Hello! Every week, our internet culture staff will discuss the world of streaming entertainment in this newsletter. In this edition:
- The arrival of Godzilla vs. Kong on HBO Max
- Falcon and the Winter Soldier embraces queerbaiting
- Review: Violation shows a different side of a revenge fantasy
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BREAK THE INTERNET
Catching up on the MonsterVerse before Godzilla vs. Kong
Godzilla vs. Kong, the next hybrid theatrical/streaming release from Warner Bros. and the latest entry in the MonsterVerse—a.k.a. Legendary’s attempt to create a shared cinematic universe for its monsters—is setting the stage for a showdown of epic proportions: In a fight between two Titans, will a kaiju who can absorb radioactive energy or a giant gorilla who’s treated like a god by the inhabitants of his island emerge victoriously?
Knowing that the arrival of Godzilla vs. Kong was imminent, I spent much of the past week watching the previous three entries in the MonsterVerse to familiarize myself with the shared universe and some of the people who inhabit them. In all likelihood, very few of us are probably watching these movies for the human stories; they’re often dull, forgettable, melodramatic. To be honest, we’re really just here for the monsters.
Indeed, I am now incredibly invested in watching Godzilla and Kong go head-to-head. My preference would be for them to kiss, but since that isn’t happening, an epic smackdown sounds like an excellent consolation prize.
But who will win?
My money is on an outside force forcing them to team up in the third act. But which one had the better odds of winning one-on-one? I decided to check with someone who knows a thing or two about legendary matchups.
I posed the question to my colleague Josh Katzowitz, the Daily Dot’s resident boxing expert who writes a weekly newsletter on the very subject. Josh hasn’t seen Godzilla vs. Kong yet, so I sent him the trailer—and here’s what he had to say:
“Kong is a technically superior fighter. The right cross he lands on Godzilla’s chin in the trailer is picture-perfect. Yes, he telegraphs the punch, but Godzilla has never been known for his defense, so it’s not surprising that he neither tried to slip the punch nor block it (though to be fair, Godzilla appeared to roll with the punch a little, likely taking some of the sting out of it). Kong also has advantages with his longer arms and reach. If he can stay outside of the pocket, potshot Godzilla with a constant jab, and land the occasional 1-2 on Godzilla’s chin, he’s going to have a great chance for victory.”
But you can’t underestimate Godzilla’s aggression and his will to win. His fire-breathing antics aren’t exactly legal in the boxing ring, but if he can get away with it without the referee admonishing him, that won’t make the fight easy for Kong. If Godzilla can use his tail as almost a third-punching ‘arm,’ even better for him.
Ultimately, I’d make Kong the 2/1 favorite, and I see him winning by TKO late in the fight with a right uppercut that Godzilla never sees coming.“
Godzilla vs. Kong is now on HBO Max and in theaters.
—Michelle Jaworski, Staff Writer
So you want to be a content creator. It’s an exciting new world but you should know there are challenges associated with this popular new profession. It can be confusing to even know where to start. But what if there was a kit that allowed anyone to become a content creator straight out of the box? That’s the idea behind the Canon Content Creator Kit.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s embrace of a tired trope
Forced together by circumstance, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes are reluctant partners who constantly get on each other’s nerves. It’s a familiar buddy-cop dynamic, and Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 2 ups the ante with flirty moments like Bucky falling on top of Sam during a fight scene (an action-movie classic!) and, yes, that couples therapy session.
Dr. Raynor (Amy Aquino) is a textbook example of a TV therapist. Her role in episode 1 isn’t to provide plausible mental health treatment, it’s to explain Bucky’s emotional state to the audience. Sure! Then in episode 2, she’s basically God’s gift to fanfic writers. Faced with two squabbling superheroes, her solution is to make them sit with their legs tangled together and gaze into each other’s eyes. Inspired! And really, this nails a key issue at the heart of the show. For Sam/Bucky shippers, it’s a load of new material. But it’s also a transparently obvious example of queerbaiting.
The MCU’s queerbaiting habit is a real “your mileage may vary” situation. Some fans are grossed out by how Disney capitalizes on queer fandom while refusing to include meaningful queer characters in the movies. Others are happy to just sit back and enjoy stuff like the Sam/Bucky therapy scene. Honestly, plenty of people manage both perspectives at once. MCU fandom is often pretty far removed from what Disney is attempting to sell, and every queer headcanon is filtered through an awareness of Hollywood homophobia.
How Marvel’s approach to queer fandom is a cynical one
Marvel has faced years of criticism for its lack of queer representation in the movies, and queer ships play a central role in MCU fandom. Bucky Barnes, in particular, is widely interpreted as a queer-coded character. So while we can enjoy those Sam/Bucky scenes on their own terms, it’s hard to ignore the wider context. We’re used to seeing shows and movies tease their audience in similar ways—Sherlock, Supernatural, the Star Wars sequel trilogy—by either turning this subtext into a joke, or minimizing its role on-screen. After Steve Rogers’ aggressively heteronormative sendoff in Avengers: Endgame, this almost feels like an attempt to encourage queer fandom under more controlled conditions. A way to give fans what they want… without actually giving them what they want.
—Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, Staff Writer
Violation shows a different side of a revenge fantasy
Very little of Violation, a surreal and thoughtful look at the revenge-fantasy movie, makes sense at first (some of which is by design).
Every now and then, we’re shown a seemingly random shot of a wolf picking up a rabbit or a fly on a person’s thumb. The film cuts back and forth, showing us one transgression and then following it with the catalyst to that event; sometimes, the color of the leaves alludes to the passage of time. In one scene, two people are happily bonding over the emotional strife in one of their lives; the next, one of them views the other with disdain.
The time jumps can make you feel disorienting, and it certainly takes you some time to really get settled in with things. While Violation is often intimate, it can also sometimes feel like it’s lacking something; some characters are barely fleshed out at all. But a powerhouse performance from Madeleine Sims-Fewer (who also co-wrote and co-directed the film) immerses you deep within the mindset of a woman who takes revenge for herself—and what that can do to a person.
- Review: Netflix’s Bad Trip is aptly named
- Who is Marvel’s forgotten supersoldier, Isaiah Bradley?
- Why we love to hate the MCU’s new Captain America, John Walker
- ‘Stop crying, it’s just a movie’ meme reveals the films that deeply affected us
Now Playing: “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” by Lil Nas X
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