LESSON #1: BLACK PANTHER IS THE REAL DEAL AND A GAME-CHANGING JUGGERNAUT— Black Panther is winning every battle it fights right now. The critics are hailing it and shooting down the Alt-Right protests. Audiences are flocking to it to the tune of a record-breaking opening holiday weekend gross of $242 million domestically and over $213 million in foreign countries. Any remaining doubts and glass ceilings for C-level superheroes, Ryan Coogler’s talent, and the market for minority-led films are all shattered, and rightfully so. What Disney/Marvel has to do is maintain this momentum and capitalize on the success properly. It’s not milking it. It’s gilding it.
LESSON #2: VOTER BIAS STILL EXISTS AND WILL ALWAYS EXIST— I could just about add any “in ______” ending to that lesson title from “Hall of Fame voting” to “Oscar voting” and the trueness of the lesson wouldn’t change. We all hope for it but impartiality is impossible in large voting bodies, especially with the extensive rackets of voter manipulation sweetly labeled as “Oscar campaigning.” People are bringing their biases and grudges. A recent Deadline editorial from Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr. shared a debate on the reluctance to vote for a Netflix film on an Oscar ballot and who is on the wrong side of the argument. I get all of the arguments of Netflix’s arthouse-killing claims, but I have long sees it as the new marketplace ahead of the curve. In the end, a film’s merit should be the only thing folks vote on.
LESSON #3: I TOLD YOU TO KEEP AN EYE ON APPLE FOR A COUNTERPUNCH— We have a stiff jab right now. With Netflix trying to maintain its streaming dominance, Disney power-playing to gain controlling interest of Hulu and also start their own menu of streaming services, tech giant Apple wasn’t going to remain idle. I reported back in January that Apple was angling to maybe acquire Netflix. That mega-deal is not here… yet, but they are diving in creating original programming and found a perfect headliner to start with a series created and directed by La La Land‘s Oscar winning filmmaker Damien Chazelle. Word is Apple is willing to spend $1 billion on scripted original works. Heads up, we have a third player. The war is just beginning.
LESSON #4: JOSS WHEDON CAN’T GET A BREAK— After creatively feuding with Marvel after the successful but maligned Avengers: Age of Ultron, director Joss Whedon took the minor fall. Swooping in to rescue Justice League after what we now learn was a Zack Snyder firing more than a family leave, Whedon looked like he was back in the saddle. When Justice League went on to disappoint, Whedon took that fanboy blame too as fans clamored for a Snyder director’s cut. Now, the guy can’t even accomplish what he always did best: write heroic stories for heroines. Whedon exited the planned Batgirl film after not being able to crack the proper story, a project one would figure he would be perfect for. Man, this guy’s on a monumental losing streak. Somebody rescue Joss Whedon and his confidence.
LESSON #5: CAN THE TRAINSPOTTING VIBE TRANSLATE OVER TO JAMES BOND?— Much like imagining what a Quentin Tarantino Star Trek film would look like, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, and Slumdog Millionaire Oscar winner Danny Boyle is rumored to be working on a James Bond script with his Trainspotting writing partner John Hodge. Gosh, how trippy could that be? I think Boyle has an ideal skill set to make a kinetic and compelling film that could play in the spy game landscape with a new pep and flair from Hodge’s devil-may-care style. It could work. What do you think?
DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson. As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud member and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends. Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Creators Media.