What I Learned Doing GisHWheS

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I’ve been a massive Supenatural fan for a little over a year now, but until last week I had never jumped into one of the fandom’s biggest projects. Misha Collins (Castiel) heads an international scavenger hunt for one week every year called “G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S.” or “The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.” It’s one week out of the year where normalcy is thrown out the window and your comfort zone kind of takes a hike. It’s also the number one contributor to Misha’s (he made me wear a swim suit on a glacier. We’re on a first name basis at this point,) charity “Random Acts,” which strives to conquer the world one random act of kindness at a time. That’s really what GisHWheS (Misha has weird rules about how you’re supposed to spell this) is all about. Through the use of the weird and the kind, our team “Nerdfighters Who Eat Kale” made a lot of people smile last week.

The first day of the hunt, Misha let out an absolutely insane list of 200+ items each 15 member team was to attempt. There were crazy, what-the-hell-am-I-doing items, like climbing up to a glacier in your bathing suit (completed) or playing ping pong underwater with an egg for the ball (not completed. Kudos to those teams.) There were items that involved doing charity work like donating board games to a local shelter after throwing the game a going away party (completed). And there were inspiring items, like taking an elder to a place from their childhood and asking them to tell you a story about it (completed adorably.) Each item had a point value assigned to it which would be tallied up to win the grand prize: A trip to Costa Rica with Misha Collins. However, that really isn’t the point of the scavenger hunt and most teams don’t play to win. Our team just wanted to have fun and make an impact in our community and boy did we. Not only that, but GisHWheS impacted me on a personal level. Here’s what I learned during the crazy death-to-normalcy week I experienced the first week of August.

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It was freezing but worth it.

You are so much more capable than you think you are.

I have pretty bad depression, so sometimes just getting out of bed is a challenge. A week before the hunt I remember lying in bed thinking, “How am I going to pull this off? How am I going to keep motivated to do this crazy stuff? I’m going to let my team down. I should just pull out now.” But I didn’t and when the first day rolled around and our team sat down to deliberate the list, I felt scared, but invigorated. Every time I looked at an item I thought, “Well, I’m not doing that one. There’s no way,” but then I hunkered down and did it and it usually turned out better than I was expecting it to. If there’s one thing I learned from GisHWheS, it’s that if you have an idea, even a half assed idea, you can make something truly amazing.

Ask and you shall (usually) receive. 

Some of the items on the list seemed absolutely impossible. A few actually were. But others felt impossible because it meant I had to ask for favors from complete strangers. One of the items was to combine drive thrus and Jeopardy. We had to get someone at a drive thru to guess our order using Jeopardy-like questions. I used to work at a drive thru Starbucks. They’re incredibly busy, the customers are rude, and everything has to get done impossibly fast or you might end up with scalding hot coffee in your face (very nearly happened to a friend of mine. He ducked.) I was nervous about asking for a favor that could potentially cause someone to have a harder day at work. However, with the spirit of GisHWheS poking and prodding at me, I made a call to my old Starbucks location and asked the manager (who I didn’t know) if they could help us out.

The girl was absolutely ecstatic. She could not wait for us to come over, but that day was very busy for them due to an event happening just across the street so we decided to meet the next day at a less busy time. My teammate and co-captain Ashlee and I drove over after completing another item (let’s just say the world is a safer place for Unicorns because of us) and bellied up to the bar. I was dressed as Dean Winchester and when I drove up to the speaker, someone I used to worked with answered. I panicked. I couldn’t remember his name and didn’t think he’d want to do the item. Luckily, I make a damn good dude and he didn’t recognize me through the drive thru camera. Nervous, I opened my mouth and said, “We’re doing a scavenger hunt and-” there was a scuffle and the sound of someone being elbowed out of the way and then the manager we’d spoken to came on the line. “Hi! I’m ready! Go ahead!” Before we knew it, I had a grande iced caramel macchiato, she had a big tip and our team had another item in the bag.

Believe it or not, people are usually willing to help you out if you ask politely. It might take a little bit of searching around (we had to go to two separate locations for a different item to find what we needed) but ultimately, people want to help each other.

