Tag Archives: Avengers

‘Civil War’ Delivers a Balanced Story and Emotional Impact

Spoilers discussed but not really mentioned in detail.

The first time I saw Captain America: Civil War in theaters, I had my doubts about whether or not it actually was a Captain America movie.  It doesn’t feel like Cap gets a lot of depth because there is so much else going on.  The plot and exposition is really about the buildup to the two main battles at the end. However, it is still a Captain America movie because the events in this film shape the mantle of Captain America and how Steve Rogers carried it. While I and lots of other fans are disappointed because we wanted more resolution for Steve and Bucky’s stories, the ensemble of characters was still balanced, even with the show-stealing introductions of Spider-man and Black Panther.

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10 Geeky Ways to Get Into the Holiday Spirit

(I’m writing my Christmas post now because my next post is most likely to be my reaction to The Force Awakens)

This is a bit of my OCD talking: I’m a skeptic when it comes to mixing sci-fi and fantasy with Christmas.  I was raised in a family where the religious side of Christmas was always observed, and I’ve continued that in my adult life.  Mixing Christmas with Disney princesses or superheroes or so forth can make me a little uncomfortable.  Holiday specials featuring these characters can get a little on the cheesy side so I tend to avoid those.  Storm troopers in Santa hats?  I’ll have to tell you no.  If we’re talking fan art, I might be a little more receptive.  Yes, I believe that Christmas is “magical,” but I don’t like to mix it with other people’s definitions of that magic.  Christmas should be about Christmas! I’m not a total purist, I’m just really picky.

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Being Geeky and Gifted

I want to talk about scifif/fantasy and disability.  Unlike Jake, who wrote a great article on this topic, I want to focus specifically on the disabilities that aren’t usually seen on the outside–mental illness and social/emotional disorders.  And also, unlike Jake, I’m coming from the perspective of someone who has it.

When I was in eighth grade, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.  And when I was a college sophomore, I went through a period of severe depression and found out that I also had OCD.  I have always been labeled as a creative, intelligent person, and I am an unabashed geek.  A lot of the friends that I had in high school and college (mostly college) fall into the same category.  In my own struggles with depression and OCD, I’ve found out that some of those same friends have struggled with some form of mental illness, mostly depression but also ADD. And maybe there’s stuff we don’t talk about.

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Why Captain America Isn’t Perfect

This is part 3 of the 3-part Road to Civil War series.

WARNING!  SPOILERS FOR ANT-MAN BELOW.  READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

The question everyone seems to be asking is why the Civil War installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe a Captain America movie?  The truth is, we won’t have all the answers until it comes out.  However, here are some of my thoughts from what we’ve heard about the plot and based on my observations of Steve Rogers.

Captain America as a Leader

At the end of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, we see Captain America squarely in charge of a new Avengers team. The actions of this team under his leadership will lead to the debate over the regulation of superheroes. 

If you want to fight with Captain America, you better do it his way Marvel via Film School Rejects

If you want to fight with Captain America, you better do it his way
Marvel via Film School Rejects

Steve Rogers thinks of himself first and foremost as a soldier, but he has always been a leader. I f people expect Captain America to lead them, then he expects them to work like an army does. In Captain America: The First Avenger, he is the unquestioned leader of the Howling Commandos, and even the directors of the Strategic Scientific Reserve look to him to lead the fight against Hydra.  We don’t see much of the men who followed him aside from Bucky, but I think he had a good working relationship with these guys that probably set his expectations for similar experiences a little high.  

When Captain America goes to work for S.H.I.E.L.D., the situation is far from ideal.  What Steve Rogers expects from those who work with him is trust.  He prefers to know what other people are doing and what’s going on, whereas Nick Fury thinks it’s safer to “compartmentalize” assignments and secrets.  Finding out that S.H.I.E.L.D. was controlled by Hydra is the last straw. From then on, Captain America doesn’t want to be in a position where he isn’t calling the shots. Being in control is Steve’s way of coping with the fact that he can’t trust other people’s motives.

Cap in the Age of Ultron

Steve decides to take out the remnants of Hydra, but it is unclear whether he asked the other Avengers for help or if they volunteered.  But destroying Hydra is Steve’s project, so they let him decide what they do.  To an extent they consider him the leader, and he may even think of himself as one.

Tony Stark referred to Captain America as “the boss” at one point during Age of Ultron, but Tony doesn’t treat him the way Steve expects he would if he really thought that. In The Avengers Tony is condescending and even resentful toward him.  After the two work together for some time, there’s a little more respect and even some liking.  Yet Steve expects that the other Avengers follow his directions and not do anything to jeopardize them or their mission.  Tony Stark does his own thing. And Steve mistrusts Tony for this.

