The terrain and identity of the blockbuster, particularly the subset represented by X-Men, are among the least mapped and consequently misunderstood of Hollywood phenomena. Though the entertainment media deploy the term blockbuster without difficulty across almost every genre of film, academically the term has been more elusive. Previous to Julian Stringer's edited collection Movie Blockbusters, the blockbuster had usually been conceived as an unproblematically American phenomenon. Stringer's attempt to map the blockbuster's terrain usefully brings in the notion of nationality, which will form the focus of this analysis. However, it also begs an explanation of the blockbuster as it will be understood here. This discussion will use John Tomlinson's formulation of globalisation as complex connectivity as the basis for a more flexible framework within which to view the blockbuster film. Thus this article will seek to make sense of the flows of culture represented in X-Men, not as emanating from a central 'American' locus, but rather as shifting around what David Morley and Kevin Robins would term a global-local nexus. In this way the transnational and the national will both be shown to play a role in dispersing elements of films (and indeed this might be extended to other 'global' products) to the maximum number of potential audiences worldwide.
Patrick Stewart, Britishness and the Promotion of X-Men
As this issue of Screen Bodies went into production, the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was concluding, and Vogue published a short online piece on Hillary Clinton’s sartorial choices for her acceptance speech. While Clinton had often worn brighter, bolder colors and styles for her major appearances, on this evening she donned an ivory suit—a simple canvas against which to continue painting an image of the woman behind the candidacy. At the same time, the Internet continued to disseminate more negative reviews of the rebooted Ghostbusters (2016)—starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, directed by Paul Feig, written by Katie Dippold and Paul Feig. I think the film is (pace Lucille Ball) funny and brave. It hilariously reverses many sexist tropes and assumptions out of mainstream Hollywood films; it is crude and inappropriate in the best of ways; and responses to it—especially patriarchal, masculinist, heteronormative, and racist ones—continue to demonstrate the importance of critical comedic revisions for feminist interruptions of established paradigms.
The topic of violence in moving image media has retained its salience and controversies over several decades, and Stuart Bender returns our interest to the subject in his analysis of depictions of war violence in movies and video games. Bender is a working filmmaker as well as a scholar and university educator. This combination of skill sets enables him to blend a filmmaker’s attention to the craft of creating moving images with a scholar’s attention to the historical, theoretical, and cultural contexts in which moving images circulate and are produced. He is interested in why viewers describe certain depictions as being realistic even under circumstances in which various elements of cinematic style take those depictions away from the known contexts where battlefield violence occurs. He compares Hollywood films from the classical and modern eras with video games in order to advance a conception of realism based on viewers’ perceptions of the accretion of detail within the surface design of shots and scenes. He situates what he terms “reported realism” with reference to existing traditions of realist theory in cinema.