Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Maze Runner's Implicit Message About Girls' Role in Education

The scene is a complex learning environment, populated entirely by young men and controlled by unseen overseers.  The boys socialize, assign roles, and work to transcend their environment and enter the outside world.  Eventually (spoilers) the system is revealed as a tool for weeding out a final candidate, capable of responding to the post-apocalyptic ruin of the outer world.  This describes the upcoming cinematic adaptation of book trilogy ‘The Maze Runner’.  But it also describes the growing number of schools that are implementing gender segregated classrooms.  Essentially, ‘The Maze Runner’ is a story about an experimental education program.  And in its unspoken assumptions about gender, it reflects the ongoing debate on how to best educate young people.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Eight Characters We Can Expect in the 'Justice League' movie

When Henry Cavil, Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot stepped out on the stage of Hall H at Comic Con this weekend, their wordless appearance signaled more than a brief cameo by the stars of the upcoming ‘Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice’.  Warner Brothers’ studio is banking a lot on the success of the upcoming film, which they’ve already announced will provide a lead in to a subsequent ‘Justice League’ movie.  But while the formula of establishing a shared cinematic universe is one clearly inspired by the recent success of the Marvel Studios films, 'Justice League' could provide an opportunity for Warner Brothers’ parent company, Time Warner, to draw on the full range of their intellectual property holdings.  This is one universe that could truly have no limits, so here are The Over Picture's predictions for what characters to expect when ‘Justice League’ eventually hits screens.

1. Shazam

With the recent announcement of the Rock’s casting as the mystical hero, there’s a big likelihood we’ll be seeing the big red cheese show up in more than just a solo film.  The inclusion of this mystically powered character could be just the ingredient the ‘Justice League’ needs to go from ‘super’ to ‘duper’.

Odds: 2 to 1. They may not be able to call him Captain Marvel anymore, but that won’t stop Warner Brothers from making this character a big part of their shared universe.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

India's Bandit Empress: The Real Life Daenerys Targaryen

The Internet is obsessed with Daenerys Targaryen.  Over the last two years, hundreds of baby girls have become her namesake, while her television portrayal by Emilia Clarke spawns countless memes, think pieces and cosplay outfits.  Whether being considered as a feminist icon or simply a paragon of satisfying narrative payoff, the Mother of Dragons’ slow progression from helpless slave to conquering warlord make her an understandably irresistible figure.  But she has nothing on the real life violence and vengeance enacted by the Bandit Queen of India, Phoolan Devi.

The parallels between these two women are striking, and one would suspect that George R.R. Martin was influenced in his creation of Daenerys, if Phoolan’s story hadn't been popularized in the west years after the fictional queen’s creation.  Even given Martin’s noted refusal to reward good and punish evil within his fictional universe, however, Phoolan’s story is both more tragic and marked by more personal vengeance than any possible fictional descendant.