Tony wanted to see Cap's dark side: well, he got what he asked for over the cradle. Marvel via Transparent Things

Tony wanted to see Cap’s dark side: well, he got what he asked for.
Marvel via Transparent Things

Steve is more concerned at first about preventing Ultron from causing more problems.  But then Wanda Maximoff warns Steve the being Ultron was creating with the Mind Stone could be put to use by Tony Stark—and Steve takes it very poorly. His only thought is to prevent Tony from creating another Ultron, and he’s offended that Tony’s attitude and behavior are hurting the team as well as the world.  Civil War as good as almost started over Vision’s cradle.

It would be wrong to say that Steve isn’t sad to see the breakup of the original Avengers.  But at the same time I think he’s looking forward to working with the new team that has come together, probably more or less at his invitation. He has an advantage with this new team because he can set new terms for their working relationship. He can teach them how to work together, trust each other, and rely on each other in ways that the original Avengers never could: the way he wants them to.

So one of the hard parts of Civil War will be watching all of Steve’s hopes and expectations for the new Avengers go down the drain.

A Product of War

Captain America was created to fight a war that, for the rest of the world, ended seventy years ago.  But the war never ended for Steve, and the best thing he can think of doing is continuing to fight.

The things we think are temporary may end up being permanent. Marvel via DarlingStewie.com

The things we think are temporary may end up being permanent.
Marvel via DarlingStewie.com

During World War II, all civilian resources—food, clothing, and even entertainment—were redirected to the military and to mustering support for the war effort. It was a time period when people ate, slept, and breathed war.  Cap went on the ice.  The rest of the world had time to transition, but Steve didn’t. So a part of him still eats, sleeps, and breathes war because he didn’t get to see it end.  And whatever closure he thinks he has—Hydra being vanquished, for instance—is an illusion.

When he got up, furthermore, he was asked almost right away to help save the world from Loki. Steve never intended to be Captain America for the rest of his life, but that’s what nearly everyone else wants him to be.  So he has chosen to be a superhero: that is “home” for Steve now.  And if it is his job to keep the world safe, then he will do whatever he thinks is right to get the job done.  His job from the war, stopping Hydra, was left undone, so he is going to finish it. And his mind, it is an army—in this case, the Avengers—that is the best chance of stopping Hydra.

Doing the Right Thing as a Weakness

A lot of people don’t see why Steve had to crash the Valkyrie at the end of The First Avenger.  My explanation is that Steve didn’t want the world to have access to the Hydra weapons or technology that was on that plane: Hydra was so evil that he wanted to destroy it and every evil thing it created.  And, of course, he held Hydra responsible for Bucky’s “death.” 

A good captain goes down with the ship, right? Marvel via cinemablend

A good captain goes down with the ship, right?
Marvel via Cinemablend

Steve does whatever he thinks is right at all costs, and if you disagree with him about what it takes to keep the world safe, then he is not giving you the benefit of a doubt. 

In Captain America: Civil War, Steve will encounter a serious barrier to his goal of fighting Hydra just as Hydra is regaining strength, and his attitudes and choices in that time will put him in conflict with Iron Man and other superheroes.  And then we have the Ant-man post-credit scene. From the dialogue and other inferences about the situation, we know that Bucky Barnes turning up again in this manner only complicates an already difficult situation.  But why did Marvel choose to show this scene in particular?  Steve wants to help his best friend, at whatever cost to himself, and if he has to break the rules—if he has to fight Tony Stark—to do so, needless to say it’s going to get ugly.

How far will Steve go to make sure he doesn't lose his friend again? Marvel via Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki

How far will Steve go to make sure he doesn’t lose his friend again?
Marvel via Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki

Bucky is the only thing Steve has from the life he used to know: before he was a soldier, before ANYTHING.  If Steve can save Bucky, then he will be able, in some small way, to “come home.” It isn’t right this time: it’s personal. 

But Steve, however, will put his personal happiness on the line to do what he thinks is right.  I am prepared at this point to accept the possibility that Steve might even die in Civil War.  What I am really worried about is, can Steve put up with all of this and still be a good person?  

That’s the best speculation I can give you for now.  But of course, it could all change the moment the trailer comes out.

 

In Fairness to Tony Stark

This is Part 2 of the three-part Road to Civil War series

Let me get to the point: Tony Stark is not a villain.  Take away his being a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, and take away the suit, and he is a person just like every one of us who is trying to do his best.  

