Luke Cage Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker on the style

Comic Book Resources have spoken to Luke Cage Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker about its tone. Luke Cage is the third series in a shared universe of Marvel Comics adaptations, following Daredevil (Showrunners: Drew GoddardSteven S. DeKnight and Marco Ramirez) and Jessica Jones (Showrunners: Liz Friedman and Melissa Rosenberg). Coker also elaborated-upon the way Luke Cage is influenced by hip-hop albums and his own history as a reader of Luke Cage, Hero for Hire – the serialised comic strip pamphlets in-which Cage first appeared.

For me, hip-hop has always been black superhero music. And now we have a black superhero that matches the music. When you think about Wu-Tang, when you think about A Tribe Called Quest records like Midnight Marauders, it’s deep in the culture, but at the same time, it’s become the new rock and roll. Everybody accepts it, everybody understands it. That’s really the vibe of the show, on one hand, we’re dealing with Harlem in ways that really haven’t been dealt with. But at the same time, it’s a superhero show. At the same time, you get to meet Luke Cage. You get to meet Misty Knight. You get to meet all these other characters. It’s these comics come to life with a hip-hop vibe. It’s incredibly fun. We go all the way back to the beginning in terms of the vibe, but it’s modernized. If you’re a fan of the comic, it will be a very familiar world. When I say this is a fantasy come true for me — it’s such an amazing opportunity. Just as a geek, I love this world. To be able to write in a serious way inside of this is really cool, as well. For our show — yes, we deal with serious themes. Imagine what somebody with bulletproof skin, how that could affect the neighborhood [sic] when it comes to crime. We deal, in a very realistic way, with how that influences the neighborhood [sic], without revealing anything. It’s grounded, but at the same time, the fantasy element of it also, I think, will attract people. We have something that’s very dramatic, but at the same time, we don’t run away from our comic book roots. We embrace them.

Luke Cage streams on Netflix 30th September.

(Text) 88th Academy Awards announce nominations

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have announced their nominations, with Adapted and Original Screenplay awards nominations amongst them:

Adapted Screenplay

The big Short, by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay

Brooklyn, by Nick Hornby

Carol, by Phyllis Nagy

The Martian, by Drew Goddard

Room, by Emma Donoghue

Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies, by Matt CharmanEthan Coen and Joel Coen

Ex Machina, by Alex Garland

Inside Out, by Pete DocterMeg LeFauve and Josh Cooley

Spotlight, by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy

Straight Outta Compton, by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff

Daredevil season one — television season review

Premièred by Netflix.
Episode one: Into the Ring by Drew Goddard
Episode two: Cut Man by Drew Goddard
Episode three: Rabbit in a Snowstorm by Marco Ramirez.
Episode four: In the Blood by Joe Pokaski
Episode five: World on Fire by Luke Kaltaux
Episode six: Condemned by Joe Pokaski and Marco Ramirez
Episode seven: Stick by Douglas Petrie
Episode eight: Shadows in the Glass by Steven S. DeKnight
Episode nine: Speak of the Devil by Christos Gage and Ruth Fletcher Gage
Episode ten: Nelson v Murdock by Luke Kaltaux
Episode eleven: The Path of the Righteous by Steven S. DeKnight and Douglas Petrie
Episode twelve: The Ones we Leave Behind by Douglas Petrie
Episode thirteen: Daredevil by Steven S. DeKnight.

It’s taken me so long, but I’ve finally finished Daredevil season one. And honestly, I think this was really mishandled. There are some very strong episodes, that zoom-in on certain aspects, but the rest are just kind of… meh.

This show is clearly an experiment. Marvel Television know that streaming is the future, and I’m glad they decided to distribute this via Netflix, because that prompted me to sign-up, and in doing-so I discovered a wealth of other shows. But the greatest flaw with this is the length. It’s much longer than it needs to be. The main praise point of this is the way it feels like a thirteen-hour feature with a chapter selection. But I say that’s where it drops-short. The best episodes are those that focus on one thing, like the way Murdock’s vision works, or how Franklin Nelson would react to discovering that Murdock’s the vigilante they’ve been trying to take-down. Because that’s the best selling point of television; that it doesn’t have to work like a film, it can be episodic. Instead, what Daredevil does is to tell a continuous story without the supporting structure of the individual episode. The season’s so eager to tell an overarching narrative that it forgets the most important element of television: the serial story.

It’s a myth that story arcs are popular, or that they sell. The story arc is just an excuse to tell a story. Have it happening, yes, and have it pay-off in the end for audience satisfaction, but remember that it’s only there to be with these characters. The best kind of shows blend these things together, so the audience can’t tell what’s part of the story arc and what’s part of that week’s episode. Because what they’re then responding to, even if they don’t realise it, is good storytelling.

Daredevil season one is not good storytelling. But it tries to be. Unfortunately, it tries so hard, so much, that it collapses under its own tedious plot-fullness. It focuses on so many characters in order to drive the plot forward that it races to the finish line, forgetting to enjoy the view out of its own window on the way. Surely Nelson could’ve discovered that Murdock’s Daredevil until at least next season? That would have given everything else more room to breathe. But instead, everything’s packed-in so close that I continued watching only to see where it was going, not because I was enjoying what was happening. I’d rather take the scenic route to the end, meandering around the fishing lakes, and have a good time than finish as fast possible and forget most of the experience.

