I didn't listen… I was warned of how dangerous this movie was, of what it could do to me.

I went anyway. All the murmurings of the chaos and havoc the movie would unleash upon our society only drew me toward it.

By Friday morning, opening day, I found myself driven along in a fugue, no longer in control of my actions as I searched for showtimes and dug through a pile of laundry for my faded Punisher T-shirt—the only shirt I wear to comic book movies. Before leaving for the theater, not knowing who I might be when I returned, I took one last look at the life I was leaving behind. I waved goodbye to my posters of Fight Club and V for Vendetta and blew one last kiss to my Death Note Waifu pillow. The docile boy who had assembled this innocent collection was about to become a violent madman. It was time to face my fate.

I had already heard of theaters instituting a policy against unaccompanied individuals buying tickets, but I was prepared. I went up to the electronic kiosk and selected two tickets for the 1:30 showing. I crumpled one of the tickets and threw it over my shoulder with a sly smirk. My only fear was that my bank might flag this as a fraudulent purchase (since I'd never bought more than one ticket before) and would figure it out in time to get me in a straight jacket before I could fully transform. I didn't care. Already I was becoming unhinged.

The woman who tore my ticket looked me up and down, and I dared her with my eyes to ask me where my date was. She knew better. She waved me through to the last doorway on the left. The name of my unraveling was spelled out in glowing lights above that gaping maw of darkness: Joker. I allowed the darkness to swallow me…

I pulled a bag of skittles from the pocket of my cargo shorts as I found a seat and settled in for my metamorphosis. Before the trailers, a PSA from NAMI played, decrying the harmful stigmas that are attached to mental illness, and I smiled—already thankful that someone was looking out for the murderous psychopath I was about to become. I tried to brace myself for the change to overtake me, but nothing could have prepared me for the two hours that followed.

It was as if I'd awoken from the dream of my former life to see my true self projected 30 feet high. As many people have already noted, this masterwork from director Todd Phillips bucks the conventional formula of the comic book genre by choosing instead to be a window into my twisted soul. Apart from a handful of references to the characters and setting of the Batman mythos, there is little indication that the movie takes place in a comic book universe, rather than in New York City during the 1981 garbage strike when the streets were clogged with filth—much like the dark corners of my mind.

It is a portrait of Arthur Fleck, a man broken and abandoned by an unfeeling society (sound familiar, mom?). A man tortured by fits of nervous laughter and who only wants the approval of a loving father and for black women to pay attention to him for once (Zazie Beetz, unblock me on Twitter!). A professional clown who lives with his ailing mother, Arthur slowly comes to an understanding that murder really is the best source of relief for people suffering from vague mental illnesses. Can you say "sign me up?"

I was as putty in Todd Phillips' deft and diabolical hands. For the first time in my life, probably in cinematic history, someone was actually telling the story of a disaffected loner using violence to solve problems. And Jaoquin Phoenix is even a lonely white guy, just like me! Truly, this was the pandora's box of movies. Once this lethal, unheard-of combination was unleashed before my eyes, there was no going back.

In the first hour, he's bullied, beaten, mocked—much like how, in my own life, people leave rude comments beneath my Watchmen fanfiction—and finally fired for the simple mistake of dropping a handgun on the floor of a children's hospital while he's clowning: an injustice so relatable, I defy anyone not to identify! But then, when Arthur is at his lowest, he is targeted for abuse one more time, and he fights back. I sat so enthralled by his transformation that my handful of skittles went ignored, leaving sweat-smeared polka-dots printed across my palm. As he performed his hypnotic, bathroom dance in the afterglow of his first act of murder, I saw those polka-dots—the taint of clownish colors—lit by the reflected glow of the screen. I licked them from my hand, taking Arthur's taint into my mouth.

Hollywood had really missed a trick by never glorifying brutal violence before! I thought of how much better Bruce Willis' career could have been if, say, the 2018 remake of Deathwish had incorporated some of this violent loner revenge fantasy. Hell, Sylvester Stallone could have built a whole, decades-spanning franchise out of this incredible new concept. And imagine if the John Wick series, instead of just being about a guy who misses his dog, had adopted this approach of having sad white guy kill a bunch of people. But because Joker is truly the first film of its kind, society has been saved from total collapse, until now…

Throughout the rest of the film, I was no longer watching Arthur. I was Arthur. I was the one struggling to understand my origin, to find love, and to achieve the destiny Frances Conroy had chosen for me. I was going to "make people smile"—preferably by sticking my fingers into their mouths while they just stand there, passively. I watched myself become a symbol of vigilante justice for Gotham City's downtrodden, even as I was made an object of ridicule by rich and powerful father-figures.