Iron Man is far from my favorite Avenger, but I can't help but admire his wit (Marvel via Comicbook resources)

Iron Man is far from my favorite Avenger, but I can’t help but admire his wit
(Marvel via Comicbook resources)

Granted, he started out as a billionaire genius whatever. What makes Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, a hero is when he realizes he has caused problems he resolves to fix them, usually with technology. In Iron Man, Stark is captured by terrorists while on a business trip–terrorists that have taken the weapons he designed.  His solution is to create an armored suit with which to escape captivity and fight the terrorists, and he resolves to put his technology to better use in the future.  In Iron Man 2, Tony Stark is confronted with the dilemma that everyone in the world wants armored suits patterned after his own. But he thwarts the plots of those trying to steal his design and asserts that the suit is rightfully his.  Rhodey gets to be War Machine because Tony trusts him, and because Rhodey understands and supports him.

By the end of Iron Man 2, Tony is not approved for the Avengers initiative, but when Loki arrives on the scene in The Avengers, Tony is asked to help–and ends up doing a lot more than he bargained for.

Did Tony not grasp the meaning of "one-way trip" before it was too late? (Marvel via NCWTV)

Did Tony not grasp the meaning of “one-way trip” before it was too late?
(Marvel via NCWTV)

Tony doesn’t tell the other Avengers that his near-death experience affected him, but it did.  By Christmas, Tony has full-swing PTSD.  And among other things Tony struggles with in Iron Man 3, Tony wonders how much he can give to keep the world safe.   I am writing this post partly because I recently rewatched Iron Man 3 and I got a new insight on Tony.  One thing I noticed was the scene in the restaurant where he’s talking to Rhodey.  He’s practically begging Rhodey to let him help against the Mandarin.  In the end, Tony realizes that he can’t stay away when the rest of the world has problems–not when he has the power to do something.

Tony blows up all of his Iron Man suits, but I don’t think he’s completely hands-off helping with global security.  We do hear in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that he gave some suggestions for the helicarrier turbines.  What if that wasn’t the only thing he had input on?  What if Tony Stark made some behind-the-scenes contributions to the Insight program?  If he wasn’t going to keep the world safe as Iron Man, then S.H.I.E.L.D. could do it for him through Insight, right?  

Well, if that’s the case, he was wrong. Insight turned out to be a conspiracy, and Tony was one of the people on Hydra’s blacklist.  He probably wasn’t waiting for Captain America to come to him for help in the fight against Hydra.  He was probably already building new Iron Man armor in order to, first and foremost, protect himself.

 

Marvel via toylab.blogspot.com

Marvel via toylab.blogspot.com

By the time Age of Ultron rolls around, Tony has figured out that keeping the world safe isn’t a hobby the way he’s done it in the past: it’s a real chore.  But according to Tony, this isn’t how the world works. Tony doesn’t just leave problems lying around, he fixes them and moves on.  If you remember what he says to Steve Rogers/Cap right before the battle of New York: “We are not soldiers.”  And then when they are at Clint’s house, he says, “Isn’t that the ‘why we fight’? so we get to go home?” Tony does not want to commit to a lifetime of saving the world.  And a part of him doesn’t quite understand people who would do that–people like Steve Rogers.

What Tony wants is a way to keep the world safe in a hands-off way, something to protect people from the threats on this planet and, most importantly, from outer space. Ultron is the superhero equivalent of a dishwasher or a washing machine: a technology solution to save labor.  When Tony gets the scepter in Sokovia and realizes what it can do, he asks himself, why not put it to use?  Why not use it to build Ultron? The Iron Legion he created could only do so much: why not make something better?  Coming from Tony’s perspective, it was a pretty good idea.  It was probably not very well thought-out, but it was worth a try. 

But of course, then the AI decided to kill everyone (Marvel via Collider)

But of course, then the AI decided to kill everyone
(Marvel via Collider)

The Avengers keep Ultron from destroying the world, but they created an enormous mess in order to do so.   And in the process, Tony also strained the relationships he had with his teammates.  I don’t think Tony blames himself completely for what happened, but just enough that he feels like he needs to step out of saving the world, at least for a time. He solved the last problem he caused, so now he can go home. But honestly, I have no idea what he could be up to now.  It’s not like Tony to just sit back.  It is a fair guess, though, that Tony is taking a lot of time to think about what happened.

(Marvel via residententertainment.com)

How far will Tony go to solve the problems he creates? (Marvel via residententertainment.com)

So why would Tony get himself involved in whatever mess happens in Captain America: Civil War? What would make him side with the likes of Thunderbird Ross and take arms against Captain America? I think what might happen is that Steve Rogers, as leader of the Avengers, does something that Tony Stark, observing from the sidelines, doesn’t like. There might be evidence, in his mind, that the world doesn’t need a full-time superhero force, or if it does then such a force should at least have his input.  None of that is really bad, it’s just Tony doing what he thinks needs to be done.  It is Tony seeing the issue of superheroes as a problem he needs to fix.  And when he realizes he can’t control other superheroes, Tony will believe that Captain America and the people who are close to him need to be stopped, even if it means killing them.

