I've been writing since fourth grade and blogging since 2014. I've been a nerd my whole life.

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The Dark Knight: How Do You Measure The "Best" Sequel?

The Dark Knight is widely regarded as one of the best movies of its kind. It is officially a sequel to Batman Begins, but unlike most sequels, audiences don’t really need to watch the first movie to understand or enjoy the plot of the second. The only major plotline that continues between the two (apart from Bruce Wayne Being Batman, of course) is Bruce and Rachel’s relationship ("If there is ever a time when Gotham doesn’t need Batman, we can be together.")
Does the stand-alone nature of this movie make it a better sequel? Or a worse one? What metrics do you use to measure the quality of a sequel? We don’t determine the quality of a horror movie by how much it makes us laugh, for example. Do we determine the quality of a sequel by how much it depends on the story of the first movie?
Compare to Terminator 2, Rocky 2, John Wick 2, Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back, and other movies considered some of the best sequels of all time.

  • Godfather 2, Aliens, Toy Story 2, Logan as well. – Sunni Ago 13 hours ago

The Red Ten vs The Boys

From 2011 to 2017, Tyler James and Cesar Feliciano created a ten-issue comic book series in which a parody of the Justice League were mysteriously murdered in a plot eerily similar to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. As in Christie’s novel, it was slowly revealed that the superheroes were being killed because they were guilty of dark secrets.
This series bears a resemblance to The Boys, the comic series by Garth Ennis currently being adapted into a TV show. This series has its own parody of the Justice League, hiding their own dark secrets. The titular characters, the Boys, set out to test the heroes’ limits and, if necessary, deal out bloody justice.
Compare and contrast these series, their characters, their themes, etc.


    Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: Hard to Adapt?

    Douglas Adams’ foray into detective fiction, with his iconic twist of science fiction and extremely British absurdist comedy, was a novel called Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and its sequel, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. These books have been adapted into two TV shows, one on BBC4 and one on BBC America. The books and TV shows are all quite different from each other; even the character of Dirk Gently changes a bit between adaptations.
    Compare and contrast the book(s) with the TV shows. Why did the shows change so much? Is there something "unadaptable" about Adams’ original work?


      "Gods" in the MCU: Are Any of Them Worthy?

      In Thor: Love and Thunder, Gorr the God Butcher wanted to destroy all the deities in the MCU. His motivation was he had found the god of his civilization quite disappointing, and he assumed all deities were just as selfish and uncaring. The movie hoped the audience would think Gorr was wrong because Thor, the god of Thunder, is not selfish. Unfortunately, we have not met many other "god" characters in the MCU with redeeming qualities.
      Analyze the MCU characters referred to as gods or god-like beings – not only the Asgardians but also Dormammu from Dr. Strange, Ego from Guardians of the Galaxy, Arishem from Eternals, the Egyptian gods from Moon Knight, and Zeus. How valid was Gorr’s anti-god position? Is there a deeper meaning in this repeated theme?
      Consider the fact that Odin said, "We are not gods," but other characters nonetheless refer to Asgardians as gods. Does a character need to be chosen by a mortal civilization to "count" as a god?


        Do Disabled Characters Need to be Played by Disabled Actors?

        Movies and TV shows often feature able-bodied actors/actresses playing disabled characters. Some audience members with disabilities are not content to see characters who are like them; some of them believe these characters must be played by people who actually have the disability they are portraying. Discuss the validity of this argument and the validity of the counterargument: representation doesn’t matter any less if it’s just acting.
        Examples for the discussion include Ben Affleck in The Accountant and Daredevil, Charlie Cox in Daredevil, Patrick Stewart in X-Men, Bryan Cranston in The Upside, Freddie Highmore in The Good Doctor, Danny Pudi in Community, and Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.

