The best Marvel comics to read if you’re enjoying Marvel’s movies.

It’s becoming harder to find a place to jump in and start reading the comics that inspire Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. A new movie arrives almost every three months.

However, there is one solution:

Listen to comic book experts for their advice on what’s worth reading.

The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane hosted a panel discussion on comics in the real world last Sunday, May 28. The panel is part of the Marvel exhibition in Brisbane. The guests shared their expertise on comics  and the Marvel Universe – in print, and on screen.

The GOMA website summarised the career of each guest:

  • Professor Jason Bainbridge, Head of the School of Communication, University of South Australia
  • Ryan Griffen, Creator of sci-fi television series Cleverman
  • Dr Naja Later, Sessional Lecturer in Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne. And Sessional Academic, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne
  • Dr Paul Mason, Lecturer in Art Direction, Griffith Film School, and comic book illustrator on Kid Phantom (Frew Publications)

I was excited to see Ryan Griffen, the creator behind the new Cleverman series, share his thoughts and expertise. The season one story arc and plot were excellent.

Dr. Paul Mason is the skilled artist behind the new Kid Phantom comic from Frew Publications based in Sydney, Australia. It is always worth listening to Paul’s insights.

And for the first time, I thought it was exciting and interesting to listen to Dr. Naja Later, Prof. Jason Bainbridge, and the panel MC Scott Stephens.

Goma Panel Guests shared which comics are excellent “jumping in” points for new readers. Here’s their recommendations:

Ryan Griffen – Black Panther And The Crew (2017)

Paul Mason – Fantastic Four 1960’s collected editions or omnibuses

Naja Later – Bucky Barnes as Captain America (2004 – 2010)

Jason Bainbridge – The original Secret Wars (1984)

Four excellent recommendations for any Marvel fans who are enjoying the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

You can find more comics content on the Wallflyer and you can follow me, Joe, on twitter @thewallflyer.

Starting a voice acting career with Nolan North

Nolan North didn’t realise his career in voice acting would be a big deal, or how far he would travel in a career delivering voice and motion capture roles. This post summaries the stories and advice he told on voice acting careers at the Supanova Gold Coast convention in 2017.

North didn’t believe that after recording the line “Grenade! get down” over and over again that this extension of his screen acting would be a viable option.

North continued to find roles that pushed into the new voice acting profession. Like in any profession, his passion for making funny voices caught some attention. Like in any profession, actors improve by meeting and working alongside people who have a higher skill level, or more years of experience. An emerging actor, or even an experienced actor, can always benefit from being willing to learn from new experiences.

The actors job, according to North: “To me, an actor’s job is to deliver a performance. To deliver what I am supposed to.”

Physical acting skills developed and enlisted to build character with gesture and posture, flowed into motion capture sessions. North called on his physical acting repertoire to deliver a performance.

He confides that the willingness to play make believe remains an essential part of acting and creativity.

There’s a clash, however, between the logical, bottom-line focused thinking of delivering a performance, and the creative, powerful thinking of belief and imagination that can be traced back to childhood games. Balance and flexibility, and the ability to retain some autonomy to be creative and play, even when working toward a deadline, comes across as vital in creative fields, and particularly essential to voice acting careers.

Technical skill is important – repeating movements that match up with the direction players want to send the character in with a touch to a screen, control stick, or their W, A, S, and D keys, is one example North highlighted.

Being able to crouch, walk, and sprint from zero, ninety, one hundred and thirty, and one hundred and eighty degree directions from a standing position can prove difficult. North finds that the choreography difficult to repeat, but the technical skill and endurance of moving in different directions cannot be understated. He still dislikes going from a crouching position to sprint backward – sprint 130 degrees back. This type of cardio is a tough workout on an actor’s thighs and shins.

Another reality is that voice actors sometimes fall out the loop – their character directions might change, and their are no realistic channels for the news to reach the actor.

North has found out about dramatic character changes from social media questions often long before he receives a brief or update. This appears to be the reality of a busy corporate decision making network running at a different pace to the professional life of an actor.

In summary, North says that playing iconic roles represents a responsibility to be taken seriously. Consider the other actors in the field. Ask if they are well known for voicing a certain role before. Weigh up whether it fits with your career to taken on a character voices and brought to life by another actor.

And on that topic, North comment in a few lines on his impact created through voicing Deadpool.

