The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a video I’ve been working on for a while and I’m very excited about this one. Once again, I get to make a video where I talk about superhero movies. Sam Rami’s Spider-Man trilogy really was a game-changer for the genre and I’ll be forever grateful for that. However, this time I also get to talk about one of the best and most beloved animated shows in history, “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
I recently rediscovered this show on Netflix and I’ve been eager to talk about it. This video is my first deep dive into the larger concepts behind this amazing show, as well as those that played out in the Raimi trilogy. Specifically, this video focuses on forgiveness and how it can give a story dramatic weight.
I hope this video gets a good response because I had a lot of fun making it. I hope you enjoy it too.
For a good four months out of the year, I build my entire Sundays around watching football. Those are often some of the happiest days of the year for me. I’m also not alone. Here in America, football is the most popular sport by a stunningly wide margin. Despite recent political whining, the public’s appetite for football is as strong as ever.
However, in the time between the Super Bowl and the NFL draft, there’s a gaping hole in the sports world that neither hocky nor basketball can adequately fill. For decades, some have tried to fill that hole with spring football, but with limited success. As a lifelong football fan, I really wanted at least one to succeed, if only to make the wait for the next NFL season more bearable.
That was why I was so heartbroken in 2020 when the second iteration of the XFL went under, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This league had everything going for it. I even cheered it on. It had all the makings of a successful league that could finally succeed long term.
Then, COVID-19 happened it all went to hell. I cannot overstate how disappointing that was to me and fellow football fans.
For once, this wasn’t a matter of a league not doing things the right way. It was just a matter of the worst possible timing. Seriously, who could’ve predicted that a once-in-a-century pandemic would come in and upend the world, as we knew it?
Even though the XFL was eventually brought back from the brink of oblivion by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, my hopes are still very fragile. Earlier this year, the XFL tried to make waves by reaching out to the Canadian Football League for a potential collaboration. That went nowhere and understandably so. Neither league is in a position to take bold risks like that.
As disappointing as that was, the XFL did make an official announcement of sorts, courtesy of the Rock. In a YouTube video from the XFL’s main channel, the league announced its return in 2023. It’s keeping the same logo and the same motto. It wasn’t flashy, but this is probably the most we’ll get for now.
While I like that something official came out, a part of me remains skeptical. Don’t get me wrong. I really want the XFL to get another shot. If ever a league deserved a mulligan for circumstances beyond its control, it’s this one. No other failed football league had to deal with a global pandemic. This it not like the AAF or the USFL. This was bad timing and worst circumstances.
That said, this video leaves me unconvinced and worried. I know that 2023 is a long way off. As of now, this league has no coaches and no players. It has nothing both the Rock’s backing. While I’m never one to doubt the Rock, I just don’t know if the third time will be the charm for this league. It has had too much bad luck to this point.
If I had to put odds as to whether we’ll see another XFL game at some point, I would put it at 15 percent. Those are not good odds. I sincerely hope I’m wrong about that, but after the heartbreak of last year, I just can’t bring myself to get excited.
Maybe something will change. I really hope it does. I had fun watching those XFL games. They felt like real football with real players who were following their dream. The XFL felt like the best possible chance for spring football to succeed, more so than the upcoming reboot of the USFL. I want it to get that chance. However, the odds of that chance becoming something more aren’t great at the moment.
You don’t have to be a lifelong fan of superheroes to know the role that secret identities play in their over-arching narrative. It’s one of those story elements that often goes hand-in-hand with a hero’s journey. Part of becoming a hero involves forging an identity and, more often than not, this identity can’t function alongside the one they start with.
It’s a story that has roots in the early days of modern superhero comics. It wasn’t just a common plot point. It was practically a given. It was as necessary as capes, colorful costumes, and punishing masked criminals.
From a practical standpoint, having a secret identity has some legitimate merit. There are things Bruce Wayne can do as Batman that he cannot do and vice versa. The same goes for Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and many other iconic heroes. In “Batman Begins,” Bruce Wayne set the stage for his secret identity by crafting Batman as a symbol, one that conveyed an idea that went beyond the person in the costume.
In recalling that scene, I think that idea was more prophetic than Christopher Nolan initially intended. When I look at how secret identities have come to define many characters, I believe they’re more important today than they have been in any other era.
