Director Ryan Coogler took to Marvel.com to share a heartfelt tribute to the now late ‘Black Panther‘ star, Chadwick Boseman. The world was recently shocked by the news of Boseman’s passing. He had been diagnosed with colon cancer nearly 4 years ago. In Coogler’s message, he mentions that Boseman truly valued his privacy and that he too was unaware of the hardships Boseman was going through behind closed doors. Chadwick Boseman was 43.
Before sharing my thoughts on the passing of the great Chadwick Boseman, I first offer my condolences to his family who meant so very much to him. To his wife, Simone, especially.
I inherited Marvel and the Russo Brothers’ casting choice of T’Challa. It is something that I will forever be grateful for. The first time I saw Chad’s performance as T’Challa, it was in an unfinished cut of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. I was deciding whether or not directing BLACK PANTHER was the right choice for me. I’ll never forget, sitting in an editorial suite on the Disney Lot and watching his scenes. His first with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, then, with the South African cinema titan, John Kani as T’Challa’s father, King T’Chaka. It was at that moment I knew I wanted to make this movie. After Scarlett’s character leaves them, Chad and John began conversing in a language I had never heard before. It sounded familiar, full of the same clicks and smacks that young black children would make in the States. The same clicks that we would often be chided for being disrespectful or improper. But, it had a musicality to it that felt ancient, powerful, and African.
In my meeting after watching the film, I asked Nate Moore, one of the producers of the film, about the language. “Did you guys make it up?” Nate replied, “that’s Xhosa, John Kani’s native language. He and Chad decided to do the scene like that on set, and we rolled with it.” I thought to myself. “He just learned lines in another language, that day?” I couldn’t conceive how difficult that must have been, and even though I hadn’t met Chad, I was already in awe of his capacity as actor.
I learned later that there was much conversation over how T’Challa would sound in the film. The decision to have Xhosa be the official language of Wakanda was solidified by Chad, a native of South Carolina, because he was able to learn his lines in Xhosa, there on the spot. He also advocated for his character to speak with an African accent, so that he could present T’Challa to audiences as an African king, whose dialect had not been conquered by the West.
I finally met Chad in person in early 2016, once I signed onto the film. He snuck past journalists that were congregated for a press junket I was doing for CREED, and met with me in the green room. We talked about our lives, my time playing football in college, and his time at Howard studying to be a director, about our collective vision for T’Challa and Wakanda. We spoke about the irony of how his former Howard classmate Ta-Nehisi Coates was writing T’Challa’s current arc with Marvel Comics. And how Chad knew Howard student Prince Jones, who’s murder by a police officer inspired Coates’ memoir Between The World and Me.
I noticed then that Chad was an anomaly. He was calm. Assured. Constantly studying. But also kind, comforting, had the warmest laugh in the world, and eyes that seen much beyond his years, but could still sparkle like a child seeing something for the first time.
That was the first of many conversations. He was a special person. We would often speak
about heritage and what it means to be African. When preparing for the film, he would ponder every decision, every choice, not just for how it would reflect on himself, but how those choices could reverberate. “They not ready for this, what we are doing…” “This is Star Wars, this is Lord of the Rings, but for us… and bigger!” He would say this to me while we were struggling to finish a dramatic scene, stretching into double overtime. Or while he was covered in body paint, doing his own stunts. Or crashing into frigid water, and foam landing pads. I would nod and smile, but I didn’t believe him. I had no idea if the film would work. I wasn’t sure I knew what I was doing. But I look back and realize that Chad knew something we all didn’t. He was playing the long game. All while putting in the work. And work he did.
He would come to auditions for supporting roles, which is not common for lead actors in big budget movies. He was there for several M’Baku auditions. In Winston Duke’s, he turned a chemistry read into a wrestling match. Winston broke his bracelet. In Letitia Wright’s audition for Shuri, she pierced his royal poise with her signature humor, and would bring about a smile to T’Challa’s face that was 100% Chad.
