Black Panther Marvel throne tribute

Black Panther: The Game Changer We All Needed

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Even though most of the comic book characters who have lit up the big screen were first created in the 1960s (or earlier), there’s no doubt that their cinematic recreations are reflective of our time. While dozens upon dozens of superhero movies have paraded across the screen, the ones that stick out the most have been the ones that have something to say—about society, about the world we live in, about the challenges facing us now.

For example, the first Spider-Man film came less than a year after 9/11, and felt like a direct response: no other film so captured the zeitgeist of that moment, the rallying together, the desire for union, most notably depicted when the New Yorkers join together to save Spider-Man from the Green Goblin, chanting, “You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us!” Spider-Man 2, on the other hand, perfectly captured the sense of a “fall from grace” that happened within the U.S. almost directly afterward, as the “war on terror” began: the rise of patriotism was followed by a devastating fall, with a frail economy, polarization, and constant struggle. While 2002’s Spider-Man was bright and colorful, 2004’s Spider-Man 2 was murky, grey, bittersweet, and showed a Peter Parker nearly collapsing beneath the weight of bills, responsibilities, and unfulfilled dreams. Following this, the year 2008 brought us both The Dark Knight and Iron Man, two films that critically tackled the evolving views on the “war on terror.” The Avengers followed suit, re-approaching 9/11 about as directly as a superhero film possibly can (New York is devastated by an attack from the sky, people rally together against it). The Avengers put down the groundwork for the anti-corruption themes of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War.  Last year brought us Wonder Woman, the feminist superhero movie that the world was waiting for, and also brought us Thor: Ragnarok, which mixed slapstick humor with a  biting satirical critique of colonialism. Then there’s the obvious political allegories of the X-Men films: these concepts were at their most potent in Logan, which portrays a Trumpian dystopia where mutant immigrants from Mexico flee to Canada for freedom, while the U.S. is mired in recession, automation, and corporate bureaucracy.

While most superhero movies are popular, the films listed above resonate because of how they tap into cultural fears, hopes, and dreams. As of February 16, 2018, a new film needs to be added to that list: Black Panther.

Black Panther mask Marvel

Black Panther is the sort of film that, for decades, Hollywood producers claimed would never work. It stars a black protagonist, shown as wise, commanding and noble, but also possessing human flaws like impatience, anger, and self-doubt. The director, Ryan Coogler, is black, and almost all of the supporting cast are also black. It’s set in Africa. Rather than showing the characters an an oppressed minority, it instead shows them as powerful figures, coming from a technologically advanced society that stands head and shoulders above “western” society in every way. There are no damsels in distress: most of the supporting characters are powerful women, such as Okoye and Shuri. As if that wasn’t enough, the movie is even titled “Black Panther.”

The film that Hollywood thought would “never work” is now on track to be one of the biggest blockbusters of all time, proving wrong everyone who ever doubted it. Contrary to all of its doubters, it seems like Black Panther is the movie people were waiting for.

Black Panther hasn’t even been out a month, but it’s already been the topic of numerous fascinating think pieces, analyzing T’Challa’s place in history. Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige believes it’s the best movie they’ve ever made. Issac Bailey, writing for CNN, proclaimed that “Black Panther is for film what Barack Obama was for the presidency.” It’s been said by many that Black Panther is becoming a movement, not just a movie.

 

Here’s another thing: Black Panther might turn out to be the superhero movie of this era.

In recent years, the efforts of groups like Black Lives Matter have helped bring the topic of racial inequality roaring back into the headlines, forcing everyone to stand up and take notice of the widespread structural racism that still exists in the United States today. The U.S. has a particularly strange duality at play, when it comes to this matter: we’re living in an era where a black man become president of the United States, but we’re also living in an era where he was immediately followed by a white person with a sordid history of racist actions and proclamations. “Jim Crow” is a thing of the past, but systemic racism and mass incarceration are so deeply embedded into the country’s institutions (with even former slave plantations converted into prisons) that the situation has been called “the new Jim Crow.”