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Knight Lil’ Sebastian stays vigilant for cat attacks. Little does she know feline furr-iosity lurks behind her.

Being kind doesn’t have a point value.

While there were a few items that had me thinking, “That’s worth a ton of points. We have to do that,” for the most part, the points system came second to the work I was doing. One of the items was to do something kind for someone who had sacrificed something for you. It was only worth 21 points. It didn’t have to be a big thing. Buying them a box of chocolate or taking them out to dinner would have sufficed. But I didn’t want to do that. My mother has been there for me, cleaning up my messes, helping me get back on my feet my entire life. Being a therapist with a child who has depression is very hard for her, as it means she never really gets a break from her job. On top of that, she has to do your typical mom stuff: cleaning, cooking, watering the plants etc. I could have just bought her something nice and spent the rest of the day doing items with higher point values, but instead I decided to give her a little bit of a break.

My mother feels best when her home is clean, but it takes a lot of time and effort to do the whole house, so she rarely gets to enjoy it. I decided to give her that. The moment she left for work, I went to town, dragging the vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs, cleaning all the dishes, dusting and scrubbing every square inch of the house. After six hours of cleaning, I was dripping with sweat. Just before my mother got home, I changed clothes and started making dinner, a package of bath bombs and a new Betty White book (my mother’s idol) ready to give her when she got home. The item was only worth a handful of points, but the look on her face was better than I could have hoped for. She was ecstatic all night long.

Quality over quantity is what matters.

As a writer and someone who often feels like I haven’t produced enough work, it’s important to remember that it’s not the quantity of a portfolio that makes an artist but the quality of the work that has been made. There was a moment at the end of the hunt when I felt the need to run around to try to pull something together just for the points, just to add another item to the pile. I decided against it, though, because the item I had in mind couldn’t be done well in the time I had left. There were definitely items our team made that were last minute and they were great, but for the bigger items, we took care to make them as awesome as we could. We took time to produce quality work. Making a small amount of really awesome stuff is always a lot more fun, and a lot more rewarding, than making a lot of mediocre items just to have more.

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Adrian dressed as Russian Nesting Doll… in a nest… with a nest…

Don’t do the obvious. Push yourself to come up with something different.

There was one item that asked participants to make a video or image of what Supernatural Season 50 would look like. My immediate thought was to dress up as Castiel and stand in front of two tombstones, as Castiel is an angel and he’d outlive the brothers. However, I quickly realized that was too obvious a choice and decided to make a joke about Sam’s incredibly long hair, instead. I took time with it. I made my face look older and made both my friend and mine’s hair grey and set up the shot to make sure it was well composed. When we were finished, it looked great and was super funny.

Once the hunt was over and everyone was allowed to share their submissions, I was glad I hadn’t gone with my initial thought. There were tons of Castiel’s standing over graves. Had I gone for the obvious, it wouldn’t have stood out to the judges. Our submission would have just gotten lost in the sea of mourning angels. (Not that it’s a bad idea. Just a popular one.)

Never take the obvious route when you’re doing a project. The obvious isn’t interesting. Everyone is doing the obvious. Branch out. Think “Yeah, that’s the logical choice, but what could be funnier? What’s cooler than what everyone else is doing?” That’s where good art comes from.

BatRand showed Kim Kardashian how to break the internet.
BatRand showed Kim Kardashian how to break the internet.

When you don’t feel like making art, make art anyway.

Again, as someone with depression, it can be hard to continuously create. There were at least one or two days during the week when I didn’t have anything planned for that day and I felt terrible. I didn’t know what to make. I didn’t know what to do. I would look at the item list and feel incredibly overwhelmed. I felt resigned to not getting anything done one of those days, until I realized that not making art wasn’t going to make me feel better, either. Laying in bed and feeling sorry for myself wasn’t going to help me or my team. Instead, I got up and tried to find an item that I did feel I could do. I didn’t listen to the voice in my head telling me, “That’s too hard. You can’t do that.” I jumped onto the item, pushed through the ennui and did it anyway. And you know what? It turned out pretty damn good. Had I just sat there and not done anything, I’d had felt terrible and we’d have one less item done.

Give yourself time to be less productive.

