Are There Too Many Superhero Movies?

The present obsession of Hollywood with superhero movies can be traced directly to the beloved superhero movie, Spider-Man (2002). Although superhero flicks were made before this movie as well, they were quite rare, and far between. All that changed with Spider-Man. This movie singlehandedly showed the Hollywood producers how they can squeeze out every ounce of fascination that kids, as well as adults, had for superhero comics by showing their favorite superheroes saving the day. What has resulted is a disturbing obsession of the producers with every comic character they can get their hands on. You switch on your TV, only to discover a new groundbreaking superhero movie that is guaranteed to make at least half a dozen records at the box office. But, to paraphrase a supervillain, when everything is a blockbuster, nothing is.

Lately, many people feel “overburdened” excitation. We can only get so excited about superhero movies when every other movie being released is a superhero movie. But, you know that within a week or two all those water cooler discussions will be on this very movie itself, and you grudgingly convince yourself that you “want” to watch the movie, just so that you are not left out of those discussions. Now, two questions demand answers here. How many superhero movies will it take for people to get sick of them? When is it going to stop, if ever?

superhero-batman

Let’s find an answer to the first question. DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. have together released 14 comic based superhero movies, which doesn’t even include the animated movies – and it’s only going to catch more momentum. Between 2017 and 2020, they will release 8 more movies featuring various characters of the Justice League. Marvel’s list is even more impressive. It has released a total of 39 movies since the beginning of this century. By the end of 2019, that number will be 49. Phew! That’s a lot of superhero movies. Mind you, this tally does not even consider all those TV movies, direct-to-video, animated movies, and short films. It is humanly impossible to keep yourself excited for all of these movies, as well as the other movie genres that Hollywood keeps churning out.

Now, the second question is a bit tricky. Just look at the numbers above. These studios are working hard to churn out more than 70 movies in just two decades. Why are they doing it? Obviously, because they are the most commercially bankable movies. The latest Marvel commodity, Captain America: Civil War, ended up grossing $1.132 billion. DC’s Batman vs Superman raked in box office collections that were just shy of $900 million, and yet, its producers felt that the movie performed “below expectations.” A movie earned them close to a billion dollars, and they consider it an underperforming flick. What’s more, that underperforming movie is guaranteed to continue to bring them more money by way of licensing and merchandise. Can you now see where this is going? Why would anyone, who is profit-minded, in their right minds try to invest in riskier business propositions, when there is a wealth to be made in far less risky options! After all, everyone has a right to make profits, right?

superhero-superman

It’s not like all these movies are bad either. Granted, Suicide Squad was a disaster, BvS did not live up to the hype,and Iron Man 3 was crap. Often enough, we do get gems like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, Deadpool, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and the likes. These movies set an example for how superhero movies should be. But, other filmmakers hardly take any notes.

So, will Marvel and DC finally learn that their misadventures are simply killing the superhero fascination of the comic lovers unceremoniously, and tame the number of flicks they produce? Short answer: no. The thing is that the US audience is not the only target segment for filmmakers these days. For instance, 62% of the box office collections of BvS came from international markets, while the US accounted for only 37.9%. The international entertainment industry is a lot tougher for Hollywood studios than the domestic market. There, they have to compete with the local film industry too. In those markets, superhero movies are an assured success. China, UK, France, Germany, India, Brazil, Mexico, and many more countries are all promising a huge audience, with vastly varied tastes. There is a lot of money to be made, and not enough can be invested to cater to each country’s taste. So, why not follow a general strategy to cater to all those populations.

So, to answer the second question, the superhero movie mania is not going to end anytime soon, even if they won’t perform well domestically. The new trend is that many of these movies are being released internationally, even before they are released in the US. Be prepared to have all your childhood heroes ruined for you. Superhero movies air almost every week on various cable channels, so if you have a Comcast TV package, you can watch these movies all the time!

superhero-iron-man

Is ‘Bad Moms’ a Good Portrayal of Women in The Media?

bad-moms-in-theaters

Bad Moms recently hit theaters, and appeals to a very specific, but huge, demographic in the US – moms. The movie is about three women who are all over-exhausted by their motherhood duties, and are going on a fun spree; they are taking to self-indulgence to enjoy some freedom from their family duties. This movie has as much to do with motherhood as much as The Hangover had to do with fatherhood. You do remember that Phil (Bradley Cooper) was a father, don’t you? Anyway, Bad Moms aimed to be a female version of The Hangover, which is to say that the movie aimed pretty high. When you are aiming high, you have to deliver — at that, Bad Moms has not completely failed or really succeeded.