Obviously, as a country, and as a world, we have a lot of work to do to further the cause of true equality. But that’s the easier part to accept and realize. What’s equally critical—and what Black Panther taps into—is that society also needs to also reexamine our history, to challenge all rose-tinted views of the past, if we hope to rise into a better future.

T'Challa Black Panther Marvel Killmonger villain B Jordan

In the film, this aspect is symbolized by the villain, Killmonger—a character whose relatable background evokes empathy from the audience, even if his means and end goal are destructive.  In his introductory scene, Killmonger speaks toward the history of black oppression… which is, in turn, the history of the contemporary world. As written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, the journalist for the Atlantic who has also written Marvel’s Black Panther comic book:

“The early American economy was built on slave labor. The Capitol and the White House were built by slaves. President James K. Polk traded slaves from the Oval Office. The laments about “black pathology,” the criticism of black family structures by pundits and intellectuals, ring hollow in a country whose existence was predicated on the torture of black fathers, on the rape of black mothers, on the sale of black children. An honest assessment of America’s relationship to the black family reveals the country to be not its nurturer but its destroyer.”

The great lie of colonial history, whether it’s British colonialism or the birth of the United States, is the default presumption of virtue, the idea that everything was built fairly. Are there certain things to admire about the United States? Yes, absolutely: democracy, republicanism, the push for greater freedom, the dream of giving every person the opportunity for life and liberty. That’s what the U.S. got right (ideologically, if not in practice), and those dreams are what American citizens should feel patriotic about — but as a culture, we also have to recognize that even while the founders were pushing for these virtuous goals, the U.S. left behind women, minorities, anyone who wasn’t a European-descended male, with policies that particularly harmed both Africans and the native North American tribes, whom the very land was stolen from.

(For the record, I do think patriotism is valuable. However, jingoistic chants of “America is great,” or “get out of the country if you don’t like it” aren’t true patriotism. Just like honestly loving a person requires that you understand their flaws, I believe that true patriotism requires acknowledging the evil actions that U.S. culture and the U.S. government have perpetrated upon countless other cultures in the past, and accepting that if we truly believe in the ideals of the United States, we need to address, repair, and make reparations for the harsh reality of these past actions.)

Now, Black Panther isn’t introducing these concepts for the first time, but what’s significant is that the film is a multi-billion dollar studio tentpole, a major film that people all over the world will see, think about, and recommend. It’s tapping into a deep vein that many people out there might have never considered. Black Panther is huge, and it’s getting bigger. That’s what makes it a game changer.

 

Dora Milaje Black Panther Wakanda Warriors Marvel

Black Panther poses the notion of an African nation, Wakanda, which was never colonized. And then, contrary to every prejudiced assumption on the books, Marvel depicts this uncolonized nation as NOT being a “primitive,” culturally backward, starving country: instead, Wakanda’s separation from the colonial world has made it BETTER than every other place on the planet. It’s a nation that was able to hold onto its old traditions, while also embracing the most advanced technology on the planet, and even developing more equal social norms (particularly when it comes to women) than most “first world” nations today.

This cuts right to the heart of the “manifest destiny” myth, repudiating it. But Black Panther doesn’t stop there and rest on its laurels. Once the movie has shown how amazing Wakanda is, it then uses the character of Killmonger to challenge the nation’s isolationism, further widening the film’s scope. Killmonger believes that Wakanda is responsible for the suffering of people around the world, because of its closed borders.

And here’s the rub: the villain is right, on some level. Sure, Killmonger’s end goal is wrong, as proliferating high-tech weapons around the world is never good for anyone, but the essence of his beliefs—that the great nation’s isolationism makes it guilty for the wrongs that happen across the world—is accurate, and over the course of the film, T’challa comes around to this point of view.

 

Black-Panther-Wakanda

The final battle between T’Challa and Killmonger depicts both characters calling out one another’s hypocrisies. Killmonger tells T’Challa that by hiding in the shadows for centuries, Wakanda is complicit in the wrongdoings perpetrated over the course of history. T’Challa finally agrees with this, but argues—also correctly—that Killmonger’s desire for violent supremacy has made him into everything he hates.