On the opposite end of things, sometimes you just need a moment to yourself. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Sometimes you just need curl up in bed with Netflix and a bowl of ice cream. Do that. We all need that. I needed that once last week and while I still made sure to get at least one item done, I decided it to be something I didn’t have to get out of my pajamas for if I didn’t want to. When you’re doing something as big as GisHWheS, it’s important to have one day where you don’t have to be super productive. You get one day off. Give it to yourself.

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This is not an example of being unproductive. She worked so hard on this. This shouldn’t be your day off item.

Have a plan even if it feels like you don’t need one.

Before I did GisHWheS, I figured we’d just get the list and go from there. I assumed things would fall into place and we’d communicate easily enough to get things done. Boy was I wrong. I’m incredibly grateful to Ashlee for being so damn organized last week. She put all of the items into a giant spreadsheet with columns for who was doing what, the description of the item and whether it had been completed or not. This made things incredibly easier when it came to completing items. It also made it easy to collaborate. Even if someone had called an item, it was easy to simply message them and ask if you could help out. Having a plan made things a lot less hectic and left more time for item creation and less time trying to figure out who was doing what.

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Part Jared Padalecki, part Moose, part Pegasus. We give you, the Padamoosasus!

We also had quite a few meetings before the hunt, one on the first day and an open GroupMe chat that continuously updated us on what was going on. This gave us a good way of figuring out how we wanted to operate and plan for when and where to meet up for multiple person items. Our Facebook group also made it super easy to get feedback and make sure we weren’t breaking any rules.

It might seem like a project is just something you do, but really the more you plan, the easier it is to get everything done. This is especially true when you have 15 people to worry about and several of those people live out of state. If it weren’t for the tons of planning and organizing we did, our team wouldn’t have gotten nearly as many items done.

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Conspiracy theorist party. Cecil invited Carlos, but I don’t think the scientist knew what he was getting into. No one was expecting Freddy Krueger to show up.

Doing strange things with weird people is the best way to live your life.

My teammates are some of the most wonderful people I have ever meet. There’s few individuals who would feed you cake blindfolded in a fancy restaurant with your hands behind your back, or hike up a rocky terrain to a icy glacier just to take a photo with you in their swim suits. Before this hunt, I didn’t think anyone would help make “Save the Unicorn” t-shirts and convince people to sign a fake petition with me, or spend three hours helping me construct a Campbells Tomato Soup Can cosplay. This week we did all of that weird shit and more and we had an absolute blast doing it. After a while, I got so used to doing strange things that it came as second nature. Now that I’m back in the “real world,” I don’t really know what to do with my life. My solution to this? Continue to do strange things. Always challenge normalcy and do it with the people you love.

If you’re looking to do something fun, something different, something you’ll remember until you’re old and grey, GisHWheS is the best way to spend your week. I learned a lot and had a ton of fun. No one normal ever made change in this world. Do something weird with your life. Death to normalcy!

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‘Paper Towns’ Review

Genre – Young Adult Drama
Director – Jake Schreier
Producer – John Green
Cast – Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Justice Smith, Austin Abrams, and Halston Sage.
Alluring element – Another John Green book comes to the big screen. Another giant victory for Nerdfighteria!
Check it out if you liked  The Fault in Our Stars, Perks of Being a Wallflower
Plot – 7
Acting – 9
Representation of Genre – 9
Cinematography – 8
Effects/Environment – 7
Captivity – 7
Logical consistency – 6
Originality/Creativity – 7
Soundtrack/Music – 7
Overall awesomeness – 7

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As an avid Nerdfighter and John Green fan, I was extremely excited to see Paper Towns when it came out this weekend. The Fault in Our Stars was such a brilliant adaptation of my favorite book that I was confident the same team would bring a similar energy and passion to the project. Unfortunately, while their passion for the project was evident, their decision to change the ending bothered me considerably.

