The 22 Best TV Shows of 2018


The new and returning series that stood out the most

Katie Martin / The Atlantic

Trying to pick the best television series of 2018 is a bit like trying to judge a cuteness contest in a zoo: There’s way too much to choose from, and very little of it looks alike. How to compare, say, a peerless drama about repressed Edwardian England with a satirical animated comedy about an anthropomorphized, alcoholic horse actor? Or a thoughtful, in-depth documentary series about inequality in a Chicago-area high school with a bleakly comic fable about America’s nastiest and most overprivileged media dynasty?

Television’s current abundance means not just a laundry list of new quality shows each month, but also new styles and techniques with which TV creators are pushing the limits of the form. With that in mind, this list of the best series of 2018 tries to recognize things that TV has done exceptionally well this year, from complex and dynamic female characters, to empathetic cringe comedy, to experimental modes of storytelling, and everything that comes in between.


Docuseries: America to Me, Starz

Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and his three co-directors spent a year embedded in Oak Park and River Forest High School near Chicago, which granted them significant time with individual students, teachers, and parents. The result is this nuanced, engaging, often infuriating portrait of two of the most charged subjects in America: race and the school system.

More in this series

Also noteworthy: Bobby Kennedy for President (Netflix), The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling (HBO), Dirty Money (Netflix)


Jeff Daly / Fx

Crime Drama: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, FX

Ryan Murphy’s second season of American Crime Story considered the 1997 murder of the fashion icon in Miami, re-creating a sordid and shocking crime through scenes of striking, decorative beauty. Édgar Ramiréz and Penelope Cruz played Gianni and Donatella Versace with compelling restraint, allowing Darren Criss’s spooky Andrew Cunanan the spotlight.

Also noteworthy: The Looming Tower (Hulu)


Guy D’Alema / FX

Weird TV: Atlanta, FX

The sophomore season of Donald Glover’s dramedy layered surreal imagery (a bathtub alligator) over wacky hijinks (Fasnacht) over a low-simmering, omnipresent feeling of frustration and danger. The monsters in the series manifested as fans, woodland maniacs, and Teddy Perkins, but they captured a sense of the systemic anxieties that accompany being black in America.

Also noteworthy: Lodge 49 (AMC), Westworld (HBO)


John P. Johnson / HBO

Tragicomedy: Barry, HBO

The lines between comedy and drama have eroded almost beyond recognition at this point, but Bill Hader and Alec Berg’s bittersweet series about a reluctant hitman (think Ferdinand the Bull with a Glock 19) who finds his sense of purpose in acting class tended toward wacky, with undertones of real pathos.

Also noteworthy: Forever (Amazon Studios)


Netflix

Empathetic Cringe Comedy: Big Mouth, Netflix

An ongoing question is how such a disgusting, bodily fluids–fixated cartoon about puberty can also be so unfailingly sweet. The second season of Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg’s Netflix series dove into the subject of sex education, offering up a Bachelor-style primer on basic contraception methods and a heartfelt defense of Planned Parenthood. Oh, and the Shame Wizard.

Also noteworthy: SMILF (Showtime)


Netflix

Topical Comedy: BoJack Horseman, Netflix

The fifth season of Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s animated satire was among its finest yet, tackling the topic of sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood—and the timely question of forgiveness—with a degree of grace and thoughtfulness that no other series has yet managed to employ.

Also noteworthy: Black-ish (ABC)


Netflix

Short-Form Storytelling: The End of the F***ing World, Netflix

Dropped casually by Netflix at the beginning of January, this co-production with Britain’s Channel 4 offered up a quirky, heartwarming, visually distinctive romance between a runaway teenager and a wannabe serial killer that had a total running time of less than three hours.

Also noteworthy: Room 104 (HBO)


Colleen Hayes / NBC

Philosophical Comedy: The Good Place, NBC

Ever since it tipped its hand at the end of Season 1, Mike Schur’s zany comedy about the afterlife has turned its attention more thoroughly to the question of how to be good. In its third season, which sent Eleanor (Kristen Bell) and company back to Earth (and gifted viewers with Swole Chidi), the show has been as endearing and as thoughtful on the subject of morality as ever.

Also noteworthy: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)


Tod Campbell / Amazon

Podcast Adaptation: Homecoming, Amazon Studios

Sam Esmail’s gripping series, based on a Gimlet Media podcast about a shady transition center for returning veterans, was loaded with visual flair, ingenuity, and overt references to classic mysteries. It also boasted a tight, remarkably interior performance from Julia Roberts in her first major TV role.

Also noteworthy: Dirty John (Bravo)


Starz

Period Drama: Howards End, Starz

The 1992 film adaptation of E. M. Forster’s seminal novel about buried desire and class strictures in Edwardian Britain still stands as a masterpiece, but Kenneth Lonergan’s four-part miniseries found new relevance in its exploration of cultural division, with stellar performances from Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfadyen.

Also noteworthy: Picnic at Hanging Rock (Amazon Studios)


BBC America

Female Characters: Killing Eve, BBC America

Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge returned to television with this stylish, irreverent drama about an MI6 bureaucrat (Sandra Oh) enlisted into active duty to hunt down a psychopathic assassin (Jodie Comer). Between Oh’s Eve and Comer’s Villanelle, Killing Eve offered up some of the strangest and most fascinating TV women of the year.

Also noteworthy: Insecure (HBO), Pose (FX)


Jonathan Olley / AMC / Ink Factory

Auteur-Driven Drama: The Little Drummer Girl, AMC

The director, Park Chan-wook (The Handmaiden, Oldboy), brought a meticulously stylistic approach to his adaptation of a 1983 John le Carré novel about an elaborate plot to infiltrate a terrorist network, giving Florence Pugh’s Charlie a backdrop awash in primary colors and visual intensity.

Also noteworthy: Maniac (Netflix)


duardo Castaldo / HBO

Foreign-Language Drama: My Brilliant Friend, HBO

The bar for adapting the first of Elena Ferrante’s hugely beloved Neapolitan novels was extremely high, but Saverio Costanzo’s series retained the vital fierceness of Lenù and Lila’s friendship, while faithfully replicating the claustrophobia of their drab, violent childhoods.

Also noteworthy: Fauda (Netflix), The Rain (Netflix)


Justin Downing / SHOWTIME

Literary Adaptation: Patrick Melrose, Showtime

Edward St. Aubyn’s five novels about a drug addicted, upper-class Englishman and his monstrous childhood paint a horrific story in sumptuous prose. David Nicholls and Edward Berger’s lavish interpretation made Patrick’s life similarly entrancing even in its darkest moments, with a superb Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role.

Also noteworthy: Dietland (AMC)


Netflix

Reality Show: Queer Eye, Netflix

Netflix’s reboot of Bravo’s groundbreaking 2003 makeover series arrived seemingly out of nowhere, but became one of the biggest word-of-mouth hits of 2018. How? Against all odds, it forged some peaceful spaces on the front lines of the American culture wars, tackling subjects from police brutality to trans identity with sensitivity.

Also noteworthy: The Great British Baking Show (Netflix), Making It (NBC)


Rog Walker / HBO

Experimental Storytelling: Random Acts of Flyness, HBO

Terence Nance’s debut television series was technically classified as a sketch-comedy show, but what it felt like was something more profoundly beautiful and unsettling—a meditation on experiences in lives of black people that played with form, genre, nostalgia, darkness, and modernity.

Also noteworthy:Mosaic (HBO)


Rog Walker / Netflix

Food Series: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (Netflix)

Samin Nosrat’s elemental approach to cooking made her 2017 bookSalt, Fat, Acid, Heat—one of the hit culinary publications of the year. Her Netflix docuseries of the same name quietly revolutionized food TV by lionizing ingredients and cultures over celebrities and chefs, focusing on the essential building blocks of any kitchen.