As a film, and as a story, the depth of this conclusion is fantastic. T’Challa “wins” against Killmonger’s violence, but Killmonger also “wins” the battle of ideologies, convincing the hero of what he (or rather, his nation) has been doing wrong.

By the end, T’Challa learns from the mistakes of his father, and knows that Wakanda can no longer remain distant from the concerns of the world. Now, he must get involved. This is most explicitly stated by T’Challa himself in the film’s mid-credit sequence, set in the United Nations, which is easily one of the most political scenes in any Marvel movie to date:

 

“In times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.”

Black Panther Marvel throne tribute

And so, T’Challa opens his nation to the world, brings Wakanda’s knowledge to those who need it, and offers help and guidance to everyone else who is struggling. He doesn’t do this naively. After Killmonger’s attack, he knows the risks. Opening Wakanda up to the world means the possibility of invasions, theft… you know, all the stuff that a Black Panther sequel will probably deal with.

But in an increasingly globalized world, isolationism is not only wrong, but also dated and ineffective. Just as our real world is now menaced by threats beyond our easy comprehension—I.E., climate change, nuclear weapons, overpopulation, et cetera—the Earth of the Marvel Universe is now menaced by alien invasions, Infinity Stones, and lots of cosmic craziness that could wipe it off the map. If the Earth wants to survive, all of its nations must come together.

To summarize, I have to acknowledge that as a white male, I can’t speak on behalf of other cultures, or what this movie might mean to other people from different backgrounds: I can only offer a series of assumptions, from my own privileged position. However, I don’t want to close this essay on my thoughts, because when it comes to Black Panther, there are other voices that are more important than mine. The film definitely moved me, but I’m not the audience whom it will have the biggest impact on.

That audience, the one that matters the most here, are the black youth of today, and they deserve to be heard.  Writing for the New York Times, Kevin Nobel Maillard invited a group of seventh graders to a Black Panther showing, and recorded their responses. Here are a few:

“The film makes me want to start my own tribe and make my own inventions to help the world. It also makes me want to make my own Panther outfit.” – Gabriela Myles

“To see a black person control a whole country and creating all this technology made me feel I can do more with my brain.” – Jaheim Hedge

Black Panther will show people of the world how much more people of color can do.” – Scottia Coy

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Alien Autopsy UFO roswell aliens weird footage

Extraterrestrial Aliens Should be Less Human, and More Alien

Okay, let’s be honest. If aliens are out there, whether they’re monitoring our world or flying around their own little corner of the cosmos, they probably aren’t hairless, bipedal primates like us. They might not even perceive the universe in the same way we do. And yeah, they definitely don’t speak English. So why is that in the vast majority of books, movies, and TV shows about aliens, they seem so much like human beings with unique skin tones, claws, or bigger heads?

Why aren’t aliens… more alien?

This exact thought was a huge part of what inspired me to write Intraterrestrial, my upcoming weird, emotional, psychedelic alien novel which will be floating your way later this month.

Star-Trek-Discovery-TKuvma-Klingon-Leader alien human

In most sci-fi media, “aliens” tend to resemble futuristic humans. Sure, maybe they have grey skin and tentacles, but the differences from us are relatively minor. Aliens still wear clothes or ceremonial armors, they still pilot metal ships, have families, and interact with the world using the same five senses. Alien technology, while usually more advanced than Earthling technology, is nonetheless quite similar to ours. (Though Giger’s hyper-sexualized designs in the Alien movies are a notable exception.)

Now, the reason that fictional aliens are so “human” is easy to understand. For one, humans have a tendency to try to imprint our image on everything, whether it’s finding human faces in wood grain (the pareidolia phenomenon), or believing that an omnipotent creator would resemble an old white guy with a big white beard.

