The New Age of Superhero Live-Action Media

The new year is a great time to assess what has been working in the world and what changes are facing us in the future. It’s also a nice chance to make some predictions about what is coming. My interests lean towards comic books, so my musings have taken me down that path. You want to know what I realized? Superheroes in the live-action popular media are seriously changing gears…and I am loving it.

If you’ve seen a superhero movie or TV show in the last few (let’s say 10) years, then you’ve probably seen a “grim and gritty reboot” of something. While that was a great tactic to get people to embrace the superhero genre of entertainment in a big way, it hasn’t necessarily been a perfect reflection of the roots of the superheroes. There are more than a few things that have frankly sucked about the “grim and gritty.” I don’t really want to dwell on it, but I’ll list a few: black leather costumes are lame (Superheroes tend to wear the colors. Fact!), not every superpower is viewed as a cruddy curse, the human race isn’t necessarily without a moral center, sometimes people can be in actual romantic relationships that work.

While the “grim and gritty” hasn’t been the absolute rule, it has been pretty prevalent. At least until the things that came out this year. I would call 2014 the beginning of a transition to a completely different age of superhero live-action movies and TV shows. 2015 is going to be the final test of it, and is probably going to cement a new trend. The new trend is this: superhero genre can legitimately jump straight out of the comic book and there is not more need to apologize.

In case you missed it, let’s review a few things that happened this last year, and what is coming up (admittedly, this is largely spearheaded by Marvel): ‘Captain America: the Winter Soldier’ just says “Yeah, this guy has a cybernetic arm and spent years frozen and has no real negative physical effects” (not to mention a guy saved his consciousness prior to death on 1970s era computers…), ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ says “Yup, talking raccoon” and we all bought into it, ‘The Flash’ features a superhero who actually loves being a superhero (what a novel concept), coming up in 2015 we will actually see the film ‘Ant-Man’ (seriously) with a man who shrinks in size and legitimately rides on the back of a winged ant. If you think those aren’t surprising turns in the realm of superhero films, then somehow you forgot about the first five years of the superhero movie wave.

This is a great path for things to take. While I’ve been glad to see any attention paid to the superhero genre, I’ve been sad for years that so few films have been fun. Thoughts? Do you think the “grim and gritty” was the way to go? Are you unhappy with the new “fun” offerings? Comment Below.

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The New Age of Superhero Live-Action Media

The Wannabes Best Of 2014 – Television

2014 has been an interesting year for pop culture. It’s the year that made John Oliver a star, that streaming platforms continued its upward reign, when the CW became one of the best networks on television, we got Every Simpsons Ever, and diversity was the watchword. But like every other person does at this time of year, we felt the urge to distill the past year into just a few favorite highlights. Each day leading up to the new year, The Wannabes will be presenting their favorite pieces of pop culture from 2014. Today: TV

Megan: It’s a tie between Silicon Valley and Jane the Virgin—I can’t choose between these two; don’t ask me; I won’t. They’re nothing alike; Silicon Valley is a group of dorks who have no idea how to run they company they started, and Jane the Virgin is about, well, a virgin who gets accidentally artificially inseminated. But they’re both freshmen shows, and they both have me pausing the TV many times because I’m laughing too hard to hear the line after a joke. I implore anybody who hasn’t to give them a chance.

Amanda: Since this is about favorites, not “show we think is the best quality,” this award goes to Once Upon a Time. I have cried during nearly every episode, and the endless Captain Swan fan service has me flailing after every look and every touch. I absolutely love these characters and the journey they are taking to their happy endings. Emma Swan has influenced my wardrobe, my haircut and definitely my appreciation of my family. Consider me charmed.

Kate: Few shows these days take my full attention and make me put down my phone/computer or anything else I might do and focus solely on the screen like The Fall. This show captivated me completely from the opening scene, and 5 episodes were not enough. Thankfully, the second season will be on Netflix in January. (Again, see post.)

Andrew: This is definitely a hard battle between Gotham and The Flash for me. Not necessarily because they are the best-made shows on television, but because they are doing something different from every other show and they are the shows I want to watch most.

Chelsey: Comedy Central has been killing it this year with almost all of their programming, but none more so than with Broad City and Nathan For You. If you don’t want to be best friends with Abbi and Illana after watching an episode of Broad City, then I have nothing for you. Nathan For You is doing something on television I’ve never seen before. Part reality show parody, part cringe comedy, part prank show, and part story of a lonely dude who just wants to make a friend, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard during a TV show ever. Just see the episode “Souvenir Shop/E.L.A.I.F.F.” for a perfect example of a simple marketing stunt that escalates in a way only Nathan can produce. Sometimes real life and real people are just as hilarious as scripted programming.

Madeleine: The Mindy Project takes my top TV series for 2014 because Mindy Kaling has really developed her show and is truly an everyperson. She’s upfront about her shallowness, she’s got gumption, and she’s so likable you can’t help but think you’re pals. And for now she’s hasn’t crossed that delicate line into the territory of annoying.

What have been your favorite TV series of 2014?

