As some of you may know, I work at a major thrift store in Provo. We get thousands of items donated daily. I work in the back sorting through those donations to see what’s good enough to be resold and what’s not. I have been working there for eight months now and I have seen lots and lots of geeky items. If you follow me on I Love the Star Wars Prequels, you know that I post updates sometimes about prequels-related merchandise. Star Wars is perhaps the biggest franchise represented as far as action figures, toys, and collectible items. This is a sampling of some of the geek items I’ve seen at the store from a variety of fandoms and favorite media.
While you’re digesting your turkey and pie and thinking about the things you are grateful for, feel welcome to browse this list and the attached photos, and if you want to give feedback you can share why you are grateful for Salt Lake Comic Con. Disclaimer: yes, next week for my personal blog I’m going to be posting a wish list for guests to have at future SLCC events, so if you think I’m buttering up the Salt Lake con organizers I won’t blame you for thinking that. And bear in mind, none of these are in any particular order…except towards the end.
(Spoilers, but I’m kind of assuming that you’ve seen Civil War by now.)
All of three of the female leads in Captain America: Civil War are amazing. The following thoughts are not comprehensive character analyses but what I liked best about each. The pivotal roles that each play demonstrates how highly Steve Rogers values the women in his life.
You can reasonably expect as the time draws nearer for the release of Captain America: Civil War that I will write a few more MCU-related posts. As a fan, there is a lot at stake for me in this film. One of biggest, most burning questions that will be answered of course, is this:
Will Steve Rogers, our beloved Captain America, die?
In my Captain America post last fall, I said that I expected him to die in Civil War. Now let me amend that. It would be wrong to not expect anyone to die in this movie—as attached as we are to all of the characters, someone is going to bite it. Perhaps multiple people. There would be no emotional stakes otherwise. But I’m going to focus on Cap because he is the obvious choice for a dramatic, show-stopping death.
This is Lucy. If she looks excited in this picture, it’s because she is extremely excited. In this picture she is riding the train, heading downtown to see Marvel Universe Live, and she cannot wait. More than any of our other kids, Lucy has always marched to her own drummer. She decides what she likes and what she is into based on, well, what she likes. And she loves Thor. She is obsessed with Thor. He is by far her favorite super hero. She has a birthday coming up, and we had the opportunity to bring her to Marvel Universe Live, which is a large stunt show based on characters from Marvel Comics. We thought she would really enjoy it. And boy, did she.
(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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Team Captain America
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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?
A Fandom of Her Own: Women of Today’s Sci-fi/Fantasy Franchises (Capstone paper)
The Strong Feminism behind Black Widow, and why the critiques don’t stand up by Alyssa Rosenburg for the Washington Post