Spider-Man: Homecoming Sticks Its Landing

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Spider-Man: Homecoming. I did really enjoy Tom Holland’s outing as Spidey in Captain America: Civil War, but I was kind of out of the loop for the pre-movie publicity (I barely even remember the trailers) and I felt going in more like I was seeing it out of MCU obligation than genuine hype. Plus, I still had some lingering resentment from the whole “pushing back the entire MCU production schedule to slot another white dude in” thing.

Coming out of Spider-Man: Homecoming, however, I had a big ol’ grin on my face. This movie was fantastically well-crafted and cast, and was loads of fun while also telling a heartfelt and complex story at its core.

Major plot spoilers after the cut! Please don’t read if you are planning to see it; it’s really worth going in unspoiled!

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Sexualized Saturdays: Martyred Moms and Dastardly Dads in the MCU

My friend and I came out of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 convinced that the Infinity Wars movies, and the big Avengers/Guardians crossover therein, were mostly going to consist of Tony Stark and Peter Quill trying to out-Daddy-Issue each other. As well as both having facial hair and a penchant for roguish one-liners, the two heroes have a few things in common, most notably their parental situation: like Tony, Peter Quill has a complicated and at times antagonistic relationship with his father that forms the emotional core of a whole movie, and a sense of wistful mourning for his mother, who was sweet, kind, and only shows up in a few scenes. She’s also dead due to circumstances that were in no way her fault, so they can bond over that as well. At this point, maybe Thor can chime in too, perhaps initiating a group hug, since he also has a complicated relationship with his main-character dad and grieves over his good and nurturing dead mum. Jeez, is Infinity Wars just going to be one big session of father-related angst and mother-related mourning?

Fridge a kind mother and elevate a father to main character status once, Marvel, and that’s shame on you. Fridge a kind mother and elevate a father twice, still shame on you. Do this three times for three different superheroes and it’s officially a pattern. What exactly is going on here, and why does it annoy me so much?

GOTG Ego and Starlord

Complicated Father-Son Dynamic: Space Edition (Via Comic Book Movie)

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Fanfiction Fridays: Maternal Bonds by Ireland_Ranger

Thor Loki FriggaI love the Thor movies, and largely, it was Marvel’s take on Norse mythology that really got me involved in their comics. I started reading the Thor comics before the movies came out, and I have found myself beyond excited at each installment featuring the god of thunder. My favorite part of the story has always been the uncertainty surrounding Loki’s relationship with the rest of the family—the biggest problem here was that comics almost always focuses on Loki’s relationship with both Odin and Thor, and while that’s fine and all, it leaves out another person in the family.

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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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Throwback Thursday: Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

We’re going a little deeper into the archives of science fiction this week, to pull out the 1964 Stanley Kubrick film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The black-and-white visuals and Cold War imagery give the movie a dated effect, but I’m realizing how distressingly relevant the underlying message still is.

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At the top level, the movie is a satire of mutually assured destruction and nuclear war. A rogue American general named Jack D. Ripper, consumed with paranoia, orders an unprovoked nuclear strike against the Soviet Union, and a fleet of bombers take to the air.

When news of the strike reaches President Merkin Muffley, he descends to the underground War Room, joined by the maniacal General Buck Turgidson, the Soviet ambassador Alexei de Sadeski, and the title character, a nuclear scientist from Nazi Germany now serving the United States. De Sadeski reveals the existence of a Soviet Doomsday Device, which will automatically destroy all life on Earth with a cloud of radioactive gas if an atomic strike on the USSR is detected. The Americans and the Russians work together to recall the bombers, but one, piloted by Major T.J. “King” Kong, has been damaged and cannot receive the radio signal, and prepares to deliver its payload.

Earth’s last hope is the failure of Kong’s bomb, spray-painted with the name “Hi There!”—which jams in the bay. But the dedicated pilot climbs on top of it, and jumps up and down on it until it deploys. Kong rides the bomb to the end of the world, gleefully whooping and waving a cowboy hat in the film’s most famous scene.

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Anonymous submission to MakeAGIF.com

The Americans pause for a moment of silence, before planning to resume the Cold War after the apocalypse when they emerge from their bunkers. The credits roll with a montage of mushroom clouds set to Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again”.

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Law and Justice in the Time of Civil War

captainamericaposter

Captain America: Civil War is the 13th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has also tacked on an additional nine seasons of television, between four series, with more on the way. If nothing else, it’s an incredible feat to keep producing quality stories, and Civil War may even top everything that came before it.

The movie has considerable moral and philosophical heft, which it accomplishes by asking difficult questions about right and wrong.  What makes it unique, especially in the current media landscape, is that it achieves this without turning its protagonists into antiheroes. We’re not asked to accept a series of atrocities in service of the greater good, or weigh the need to tamp down our emotional attachments to do what needs to be done. Simultaneously, we’re not asked to see goodness as simple and self-evident.

Instead, we get a smart, nuanced contest of ideas between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, with a conclusion that’s ultimately ambiguous. Despite the high stakes and increasing violence between their factions, the audience is never asked to see either superhero as corrupt or shortsighted or evil. Neither is brainwashed or deceived or misunderstood. The audience sees both as they see themselves, and as they see each other: as good men who have reached incompatible conclusions about how to do the right thing, who are heartbroken by their conflict.

Spoilers for Captain America: Civil War after the jump!

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Agent Carter: Season 2 Premiere Review

Oh Miss Carter, it’s been entirely too long.

peggyinapurpledress

Something funny happened about a week ago: I was half-watching a playoff football game on ESPN when I suddenly heard the voice of Hayley Atwell. Looking up, I discovered that they had finally decided to leverage the mighty power of the Disney corporation (owner of ESPN, Marvel, and ABC) in order to promote the best part of the MCU. Yes, friends, ESPN was airing an Agent Carter commercial during its highest-rated broadcast of the year.

With a dynamite premiere, hopefully the show is going to be able to keep some of those new eyes focused on Agent Carter, and earn us all a Season 3.

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