Also noteworthy: Chef’s Table: Pastry (Netflix)


Anne Marie Fox / HBO

Gothic Melodrama: Sharp Objects, HBO

Jean-Marc Vallée and Marti Noxon’s adaption of Gillian Flynn’s thriller saw a damaged young journalist return to her rural hometown to report on a murder. The miniseries distinguished itself with enthralling performances, not to mention twisted visual elements buried like subconscious prickles throughout.  

Also noteworthy: The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix)


Sharn Norman / Beck Media / Facebook Watch

Half-Hour Drama: Sorry for Your Loss, Facebook Watch

In an ever-more gratifying field of time-disciplined dramas (shout-out to Homecoming), Kit Steinkellner’s funny, moving series about a young widow (Elizabeth Olsen) trying to rebuild her life was a triumph of structure and tone, with standout performances from Olsen, Janet McTeer, and Kelly Marie Tran.

Also noteworthy: Vida (Starz)


Colin Hutton / HBO

Comi-Tragedy: Succession, HBO

Even in the genreless world of prestige television, Succession felt initially perplexing, telling the story of a Manhattan media mogul and his traumatized, toxic children with bleak humor and endless linguistic creativity. That said, it seemed to lean toward tragedy in its sharp, superb conclusion.

Also noteworthy: Kidding (Showtime)


Colin Hutton / HBO

True Crime Series: Wild Wild Country, Netflix

Netflix’s six-part documentary about the cult that moved into a rural Oregon neighborhood in the 1980s—and the mind-bending antics that followed—mined a jaw-droppingly strange true story, along with the question of why so many people continue to fall for con men in the pursuit of a spiritual life.

Also noteworthy: The Staircase (Netflix)


Lifetime

Subversive Rom-Com: You, Lifetime

Greg Berlanti and Sera Gamble’s series about a bookstore clerk (Penn Badgley) who stalks one of his customers was a gratifying, surprisingly insightful treat, taking the cues and mores of romantic comedies and exposing them in all their manipulative, creepy horror.

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The Best Movies of 2018


Harlem. South Korea. Mexico City. Wakanda. The finest films of the year went everywhere and showed us a new way to live.


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Movies are changing rapidly. Superhero stories are evolving. Documentaries are booming. Netflix is democratizing—or destroying, depending on your point of view—the movie experience. But it’s also committing resources to some of the most unlikely, fascinating films of the year—one of which made this list, composed by Sean Fennessey and Adam Nayman. Here’s that and nine more. And for more about the Year in Movies, read Sean Fennessey’s essay about the movies’ many fallen men of 2018, Tom Breihan’s Best Action Movies of 2018, and Miles Surrey’s Best Superhero Movies of 2018.


10. If Beale Street Could Talk

Directed by Barry Jenkins (Annapurna)

For his follow-up to Moonlight, Jenkins went directly to the source of one of that film’s clearest and most fertile influences—the fiction of James Baldwin—and emerged with a faithful adaptation that’s also very much an expression of his own personal vision. Jenkins’s lush, expressive style reaches an apex at several points in If Beale Street Could Talk;in the probing, rapturous close-ups of stars KiKi Layne and Stephan James as they gaze at each other (and back at us); in the languorous tracking shot down a sunny summertime street in Harlem as old friends approach from both sides of the frame; in a ’70s-style split screen that evokes a period and its moviemaking. All this beauty, in turn, envelops but doesn’t overwhelm the hard, unsentimental (but still romantic) substance of Baldwin’s story of lovers trapped—but not defined or defeated—by a social context at once beyond their control and in their bones. No film I saw in 2018 improved more upon reflection, or thrives as strongly in memory; Jenkins’s extraordinary image-making hypnotizes the mind’s eye. —Adam Nayman

9. Support the Girls

Directed by Andrew Bujalski (Magnolia)

“I started this day off crying, so if you ask me, laughing is progress,” says embattled restaurant manager Lisa (Regina Hall) midway through Support the Girls;by the end of Bujalski’s film, she’ll be literally screaming into the void, which may not be progress but definitely seems to feel good. Like the director’s previous, gym-set Results, Support the Girls is a workplace comedy, and the sweet ensemble dynamics and myriad contradictions of Lisa’s highway-side establishment Double Whammies—an independently owned establishment that panders to sleazy truckers and harmlessly horny dads—remain in play even as the script gradually narrows into a character study of a woman at once determined and terrified of being defined by her job. Hall’s hugely appealing performance has already been honored by the New York Film Critics Circle, and she fully inhabits a character whose mix of pride, professionalism, and protectiveness makes her a heroine to the (mostly younger) women slinging drinks in low-cut shirts on her watch; the “girls” (including supporting-cast MVPs Haley Lu Richardson and Shayna McHayle) love her unconditionally, and so do we. —AN

8. Annihilation

Directed by Alex Garland (Paramount)

As science fiction goes, 2018 was not a banner year. Consumed by the trappings of adaptation (Ready Player One), intellectual property (The Predator), world-building (The Cloverfield Paradox), and sequelism (Pacific Rim: Uprising), just one film in the genre sought to tell a story individuated from our modern movie world. Garland’s loose adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s novel is an exceptionally strange film as studio fare goes, colorful and violent, but also opaque, elusive, and spiritual. The film follows an all-female team of emotionally unmoored scientists who travel to the center of an all-consuming ecological event that is devouring land and time at a terrifying rate. It’s called the Shimmer, and its appetite is cosmic. Garland, who plumbed the depths of artificial intelligence in 2015’s Ex Machina, takes a bolder risk here, attempting to tangle with the idea of the self while also having Natalie Portman fire an automatic weapon at a mutant alligator. It’s an odd, intoxicating film with a score that will invade your bloodstream, a breathtaking third act, and a puzzle-box ending that rewards multiple viewings. There is nothing else like it, mostly because no one else would try. —Sean Fennessey

7. Let the Sunshine In

Directed by Claire Denis (Curiosa)

Hopefully, 2019 will be the year of Claire Denis: The acquisition of the great French director’s new, stunning sci-fi movie High Life by hit-making distributor A24 means that her work will be more readily available to American audiences than ever. In the meantime, though, Denis had a minor box office success this spring with the deceptively accessible Let the Sunshine In,starring Juliette Binoche as a painter navigating the treacherous minefield of midlife dating (it doesn’t help that her art-world social circle is littered with exes). In the past, Denis has pushed both narrative structure and violence to the breaking point (and she does so again in High Life),but Let the Sunshine In looks and behaves like a conventional romantic comedy … until you realize that the emotions it’s dealing with, about companionship and loneliness, are completely unsanitized, and completely devastating. A scene where Binoche’s Isabelle is seduced on the dance floor by a tall, dark stranger to Etta James’s “At Last” is sublime, but despite the song’s title, it’s not a happy ending. The actual finale isn’t an ending either, and we know it. For a movie that may ultimately be about the need for compromise, Let the Sunshine In doesn’t make any—and that’s why it’s Denis at her best. —AN

6. First Reformed

Directed by Paul Schrader (A24)

”I know that nothing can change and I know there is no hope.” Good morning to Paul Schrader! In a world devoid of meaning, there is no greater joy than meeting an artist whose purview is even darker than your own. Schrader’s portrait of a pastor coming unglued from his faith and corporeal reality features one of the great performances of the century in Ethan Hawke’s forlorn Reverend Ernst Toller, an equal to Travis Bickle in Schrader’s canon of demoralized men. The filmmaker is riffing on the slow cinema of his youth, aping the painterly, patient ethical dramas of Ingmar Bergman and Yasujiro Ozu. But it’s remarkable to watch him wriggle away from his inspirations and back into the maddened, isolated masculine anxieties that have defined his career. By the time Hawke and a young, pregnant parishioner named Mary (Amanda Seyfried) find each other, it’s in an ecstatic, bizarre form of spiritual bliss. And by the time they are floating, so are we. —SF

5. Black Panther

Directed by Ryan Coogler (Marvel)

Black Panther does something that no other movie has done before. I’m not talking about crafting a cinematic superhero film that is both acclaimed and socially relevant, though that’s true. And I’m not talking about making a film with a primarily black cast an international sensation, though that is also true. Black Panther does something else extraordinary: It bends a world to its whims. The extended Marvel continuum is the center of the pop cultural universe, more dominant, demanding, and overexamined than anything else. But, in a clever bit of self-referentiality, Black Panther mimics its own core crisis of isolationism vs. globalism, zooming in to a localized fable of succession, kings, and factional warfare. Sure, it globe-trots like a James Bond flick and ponders the history of the fates. But it takes itself seriously and stays home in Wakanda, eyeing oppression and disenfranchisement within the walls of closed communities.