But it was not the cruelty of powerful men that ultimately broke us (Arthur and I), it was the failure of black women to empathize with our pain. From the social worker who wouldn't listen to us to the angry mother who scolded us on the bus and the would-be love interest who refused to be charmed by our stalking, black women consistently failed to save us from becoming brutal psychopaths. Each one represented another step on the road to our ultimate breakdown, and each was a stark reminder of the long history of pain that white men have endured—ignored and undervalued since time immemorial. Black women will never understand.

The film's final moments speak volumes. Arthur has shifted his violent, self-destructive impulses in a healthier direction—outward—and has managed to spark bedlam in the streets of Gotham. Laughing to himself, he tells his new therapist (another black woman) that she "wouldn't get it." Cut to Arthur, dancing in her blood. If only she'd had a better sense of humor :(

It would certainly be possible to read a lot of different messages into Joker—about gun control, economic inequality, access to mental health treatment, blah blah blah. But rather than wasting our breath on broader societal ills, the media narrative has already picked up on the most important point: We all need to do everything in our power to accommodate lonely white men. We need to make them feel better about themselves, to never let them feel rejected or judged, and for the love of god, we need to stop them from seeing this movie!

For me and Arthur, it's already too late. As soon as I got home from the theater, I stole a pack of sharpies from my roommate's desk and drew a thick red smile on my old Guy Fawkes mask and blue triangles around the eyes. I thought about donning my new face right away and joining the rioting crowds in the street, but when I turned on my laptop to search for the nearest violent mob, Pornhub was already open. I found some great hentai that I'd never seen before and masturbated myself to sleep—secure in the knowledge that the riots would still be there in the morning.

Film Lists

5 Beloved Franchises That Hollywood Can Legally Ruin

Find out if your favorite childhood memory is going to be destroyed.

Hollywood options everything nowadays — meaning they buy the rights, or "option," to turn an existing property into a movie or show.

Your favorite book? Optioned. Your favorite comic? Optioned. Your favorite movie that was already a freaking movie in the first place so why would they possibly need to make it again? Oh yeah, that's optioned. That's optioned so hard.

But some things shouldn't be optioned. Not every beloved childhood book is meant to be a blockbuster. Not every cartoon character is intended to be "brought to life" by some generic hunk with too much hair gel. Some things need to be left alone. Because sometimes you know way before a movie or show gets made that it's going to be really, really bad.

The Phantom Tollbooth

If you loved The Phantom Tollbooth novel, an adventure story rife with deep underlying themes about education, the pursuit of knowledge, and sensible governance, you might be happy to know that it's receiving a "live-action/hybrid" film adaptation directed by the same guy who did Ice Age: The Meltdown. While The Phantom Tollbooth could potentially work as a feature in the right hands, current Hollywood trends, including A Wrinkle In Time and Alice in Wonderland, seem to equate deep children's classics with lifeless, live-action CGI-fests. But if the book's concept of a young boy combatting ennui through abstract thought sounds less attractive than what will probably be twenty minutes of the big guard dog unsuccessfully trying to pick up a tiny bone, this adaptation might be right up your alley.

Danny and the Dinosaur

Danny and the Dinosaur is a delightful children's book about a boy named Danny who goes to a museum, meets a dinosaur who comes to life, and the two play together for a bit. There is no narrative thrust to Danny and the Dinosaur other than the dinosaur randomly being alive and Danny going to a park with it. It's the most simplistic form of childhood wish fulfillment, hinging entirely on relating to six-year-olds who agree that "hanging out with a dinosaur would be cool." That is not a movie, and certainly not "a vehicle for top comedy talent." What story could they possibly add to Danny and the Dinosaur? Maybe the Dinosaur gets hungry and can't control his need for human meat. Now it's up to Danny to stop the Dinosaur, lest all his friends and family become extinct. That's actually pretty good, and if anyone is interested in buying that idea, it's mine so please contact me.