I don’t just say that as a long-time fan of superhero comics who has used his knowledge of the genre to exploreserious issues. I believe that we, as a society, are entering uncharted territory when it comes to how we manage our identities. The influence of the internet, social media, and an increasingly connected world is more powerful than any fictional hero. It’s already finding its way into superhero media.
Over the past decade, the value and vulnerabilities of secret identities have been under fire. One of the most jarring moments of the original “Iron Man” movie was the very end when Tony Stark didn’t attempt to hide the fact he was Iron Man. For those not familiar with the comics, it might not have seemed like a big issue. Trust me, it was a major shift.
While Tony Stark debuted as Iron Man in 1963, his identity didn’t become public until the early 2000s. That’s nearly four decades of him operating with a secret identity. In the context of his journey, this was not a trivial decision.
There’s even a notable episode of “Superman: The Animated Series” in which Superman flat out admits that he’d go crazy if he couldn’t be Clark Kent. Think about that for a second. Superman, one of the most powerful and iconic superheroes of all time, admits that can’t handle a life without a secret identity. This is someone who can handle Lex Luthor, Darksied, and Brainiac. If he can’t handle it, then what hope do we have?
That question might not have been too relevant 20 years ago. Before the age of smartphones, broadband internet, and social media, a superhero might have been able to get away with having their identity exposed. You could say the same for anyone who happened to have a dirty secret or a double life. Whether it was an affair or a secret hobby, you didn’t have to work that hard to keep it secret.
Back then, not everyone had a fully-functional camera in their pocket or a means of sharing their media on a mass scale. Even if someone did manage to take a compromising picture or video, it wouldn’t be a huge revelation unless it was published by a major news source and even then there was no guarantee it would have staying power, especially if other major stories broke at the same time.
Now, anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can capture compromising footage of anyone and share it with the world in seconds. In the world of superheroes, it makes keeping an identity harder than ever. Spider-Man found that out the hard way at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Ordinary people and major celebrities are finding that out as well in the real world.
The internet and social media has created an unusual, yet potent system that skews the dynamics of having an identity, secret or otherwise. On one hand, it’s easier than ever to create an anonymous persona on the internet. With that persona, people are unbound by the propriety of real-world interaction.
In this hyper-connected world, every word and every action is permanently archived and subject to greater scrutiny. Every mistake or misstep is amplified and blown out of proportion. Every bit of subtext and nuance is completely lost in the various biases and agendas of the public. In essence, public figures have little to no control of their identity. They are very much at the mercy of how others perceive them.
That kind of scrutiny can have benefits and drawbacks. You could argue that the added scrutiny of social media has held celebrities and people of influence to a higher standard. They can no longer operate in the shadows with impunity. Dirty secrets will come out. Bad behavior will be documented. The O.J. Simpsons and Bill Cosbys of yesteryear could not get away with their deplorable behavior in today’s environment.
That may be a good thing on some levels, but it comes at a cost and not just for those who have had their lives ruined by the internet. In a world where anonymous identities are easily created and valued identities are easily ruined, how can anyone hope to maintain a balanced perspective? Whether you’re an accomplished celebrity or just some random blogger, don’t you still need a persona that feels true?
For people who are stuck in difficult situations, such as those belonging to racial, religious, or LGBTQ minorities, having that secret identity might be the only one that feels true or genuine. If that gets exposed, then those individuals could be in legitimate danger. There are parts of the world who will punish these individuals in ways far more serious than online trolling.
In the past, these kinds of people didn’t have an outlet or a means of connecting with others who share their struggles. They either had to organize in secret or set up their own communities, which often meant making themselves real-life targets. The ability to create an identity, secret or otherwise, can be a powerful mechanism for helping people forge an identity that feels true to who they are.
To some extent, superheroes embody the importance of these identities. They can’t do what they do without them. They can’t remain connected to the people and the world they’re trying to protect if they’re always in costume, trying to maintain this persona they’ve created. Without it, they become disconnected and overwhelmed. As a result, they can’t be the heroes they need to be.
For people in the real world, having these identities is more important than ever. You don’t have to be a superhero to appreciate their value, but as our world becomes more connected, it’s become a lot easier to understand why Spider-Man and Batman work so hard to preserve their secret identities.
