This morning, Entertainment Weekly unveiled Shirley Li’s cover story featuring the highly anticipated romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians — which is set to hit cinemas on August 17, 2018. Seeing Constance Wu and Henry Golding looking fab on the cover got us thinking, how many EW covers* have featured Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders? So we dug into the EW archives and unearthed the following.
So Misty Copeland and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, two of my favorite superheroes, have spoken out against the Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank for his support of President Donald Trump. The athletic clothing company sponsors both A-list superstars. That’s both awesome and to be expected given that both Copeland and Johnson are the epitome of Black/Asian Excellence.
My question however is this. Marvel CEO Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter gave a $1 million to Trump’s presidential campaign and continues to support his administration. Why aren’t any of the white actors from Marvel Studios stepping up and calling him out like Copeland and Johnson did Plank?
This week’s reveals from Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell are further proof that it’s hard out there for an Asian actor who wants to be in a genre film. Fortunately, there are a few AAPI actors who have claim to the coveted “Nerd Grand Slam;” that is, they’ve starred in a superhero franchise, a Star (Trek or Wars) vehicle, and an epic fantasy. But who is the nerdiest? Dominic Mah, from YOMYOMF.com, joins Keith to decide which actor is the One Nerd to rule them all.
Even though the movie is more than a year away, we cannot contain our excitement for Moana, the newest addition to Disney’s iconic princesses. Set for a Thanksgiving 2016 release, the movie will star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the demigod Maui and 14-year old newcomer Auli’i Cravalho has been tapped to play the titular Princess Moana. That’s right, a Disney Princess movie about Hawaii starring actual Pacific Islander actors in the roles of Pacific Islander characters. And Emma Stone is nowhere to be found!
So a few days ago, I wrote a thing. Maybe you’ve seen it. Ever since that post has been passed around, I’ve been taken to task about the stars I included (or didn’t include) on the list and whether or not I was basically proving Sorkin’s point by coming up with only three names.
On the first point, the names I included were not meant to be my casting suggestions for the role of Brad Katsuyama in a hypothetical Flash Boys movie. Instead, I was more concerned with Sorkin’s assertion that Asian movie stars didn’t exist. So I went to Box Office Mojo, and scanned their list of actors’ all-time domestic grosses and looked for the ones who were (North) American of Asian descent — whether or not you think hapas or Pacific Islanders should’ve been appropriately considered criteria is another matter1.
Last week, North Korean hackers allegedly broke into the personal files of Sony Pictures execs as retaliation for the studio producing the James Franco and Seth Rogen comedy The Interview, which is about a CIA plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un. Normally, we’d be all over the nerd-friendly news about, say, Spider-Man coming home to Marvel Studios, but that’s been covered plenty of times on the web. Besides, we already told the world the best way to mashup Spidey and the MCU.
The thing to emerge out of the Sony leak that really bugged me was the assertion by Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin that “there aren’t any Asian movie stars.”
This past weekend’s box office numbers are in, and Disney’s latest project Big Hero 6 stands soundly on top. This might not come as a big surprise, considering that Frozen-fever is still holding every auntie’s TV hostage — but the film still breaks ground, especially in the scope of Asian Americans in cinema. And Hollywood should take note.
In the history of comic book superhero movies, having a casting announcement be met with near-universal praise by the fickle fanboy community is a very rare occurrence. In fact, I’m not sure it’s ever happened. From Keaton to Affleck, ScarJo to Gal Gadot, the nerd reflex is to cry foul — or at least raise a suspicious eyebrow — at Hollywood’s disrespect of comic book continuity. (And don’t even think about casting non-white actors in any of these roles). Nine times out of ten, though, fanboy condemnation — at casting, say, a “vapid pretty boy” like Chris Evans as Captain America or a “gay cowboy” like Heath Ledger as the Joker — gives way to reluctant acceptance and eventually hyperbole over how perfect these actors are in their respective roles.
A few weeks ago, though, when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson finally revealed he will be playing Black Adam in a Shazam! movie, the internet reaction was entirely positive. It probably helped that this rumored casting had been gestating for nearly a decade. But while fans were celebrating The Rock as Black Adam, I had one question: who could possibly be (physically) big enough to play Shazam1?
For a few months now, everyone’s favorite wrestler-turned-action-movie-franchise-savior Dwayne Johnson has been hinting at his involvement in the nascent DC Cinematic Universe. A few weeks ago, he all but confirmed that movie would be Shazam though he wouldn’t confirm which part he’d play. William Evans of Black Nerd Problems speculated on what it might mean if The Rock actually played the lead hero (née Captain Marvel) in that upcoming DC movie.
Well, The Rock took to twitter this morning to reveal his role, once and for all.
Yes, my people, it is I, he who typically slams everything the DCU does with its movie franchises. But look, if this all but confirmed news that Dwayne Johnson will portray Shazam comes to fruition: I like this one. I really, really like this one. If we’re being 100% honest, I think the actor formerly known as the wrestler known as The Rock would be a great Black Adam. Besides the comically-not-really-him-CGI depiction in The Mummy Returns, have we really had Johnson play a villain?
If the news is to be believed, Johnson hasn’t decided which character he’ll portray, but the smart money is on Shazam, and I can’t blame him. As far as franchising, being a good guy on the Justice League is going to afford you many more opportunities in the franchise than a villain who might appear in one flick. But I digress. For the first time since Zack Snyder started signing off on costume designs, I actually like a casting choice for this Justice League universe without having to have seventeen think-pieces to convince me of it. Johnson has proven he can be heroic, goofy, lighthearted, and certainly looks the part of being a “superman-ish” hero.