Daredevil: Cut Man — motion picture review

Written by Drew Goddard.

After the first episode, which was more of a tone-setting establisher piece, episode two is where that established equilibrium changes. Yes, it’s the standard Hero’s Journey formula, but as I’ve always said (well, not always said, but you catch my drift), there’s nothing wrong with formula if a writer can be playful with it. After Into the Ring ended with Daredevil about to embark into his first major fight, this episode literally begins with him in a skip, making the plot of this about his climb back up to a standing position and ready to take it again.

One of the things I like the most about this series is the non-linear storytelling, as we’re shown flashbacks to Daredevil’s childhood as a parallel narrative. Sometimes it’s from before he became blind, sometimes after. But the plot structure of the show is like a boxing film. Whiplash was considered to be similar – a boxing film disguised as a film about music. Daredevil is a boxing film disguised as a superhero show. Which I personally love, because I’m the kind of person that wouldn’t really watch a boxing film, and also happen to have a weakness for superheroes. Already I admire the way this particular contribution to the superhero genre is being handled purely for transforming it into something else. The genre is at its height right now, and inevitably, it will have to adapt to survive. So along comes Daredevil with the right kind of source material (which I don’t read, but I can only assume it’s something like this), and presents itself to the superhero genre with a new way of doing things. People should look at Daredevil to understand what’s going to happen to what is right now everyone’s favourite genre, because it’s a strong-enough departure from what we’re used to by essentially being something else, while still being that thing at least half the time.

Daredevil’s superpowers – which really are very imaginative, by the way – is just an extension of his status as a fighter. At this stage, his story is one of a man following his father’s footsteps as a boxer to avenge his title against the man who took it from him. In fact, thinking about it now, I’m legitimately unsure as to whether it really is an evolution of the superhero genre or of the  boxing genre to start with.

I once heard a short lecture by a screenwriter who said that most writers fail at the premise by not knowing what genre suits their story, which results in them not knowing how to write it well. But that isn’t true at all. The reason I liked Chronicle so much is because it combined the superhero genre with the found footage genre with intriguing results. This is the same, only it’s being combined with the boxing genre instead.

You ask any fan of anything what their favourite genre is, and there’s a good chance their favourite film of that genre is actually a hybrid of it with something else. Back to the Future is often cited as one of the best science-fictions, despite half of it being a teen love story. People can claim to like specific genres, but the truth is that they like complexity if it can be presented as one story. Which is why – and I say this as someone trying to review every superhero film – that what frustrates me the most is genericity: when a film is able to tick all the boxes of  a genre but do nothing else. That’s what I hated so much about the Ben Affleck Daredevil, which was a typical example of its genre while adding nothing else. Whereas Daredevil manages to be a seamless fusion of two different things, making for one. If you can combine lots of storytelling formats into a single package, you get something like Breaking Bad. In fact, I’m beginning to really think that this could be the break-out show to TV snobs that gets them to finally acknowledge this genre’s credibility.

Two episodes in and already I think this first season is building toward being a cinematic masterpiece. I don’t settle for second best. I like Daredevil.

Daredevil: Into the Ring — motion picture review

Written by Drew Goddard.

Daredevil: Into the Ring made me feel a way I haven’t felt since first seeing Batman Begins. It’s just that good.

For a Netflix original, Drew Goddard’s taken the approach of writing the series like a very-long film. In the long run, this is probably a good approach. But that’s in the long run. Netflix is all about “marathoning”. Indeed, I see some people have already finished the series within its opening night. I’m writing this on the launch weekend, so it’s Sunday right now, but it’s still a top UK trend. You give people thirteen episodes of a show all at once and it continues to be talked about, because it takes so damn long to get through. Not that its length is a weakness. If anything, it’s a strength. What I hated so much about the Ben Affleck Daredevil was it rushed the preliminary exposition, resulting in a skipped origin explanation that made the first act seem more like a pilot episode recap.

But the series doesn’t make that mistake. When a film’s fourteen hours long, you can go into an awful lot of detail and depth. So Into the Ring, as a first episode, does exactly that: it puts Daredevil into his situation. The story begins as the vigilante character begins himself operating. While we get only a few glimpses of the character, those few minutes are unrelenting. The fight scenes are choreographed perfectly and realistically, and the iconic Daredevil outfit is nowhere to be seen. When a boxer first begins his career, he actually has to work for his nickname. In this sense, Daredevil does not exist, and these thirteen episodes chronicle the slow labour of his beginning.

That also means there’s a lot of setup. The characters are introduced over the course of the episode, but I like that mentality. It’s spread-out, and not rushed. It’s like how a meal consists of a starter, a main course and a desert. Well I like all three stages just the same. Even if the starter’s just an orange juice, it’s acidic and freshly squeezed, exotic. And exotic is definitely the word for this. The tone and style of the show manages to be dark yet realistic, dramatic yet believable. And all of it revolves around the lead actor Charlie Cox, who already I can tell you is a perfect casting choice. He’s a man who exudes both intelligence, creepiness and an internal conflict. Even his body language alone tells you he’s verging on constant anger, but chooses to substitute it with charisma. Perhaps Sony should be getting onto him about being the next Bond villain?

I’ve only seen fifty minutes of it so far, but already I can tell I’m in for a great show. I could get into this Netflix thing. This was the series that convinced me to try it out.