Inclusion (& First Looks)!


I'd love to chat about BLACK PANTHER, A WRINKLE IN TIME, and SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING with you! :)

Coming off of last year when we saw more films with inclusive casts coming out in theaters (and some even getting awards), I wanted to take a moment to talk about and highlight some new, big tent-pole, blockbuster films that are all about inclusion! 

We're seeing more diversity on the small screen -- on network stations, cable television, and even streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. There's been some progress -- and it shows with the Emmy (television academy) nominations. 

Movies on the other hand, quality movies with reasonable and/or big budgets with diversity casts and crew -- still have a ways to go...more so than television. Film producers and big movie studios need to be more open and take more "risks" (I don't even like using that word when it comes to diversity but that's how people view it). They see it as a risk. But moviegoers and television watchers are showing these producers and studio heads what they want to see by all of the successful box office results and the high television ratings! :)

This year opened up with a bang with the sleeper indie hit, Get Out! It was only made for about $5 million which is considered a somewhat small film. It went on to gross over $165 million at the box office and gave writer/director Jordan Peele (from the Comedy Central tv hit, Key & Peele) acclaim as a filmmaker and the leverage he needed to go on and make more films! It granted and afforded him even more opportunities as a writer/director in film. 

Maybe I won't have to talk as much as I do about diversity in films sometime soon, down the line. But for now, I feel like the discussions need to happen, the actions need to be taken -- and when they do happen, we need to celebrate those achievements! 

So that's what I'm doing -- celebrating! :)

I'm so excited to talk about these three movies:

  • Black Panther directed by Ryan Coogler
  • A Wrinkle in Time directed by Ava DuVernay
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming directed by Jon Watts 

One is already in theaters, Spider-Man: Homecoming! I saw it opening weekend, but I'll get to that one in a bit! :)

Let's first talk about the Black Panther standalone film! (In theaters, February 2018!)

Image: Kaku Alston / Marvel Studios

Image: Kaku Alston / Marvel Studios

The incredible Chadwick Boseman is the star of the film as King T'Challa aka Black Panther, and he was introduced in the Captain America: Civil War movie that came out last year! It's actually one of my favorite Marvel films to date. I was so hyped and blown away by Black Panther when he made his cinema debut in Civil War! :)

Let me give you a little recap, via Entertainment Weekly (EW), on Black Panther's history real quick.

From Anthony Breznican for EW: "The story of Black Panther, set in the Afro-futurist paradise of Wakanda, features a noble, brilliant, powerful man of color leading and protecting a country that is a century ahead of the rest of the industrialized world, is wealthy, innovative, and prosperous — and has never been conquered. After debuting in Fantastic Four #52 in 1966, Black Panther went on to star in the series Jungle Action, then became his own headliner.
...Now the character is claiming another place in history as the first big-budget comic-book tentpole to feature black heroes (Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o), black villains (Michael B. Jordan, Winston Duke), a black filmmaker (Ryan Coogler), black screenwriters (Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, of American Crime Story), a black executive producer (Captain America: Civil War‘s Nate Moore) and an overwhelmingly black supporting cast and crew."
Image: Kwaku Alston / Marvel Studios

Image: Kwaku Alston / Marvel Studios

As far as inclusion goes, this film being made to begin with, means it has already broken barriers (and will continue to do so through its release, I hope)! Aside from the dedicated, hardcore comic book fans ....people who "look like me" have been waiting and waiting for something like this to be on the big screen. To be able to see beautiful, bold, whole characters who are also superheroes, kings and queens, wealthy AND brown skinned!? Not one or two or three, but almost the whole cast? I mean, c'mon -- is this real life? :) We have been waiting and now... it is here!! :)

The first teaser trailer for the film dropped last month and whoa!! How incredible was that footage! I was so blown away by it! Incase you missed it (and if so, where have you been!?) -- below is the teaser trailer!

HERO. LEGEND. KING. Watch Marvel Studio's Black Panther teaser trailer now. (All Rights Reserved / Marvel Studios)

Brought to life by a true Black Panther fan himself, director Ryan Coogler brings his talents to Marvel, after coming off of successful films Fruitvale Station (his first feature) and his sophmore film, Creed! Oh, and did I mention that he's only 31 years old!? Age ain't nothin' but a number though, am I right? :)

Please, go out and support this film! It doesn't hit theaters until February 16th of NEXT YEAR, but when it does, pack the theater and support it y'all!! I. Can. Not. Wait! Mark your calendars now!! :)

(Also, since I'm talking about "Black Superheroes" -- please check out my friend's book on Amazon for all my superhero action-thriller lovers out there! The Dead Man Chronicles: Fear by Ellis E. Fowler!)