I do not plan on going to the movie theaters next May and seeing Tony Stark as the villain. Hydra will be the real evil at work there, and Iron Man’s opposition will just it harder for Captain America to stop Hydra.  Captain America: Civil War is about good versus evil, but Iron Man versus Captain America is about regular people caught in a disagreement–because of misunderstanding and, to an extent, deception–and that is what makes a civil war a tragedy.  

Team Lineups for ‘Captain America: Civil War’

This is Part 1 of the three-part Road to Civil War series. 

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, ANT-MAN, AND CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR INCLUDED BELOW.  READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

I would have been perfectly happy if Marvel hadn’t announced anything and we had no idea who was on who’s side until next May.  But now that we have the names, it’s only fair to speculate.  I don’t know much about the comics so this is entirely based on the movies, the discussions of other online fans, and what we know so far. 

Team Iron Man

War Machine

Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes is Tony Stark’s best friend and sidekick.  I did ask a fan website what else would motivate him to take Tony’s side in this controversy.  The response was that Rhodey works for the U.S. government, so he will support whatever the government decides.  This didn’t make sense to me, but then I remembered the scene in Iron Man 2 where Rhodey took the stolen armor to the Air Force Base.  If that doesn’t speak volumes about Rhodey’s priorities, little else will.

Marvel via Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki

Marvel via Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki

Spider-Man

I have never liked Spider-Man, but when they announced that Marvel had bought the rights from Sony to include him in Civil War and reboot him within the existing universe, I decided to deal with it.  In the comics,  Spider-Man plays an important part in the Civil War story.  The film version, however, will differ since we are seeing Peter Parker at the outset of his career.  Tom Holland was cast as the teenage webslinger based on how he performed with Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, so Parker’s relationship with the heads of these two factions, specifically with Iron Man, might be crucial.  There was also a mock news interview with Scott Lang released as a promo for Ant-Man, and someone on Tumblr mentioned that in the crawl on the bottom of the screen said Tony Stark had established a scholarship for inner-city students.  Peter Parker probably looks to Stark as a patron. Given Tony’s relationship with Harley in Iron Man 3, Tony Stark looking for a protege makes sense.

Via haxword.com

Via haxword.com

Vision

Vision used to be JARVIS, but I have to scratch my head because Age of Ultron did little to establish how much of JARVIS is left inside of the android.  As Vision, however, he might have good personal reasons for siding with Iron Man.   Vision states in Age of Ultron, “I am on the side of life.”  Perhaps Captain America is doing something he finds morally reprehensible.  

In the comics, Vision is in a relationship with the Scarlet Witch, but since they are on different sides I wonder if that relationship is ever going to occur, if it hasn’t already.

Via picnations.com

Via picnations.com

Black Widow

Natasha Romanoff making Team Iron Man was certainly a shock. The fandom is disappointed because after everything that she and Steve went through together in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they seemed to have earned their mutual trust.  I for one would have expected her to at least fight on the same team as Hawkeye.  We may have to wait and see what Natasha’s motivations are more than for the other characters.

Marvel via slashfilm.com

Marvel via slashfilm.com

Team Captain America

Scarlet Witch

Scarlet Witch was not involved in Civil War in the comics, and her presence alone indicates that the film is going to be very different, Wanda Maximoff was my new favorite character in Age of Ultron, so I am really happy that she is on Steve’s side.  It’s not surprising, though, because if you remember in Age of Ultron she and Pietro volunteered for Hydra’s experiments in the first place because of their grudge against Tony Stark.  A part of me says that Wanda hasn’t gotten over that.  And the twins, if you remember, were close to Clint Barton, it’s no surprise that Wanda is sticking with him.

Marvel via thewrap.com

Marvel via thewrap.com

Falcon

Sam Wilson, of course, is extremely loyal to Steve Rogers.  Considering his role in Ant-Man, Sam will be the one recruiting Scott Lang and he may be the one pulling other people to Cap’s side. He might even be considered a co-leader of the team.  I am interested to see how he will interact with Hawkeye/Clint Barton.  They both have superhero names based on birds of prey and so naturally the fandom thinks they belong together.  In-between all of the other shenanigans there is a chance we might get to see the “bird bros” bonding onscreen.

Marvel via sciencefiction.com

Marvel via sciencefiction.com

Ant-Man

If you haven’t seen Ant-Man yet, go see it!  Those of you who have, you know he’ll be called in to do Steve the ultimate favor.  Scott Lang is a huge Avengers fan to start with.  But what’s interesting is that in Ant-Man, Hank Pym mentioned to Scott that he could never trust Howard Stark with his technology and he doesn’t want Tony anywhere near it either.  That impression probably stuck with Scott.  I think Scott Lang will be Steve’s new go-to man for equipment, since he is burning bridges with Tony, and heaven knows Steve and his teammates are going to need some tech to compete with Stark.

