Director Ryan Coogler had a thin line to walk for his sequel to Black Panther.
Following up 2018’s mega-hit that was unlike any Marvel superhero we’d seen before, reaching out to audiences and cultures that previously felt underserved by blockbuster entertainment, would have been difficult enough. Coogler had an opportunity to direct a sequel to 2015’s Creed, but passed on it to jump into the Marvel sandbox and bring comic books’ first Black superhero to the big screen.
Topping himself and continuing the story of Wakanda’s King T’Challa was going to be much more difficult — logistically and emotionally — after the death of star Chadwick Boseman two years ago. How could Marvel and Coogler, along with the amazing cast and crew that brought the fictional African nation to vivid life, keep the story going without the Black Panther himself?
Out of respect to Boseman, Marvel decided that T’Challa wouldn’t be recast. That was probably the correct decision, especially so soon after the actor’s death. Asking fans — and those who worked with Boseman — to accept a new face in the role would have been difficult. (Though during the past two years, sentiment — online, anyway — has turned toward recasting and advancing a character that was so iconic, so important to audiences.)
So Coogler and writer Joe Robert Cole (who collaborated on the first film’s screenplay) embraced the real world’s intrusion on Marvel mythology and acknowledged Boseman’s death in the story by giving T’Challa much the same traffic fate. As a result, Wakanda Forever serves as a tribute to the actor, allowing fans and colleagues to mourn and perhaps find closure with the loss.
Dwayne Johnson is a damn good salesman, which you likely knew. Black Adam is a testament to his star power. This movie almost certainly doesn’t get made, nor does the character headline his own film, without Johnson making it happen.
And without Johnson, this movie probably wouldn’t be that compelling — except to comic book diehards thrilled to see secondary DC Comics characters like Hawkman and Doctor Fate brought to life on the big screen. But they’re a big part of the story and look great. So does Johnson and his real-life superhero physique in a role that seems to have been made for him.
Set in the fictional Middle Eastern nation of Kahndaq, Black Adam immediately sets itself apart from other superhero stories taking place in New York, San Francisco, or fictional cities like Metropolis or Gotham City. (Maybe it’s not a coincidence that the best DC films are set in locations including Atlantis and the Amazon island of Themyscira.)
The movie also benefits from director Jaume Collet-Serra (The Commuter, The Shallows) having plenty of experience with action movies that keeps what story there is moving with little time given to exposition and character moments. Black Adam pretty much goes from one action sequence to another with momentary chances to give the audience a breath. But even “quiet” scenes have action like Johnson busting through walls rather than using doors.
After a week off for the July 4 holiday, we’re back on WISE Sports Radio with some NFL and movie talk mixed in with our usual baseball chatter.
The Carolina Panthers get Baker Mayfield after waiting until the Cleveland Browns couldn’t wait to trade him any longer. Are the Baltimore Orioles on the rise? Which players were snubbed from the 2022 Major League Baseball All-Star Game rosters? And a quick review of Thor: Love and Thunder. (Longer version here, if interested.)
“Your ancestors called it magic, but you call it science,” Thor said to Jane Foster in Marvel’s first Thor movie (2011). “I come from a land where they are one and the same.”
Whatever it’s called, the magic is gone. At least for the God of Thunder’s run under director Taika Waititi.
Thor: Love and Thunder has some beautiful visuals, creative set pieces, and compelling character arcs, especially for Natalie Portman’s Foster. But the story trying to hold them all together is too weak to build a satisfying film that ranks among the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
What makes this so disappointing is that Waititi’s previous Thor film, 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, was such a refreshing change of direction from the other Marvel movies with its fast pace, outlandish color palette, and bold designs influenced by legendary artists like Jack Kirby, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Moebius. (The new wave soundtrack by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh added to the alien atmosphere.)
Thankful for a new Podcass? We’re thankful for you listening!
First, we review the Mister Rogers movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (06:45). Then, some WISE Sports Radio talk on Major League Baseball’s bold proposal to cut down the minor leagues (13:20). One more movie review, catching up with Ford vs. Ferrari (25:57). And we close out with some love for Huey Lewis and the News (34:03).
Stepping into controversy, sign-stealing, and life-stealing on The Podcass!
First, a brief response to an Awful Announcing article I wrote (02:41). Then, baseball talk on WISE Sports Radio with the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal and MLB awards (09:18). We change it up with a review of Bong Joon-Ho’s new film, Parasite (24:39). And close it out with sports radio football chatter, digging into Colin Kaepernick’s workout and other Week 11 NFL headlines (31:34).
Killer robots and masked vigilantes on The Podcass!
After talking about a new job (which was an old job), we review the latest Terminator flick, Terminator: Dark Fate, and wonder if we’ve already seen this movie (05:34). Then, we finally get to Watchmen, HBO’s new series that is already fascinating, challenging, and intriguing (16:18).
Misery, then joy at the movies on the latest Podcass!
It’s good for the soul to let out a good rant once in a while, and my experience buying advance movie tickets online recently provided just such an opportunity (0:36). Then, we review Bruce Springsteen’s new concert film, Western Stars (09:57). And our WISE Sports Radio segment from Monday recaps the drastic turn in the World Series with the Houston Astros taking control (19:14).
More sports than expected on the latest Podcass with Canadian friends and cancellations creating more time to talk baseball in anticipation of the World Series beginning.
But we do break up the baseball talk with zombies, more specifically a review of Zombieland: Double Tap (11:31). I feel like I’ve often been a zombie during October staying up late to watch these games, then getting up early to work (and working out before that). As mentioned, we preview the World Series with Edmonton’s TSN 1260 (03:21) and Asheville’s WISE Sports Radio (18:58). Then we close out with a chat on Baseball America’s report of a proposal to eliminate 42 minor league teams (28:00).
We’ve been sports-heavy on The Podcass this week. Hey, October is packed with playoff baseball, college football and NFL, along with the beginnings of the NHL and NBA seasons. So I guess that’s reflected here.
But we break up that sports talk with a review of Will Smith’s double-take in Gemini Man (23:38). And it’s a week with two segments from WISE Sports Radio on our Friday show. First, we preview the big storylines going into Week 7 on the NFL schedule, including Jalen Ramsey getting traded to the Los Angeles Rams (04:37). Then, we close out with baseball talk, focusing on the amazing, improbable run of the Washington Nationals and the Yankees-Astros ALCS (33:59).