Now let's chat about A Wrinkle in Time! (In theaters, March 2018!)

Image: Atsushi Nishijima / Disney

Image: Atsushi Nishijima / Disney

"After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend to space in order to find him."*

A Wrinke in Time is a science-fiction fantasy adventure film! Based on the book of the same name by Madeleine L'Engle, this "timeless classic, which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and ultimately, the triumph of love"* -- is adapted by Jennifer Lee and directed by visionary director Ava DuVernay (Middle of NowhereSelma, 13th)! 

Here's a quick, little fun fact story. Director Ava DuVernay was actually in talks at one point to direct Black Panther. She decided to back out of it due to creative differences. Coogler ended up getting the gig (clearly qualified as well) -- and then DuVernay ended up being offered to adapt this book: A Wrinkle in Time by Disney (who owns Marvel Entertainment as well)!

This one gets me really giddy for several reasons. :) A few are:

  • The super talented -- aka my girl -- Ava DuVernay is the director! :)
  • The cast is so beautifully diverse and the entire crew and cast is inclusive.
  • DuVernay is the second woman to direct a live-action film with a budget over $100 million!! (The first is someone you might know, Patty Jenkins, who directed Wonder Woman and is now the highest grossing woman director of all time!) 

The lead character in A Wrinkle in Time, Meg, played by Storm Reid, isn't necessarily written as a mixed-race young girl in the book, but I love how Disney and director Ava DuVernay cast such a beautifully diverse cast, including Reid as the lead. To have a huge film as this one come out with a mixed-race family and various other races playing main characters who help lead and guide Reid throughout the film, is EXCITING and is desperately needed right now! I can't wait to see it all come together! 

From director DuVernay: "The first image I had in my mind was to place a brown girl in the role of Meg, a girl traveling to different planets and encountering beings in situations that I'd never seen a girl of color in. I was interested in that and in a heroine that looked like the girls I grew up with..."

Entertainment Weekly gave us our first glimpse into A Wrinkle in Time last Wednesday! We also got to see the first teaser trailer for the film, which premiered at the D23 Expo last week! I have to say, after seeing the teaser trailer, I'm even more hyped about this one! From Chris Pine as Reid's dad, to British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw as her mom (and both of them playing scientists!) -- to seeing Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling in their costumes as Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Whatsit, respectively -- the sweeping shots and that song choice! All of it was appealing to me and made me want to see even more (which a trailer should do)! 

Watch the teaser trailer for Disney's A Wrinkle In Time. (All Rights Reserved / Disney)

"The universe is wide open. For all of us." - Ava DuVernay

I can't wait to see more trailers in the near future for this film -- and to eventually catch it in a theater NEXT YEAR! Why oh why, do they show us these film trailers so early though and then make us wait?! :) 

A Wrinkle in Time hits theaters on March 9, 2018! Make sure to go out and support this one as well! 

Okay, now just a quick chat about Spider-Man: Homecoming

Image: Marvel Studios 

Image: Marvel Studios 

I really enjoyed Spider-Man: Homecoming, a lot!

Also making his "Marvel Cinematic Universe" debut in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland did a great job carrying this film as Spider-Man. It was a fun movie that I highly recommend seeing!

But what I loved the most about it, was seeing the beautiful city of New York reflected so well in the casting in this big budget, well beloved, superhero movie! Spider-Man is from NYC, and I loved seeing his school full of beautiful, diverse students and faculty members! His love interest was even a young black woman y'all! This is huge. Seriously. 

Image: Marvel Studios 

Image: Marvel Studios 

I know the movie got some backlash with the whole Michelle/MJ thing -- and maybe even some other casting choices, but I love how Marvel, producer Kevin Feige, and casting director Sarah Finn pieced together these characters and actors with their casting choices...and made them look like what the world looks like. We're full of all types of people, and it's great that when young people go to see this film, they'll see themselves reflected back at them in some way. They'll see a part of themselves up there on that big screen, too.

Representation matters. It really does. :)

Check out more exclusive photos and information on Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, and even Spider-Man: Homecoming in Entertainment Weekly's new Comic-Con issue, on newsstands now! 

Also, make sure to check out GIRLS TRIP, directed by Malcolm D. Lee and starring Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, and with her breakout performance...Tiffany Haddish -- in theaters this weekend!!

(*Quotes taken from IMDb, Disney, and Entertainment Weekly magazine. All photos belong to their respective owners.)