But this isn’t a turgid morality play. The composite parts of a rollicking comic book movie are all there: sharply drawn set pieces, exceptional costuming and production design, overqualified actors filling in bit-part gaps, adventurous photographic choices, meme-worthy gags. Evil threatens and ultimately falls. But Coogler’s sure-handed, empathic portrait of fathers and sons—what they give to each other and what they take away—is an uncommonly trenchant theme interwoven in a movie that also features CGI war rhinos. Black Panther is obviously great, but never greatly obvious. —SF

4. Zama

Directed by Lucrecia Martel (Strand)

The greatest movies make us experience them on their own terms. They go so far with their style that there’s no meeting them halfway. No narrative film released in 2018 asked more of its audience than Martel’s Zama,a slow-motion comedy about a Spanish diplomat wasting away in a remote Patagonian outpost in the 1700s; the line between the boredom of Don Diego de Zama (Daniel Giménez Cacho), who wants desperately to leave for better things, and that of the viewer is razor thin, but Martel—a genius of mood and atmosphere—stays on the right side in every precise, mesmerizing scene. Part existential horror movie, part colonial critique, part satire of deflated masculinity—and so fully realized on the levels of sound, image, and performance that comparisons to past masters are inevitable (I thought often of Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon)—Zama is challenging stuff and exists in a separate universe from some of the other titles on this list. But if cinema is about being transported to another place, Martel is unrivaled as a guide—which may be why, in its amazing final scenes, the film suggests that the solution (for the character and the audience) is to just sit back and enjoy the ride. —AN

3. Roma

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Netflix)

Roma is practically defined by a humane grandeur, the swirling image of Mexico in a state of unrest in 1970, masses of people on the move through forests, deserts, beaches, city streets. But the image that has attached itself to my mind and refused to let go takes place inside the home of the middle-class family at the center of the film, on the floor of the living room, where a mother is clutching her young son, seated foot-to-foot, heads bowing toward one another, in tears. It’s one of the most profound, modest evocations of a family dissolving that I’ve ever seen. Alfonso Cuarón has rendered dystopian warfare, interstellar space travel, and a rousing round of Quidditch on screen. But he’s never made anything quite like Roma, a masterly work in which he is controlling all of the levers—writing, directing, producing, and physically shooting the film. If ever a movie demanded such a one-man-band approach, it’s this personal remembrance, a swatch of memory reprogrammed for the big screen. It’s also a staggering achievement, a rare occasion when the oft-overused word “vision” is worthy. It feels like something Cuarón has been seeing in his mind for years, decades. That we can see it now is a gift. —SF

2. Minding the Gap

Directed by Bing Liu (Hulu)

It has been an unpredictably massive year for the documentary form—as narrative podcasts grow, true crime has emerged as a core American genre and streaming services have built their unwieldy content plans around sprawling doc series. And yet, it was good ol’ feature documentaries that rose above a glut of “real” to tap into something urgent and sometimes even profound. They hit on something obvious but elusive in the culture, and audiences showed up. What RBG and Won’t You Be My Neighbor? accomplished with overt political and social gestures, Free Solo found in astonishing physical feats, and Three Identical Strangers captured in its shocking unbelievability, Liu’s Minding the Gap touched on the surface of the earth, gliding along the mortal remains of an abandoned American city. Tracing his friends and fellow skateboarders through adolescence and into uncertain adulthood in Rockford, Illinois, Liu doesn’t do anything fancy with the camera. He doesn’t try to announce a decree about his generation. He doesn’t even care much about narrative cohesion. But if you look closely at the credits, you’ll see a meaningful name that’s also a guidepost: Steve James. The same Steve James who made Hoop Dreams some 25 years ago, tracking a previous generation of hopeful and ignored young men seeking guidance in flawed role models. The connection is deep and earned. Liu’s film is autobiographical but timeless, a picture of how disenfranchised kids with no good idea of how to live make mistakes and wonder why they went wrong. It’s an unusually raw and upsetting movie made with grace and a seeming ease, across several years. Unlike so many in the genre, you can never feel it working or manipulating the viewer. The landing is hard, but the trick is worth it. —SF

1. Burning

Directed by Lee Chang-dong (CGV Arthouse)

“There is a difference between movies that refuse to fix their meanings for fear of exposing their essential vacuousness—that leave so much space for interpretation that they end up feeling legitimately empty, like a shell game without a marble—and movies that bristle with an ambiguity derived from the complex, irreconcilable nature of reality itself.” I wrote those words about Burning in October, the point being that Lee’s film was in the second category. They’ve only felt truer the more I’ve meditated on this wonderfully maddening thriller. The trope of the unreliable narrator is brilliantly realized in the character of Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in), an aspiring writer who sees himself as the hero in a tale of unrequited love. The question of whether his romantic rival, Ben (Steven Yeun, who should be nominated for an Oscar), is an embodiment of true evil or a hateful projection of the author remains as wide open as the fate of the woman who comes between them (Jeon Jong-seo, in a nuanced, thoughtful performance that’s being given predictably short shrift by critics who’ve misread the role as evidence of misogyny). As a story about class, money, sex, art, masculinity, and the fundamentally mysterious nature of all interpersonal exchange, Burning is as intricate and layered as the kind of novel Jong-su wants to write; it’s the cinematic equivalent of a page-turner where you can’t help but savor each poetically loaded passage. —AN

With Apologies To:

The Favourite
The Rider
Hereditary
A Star Is Born
First Man
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Cold War
Eighth Grade
The Old Man and the Gun
Game Night
Mid90s
Widows
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Wildlife
A Quiet Place
The Price of Everything
Shoplifters
Vice
Leave No Trace
Infinite Football
The Death of Stalin
Sorry to Bother You
BlacKkKlansman

Why is John Wick rated so high on Rotten Tomatoes? Is it that good?


Well why do you think some movies are rated so good? Because they are actually good movies. Same is the case with John Wick.

Don’t scroll down if you have not seen it…spoiler zone….

The movie is very simple and realistic and it is the first and foremost reason why it is rated 86% on tomatometer. I mean seriously who kills a total of 84 people over a goddamn puppy and a stolen car. The movie has a swift flow of action throughout and Keanu Reeves’s effortless acting makes it perfectly likeable

There is a sub- world created in the movie that makes it more compelling to watch. The sub-world it creates –accessible only to assassins, criminals, and gangsters who have their own rules, cliques, and currency – is as fun to watch as the action itself. It’s like being temporarily granted VIP access to a place you didn’t even know existed. It just happens to be a place that could probably kill you in two seconds. And John Wick shows you why he is the best there is in that world.

All in all the movie is quite interesting and even if you are not an action lover believe me you are gonna love it. That’s the charisma John Wick creates in the movie.

