Hard NOC Life 208: The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and The Justice League and The Washington Post’s David Betancourt

Dominic and Jamal return to join Keith and Britney to break down the Good, the Bad, and the WTF (with apologies to Jeff and Phil) of Disney+’s The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and HBO Max’s Snyder Cut. Later, The Washington Post’s David Betancourt joins Keith to talk about his profile of Zack Snyder as well as his thoughts on Justice League. The crew also addresses the tragedy in Atlanta and the need to end white supremacy.

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Hard NOC Life 207: A ‘Justice League’ of His Own

Keith and Britney share their favorite moments from Disney+’s WandaVision making-of special before revealing what’s Nerd Poppin’ this week. For Britney, she’s reading all the books in the Star Wars: The High Republic publishing initiative. Meanwhile, Keith has seen The Snyder Cut and gives his semi-spoilery opinion of Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

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Hard NOC Life 203: Damn Gina

Shawn is off this week, but Dominic, Keith, and Jamal are here to discuss another episode of WandaVision, as well as the latest look at Falcon and Winter Soldier. They also talk about Disney’s distancing from The Mandalorian’s Gina Carano and new (old) allegations against Joss Whedon. They also explore Pedro Pascal’s cinematic Dadverse.

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‘Council’ of J: An Interview with J. August Richards

Council of Dads on NBC is one of the most special shows on the air right now. The show, which premiered on March 24 and is now on its 9th episode tonight, is a bold look at grief and its impact on families of all shapes and sizes, tackling subjects like transgender identity, adoption, and unconditional friendship. It also features one of the most diverse casts on television. Out of its ensemble, three of its leads are Black, one is Asian, and one is Trans. And to have a mainstream television show on the air right now with a cast that integrated and inclusive is not only rare, but also quite important. And this past week, The Nerds of Color was able to sit down with one of the show’s leads, J. August Richards.

If you grew up watching Angel or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D like I did, you’ll know the name J. August Richards is synonymous with “badass.” After all, playing badass vampire hunter, Charles Gunn, and cybernetically-enhanced superhero, Deathlok tends to give you one heck of a reputation. But what most folks don’t know, is the badass-ery extends well beyond what we’ve seen on the small screen. Richards is a true hero and badass in real life. And the Nerds of Color was able to speak with the Council of Dads star to discover that first hand.

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‘Justice League’ and the Future of the DC Extended Universe

Two weeks ago, Justice League — WB/DC’s attempt at uniting all of its iconic heroes in a single movie — fizzled at the box office, calling in to question the future of the DC Universe on film. To talk about the movie, and what it portends for the rest of the DCEU, Mashable movie reporter Angie Han joins the podcast to discuss where Justice League failed to deliver as a follow-up to Batman v Superman.

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My Steps To Creating Characters And Building Worlds

Originally published at Twinjas Book Reviews

One of the questions I’m constantly asked (which admittedly I never get tired of answering) is what  my process in terms of world building and developing complex characters.

My approach to world-building and character development ultimately corresponds to my overall approach to storytelling. As a writer, I personally belong to the school of character = story. What truth do we discover along the character’s journey? More than that, whether it’s fiction, articles or blog posts, I generally have three mandates which I dub E-Cubed: Enlighten, entertain and empower.

Needless to say that E-Cubed has led to other techniques which has only enhanced my storytelling abilities over the years.

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To Shanshu and Back: An Angel Retrospective

For a special Throwback Thursday, a buddy and I rewatched the Angel series finale, “Not Fade Away.”

Afterwards we got on the topic of the Shanshu Prophecy. In the series, the word Shanshu itself means “to live” and “to die.” While the prophecy doesn’t specifically mention Angel, it states a vampire with a soul will at the end of his numerous trials, live as human once more.

Throughout the course of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff, the prophecy served as Angel’s true north. The potential reward at journey’s end, it motivated him to stay the course as a champion for the innocent and the Powers That Be.

 

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Character Study: Zoe Washburne

With October being #BlackSpeculativeFictionMonth, it seemed only appropriate to put the spotlight on an amazing black character. Zoe Washburne, the big damn heroine of Firefly/Serenity, portrayed by Perfection herself, Gina Torres, seemed like an excellent selection.

When Firefly first premiered, I knew the series was going to be something special. Joss Whedon was at the helm, very talented and good-looking cast, wicked cool concept. Of course it wasn’t until I saw the first episode that I realized how special this little series about cowboys in space truly was. A major part of that success was a little cowgirl known as Zoe Washburne.

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When Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Became Serenity

While watching a key scene in the season finale of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I quipped, “You can’t take the Skye from me.”

That’s when it clicked. I didn’t see it before during season one, but with enough new players introduced in season two, it now made sense. The spirit of Firefly’s Browncoats lives on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

serenity-crew-118609

Not convinced? Let’s review:

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NOC Reviews Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron was the perfect summer popcorn film. It’s a big, loud and frenetic superhero movie with a decent amount of heart.

[Ed. note: Not to mention the second biggest opening weekend in history. Who’s the first? The first Avengers movie, of course.]

The story was a bit shaky at times, but the performances were strong because of the cast chemistry and the trademark Joss Whedon banter. Meanwhile, the visuals were outstanding, the fight scenes were expertly choreographed, and there were a couple of interesting twists regarding one of the main characters.