While filming the movie, we would meet at the office or at my rental home in Atlanta, to discuss lines and different ways to add depth to each scene. We talked costumes, military practices. He said to me “Wakandans have to dance during the coronations. If they just stand there with spears, what separates them from Romans?” In early drafts of the script. Eric Killmonger’s character would ask T’Challa to be buried in Wakanda. Chad challenged that and asked, what if Killmonger asked to be buried somewhere else?
Chad deeply valued his privacy, and I wasn’t privy to the details of his illness. After his family released their statement, I realized that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him. Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display. I will tell stories about being there for some of the brilliant sparks till the end of my days. What an incredible mark he’s left for us.
I haven’t grieved a loss this acute before. I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say, that we weren’t destined to see. It leaves me broken knowing that I won’t be able to watch another close-up of him in the monitor again or walk up to him and ask for another take.
It hurts more to know that we can’t have another conversation, or facetime, or text message exchange. He would send vegetarian recipes and eating regimens for my family and me to follow during the pandemic. He would check in on me and my loved ones, even as he dealt with the scourge of cancer.
In African cultures we often refer to loved ones that have passed on as ancestors. Sometimes you are genetically related. Sometimes you are not. I had the privilege of directing scenes of Chad’s character, T’Challa, communicating with the ancestors of Wakanda. We were in Atlanta, in an abandoned warehouse, with bluescreens, and massive movie lights, but Chad’s performance made it feel real. I think it was because from the time that I met him, the ancestors spoke through him. It’s no secret to me now how he was able to skillfully portray some of our most notable ones. I had no doubt that he would live on and continue to bless us with more. But it is with a heavy heart and a sense of deep gratitude to have ever been in his presence, that I have to reckon with the fact that Chad is an ancestor now. And I know that he will watch over us, until we meet again.
– Ryan Coogler
Loki | Fun And Entertaining As It Feels Wholly Original
This will be an entirely spoiler-free review of episodes 1 and 2 of Loki.
The last time we saw the God of mischief was in 2019. Well, it was actually 2012- but in 2019. If you cast your mind back to Avengers: Endgame, we last saw Loki when the Avengers travelled back in time to 2012. The Hulk bursts out of the stairwell causing the Tesseract to slide across the floor, landing right at Loki’s feet who picks it up and escapes in a portal to who knows where. Well, now we get to find out where exactly that version of Loki from 2012 went and what happened to him next.
I won’t divulge any plot details from either of the first two episodes that aren’t featured in the trailer so that when you watch them you can go in completely fresh, but the first two episodes of Loki set the show up in a really fun and dynamic way and it really feels like the start of a good TV show and not just a 6-hour long film.
The show kicks off right where we last saw Loki and he ends up imprisoned by the TVA- the Time Variance Authority. The TVA help make sure the timeline stays intact and Agent Mobius (played by Owen Wilson) and Loki must work together to stop a threat to the timeline.
Even from just the first two episodes, Loki already has such an energetic and mischievous feel to it. It feels very much akin to a crime thriller, but it still has that fun, Marvel tone to it too. Much like WandaVision it also feels quite different to some of the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But it is still rooted in that Marvel style and feel so fans of the MCU will absolutely still enjoy it, but Loki is still bringing something new to the table and it feels fresh and original.
Loki is fun and entertaining as it feels wholly original but it’s also very emotional too. As with any new Marvel project, there will of course be call-backs to moments in previous films and in the character’s past. Whilst perhaps there’s a bit more Thor: The Dark World than you might want the character Loki is such a fascinating and compelling one and in the first two episodes alone we get to see the emotional and sensitive side of him much more.
Tom Hiddleston, as always, is absolutely great as the God of mischief and he looks like he’s having such a fun time playing Loki. Also joining him is Owen Wilson who’s also really good and makes a welcome addition to the MCU. The two of them have a really strong chemistry together and make a good on-screen pairing, and when you add in the nice, fresh production design, overall Marvel have got yet another winner on their hands.