The fact they still struggle, despite having super-powers and billions of dollars, is a testament to just how difficult it can be. As the world becomes increasingly connected and increasingly tribal, it’s only going to get harder.
I’ve always been an early riser. Going all the way back to high school, I’m often up before the crack of dawn, even when I don’t want to be. It can be annoying, at times. I honestly would like to be able to sleep in to a meaningful degree. I still can, but by and large, I’m wired to get up early. That’s just how I am.
That certainly has its share of benefits. It has served me well in some capacities, especially when I need to catch a flight. However, one of the best benefits from being an early riser often plays out on New Comic Book Day. Thanks to the wonders of Comixology and day-and-date releases, I can take full advantage of my propensity to be up early. Before the crack of dawn, I can have a fresh stack of comics on my iPad ready to go before my coffee is done brewing.
I can’t tell you how great it is to wake up to that, no matter the hour. Waking up that early on a Wednesday didn’t used to be so enjoyable. In the days before digital comics, I still had to wait for the afternoon mail or until a comic shop opened. I do not miss those days.
I may one day not have a reason to get up so early every morning. I may even one day condition myself to actually be able to sleep in every once in a while. However, even when that day comes, I’m still going to prefer waking up extra early on New Comic Book Day to enjoy a stack of new comics. There’s just no better way to start my morning. I hope other fellow early risers appreciate that too.
If not, now is as good a week as any to start. Here is my pull list and pick of the week to help. Enjoy!
I love sports. I love watching people push their bodies, minds, and skills to the limits of what they can achieve. It’s a testament to what hard work and dedication can achieve. I find that inspiring and worth cheering for.
I also understand that sports, like any major endeavor, has cheating in it. There are no shortage of cases in which athletes cheated to gain an edge. When money and glory are at stake, some will be tempted to cheat. That’s just human nature.
While I wholly support efforts to clamp down on cheaters, there is one area that I think is completely counterproductive and utterly absurd. It has to do with drugs in sports, one of the most time-tested forms of cheating in history.
Now, I know there are certain drugs in sports that really do confer a major edge. If you use steroids, stimulants, or pain killers, you’re going to have a distinct edge over those who don’t. That’s just science and chemistry. That also constitutes cheating and should be treated as such.
However, when it to marijuana, the science is just as clear. It is NOT a performance enhancing drug.
This is one area of sports and science that isn’t just outdated. It’s flat out absurd. I get that, until very recently, marijuana was illegal in most parts of the United States and the world. A lot has changed in the past 10 years. However, even before that change, we knew what the effects of marijuana were. Most of us know people who have used it before.
Even if you’re not a doctor or an athlete, you’ve probably noticed that one thing is clear. When it comes to strenuous activities, it does not enhance performance. People who are stoned are not usually inclined to compete at the highest level. Unless that activity involves eating chips and laughing, it’s not going to enhance much of anything.
Despite this very common knowledge, athletes are still being disciplined from sports because of marijuana use. For once, there is no bigger picture or broader perspective. This rule is just plain dumb.
Even if you don’t believe in the anecdotal reports about marijuana, at least believe the science. In this case, the data is pretty damn clear. Marijuana is not a performance enhancing drug. If anything, marijuana makes it more difficult to compete professionally because it’s likely to make you eat cookies and lounge on your couch rather than train.
As for why athletes smoke it in the first place, that’s also quite clear. In addition to all those other side-effects that come with smoking weed, it does a great job of relieving pain. For athletes who subject their bodies to immense strain and conditioning, pain is unavoidable. Dealing with it comes with the territory. How they manage it varies, but marijuana become increasingly popular, especially compared to dangerous opioids.
More and more, the stupidity of this policy on marijuana is becoming clear. Calling it a performance enhancing drug is akin to calling sleeping pills study aids. It’s not just absurd. It’s completely ass backwards. You can call marijuana a lot of things, but a performance enhancing drug in the realm of professional sports isn’t one of them.
I know I have little credibility on the subject. I’m just an aspiring erotica romance writer. Ifyou don’t trust my expertise, then please consider the argument by the late great Robin Williams on the subject. If he doesn’t convince you on this issue and make you laugh, then I don’t know what will.
