Posts Tagged ‘Captain America’

The New Civil War: The Cap/Hydra Reaction and a Call for a Ceasefire

June 1, 2016

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Steve Rogers: Captain America #1 hit comic shops a week ago, and comics Twitter has been aflame ever since. SPOILER ALERT: The issue revealed that Captain America was an agent of Hydra, and interviews with writer Nick Spencer and editor Tom Brevoort suggested that this wasn’t a gimmick or a fakeout and that Steve might have been a sleeper Hydra agent all along.

And so the war began. A few idiots harassed creators and made death threats. Creators got indignant and defensive. Valid, thoughtful critiques were dismissed out of hand. Everyone got SUPER mad, and all sorts of blocking, muting, and fiery language ensued based on which articles someone retweeted. It’s exhausting to watch, and seems to be taking an emotional toll on many people.

Now, I know that a few dummies on both sides, the threatening trolls and the dickish creators, are never going to change, but everyone else in the middle of all of this probably can, and thus calm it all down. And I’m sure this piece will catch on like wildfire because everyone loves a call for calm and rational thought. I jest, of course; I’ve been writing on the internet long enough to know that angry pieces do SO much better. But for the few of you reading this (thanks, by the way!) maybe we can learn some things and help tone things down a bit.

So, here are my thoughts:

1) Creators are being harassed and threatened. That is NOT COOL.

And also indefensible. Harassment and threats are terrible and wholly uncalled for in any situation, much less over a comic book. This should not be minimalized or swept to the side; this is a scary, unpleasant situation, and entirely undeserved for those dealing with it.

2) Because of this, creators are upset.

And understandably so. Threats are frightening, and seeing their colleagues dealing with this must be unpleasant and perhaps bring up memories of their own past experiences with harassment. As such, they’re a bit defensive. They want to defend their friends, and also take a stand against this sort of reaction generally.

3) There are legitimate, valid critiques of Steve Rogers: Captain America #1.

And of all comics, really. But this issue especially. Marvel turned Captain America into a Nazi, basically. That’s going to upset people. Particularly Jewish people, who have written some very thoughtful, emotional critiques of the issue. Moreover, it’s all obviously a stunt; whatever Marvel may say about Captain America being Hydra for real, this is comics. It’s going to be undone, probably sooner than later. Captain America was created by two Jewish men, and punched out Hitler before America even entered the war, so turning him into a Hydra agent for a brief story/sales gimmick is going to irritate some people.

4) Some folks are conflating the harassment and the criticism.

And that’s not cool either. They are very different things. Harassers are a bunch of idiots, while critics have valid points to make, and are part of art generally. If you make something, you will be reviewed and critiqued. That’s how art works. Conflating harassment and criticism is a way to dismiss all criticism out of hand, which is dumb at best, and willfully ignorant at worst.

5) Others are conflating harassment and calls for representation of marginalized groups.

And this is just super dumb. The superhero genre is not great at telling stories that star anyone other than straight white dudes, but some people seem to think that wanting more diverse characters, be it gender, sexuality, or race, is “fan entitlement” that goes hand in hand with harassment. This is obviously stupid.

So what can we do? Well, we all can chill out. Things have gotten heated and it would behoove everyone to take a step back and try to get some perspective on the situation. For those who are outraged at the fan reaction, separate the trolls from the legit criticism and maybe listen and reflect on why people are upset about the comic. They’re not trying to crush freedom of speech or squash creators’ ability to tell a story; they’re passionate, often well-versed fans with valid points, and Captain America means a lot to them.

For those who are outraged at the issue, and the comic book creators who defend it, consider that death threats are ridiculously uncool and scary, and that it must be difficult to see your colleagues deal with that. Also remember that they are human beings, and that a tweet or a retweet is not the sum total of who they are. Moreover, these are people who love telling stories, and being defensive about their ability to do so unfettered and without fear is a fairly natural response.

Now, I don’t want to create a false equivalency here. Yes, a lot of people are getting upset on both sides and I think that we could all do with a little bit of calming down and moving forward, but the whole situation highlights some systemic problems within the superhero industry and its fandom. This current bout of harassment is awful and contemptible, of course. However, while people are understandably upset about harassment right now, harassment is a daily problem for those who write about and critique comic books, especially women and people of colour; threats are the norm. It’s also the norm for female comic books creators. That all of these folks, mostly men, are vocal about harassment only now feels a bit disingenuous, and this combined with the conflation of harassment with legitimate viewpoints and calls for diversity is very frustrating indeed. There’s a degree of privilege at play here that doesn’t sit well with me, as well as a degree of punching down. Critics are upset at the actions of a massive corporation, and those who back the corporation so wholeheartedly while dismissing these critics are definitely the Goliath of this scene. In many ways, this situation has turned into an avenue for gatekeeping and downplaying marginalized voices.