        • Scholars who have been developing important advancements in the field of Disability Studies over the last 30 years have established through their work that it is not necessary to use euphemisms to refer to disabled people because it creates confusion about the important distinction between “disability” and “impairment.” – T. Palomino 3 months ago
        • Hey, thanks for this! I'm disabled myself (cerebral palsy/Asperger's), and I can see both sides of this argument. For instance, if you want to show a severe case of CP, where the person experiences quadriplegia and the inability to speak, for instance, it might be difficult to find an actor who fits that profile. But at the same time, that leads back to the question of why the acting arena has been so "closed" to people with disabilities over the centuries, so that actors with disabilities can't make spaces for themselves. I personally have experience in theater, where I believe I was denied roles not necessarily because of ableism, but just because the concepts of inclusion and modification were not part of consciousness yet. So when I see actors and actresses like Ali Stoker (Stroker? Her last name escapes me), getting roles on Broadway, I feel like we're progressing. But then I see, for instance, able-bodied actors still being cast for roles like Crutchie in Newsies, and I'm like, just, why? When there are a ton of ambulatory actors out there who still use or have experiences with mobility aids? And, as noted with Rain Man, why are we giving Oscars to able-bodied actors for portraying disabled people, especially in a way that continues to feed inspiration porn? So all that to say...yeah, please write this. – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
        • This is something I've pondered often. Some actors are able to play a good role and pull it off but those with the actual disabilities and have the knack for acting should be considered first for those roles. Granted, sometimes--and often--Hollywood doesn't try to be politically correct in its casting. This stems from various reasons, including household name. – Montayj79 3 months ago
        • This is a difficult one. If acting can be difficult and tiring for people without any disability imagine how strenuous it'll be for a person with a disability - the shooting and re-shooting, the long scripts, the long nights, the travel and moving from one location to another, etc. It would really be difficult – Laurika Nxumalo 3 months ago
        • I don't think so. Coming from a guy who has Autsim, I don't think an actor has to be disabled to play a disabled role. All that matters is can the person act? – JohnMcKinney 2 weeks ago

        The Power of Movie Musical Protagonists

        In the world of movie musicals and musical episodes of TV shows, characters process their emotions and make decisions through song-and-dance numbers. The protagonists of these stories often seem to have an uncanny ability to influence people around them and make them break into song and dance.

        In Encanto, Mirabelle’s gift seems to be making her family sing about their feelings, especially when they don’t want to talk about them: she makes Luisa admit she’s nervous about the Pressure, she gets the whole family to sing about Bruno, etc.
        In the High School Musical series, Troy Bolton turns a basketball practice into a song-and-dance number because he can’t stop thinking about musical theatre. Then he convinces all of his friends to work at a country club even though it’s hard.

        In The Greatest Showman, P.T. Barnum uses the power of song-and-dance to turn his group of social outcasts into the greatest show on Earth and to convince Zac Efron’s character to join his team.

        If the songs are diegetic (the characters are aware they are singing and dancing), they are conscious choices by the characters, so they can be considered part of the characters’ development. If the songs are non-diegetic (only the audience is aware of what’s happening), they are mainly plot devices.

        Other examples include Zooey’s Extraordinary Playlist, The Flash/Supergirl crossover "Duet," and The Magicians’ annual musical episodes.

        Analyze the narrative impact of these characters and their musical influence. Does this phenomenon work better as character development, a plot device, or a combination of both?

        • You could also discuss Orpheus in Hadestown, who is both a musician and musical protagonst (with Eurydices). Singing is part of his identity in the show. – Sean Gadus 10 months ago

        Mario, Link, and Scott Pilgrim: Relationships in Video Games

        Scott Pilgrim vs The World uses a video-game-like series of boss battles as a thinly veiled metaphor for relationship drama. It has been compared to Mario’s video game series, in which the hero fights giant gorillas and dragon turtles in order to win back his lady love. The Legend of Zelda is another famous example of this trope. What other video games and game-related movies portray relationships with this kind of drama? What are the pros and cons of the different portrayals? Are these relationships healthy? If not, is that made clear enough to dissuade people from following their example?

        • Examples include Legend of Zelda, Mario, Scott Pilgrim, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Edge of Tomorrow (Live Die Repeat). – noahspud 1 year ago
        • I'd recommend tackling Scott Pilgrims source material the graphic novels and what it has to say about video games and romance. Especially since the video game is based on the movie which is rushed and lacks a proper payoff that the comics have. – Roneish 1 year ago

        The Hulk's Character Development (or lack thereof)

        The Incredible Hulk is the movie most likely to be forgotten when thinking about the MCU. Arguably, its poor reception is the reason Mark Ruffalo has yet to get his own Hulk movie. Because Hulk/Bruce Banner doesn’t get solo movies like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, all of his character development has to happen in the Avengers movies and Thor: Ragnarok. Analyze what arc or Hero’s Journey he has, if any. Perhaps compare his arc to that of other Avengers.