When we have two things we love, it’s only natural to look for a way to combine them. Without that inclination, we wouldn’t have such wonderful combinations like chocolate and peanut butter or beer and buffalo wings. It’s almost an instinct, mixing the things we cherish in hopes of compounding the joy.
As a fan of romance and superhero movies, I’ve certainly had this inclination before. I’ve built dates around going to a superhero movie. When I was with my ex-girlfriend, we would organize our evenings around a particular superhero movie or TV show that we both loved. It made for more than a few memorable moments, the details of which I’ll save for my novels and sexy short stories.
I know I’m not the only one who enjoys mixing date nights with superhero movies. The massive box office haul generated by superhero movies essentially guarantees that at least one couple has built their date night around them. I have friends and relatives who have used superhero movies, both in the theaters and at homes, to supplement their date night.
With this being a thing in our current cultural landscape, I thought I’d craft my own short-list for the best superhero movies to see on date night. Keep in mind, this list isn’t about which superhero movies are the best or most entertaining. These are the movies that evoke just the right combination of emotions that help make a romantic evening more intimate.
It doesn’t have to involve a major romantic sub-plot, although that helps. It also can’t be all spectacle and flare. There’s a time and a place for those kinds of movies, superhero or otherwise. For date night, the goal is to stir up passion and inspire romantic moments. Having seen pretty much every superhero movie multiple times, and also being a fan of romance, I feel uniquely qualified to craft such a list.
What follows are my top 5 superhero movies for date night. I imagine others will have a different list. I’m sure plenty will strongly disagree with my choice and ranking. That’s perfectly fine. This is just my assessment on which superhero movies are best suited for a fun, romantic date night. Enjoy!
Number 5: Captain America: The First Avenger
For those who cheered Captain America on in the final battle against Thanos in “Avengers: Endgame,” it’s easy to forget that he had a long journey to becoming the living legend we known and love. That journey began in “Captain America: The First Avenger” and while it didn’t gross $2 billion at the box office, it gave everyone a reason to root for Steve Rogers.
A big part of that journey involved a romantic sub-plot that was simple, basic, and inherently lovable. Before he became a Captain, Steve Rogers was just a lanky soldier who set his patriotic eyes on the beautiful, charismatic Peggy Carter. She wasn’t just a pretty face, either. She played an integral part in helping Steve become the hero he sought to be. It’s a beautiful story that just happens to have romantic undertones.
There’s plenty of action. There’s plenty of intrigue as well, in that this movie helped set the stage for the first “Avengers” movie. However, the heart and depth of Steve’s love for Peggy strikes all the right chords. It makes Captain America’s journey more personal. He’s not just this paragon of American ideals. He’s a man who seeks to serve his country and love a good woman.
It’s a simple story with lovable characters. That’s an essential combination for any successful date night movie.
Number 4: Wonder Woman
There are a lot of things that “Wonder Woman” did well. For a movie that had so much riding on it, both for the superhero genre and for female superheroes, the success it achieved at the box office is nothing short of remarkable. It’s only fitting that it checks most of the boxes for a good date night movie.
It’s an epic story full of gods, monsters, war, and humanity. Yes, there’s a great romantic sub-plot mixed in with Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, but that sub-plot works because everything around it works. They both navigate unfamiliar territory together, sharing both the journey and the drama. Along the way, they help one another. They learn from one another. They make each other stronger.
At its core is the sheer heart it conveys. It has always been Wonder Woman’s greatest strength and this movie does everything necessary to capture it. Any couple seeing this movie will find moments that will make them smile and fill them with the urge to cuddle. The epic battles that Wonder Woman leads, along with Gal Gadot’s wonderful performance, is a nice bonus as well.
Number 3: Dark Phoenix
As big an X-Men fan as I am, I’ll be the first to concede that the movies have been hit or miss over the years. Some have been great. Some have been nauseatingly awful. However, even the most acclaimed X-Men movies rarely have the attributes of a good date night movie. That changed with “Dark Phoenix.” Of all the X-Men movies not associated with Deadpool, this one has all the traits of quality date night movie.
It’s not just a superhero movie. It’s not just a re-telling of one of the X-Men’s most iconic stories in the Phoenix Saga. This is a movie built on high drama and powerful emotions. Much like the Phoenix Force itself, the strength of the story and the characters involved stem from emotions. There’s love, loss, anguish, and sacrifice. Tears are shed, anger is shared, and the pain is palpable.