 

What are some good movies/series about psychopaths?


Before I can suggest anything I want to make something clear first, because I’ve seen this misconception a lot here.

Hannibal Lecter isn’t a psychopath. At best he’s a sadistic high-functioning sociopath. In fact Thomas Harris specified it several times that Hannibal wasn’t a psychopath and that he wanted to write a book about a perfect sociopath. The producers of the movies thought it’d be better calling the guy a psychopath without knowing what a psychopath is.

Hannibal was an asocial toddler and grew up to care only for his sister. He enjoyed seclusion and the trauma that shaped him was eating his own sister after some Nazi soldiers killed his parents in a conflict with the Russians. Later USSR took over his family’s mansion and used it as an orphanage. He stayed silent for years. This also became his trigger later. Anyone who knows that difference between a psychopath and a sociopath would never call Hannibal a psychopath.


Unfortunately every Hollywood movie or an American series portray psychopaths in a horrendous manner so I can suggest some anime, light novels, and mangaka that do them justice.

Johan Liebert, the titular monster of the anime and manga Monster. This boy had an operation as a kid because he was shot in the head. When they scanned his brains, they were shocked to find a peculiar brain formation that they didn’t understand at that time (Nazi Germany). The boy had no remorse, sadness, and failed to register the humane emotions others were able to. He cared for no one but his twin sister and the doctor who saved his life, but that didn’t stop him from screwing them. He possessed superficial charm and all the traits of a psychopath and cared for no one except himself. The time frame of the anime was before they came to terms of naming us so they just called him a Monster when they found zero change in his pulse throughout his actions.


Makishima Shogo from Psycho-Pass. In a utopic Japan where a system called Sybil judged people as a god and saw through their souls to see who’s prone to depravity and who’s not, Shogo was able to lie, kill, and manipulate the entirety of Japan without being spotted. Sybil was unable to judge him because he exerted no kind of emotions when he was slitting a throat, seeing his friend blown to bits, or seeing his enemy shred to pieces by cyborg hounds. He was neutral to everything and anything. He didn’t understand himself as a kid because he was always bored and rarely felt joy. He started entertaining himself by reading and seeking art, and soon he disliked the current Japan and became an anarchist. His aim is to destroy Sybil. In the anime his type was called A Priori Acquit (Criminally Asymptomatic), those who are free from any reaction to criminal activities.


Tanya Degurechaff from Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya The Evil). This one what I’d personally call a perfect depiction of paths. The story goes around an atheist who was thrown before a train by a petty employee for getting fired. The MC then stands before Yahweh. The MC refutes the possibility of a god and tells him that if he’s a god then he’s not doing his job properly. Yahweh banishes the impious human to an alternate universe in the body of young girl. This world resembles the world of WWI and the MC finds himself on the side of Germany. The MC’s top priority is to survive. The anime shows how he’d save his comrades to keep up his good name, how he’d manipulate his way to a promotion, how he’d do his best to have human shields, how he’d strife to being away from the war and make sure he’s not in danger. He’s self-preservative to a vast level and he’s devoid from empathy, regret, shame, and guilt. He manipulates everything around him just to live and survive the war, and he doesn’t care about anyone. This made him/her the perfect soldier in the army. That’s what a psycho/sociopath would do in these situations. We wouldn’t kill for fun, but if it’s us or them we’ll make sure we walk out of it.

 

‘Black Panther’ Is Marvel’s First Genuine Masterpiece


Ryan Coogler’s highly anticipated superhero movie is even better and richer than could have been imagined, thanks to a fantastical world that evokes real questions about history

 

Let’s talk about hunger. As wonderful as Black Panther is—and it’s as good as we’d hoped, maybe even better—nothing in it is a match for the carefree, infectious joy displayed last week by a group of middle school students from Atlanta’s Ron Clark Academy. Maybe you’ve seen them. They went viral after videos of their celebratory dancing on school cafeteria tables hit Instagram, then Twitter, then the news. The students had just found out that they—like middle and high school students across the country, boosted by fundraising campaigns and the wise support of their principals, teachers, parents, and local community leaders—were taking a school trip to see Black Panther for free. Fundraisers to send students like these to see the movie have become a nationwide trend: the #BlackPantherChallenge. Over $300,000 has been raised to date.

That’s not the sole reason Black Panther seems poised to trounce box office records this weekend, to say nothing of its other benchmarks, like exceeding the Fandango presales of every other Marvel movie to date, or being one of Twitter’s most talked-about movies of 2017—despite not coming out until 2018. But it helps. If we’re going to have a conversation about what makes Black Panther feel so essential, we may as well start there. We can do the whole song and dance of spelling out the basic reasons for the movie’s importance: what it means for Hollywood that a project of this size, with this budget, and with a nearly all-black cast, can finally seem like a worthwhile risk for a major studio and the timely impact of a movie about a mythical African kingdom, a so-called “shithole country,” to be released at this moment in our political history. The movie is a symbolic solution to issues that, when Black Panther was just a rumor, a dream getting tossed to and fro in a Marvel Studios boardroom, we didn’t think could grow so much more dire.

All of that matters. All of it is true and worth reckoning with. Does any of it justify the goofiness of Michael B. Jordan, one of the movie’s stars, cosplaying as a member of the actual Black Panther Party on the cover of British GQ? Complicated. Maybe a radical political organization like the Panthers would have preferred to have been left out of your corporate franchise narrative, pun or no pun. And would any of the movie’s representational power still matter if Black Panther weren’t any good? Again: complicated. The social politics of it all are eerie and dense; those politics, twined with history, aesthetics, the New York Times push alerts I keep ignoring, the open-all-hours despondent chaos of my Twitter feed, and on and on, is even more fraught. It’s possible to love Black Panther but be conflicted, but still love it, but still be conflicted, all the while sharing in the unmitigated joy of its existence. “The film arrives as a corporate product,” writes Carvell Wallace, beautifully, for The New York Times, “but we are using it for our own purposes.” I like thinking of Black Panther in those terms: not just as a movie you watch, nor as a challenge to the woke box-checking of the political minefield we call the internet, but as something we can use.

Black Panther is a feat in its own right. It is very much the Black Panther tale dreamed up by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the 1960s, a retelling of the origin story in which Wakanda becomes the sole possessor of vibranium, an indestructible alien element from a fallen meteorite, and over time becomes the most technologically advanced society in the world, in part by cutting itself off from said world, hiding under the cloak of unassuming third-world poverty.

The story of the movie, taking its cue from the comics over the years, involves precisely this question of isolation, and whether Wakanda is better off alone. The trouble starts when T’Chaka, the king of Wakanda, and the current Black Panther, is killed in an attack on the U.N. in Vienna, a plot point familiar from 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. When he dies, his son, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), rises to power. The robot-armed villain Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), meanwhile, is trying to break into Wakanda and steal its resources with a small team of bad guys, among them Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), by his side. Who Killmonger is to Wakanda I’ll leave it to the movie to reveal. Suffice it to say this gnarly, muscled Annapolis grad from America has been trained in bringing down royal dynasties, and he’s got his eye on T’Challa’s throne—and the smarts, as well as the thirst for vengeance, needed to get there.

It’s a complicated plot centered on the question of what Wakanda is and—most urgently—what it means, not only to the Wakandans themselves nor even to Africans broadly, but to blacks everywhere. Imagine knowing there was a black utopia, a place at the root of all blackness, self-sufficient and untouched by slavery or colonialism. It’s a fantasy: a reversal of history. “Wakanda itself is a dream state,” says director Ava DuVernay to The New York Times, “a place that’s been in the hearts and minds and spirits of black people since we were brought here in chains.” The question that envelops Black Panther, in other words, is a question baked, poignantly and also fraughtly, into its script. What Wakanda—a booming black metropolis that mixes technological Afro-futurity with the spiritual and ancestral past—means to the black people within the movie is analogous to what it means to us outside of it.