Marvel via moviepilot.com

Marvel via moviepilot.com

 

Hawkeye

This was the surprise for Cap’s team.  I mean, he is a really loyal friend to Natasha so I am surprised and disappointed they weren’t on the same side, but that’s what’s going to raise the stakes, right?  At the end of Age of Ultron, Clint went back to his family at least for a little while, so I wonder what might get him to go back into the field.  The registration act from the comics storyline is not going to work out, but in Age of Ultron the other Avengers except Natasha did not know about his family, so he still had at least some degree of privacy.  Something may be threatening his family and he is siding with Steve in order to protect them.

Marvel via screenrant.com

Marvel via screenrant.com

The Winter Soldier

All signs indicate that Bucky will be getting at least some of his memory and personality back, but his external circumstances will remain less than ideal.  Other people aren’t going to care that he’s no longer Hydra’s brainwashed assassin, and in fact if you saw the Ant-Man post-credit scene you KNOW that he’s vulnerable for it.  The more I hear, the more I think that the resolution of the Winter Soldier’s storyline will be the pin on which everyone hinges.  Steve might take his stance based on how people respond to Bucky, and Steve may or may not trust certain people based on who agrees with him.

Marvel via stitchkingdom.com

Marvel via stitchkingdom.com

The Double Agent

When the team lineups were announced, it was also rumored that one of the superheroes was going to be a double agent.  Everyone thinks (and wants) it to be Natasha, but I think we need to give the other character a look.  To be brutally honest, Bucky fighting at Steve’s side is almost too good to be true.  Spider Man is a new character and his motivations are unknown, but if he’s a young teenager who looks up to Tony Stark I doubt he would do anything that gutsy. Scott Lang/Ant-Man might become disillusioned with his superhero idols after watching them fight each other.  Maybe Tony does something that Vision disagrees with, but once Vision makes a decision I doubt he would go back on it: he is too much pure goodness. 

a safer world

Fan art by Lizy Cole

I would say that Team Iron Man has the advantage as far as technology, but for powers I think they might be even. As for the characters I like I think Captain America’s team took the vast majority of the cool people.  However, much remains to be seen about what the actual conflict is and what will really motivate these characters we know and love to take sides.

Read More:

The Casting of Tom Holland as Spider-Man

Sebastian Stan on the Ant-Man post-credit scene

Scott Lang Interviewed by WHIH

 

David became Goliath: Will Marvel ever fail?

The year was 2008, and there wasn’t much good going on in the world of Marvel movies. Spider-Man 3 had soured the franchise, the Fantastic Four movies were definitely not fantastic, and Hulk was lousy at best. It seemed that Marvel was doomed to have lackluster movies produced by third parties.

Then came Iron Man.

HereComesIronMan

Just look at all that majesty. Via imageevent.com/

Everything felt right with this movie. The costume was spot-on, Robert Downey Jr.’s performance was spectacular, and the post-credits scene revealed that a larger, connected universe was on its way. Marvel was a David in the world of movie producing, and it showed that it could compete with all the Goliaths in the industry.

Even with some of their most popular characters, such as Spider-Man and the X-Men, in the hands of other companies, Marvel began building an incredible, connected universe in the movies that followed Iron Man. There could be little that was more exciting than the idea of seeing individual heroes coming together and Phase One culminated in The Avengers. Marvel continued strong during Phase Two, with Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy being huge hits. While not every movie has been a shining example of greatness and fantastic storytelling, all of them have been financially successful. Even the movie that people seem to complain about most, Thor: The Dark World, did financially well at a little over 200 million.

Marvel has bulked up and is no longer a heroic David, but rather a hulking Goliath, (pun intended), and I think people are getting tired of it.

Come on, he just wants a hug. Via http://marvel-movies.wikia.com/

Come on, he just wants a hug.
Via http://marvel-movies.wikia.com/

When Age of Ultron came out, I read dozens of articles that pointed out every flaw and shortcoming. It seemed like everyone was wanting to bring Marvel down from their now legendary status. This only increased when Ant-Man was getting close to release. With the Edgar Wright problems and Ant-Man considered a B-list hero people were anticipating an Evel Knievel style crash and burn. But Ant-Man did well both financially and critically, and Age of Ultron was still well received even with all the nitpicking people have done.

At some point Marvel will have a flop, since no franchise or company can have success infinitely. But until that flop happens people are going to be looking and waiting for it. Watching a Goliath win again and again gets tiring, and so many people hope to see it fail. And maybe a single fail would be beneficial, since right now people are so anxious to find flaws that they’ll tear apart good movies and magnify any flaws disproportionately. Despite the financial and overall critical success of Age of Ultron, there have been a huge number of complaints about things ranging from stereotypical storylines to nitpicking whether or not Black Widow’s portrayal is anti-feminist.