        • I'm not certain why Mark Ruffalo never got a solo Movie as the Hulk. But, the reason Edward Norton was let go of was, due to problematic interactions with the rest of the cast. I think this topic is interesting as many fans complained about Ruffalo's and Johanson having no romantic chemistry in the films. I would say his arc is more about gaining control over his darker nature (something we see at the happen in Avenger End Game.) – Blackcat130 1 year ago
        • I think this is a good topic. Mark Ruffalo was a major star even before his casting as the Hulk, so for him to not have his own solo film is definitely a question mark on the studio's part. I think it's also interesting to look at his relationships with the other characters and Avengers as a whole. Why is he now paired with Thor? Why did his relationship with Black Widow not grab audiences attention? Also of note is that Ruffalo has worked with multiple directors in his turn as the Hulk, including Joss Whedon, the Russo Brothers, and Taika Waititi. It might be interesting to analyze which of these directors, if any, have captured the strongest essence of who the Hulk should be. – Sarah 1 year ago
        • To clarify something. The main reason the Hulk has only appeared in team-up movies and hasn't been given the solo treatment is that the film rights to a Hulk solo film are still with Universal studios, rendering Marvel's ability to produce a solo Hulk film themselves impossible. If you go back to look at the 2008 Edward Norton Hulk film, it is produced by Marvel Studios but distributed by Universal. Seen as how big Marvel, also Disney, is right now, it is unlikely they would want to have another studio distribute the film and get all the revenue. This is also different from the deal Marvel and Sony made for Spiderman, since the box office revenue and production cost are shared between Marvel and Sony if I remember correctly. – askthepen 11 months ago
        • All these comments render the topic's premises inaccurate. It's not always about character development or arcs only. – T. Palomino 5 months ago

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        Latest Comments

        Definitely. He uses daggers and magic and clever words instead of swords and brute strength. It’s mainly his motivations that change; in the movies he’s basically a rebellious teenager who eventually gets better, while in the myths he commits wholeheartedly to the agent of chaos bit.

        From Mythology to the MCU: Egyptian and Norse

        If you mean the comic book/movie versions, you’re probably right. All the myths would have been made more family-friendly to turn them into superhero stories, including making Loki more sympathetic and less villainous.

        From Mythology to the MCU: Egyptian and Norse

        New York is also the setting of some Urban Fantasy stories because of its “magical” nature. We believe the impossible can happen there just as much as we believe that people can break into spontaneous song and dance.

        Historical New York Musicals and the Human Spirit

        Shang-Chi’s movie had some kind of pocket dimension full of Chinese spiritual beings. Doctor Strange’s movies heavily imply the existence of countless other dimensions full of weird creatures. The best explanation I can imagine is the Egyptian gods are from one of those spirit-dimensions, while Thor and all the other gods who show up in Thor: Love and Thunder are a special category of aliens with physical bodies.
        Short answer: it’s comic book/movie logic. Don’t think too hard about it.

        From Mythology to the MCU: Egyptian and Norse

        Indeed. That story demonstrated that Loki solved problems through trickery, while most of the other gods and goddesses were warriors.

        From Mythology to the MCU: Egyptian and Norse

        He was the god of thunderstorms, and of course lightning is a part of that. The myths were just about him slaying monsters with his hammer and his strength, sure, but people still believed every lightning bolt and thunderclap came from him.

        From Mythology to the MCU: Egyptian and Norse

        Evil is about putting your own interests above everyone else’s. This often leads to alienating people, but if you’re charismatic enough, you can manipulate people just long enough to get what you want. If you’re okay with being utterly alone in the long run, evil is a great way to get what you want.
        Only problem is if there’s someone stronger than you that cares about punishing evil, like a superhero, or the writer of your story, or God.

        Iago - The Perfect Villain

        That was thorough.

        Comedy: When the Jokes Go Too Far