Incidentally, I’ve noticed in comment sections and the occasional dumb tweet that this idea can be misread to suggest that the premise of Black Panther is one in which black greatness can exist only in fantasy. I see it differently. The power of Wakanda, to me, is in the idea that within destitution and historical violence can lurk great power. Wakanda puts up a literal front that effaces its true beauty; what appears impoverished is, in fact, the seat of technological advancement. This is different from the usual Third World discourse, and it’s certainly different from the history of colonization, in which the primacy of Africa as a hub of civilization, rather than as merely a victim of it, is often erased.

“I’m from a place that I’d never been to and that nobody who I loved had been to because they couldn’t afford to go,” says Coogler, who grew up hearing about Africa but went for the first time only late in the process of making his previous film, Creed. “So I would hear stories from them about this place that they didn’t even know anything about, and those stories were a counterbalance to the awful things that we did hear about them.” Coogler spent about three weeks traveling Africa as he did research for the film. “I truly felt that seeing it for myself was necessary for my growth as a human being.”

The story of black American spiritual renewal and voyages to Africa isn’t a new one; entire movements and styles, from Black Zionism in the 19th century to the kente cloth durags I grew up seeing in Irvington, New Jersey, were born of this idea. It’s not even new to movies, really—Coming to America being a prominent, humorous riff on black Americans’ imaginative curiosity about Africa and Africans, and Hype Williams’s Belly, which features a character played by Nas expresses a desire to leave behind a life of violence to go to Africa and find his roots. But that’s not the same as seeing it in a Marvel movie. And Coogler, smartly, revels in the astonishing, symbolic beauty of it. Coogler’s Wakanda is rife with powerful women, including the army of speared warrior women known as the Dora Milaje, who serve the king in name but, based on their fierceness alone, would seem to serve no master. Has Grace Jones hailed from Wakanda this whole time and none of us knew? The gangbusters quartet of Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, and Letitia Wright play T’Challa’s love interest, war general, mother, and sister, respectively, but each woman stands on her own, separate from her ties to T’Challa. Each woman is as modern as the gleaming, sky-high buildings or the hyperadvanced rail system devised by Shuri, T’Challa’s sister, who is in charge of the country’s vibranium-based technologies.

For all that’s new, there’s old again: The act of becoming king is still rooted in old rituals, down to a fight on the rocky cliffs of a waterfall in which the incumbent Black Panther, stripped of his legendary powers and reduced to being a mere man, must defend the seat from a challenger. T’Challa wins that battle, but he risks losing the war. What makes Black Panther feel different from other Marvel movies is that the world it imagines, the fights it insists must be fought, are grounded in real questions with immediate analogues that harken back to an entire discourse of black activism and thought. Other superhero movies could take a page from Black Panther’s book. How much better would most superhero movies be if, rather than fall back on the plain anonymity of World War I and II villains, they rooted themselves in a live, urgent sense of culture? What if Christopher Nolan’s Batman films had anchored themselves in a genuine sense of economic disparity, rather than continually paying lip service to that idea through a vaguely conceived millionaire and his abuses of power? What if the Avengers’ Ultron had more of a palpable fear of public surveillance? Seeing Bruce Wayne or even 007 get a tour of their new toys, meanwhile, is always fun, as tropes go, but imagine that those toys, and the monied, technologically advanced societies they imply, had become possible only through an element that had the power to reverse the course of colonial history. Wouldn’t those tools seem more powerful, the stakes in their design that much higher?

That’s what it feels like to watch Black Panther. Coogler’s unique skill, visible from his first feature, Fruitvale Station (2013), about the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant III in Oakland, is his ability to instill a movie with a sense of history and, even more remarkably, a sense of place. Fruitvale is very much an Oakland story. The director’s tremendous follow-up, Creed (2015), a sequel to the Rocky franchise (again starring Michael B. Jordan), is a Philly story.

Black Panther is, obviously, a Wakanda story, meaning that its images ripple with Wakanda’s specific rhythms and textures; characters’ in-jokes and senses of humor seem to open up untold bits of history among them; rituals feel genuinely ritualistic, lived in and specific to the people and the place. It’s convincing in the way that the struggles between young Creed and old man Rocky became the foundation of one of the most moving and unlikely screen relationships in recent memory. Their shared history, evoked in the pictures on the walls, the scratches in the furniture, and the gestures and looks that divvy up the emotional beats of the story, is what creates that bond. Coogler takes history—geographic, interpersonal, textbook—seriously. But that’s merely a personality trait. What makes his films a cut above is his ability to give that history an afterlife in images, to weld those images into a story, to fashion that story into something larger than life—larger, even, than movies.

Black Panther may be Coogler’s first superhero movie, but in truth, the heroes at the center of his films, including Oscar Grant, have always felt bigger than their real-life counterparts, if only because of Coogler’s willingness to lean into treating them like the heroes of a movie. It’s not that simple, but maybe it is. Even Fruitvale, which lacks the muscled opera of Creed and the big-budget wizardry of Black Panther, is a movie whose contrived sense of last rites seems to contradict the realistic look of its images. But the movie isn’t totally interested in outright realism. It’s a precisely structured, unsubtle, larger-than-life tragedy, the kind of tribute you give to a man whose fate stood for more than one man’s fate. That comes off in large part because of Jordan, who is again the standout actor in Panther, and who has found, in Coogler, the perfect collaborator. In Panther, Jordan’s pain is the movie’s pain, his rage the movie’s rage. He’s the villain, but not really. The movie takes the grand risk of seeing him with sympathy, not merely because he’s human, but because he, too, is a black man in search of a home, and a history—like so many of us. He has strayed, but the movie goes out of its way to give his feelings legitimacy. The ideas that sustain him—about what Wakanda owes to the world—are the opposite of villainy.

I admittedly have less at stake in whether Black Panther is a good superhero movie. I just wanted it to be a good movie. And I wanted us to be a good audience: thoughtful, fair, fervent, excited. I think we’re all winning, on all fronts. The most radical thing a Black Panther movie could have done is ask what Wakanda means—and what it owes—to the race. And that’s what Coogler’s passionate, funny, dexterous movie asks, over and over again, both to its characters and to its audience. It’s a mighty question, and it feels like it’s coming alive in almost every one of Coogler’s images: in their sense of the elements, in their dramatic and physical grandeur, in their beauty. Black Panther crouching in trees to pounce on a team of sex traffickers is an image with force; so are the images of T’Challa fighting for the throne in water so viscous and alive it seems fit to swallow him back up into the earth. Wakanda is sequestered for a reason. Its ability to resist being colonized, like its neighbors, isn’t arbitrary or accidental. How do you make a multimillion-dollar Marvel movie out of that moral complexity? There’s no need to wonder any longer. Coogler has made that movie. And it’s Marvel’s first genuine masterpiece.

The Revolutionary Power of Black Panther


The first movie I remember seeing in a theater had a black hero. Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams, didn’t have any superpowers, but he ran his own city. That movie, the 1980 Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back, introduced Calrissian as a complicated human being who still did the right thing. That’s one reason I grew up knowing I could be the same.

If you are reading this and you are white, seeing people who look like you in mass media probably isn’t something you think about often. Every day, the culture reflects not only you but nearly infinite versions of you—executives, poets, garbage collectors, soldiers, nurses and so on. The world shows you that your possibilities are boundless. Now, after a brief respite, you again have a President.

Those of us who are not white have considerably more trouble not only finding representation of ourselves in mass media and other arenas of public life, but also finding representation that indicates that our humanity is multi­faceted. Relating to characters onscreen is necessary not merely for us to feel seen and understood, but also for others who need to see and understand us. When it doesn’t happen, we are all the poorer for it.