I recognize that Marvel’s movies aren’t perfect. There are a number of different ways that the movies can be improved, but that’s true for almost any movie out there. The difference is that with Marvel being so incredibly successful with their movies, people love to cry out “See! They’re not so great! Look at all of their flaws!” All because people hate to see a Goliath go so long without losing at least once.

I don’t know when Marvel will finally have a failure. Their lineup for the next few years seems pretty strong, so I can’t pick anything out in particular as the next target. But I honestly think that a flop can only help them, because instead of saying “look at the strained relationship between Banner and Black Widow”, we can finally say “that movie may have had some rough spots, but at least it wasn’t another Howard the Duck.”

Except Marvel would probably ruin this plan and actually make it awesome. Image via cinemablend.com

Except Marvel would probably ruin this plan and actually make it awesome.
Via cinemablend.com

Strong Female Heroines and Why They’re Awesome

I’m the new blogger for the Geeky Mormon.  My name is Elizabeth but you may call me Lizy. I will answer to Liz.  Some people are picky about being classified as either a geek or a nerd, but I will answer to either.

Female characters, especially strong ones, are definitely a reason that I enjoy sci-fi and fantasy.  I don’t mind identifying myself with the girl who needs to get rescued, but I have always been interested in heroines who take care of themselves, fight their own battles alongside the boys, and sometimes even get to do a bit of the rescuing.  The heroines who really catch my attention are a little of both. Below are just some of my observations and thoughts on what makes a strong female heroine, based on about a year’s worth of writing, research, and observation.

The point of fantasy is that you can identify with the character in some way and because of that experience what the character is going through.The first Marvel movie I ever saw and enjoyed was Captain America: The First Avenger.  While I primarily liked the film because I could relate to the underdog Steve Rogers, I was in awe of Agent Peggy Carter.  She was smart, beautiful and absolutely fearless. She took absolutely no nonsense from any of the other guys, but she not only liked Steve but she believed in him.  (As a side note, I have not been able to watch the Agent Carter TV show yet but I want to very badly). That is the kind of person I felt like I could emulate.

Is it too much to say that I think Agent Carter is the reason I'm a Marvel fan?  Via boingboing.net

Is it too much to say that I think Agent Carter is the reason I’m a Marvel fan?
Via boingboing.net

Sometimes I am less interested in the female leads and more in the fantasy elements or the story.  But that being said I am still excited for Captain Marvel, because we will get all of that and a female lead too.

One of the first Star Wars characters I loved was Queen Amidala.  As a little girl I loved her wardrobe in The Phantom Menace and I spent many happy hours pouring over the pictures of her dresses in the visual dictionary.  And in addition to that, she fought for the freedom of her people. When I got older, I discovered the original trilogy.  I liked Princess Leia a lot, and I still like her a lot.  She didn’t have the visual glitter of the Queen, but she spoke her mind and carried a blaster. I wanted to be tough like that when I was a kid.  It was when I was older that I came to appreciate her tender side as well.

This is one of my first real heroines Via digitalspy.co.uk

This is one of my first real heroines
Via digitalspy.co.uk

Years later, I found out that a lot of people didn’t like Padme Amidala because it was clearly a bad idea for her to pursue a relationship with Anakin Skywalker, and then it didn’t make sense for her to die in Revenge of the Sith. I liked Padme too much as a character to let these things get in the way of liking her.  But I have thought about these issues a lot.  People don’t like having to identify with female characters who make decisions differently from the way they would, especially when it comes to love.  But Padme’s failure, to me, makes her all the more human and relatable.  As far as Anakin is concerned, she had a fatal blind spot, but his decisions were not her fault.  And when a heroine fails, sometimes something good comes out of it.  Usually this means she is able to get up again and confront the problem, but in Padme’s case it meant that her love for Anakin lived on through Luke.

And then there are the people who think falling in love is absolutely demeaning for a female character to experience.  I could not disagree with this more. If the love story is relevant to the plot and it strengthens both characters, then it can be a good thing. It is natural and human to fall in love. In all honesty, I was not thrilled that Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow tried to pursue a romance with Bruce Banner/the Hulk in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. But the online backlash against the love plot was ridiculous. I do not think that having Natasha fall in love was completely demeaning. I make missteps in my love life too sometimes. And it made sense in context of the larger theme that Joss Whedon was trying to get across.

