Representation is weird, readers. Since some people that enjoy a level of privilege also contend with marginalization, it’s difficult to say where we need to get better in our media. Despite men enjoying incredible amounts of privilege, we still have the task of dismantling toxic masculinity. While we are slowly but surely destroying the “no homo, bro” narrative of friendship, I would like to see more well formed male friendships in media that actually explore friendship and aren’t just used as passive plot traits.
A few weeks ago I wrote about raised female warriors and their fight for autonomy. Since then I’ve been thinking on whether male characters are ever given a similar kind of tragic backstory where they‘re kidnapped, as children or even as adults, and their agency is taken away and they are forced to learn to fight and kill on the orders of their captors. I managed to find a few that could fit this trope—Matt Murdock (Netflix‘s Daredevil), Oliver Queen (Arrow), Bucky Barnes/the Winter Soldier (MCU), and D‘Avin Jaqobi (Killjoys). All these characters have their freedom and autonomy taken away (to differing extents) and, as such, they present a lot of opportunities for nontraditional portrayals of masculinity.
Spoilers for Arrow, Killjoys, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier below.
The title may be a mouthful, but this fic is one of the most amazing fanworks I’ve read in quite some time. United States v. Barnes takes on the the post-Captain America: The Winter Soldier trope of Bucky facing trial for crimes of treason, terrorism, and murder in a truly fascinating way: from the POV of a variety of forms of social media. Continue reading
“I thought you might come here,” the target said. “You saw the exhibit?”
It was his turn to hesitate, but after a moment he nodded
“So you know now? That you’re Bucky Barnes?”
He realized he was shaking his head violently and stopped himself. “We share a face,” he said, a truth even he could acknowledge. There had been more too, a creeping sense of vertigo when he looked at the photos, a split-second where he could remember being on the other side of the camera. But they were only flashes, and could well be only his imagination. Still, he had to admit that the threat model for all of this being an elaborate trap was too high to be realistic. The evidence would have taken decades to plant, and he had always been too careful with his own face. Unless those who kept him had done this. He dismissed the possibility, acknowledging the far simpler possibility that there was a man with a face much like his.
The target nodded, not pushing further, laying out silence like a path at his feet.
“A face, that’s all,” he continued, and that anxious feeling, like something was crawling around inside him and trying to escape, rose again in his throat. He started walking.
The target stepped in front of him. Not stopping him, he could easily walk around, but he found himself arrested. “Where will you go now?”
“Away,” he said. He hadn’t thought that far ahead, though the word Brooklyn rattled at the back of his head, snatching at his attention like movement seen out of the corner of a sniper scope.
“You can stay with me, if you like.”
While the actual comic that Captain America: The Winter Soldier was based on is ten years old now, the success of the movie has skyrocketed the Marvel fandom back into the spotlight. If you’ve been around the fandom part of Tumblr at all recently, you know it’s impossible to escape the gifsets, fanart, and headcanons, and more impossible to not notice the obsession fans have developed for all things James Buchanan Barnes.
And given the tragic and legendary nature of the friendship between Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers, it goes without saying that the two of them also make a very popular slash ship. Some fans see the two of them as having been in a relationship during their pre-WWII days, or as lovers during the war; some fans imagine that their feelings were unrequited, and presumed doomed until Bucky turned out to be not-dead. In any case, the Stucky bug has bitten MCU fandom hard, and some excellent fanworks have appeared in the weeks since the movie premiered. Continue reading
This movie, oh, this movie. Where to even begin? Captain America is not a comic book character that I actively follow, so all I really know about him comes from the cinematic universe and the cartoons. His stories are not normally my kind of thing. I’m more into something like Thor, because of the magic and mythology—yet it seems that every time a Captain America movie will come out, I’m probably going to end up loving it even more than I love Thor. And I don’t know why.
Massive spoilers ahead.
I’m new to the world of Avengers fandom, and I have only a very interested amateur’s knowledge of the comicverse; but even with all of this, I have this very instinctual understanding that “The Avengers all live together in a house provided by Tony Stark” is an Avengers fanfic plot trope as old and honored as sex pollen or accidental bonding are in Kirk/Spock fiction. And within those tropes, there are always going to be not-so-good ones, and there are always going to be super-amazing ones.
Ready, Fire, Aim is one of the latter. Full disclosure, it’s Steve/Tony (with background Pepper/Natasha), and there’s not much of a connecting thread to the story except for the gradual romantic growth between the two. But the episodic flow of the story is really organic and comfortable; in once scene Clint’s trying to teach Thor how to use the Wii, and in the next the team is helping (or being helped by) the X-Men and the Fantastic Four to subdue evil parade floats. (Oh yeah, there are a million neat little tie-ins with the Marvel ‘verse outside of the movie, which I appreciated even if I am not a comic buff.) The funny parts are funny, the sexy parts are hot like burning, and although I’m not super qualified to talk about characterization, the characters seem to be and act and talk exactly how they ought to in my head. Thor especially is amazing.
This story has two amazing sequels as well (well, one is an actual sequel and one is the story of Ready, Fire, Aim from Steve’s POV, written for a charity fic auction), but they’re easily around 50k words put together, so if you’re recently graduated like me and have a hell of a lot of time on your hands, this is the perfect fic to spend an hour or two (or however long it takes other people to read 50,000 words) with. Enjoy!