Friday, February 16, 2018

Black Panther is Going to Change Superhero Movies

Hello Dear Reader!  Sorry it has been so long, I've been blogging over on the MSDN site about technology.  I'll have a Twitter Sentiment update for Black Panther later today with an update on Tuesday for the holiday weekend.

Since the early 2000's a trend of Superhero movies began, comic book geeks cheered but many in the industry couldn't wait for it to be over.  They viewed it as a trend.  You need only search on Bing or Google using the term "super hero movie saturation" to find headline after headline of Actors, Directors, or Industry Trades predicting their demise like that of a Hollywood villain standing over his captive foe.

Every year we see more and super-hero themed movies entering the market.  Naturally, after living through so many economic bubbles may predict that this is a bubble that will pass.  This regulates comic books from an artistic medium to the simplistic story of good vs. evil.  Even comic book websites have gotten in on the fun.  The Comic Book Reporter had a headline last month that said Hollywood Is Nearing Its Superhero Saturation Point.  In it author Narayan Liu expresses the final point, "cinema will change as it has always changed.  In the 60's and 70's the fad was spaghetti westerns, then space dramas...For now, superhero films reign supreme, but eventually that will come to and end sooner or later."


Stories about people with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man are tales as old as time itself.  The representations used to be God's, then myths, now they are heroes.  Stories of Superhero's for the sake of Superhero's fail.  The best movies are those that seek to tell a story, and whose characters are empowered in a way we have not seen before.  Batman The Dark Knight was a success that has lead to the only Oscar Win in a major category, Heath Ledger for the Joker.  However, taking the "dark" theme and using it over and over again lead to decline of Warner Bro's DC Superhero franchise.  Justice League never came close to making back its lofty $300 million dollar budget in Domestic box office receipts.

To cast off mythical stories of empowerment as purely "Superhero" is the equivalent of asking "How do I cook", and at seeing the silverware saying "I've seen enough".  The formula that works for superhero movies is the same that works for all other genres, good stories equal good movies.

There are so many more stories being told in this medium than what we have seen thus far and now we stand at the edge of a new revolution.


Marvel CEO Issac "Ike" Perlmutter made headlines when an internal email leaked on "why he doesn't believe in female superheroes".  Wonder Woman changed the typical sentiment of a strong female protagonist leading a movie not being able to reach a massive audience.  It was profitable, very profitable.

One thing Hollywood does well is capitalize on a trend.  Wonder Woman is going to have a highly anticipated sequel.  Captain Marvel, staring Brie Larson, is currently filming and news that Marvel is finally going to make a, long over due, Black Widow movie, staring Scarlett Johansson, has moved to development stages.

Part of Marvel's move also comes after Perlmutter's comment and the move on Disney's part to have Kevin Feige report directly to Disney Studios chief Alan Horn.

So what does this have to do with Black Panther?  Everything.  Minority superheros are a long missing block from comic books as a whole and almost all together from this landscape.

Robert Kirkman's AMC Series Secret History of Comics covered in-depth the rise and fall of Milestone Comics.  Milestone was an African-American-owned comic book imprint from the 1990's that brought characters Hardware, Icon, Static, Blood Syndicate, and many more were characters synonymous with the comic book revolution of the 90's.

This isn't even bringing forward the story of Marvel's own Blue Marvel, Dr. Adam Brashear.  His story tells the tale, written in the Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel in 2009, telling the tale of America's greatest superhero asked to retire when his costume is torn during a fight that leads to the discovery that he is a black man in 1960's America.

Comic books stories are the modern tales of empowering people.  There are many minority characters in DC, Marvel, Image, and Top Cow that have not yet been told.  The success of Black Panther, I'm predicting a $185 million opening  with a final gross of over one billion dollars world wide, will inspire more stories.

The stories we have not yet heard are the voices of those who deserve to be empowered and have not.


No spoilers here, but a few words on the movie itself.  The cast is incredible, and their talent is on full display.  I saw the movie in IMAX 3D, and it is breath taking.  The background visuals, the architecture, the landscape are all breathtaking.