This is one of the many reasons Black Panther is significant. What seems like just another entry in an endless parade of super­hero movies is actually something much bigger. It hasn’t even hit theaters yet and its cultural footprint is already enormous. It’s a movie about what it means to be black in both America and Africa—and, more broadly, in the world. Rather than dodge complicated themes about race and identity, the film grapples head-on with the issues affecting modern-day black life. It is also incredibly entertaining, filled with timely comedy, sharply choreographed action and gorgeously lit people of all colors. “You have superhero films that are gritty dramas or action comedies,” director Ryan Coogler tells TIME. But this movie, he says, tackles another important genre: “Superhero films that deal with issues of being of African descent.”

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MarvelBlack Panther features tense action sequences: “There was a point during the movie when my brother turned to me and said, ‘What’s gonna happen?’” Boseman says. “I looked at him like, ‘Just watch the movie!’”

Black Panther is the 18th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a franchise that has made $13.5 billion at the global box office over the past 10 years. (Marvel is owned by Disney.) It may be the first mega­budget movie—not just about superheroes, but about anyone—to have an African-American director and a predominantly black cast. Hollywood has never produced a blockbuster this splendidly black.

The movie, out Feb. 16, comes as the entertain­ment industry is wrestling with its toxic treatment of women and persons of color. This rapidly expanding reckoning—one that reflects the importance of representation in our culture—is long overdue. Black Panther is poised to prove to Hollywood that African-American narratives have the power to generate profits from all audiences. And, more important, that making movies about black lives is part of showing that they matter.

The invitation to the Black Panther premiere read “Royal attire requested.” Yet no one showed up to the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard on Jan. 29 looking like an extra from a British costume drama. On display instead were crowns of a different sort—ascending head wraps made of various African fabrics. Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o wore her natural hair tightly wrapped above a resplendent bejeweled purple gown. Men, including star Chadwick Boseman and Coogler, wore Afrocentric patterns and clothing, dashikis and boubous. Co-star Daniel Kaluuya, an Oscar nominee for his star turn in Get Out, arrived wearing a kanzu, the formal tunic of his Ugandan ancestry.

After the Obama era, perhaps none of this should feel groundbreaking. But it does. In the midst of a regressive cultural and political moment fueled in part by the white-nativist movement, the very existence of Black Panther feels like resistance. Its themes challenge institutional bias, its characters take unsubtle digs at oppressors, and its narrative includes prismatic perspectives on black life and tradition. The fact that Black Panther is excellent only helps.

Black Panther Hero Rises Time Magazine Cover

Back when the film was announced, in 2014, nobody knew that it would be released into the fraught climate of President Trump’s America—where a thriving black future seems more difficult to see. Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville chaos last summer equated those protesting racism with violent neo-Nazis defending a statue honoring a Confederate general. Immigrants from Mexico, Central America and predominantly Muslim countries are some of the President’s most frequent scapegoats. So what does it mean to see this film, a vision of unmitigated black excellence, in a moment when the Commander in Chief reportedly, in a recent meeting, dismissed the 54 nations of Africa as “sh-thole countries”?

As is typical of the climate we’re in, Black Panther is already running into its share of trolls—including a Facebook group that sought, unsuccessfully, to flood the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes with negative ratings of the film. That Black Panther signifies a threat to some is unsurprising. A fictional African King with the technological war power to destroy you—or, worse, the wealth to buy your land—may not please someone who just wants to consume the latest Marvel chapter without deeper political consideration. Black Panther is emblematic of the most productive responses to bigotry: rather than going for hearts and minds of racists, it celebrates what those who choose to prohibit equal representation and rights are ignoring, willfully or not. They are missing out on the full possibility of the world and the very America they seek to make “great.” They cannot stop this representation of it. When considering the folks who preemptively hate Black Panther and seek to stop it from influencing American culture, I echo the response that the movie’s hero T’Challa is known to give when warned of those who seek to invade his home country: Let them try.

The history of black power and the movement that bore its name can be traced back to the summer of 1966. The activist Stokely Carmichael was searching for something more than mere liberty. To him, integration in a white-dominated America meant assimilation by default. About one year after the assassination of Malcolm X and the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Carmichael took over the Student Non­violent Coordinating Committee from John Lewis. Carmichael decided to move the organization away from a philosophy of pacifism and escalate the group’s militancy to emphasize armed self-defense, black business ownership and community control.

In June of that year, James Meredith, an activist who four years earlier had become the first black person admitted to Ole Miss, started the March Against Fear, a long walk of protest from Memphis to Mississippi, alone. On the second day of the march, he was wounded by a gunman. Carmichael and tens of thousands of others continued in Meredith’s absence. Carmichael, who was arrested halfway through the march, was incensed upon his release. “The only way we gonna stop them white men from whuppin’ us is to take over,” he declared before a passionate crowd on June 16. “We been saying freedom for six years and we ain’t got nothin’. What we gonna start sayin’ now is Black Power!”

ATMS/AP/REX/ShutterstockThe activist Stokely Carmichael, pictured here at a 1966 rally in Berkeley, Calif., took a stand against white oppression and helped popularize the term black power

Black Panther was born in the civil rights era, and he reflected the politics of that time. The month after Carmichael’s Black Power declaration, the character debuted in Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four No. 52. Supernatural strength and agility were his main features, but a genius intellect was his best attribute. “Black Panther” wasn’t an alter ego; it was the formal title for T’Challa, King of Wakanda, a fictional African nation that, thanks to its exclusive hold on the sound-absorbent metal vibranium, had become the most technologically advanced nation in the world.

It was a vision of black grandeur and, indeed, power in a trying time, when more than 41% of ­African Americans were at or below the poverty line and comprised nearly a third of the nation’s poor. Much like the iconic Lieutenant Uhura character, played by Nichelle Nichols, that debuted in Star Trek in September 1966, Black Panther was an expression of Afrofuturism—an ethos that fuses African mythologies, technology and science fiction and serves to rebuke conventional depictions of (or, worse, efforts to bring about) a future bereft of black people. His white creators, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, did not consciously conjure a fantasy-world response to Carmichael’s call, but the image still held power. T’Challa was not only strong and educated; he was also royalty. He didn’t have to take over. He was already in charge.

“You might say that this African nation is fantasy,” says Boseman, who portrays T’Challa in the movie. “But to have the opportunity to pull from real ideas, real places and real African concepts, and put it inside of this idea of Wakanda—that’s a great opportunity to develop a sense of what that identity is, especially when you’re disconnected from it.”

The character emerged at a time when the civil rights movement rightfully began to increase its demands of an America that had promised so much and delivered so little to its black population. Fifty-two years after the introduction of T’Challa, those demands have yet to be fully answered. According to the Federal Reserve, the typical African-American family had a median net worth of $17,600 in 2016. In contrast, white households had a median net worth of $171,000. The revolutionary thing about Black Panther is that it envisions a world not devoid of racism but one in which black people have the wealth, technology and military might to level the playing field—a scenario applicable not only to the predominantly white landscape of Hollywood but, more important, to the world at large.

The Black Panther Party, the revolutionary organization founded in Oakland, Calif., a few months after T’Challa’s debut, was depicted in the media as a threatening and radical group with goals that differed dramatically from the more pacifist vision of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Lewis. Marvel even briefly changed the character’s name to Black Leopard because of the inevitable association with the Panthers, but soon reverted. For some viewers, “Black Panther” may have undeservedly sinister connotations, but the 2018 film reclaims the symbol to be celebrated by all as an avatar for change.

The urgency for change is partly what Carmichael was trying to express in the summer of ’66, and the powers that be needed to listen. It’s still true in 2018.