Paper Towns tells the story of Quentin (Nat Wolff), a senior in high school who is hopelessly in love with his childhood best friend and neighbor, Margo (Cara Delevingne). While the two drifted apart after finding a dead body in a park when they were young, Quentin is still totally enamored by her. Margo is everything he’s not. She’s edgy, confident, and goes on crazy adventures one could only dream of. She is the “it girl.” Until her boyfriend cheats on her, that is. She crawls into Quentin’s room one night and drags him into a crazy night of revenge. Afterwards, she disappears save for a few clues that Quentin is convinced are from her. He spends the rest of the movie trying to track her down with the help of his two best friends, Radar and Ben and Margo’s best friend, Lacey.

Paper Towns is one of my favorite books and influenced my view on life significantly when I was in high school. It made such an impact on me, I contemplated changing my last name to Roth in honor of Margo’s middle name. Its message of imagining people complexly is something that I strive to do in my every day life. However, that message didn’t come through as strongly in the film adaptation as I was hoping. While I enjoyed that the film had quite a lot of detail from the book such as Margo’s sTraNGe cApiTAliZatIOn and Radar’s house filled to the brim with the world’s largest collection of black Santas, the changed ending negated a lot of the complexity of the story. Before I get to that, though, let me talk about what I did like about Paper Towns.

DF-11873 Margo (Cara Delevingne) and Quentin (Nat Wolff) enjoy an unforgettable evening together. Photo credit: Michael Tackett
Margo (Cara Delevingne) and Quentin (Nat Wolff) shopping for their big night of revenge.  Photo credit: Michael Tackett

The fact that they made a movie of this book at all is great. We need more films about the complexity of human beings. We also need to break down the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. Girls aren’t there to fix boys or bring them out of their shells. They aren’t plot devices. This movie — at least for the most part– achieves that.

It also challenges the audience to live their life to the fullest and do things that don’t always make sense. It makes us want to take a crazy risk, which is something that translates well from page to screen. It’s a good coming-of-age movie and the first two thirds of it is pretty great. While it didn’t drive home the moral of the story as much as I was hoping, it does open up a dialogue about not believing someone is more than a person. It’s a complex movie, but not as complex as I was hoping for. It’s a watered down version of the book, but a good watered down version.

Nat Wolff is the perfect Quentin. I love that he brought aspects to the character that I hadn’t thought about when I read the book. He made him more obsessed and a bit of an asshole, which is something I hadn’t pictured before, but realized I should have. There were a few times when I thought, “Quentin’s not this much of a dick,” but overall, I liked the complexity.

I absolutely adored Radar and Ben in this. They may have been my favorite part of the movie. They’re just as hilarious as they were in the book and provided some much needed outside input.  Justice Smith and Austin Abrams brought amazing life to these two characters.

Cara Delevingne was also great in this, though I felt that she wasn’t working with the same character material as the book. She still breaks down the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, which again is great and needed to be done. She’s also just a really adorable, strong and funny person in real life.

Ansel Elgort’s cameo was absolutely hilarious. I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw him. It was a good nod to the fans.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad movie. It was actually pretty good, unless you’ve read the book or wanted the ending to be messier than it was. That brings me to what I didn’t like.

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Best part of the film.

The only thing that really bothered me about the film was the ending; but it bothered me enough that I had to talk about it. It’s sort of key to the whole meaning of the story. The way it ended was almost completely fabricated for the sake of the film and not in a way that serviced the moral. In the book, it isn’t just Quentin who finds Margo. Radar, Ben and Lacey are all there to witness Margo’s new haven. And she isn’t sweet and apologetic. She screams and throws a fit and can’t believe they showed up out of the blue. Margo wanted to disappear. It’s revealed that she didn’t leave Quentin clues to find her, but to leave the abandoned Osprey to him. She’s furious with him for seeing her as this broken, lonely thing that he needs to find and take care of. “You didn’t come here to make sure I was okay,” she tells him. “You came here because you wanted to save poor little Margo from her troubled self, so that I would be oh-so-thankful to my knight in shining armor that I strip my clothes off and beg you to ravage my body.” The relationship between Quentin and Margo is much more complicated in the film than it was in the book. Quentin is obsessed with Margo and doing a disservice to who she really is, and Margo is a little insane with no regard for how her choices affect other people. While they end things on a good note, it takes time and a fair amount of arguing to get there. Margo gets mad before she admits she was wrong, but even then refuses to fix things back home. Quentin learns that he shouldn’t expect people to live up to his imagination of them and that expecting Margo to fall in love with him when they hadn’t talked in years was unrealistic and unfair. None of that was in the film.