You can find more games and film related content on the wallflyer.wordpress.com and you can follow me, Joe, on twitter @thewallflyer

 

 

How to treat fans well, with actor David Boreanaz.

After a long weekend at Supanova, an Australian Comics, Film, Games, and Anime expo, One of the standout moments was a QandA panel with actor David Boreanaz. This post is a summary of how David Boreanaz interacted and treated fans. He treated fans well, and some of his choices stand up as good ways to treat fans.

He invited a young fan and her mum onstage, to sit on the celebrity couch.

This young fan was happy to sit and play on her mum’s phone, but did not want to interact with Boreanaz. Neither did she want to accept any chocolate from him. No doubt, she is a smart fan.

This was impressive since there is some danger in audience participation, regardless of the context in any theatre. It’s impressive that he could put a young fan under the age of 5 at ease for an hour long panel. His did not condescend, speaking across to the audience, and to her. I think this worked toward a calming atmosphere.

He insisted that one fan call her mum, who is avid fan not able to reach Supanova, and spoke to her through the phone and microphone. Her disbelief and shock was enormous.

Another risk an actor could take at a convention is allowing outside calls into a Q and A session. With some charm (and boldly inviting himself to dinner) Boreanaz chatted through the phone, putting his fan at ease. Openness in the face of risk, and willingness to be truthful and transparent with what he felt and wanted in the moment came across in this part of the Q and A.

He was open and honest, and standing up for his experience and opinions working through controversial moments in the Bones and Angel

Without spoilers, many fans expressed varied emotional reactions to the endings of several, final episodes. In response, Boreanaz sympathised briefly with fans, but also expressed his enthusiasm for change, for new characters, for growth, and development. This could become controversial easily, but Boreanaz was diplomatic in standing up for his experience and opinions.

For example, when challenged about acting in Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the content of the show described by one fan as “teeny, pop-stuff” (while the audience groaned in protest) Boreanaz replied by asking “What would Joss Whedon think?”.

With Whedon’s reputation as a writer, who delves into deeper character recesses, there is an argument against the Buffy as a superficial, fizzy and flashy show. Think back to Loki and Black Widow’s exchange in The Avengers movie, or the deeper themes of abandonment in the first Toy Story film. Boreanaz is informed about the wider context of Whedon’s work. He can defend their collaborations.

The level of openness, honesty, respect, but also confidence and diplomacy, came across throughout the panel. When asking about Tim Tams, the audience threw the biscuits to Boreanaz. They must have enjoyed the panel.

You can find more film related content here, and you can follow me, Joe, on twitter @thewallflyer.

Five reasons why Maurice is a good father in Beauty and the Beast (2017)

One performance in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (2017) I most enjoyed was Kevin Kline as Maurice. I thought he captured several good parenting skills in his portrayal of the inventive father of avid-reader, and protagonist Belle. This post is a list of how well Maurice models good parenting.

Spoiler warning – this post contains plot spoilers specific to the 2017 Beauty and the Beast film.

The Positive Parenting Program (The Triple P, an Australian initiative) presents good resources for families. They teach techniques to raise happier kids. They encourage parents to feel confident they are doing the right thing. They instruct parents how to take care of themselves as well.

One blog post from Matt Sanders of the Triple P program describes the five things that fathers and father figures should know.

Here’s how Maurice stacks up next to those ideas:

#1 Talk to your kids – Maurice and Belle share some of the most powerful conversations in the film.

This is a foregone conclusion. Maurice respects Belle, and speaks to her as an equal. On to the next one.

#2 Play with your kids – Building intricate things is one of Maurice’s skills, and he created a finely crafted baby rattle for Belle to play with.

It’s easy to picture Belle and Maurice playing with various micro mechanical projects together. Belle was able to design and implement a donkey-powered washing machine early in the film with her technical knowledge, after all.

#3 Set a good example – Of all the people in the community, Maurice is the only one to stand up to Gaston. This turns out to be costly, since Gaston is a neanderthal with a mind for wily strategy.

Maurice aims to be upstanding in all he does, regardless of who is watching. Except for maybe one lapse in judgement. He tries to strike Gaston with an open hand. In his defence, Gaston had verbally assaulted his daughter, attempted to murder him, and was casually gas lighting him in front of the town. Extreme conditions, for sure.

#4 Keep your vaccinations up to date – While vaccination would not enter mainstream medicine until the late 18th Century, Maurice protects himself and Bell from disease. This is a key plot point in the film.