This is also because from a storytelling perspective, it’s easier for readers and audiences to connect with “creatures” that resemble us. That’s why it’s easier to recognize the “life” in an animal than it is a plant, even though both are equally valid lifeforms. The use of “human” aliens has been a necessary ingredient in many important media franchises, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, and the Marvel Universe. That’s because the “aliens” in these tales aren’t there to explore the sci-fi idea of aliens: these “aliens” are representative of humans, so it suits the story to make them as human as possible. This aspect is particularly strong in Star Trek, which uses a utopian “Federation” of alien races to represent the ideal of humankind’s many races/cultures/societies one day working out their differences and living in harmony. It’s powerful stuff.

Ufo flying saucer nicholas conley aliens

So, I’m not criticizing the use of “human” aliens, because they serve a valid narrative function for many stories. However, I am asking: shouldn’t our stories have room for both types of alien, both human and…. less human?

And furthermore, can’t we see more stories featuring inhuman aliens, which don’t simply write the beings off as “monsters,” or “beasts,” and instead work to engender audience compassion and connection for creatures that aren’t just like us?

 

I say this, because many stories demonize inhuman creatures, and that’s problematic, because it signifies how we feel about (and treat) animals, plants, and other lifeforms that don’t have smiling faces. For example, when I used talking slugs as characters in my last novel, Pale Highway,  I did so hoping that it might make at least one reader reexamine these “slimy” creatures, and perhaps come away with more respect for them. Slugs might be totally different from us, but they are a valid form of life. If my story convinced even one person to never pour salt on a poor slug again, then hey, that’s an achievement I’m proud of.

Anyway, getting back to the central point, depictions of truly otherworldly aliens—particularly more sympathetic portrayals—are rare. Off the top of my head, the most noteworthy example of this in recent times was the film Arrival, where the Heptapods were seen as complex, intelligent beings of a truly alien background. The other example that comes to mind are the “Scramblers” in the novel Blindsight. While these creatures certainly weren’t “sympathetic,” due to their total lack of free will and/or emotions, the novel itself presented their strange nature as a plot point, and an examination of what our “free will” really is.

 

Arrival aliens ufo space science fiction ship.png

Now, why am I interested in seeing more alien-like aliens? A few reasons. One, it’s largely unexplored terrain. It’s a big, cosmic horror (or mesmerizing wonder) of possibilities that fiction has only begun to tap.

Two, because I think it’s an important way to break through the myopic nature of human perception. I think that telling stories wherein the aliens are distinctly not-human—but are still viable creatures in their own right—could help break down barriers in human society, help tear down prejudices, and make it easier for people to relate to others who aren’t like them.  After all, the “other” is not the enemy.

alien sky weird ufo nicholas conley intraterrestrial

For Intraterrestrial, the key difference I wanted to explore was the notion of perception. The main character, Adam Helios, is a 13 year old boy with a brain injury: this injury causes his perception of the world to differ significantly from a “normal” person.

However, the aliens who contact him perceive the universe in an even stranger way: while us Earthlings use five senses, the aliens do not possess senses. They explore the universe psychically, using creativity as a “sense.” They are so incomprehensible to our hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, and sound that the aliens can only appear before Adam by “creating” sensory constructs of themselves, with his imagination.

A large part of what inspired me to write Intraterrestrial was my desire, both as a writer and as a reader, to see fictional aliens that are more “alien,” instead of just seeming like futuristic humans. This book will be my own contribution to the cause I’ve described above, and I look forward to you folks reading it, and letting me know if my aliens are “alien” enough!

Intraterrestrial Nicholas Conley sci-fi book aliens tbi brain injury

 

 

Spider-Man Homecoming Marvel Cinematic Universe

Spider-Man: Homecoming: Spins a Web, Any Size

Somehow I managed to make it all the way to November without sharing my thoughts on Spider-Man: Homecoming. Don’t ask me how. I talk about Spider-Man all the time, even when I’m just reviewing totally bizarre Spider-Man knockoff games. I thought I’d already blogged about Spidey’s newest cinematic outing, but I guess not, so here goes.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is fantastic. It’s the best big screen Spidey outing since Sam Raimi left the series, and while it doesn’t quite achieve the heights of Spider-Man 2, it does successfully rebuild this character for a new generation.