These are all core aspects of what made the original story in the comics so endearing. They’re also the sentiments that make a great date movie. The story isn’t all world-ending spectacle. It’s personal and emotional. What happens to Jean Grey and her friends in “Dark Phoenix” is both dramatic and powerful. It evokes the kinds of feelings you want to share.
There are plenty of other elements in this movie that are worth praising. I covered many of them in the review I wrote for this movie. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call “Dark Phoenix” the best X-Men movie, I’m comfortable saying it’s the best X-Men movie to share with a date.
Number 2: Deadpool
This is one of those movies that caught a lot of people by surprise in the best possible way. Without a doubt, the first “Deadpool” wildly exceeded everyone’s expectations, from X-Men fans to romance fans to fans of anything associated with Ryan Reynolds. Between the box office it generated and the praise it earned, it’s easy to forget that this movie is built around a love story.
That’s not just the musings of a self-professed romantic. That’s exactly what the movie says through Ryan Reynolds’ uncanny charm. Even the marketing for this movie teased its romantic undertones and for good reason. As funny, crude, and violent as Deadpool was, the movie was still built around romance and it was built well.
The love between Wade Wilson and Vanessa was genuine, sexy, and sweet. A lot of Deadpool’s motivations and antics were a direct result of his love for Vanessa. It’s the kind of love story that will make you smile, laugh, and even gag a bit. For any couple looking for a little of everything in a date night movie, “Deadpool” delivers all that and then some.
It’s the kind of romance that’s genuinely fun. No matter how serious you are with your lover, it’s important to have a little fun and “Deadpool” never misses an opportunity to have fun. That kind of spirit can only help anyone’s date night.
Number 1: Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Finding the perfect date night movie isn’t easy. Finding one that has just the right amount of fun, entertainment, and dramatic impact can test any couple’s patience. Sometimes, a movie is too serious and ceases to be entertaining. Sometimes, a movie is too theatrical, so to speak, and the drama just feels flat. Striking that balance is very challenging, but “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” proves it’s not impossible.
Of all the superhero movies I’ve seen, few hit me with as many feels as this one and it did so without going too heavy on the romance. While there were plenty of romantic elements throughout the story, the greatest strength of this movie was how it gets you to care about these characters. The fact that they include a talking tree, a rocket with a machine gun, and a guy named Taserface is secondary.
This movie had plenty of colorful moments that were funny and quirky. Like its predecessor, it dared to have fun with the genre. However, the fun never got in the way of the drama or the characters. There were elements of family, including parents and sibling rivalries. There were secrets and revelations that hit you in all the right ways. Even when you re-watch the movie, it still has an impact.
It evokes a wide range of feelings, more so than a typical romance movie. The sheer breadth of those feelings is what makes “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” an experience worth sharing. If you’re with someone who appreciates those feelings, then this movie will do plenty to satisfy. It’s the kind of movie that you can still enjoy by yourself, but it’s best when shared with someone special.
In general, I try to eat healthy. For most of the week, I will be careful and mindful of my diet. That usually means a healthy serving of eggs, wheat bread, rice, chicken, and other lean meats. Compared to how I ate in my 20s, that’s a huge shift. I’ve noted before that I did not have good health habits for a good chunk of my life. Eventually, I made a concerted effort to change that by regularly going to the gym and eating better.
That being said, you can still get away with a treat here and there. Even some of the biggest fitness junkies in the world have what they call a cheat day. The Rock particularly is legendary for his cheat days. Now, it is possible to overdo it. I know because I have overdone it and paid the price. However, there is one special kind of diet cheat I will never give up on.
For my cheat day, I always go with the simple greasy joy of pizza. For me, a weekend is just not complete without a good pizza. If I have someone to share it with, that’s even better. For the most part, though, I treat a good pizza like a massage for my soul at the end of a long week. It may not be good for you, but it’s a damn good feeling.
With football season coming in just a couple months, my weekend pizza is bound to get more meaningful soon enough. I usually coincide my cheat days with big football games because it just makes it all the more delicious. Even if you’re health conscious or a fitness junkie, I encourage you to take a cheat day and make pizza a part of that day.