The villain has real depth, and though there is no doubt who our hero is he is conflicted as well.  The conflict is so understandable, so sympathetic that it touches on philosophical context and modern social parallels.  By sparing the current generation pain, can that then create a monster that future generations will have to endure?  What should the role of a national super power be in the world?

We touch on the subjects of immigration, accepting refugees, hiding behind walls, or building bridges.  In all the modernism one though was not lost on me.  The way that generations have idealized Camelot, is Wakanda the new Camelot?  A technological marvel, a nation at peace within its boarders, and a place where those who have never felt truly represented rule with mercy and grace.

Look on social media and you may see #BlackPantherSoLit trending.  Look at the empowerment of those attending.  If you only look at superhero movies and see the costumes and not the story this is your chance to look around you.  Look outside of the theater, see what this means to people, and watch over the next few years to how this inspires the world.


What are you doing still reading this?  Go see Black Panther already!!

As always, Thank you for stopping by.



Friday, August 4, 2017

A Day of Data Science with SQL Server, Azure ML, Spark, Hadoop, and R

Hello Dear Reader!  Next week in Jacksonville, Friday August 11th,  I will be presenting a Day of Data Science: With SQL Server 2016/2017, Azure ML, Spark, Hadoop, & R.  We will also be working in some Power BI, and may even be building something like what you see on the page.  Here's the abstract.

The world of data is changing.  It used to be enough to collect data and report off of it.  ‘Business’ people would make ‘business’ decisions based off of reports, historical experience, and their gut. ‘Business’ people may go into meetings and say things like, “We will change our business and stop doing A.  We used to do A, and we got profit!  Now we do A, and profit is down.  Therefore we stop doing A, and now we will do B!”  They may have data to back up their decision, they may not have data.  Sometimes they got it wrong, sometime they got it right.  One day someone figured out that they could use math and science to calculate the odds of making a good decision.  In Las Vegas they call it gambling, in the business world we call it Data Science.  Data Science is not some mysterious solution that fixes everything.  It is the process of using a series of calculations to make many micro-informed-decision.  This leads to informed decision making.  Those calculations are what we would call models, and they store the algorithm that we will use to calculate our odds.  There are many different ways to create, store, and utilize models.  In this pre-con we will discuss some of the architectures and ways this can be accomplished.  We will then focus on the newest advanced analytics capabilities in SQL Server and in R to discuss on premise architectures.  Including the advantages to storing data and models in SQL Server as well as how to use Predictive and Prescriptive analytics.  We will then end the day shifting our focus to the cloud with an end to end Lab focusing on Azure ML, Spark, Hadoop, Power BI, and Modern Applications.
*Note to participate in the Lab you will need access to Microsoft Azure and an Azure account.

What does the agenda look like?

8:30 AM – Speaker & Course Introductions
8:45 AM – Data Science concepts
9:45 AM – Begin Introduction to R – Using Baseball Analytics
10:00 AM – Break
10:10 AM – Continue Introduction To R
11:00 AM – R and SQL Server 2016/2017
12:00 PM – Lunch
1:00 PM – Azure ML Overview
2:00 PM – Begin Hands on Lab Walk Through
4:30 PM – End of Class

Will I live blog it like last year?  Only time will tell Dear Reader, only time will tell.

As always Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you there!!



Monday, July 10, 2017

Spider-Man Homecoming Twitter Sentiment

Hello Dear Reader!  This past Thursday night I took my son Zachary to see Spider-Man Homecoming, it was an amazing movie with a fantastic cast.  Both of us are BIG comic book guys, and we enjoyed it immensely.  As a matter of fact we both enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t help but wonder how the rest of the world felt!  You’ve probably seen different ways to view Twitter sentiment analysis, but I wanted to do this today using Azure Logic Apps to create a real-time Power BI Dashboard, with a live data source using Azure SQL Database.  We’ll how we did this in detail in a later blog post, but first let’s look at the data!

Want to read a little more?  Head over to our, Josh Luedeman (@Twitter) and myself, blog over at MSDN!  Click here for the Deeper Insights Blog.