Marvel

Moviegoers first encountered Boseman’s T’Challa in Marvel’s 2016 ensemble hit Captain America: Civil War, and he instantly cut a striking figure in his sleek vibranium suit. As Black Panther opens, with T’Challa grieving the death of his father and coming to grips with his sudden ascension to the Wakandan throne, it’s clear that our hero’s royal upbringing has kept him sheltered from the realities of how systemic racism has touched just about every black life across the globe.

The comic, especially in its most recent incarnations as rendered by the writers Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay, has worked to expunge Euro­centric misconceptions of Africa—and the film’s imagery and thematic material follow suit. “People often ask, ‘What is Black Panther? What is his power?’ And they have a misconception that he only has power through his suit,” says Boseman. “The character is existing with power inside power.”

Coogler says that Black Panther, like his previous films—including the police-brutality drama Fruitvale Station and his innovative Rocky sequel Creed—explores issues of identity. “That’s something I’ve always struggled with as a person,” says the director. “Like the first time that I found out I was black.” He’s talking less about an epidermal self-awareness than about learning how white society views his black skin. “Not just identity, but names. ‘Who are you?’ is a question that comes up a lot in this film. T’Challa knows exactly who he is. The antagonist in this film has many names.”

That villain comes in the form of Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, a former black-ops soldier with Wakandan ties who seeks to both outwit and beat down T’Challa for the crown. As played by a scene-­stealing Michael B. Jordan, Killmonger’s motivations illuminate thorny questions about how black people worldwide should best use their power.

In the movie, Killmonger is, like Coogler, a native of Oakland. By exploring the disparate experiences of Africans and African Americans, Coogler shines a bright light on the psychic scars of slavery’s legacy and how black Americans endure the real-life consequences of it in the present day. Killmonger’s perspective is rendered in full; his rage over how he and other black people across the world have been disenfranchised and disempowered is justifiable.

Coogler, who co-wrote the screenplay with Joe Robert Cole, also includes another important antagonist from the comics: the dastardly and bigoted Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis). “What I love about this experience is that it could have been the idea of black exploitation: he’s gonna fight Klaue, he’s gonna go after the white man and that’s it—that’s the enemy,” Boseman says. He recognizes that some fans will take issue with a black male villain fighting black protagonists. Killmonger fights not only T’Challa, but also warrior women like the spy Nakia (Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the rest of the Dora Milaje, T’Challa’s all-female royal guards. Killmonger and Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa’s quippy tech-genius sister, also face off.

T’Challa and Killmonger are mirror images, separated only by the accident of where they were born. “What they don’t realize,” Boseman says, “is that the greatest conflict you will ever face will be the conflict with yourself.”

Both T’Challa and Killmonger had to be compelling in order for the movie to succeed. “Obviously, the superhero is who puts you in the seat,” Coogler says.

“That’s who you want to see come out on top. But I’ll be damned if the villains ain’t cool too. They have to be able to stand up to the hero, and have you saying, ‘Man, I don’t know if the hero’s going to make it out of this.’”

“If you don’t have that,” Boseman says, “you don’t have a movie.”

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MarvelOn set, Coogler works with star Gurira. “Black Panther is about a guy who works with his family and is responsible for a whole country,” he says. “That responsibility doesn’t turn off.”

This is not just a movie about a black superhero; it’s very much a black movie. It carries a weight that neither Thor nor Captain America could lift: serving a black audience that has long gone under­represented. For so long, films that depict a reality where whiteness isn’t the default have been ghettoized, marketed largely to audiences of color as niche entertainment, instead of as part of the mainstream. Think of Tyler Perry’s Madea movies, Malcolm D. Lee’s surprise 1999 hit The Best Man or the Barbershop franchise that launched in 2002. But over the past year, the success of films including Get Out and Girls Trip have done even bigger business at the box office, led to commercial acclaim and minted new stars like Kaluuya and Tiffany Haddish. Those two hits have only bolstered an argument that has persisted since well before Spike Lee made his debut: black films with black themes and black stars can and should be marketed like any other. No one talks about Woody Allen and Wes Anderson movies as “white movies” to be marketed only to that audience.

Black Panther marks the biggest move yet in this wave: it’s both a black film and the newest entrant in the most bankable movie franchise in history. For a wary and risk-averse film business, led largely by white film executives who have been historically predisposed to greenlight projects featuring characters who look like them, Black Panther will offer proof that a depiction of a reality of something other than whiteness can make a ton of money.

The film’s positive reception—as of Feb. 6, the day initial reviews surfaced, it had a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes—bodes well for its commercial prospects. Variety predicted that it could threaten the Presidents’ Day weekend record of $152 million, set in 2016 by Deadpool.

Some of the film’s early success can be credited to Nate Moore, an African­-American executive producer in Marvel’s film division who has been vocal about the importance of including black characters in the Marvel universe. But beyond Wakanda, the questions of power and responsibility, it seems, are not only applicable to the characters in Black Panther. Once this film blows the doors off, as expected, Hollywood must do more to reckon with that issue than merely greenlight more black stories. It also needs more Nate Moores.

“I know people [in the entertainment industry] are going to see this and aspire to it,” Boseman says. “But this is also having people inside spaces—gatekeeper positions, people who can open doors and take that idea. How can this be done? How can we be represented in a way that is aspirational?”

Because Black Panther marks such an unprecedented moment that excitement for the film feels almost kinetic. Black Panther parties are being organized, pre- and post-film soirées for fans new and old. A video of young Atlanta students dancing in their classroom once they learned they were going to see the film together went viral in early February. Oscar winner Octavia Spencer announced on her Insta­gram account that she’ll be in Mississippi when Black Panther opens and that she plans to buy out a theater “in an underserved community there to ensure that all our brown children can see themselves as a superhero.”

Many civil rights pioneers and other trailblazing forebears have received lavish cinematic treatments, in films including Malcolm X, Selma and Hidden Figures. Jackie Robinson even portrayed himself onscreen. Fictional celluloid champions have included Virgil Tibbs, John Shaft and Foxy Brown. Lando, too. But Black Panther matters more, because he is our best chance for people of every color to see a black hero. That is its own kind of power.

The Real Science of the God Particle in Netflix’s ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’


Even if you’re not a particle physics buff, you may have noticed that the plot of Netflix’s surprise Superbowl Sunday release, The Cloverfield Paradox, relies heavily on a huge physics discovery that was in the news a few years ago: the Higgs Boson particle.

The Cloverfield Paradox

Also known as the “God particle” — which happened to be the working title of the new J.J. Abrams film — the Higgs Boson was first observed directly by scientists in 2012.

Gratuitous spoilers for The Cloverfield Paradox ahead.

In the midst of an energy crisis in the year 2028, scientists are struggling to use a massive space-based particle accelerator to help efficiently produce energy. When they finally get it to accelerate particles, they suddenly find themselves on the opposite side of the sun from the Earth. Chaos ensues: Worms explode out of a guy. Someone’s arm rematerializes on the other side of the ship with a mind of its own. Standard body horror nonsense.

Long story short, we’re led to believe that this botched experiment is what brought monsters to Earth in the first Cloverfield film — which, given the crazy science that goes on at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), is not totally absurd.

Cloverfield Paradox Monster
In ‘The Cloverfield Paradox,’ we’re led to believe that a particle accelerator experiment gone wrong in 2028 messed up the multiverse and caused a monster attack in 2008.

Any good science fiction story has some basis in reality, and it’s clear that The Cloverfield Paradox drew heavily on conspiracy theories that sprung up around CERN and its efforts to find direct evidence of the Higgs-Boson particle using a 27-kilometer circumference accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider.

 The particle’s discovery was a big deal because it was the only one out of 17 particles predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics that had never been observed. The Higgs Boson is partly responsible for the forces between objects, giving them mass.