At the end of the day, though, everyone could benefit from a cessation of hostilities. Let’s just be kind, and remember that threats and harassment are terrible and that reasonable, well thought out criticism is good and healthy. People can disagree without being jerks about it. Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz are going to tell their story, and some people are going to like it and some people are going to think it’s dumb and problematic, and there will be various discussions therein. Let’s be civil, try to see the other side, check our privilege, and just be reasonable human beings. It’s not that hard.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier Was Great SO When Do We Get A Black Widow Movie?

April 7, 2014

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a massive success. It made almost $100 million domestically this weekend, has pulled in over $300 million globally, and people love it; it’s got an 89% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and 95% from audiences. The movie is killing it on every possible level.

There was lots of great stuff in Winter Soldier. Captain America was super cool, Falcon was awesome, the Winter Soldier was like he just stepped out of the comics, and even Jenny Agutter got to bust up some bad guys as Councilwoman Hawley. But no one was cooler than the Black Widow. She was all over the place, taking down villains in so many ways. She’s got fantastic martial arts skills to start with, but she’s also got a grappling hook, electric shocks, various guns, a garrote, and the ability to make use of whatever else is lying around to beat the hell out of anyone who gets in her way.

Scarlett Johansson has gotten better with each Marvel movie, and she was pretty awesome to begin with way back in Iron Man 2. Of all the Avengers, only Black Widow and Hawkeye haven’t had their own movies yet, and Black Widow is the far more developed character. We’ve heard rumours of a Black Widow movie for a while, but nothing concrete yet, and the rumblings for other characters have been much louder. Ant-Man is already on the schedule, and Dr. Strange has been getting a ton of buzz (and SPOILER even a brief shout out in Winter Soldier) but not every Marvel movie needs to have a white guy lead. A Black Widow movie is not only a very sensible next step for the franchise, but it’s long overdue and would be crazy good.

Let’s talk about the crazy good stuff first. Black Widow is a Russian assassin turned good guy, with a shady past. A Black Widow movie could go in several fun directions: it could have a Bond vibe, or a Bourne vibe, or go even darker than those franchises due to the opportunities her sketchy past provides. In the comics, Black Widow is the product of a covert Soviet superspy/assassin program, an orphan trained from a young age, but given that the movies haven’t delved into her past too much, they’re not locked into any specific version of this origin. There were also other Black Widows in the program in the comics, and Scarlett facing off against and/or teaming up with a bunch of other bad ass lady assassins would make for a heck of a film. Plus, no matter what direction they go with it, the action in a Black Widow movie can be totally out of control.

In terms of the sensible next step, look away if you haven’t seen Winter Soldier yet because we’re diving into SPOILER territory here. The movie ends with Nick Fury and Black Widow releasing all of SHIELD’s secret files, including everything about Black Widow’s history. The world now knows all of her secrets, so she’s perfectly poised to explore this past and tackle any new foes who come out of the woodwork. I think Marvel would be well served to do a prequel/sequel combo, exploring her past life via flashbacks while having her deal with a threat from this past in the present. Preferably a threat that has her traipsing all over the globe, taking down evildoers in classic and exotic locales. A fight atop the Eiffel Tower perhaps, or an epic chase through the jungle toward a Soviet base in Vietnam, or a rooftop battle on a snowy Moscow night.

The time is absolutely right for a Black Widow movie, and no other character is better poised to headline their own film. Also, it would just be awesome. She could kick all of the butts. All. The. Butts.

Avengers Movie Review OR I LOVE The Hulk!!!!

May 5, 2012

So The Avengers was absolutely fantastic.  Marvel’s done a pretty amazing job with their film properties, Ghost Riders and Punishers aside, and the most impressive part is that they’ve made me like their characters.  I’m a hardcore DC guy, and I only buy/read Marvel titles when a creator I really love is on the book (right now, Fraction, Hickman, and DeConnick are my Marvel people).  I couldn’t care less about the Avengers, and never have.

But then they made me love Iron Man by making him Robert Downey Jr.  And then they made Thor, the only character I was predisposed to like on account of I’m a mythology nerd, even awesomer than I thought it would be.  Then they took Captain America, a character I find unintentionally hilarious, and made a great action movie with an old school feel.  So now I like all these people!!

The only character I wasn’t keen on was the Hulk.  The Eric Bana and Edward Norton versions of the character didn’t do much for me.  So I figured there’s not much you can do with a mindless force of destruction, and when it was announced he’d be in The Avengers with characters I did like, I just hoped he wouldn’t bring it down too much.  Turns out, the Hulk was my very favourite character.  And that’s what was so great about The Avengers… it took everything I liked and made it better, and took what I didn’t like and made it AWESOME.

I’m going to spoil the hell out of the movie now, so…

SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!