I’ve loved pizza since I was a kid. I love it even more as an adult. When I eventually meet the love of my life, I hope to share a delicious pizza with them at least once week. Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy it as much as possible. I hope others can do the same today or whenever their cheat day might be.
Now, in the spirit of cheat days, here are some Sexy Sunday Thoughts to rouse your appetite, your spirit, your loins, and everything in between. Enjoy!
“If foreplay is boring, then you’re doing it wrong.”
“To some extent, heartbreak is our brain’s revenge for listening to our genitals.”
“There’s a very good chance that you’ve almost walked in on two people having sex and not realized it.”
“A willingness to use sex toys while making love is the ultimate test of humility.”
“Trying to get pity sex is like trying to lose weight by crying every time you eat junk food.”
“Just imagine how confused and overwhelmed the first woman to use a vibrator must have been.”
“No woman will ever understand what goes into maintaining an erection for extended periods.”
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a brief exploration of one of the greatest fictional villains of all time, Lex Luthor. There has been an ongoing trend in recent year to develop more complex villains with equally complex motivations. However, there’s still room for the kind of old school, pure evil villain and nobody epitomizes that more than Lex Luthor. Hopefully, this video gives everyone a new appreciation of that. Enjoy!
What happens to someone when they’ve spent their entire life seeing the world one way, only to have it radically change in an instant?
What happens to someone’s perspective when everything they thought they knew and understood suddenly seems smaller and less grand than they thought?
It can be a jarring experience. For some, it might even be traumatic. It can take the form of a religious experience, a major life-changing event, or even something as simple as falling in love. Whatever the case, it’s powerful. You see the world one way when the day starts. Then, when the sun sets, you see it completely differently.
That brings me to astronauts, space flight, and Jeff Bezos. I promise there’s a connection there and it’s one worth highlighting.
Most are aware that Amazon founder, and world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, took his first flight into space. It was well-covered by the media and was certainly fodder for plenty of criticism, some of which was quite warranted. However, I’m not going to touch on that. Instead, I want to focus on how this experience might affect him and his outlook.
That’s where the Overview Effect comes in. If you’re not familiar with this unique psychological phenomenon, then think back to the questions I asked earlier. Those are very relevant in that they’re part of what certain people experience when they go into space.
In short, the Overview Effect is a byproduct of this newfound prospective astronauts have when they go into space and see Earth from afar. Some treat it as a religious experience, so much so that it has an almost euphoric effect. That’s to be expected.
Up in space, there are no national boundaries. There are no politics, prejudices, and personal gripes. It’s only in space that you realize just how small Earth is and how small humanity is by comparison. That has a major impact on a person’s psyche. Some in the field of neuroscience have even studied it. One retired astronaut, Scott Kelly, once described it like this:
“The planet is incredibly beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful. Having said that, parts of it are polluted, like with constant levels of pollution in certain parts of Asia. You see how fragile the atmosphere looks. It’s very thin. It’s almost like a thin contact lens over somebody’s eye, and you realized all the pollutants we put into the atmosphere are contained in that very thin film over the surface. It’s a little bit scary actually to look at it.
And then you realize looking at the Earth, that despite its beauty and its tranquility, there’s a lot of hardship and conflict that goes on. You look at the planet without borders, especially during the day. At night you can see countries with lights, but during the daytime it looks like we are all part of one spaceship, Spaceship Earth.
And we’re all flying through space together, as a team, and it gives you this perspective — people have described it as this ‘orbital perspective’ — on humanity, and you get this feeling that we just need to work better — much, much better — to solve our common problems.”
That sort of perspective is hard for most to imagine. The number of people who have been into space is less than 600. Jeff Bezos is only the latest entry into a very exclusive club. That may also mean he’s the latest to experience the Overview Effect.
Now, it’s hard to say how much or how little he was influenced by that effect. His trip to space didn’t last very long. However, the journey may have already left an impression. He has already been quoted as saying this:
“The most profound piece of it, for me, was looking out at the Earth, and looking at the Earth’s atmosphere….But when you get up above it, what you see is it’s actually incredibly thin. It’s this tiny little fragile thing, and as we move about the planet, we’re damaging it. It’s one thing to recognize that intellectually. It’s another thing to actually see with your own eyes how fragile it really is.”