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Film Margo is lovable. She’s irresponsible but relatively sane. We’re not mad at her when she’s finally found. It doesn’t bother us that she’s not going back with Quentin. Margo is still the whimsical, amazing girl we fell in love with. She’s just on her own now. Book Margo is frankly not a very good person and challenges the way we look at people. When we read Paper Towns what we’re expecting is this great reunion and lovely ending of “Oh, Q! You found me! I’m so glad!” but what we actually get is much more interesting. We get a lost, crazy girl who just wants everyone to leave her alone and stop playing her up to be someone she’s not. What I loved about the ending of the book is that it shows even someone who seems to have everything together is just as scared and alone as everyone looking up to them. No one is perfect. Even someone as exciting as Margo has big, gaping flaws that terrify her. Book Margo teaches us to look at the whole of a person; not just the parts we want to see. That’s the point of Paper Towns as a book.

The film was less than successful at this endeavor. The only time Margo’s flaws are really mentioned is when Lacey brings up the fact that Margo wouldn’t go searching for any of them if they went missing. Sure, Margo talks about not wanting to be seen as something she’s not, but talking about it doesn’t make the audience feel it. The book’s ending was much more effective in this sense because it shows us she’s broken and mad about how people view her. It doesn’t just tell us she’s kind of bummed about it. It makes us want to do better than Quentin when it comes to imagining the people we love.

Quentin isn’t really affected by finding Margo in the film. He gets on a bus, goes back to Orlando and still imagines her as this beautiful creature. The film ends with him talking about all the things people think she’s doing and how he thinks whatever she’s up to, it must be amazing. He doesn’t learn to imagine people complexly, which was sort of the whole point. By changing the ending, this lesson doesn’t come across as strong as it did in the book.

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Perhaps I would have enjoyed Paper Towns more if I hadn’t read the book, but I think by changing the ending, the filmmakers lost a wonderful opportunity. It’s not a bad movie by any means. It has a lot of great qualities and is overall a good coming-of-age story. I go back and forth between liking it and being upset about the change. I’m happy to see another John Green novel be made into a movie and I may even see it again to further understand why they changed what they did.  However, if you loved the book like I did, you might be a little disappointed.

New “The Good Dinosaur” Trailer Released

Disney Pixar’s newest project The Good Dinosaur has released a new trailer. In an alternate timeline, dinosaurs were not wiped out before human life began on Earth and after being orphaned, a lovable dinosaur (Raymond Ochoa) and a little boy (Jack Bright) engage on an epic adventure.

From the same creators as Finding Nemo and Inside Out, this movie looks very cute. My inner scientist is happy that finally a movie that involves both humans and dinosaurs is aware of the fact that these two creatures didn’t exist as the same time, hence the alternate timeline scenario. However, the main dinosaur looks super dopey. Pixar is so well known for their stunning animation, that it surprises me how much this doesn’t meet their standard. The rest of the characters are designed fairly well, but seeing as Ochoa’s character is the focus, you’d think he’d look a little nicer.

Visual aesthetic aside, this looks like a good kids movie and with Jurassic World being a little too violent for little kids (though it doesn’t seem to stop parents from dragging their screaming children into movie theaters anyway), The Good Dinosaur will be a good way to spark their interest in archaeology.

The Good Dinosaur comes out on Thanksgiving.

New “Mockingjay Part II” Trailer Released

A brand new Mockingjay Part II trailer was released today and it looks absolutely heart racing. From the trailer it looks like things are picking up right where Part I ended and boy are they heating up.

I’m super excited for this last installment of the Hunger Games franchise. So far the Mockingjay installment has been my favorite of the series. Something was missing from my chest when the lights went up after Part I. I was incredibly moved. The second part is bound to be just as breath taking.

This is a film America really needs to see right now. With the parallels of police brutality and class struggle between Panem and our own world, Mockingjay sends a powerful message. We need to unite as people and overthrow that which oppresses us. While a film franchise is hardly the solution to these problems, it raises awareness and gives the public a vessel through which to learn. Mockingjay Part II couldn’t come soon enough.