GO AWAY IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE AVENGERS YET!!

I’M ABOUT TO RUIN IT ALL SO BAD!!!

Okay… that should do it.

We all love Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.  We all love Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury.  We all love(d) Agent Coulson (I’M STILL UPSET ABOUT THAT!!).  We love Cap, we love Thor, and we REALLY love Loki.  We knew these things would be good, and they were.  In fact, they were spectacular.  All of that was great.

There were other things, though, that we probably had some doubts about.  Black Widow didn’t have much to do in Iron Man 2 so she was sort of an unknown.  Hawkeye was only in Thor for like three seconds.  The Hulk movies kind of sucked.  Plus it was a pretty full cast already with the heroes we loved… tossing in these characters we weren’t sure of AND a new one with Maria Hill could have been too much.  Of course, it wasn’t.

Black Widow was BAD ASS.  And an actual character this time.  She manipulated Loki well with her Hawkeye story and acted all cold and aloof after, but you could tell there was something there.  And then she fought the Hulk, killed a TON of aliens, and jumped on one of those alien flier things and flew it up to the top of Stark tower.  It was pretty great.

Hawkeye was killer too.  He was all evil for a while, but then he came back with a score to settle and shot oh so many aliens with his bow and arrow skills.  Maria Hill was cool too, and way more hardcore than I thought Robin Scherbatsky could be.  They were all fantastic additions to the Marvel movie universe.

But then there’s the Hulk.  You guys, the Hulk was the GREATEST!!  Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner was so laid back/silently rage filled the whole time, was cracking jokes with the best of them, and just generally fit right in with the affable big guns we loved already.  And then he Hulked out and it was AMAZING.  The Thor/Hulk fight was crazy fun, but in that final battle at the end it was ALL about the Hulk.  I don’t think I’ve EVER heard a theatre erupt like it did today when Hulk grabbed Loki and smashed him on the floor over and over and over… it might have been the best thing I’ve ever seen on the big screen EVER.  And everybody was LOVING it.  Ditto the Hulk punching Thor after they took down the alien snake.  He was great comic relief, but he also busted up the aliens SO fantastically.  Arrows and repulsor rays and hammers are fun and all, but nothing’s better than getting in there and manhandling bad guys.  I NEVER thought the Hulk would be the best part of this movie, and he was by far.

On top of all the characters being cooler than they’ve ever been before, The Avengers was a big step up stylistically as well.  The Marvel movies have all had a similar structure and tone, and it had become a bit formulaic.  Something crazy would happen, creating the hero, the hero would have fun hijinks for a while, things would get more serious, and then it would end with a big battle.  All of the movies were great, but that wasn’t really going to work for The Avengers.

Instead of the usual structure, they opted with wall to wall insanity, constantly building and building the chaos.  Sure, it ended with a huge battle, but there were like FIVE battles before that there were comparable to or bigger than the grand finale battles from the other films.  The SHIELD base got blown up, they fought Loki, they all fought each other escorting Loki back, the helicarrier got attacked and THEN the aliens arrived and it was crazier than everything before combined!!!  All the while being hilarious and endearing and fun, and building the plot beautifully, as well as maintaining the original tone that was so key to making the originals movies such successes.

Because here’s the thing about the Avengers: They’re all a lot of fun.  As Fury and his cohorts assembled the team, I thought for a second “This is a bit of a slow build” (and “Why is Thor last? He’s my favourite!”), but then I realized I didn’t care because all of the characters are such a good time on their own.  They don’t have to be battling fiendish gods or invading alien hordes.  They can just sit around and chat and make jokes and it’s ridiculously fun.  The superhero insanity was awesome, but the characters are just so enjoyable.  If The Avengers 2 was a two hour extended cut of the after credits scene of the team eating shawarma, I’d still go see it.  They’re just fun to be around, explosions and punching aside.

Finally, I’m super impressed with Joss Whedon.  Don’t crucify me, but I’m not a huge Whedon guy.  I really love Astonishing X-Men, but Buffy and Firefly/Serenity and all of that really isn’t my scene.  He’s got geek cred up the wazoo, but The Avengers was far and away the biggest thing he’s ever done.  And he KILLED it.  He maintained the feel of the original movies while adding his own style to the mix, and juggled a lot of characters, a lot of plot, and an insane amount of action with a remarkable level of finesse.  The movie never dragged, nor did it short change any of the characters or become too chaotic to follow.  It was quite a directorial feat all around, and it sort of makes me ill that he never got to make a Wonder Woman movie.  Imagine the awesomeness of The Avengers, but with Wonder Woman instead… how great would that be??!!