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Some Thoughts on Avengers: Age of Ultron

It’s been a few hours, but I’m still processing what I thought about the latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Age of Ultron. I know that my feelings and recommendations will have no bearing on whether you will go out to see this movie. It’s guaranteed to generate a couple billion dollars in box office — and that’s probably just for this weekend alone! And while I had a great time watching the thing, I couldn’t help but feel a little underwhelmed by the whole enterprise.

Needless to say, there will be spoilers ahead.

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What’s the Deal with the POC Characters on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

In a week where the Deadline Hollywood website shot itself in the foot for asking us to consider the poor white actors being denied work due to the current spate of “ethnic casting” for TV pilots and series, the ever-ongoing fight of POC actors to get more than table scraps is never far from mind. Despite the Bat Signal thrown up by Deadline to save whiteness in Hollywood, the fact remains that productions still routinely limit or shut out entirely actors of color from starring roles.

On Twitter this weekend the thread #whedonandrace critiqued Joss Whedon’s problematic depictions of black and other POC characters in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. This discussion has been ongoing among fans of color since Buffy and Whedon became a name; it just happened that this time it spawned a hashtag. Soon the thread became a general critique of his handling of race, encompassing Whedon’s other TV series as well as his films, including the series he co-created with Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon for Marvel Studios,  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  While Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., at first glance, is diverse in its casting (at least of its secondary recurring cast members and guest stars; its regulars are largely white), the series reveals an unsettling pattern of how these characters of color are depicted.

Simply put, what’s the deal with POC (mainly black) characters being killed, maimed, or evil on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

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S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Two: Agents of C.H.A.N.G.E.

I don’t live-tweet very often. I usually leave that job to the professionals here. But last night, I found myself watching the second season premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, and I happened to have my phone with me at the time.

It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of the series. From the jump last season, the show reminded me of everything that I usually hate from a Joss Whedon production. That said, I continued to watch it out of some sort of nerd obligation. And while the post-Winter Soldier episodes did get relatively better, the second season premiere wasn’t really on my radar all summer.

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Ballad of an AfroGeek

The above image is from the cover of my upcoming book: Diary of an AfroGeek.

Being an AfroGeek is all about being comfortable, and expecting, to hold immense contradictions. It is loving Firefly, Serenity, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but having a strong feeling that Joss Whedon doesn’t love you back. It is about getting into passionate discussions about why and how Storm’s original mohawk incarnation was one of the more powerful political statements in comics, but being appalled at how uninteresting she became when she married Black Panther.

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Well, That’s What I Get for Watching S.H.I.E.L.D.

I should have known better.

Shawn tried to warn me on several occasions, but I didn’t listen.  After I got out of Captain America: The Winter Soldier over the weekend, one of the first things I thought about was how the events of the movie would affect Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a show that until now, I couldn’t care less about. Sure, I’ve seen every episode since the pilot, but that didn’t mean I cared about it. Most of the time, I just let it pile up on the DVR and binged two or three at a time. Usually letting it play in the background while I was doing something else. On the one hand, watching it this way made the episodes where there wasn’t much plot momentum (and there were a lot of them) more bearable. On the other hand, I still didn’t care about any of these characters.

Then The Winter Soldier happened, and I thought, “huh, maybe I should care” so I tuned in last night and “live” tweeted with the West Coast. Needless to say, spoilers (for S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America) follow.

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The Conversation We Should Not Have About Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

Gal GadotZack Snyder cast Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman for the upcoming Man of Steel sequel, thereby ending months of speculation about the possible portrayal of DC Comics’ oldest nod to feminist virtue and grrl power. Previously seen by American audiences in the recent Fast & Furious movies, Gal Gadot’s casting has been met with equal praise and derision. My initial response is hearty, heartfelt, and honest.

I told you so.

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We Do Not Need a Wonder Woman Movie

We don’t need a Wonder Woman movie. Yeah, I said it.

I can scarcely imagine a worse waste of digital celluloid: flying spears thrown from thin, gangly limbs, a star-spangled miniskirt threatening wardrobe malfunctions for two and a quarter hours, unblemished ivory skin strained under gold and platinum body armor, practicality be damned. Wonder Woman the movie — fangirl nirvana, fanboy nightmare. Whenever people discuss the needless parade of White Anglo-Saxon Protestants who populate superhero movies’ starring roles, part of me appreciates their boredom with the obnoxious identity politics at play; what was The Avengers but a classic fraternity bro-down with human growth hormone, outdated mythology and colorful titanium tossed in for kicks?

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10 Things That Need to Change in Spec-Fic, a Pan-Medium Gripe

Note: I am using Spec-Fic to encompass everything from fantasy, to sci-fi, to spy-fi, horror, and other things related to the fantastic genres. None of this “Neal Stephenson said science fiction isn’t a genre” stuff, please.

1. Joss Whedon. Fine. Great. He has given us some good television and films, but he isn’t the only person out there who has ideas. His shadow looms impossibly large over the televisual and cinema landscapes and it is getting to feel a little same-y. There is homogeneity to the Whedonverse that can wear a little thin. If he loved the genre as much as he says, he should take a step back and let some other voices (not coached or shepherded by him) emerge. There are only so many clever dialogue sequences we can take, or need. Even Kevin Smith realized his shtick was getting old. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it is as good as you think it is. Hell, people bought pet rocks and mood rings. Everybody may have raved about The Avengers, but Dredd was the comic book adaptation of 2012.

He is a talented man, but a little Whedon goes a long way.

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