Let's say this right off the bat: anime should not be adapted into live-action Hollywood fare. First, a large portion of anime's appeal derives from the animation styles, so that's an automatic knock against live-action. But more importantly, anime stories are Japanese in origin. They run on Japanese sensibilities and star Japanese characters. If Hollywood were aiming to truly adapt these works into accurate live-action representations, fine, go for it. But every prior Hollywood anime adaptation — from Ghost in the Shell to Netflix's Death Note to the horrendous Dragon Ball: Evolution — has been whitewashed to hell and Americanized to the point of being unrecognizable. So brace yourself for American Naruto, the story of a young white ninja named Naruto who hails from the Hidden Potato Village located somewhere in Idaho. As a student in the American art of ninjutsu, Naruto and his fellow white ninja trainees––his crush, Sarah, and his rival, Steven––must defeat Zachary, an evil sword-wielding ninja who is also white and hails from the Village Hidden in the Corn. Will they be able to recover the secret hamburger scroll in time to save the Country Music Jamboree, or will Zachary emerge as the true heir to the Harley Davidson technique? Find out in American Naruto.

Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is different from a lot of other anime in that a Hollywood live-action series could potentially work in this case. For one, the animation style is more adult, originally intended for a mature audience. As such, the jump to live-action isn't as jarring as it would be for a more cartoony series. Moreover, many of the characters and plot lines are influenced by Western tropes and genres, specifically "Spaghetti Westerns" like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and sci-fi fare like Alien. The real problem here is that the original Cowboy Bebop is a bona fide masterpiece, so pulling off an adequate adaptation would require top-tier writing, directing, acting, fight choreography, etc. Anything less will fall apart completely. Cowboy Bebop has one of the strongest, albeit subtlest emotional thrusts of any anime series to-date, and if their handling of Death Note offers any indication, Netflix probably isn't up to the task.

Sonic the Hedgehog

"What if Sonic the Hedgehog was a f*cking monstrosity?" This is the only sentiment that could justify the upcoming live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie. And unfortunately, no matter how much we wish and hope and pray it wasn't true, it is –– this one's definitely happening. But don't worry, the "Brand Personality" slide accidentally leaked by the movie's graphic design firm assures us that even if live-action Sonic looks like something that wants to grope you, he's really just "chill and likable" and "mischievous but not malicious." Welcome to douchey frat-bro Sonic with his dead eyes and abnormally jacked legs. Delight, as he breaks into your room at night, slips into your bed, and then assures you it was "just a prank." This movie is going to be an absolute dumpster fire. Also, Jim Carrey will be playing Dr. Robotnik. Please end this.

Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at dankahanwriter.com

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The "Captain Marvel" Backlash Isn't Sexist—That's Just the Internet

Brie Larson said she works with "overwhelmingly white males," but everything's fine and probably no one's mad.

Brie Larson at the World premiere of 'Captain Marvel'

Photo by Tinseltown (Shutterstock)

Brie Larson is no one's "social justice warrior," but try telling that to the irate Captain Marvel reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Film Reviews

"Glass" Is Enjoyable If You Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

"Glass" is not a comic book movie. It's not a bleak DC slog, and it's not a Marvel action clusterfuck. It's a suspensful character-led drama with supernatural themes, and in that sense it's unique... if not a little disappointing.

M. Night Shyamalan was maligned for ten years between 2004 and 2014 for serving up box office catastrophes, but since 2015 he seems to be back to form.

Both The Visit and Split were critically successful despite their modest budgets, and fans have been happy to invite Shyamalan back into their good graces in recent years. Then comes Glass, the sequel no fan knew they wanted until it was teased at the end of Split. Not just one of Shyamalan's most beloved films was getting a sequel—but now he'd put together a trilogy starring David Dunn, Mr. Glass, and The Beast. The stage was set for a full-on fan service delight, and it delivered—on the surface.

Certain fans will notice that Mr. Glass isn't in the movie much. The movie is called Glass, but he doesn't say a word until well past the first hour mark. We don't get to see him working behind the scenes or plotting a scheme before then either. He's just sitting in a wheelchair. That's not to say that Samuel L. Jackson doesn't bring his all to this character. He embodies Elijah Price just as thoroughly as he did in Unbreakable, but he can only do so much with what he's given, which ultimately, wasn't much.

So what is this movie about? Well, Dr. Ellie Staple (played by Sarah Paulson) apprehends David Dunn and The Beast (played by Bruce Willis and James McAvoy, respectively) and is charged with convincing them that they are not superhuman; they are, in fact, delusional. Meanwhile, Mr. Glass has a plan he's been waiting to hatch—and The Beast might have a part to play, too.

The stand-out performance comes from James McAvoy, who plays The Beast, as well as Kevin Crumb and multiple other personalities we are introduced to throughout the movie. This is really The Beast's movie, and McAvoy is a spectacle to behold. In Split, we experienced a handful of Crumb's personalities, but this time we get to see 13 identities all brimming with charisma and perplexity. McAvoy skillfully transitions from one persona to the next in a masterclass of acting. The movie is worth watching just for these scenes alone.