So yeah, I LOVED it.  But let’s not be sycophantic… there must be something to critique.  Well, I’m pretty bummed about Agent Coulson.  And I didn’t like Thor without sleeves.  He looked silly.  That’s about it.  Other than that, it was such a good time!!  It was epic superhero fun with an amazing ensemble, though really it’s worth seeing just for that Hulk vs. Loki scene.  Seriously, that might be the best thing I’ve EVER seen.

Super Bowl Thor And Captain America Trailers

February 7, 2011

Once the Patriots are eliminated, my Super Bowl focus turns towards the commercials, specifically the trailers, and the two trailers Marvel put out tonight were super fun!!  First up was the Thor trailer… it included some shots we haven’t seen yet, which is sweet:

I was the only one at the Super Bowl party who exclaimed “FROST GIANT?!” at the end of the trailer, and I got a roomful of odd looks.  At second glance, though, that creature looks more like a troll than a frost giant.  Maybe that’s why I got all the odd looks… everyone was thinking “Dude, that looks more like a troll to me”, not “What is that nerd talking about?”  That’s probably definitely what happened.

Next up was the first trailer EVER for Captain America: The First Avenger, which looks REALLY cool:

It was very quickly cut, but we got quick shots of the shield in action, Cap kicking some ass, and a glance at the Red Skull… I think I saw a glimpse of Bucky in there too.  I really hope Marvel comes out with a full trailer soon.  I liked what I saw tonight, and now I’m jonesing for more!!

For some reason, Warner Bros. didn’t buy commercial time for Green Lantern.  I think it would’ve been smart to do so, what with Thor and Captain America there.  Anywhere those two movies are going to be, you’d think that Warner Bros. would want Green Lantern in the mix too, lest they hog the spotlight.  Regardless, the two Marvel trailers were great!!  This summer is going to be epic!!

A Book Look: Golden Age Heroics

December 6, 2010

Wonder Woman has always been different, even from the very start.  Yeah, she’s a woman in a pantheon of male superheroes, but there’s more than that.  There is an inherent optimism to Wonder Woman that is unmatched throughout comicdom.  Most of her well known colleagues are orphans with issues (Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Spider-Man, etc), but Wonder Woman is a together sort of superhero.

This difference was most stark at the dawn of the superhero genre, way back in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  Many early superheroes were vigilante rebels and cold-hearted warriors.  Unlike today, when superheroes rarely kill their foes (and when they do, it’s usually unintentional and they feel AWFUL about it afterward for unnecessarily long story arcs), death was a common fate for villains at the beginning of the Golden Age.  Superheroes who we today consider bastions of strong moral character are almost unrecognizable in their earliest incarnations.

Superman wasn’t much of a killer, but he certainly wasn’t afraid to threaten bad guys with death.  Look at him here in Action Comics #2, having a pleasant conversation with a nefarious character:

That panel is sort of hard to read, so here is the relevant text: “You see how effortlessly I crush this bar of iron in my hand? — That bar could just as easily be your neck!”  In the next panel, Superman has even more kindly words for his friend:

Here Superman informs the man that if he doesn’t leave town on that ship, “I swear I’ll follow you to whatever hole you hide in and tear out your cruel heart with my bare hands!”  So much for the Boy Scout we know and love today.

Captain America is another stalwart hero who is generally considered to be an upstanding guy, but here he is in Captain America Comics #1:

Instead of stopping a man from committing suicide, Cap stands idly by while he rolls over onto a needle full of poison and kills himself.  Again, this is not the sort of behaviour we associate with our heroes.

Today, Batman can be menacing and overly physical, but he is staunchly against taking the life of others.  Case in point: The Joker is still alive!!  If Batman was ever going to kill anyone, he’d off the Joker, yet the Joker remains alive.  But here is Batman in Detective Comics #27, his first appearance:

A strong punch from Batman sends the gun-toting villain into a vat of acid.  An accident?  Perhaps.  But there were A LOT of such “accidents” in early Batman stories.  Plus, look at the next panel:

He doesn’t seem terribly concerned with just killing a dude. 

Golden Age superheroes were a different breed early on.  They’d soon settle down, start to work with authorities, and adhere to stringent moral codes, but when Wonder Woman first appeared in 1941, this cruelty and disregard for human life was the norm.  But Wonder Woman was different.  Wonder Woman was created to be a new sort of crimefighter, one who embodied love and peace.  Consider how she deals with a would-be assassin in Wonder Woman #1:

Wonder Woman doesn’t just not kill her attacker, she actually saves her life!!  In the panels that follow, Wonder Woman takes the time to learn about her assailant and why she is involved in a life of crime, ultimately helping the woman out of her unfortunate circumstances.

It’s no accident that the original Wonder Woman was so different from her peers.  Her creator, William Moulton Marston, intentionally crafted her to be a counter to the harsh, violent male superheroes crowding the newsstands.  As to why he did so, well, this is just a peek at my book… I can’t give it all away.  But hopefully you will be able to read all about it soon!!


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