Spider-Man Homecoming boat Marvel Peter Parker Iron Man

There are three key factors that make the movie work as well as it does. The first, and most important, is that the film knows its message, and it gets that message across clearly. Spider-Man: Homecoming is a story about young adulthood, and the awkward growing pains of a teenager trying to find his way in the world, while coming to understand that his actions have a real impact on others.

Following in the footsteps of past creators like Lee, Raimi, and Bendis, this movie uses Peter’s Spider-Man adventures as a superheroic representation of the more relatable coming of age story that Peter must go through. What makes this particular Spider-Man stand out is that he really is a kid: he’s only a few years past puberty, inexperienced, impulsive, scared, barely knows what he’s doing. Peter has a big heart and a genuine enthusiasm for helping people, but he has a lot to learn.

Though Uncle Ben’s “great power, great responsibility” mantra isn’t recited, this classic concept is the unspoken theme of every scene in the film. Even when you’re laughing at Peter’s jokes or swinging between buildings with him, Spider-Man: Homecoming always reminds you that actions have consequences. There are multiple occasions where Peter swoops in to save the day, totally unprepared, causing catastrophic situations to occur that risk real lives. Even when he successfully stops a supervillain, saving innocent lives, it leads to the equally real lives getting shattered, as the villain’s loved ones must then grapple with what happened. Every glory is bittersweet, every failure followed by another one, but Peter keeps going, staying true to the very themes that have always made Spider-Man’s story so universal.

Perhaps due to this focus, Homecoming nails the feeling of being a teenager in a way  that prior movies didn’t quite capture. It’s often funny, but there’s a serious undercurrent of anxiety and social pressure lingering beneath the humor. Peter is at the age where he feels ready to prove himself, to be considered an adult, just like anyone his age does — but he’s still young at heart. He gets scared when he’s too high up. He doesn’t know if he’s going to survive when the Vulture drags him into the sky. He’s a hero the audience can’t help but love and relate to.

Spider-Man Homecoming Tom Holland Marvel

That’s why the second factor that knocks this movie out of the park is, of course, Tom Holland, the Spider-Man of a new generation. Holland portrays a young Peter Parker who feels ripped straight off the comic book page. The sequence where Holland really shines is in a scene adapted from the “Master Planner” story in the comics.

The third factor that makes the movie so terrific is Michael Keaton, the Vulture. Adrian Toomes has been a favorite villain of mine in the comics since “Funeral Arrangements,” a lesser-known Spectacular Spider-Man by J.M. DeMatteis and Sal Buscema. Vulture’s come within striking distance of the big screen on many occasions, but the wait was worth it. Keaton’s Vulture is one of the most interesting MCU villains to date.

Vulture Michael Keaton Spider-Man Toomes Marvel

To explain why the Vulture works so well, I’ll just quote my own answer to a question that was posted on Quora, regarding which Spider-Man movie villain was the best. To read my full answer, check out this link, but here’s the part regarding the Vulture:

Having just seen Spider-Man: Homecoming last night, I’m honestly willing to say that Michael Keaton’s portrayal of the Vulture gets a firm second place. As a villainous presence, Vulture is like a horrifying creature of the night, both unstoppable and deadly… but at the same time, the man behind the wings is revealed to be very human, very realistic, with beliefs that are understandable and relate deeply to contemporary times, even if his actions themselves are pretty horrendous and immoral. He’s a hardworking guy just trying to support his family, but he won’t flinch about killing anyone who gets in his way.

What makes both of these villains work so well is how they play off of Peter Parker himself. The key to what makes Spider-Man such a great character is that he’s the everyman, the working class superhero, the awkward regular guy who gets super powers. Both Molina’s Otto Octavius and Keaton’s Adrian Toomes also seem like regular people, with real lives and real goals they care about, both of whom just happen to fall on the wrong side of the tracks.

Homecoming doesn’t top Spider-Man 2, if only because the new film doesn’t grapple with the themes of despair, guilt, and bittersweet failure that Raimi did so beautifully. However, that’s to be expected: while Spider-Man 2 showed an older Peter who’d been wearing the webs for a few years, this new Peter is just getting his footing. He’s only fought one supervillain, and hasn’t even been tortured by the Daily Bugle yet.