That could just be him making good PR, but it could also be revealing. Again, not many people have gone into space. They haven’t had a chance to experience the Overview Effect for themselves. While plenty of trained astronauts have done it, none of them are Jeff Bezos. None of them are worth in excess of $200 billion.
There aren’t many people on this planet who have access to resources like him. There are even fewer with the means and the skills to take a grand vision and make it real. Now, Bezos has seen the world in a new light. He has had his perspective changed. What will that mean for him and for us?
Before he took his famous space flight, Bezos stepped down from Amazon. He’s still very involved, but he now has time to focus on new ventures. Some of those ventures may take us into space. Some may go towards fixing the environment.
It’s hard to know where this will lead. However, if someone like Jeff Bezos can be impacted by the Overview Effect, then what does that say about the rest of us? How much would the world change if more people got to experience that perspective? Maybe we’ll find out one day. Maybe we’ll get that chance because Jeff Bezos funded it.
Only time will tell. Personally, I’d like to experience the Overview Effect myself. Maybe I will one day.
Also, Jeff Bezos should still pay his workers more.
We live in a strange era of popular culture. While trends and tastes are always changing, I can’t recall a time when they’ve changed in such varying ways. Superhero movies went from being a niche genre to the biggest box office draw in history. Beloved children’s movies are becoming live-action remakes. Horror movies are even starting to reinvent themselves.
One trend that has garnered more controversy than most has to do with a certain kind of remake. Specifically, it involves remakes that attempt to swap the gender, race, or some other characteristic of an iconic character. The first major franchise to try this was “Ghostbusters” in 2016 and to say that this was controversial would be like calling a tornado laced with cow shit a light breeze.
Now, I’ve tried to stay out of the discussions involving gender-swapping or race-swapping because it’s rarely productive. I’ve never seen those discussions produce anything other than frothing hatred, regardless of whether it’s online or in person. With the COVID-19 pandemic finally waning and movie theaters opening back up, I’m content to just go into movies with an open mind and hope for the best.
However, I don’t see this trend ending anytime soon. Even though “Ghostbusters” tanked at the box office, I suspect Hollywood will keep trying to push the envelope, if only to garner attention and clicks. The prevailing sentiment seems to be that the old ways of crafting characters, villains, and stories just isn’t viable anymore. They need to shake things up and do things differently.
I can already sense certain people banging their heads against the wall or groaning in dismay, lamenting over the idea that Disney may one day make an “Indiana Jones” reboot featuring a black transgender double-amputee woman as the new Dr. Jones. I understand that dread. At the same time, I think there is room for innovation. It’s just a matter of not destroying what makes stories, franchises, and iconic characters great.
One franchise that is poised for a new direction that may either reinvigorate or regress it completely is the James Bond franchise. In terms of franchises in need of a boost, I think Bond needs one more than most. The last entry, “Spectre,” was somewhat of a downgrade compared to the billion-dollar box office that “Skyfall” achieved. On top of that, Daniel Craig has made clear that he wishes to move on from the character.
After what happened with “Ghostbusters,” there’s certainly cause for concern. Aside from losing money, that movie damaged both a franchise and a concept. It showed just how badly things can go when a franchise attempts to reinvent itself in a way that panders to political sensibilities while undercutting the very things that made that franchise great.
I don’t think James Bond is in a position to endure that kind of setback. It doesn’t have the same status as “Star Wars” and occupies a genre that is difficult to adapt to a world where internet trolls are a more pressing threat than Russian spies. At the same time, I believe the James Bond franchise is in a better position than “Ghostbusters” or “Star Wars” to succeed in a way others haven’t.
Make no mistake. The odds of the next Bond movie succeeding are stacked against it. If this movie tries too hard to be too progressive, then it won’t just ruin the story. It’ll set the franchise back for years. If it succeeds, however, it could reinvent the franchise in a way that will appeal to a new generation who never had to worry about Soviet sleeper agents.
Without knowing the details of the plot, it’s difficult to know how it will pan out. However, I believe there’s a right way to do a remake that attracts a new audience while not alienating long-time fans. Unfortunately, there are always fewer right ways to do things than wrong ways. What follows is my idea on how this new era of James Bond can succeed and how it may ultimately fail.