Belle and Maurice move from Paris to the country to escape a plague. Belle’s mother died from infection. Maurice was doing everything he could.

#5 Get screened for depression – Despite Maurice being a model citizen, Gaston disparages his mental state, and a dour coachman hauls him off to the asylum.

His mental health remains sound, despite these assaults. He speaks in an even, conversational way to the coachman from the Asylum after he escapes the asylum’s padded and barred carriage. It is one sign that Maurice endures pain and grief, but resists violence and despair. His positive mental state persists.

At the end of the film, Maurice has moved from clockwork and metal crafts to painting. He appears calm, perhaps taking time to recover from his ordeal, and celebrate his daughters wedding by capturing the moment with water colours on canvas. But this is why care for and checking on mental health must take priority – like Maurice, a person with depression can appear find on the surface, but in reality, need more help. let’s hope he finds what he needs.

The original blog post with information for fathers and father figures can be found on the Triple P Blog, and you can read more about the Triple P initiative on their website.

This post was written by Joe at The Wallflyer. You can find more posts here at The Wallflyer, and you can follow me on Twitter for more updates.

Here’s a list of all the books and writing references in Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Last week, Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast arrived in cinemas. While most of the world saw the movie release on March 17, Australia was one week behind with a March 23 release date. Regardless, the movie celebrates reading and books through avid-reader, and protagonist, Belle.

This post is a comprehensive list of the books and writing referenced in the new, live action film.

1. Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare – 1623 folio

In the initial opening song, Belle tells a surprised gentleman about a book she just finished reading. The red and gold volume she carries is about “two lovers in fair Verona”. This may be a small anachronism. Romeo and Juliet would have been a key show performed by acting troupes, but not published yet since Belle lives in early 1700’s and as a result. History may be on the side of the producers, however. A folio version of the Shakespeare play was available from around 1623 onward.

A second reference to the works of William Shakespeare appears when Belle recites a quote from A Midsummer Nights Dream:

“Love can transpose to form and dignity. Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind”

2. A Crystal Forest – William Sharp – 1913

While definitely an anachronism, the poem Belle selects to describe the ice and snow cloaking Beast’s garden could is definitely evocative and descriptive. William Sharp published a book of poems in 1913 that contained A Crystal Forest. Belle does not complete the poem, but the last line of the poem from where Belle leaves the reading ties up the sense of winter cold:

Each branch, each twig, each blade of
grass.

Seems clad miraculously with glass:
Above the ice-bound streamlet bends.

Each frozen fern with crystal ends.

3. Vulgate Cycle – Prose Lancelot – 1210 – 1230

Belle and the Beast share a connection over reading and stories. The Beast slowly warms to the idea of connection with another person after long-term isolation from the world at the hands of the enchantment.

As part of this process of reconnecting, he finds the story of Lancelot and Guinevere. This version is likely a collection of stories from a legendary text called the Vulgate Cycle. This cycle consists of five volumes telling the story of King Arthur and Camelot.

Lancelot and Guinevere’s romance takes place in one of these volumes.

The Prose Lancelot collects several of the five together. Beast most likely reads from the collected edition Prose Lancelot.

Another interesting point – The Vulgate Cycle contains the stories of Merlin, King Arthur, and the sword Excalibur. These stories form the basis of another Disney film The Sword in the Stone.

4. Sleeping Beauty – 1697

This one is not explicitly stated. While no confirmation that Sleeping Beauty features as Belle’s favourite book, there are some hints that Belle is describing Sleeping Beauty when she sings “here’s where she meets prince charming…”.

Reddit user comatoseduck identified some evidence for this theory:

Far off places: … a different kingdom.
Daring Sword Fights: Prince Phillip fights Maleficent (who had turned into a dragon) with a sword.
Magic Spells: Maleficent, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather all do magic in the movie.
A Prince in Disguise: When Aurora meets Phillip, she doesn’t know he’s a prince.

Four resources where useful for gathering this information:

  1. The Genius.com article on Romeo and Juliet.
  2. The TimelessMyths.com article on The Vulgate Cycle.
  3. The Internet Archive copy of Poems, by William Sharp.
  4. The Fan Theories sub-Reddit page.

This post was written by Joe at The Wallflyer. You can find more posts here at The Wallflyer, and you can follow me on Twitter for more updates.

