The Family: The Brotherhood
By Donte M McNeal

Based in Michigan, Donte's Playground is a blog by Donte M McNeal. His posts range from nonsensical ramblings about anime, in-depth reviews of books and television/film, to random spurts of philosophical babble.

A Welcome Change

We’re living in an awesome time if you’re a fan of superheroes. I mean, We’ve got an uptick in comics, there are numerous superhero tv shows and movies out there, for everyone to enjoy. Whether you want the cookie-cutter characters like Superman (yeah I said it, what of it?), or more nuanced characters like the Dark Knight, or even the more obscure like the Guardians of the Galaxy. I hadn’t even heard of a Groot before the movie came out, but now I love the characters. What’s even better about this era of entertainment we’re in is that those who were underrepresented before are now getting characters they can relate to. Better late than never eh?

We have characters like Wonder Woman coming and stealing the show by showing just how awesome she is.

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Her movie broke records and breathed life into a cinematic universe that a lot of people had grown tired of before it could even get a few movies under its belt. Diana was a beacon of hope, a shining example of what women could do, even if they aren’t a demigoddess. It’s lovely to see an inspirational role model for women everywhere getting the recognition she deserves. And the fact that she isn’t merely eye candy or a ditzy sex symbol is the icing on the cake. Gal Gadot knocks the role out of the park! Wonder Woman is a welcome change from the chiseled white guys that make up almost every other comic book property out there, not that I don't like them too. It's just something to see a woman do what the other guys do and do it better!

Another young woman who is an inspiration to all the ladies out there is Supergirl over on the CW.

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I’ve been a fan of Melissa Benoist since her Glee days, so I even though I was already on board with the show, that just made me like the show even more. Benoist brings such charisma and humanity to a show about an alien who’s basically a goddess in the eyes of normal people. Feminism is a major theme in the show, and it never feels oppressive or overwhelming as it delivers the message that girls can do just as much as boys can, and in some cases do it better. Supergirl is one of my favorite shows on tv, even those not about people dressing up in tight to go beat up bad guys. I’m looking forward to the other female-led projects that are in the works in the coming years!

You know I have to mention the colossal hit that has broken records galore and allowed an entire culture to come together.

Black Panther 

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I’ve heard people say that BP isn’t that good, and that it’s done what it’s done merely because black people haven’t had a movie like this before. While it’s true we haven’t had a movie of this scale, with as many stellar performances as BP has, we have other shows and films that feature a black person as its lead that are pretty good.

Blade was the first R rated comic book movie I saw. I loved how cool he was, despite the goofiness the movies had. Sure there were a lot of puns and lazy world-building by adding the word vampire in front of regular things, but those flaws were outweighed by how badass a character Blade was. He was a daywalker, and he destroyed vamps left and right! It’s the first time I’ve seen a black man be so unapologetically cool, and most people seem to forget this was a franchise long before BP was part of one. Even if all three movies aren’t the best you’ll see, you’ve got to give it Snipes for doing what he did and making the character memorable as he is.

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But back to BP. I loved this movie. I’ve seen it twice, and can’t until it drops on Blu-ray, because I will be copping it. There was just so much to love about it. The outstanding performances of every actor involved, incuding the endearing performance of Princess Shuri

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and the unforgettable, and surprisingly sympathetic Killmonger.

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The attention to detail, the Afrofuturistic atmosphere of Wakanda, and the way Ryan Coogler weaved so much of African culture into the fictional country of Wakanda. Everything about this movie was done so well, from the Shakespearean plot, to the cinematography to the way music plays such a big role. I found myself humming the Wakandan theme quite a few times while I was out and about. Not to mention that BP had one of the best and timely conflicts in recernt years (superhero movie or otherwise) with T'Challa and Killmonger, where neither of the two were wholly right or wrong. 

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On the tv side of things we have the CW’s Black Lightning,

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This is a show about a retired vigilante coming out of retirement once his family is put in danger. This show is just so real, apart from the powers I mean. The dialogue is believable and sounds like what people in a place like Freeland would actually say. The characters are interesting, the story engaging, and it has a Cottonmouth-esque villain in Tobias. I’m always curious as to what will happen next on this show and that’s a testament to how good it is considering how many other shows and anime I keep up with on a weekly basis.

Honorable Mentions

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I want to give a quick shout to the Netflix Marvel shows Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. Luke Cage has Mike Colter delivering an endearing version of Luke who just wants to stay under the radar and see his city thrive instead of just survive. But despite that, he goes out and fights for his people, and is smooth and corny (I mean, sweet Christmas as a catch phrase?) as heck as he does it.

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And Krysten Ritter kills it as the titular, no-nonsense PI in Jessica Jones. She might be an alcoholic but the way she does whatever she can to solve her cases and help those she can. And that? Well that’s something even her understandably prickly and cynical attitude can’t keep you from liking about her. Seriously though, she’s so such an unapologetic a-hole and I love it. And the second is out and is freaking crazy good!

Yep, that's about it for now. Just wanted to talk about how happy the representation in these types of properties makes me. Nothing too weird. Keep those peepers peeled for a review coming soon about a book I'm enjoying the heck out of!

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