So, needless to say, Holland’s Spidey certainly has some tough challenges ahead of him. But as seen in this movie, he also has a heart of gold — just like the comic book character — and it’s going to be an absolute thrill to see him return when Avengers: Infinity War rolls around.

Hilarious Spider-Man Ripoff Games in the Google Play Store

Okay, so one day I was on a long ride, and had some time to kill. I’ve always enjoyed Solitaire, though I haven’t played it for a few years. However, since my tablet was fully charged, I figured that it was a good opportunity to download a Solitaire app, and get back into the game. And hey, I figured, why not do Spider Solitaire while I’m at it?

So anyway, I go into the Google Play Store, and as I start typing “Spider,” it pulls up a search for “Spider-Man games.”

Now, I have to admit, I’m not a gamer. Don’t get me wrong, I shot up my fair share of demons back in the Doom days, but the world has changed a lot since then. However, as longtime readers know, I’m pretty passionate about superheroes, and Spider-Man in particular. Seeing the term “Spider-Man games” got me immensely curious about how such an acrobatic character could be adapted to a game playable by cell phones and tablets. Was it even possible?

I had to know. So I accepted the search for “Spider-Man Games,” but I could have never prepared for the array of hilariously dubious parodies that soon presented themselves to me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I get it: programmers want to make their own Spidey game, and can’t afford the official license, so they skate as close to the edge as they can without tipping over it. Nonetheless, the results are pretty amusing. Coming up ahead, here are the best ones I saw.

 

Spider Adventure

Spider Adventure Doc Ock Spider-Man ripoff knockoff

Hey, it’s Spidey vs. Doctor Octopus, just like Spider-Man 2!

Oh, wait. No, it’s not. It’s just a spider-themed vigilante in a Spider Adventure, facing off against a bad guy with metal arms. What a weird coincidence, huh? Though I don’t know if that’s actually a spider on the hero’s chest, a biohazard symbol, or some weird combination of the two. Maybe it’s an abstract representation of a nuclear-powered spider. Who knows.

Anyway, according to its description, Spider Hero is an open world adventure that gives the player the opportunity to become a “guardian of the universe” (note, not the galaxy) by stopping a corporation from creating an army of mutants. Hey, sounds good. The game gets really good reviews, so if you’re curious, you can download it here on the Play Store. 

Stickman Rope Hero

Stickman Rope Hero

Okay, Spider Adventure was one thing, but now it’s starting to get silly. This game lets you pilot around a hero who looks a lot like Spider-Man — but he isn’t Spider-Man, he’s the Stickman Rope Hero. And those aren’t webs he’s swinging around on, oh no, those are ropes. Can’t you tell?

Just to make sure that you never confuse this badass dude with that punk Peter Parker kid, the Stick Man Rope Hero takes on his enemies with some heavy duty military weapons, including machine guns, bazookas, and tanks. So he’s more like the Punisher… except, uh, he swings around on “ropes.” This game also gets really good reviews, so give it a look here. 

Strange Hero

Strange Hero Spider-Man

Huh, it’s weird how much this “Strange Hero” looks like another spider-themed vigilante. It’s also weird how this screenshot shows him doing exactly the same pose as the opening scene of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but y’know what, when a hero’s gotta jump into action, there are only so many ways he can do it.

However, while Spider-Man generally takes on crooks and burglars, the plot of this Strange Hero game has you stopping a whole alien invasion. So hey, that’s cool. Take that, Avengers!

Here is the game’s page, if you want to check it out.

Amazing Spider City Survival

Amazing Spider City Survival Spider-Man yellow

I know that you think that the superhero in the image above is Spider-Man, but it’s not. You know how you can tell? Because Spider-Man wears red and blue, whereas this guy — the “Amazing Spider Superhero” —  wears yellow and purple. See? On top of that, I’ve never seen Spider-Man fly through the air carrying lifelike clothing mannequins from the mall… oh wait, is that supposed to be a live civilian? Hmm. Maybe this is some kinda weird planking competition.

