President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige (our lord and savior) has helped make comic book movies some of the most profitable films of all time. Feige cut his teeth in the early days before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was established. He produced such films as Spider-Man 2 and Fantastic Four, learning what worked and what didn’t work. Today he continues to guide the MCU, reaching new heights with every film. Both Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange were both smash hits and helped solidify the MCU’s new standard of quality first reached with Captain America: Winter Solider.
Feige has managed to cast an absurd amount of A-list talent in the MCU including Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford, Scarlett Johannson, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Tilda Swinton. As incredible as the cast of the MCU is, there’s one major problem. They are all white.
The upcoming Marvel’s Black Panther solo feature will begin to offset that trend with a cast that includes Chadwick Boseman, Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, and Angela Bassett. While speaking with Variety, Feige expressed the importance of moving forward with a more diverse cast and crew not just racially, but in terms of gender as well:
“When you look at “Black Panther” — when you look at “Captain Marvel,” which will be Brie Larson in the title role — it is a very important thing for us to have diversity both in front of the camera and behind the camera.”
On the subject of Captain Marvel which stars Brie Larson, Feige also added:
“Having a female director at the helm to tell the story of a woman who is also our most powerful hero by far is very important to us.”
While Hollywood and Marvel still have a long way to go, Marvel is already making strides as it recently announced every episode of season two of its female-led series, Jessica Jones will be directed by women.
This year also saw the release of season one of Luke Cage which featured a primarily African-American cast while at the same time remaining inclusive to every race. The series featured an Emmy-worthy performance from actress Alfre Woodard as well as Rosario Dawson and Simone Missick in major parts. But what was exceptional about the series set in Harlem was the way it took hip-hop culture and engrained it into the story, becoming an integral part of the narrative.
Hold on to your butts. In just three months we’ll be fully engrossed in another Star Wars Christmas season being yet again introduced to a slew of new characters, ships and planets never before seen in the ever expanding Star Wars galaxy.
Hold on to your butts. In just three months we’ll be fully engrossed in another Star Wars Christmas season being yet again introduced to a slew of new characters, ships and planets never before seen in the ever expanding Star Wars galaxy. Only time will tell whether or not Garreth Edwards was the right choice to helm the first of many Star Wars spinoffs but as it stands Edwards looks to have crafted what could be the most immersive experience yet in the film franchise. Even the biggest skeptics, including myself, who were left bored by Edwards’ other films are scratching their heads wondering how the hell this film could be boring after that action-packed sizzle reel.
The reel opens showcasing a battle scene that is no doubt the Star Wars version of Omaha beach. The film looks to have pulled many visual influences from war films such as Saving Private Ryan, Apocalypse Now, and Platoon. Yet the film still feels unquestionably Star Wars. This has many of us wondering what other kinds of genres could be blended into the Star Wars universe going forward. The possibilities really are endless.
As with any Lucasfilm production, you would expect there to be some incredible filmmaking behind this project and Rogue One looks to be no different. In much of the reel Garreth Edwards can be seen being a boss behind the lens during sequences featuring practical effects. In some shots, rather than using green screen, Edwards has chosen to use projection screens giving the actors something to look at as well as act off of. This will surely help to avoid the wooden performances captured in the blue screen vacuums the prequels were filmed inside of.
What might be most exciting is how many new things we will see for the first time in the Star Wars universe. In the Skywalker Saga things are usually black and white. However, some of the new canon novels have delved into grey area of the galaxy. As we learned in Lost Stars, there are good people in the empire. Good people who end up on the wrong side. Rogue one will explore the grey area. Fans of the Clone Wars are familiar with the character of Saw Gerrara but in December, Forrest Whittaker will introduce a wider audience to a rebel freedom fighter whose tactics are considered too extreme for the rebellion.
We will also be treated to the first hand to hand combat action scene in the franchise. In past Star Wars films we have experienced the most jaw dropping and breathtaking action sequences in history. From the trench run to the lightsaber duel on Mustafar, the action has always been epic. Maybe that’s what makes the action in Rogue One look so refreshing. Sure, punches have been thrown throughout lightsaber duels in the past but never has anyone just ripped off their gloves and gone fist for first.
While Godzilla and Monsters weren’t very good, one impressive quality about both films is how Edwards managed to hone in and focus on the characters against the backdrop of something large and fantastical. Judging from the teaser trailer and the celebration reel, it certainly seems Edwards has managed to do that again. Maybe that’s why he was Kathleen Kennedy’s choice to helm the first spinoff of the franchise.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters December 16, 2016.