 years now. Along the way, they've done several "soft reboots" in order to evolve with the times.
Comic books are also known for having Elseworlds tales, and stories that are understood to be part of an alternate timeline or simply stand on their own. Books like DC's Kingdom Come and The Dark Knight Returns, and Marvel's Old Man Logan (!!!) are perfect examples of revered properties that are simply accepted as being non-canon. So fans of the genre already seem to understand that the books themselves don't adhere to an iron clad set of rules. Why should the films be held to a different standard?
Logan walked that fine line that the books all do so well. When you read one of those "alternate world" books, you're expected to bring your previous love of the character and their basic history with you, while also having an open mind to where this story finds them.
The bottom line? Make the movies great, and no one will give a damn about continuity.
Fox gets it. Do you?
Hey Guys & Gals!
I've put up a ton of new content over the last few days, so please scroll down here and also check sections like PODCASTS and VIDEOS cause there's a lot for you to (hopefully) enjoy.
Miriam Colón was one of those figures I grew up around who, to many, was some sort of influential figure and yet, to me, just another part of family. The family I'm referring to is the Latino Theatre Community here in New York City. We may all belong to different groups and companies (Repertorio Español, PRTT, Thalia, LATEA, TEBA, Abriendo Puertas, LATE, INTAR, IATI, and so on), but we were all really just one big familia. At openings, fund-raisers, and Award Ceremonies (HOLA, ACE, AHA, etc.) we'd all come together, share bochinche, pose for the pictures, shamelessly self-promote, and cheer for each other when a member of the family would crossover into the American mainstream.
Miriam was one of those stars of the community that frequently crossed over. Whether it was recently, like her appearances on Better Call Saul, or classic appearances in films like Scarface, she was one of those hallowed figures in the community who would visit the top of the mountain. And yet, she never forgot about her roots. She actually founded, operated, and ran the aforementioned PRTT: The Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre. It's still up and running, on 47th Street, just off of 8th Avenue. For you non-New Yorkers out there...that location is unbelievable. That put her company right in the heart of New York's legendary theatre scene, next to all of the major Broadway theaters.
Miriam was a titan.
And yet she was always just a smiling, approachable figure. I grew up in that world, just a kid hanging out with all of these grown-up artists. Everyone in the community felt like an Aunt or an Uncle, including Miriam. I remember speaking to her when I was trying to get my own acting career off the ground. I had gotten my SAG card; I had recently joined AFTRA (this was before the merger); And now it was time to try and get into Actor's Equity. I gave her a call and she spoke to me about the process, offered her sage advice, and volunteered to help me get into Equity- which is the union that covers stage actors.
That's the kind of person she was.
She was one of those people who I'd see on TV growing up and be like, "That's Miriam, who lives two blocks away." Because she did. I was raised on 96th and Columbus. She lived on 94th.
Her passing yesterday, at age 80, struck a very personal chord. It brought me back to aunt, my Ñaña, Elizabeth Peña, who left us in 2014. I'd often think of the two in similar ways, in terms of their success in the arts. To me, they were role models. To each other they were friends, and they were often collaborators.
Many moons ago, their friendship began not unlike that phone call I had with Miriam about joining Equity...
In the early 1970s, Miriam was already a notable figure for having worked with Marlon Brando and for having appeared on beloved TV series like The Dick Van Dyke Show and Gunsmoke. My aunt, barely 13 years old, saw her at one of the very kinds of functions I described earlier, and had the gumption to go ask her a couple of questions:
I suppose the two of them now have an awful lot to chat about.
When I think of Miriam, I think of her warm smile and approachable spirit. I shall miss bumping into her at future "family gatherings."
R.I.P. Miriam Colón
Desanse en Paz
KONG: SKULL ISLAND brings much-needed fun and levity to Legendary's budding Monster Universe, while also having way more heart than 2014's GODZILLA.
Here's my full, spoiler-free, written review for The Splash Report:
So I know I mentioned Patreon on this week's El Fanboy Podcast, but- as it turns out- I have more research and preparation to do before I launch that page.
Thanks again to everyone who volunteered to pledge a little help as I try to land on my feet after the abrupt LRM termination.
Should have that up by the end of the week!
I just noticed that three of the films I'm most excited about in 2017 are essentially old favorites with fresh coats of paint. Here are the three latest trailers for Alien: Covenant, Kong: Skull Island, and Power Rangers:
Racking my brain for which original 2017 release I'm most excited about...