The first Handmaid’s Tale trailer quotes The Book of Matthew

The first trailer for Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale contains one verse from the book of Matthew, and this post is a short summary of the trailer, and an interpretation of the scene in which the verse appears. You can watch the trailer on the Hulu Youtube Channel.

The trailer for Hulu’s series – based on the book by Margaret Atwood – depicts a slow attack on women’s rights, culminating in hypocrisy, captivity, and violence:

  1. A regime run by white men takes control.
  2. Women, regardless of their racial backgrounds, are no longer permitted to hold jobs or property.
  3. Indoctrination centres coerce and control the captive women.
  4. They become handmaids to powerful, white men, bearing their children. Or they work in toxic conditions as slaves, presumably without medical support

It is an abhorrent future, but one that is based on facts. Chief Culture Writer, and editorial board member of The Guardian, Charlotte Higgins (2016) discussed this question with Margaret Atwood:

Higgins: Are we in Gilead – the America of The Handmaid’s Tale?
Atwood: “Close, yes. For sure.”
And everything in it [The Handmaid’s Tale], she says, was based on things that had actually happened.

One final scene at the end of the trailer ends with a verse and violence.

A woman reads a Bible verse like as slogan – it is Matthew 5:5. Offred then reads a counter argument from later in the same section – Matthew 5:10.

This particular section in The Book of Matthew is named The Beatitudes. These statements can be interpreted as support for those persecuted by an unethical authority. This  fits the scene show in the trailer.

I interpret this scene, of why the verse was included, as a biting message about hypocrisy. The woman holding the grey rod wears a placid mask. Her words are calmly placated to the point of being patronising.

Offred shows the hypocritical act of reading a Bible verse like a slogan by quoting the rest of the Bible verse in more detail. Offred is punished, and the trailer cuts to black. I was left with a strong sense of Offred’s ongoing defiance in the face of overwhelming odds.

And you can read the full interview with Margaret Atwood on The Guardian website.

The Handmaid’s Tale arrives on Hulu on April 26.

Netflix’s Iron Fist scheduled only limited time for martial arts choreography

In an interview with the Telegraph journalist Tristram Fane Saunders, Iron Fist actor Finn Jones described the limited time that the Netflix and Marvel Studios production team set aside to practice the martial arts choreography required:

[H]e [Finn Jones] only had three weeks to train before filming. “Unfortunately, with the filming schedule, I wasn’t given as much time as I would have liked to continue the training.” Shooting for 12 or 14 hours a day took its toll. “I was learning those fight scenes just 15 minutes before we shot them, because that was the schedule… It would be 2am, 3am, I’d just done a long day of work, and usually the stunt department would come up and say ‘Hey, right, we’ve got this huge 30 person fight and you’ve got to learn it right now.’ So I was learning it on the spot, within 15-20 minutes, and then shooting it. That was the reality for six months.”

This sort of tight schedule does not leave room for the show, ostensibly about the best martial artist in the Marvel Universe, to even attempt to match the standard of martial arts scenes set by some of the best martial arts films created and screened in the past decade. Namely, The Raid and its sequel The Raid 2. These are two intense films.

Comparing the martial arts scene planning in Iron Fist to the successful Raid films directed by Gareth Evans shows a road not taken by Netflix and Marvel Studios.

It is likely that casting actors with diverse backgrounds, and training in martial arts and combat practices, would have contributed to a better film experience overall. At the very least, it would have addressed the historical problems of race and bias associated with Iron Fist. In an interview with Fred Topel at Crave Oline (2014) Evans described the process of creating a martial arts fight scene:

Note: Silat is a style of Indonesian martial arts.

I think a lot of times it comes down to what the fighter’s background is. For Iko and Cecep [Arif Rahman] when they fight, obviously we use more pure Silat. Even then, different styles of Silat inside that fight. When it comes to Iko fighting in the prison riot against 15-20 people, those guys all come from different martial arts backgrounds. Once we figure out what their background is, we try to design their fighting skill to be relevant to what they study.

Had Marvel Studios and Netflix invested time and planning into casting actors experienced in martial artist, they could have produced scenes closer to the current standard of martial arts film – examples like The Raid and it’s sequel. Considering the high standard of direction and scene construction in other Marvel Studios work, this comes as a surprise.

You can read the complete interview with Gareth Evans at Crave Online

The Telegraph interview with Jones, despite the inflammatory title, offers a fair summary of the facts surrounding Marvel Studio’s and Netflix’s Iron Fist.