Bruce Willis is in this movie, too, and darn it if he isn't acting his heart out—at least as much as he's capable of doing these days. He's stiff, awkward, and unconvincing, but there's a sincerity in his performance that softens the heart a little. It really seems like he gives a shit. He's just not very good.

The cinematography was flawless. At his best, Shyamalan has always utilized creative camera movements and angles that accentuate a scene, and Glass is no exception. Director of Photography Mike Gioulakis (It Follows, Split, Us) brings smooth, beautiful compositions to even the smallest moments. The slow-ish pacing of the script is completely masked by the fluid, sweeping camera movements that take us from scene to scene.

Still, we have to discuss the script, as it's easily the weakest element of the film. Shyamalan seems to have a very academic perspective on how people talk to each other (I call it "Sham-speak"), wherein one uses the utmost correct words rather than the most natural. As an example, there's a scene where Shyamalan has a cameo, and he's talking to Willis's character, David Dunn. It goes something like this:


Hey, you look familiar—did you used to work at the old stadium a few years back?


Yup, 30 years.


Yeah, I recognize you. I used to hang around there in my youth. Ran with a tough crowd. But I turned it all around—positive thinking.





Reading that in your head, did it sound like a normal, organic conversation? Probably not. It's even worse on screen. You can look past the clunky dialog and awkward-as-hell pop-culture references, but it does take you out of the movie from time to time.

If you loved Split, odds are you're going to like this movie. McAvoy's performance alone makes this film worth a casual view, but Unbreakable fans will be pleased to see Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard reprising their roles as supporting characters. The dialogue is awkward, the cinematography is beautiful, and the twist ending might leave a bit to be desired. But if you go into the theater with an open mind and temper your expectations, you'll more than likely enjoy it.

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

Ahmed Ashour is a media writer, tech enthusiast, and college student. He has a Twitter: @aahsure

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Spider-Man: Far From Home Trailer—Untangling the Villains

Find out who the baddies are in the new Spider-Man movie.

In a shocking spoiler for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the new Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer reveals Peter Parker is alive and well.

Just kidding, everybody already knew Peter Parker wasn't actually permanently dissolved at the end of Infinity War—not when another Spider-Man sequel had been announced before that movie even hit theaters. Sure, we'll have to wait until Endgame to discover the exact mechanics of how you can rebuild a person from a pile of cosmic dust, but rest assured, Spider-Man will be back. And when he is, he'll be vacationing in Europe.

Spider-Man: Far From Home will follow Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and his friends as they travel abroad for summer vacation. Peter just wants a break from being Spider-Man, a totally understandable request from a high school kid who recently got murdered by a giant purple alien man. But uh-oh, trouble's a' brewing overseas. No sooner has Peter started to woo his crush MJ (Zendaya) when some giant elemental monsters tear up the town. What's a web-slinging superhero to do? Why, put on a new costume and team up with Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal in a crazy cyber-suit), of course!

Who are the new villains?

The most exciting part of any superhero movie are the villains, and Spider-Man: Far From Home gets instant points for using new ones outside of the usual staples: Doc Ock, Rhino, Sandman, and Venom. This time, Spider-Man is up against the Elementals, a group of four extradimensional beings who, as their moniker suggests, have control over various elements.

There's Hydron, with the the power to control water.

Magnum, with the power to control earth.

Zephyr, with the power to control air.

And Hellfire. You can figure out what he does.

The group, created by writer Tony Isabella and artist Val Mayerik, debuted in Supernatural Thrillers #8 (August 1974) for an 8-issue run, briefly fought Ms. Marvel for two issues of her series in 1977, and subsequently never appeared again. Until now.

So far, we've only seen the powers of Hydron and, most likely, Magnum (although many people are mistaking his powers in the trailer for Sandman). But the others are sure to follow.


Of course, the main villain is probably Mysterio.

And as the main villain of a major movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Mysterio is a fantastic choice. One of the oldest Spider-Man villains (created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #13 in June 1964), Mysterio has no actual powers. Rather, he's a master of special effects and illusion, a Hollywood stuntman turned supervillain. How perfect for a real Hollywood movie!

In the comics, Mysterio is often a punchline of sorts, usually foiled by his own hubris. But in Spider-Man: Far From Home, it's entirely possible Jake Gyllenhaal will turn the character into a truly sinister threat.

How will Mysterio's misdeeds factor into the attacks on Europe? Are the Elementals real or simply his illusions? We'll have to wait until July 5, 2019 to find out. In the meantime, check out the trailer above.

Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at dankahanwriter.com

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