The fact that Natasha was sterilized in the Red Room is a symptom of her much bigger problem: she was created to be an assassin in both mind and body, to the exclusion of all else. She has her worst fears, and she has a dark side I can scarcely begin to imagine. What makes her more interesting is the way she copes with her darkness, by being the auntie to Clint Barton’s kids, by being compassionate to people in need, by protecting those who are weaker than herself, and by relying on her quiet, inner strength.  I like Natasha a lot more now than I did three years ago. And while I’m upset about her pursuing Bruce I can at least forgive her for that.  What matters is that he is a well-rounded character.

Via theworkprint.com

I like Natasha because she has a very human side. Via theworkprint.com

The matter of the strong female heroine is only an issue of gender to a point: it is about the development of character and how that influences how gender is represented.  This is important because the media has a huge influence on individuals as well as cultures.  But all heroines are not alike and should not be expected to conform to some invisible standard. We can allow our heroines to be human just as much as the men.  Isn’t that what makes these stories great, by seeing the characters we sympathize with have human experiences?

Read More:

A Fandom of Her Own: Women of Today’s Sci-fi/Fantasy Franchises (Capstone paper)

Women of Science Fiction and Fantasy : Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 Panel

The Strong Feminism behind Black Widow, and why the critiques don’t stand up by Alyssa Rosenburg for the Washington Post

 

What Kind of Collector are You?

Collecting is a big part of the geek life. It seems like almost every geek out there has some kind of collection, most of us have multiple collections. I personally have always felt that I am a collector, though my wife might say I am a hoarder. There is just something in my brain that has a really hard time with letting things go, especially things that tie somehow into something I love. It probably really is a problem on some level if I don’t try to keep it in check. For the most part, though, I take a lot of pleasure in my collections. Because of all this, I thought it would be interesting to start a new feature on the blog all about collecting. Welcome to the first ever Collector’s Corner on the geeky mormon.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at collecting in general, starting with the question: What kind of collector are you? There are all sorts of collectors out there, and there is no wrong way to collect things, or wrong things to collect, for the most part. I knew a kid in middle school who really liked this girl in middle school. He used to collect her hairs that would fall onto her backpack, and then staple them to his wall. That is probably a weird and creepy thing to collect, especially since she didn’t know about that. My parents never let me go to his house again, and I keep searching the news to see if he has been caught as some kind of weird stalker or something. Don’t be that kind of collector.

One kind of collector that I have always really admired is the “Mint in Box” collector. This is the geek who buys whatever collectible of their choice and then they never open it. They keep it in the package and place it up on a shelf somewhere for display, or even more admirable, they have so much that they have boxes in storage full of unopened collectibles. This is an impressive type of collector, and one that I could never be. To buy something, and then to never open it and enjoy it, I just couldn’t do it. However, these collectors are the ones who could be laughing all the way to the bank. These are the items that can show up on eBay years later and be sold for a pretty hefty price. Most of these collectors, however, would never part with their treasures. There are two sub-types to this collector. One is the “Buy two of everything” collector. They one item for themselves to open and display, and then one item to never open and to store away, mint in box. If I could ever pull off this type of collecting, this is how I could do it. Even then, I would probably cave because buying two of everything is expensive.  The other sub-type is the comic book version, the collector who buys issue after issue of comics and never reads them to keep them as close to mint as possible. You can find these folks at your local comic shop on Wednesdays inspecting each copy of each issue to find the most mint issue they can. Sometimes they will buy two of each issue, one to collect and one to read.

Another type of collector is the variant or exclusive collector. These folks will typically go after exclusive versions of the things they collect or variant covers of the comics they collect. They may keep them mint in box, or they may open them and display them, but they are drawn to the exclusive versions, because the normal, average version just doesn’t cut it. The exclusives are better because they are more rare and are somehow unique to the average version. For example, the Doctor Who Funko Pop figures recently released, and Hot Topic has an exclusive version of each figure. The 12th Doctor, as an example, has a spoon when purchased from Hot Topic, while the 12th Doctor purchased through Amazon does not. The exclusive collector needs the one with the spoon.

Another type is the “Completist.” This type of collector picks a collection and then gets every piece for that collection. They will not rest until every last bit of that collection is theirs. They will hunt high or low, brave garage sales and eBay in hopes of finding the one piece or issue that is missing from their collection. They try to find nice pieces to add, but at some point, they give up just as long as they can get that piece that is missing. They will collect every variant or exclusive piece, as well as the main pieces. Every piece has to be there for them to feel like the collection is complete. They are working toward an end goal. There is a part of me that is drawn to this type of collecting, but I also know that it is almost always unattainable, so I try to refrain. I settle for having a lot of cool pieces instead, and try to tell myself that it’s enough.

