P.J. Dozier, an undrafted rookie who signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder yesterday and will be wearing the No. 35 jersey for as long as he is with the team, told reporters that his choice in jersey number had nothing to do with Kevin Durant, who wore No. 35 for nine years in Oklahoma City before leaving.
Marvel recently dropped the 2nd trailer for their penultimate film before Infinity War, Black Panther, and I'm genuinely more hyped than I have ever been to watch someone hopping on cars as a key plot point (sorry, The Matrix Reloaded). The music, the colors, the characters, the whole feel of the film all look mind-bogglingly great:
But I've seen some people still hesitant about the film - and I'm here to tell all of those people that they need to up their hype levels tenfold. Heck, even people who are pretty hyped for Black Panther need to (at least) double their hype - here's why:
1. First time Marvel picked an insanely competent director
Marvel Studios has really - up until this point - made a point of really discovering and elevating talent. The Russo Bros. were a couple of nobodies who spent most of their time directing TV sitcoms, with their only theatrical film release a mediocre Owen Wilson comedy from 2006...until Marvel gave them a shot and they turned in what may be the best film the MCU has produced, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Joss Whedon was a nerd idol, sure, but his only theatrical film (Serenity) was a huge bomb, and no one in Hollywood really took him seriously. Scott Derrickson and James Gunn were both low budget horror guys until Marvel let them at Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy (respectively), two of the most visually impressive films Marvel has produced. In short, Marvel takes some weird chances on people you wouldn't expect. And usually that's a good thing (as the results have shown), but one thing they've really never done is pick a genuine proven auteur to take on one of their films - until now.
Ryan Coogler's career is fairly new-ish, but the films he's made so far speak incredibly loudly - Fruitvale Station and Creed. Both starring Michael B. Jordan (one of the most astounding transitions from child actor to adult actor EVER - he was Wallace on The Wire!), both incredibly moving and effective, and both showing a diversity in style that proves how adept Coogler is at whatever he tries (Fruitvale Station is a small indie true story, Creed is a big budget sequel/reboot hybrid feel-good sports story). Coogler's got the goods - to see what he can bring to a mega-budget superhero film is INSANELY exciting (especially because he brought Michael B. Jordan with him).
2. The cast
The nice thing about superhero movies becoming so buzzy and mainstream is that they can attract a lot higher-level talent than they could even 5 or 6 years ago. I mean, the Venom movie (which may or may not be associated with Spider-Man) has Tom Hardy, Riz Ahmed, and Michelle Williams in it - and it's a freakin' off-brand VENOM MOVIE. But Black Panther's cast is almost mind-boggling in its greatness:
Chadwick Boseman - who is more or less the KING of historical biography films, having done 42, Get On Up, and Marshall, on top of already having blown everyone away with his semi-brief appearance in Civil War
Michael B. Jordan - who, despite still being pretty young, as one of the most impressive resumes imaginable: The Wire & Friday Night Lights (two of the best shows in history), Chronicle, Fruitvale Station, Creed, and even brought life to Fant4stic.
Angela Bassett - YOU KNOW WHO ANGELA BASSETT IS I'M NOT GOING TO EXPLAIN WHY SHE'S GREAT
Forest Whitaker - SAME WITH FOREST WHITAKER, I MEAN, C'MON. Also I'm going to say for people not familiar - check him out in The Shield. One of the most intense and incredible antagonists ever. My god.
Lupita Nyong'o - Oscar-winner for 12 Years a Slave!
Danai Gurira - Michonne on Walking Dead!
Martin Freeman - Watson! Tim! Bilbo! You get the idea!
Andy Serkis - In a more just world, Andy Serkis would have about 20 Oscars by this point in his career for his motion capture work alone. He's 70% why the Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy works so well.