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The Wannabes Best Of 2014 – Television

What’s Your Flavor: New Fall TV as Ice Cream Flavors

Two of my favorite things happen to be ice cream and TV, sometimes (most of the time) at the same time, so now that we are a ways into the TV season, I thought I would run through this slew of new shows and give you my bite-sized opinion on each by comparing them to ice cream.  Just because.

In some cases, I had to get overly general in order to make the comparisons so I am sorry if I offend your new favorite.

gotham cpbGotham = Chocolate and Peanut Butter Look, I love chocolate (Batman) and peanut butter (crime shows), so I want to like this.  It can be done right but needs work sometimes.  First step, get rid of Bruce Wayne.

Scorpion = Rum Raisin Much like Rum Raisin, I only ever hear of elderly people enjoying it.

Jane the Virgin = Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Some may look at this one and just think it is simple vanilla (a CW show), but in actuality, it has a lot more to chew on and is utterly delightful because of it.

flashThe Flash = Rainbow Sherbet It’s bright, flashy, and a refreshing take on the superhero TV adaptation, which have been a bit more gloomy as of late (see Rocky Road).  Luckily, the title is easier for the masses to pronounce correctly than the word “sherbet”.  THERE IS NO EXTRA “R”!

Selfie  = Neapolitan So far, there have been elements of this show that I like and some that I don’t.  I am choosing to eat around those less savory parts (for me, strawberry or episodes 1 and 3) and hope for the best from the overall show.

Manhattan Love Story = Black Cherry I like cherry and I like love but somehow I don’t like either this show or ice cream flavor.

ncisNCIS: New Orleans = Vanilla This is too safe of a choice for CBS.  Throw something else into the mix, CBS.

Marry Me = Peppermint Ice Cream This is a refreshing, tasty ice cream that has little nuggets of something I already loved (Happy Endings) and best news of all, it is looking like it might last past Christmas.

Forever = Mocha Almond Fudge For some reason, I only imagine women in their fifties watching this with their cats and knitting projects.

The Mysteries of Laura = Fat-Free What’s the point of you?

rbsRed Band Society = Strawberry This is really sweet but I am currently having a hard time seeing it in my DVR/frozen foods aisle and picking it when there are so many other options.

Black-ish = Chocolate Honest hour, I haven’t watched this one so I am just going to go with offensively stereotypical.

Stalker = ??? I was having a really hard time thinking of a flavor until I realized that I just didn’t care enough.

Gracepoint = Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Be chocolate or be vanilla.  Be American or be British.

bad judgeBad Judge = Snickers Ice Cream  There are things I like a lot in this show (Ryan Hansen and Kate Walsh) but for some reason it does not come together for me.

A to Z = Cotton Candy Ice Cream Very sweet and has some intriguing moments but I wish it had a little more bite to it.

How to Get Away With Murder = Cake Batter It is probably really bad for me, but it is just oh-so delicious.

Madam Secretary = Pistachio There are people that like this, but I just don’t see the appeal.

mulaney icMulaney = Rocky Road This show has had a “rocky road” (see what I did there), but there is so much there that I like that I want to work.  I mean, I love chocolate, John Mulaney’s stand-up, and marshmallows, so please Mulaney, get it together.

What’s Your Flavor: New Fall TV as Ice Cream Flavors

Fall TV: A Method to the Madness

Fall television season is officially here, and to the hardcore TV fan, it can be an overwhelming time. Not only are most of our favorite returning programs coming back, but there’s a whole host of new shows to sift through as well. How does one decide what to watch and what to stick with? It’s not easy, but I’ve come up with a method that’s served me well I thought I’d share with you all.

First off, I read all my favorite TV critics and pop culture roundups to see what is even coming in the fall, when the premiere dates are, and what to pay attention to. Most critics have seen the pilots and a few episodes of these series, and have pretty good sense of what will work and what won’t. NY Mag’s Vulture blog, The A.V. Club, and Entertainment Weekly are the ones I focus on, but everyone has their own preference. To make things more organized, I’ve also highlighted the shows I’ll be paying attention to in the recent EW Fall TV Preview issue.

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Once I’ve gotten all these shows in my Hulu queue (because LOL @ live TV), I give hour-long shows three episodes and half-hour comedies six episodes to hook me in. I feel three hours is a generous amount of time for a show to prove whether it’s up to snuff or not – pilots are always rocky, the second episode is usually the pilot redux with a bit more plot, but the third episode is when a program really shows you what it’s about and will be like for the rest of the season, and comedies usually just take a bit longer to find their footing (see: Parks and Rec).

If I’m in by the end of the third hour, then I’m in for the long haul. If not, you’re off my queue. Sometimes I’ll check in mid-season to see if critical consensus has drastically changed, but that’s pretty rare.

For reference, the new shows I’ll be trying this year are “Red Band Society,” “Gotham,” “Black-ish,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Selfie,” “Manhattan Love Story,” “Happyland,” “A to Z,” “Mulaney,” “The Flash,” “The Affair,” “Jane the Virgin,” “Marry Me,” and “Constantine.”

That’s about the same number as last year, however the only freshman shows that survived this method last year were “Sleepy Hollow,” “The Originals,” “Reign,” “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (barely), and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” So it ends up becoming pretty manageable. Until winter TV season, of course.

Do you all have your own method for figuring out fall TV?

Fall TV: A Method to the Madness