Well, whatever this guy is doing with that planking champion, the game’s description seems like a quest that the real Peter Parker would probably approve of, since it involves saving the city from gangsters, or something along those lines. Give it a look here.

Snake Slither and Block

Snake Slither and Block Spider-Man Pac-Man game

Okay, now this game here has officially gone too far for me to handle. Looking at the image above, I don’t whether to laugh, cry, or scream in terror. The more I stare at it, the more I can’t figure out whether I’m looking at Spider-Man, or the classic old “snake” game, or Pac-Man, or Tetris, or some bizarre mutant combination of all those things at once. It’s just too much!

And with that said, I’m officially Spidered out. Time to take a deep breath, and watch Spider-Man: Homecoming again.

What about you guys? Have you all encountered similarly hilarious ripoff games before—whether Spidey-related or otherwise—and what were they like?

twins nicholas conley

Writing for Grunge.com

Good morning, everyone!

So, I’m happy to share that I’ve joined up with the writers of Grunge.com. For those who haven’t read Grunge before, it’s a quality site, dedicated to diving deep into pools of weird information, exploring unknown facts, and correcting common misconceptions. Since I’ve always had the sort of brain that’s hungry to explore any corner of knowledge I find myself in, I’m having a great time.

Here are a few of my pieces so far. Thanks for giving ’em a read!

Weird Things That Medical TV Shows Always Get Wrong

House MD nicholas conley

Strange Facts You Never Knew About Twins

twins nicholas conley

Clever Movies That Trick You With Double Plot Twists

arrival nicholas conley

Animals That Evolved to Defend Themselves Against Humans

animals evolved nicholas conley

Sam Raimi Tobey Maguire Spider-Man 4

What if Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 4 Happened Today?

Good morning, everyone! Today I’m just sharing a post I made on Screen Rant. Since Spider-Mania is in the air once again, with Spider-Man: Homecoming aiming to break box office records next week, I thought this would be a fun time to do a “What If?” piece relating to the old Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire films.

Raimi’s Spider-Man movies are classics, and so I wanted to dive in and imagine a scenario wherein the original crew would come back, just one last time, to make a Logan-like Spider-Man 4. What would such a movie look like? Well, here are my thoughts.

Spider-Man 4: 15 Things We’d Love To See If A Raimi/Maguire Sequel Ever Happened

Sam Raimi Tobey Maguire Spider-Man 4

There’s no overstating the importance of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. Blade may have unlocked the door, and Bryan Singer’s X-Men cracked it open, but 2002’s Spider-Man was the record-breaking blockbuster that blew the door off its hinges, causing the flood of superhero movies that hasn’t ceased in the fifteen years since. Though it’s now been a decade since the arrival of Spider-Man 3 — a film which, while financially successful, was widely considered something of a letdown compared to the still beloved Spider-Man 2 — the legacy of Raimi’s lucrative series is still felt today.

Soon, Marvel Studios will be lighting up theaters across the world with its MCU-based Spider-Man: Homecoming. While that movie will almost certainly be a smashing success, let’s dream for a moment: theoretically, what if the success of Homecoming convinced Sony to get Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire together again one last time, to finally create the worthwhile conclusion that the old series deserves? Continue reading on ScreenRant.com.

Dark Tower Jake drawings Stephen King

What is Stephen King’s “Dark Tower,” exactly?

Since the release of the trailer for the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s epic, The Dark Tower, the web had been buzzing with theories and speculation, as well as questions from those who’ve never read the books.

For example: is this story a western, or sc-fi? What’s so important about this “tower?” Why does the gunslinger need to reach it?

Well, as someone who has been passionate about this series since I first picked up the books as a teenager, I recently wrote a piece for Screen Rant that explains some of the Dark Tower basics.

I’ve provided a link below, but don’t stop there. With the movie coming out later this year, now is the perfect time to catch up, and read the books that inspired it!

 

NOTE: After putting this up, I just discovered that it’s my 200th post on this blog. Crazy!