Another reason for us pulling the Hangover reference is that the directors of Bad Moms, Scott Moore and Jon Lucas, are the same guys who wrote the screenplay for The Hangover. So, you will find their fingerprints all over the movie.

bad-moms-movie

Let it be said that Bad Moms is really funny. So, once they were done with men, and finally put The Hangover series to rest, perhaps they decided to take on mothers? This brings us to the moms of Bad Moms. One thing you have to understand here is that this movie is nothing about motherhood. So, if you were expecting that it would provide a better insight into the life of mothers in general, then you are gravely mistaken. The directors thought that maybe having mothers party hard on the screen will somehow be better than having a bunch of single girls frolicking around with alcohol or creating mayhem in Walmart just for the thrills. For this reason, they never even tried to make the mothers convincing. The men in the movies are all objectified, and clearly have no place in these “fun” times of these mothers. If you haven’t already deciphered the clues distributed all over the place here, nothing about these women in the movie is even remotely an authentic portrayal of women in the real world.

That being said, it’s not like Scott and Jon have portrayed these moms as too outlandish either, as lot of the mistakes these women make are quite common too. However, since moms are usually portrayed as the angelic beings who never let anything happen to their babies, a lot of not-so-perfect moms hardly get any “representation” in the movies. That is, unless they are bankrupt and living in a trailer, hooked on meth, or something like that. Naturally, those mothers, who actually make more than a few mistakes during their motherhood (to be read as almost all average moms), are embarrassed to share their mistakes. But since the movie’s release, they have finally found a voice. A lot of moms are actually taking to social media to confess the blunders they committed during their motherhood. Their accounts are hilarious to say the least. So, yes, “Bad Moms” does go on to strike that special chord with the mothers.

bad-moms-mila-kunis

Still, what Mila Kunis and her band of moms do in the movie is all unlike anything that most moms would do in real life — the movie is not to be taken seriously. It is a satire. Just like The Hangover was a satire on men, Bad Moms is a satire on moms. However, one thing that deserves a special mention is the message that the bad moms are sending to the audience. Generally, in these kinds of adult-ish comedy movies, the final theme tends to carry a message that such kind of reckless behavior or lifestyle does not do anyone good. If you look at the events that happened in the Hangover trilogy, it is a wonder that all the men were alive at the end of the third movie. However, Bad Moms does not bother to make any similar messages. In the end, it leaves the audience with the feeling that being a good mom and focusing on the kids is not popular or cool anymore.

Now, although this might not be the most prevalent opinion, the number of moms who believe this are growing fast. So, is Bad Moms a good portrayal of women in the media? No, not really. But then again, it does not actually attempt to emulate real life motherhood. However, it has also made a connection with moms who know that motherhood is not all angelic and perfect. There are goofs and mishaps sometimes, and that should be accepted!  At the end of the day, Bad Moms is a comedy and everybody knows that comedies are exaggerated – just don’t take it seriously and have a good laugh. If you have a cable television subscription, you can watch Bad Moms on premium channels now!

bad-moms-kristen-bell

Can “The Secret Life Of Pets” Speak to Terrible Pet Owners?

The Secret Life of Pets is a new 3D animated comedy film that hit the theaters on July 8, 2016. The story revolves around a group of pets that live with their owner, Katie, in Manhattan, New York. It is a happy bunch consisting of a terrier (Max), tabby cat (Chloe), dachshund (Buddy), pug (Mel), and a budgerigar (Sweet Pea). Max starts feeling insecure when their owner brings home a new Newfoundland, Duke, from a pound — he gets the feeling that Katie is giving Duke more time and attention, which he is finding difficult to digest. A rivalry ensues and their lives take a turn for the worst.

Duke is not happy with the welcome Max gave him in the new house — Max giving him a cold shoulder in the new home does not go down well with him. He takes Max far away from the house to teach him a lesson; however, they are soon attacked by a group of cats, who take off their collars. They manage to escape them, but then fall into the laps of Animal Control. This is when the leader of ‘The Flushed Rabbits,’ Snowball, saves them. The gang is completely against humans, because all of its members have been mistreated or left to rot by their owners. Max and Duke convince Snowball that they have suffered the same fate and manage to get protection from the gang.

After going through many ups and downs and with a ton of help from their friends, Max and Duke get back home safely. Snowball also finds a forever home, while the rest of the gang returns to the sewers.

secret-life-of-pets-illumination

For most, this may be a light hearted comedy with two dogs fighting back to come back home, but this story also communicates a lot of things to pet owners who have been terrible to their pets. This movie has given a voice to those, whom bad pet owners do not want to hear.

First, there is the story of Duke: he was adopted from the pound because he got lost. He found a new home, but has not been able to forgive or forget his former owner. He loved him dearly, but this owner never came looking for him, which naturally left him angry. However, as the movie progresses, it is shown that Duke’s owner actually died and was not a bad pet parent; what this story does try to communicate is that pets are not just hungry for food or want their belly scratched. They also consider their owners as part of their small family and they are irreplaceable in their lives. Katie is by no means a bad owner, but Duke does miss his old buddy, because he was not someone that just fed him: he was Duke’s family. So, even though Duke found a new cozy and comfortable home, he still missed his old owner.

