Recently the new Blue Beetle trailer came out and while it looked cool enough, it didn’t excite me the way these things used to in the late Nineties and 2000’s when I was a teenager desperate for superhero and fantasy action. There have been a lot of superhero films released this past year and while one or two have been pretty good, most have been forgettable. I fell asleep during Black Adam, and I didn’t bother going to Shazam 2, a rare instance that I miss a superhero movie.
Back to the Blue Beetle trailer–As a Latino moviegoer, I was excited to see a movie with a Latino lead and family at the center, but the trailer didn't seem to do enough to make this stand out. Instead, they leaned into the transformation of Xolo into Blue Beetle in all of its visual effects glory; this is something we’ve experienced in every superhero film, something we know, something we’ve seen. There are still many reasons to believe that this one can be a good movie; there are plenty of trailers that come out for films that I haven’t liked, but I’ve enjoyed the film. For now, it just looks like just another mediocre superhero film in a string of ordinary superhero films. Hopefully I’m wrong.
Let’s take a look at what sets a superhero film apart and how to beat the fatigue that comes with release after release of the same movie.
As I understand it, superhero movies are what Westerns and musicals were like in their heyday. They were the genre that worked best for everyone, so Hollywood pumped out more and more films even if they weren’t great.
James Gunn, head of DC, recently pointed out that there is indeed such a thing as comic-book fatigue as a few outlets report, including Variety.* He points out that what we are sick of is seeing the same old stories, not necessarily that we are sick of superheroes. There has been a lot of dialogue from a lot of pundits in the online space and even Marvel’s Kevin Feige chiming in on “Superhero Fatigue” agreeing or disagreeing with audience sentiment, and it seems like Gunn finally just admits that it’s here.
1. Diverse stories bring something new to the silver screen.
You won’t hear me stop talking about diversity, it’s not just about representation. It’s good business, and it brings unique and fresh stories to the forefront after years of the same old content that we’ve all seen before— when it works, the numbers and box office goes up. NALIP reports that 23% of moviegoers are Latino.
Wakanda Forever is a great example of a story driven by a more diverse cast in the Marvel cinematic universe. While I’ve talked to a few Chicanos, and mestizos that struggled with the way that the Mexicans are portrayed as villainous even as they are living out the effects of colonialism and mass genocide, at least there was a portrayal with some motivation that made sense. (Personally I think Namor was portrayed as overly unreasonable, but that’s a different discussion). The entire film centered around grief and loss while dealing with the challenges of colonialism between two nations–a complicated thing to see on the screen, but a plot device that brings something more fresh to a comic book film.
The trailer for Blue Beetle could have emphasized the Hispanic element and family dynamic to make the movie stand out from other superhero films. (again, the movie might still do this, I only have the trailer as a reference) The film would benefit from playing on Hispanic antics in familial settings and the reactions that would ensue, and how that would affect the mom, dad, abuelos with cultural significance at play. See My Big Fat Greek Wedding–a movie about culture clashing and a romantic comedy. A similar concept could be applied to the Blue Beetle sequels but with the use of a superhero genre.
An important note on diversity: It’s always best to work with consultants within the culture to portray characters, cultures, and stories from diverse backgrounds accurately so as not to appropriate. It also benefits those artists/writers/storytellers so that they are the ones earning from the projects.
2. Ground the story more in reality, lean into the ordinary and the extraordinary will soar.
What makes this feel more grounded in reality is that it is relatable. Logan provides a great example of grounding a superhero story in reality—it focuses on an aging Wolverine caring for a sickly Professor X. The mundane struggles in Logan make the extraordinary moments all the more impactful and memorable. By this point, we know the X-Men universe–they are mutants, we get their powers, we can leave behind the “how they got their powers montage” and just focus on dying out mutants and their persecution–something that is unfortunately relatable by today's standards. (Mutants are a glaringly obvious metaphor for the LGBTQ+ community for those who still haven’t caught on or catch on but choose to not care.)
Grounding these stories in reality helps us relate–it’s why we all love Spiderman, the guy who is a nobody, bullied, just wants to enjoy high school or get through college.
Contrast this with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania in a Quantum universe that doesn’t seem at all feasible, with contrived societies that are attempting to be framed as another universe rather than the “quantum realm.’ Quantumania abandons much of the world building it did in previous installments featuring the quantum universe making its underworld hard to decipher for viewers. (Also, the Wasp hardly has anything to do, why is it “Ant Man and the Wasp” again?) I digress, but had to just bring that up for a second.
3. Infuse a story, plot convention, or genre into a universe. (Heist, prison break, lost at sea, western.)
According to Robert Meyer Burnett, the key to creating successful franchise films, superhero films, or Star Wars films is to start with a strong, emotionally resonant story and set it in the existing universe. A great example of this is the Andor series; a show about standing up to tyranny and imperialism, and the effects of colonialism, dehumanization, and human trafficking. The main heart of it is the characters, Andor’s relationship with his mother as someone who takes care of him after his planet is colonized and the effects of him being a fugitive.
So much of this story could have taken place outside this universe and it would have worked anywhere, and even as a stand-alone non-franchise film, but it was set in Star Wars.
In conclusion, more characters grounded in a relatable reality, less explosions. (Am I turning 34 and just crave dialogue and tension more or is it all just getting boring?) Action is better when there is a character and story driven purpose behind it. Diversity brings new and unique stories, which is something we are all desperate for when going to the movies. If there are going to be explosions, let them be driven by strong story, emotional arcs, and character development that pays off.