But it wasn’t the particle itself that conspiracy theorists and skeptics worried about. It’s the way physicists had to observe it.

Doing so involved building the LHC, an extraordinarily large real-life physics experiment that housed two side-by-side high-energy particle beams traveling in opposite directions at close to the speed of light. The hope was that accelerated protons or lead ions in the beam would collide, throwing off a bunch of extremely rare, short-lived particles, one of which might be the Higgs Boson. In 2012, scientists finally observed it, calling it the “God particle” because “Goddamn particle” — as in “so Goddamn hard to find” — was considered too rude to print.

Critics and skeptics argued that colliding particles at close to the speed of light increased the potential to accidentally create micro black holes and possibly even larger black holes, leading to wild speculation like that in Cloverfield Paradox.

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Ah yes, the elusive Hands Bosarm particle.

This has never happened in real life, of course, and there’s also strong evidence that it couldn’t happen. Check out this excerpt from an interaction between astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and science skeptic Anthony Liversidge that Gizmodo reported on in 2011:

NDT: To catch everybody up on this, there’s a concern that if you make a pocket of energy that high, it might create a black hole that would then consume the Earth. So I don’t know what papers your fellow read, but there’s a simple calculation you can do. Earth is actually bombarded by high energy particles that we call cosmic rays, from the depths of space moving at a fraction of the speed of light, energies that far exceed those in the particle accelerator. So it seems to me that if making a pocket of high energy would put Earth at risk of black holes, then we and every other physical object in the universe would have become a black hole eons ago because these cosmic rays are scattered across the universe are hitting every object that’s out there. Whatever your friend’s concerns are were unfounded.

Liversidge may be on the fringe with his argument, but he isn’t alone. As Inverse previously reported, Vanderbilt University physicist Tom Weiler, Ph.D., has hypothesized that a particle created alongside the Higgs Boson, called the Higgs singlet, could travel through time through an as-yet-undiscovered fifth dimension. If Weiler’s hypothesis is correct, then it seems possible that interdimensional travel, as depicted in Cloverfield Paradox, could be possible, though his model really only accounts for the Higgs singlet particle’s ability to time travel.

'The Cloverfield Paradox' is forever the most important Cloverfield.
In ‘The Cloverfield Paradox,’ a particle accelerator plays a central role.

The reason the Cloverfield Paradox scientists were trying to fire up a particle accelerator in space is just as speculative. While particle accelerators take a massive amount of energy to accelerate their beams to near light speed, some physicists argue that under certain conditions, a particle accelerator could actually produce energy. Using superconductors, they argued, it would be possible for a particle accelerator to actually produce plutonium that could be used in nuclear reactors. So in a sense, the science of the movie is kind of based on maybe possibly real science.

That being said, this space horror film takes extreme liberties, even where it’s based on real science. Even on the extreme off-chance that any of the hypotheses outlined in this article turned out to be true, the tiny potential side effects of particle accelerators are nothing like what we see in The Cloverfield Paradox.

What are the most highly anticipated movies of 2018?


There are quite a few highly anticipated films/movies coming in 2018, so I will limit my list for now, to the top ten (not necessarily in order):

10. Tomb Raider

It’s another movie adaptation of a game and they never turn out well, but I still have hope.

9. Ready Player One

Basically a film all about pop culture, directed by Steven Spielberg, I’m excited for this one.

The book is actually about virtual reality gaming. So expect the movie to follow suit.

8.

No, in all honesty I don’t care about Black Panther all that much, but I may still see it at some point, due to it having an awesome cast including Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman amongst others.

7. Deadpool 2

Not too bothered about this one either, but I’ll still see it because of the previous one being quite funny and entertaining.

6. Han Solo – A Star Wars Story

Yeah this is the biggest fucking mistake since 1999, I honestly don’t give a shit about this film and it’s a terrible choice by Disney to give a character such as this a fleshed out backstory, plus apparently Alden can’t even act so he needed an acting coach, to quote Han Solo himself from TFA, “I got a bad feeling about this”.

5. Pacific Rim uprising

Looks like fun and I enjoyed the last one a fair amount.

4. Fantastic Beasts 2 (not official title)

I love the Harry Potter franchise and I really enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts.

3. The Incredibles 2

Don’t know why it took so long, but I’m glad a sequel is coming; the first one is a great film.

2. Avengers Infinity War part 1.

I’m really excited about this, 10 years of the MCU which all led up to this film.

  1. Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom.

I love the Jurassic Park franchise and to hear that they are going back to the style of the first film gets me very excited for june next year.

Thanks for reading, I guess.

 

Michael B. Jordan: ‘Black Panther shows black kids they can be superheroes’


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Michael B. Jordan has hailed new movie Black Panther as “extremely important” in changing the landscape of cinema for black actors.

The new Marvel movie features a mainly black cast, with a host of big names starring alongside Creed star Michael, including Chadwick Boseman, Sterling K. Brown and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.

Talking to British GQ about the significance of Ryan Coogler’s new flick, Michael highlighted why it is such a landmark film.

“I think it’s extremely important,” he stated. “I feel like I never had that many actors to look at and inspire me growing up. Black actors that I could identify with, that look like me on screen… And I’m just thinking about what this movie is going to do to the kids growing up… Black kids, white kids, all kids because they can imagine just as much as we can, but specifically black kids who don’t have that many positive examples to look at on TV and film.

“We’re giving black people power, royalty – we don’t gotta be crackheads or gangbangers, selling drugs or robbing people. We don’t have to be comic relief. We can be superheroes. Imagine what that’s going to do to the imagination and ambition of kids watching these movies. That’s the real impact of this film.”

The highly anticipated movie hits cinemas from 13 February (18). Chadwick takes on the lead role of T’Challa/ Black Panther, with Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis among the supporting cast.

Oprah Winfrey Moves Golden Globes Viewers with Powerful Time’s Up Speech


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Oprah Winfrey received a standing ovation at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards on Sunday (07Jan18) as she delivered an empowering speech about taking a stand against sexual misconduct and inequality.

The TV mogul and actress was presented with the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award, which is given to someone who has made a positive impact on the entertainment world, and showed fans why she was the perfect choice for the accolade as she stepped up to the podium at the Los Angeles ceremony.

Oprah began her speech by recalling how she had been given hope for her own future in media after witnessing history as a little girl back in 1964, when Sidney Poitier became the first AfricanAmericanto win an Oscar, and the significance of her special Globes honor, as the first AfricanAmericanwoman to receive the award, was not lost on her.

She then made reference to President Donald Trump, without naming him outright, as she addressed the importance of freedom of speech and freedom of the press – especially when it comes to reporting the stories of sexual misconduct victims.

“I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times,” Oprah said, “which brings me to this: what I know for sure, is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have, and I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories…

“I want to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault, because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay, and dreams to pursue.”

Oprah, who also shared the story of 1944 kidnap and gang-rape survivor Recy Taylor, concluded her speech by highlighting the Time’s Up campaign to end inappropriate behavior and inequality in the workplace, which stars supported by wearing black to the Globes.

“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men; but their time is up. Their time is up!,” she exclaimed, as celebrities across the board stood and applauded her call to action.

Following the speech, hordes of celebrities took to Twitter to praise her for her courageous words, while others suggested the speech indicated she might be planning to run for U.S. president in 2020.

Oprah was just one of the many honorees to publicly speak out in support of the Time’s Up movement – Big Little Lies co-stars Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon also used their acceptance speeches to hammer home the same message.

Dern, who claimed the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, urged people to end the “culture of silencing” which many of them were taught as kids, while Witherspoon encouraged other producers and filmmakers in Hollywood to tell more stories about victims of sexual abuse or harassment – as she did with Big Little Lies, which was named Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.