Sterling K. Brown - If you've seen This Is Us or The People vs. OJ Simpson, you know how underrated Sterling K. Brown is (well, now he's pretty properly rated, since he just won an Emmy)
Daniel Kaluuya - who just blew people away as the star of Get Out (and also has a pretty solid episode of Black Mirror)
3. Wakanda is gloriously comic book-y in a way Marvel NEEDS
For the most part, the world of the MCU hasn't differed TOO significantly from the real world - SHIELD was basically Super-CIA, Tony Stark's tech didn't have any major effects on world governments or culture, and even the presence of actual gods and aliens was pretty limited in its effects (somewhat explained by the introduction of Damage Control in Spider-Man: Homecoming). Alien invasions, massive government programs being revealed to be secret Nazi (okay, HYDRA) schemes, actual gods running around - these are things that should have caused pretttttty massive cultural shifts in the world - but they really haven't (or, at least, we haven't SEEN it).
But Wakanda is different - it's something we don't have an easy corollary to in the real world: an afro-futuristic nation that has isolated itself from the rest of the world, with a mix of high tech / tribal culture that is wholly unique and incredibly cool. The familiarity of the rest of the MCU works well because it really drives home the grounded nature of Marvel's world - the heroes of Marvel are flawed humans who deal with relatable problems (in an exaggerated, comic book-y way). But now that that all has been established, it's time to set this world apart and get some new weird elements thrown in - and Wakanda fits that bill perfectly. Hopefully as Wakanda exposes itself and its tech to the rest of the world, we see the effects - I mean, Tony Stark is DEFINITELY gonna borrow that bleeding edge armor thing, right?
Beyond that, this is something that's really NEVER been seen in modern mainstream films - Afro-Futurism is not a concept invented by Black Panther, but it's the first time it's really being displayed to a wide audience. It's unprecedented - and since Marvel is sometimes accused of playing it too safe, it's amazing to see them take a real risk like this.
4. An (almost) all black cast is genuinely revolutionary
I've already discussed this, but the MCU is sorely lacking in diversity. The joke about how many blandly handsome white guys named Chris who head up franchises at Marvel is a funny one, but definitely indicative of how little representation really exists within the MCU. What few black/POC characters do exist are mostly sidekicks (Falcon, Rhodey) or relegated to tertiary characters who are rarely heavily involved in the plot (Heimdall). Of course, there are a few exceptions, but even in the meatier POC roles (like Gamora), they rarely get to be the drivers of the plot. But with Black Panther, it's different - the lead is black, the main villain is black, most of the side characters are black. Ultimately, these films are popcorn entertainment, but having heroes and worlds populated by more diverse casts than white guys named Chris MATTERS. Kids want to look up to people who look like they do - when every main hero is a white dude, it sends a message to women and POCs that they can be heroes, but not the MAIN hero. Wonder Woman tapped into this vein in a powerful way last year, offering up the first major female superhero film ever that wasn't a cheap cash-in (sorry, Catwoman and Elektra).
Here's a thread I saw last night that might put it in perspective, in case you don't really get what I'm trying to say:
Superhero comics, TV, and movies have always been about empowerment - about the strong protecting the weak, about the good overcoming the bad, about justice being served for all. This is a small but meaningful step for Marvel, and hopefully a herald of more to come.
Holy shit this poster sucks - just randomly-sized characters all over the place, seemingly without rhyme or reason. But honestly, I think the worse the poster, the better the movie (as far as Marvel goes). Spider-Man: Homecoming had maybe the worst poster for any superhero movie I'd seen in YEARS - yet it turned out to be one of my favorite films in the MCU canon (and overcame the awful baggage of being the SECOND Spider-Man reboot in 5 years). This poster being so unbelievably shitty is a sign that the end product will probably be great.
...but seriously, Marvel, start making better posters. It's getting embarrassing.
The YouTube channel Car Question tests the all-wheel drive systems in various soft-roaders with a “diagonal test,” which involves taking each car up a ramp at an angle. Some of these car-based SUVs and minivans were clearly not designed to go off-road, but that just makes watching them flex out and spin their wheels…
Finally, Formula One is asking its fans what they want by asking them directly in the places where they go. This week, a representative from Formula One Management hopped on Reddit to ask what they want in terms of digital content. The answer Redditors gave was pretty clear: stream the races, duh.
The most useful place for a voice-activated digital assistant isn’t your office, kitchen, or living room. It’s in your car, where your hands and eyes should be pre-occupied with driving. So Garmin put Amazon’s Alexa in a new bare-bones navigation device that will ensure you’ll never get lost, and never get lonely, on…