So you’ve got a big idea? Now what do you do with it? Maybe more than one! First of all, I want to make it clear that all of your big ideas are valid and matter in some way or another. Too often, I run into people who have been shut down so much by others that they no longer feel confident in their own creativity. We can literally do something with ALL ideas, believe it or not, and I want to share those steps with you.
The thing you want to do with creative ideas is:
Can’t do the idea now? Skip to step 5 after you’ve captured your big idea(s)!
I tend to keep two physical notebooks, and one on my phone. There is my journal where a lot of my thoughts come up, my separate daily to do notebook which also has room for brainstormed ideas and creative thoughts, or I write down my to dos/thoughts on my phone notes. Capturing your thoughts leaves judgment out of it, it allows your mind to flow into something worthwhile. It’s loving all of these little gems that might eventually spark into something. Sometimes, even while I’m working, an eruption of thoughts about how to market the business, where to go in a story, and I’ll just have to take a second and write a bunch of notes, or sketch out a concept on one of my two notebooks.
Capturing is key, it empowers everything and allows for every possibility. Capture as much as you can if you feel excited and good about an idea or concept. Sometimes, even if you feel mediocre about a concept, something can come of it!
2) Get Started
So you have a little time right now. Do a messy, sh*tty, bad 1st draft. Don’t worry about it being perfect, in fact, the less perfect the better. Getting your thoughts out on paper, on screen, on napkins, is what matters most–whether it’s a sketch or a few paragraphs.
Suppose your idea is actionable and doable today, especially if it won’t take too much time. Or suppose your big idea is an urgent step that your business, your heart, or your community needs. This is the step where you take your first draft and keep going with it! I will talk about the nitty gritty of the creative process later on, but for now, once you have a 2nd draft of something, refine, test or get feedback, and iterate the drafts until they are right. You may have to look over your drafts a few times–expect to do several revisions, it is just part of the process. Revisions can be some of the most tiresome stages, but they are the most crucial–think about the end result and how everyone will love your script, art piece, poster, photo edit etc at this point when you’re refining!
If you love the idea, and you can’t get to it now but you work on a team, communicate the concept to a team member and see if they can carry out the task for you. Example: I have this idea of an Instagram post that will reach people–can you capture a photo and work on that post this week and post it by Thursday? Or “We need a poster for xyz, can you generate a few concepts?”
For complete follow through we need dates and deadlines with steps to get there. This is for when you can’t get to it today, tomorrow, or even by the end of the week. But you can get to it next Tuesday at 1 pm after lunch. Put that in your calendar and make it a priority so you stick to it. When Tuesday rolls around, this idea gets all your attention and you can go through the creative process.
Now that I’ve shown you what to do with your ideas, where to put them so they don’t get lost, I hope you can take this and capture all your ideas and put them somewhere in your life whether it’s on your notebook, calendar, or on your team’s to do.
Ultimately, the creative process different for everyone, this is just something I’ve discovered to keep my ideas easy to get started on.
Never stop being a messy, crazy, creative.
I think I may have found the best Creamy Green Chile Soup in town.
Coming from New Mexico, it is without a doubt that everyone’s abuela or tia makes a mean green chile stew/soup. But if you’re looking for something at a restaurant that is authentic, and mouthwatering, look no further than Chumlys Southwestern. Order their Creamy Green Chile soup.
Chumlys joins its community of restaurants, shops and a brewery in theGreen Jeans Farmery center just off of I-40 and Carlisle. The perks of this community: you can easily mix and match some great beer from Santa
Fe Brewing Company with Chumlys Southwestern, and maybe take a yoga class or grab a T-shirt all in the same day.
For Jesse Zimmerman, one of the founders, Chumlys Southwestern is a story that is 26 years in the making. “It all started in ‘93 with our first restaurant in the Uptown area, it was called ‘505 Southwestern.’” Then he and his business collaborator, Roy Solomon, formed another familiar favorite, “Baileys on the Beach” on Central.
“We moved to Green Jeans and started out as ‘Soup Dog,’ but changed the name to really make our food stand out more. It is the southwestern flare that defines us, almost everything has chile. We haven’t changed that green chile recipe since ‘93 because it is just right!”
Enjoy a taste of the southwestern flare at Chumlys Southwestern if you are looking for something that encompasses and defines the New Mexico foodscape. Over 20 years in the making, the recipes have been perfected, the legacy continues, and the creamy green chile soup is the best there is. Don’t visit Albuquerque or “Green Jeans” without trying it. It’s a must.
4 Great Dishes to Order at Chumlys Southwestern:
1) Jesse shared some of his favorite dishes with me while I visited. Including a bowl of homemade potato chips with queso mixed in-house (their Famous Tater Chips and Queso). The chips are spiced with a fusion of spices and red chile that make the dish pop, ideal to share with some friends at Green Jeans.
2) The Blackened Chicken Quesadillas are a great find: if you want some foodie advice, try dipping them in any of the soups or queso and the palate of southwestern flavors will unite with flare. Available on corn tortillas for gluten-free eaters and infused with a mildly spicy dijon mustard.
3) Look for a tasty minestrone if you are not yet adding chile to your palate. Made without chile, the soup is a great dish to pair with Chumlys’ quesadillas or signature sandwiches.
4) The creamy green chile soup is also available without a cream base, for those with dairy sensitivity, and it’s no less delicious than its creamy counterpart.
Photos, Headshots, Short Video