In other words, I am an eclectic collector. I don’t have to have the whole set, but I like to have cool pieces in my collection. Pieces that mean something to me, more than pieces that are super valuable. I would probably never really look online to find out the value for any piece of my collection, because I am just not interested in parting with any piece. Sometimes, I will add to my collection based solely on impulse. I see something cool that I don’t have, and it is coming home with me, if I can afford it. My collection might include some exclusive or variant pieces, but it won’t include all of them. This is basically the ” I see it, I want it, I collect it” approach to collecting. It may not be as refined as some others, but I enjoy it. While a completist may someday have the satisfaction of knowing that their collection is complete, I will always have the satisfaction of knowing that my collection will never be complete. And that makes the whole thing worth it. So, what kind of collector are you? Let us know in the comments section on the blog or in the comments on Facebook or Google +, or tweet at me @thegeekymormon. I will respond to any of the these forms of feedback. You can even email me at thegeekymormon@yahoo.com. We love hearing from you.

My Collection

I thought it would be fun when I write these posts to highlight some of my collections. I promised to reveal my favorite collection in this post, so we will start there. This is not my only collection, but for the moment, this has been the one that I have had the most fun collecting. It is my Funko Pop collection. For some reason, I saw these a few years ago, and decided I wanted a few. That few multiplied and has now grown into quite a collection. I just love these little guys. The thing I really like about them is that there are so many to choose from, so no matter what you are into, there is something for you. Here are some examples from my collection:

DCFunkoPop

 

First we have some of my DC Pop Heroes. These are some of my favorite characters from the DC Universe. The first one I ever bought was Superman because he is my favorite Superhero. Batman has been my most recent addition. I am not a big Batman fan, but this one was purchased for me by my 2-year-old, who believes she is Batgirl, so she wanted me to have a Batman.

AvengersPop

 

These are my Pop heroes from the latest Avengers movie, except Thor. I think he is from the second Thor movie. Each time Marvel releases a new movie, Funko releases new pop figures, so there are different versions of a lot of them. I personally have three captain Americas (or would that be Captains America?). The thing I like about the Marvel characters is that they are bobble heads, which just adds to their cool factor.

RandomPop

This is just a random assortment of figures that don’t fit into any one category. You could argue that Ollie there on the left could go with the DC guys, but I keep him separate because he is from Arrow the TV show instead of the comics. Next to him is Mal from Firefly, the 12th Doctor (Hot Topic exclusive with spoon). Soon he will be joined by a bunch of other Doctor Who figures, so they will get a section all their own. I’ll post pics on Facebook when they come. Then of course we have Raphael, purchased for me for Father’s Day by my son who loves Ninja Turtles and loves Raph “because he’s the red guy.” That’s why I love him too. Last, but not least, The Rocketeer. He might be my favorite figure.

So, there is one of my collections. What do you collect? What would you like to discuss in future editions of Collector’s Corner? Let me know through one of the various methods of feedback listed in the post above. Thanks for reading, and good hunting out there!

The Best Star Wars Trailer Out There

We live in a pretty interesting time. Movie trailers are almost as anticipated as the films they represent. Thanks to the magic of the internet, we are able to watch them over and over and over. We can sit and pick them apart and try to figure out what each little image means and try to glean as much as we can from just over a minute of film footage. It’s really a lot of fun. This kind of thing is magnified when the movie is a major title like Star Wars or Avengers. Fans of either franchise will spend hours trying to piece together a 2 hour plus film just from 30 seconds of footage. It’s always fun to see how accurate we usually aren’t when it comes to these things.

One thing that has come out of our instant and continuous access to movie trailers is the art form of mocking these big time trailers. After the latest Star Wars trailer dropped, we saw numerous versions of it on YouTube. Some of them were pretty creative and clever. Others were just kind of lame. If you have been scouring the internet to find the best version of the latest Star Wars  trailer, let me help you out. I have found it. This is it. It is the best Star Wars trailer out there. It may even be better than the actual Star Wars trailer. This particular video comes to us from Mashable, and it is just incredible. Why? Because, well, just watch and see.

There is nothing more fun, or cuter than hearing little kids dub these trailers. As a dad, stuff like this always hits me right in the feels. I can’t listen to these kids reading these lines without a smile coming to my face. What a brilliant idea. Plus, little kids love hearing other little kids, so this makes the trailer that much more accessible for little ones. They will be more excited about it than the original, just because it is little kids like them. What’s even better than the kids reading the lines is when the kids do the sound effects too. That is just brilliant.

So, if you’re having a bad day, and you need a pick me up, watch this trailer a half-dozen times. In fact, i challenge you to watch this video and not have a smile on your face by the end. And, if you need even more convincing, let me introduce you to the same folks doing the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer. 100 % guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Check it out:

There you have it. Hopefully, tonight, I have spread a little joy in the world via some pretty geeky movies, and some kids.

What is your favorite version of the Star Wars trailer? Let me know in the comments. We always love hearing from you.