Perfected Bodies: Superheroes and Gymnastics

The 2016 Rio Games are the first Summer Olympics since the Marvel Cinematic Universe took over the world: The Avengers was still in theaters during the London Olympics, and since then, we’ve had seven more movies and nine seasons of TV. The MCU has been joined by multiple DC universes, plus various Spider-men, X-Men, Deadpools, and yet another Fantastic Four. As never before, the superhero has been firmly lodged in our collective consciousness.

The Olympics offer a real-world counterpart to superheroes. Without radioactive spiders or super-soldier serums, Olympic athletes demonstrate impossible powers every four years. Each time a record is broken, the athlete exceeds the previous limit on human capabilities.

Neither happens in a vacuum—both superheroes and athletes complete narratives far greater than a list of records and abilities. They stand astride the existing fissures in society, especially regarding gender, which is particularly tied to the expectations placed on bodies. In many ways, they show us how far we have come and our hopes for the future, but of course, they reveal how far we still have to go.

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I Can Do This All Day: A Captain America: Civil War Review

Captain-America-Civil-War-PosterI feel like I’ve been waiting for Captain America: Civil War to come out for most of my adult life, even though it’s only been two years since Winter Soldier. Needless to say, it barely felt real going into the theater on Thursday night. I had no idea what to expect, no idea how high I should allow my hopes for the writing to be, and no idea whether I’d leave the movie emotionally devastated. (Okay, that’s a lie—I knew it was a question of how emotionally devastated I’d be, not whether it would happen at all.) And with the bad taste of Age of Ultron still in my mouth, I was generally worried for the state of the franchise.

I am happy to report that Captain America: Civil War was almost exactly the big-screen, action/adventure, Stucky-focused hurt/comfort fic I was desperately hoping to see. Spoilers after the jump!

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New Year, New Black Widow

It’s hard to watch a comic book you love come to an end. Unfortunately, the utter nonsense of Marvel’s Secret Wars event at the end of last summer did that to most of the books I followed. Thankfully, most of these books reappeared right after Secret Wars ended with new number ones, but one was still missing: Black Widow. I wondered at the lack, but series do often come and go and I didn’t give it a ton of thought. Apparently I missed both the hype and the window for preorders for the new Black Widow series, which just premiered last week, to my surprise. Whether that surprise was pleasant or not hinged on what I found inside the issue. (Spoiler alert: it was pleasant.)

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Trailer Tuesdays: Captain America: Civil War

The night before the Civil War trailer dropped, I spent a solid half hour complaining to my long-suffering mother about the lack of a Civil War trailer. It was just unconscionable to me that it had neither been leaked nor officially released yet, and I was growing more and more nervous about what the movie would be like.

My opinion about what the conflict of Civil War should be in a nutshell. (x)

My opinion about what the conflict of Civil War should be in a nutshell. (x)

Apparently, the Marvel powers that be heard my complaints, because the very next morning I awoke to the glory of the above trailer. Continue reading

Sexualized Saturdays: Rape, Agency, and Marvel’s Women

It seems that when you want to make a woman into a hero, you hurt her first. When you want to make a man into a hero, you hurt… also a woman first. (x)

Vague spoilers for Jessica Jones and a trigger warning for rape throughout this post.

jessica jones netflixI’ve spent the last week watching Marvel’s Jessica Jones miniseries on Netflix. (I’ve still got a few episodes left, so no spoilers for the finale, please!) While it’s very good, it also seems to buy into a common problem that plagues female characters, especially the hard-boiled/hero types: whether mentally or physically or both, its women have been violated.

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Joss Whedon, Driven Off Twitter by “Feminazis?” Um, No.

Gentle Readers,

A couple of days ago, Joss Whedon left Twitter. Packed up his bags and went, leaving us with this final tweet:

JossLastTweetThat’s kind of a shame. Joss has long been a writer/producer/dreamer of some of my favorite ideas and I really enjoyed his little corner of my Twitter feed. But what is much more important than that is why he left. After Age of Ultron was released, Joss received a non-trivial amount of Twitter vitriol, which you can investigate here, about the portrayal of Black Widow in the film. I had some issues, but nothing I want to get into here, and certainly nothing I want to scream into Twitter about. But what’s remarkable was the assumption that these tweets were the reason that Joss left Twitter. The article I just linked above, at time of writing, assumes that to be true, it seems.

More importantly, it was lent credibility by Patton Oswalt tweeting:

Yep. There is a “Tea Party” equivalent of progressivism/liberalism. And they just chased Joss Whedon off Twitter. Good job, guys. Ugh.

—Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) May 4, 2015

You know, I was really bothered by Black Widow’s characterization in Age of Ultron. I thought she was simpering and her on-screen time was wasted. I thought that attempts to show a softer side of her just made her feel a little less relevant, and made me wonder if Joss Whedon really understands the word “feminism”. The prima nocta joke just wasn’t funny, much less in good taste or appropriate anywhere, really. But does it make me want Joss Whedon to rot in hell?

Does it make me want to curse him out on Twitter, to fill his feed with profanities so that he knows that he’ll never work again in this business?

Eh. Probably not. But just the same, all people who respect free speech on the Internet should be ashamed that Joss Whedon was driven off Twitter.

There is just a single solitary problem with that: he wasn’t. In Whedon’s own words: “That is horseshit.”  Continue reading

Was Avengers: Age of Ultron as Good as Its Predecessor?

avengers_age_of_ultron_2015So, you all knew it was coming sooner or later: my review of Avengers: Age of Ultron. I have already seen the movie twice, but unlike its predecessor, I probably won’t hit the thirteen-showings mark with Avengers 2. Even though I enjoyed parts of it, it was weaker than the original Avengers on almost every level.

Hella spoilers after the jump.

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