There is also a whole group of animals that called themselves ‘The Flushed Rabbits.’ It is just heartbreaking to see the animals think that they were treated terribly by their owners, to have been completely forgotten like that.

secret-life-of-pets

Snowball, the leader of this group, is portrayed as a villain at first – he despises the human race. They have been abandoned by the very people they loved the most and it is only fair that they are angry. They only know humans as oppressors, and the people who treated them badly and left them to die in the back alley of a big bad city. All they ever wanted was love and they were denied that. However, towards the end of the movie, when a little girl sees Snowball, she finds him absolutely adorable and starts cuddling him. He is reluctant at first, but eventually gives in to the pampering of the girl. He drops his big plan of annihilating the human race and becomes the fluffy and cute pet to that beautiful child. This was truly a heartwarming moment that showcased that all Snowball ever wanted was a little love and care. The moment he got that, there was no hatred in his heart.

The Secret Life of Pets subtly brings these very familiar scenes to terrible pet owners. The movie offers a mirror to bad pet owners by offering a voice to the neglected group of lives – their pets. It helps them realize that pets are not toys that can be simply tossed away, but loving souls who need love and care. To see when Secret Life of Pets will air in your area, subscribe to a Comcast plan and visit the guide!

secret-life-of-pets-louis-ck

Why Black-ish is a show that America needs

Black-ish is one of the quality sitcoms to hit cable television in the recent years. At the heart of the show are the Johnsons, an African American family living in the US. For the better part of the show, the focus is on comedy, of which there is a lot on the show. However, whenever it can, the show addresses a range of issues relating to the African American community. When a situation demands it, the show discusses these issues, without actually making the discussions overdramatic or didactic. More often than not, these discussions are quite emotional, rather than philosophical, which is the only way how one can do them justice on a sitcom. At the end of the day, viewers of all types of races are left with a better understanding of the world from a black family or person’s perspective and are able to relate to their woes. The way the show infuses such discussions with comedy without creating propaganda around them is particularly praiseworthy.

A show like Black-ish is highly relevant in the age of Black Lives Matter. We need more shows that enlighten people in regard to the effects of various social issues in the lives of different people – Black, Hispanic, Muslim, Women, and everyone else. But Hollywood doesn’t work like that. Show producers will not invest in a show that does not have the potential of generating high viewership. Also, taking the sides of one group might antagonize another group, resulting in decline of viewership from the latter group. To balance it all out, show creators have been treading the waters very carefully for the better part of the last three to four decades. With a few exceptions like The Wire, most shows do not touch upon the topics of gang violence, racism, police brutality, and so on. These topics are systematically avoided.

blackish-abc

Then comes Black-ish, which is not shy to discuss any of these ‘controversial’ topics. Perhaps the Johnsons can discuss these topics because they are part of a comedy show, which is, by design, supposed to be taken lightly. No network wants to end up taking on such a highly challenging task, and then end up failing miserably to connect with the audience. The humorous nature of the show somehow adds a shield to the discussion of social issues, and viewers can more easily relate to the conversation if it’s presented in that fashion.

Yes, under the capable hands of the show’s creator, Kenya Barris, the show touches upon the most raw topics with a finesse. It is pure genius at work. From time to time, the Johnsons have discussed everything – the N-word, possession of guns at home, police brutality, and the lot. And they deliver it with the power of emotions and comedy in a masterful way. Black-ish, by no way, takes a preaching tone. It is a comedy show. Even when they are discussing topics that are burning America, they never make it sound like a classroom.

blackish-family

All the discussions on such topics are designed to give realistic accounts. For instance, in the episode ‘Hope,’ three generations of Johnsons discuss police brutality and racism. All three generations express different views on the matter, but those views are all insightful and emotional. Nothing like the phony, optimistic bullsh*t or overly pessimistic situations that Hollywood is adept at churning out. Pops (Laurence Fishburne) and Ruby (Jenifer Lewis) give answers befitting the experiences of older folks, while Dre’s kids try to bring out the modern youthful ideas to the table. Then Dre explains the cautious optimism that the entire Black community felt when Obama took on the duty of the President of the United States, while they were keeping their fingers crossed, fearing someone would shoot him before he even became the President.

While the older family members explained the nature of the situation in the country to their kids, they did not become vehement in their answers at the cost of being too honest. This is exactly what today’s parents should provide to their children: an account of everything, good and bad. This leaves the next generation responsible for how they want their world to be. In fact, that is exactly what Barris is trying to do. Black-ish is basically his personal letter to his children explaining some of the most important issues that the 21st century Americans face in an optimistic and humorous way.

Yes, the creators have used humor deftly to help the viewer relate with the show. No preaching. Just highlighting and touching on the important things, because it’s high time these topics are discussed. That’s why we need a show like Black-ish now more than ever. If you have a cable television provider, you can watch Black-ish every week.

blackish-laurence-fishburne