Mockingjay Part II hits theaters Nov. 20.

Feature image by Daily Mail.

Robbie Amell and Lauren Ambrose Join X-Files Cast

The X-Files fandom is getting oodles of good news this week. Robbie Amell (Flash, The Duff, The Tomorrow People) and Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under, Where the Wild Things Are, Torchwood) have been cast in the highly-anticipated X-Files reboot.

Amell will play the smart and smooth Agent Miller and Ambrose is set to play Agent Einstein, described as sharp and confident. Both characters are only set to appear in one episode so far, but seeing as so many guest stars end up becoming regulars in shows these days, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them more than that.

Other guest stars include, Joel McHale, Annet Mahendru (The Americans,) Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords) and Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley.) Also set to be in the reboot are original X-Files actors David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi and William B. Davis.

X-Files returns to Fox Jan. 24

 

Source: Hollywood Reporter and Nerdist

Photo by Nerdist

Sony to Make Emoji Movie… For Some Reason

It seems like the film industry will do just about anything to make a quick buck these days. Whether it be countless, terrible sequels or capitalizing on fan culture, money making movies are in abundance. Why? Because it’s easy. You don’t have to do any math to figure out that every little kid in the world is going to want to see a bunch of yellow tic-tacs bouncing around the screen after the success of Despicable Me. Everyone loves those little Minions! So much so that the industry doesn’t have to worry about it selling. It seems the same mindset is fueling Sony’s latest soon-to-be project.

Emoji: The Movie. After a heated bidding war between Sony, Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures over the rights for the film (seriously? People were bidding on this sh*t?) Sony will be putting our image keyboard on the big screen. How much did the deal go for? Six figures. Unbelievable.

This doesn’t seem like it will be a hard film to make. You’re got the concept art ready to go. Let’s hope they don’t make this a live action film. I don’t think I could stomach that.

While this film seems like an incredibly stupid and desperate attempt to make money, I felt that way about The Lego Movie before I actually saw it and it’s one of my favorite films. Who knows. Maybe they’ll pull this off.

Source: TIME

“Selma” Director Ava Duvernay Passes on Marvel’s “Black Panther”

While fans thought that Selma director Ava Duvernay would be signing onboard for Marvel’s “Black Panther,” it turns out that’s not exactly the case. Duvernay has turned down the offer and for what is a pretty good reason.

At the recent blogger confer “BlogHer,” Duvernay discussed why she had passed on the project. She started with how the negotiations had been going. She wanted to make sure the people involved were ones she could “go to bed with” as she put it. Collaborating is always a kind of marriage, so she had to be certain that she could do that for three years. “It’d be three years of not doing other things that are important to me. So it was a question of, is this important enough for me to do?” she said.

Duvernay said she was very close to signing the contract, as she was excited about the cultural opportunities that came with it. A superhero movie with a black lead is a huge deal when it comes to the film industry and the reach the movie might have given her was what had initially drawn her to the project. “At one point, the answer was yes because I thought there was value in putting that kind of imagery into the culture in a worldwide, huge way, in a certain way: excitement, action, fun, all those things, and yet still be focused on a black man as a hero — that would be pretty revolutionary. These Marvel films go everywhere from Shanghai to Uganda, and nothing that I probably will make will reach that many people, so I found value in that. That’s how the conversations continued, because that’s what I was interested in. But everyone’s interested in different things.”

In the end, Duvernay decided to pass on the project due to different views on how the movie would fit into the overarching universe Marvel prides itself on.

“What my name is on means something to me — these are my children,” she said about her work. “This is my art. This is what will live on after I’m gone. So it’s important to me that that be true to who I was in this moment. And if there’s too much compromise, it really wasn’t going to be an Ava DuVernay film.”

While it’s sad to see such an amazing director pass up on a film like this, you have to admire her integrity. She’s not about to sell out on something she doesn’t believe in, a quality that seems to be lacking in the film industry lately.

Black Panther will feature Starry Chadwick Boseman in the title role and is expected to premiere July 6, 2018.

Source: CBR