How A Female 007 Can Succeed
This is, by far, the most important aspect of the upcoming movie. If 007 is going to be a black woman played by Lashana Lynch, then this part has to work. I understand that’s a tall order. Some may say it’s impossible. I respectfully disagree. I believe that there’s no reason 007 can’t be someone of a different race or gender. It’s just a matter of building that story around that of James Bond.
Please note that I differentiate between 007 and James Bond. While I realize the two titles often go hand-in-hand, I don’t think they’re dependent on one another. James Bond can still be the same womanizing, martini-loving super spy he’s always been without the title of 007. In fact, he’s been disavowed and fired from his role on more than one occasion in more than one movie.
Titles like 007 change hands all the time in the world of James Bond. It wouldn’t completely undermine the spirit of James Bond for someone else to wield that title in some capacity, even if they’re black and female. It’s just a matter of building a proper story around it.
If the plot rumors are to be believed, James Bond is still alive in this movie. However, he has since retired from MI-6. That opens the door for someone else to take on the title of 007 and that’s where Ms. Lynch’s character comes in. Due to this connection, their paths eventually cross and the story evolves from there.
I believe this story can work, but only if both James Bond and Ms. Lynch’s character complement one another. By that, I mean they have to be true equals in terms of skill, grit, and charisma. Ms. Lynch can’t just be another female agent who occasionally clashes with Q and Moneypenny. She has to share Bond’s bravado, recklessness, and cunning.
That gives her and Bond a reason to work together. It also compounds the threats, danger, and volatility of the conflict. They don’t have to be best friends and they don’t have to try to seduce one another. They just have to demonstrate that they need each other. They make each other better at what they do. One need not outshine the other.
How they achieve this depends on the plot. It certainly won’t be easy and I definitely have my doubts that it can be done. I don’t think it’s impossible, though. If those involved find a way, then it could be a bold new direction for the James Bond franchise. There will always be room for James Bond, but having a new 007 in the mix could open up many possibility.
How A Female 007 Can Fail
There are almost too many ways for me to list how this idea can fail. Like I said earlier, making a bold concept work is difficult. Failing spectacularly is easy. For James Bond, it’s just a matter of how that failure plays out. I think the biggest risk may come from this movie not learning the same lessons as the “Ghostbusters” remake.
Chief among those lessons is maintaining the spirit of the original. James Bond is a womanizing, martini-loving embodiment of raw masculinity. Trying to make him something other than that or trying to make him the antagonist will completely derail both the story and long-time fans. Even if Ms. Lynch’s character is done well, it won’t matter whatsoever if James Bond isn’t James Bond.
Even if James Bond’s character remains intact, Ms. Lynch’s character could also derail the movie just as much. If she’s going to wield the title of 007, she can’t just be some flat character with no distinct personality traits. Being black and female, there will be a temptation to make her either too much like Bond or too different.
If she’s too competent, then she could get lumped with the infamous Mary Sue label that plagued Rey in “Star Wars.” If she’s just as reckless and promiscuous as Bond, then she’s not her own character. She’s just a black, female James Bond and nothing more. It may seem like an either/or scenario, but I believe there’s plenty of room to disguinish her. I’m just not convinced that the lessons of “Ghostbusters” have sunk in.
Even if both Ms. Lynch’s character and James Bond are intact, there’s still the matter of the overall story. That could easily get lost in the effort to make Ms. Lynch a convincing 007 that fans will embrace. If the villain or threat is unoriginal or predictable, then even quality characterization won’t help the movie succeed.
Like superhero movies, James Bond movies often succeed on the strength of their villains. Times have changed since the Cold War. The biggest threats of today aren’t what they were in the mid-20th Century when James Bond established himself as the ultimate spy. Recent movies, going back to “Casino Royale,” have noted that Bond is a relic of a bygone era. That doesn’t mean he can’t have a place in the 21st century.
At the moment, if I had to bet money on the success or failure of this movie, I would bet on it failing. I wouldn’t bet everything, but I believe the odds are stacked against it. Between the outrage culture that constantly rages on the internet and the growing cynicism surrounding remakes and reboots, there are so many forces working against this movie besides just making it entertaining.
However, James Bond is one of those rare franchises that has endured for decades. It has found ways of reinventing itself before. If ever there was a franchise that could raise to the challenge, it’s this one. Time will tell, but it’ll take more than gadgets, martinis, and sex appeal beat the odds.