Much like the two other Marvel shows this year, the first couple of episodes are a really intriguing set-up with lots of promise for what’s to follow. It will be interesting to see where Loki goes as a character over the rest of the series; WandaVision saw Wanda’s evolution into the Scarlet Witch and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier saw Sam Wilson take up the mantle of Captain America so as to where Loki ends up at the end of episode 6 we’ll just have to wait and see. But the first two episodes are hugely entertaining, with the second being my favourite of the two. It’s different, it’s mischievous and if the first two are anything to go by, it looks as if there are lots of surprises and a lot of excitement coming our way over the next few weeks.
Loki starts streaming on Disney+ June 9.
Marvel Studios’ Eternals | Official Teaser
The Eternals, a race of immortal beings with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years, reunite to battle the evil Deviants.
Action, adventure, drama
November 5, 2021
Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry
How Much Does The Netflix-Sony Deal Affect The “Streaming Wars?”
It feels like every few days now that, yet another streaming service is announced; HBO Max, Disney Plus, Paramount Plus, Peacock, the list goes on. So, it was very refreshing to see the news broke recently that streaming giant Netflix had made a deal with film studio, Sony to distribute all Sony films exclusively on Netflix after their initial theatrical run as of 2022. This is undeniably a huge deal, but how much does it affect the streaming wars?
Well first, this is a huge win for customers and fans of films and TV shows because we get more content on Netflix and we don’t have to pay for yet another streaming service. That is fairly simple and obvious, but how and why is this a win for Netflix? Well, often people’s biggest concern or complaint about Netflix is its lack of interesting intellectual property (IP), and that eventually, all film studios would leave Netflix to make their own streaming service and it would have to rely exclusively on original content. That started to become a reality; at one point, Netflix bought the streaming rights to many Disney films, Warner Bros films, Paramount films, etc. and when these studios saw the success of Netflix, they took their IPs back and made their own streaming services. And when competing with streaming services like HBO Max, which has the rights to DC Comics, Harry Potter, Mad Max, or streaming services like Disney Plus which has the rights to Star Wars, Marvel, National Geographic, Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ couldn’t really compete with that. It really seemed like only a matter of time before Sony announced their new streaming service, but they didn’t. They cut a deal with Netflix and integrated into a pre-existing streaming service. This means that Netflix will have exclusive streaming rights to Spider-Man, Ghostbusters, Jumanji, and after he left Miramax after the Weinstein scandal, Quentin Tarantino’s future films will be Sony properties too. This won’t just be an initial boost of subscribers, but the consistent influx of brand-new Sony films, like the much-anticipated sequel to the Oscar winning animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, or Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage, going to Netflix will retain subscribers too. Obviously then, this is a huge win for Netflix but why is it so good for Sony?
Well in my opinion, Sony integrating into an established streaming service is the best move they could’ve made. It’ll save them money on creating a streaming service, advertising their own streaming service, making original content for that streaming service. Instead, they can slip into Netflix’s catalogue easily and cheaply. Also, Netflix isn’t just another streaming service. Netflix is the original streaming service. If it weren’t for Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max wouldn’t exist. Netflix is the biggest streaming service in the world, clocking in at a whopping 203 million subscribers, over double Disney Plus’ total and considering that Disney is one of the biggest media conglomerates in the world it having half of Netflix’s subscribers goes to show how successful and powerful Netflix is. So, Sony going to them is a huge benefit for Sony; Netflix is already available world-wide, compared to Warner Bros’ HBO Max which is only available in the US for now, Netflix has an established brand, most people are already subscribed to Netflix so, as I said, Sony really can slip in quietly without doing the leg work of creating a new streaming service.
How does this impact the wider streaming wars? Well, Sony have just given Netflix a massive boost and this is a huge deal. As I said earlier, Netflix’s main concern was a lack of IP, well now they have a major film studio in their pocket that can compete with the likes of Warner Bros or Paramount, as well as brand new films every month or even more often from Sony. Netflix is basically now operating as if two major studios were making original content for it, as opposed to just one. Regardless of this Sony deal, though, Netflix has something you can’t buy or manufacture or cut a deal for, which will always give it the lead in the streaming wars: its reputation. Netflix is so influential that its name has become a verb; Netflix and Chill, and that’s when you know you’ve made it (look at Google compared to Bing, Bing might be better in every way, but no-one is ever saying “hold on, let me Bing it”). Netflix hasn’t quite hit eponym status (when a brand name virtually replaces the name of the actual item, like Jacuzzi or Band-Aid), but it’s slowly getting closer and closer. It’s definitely synonymous with streaming; in 2017 there was a survey in the US in which people were asked to name their favourite Netflix shows, many people named shows that aren’t from Netflix, they were just using Netflix as a synonym for streaming. But most importantly, Netflix is the incumbent king of streaming. And it’s very difficult, even for a legendary company like Disney, to defeat the incumbent. Netflix has become a staple must-have thing in people’s homes, it replaced traditional TV for many people; people won’t unsubscribe from Netflix just because Disney have a new streaming service; they’ll just pay for both. Netflix has also had a huge head start, they’ve been doing this since 2007 they have had over a decade longer than other studios to perfect every detail about the content, the user-interface, the algorithm, which all takes years to do.
My point is that even if Disney Plus, which is Netflix’s biggest competition, surpass Netflix in subscribers, in quality, they will never, can never, surpass Netflix’s reputation and impact simply due to the fact that Netflix did it first. Netflix has a monopoly, not on streaming itself, but on the way in which we perceive streaming. Everything from the fact that, as I said, Netflix is synonymous with streaming and has become a verb, to the way Netflix’s original shows and films have a short, quippy Netflix logo accompanied by the now famous ‘baduum’ which now every streaming service has some variation of. Which seems obvious, but it isn’t. No TV network or film-studio had a short intro like that for content before Netflix did. They, of course, have long logos (even Netflix has one of those that only plays in cinemas), but not a quick, one-note, two-second logo. Because of things like this, Netflix will always have a lead in the streaming wars, they pioneered streaming. Netflix also have made such an impact on the world of film and TV that they became the first streaming service to win a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and even an Oscar. They’ve worked with acclaimed actors; they even made a Scorsese film in 2019. They have firmly cemented themselves in this industry and they aren’t going anywhere. So, to actually get back to my point, the way this Sony deal with Netflix affects the streaming wars is by adding to Netflix’s longevity, certifying that it won’t be threatened by major studios starting their own services. Netflix have been consistently signing deals with popular directors, actors, writers. They’ve worked with Martin Scorsese, Guillermo Del Toro, the Coen Brothers, Alfonso Cuarón, but this is the first deal they’ve signed, not just with a person who agrees to do three films, but an entire studio for exclusive rights to everything they make.
The streaming wars, though, aren’t what most people envision when you say ‘war’. There won’t be a winner of this war. It will go on forever, companies like Apple or Amazon aren’t fighting to become the next Netflix, they just see how lucrative the industry is and want a slither of the pie. There will be services at the top and services at the bottom but to say that there will be a single winner is just wrong. I remember Disney Plus was prophesized to be the death of Netflix, but it barely left a dent, and a year after Disney Plus’ launch, Netflix was operating as if nothing happened, and Disney Plus is operating and growing too. Disney hasn’t taken any of Netflix’s pie, they’ve just baked their own. In the world of filmmaking and distribution, Disney may be the top of the food chain, but streaming is Netflix’s house and Netflix has had its foot firmly in the door far too long to be thrown out regardless, but this new deal with Sony extends its lead and industry dominance even further.
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