Tags: superheroes

cheers

Lego Batman

Over the weekend Becky and I watched Lego Batman, which is awesome, you guys, AWESOME, super funny. It kicks off with Batman voiceover (in Christian Bale voice, of course) right over the opening - “DC. The house that Batman built,” he intones. “Yeah, what Superman? Come at me bro. I’m your kryptonite.”

Superman, as Batman informs the Joker, is his worst enemy. The Joker is horrified and terribly jealous. “Superman’s not a bad guy!” he cries. Batman can only shrug. “You mean nothing to me,” he tells the Joker, and the Joker’s plastic Lego eyes brim with tears, and it’s at once hilarious and rather sad.

In fact quite a bit of this movie is hilarious and yet rather sad, which is I guess my favorite kind of comedy.

Case in point: Batman’s Epic Brooding. There’s a great sequence near the start where he’s going through the vast and echoing Batcave, up the Batelevator to warm up his lobster thermidor in the microwave and watch a romantic comedy all by himself in his itty bitty personal movie theater, which has proper movie theater seats and everything, and he comes to his favorite line in the movie and looks around as if he wants someone to laugh with… and no one is there.

I think what makes this movie so good is that the filmmakers poke fun at Batman’s excesses, but at the same time you feel that they really do like and feel for the character. They’re making fun of the Grand Emo Trappings of his loneliness, not the loneliness itself.

And they’ve clearly watched every adaptation ever, some with love and some with loving derision. When Batman is getting particularly emo as he stares at a picture of his dead parents (standing, naturally, in front of Crime Alley), Alfred sighs and says, “Sir, I have seen you go through similar phases in 2016 and 2012 and 2008 and 2005 and 1997 and 1995 and 1992 and 1989 and that weird one in 1966,” with a montage of the aforesaid movies, ending with Adam West doing a bizarre Batman dance.

(I kind of adore the 1960s Batman. It’s just so ludicrous and endearing.)

Another highlight - this movie is full of highlights; I really recommend it - Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Robin, the orphan Batman adopts by accident because he’s not paying attention with Dick talks to him at a gala: Dick is all “Do you want to adopt me?” and Bruce Wayne, staring at Barbara Gordon, is all “Yeah yeah sure.”

Naturally Dick moves into Bruce Wayne’s house the very next day, because it’s not like there’s any paperwork or anything when you adopt an orphan. Batman wants to get rid of him, but then he is faced with a mission which would require a small gymnast (which Dick just happens to be!) who is also “110% expendable” - “I don’t know what that means, but sure!” Dick cries, so eager is he for Batman’s approval.

The film’s one flaw is that it is so, so, so heavy-handed with its message. Alfred, Barbara Gordon, and Dick Grayson all repeatedly tell Batman that he needs FAMILY and HUMAN CONNECTION. It’s like the writers confused “Show, don’t tell,” with “Show and tell,” because they show us Batman’s loneliness and then they tell us tell us tell us tell us that he needs to combat it with friendship and love. And then tell us again. Okay, we get it already. Let's get back to the Joker making meta comments on the nature of the Batverse again.

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Winter Soldier

Captain America: Civil War

I saw Captain America: Civil War! I enjoyed it very much, although I think it's less morally sophisticated than perhaps the Russos were hoping for and mostly I am on Team Talk to Each Other, Dumbasses.

Actually I saw it a few days ago, but I have been letting it percolate through my brain before writing about it. I think that everyone in the entire universe saw this movie before I did, but just in case I'm putting Collapse )
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Supergirl

I watched the first few episodes of Supergirl in the fall, missed an episode while I was on a trip, and then never caught up because the show seemed sweet but not stunningly good.

But then I watched the rest of the first half of the season so I could start watching again in January (and then got the episode time wrong and missed it! Like an idiot!), and it's won me over.

In the first few episodes, Kara is a sweet and slightly bumbling girl who is finding her feet as a superhero. And she remains sweet and slightly bumbling and adorably awkward (I love the moment when Cat Grant is all "What planet are you from?" - rhetorically, of course - and Kara is all, "Um...this one?" OH KARA), but in the later episodes, she also gets angry.

When she was thirteen, her planet was destroyed, her whole family was killed, except for her Aunt Astra who's probably evil - except maybe her aunt was trying to save Krypton, and Kara's mother was partially responsible for its destruction - and Kara's been on earth trying to hide her powers for the past ten years and she's angry.

(Now, I strongly suspect that in the end it will turn out that Kara's mother was right and Aunt Astra is tragically misguided, but at the moment it could go either way, and kudos to the writers for making this seem genuinely uncertain.)

Female characters who are really fucking angry are my jam. Veronica Mars, Peggy Carter, Jaye Tyler from Wonderfalls... I think even Mary from Downton Abbey fits this description, which is rather odd; you would expect Sybil to be the angry sister, as she's the activist in the family.

But I think actually that makes Sybil calmer: she knows she doesn't want this to be her life and she has a plan to get out. Whereas Mary is aware that she's not content with things as they are, but her only real plan of escape is maybe marriage, and she seems uneasily aware that it's not a very good plan. She's trapped.

It makes her bitter and petty and mean, and I can see why people dislike that about her - especially because, from what I've heard, she never really grows out of it? But in the first two seasons, I did believe that eventually she would come to terms with what she wants from the world, and become less petty if not, perhaps, less furious.
kitty, Agents of SHIELD

Television Overview, Part 3: Agents of SHIELD

I was going to include Agents of SHIELD in with the other superhero shows, but then I realized that it would utterly overwhelm that post and I’d really rather talk about Agent Carter, anyway (so excited about season 2!), so I’ve separated out my Agents of SHIELD rant here. I’ve tried to keep specific spoilers to a minimum, but it’s still kind of spoilery in general.

I have ranted about this show at length on Tumblr. This post touches on many of its problems, but as long as it is, it still doesn’t cover everything because Agents of SHIELD is a bottomless pit.

SHIELD was always shady, but AoS takes it beyond shady to actually evil. I hate this show for indirectly wrecking Nick Fury for me: he was the one in charge of this shitshow, so either he was an incompetent who didn’t notice all the shit his agents got up to or he thought all of this was perfectly fine. He thought it was all right to resurrect Coulson with a procedure that Coulson believed was so awful that he threatened to resign SHIELD if SHIELD didn’t stop using it, after all.

But this is typical of Agents of SHIELD: the writers don’t get consent at all. This is less visible than it could be because their snafus tend to take place in situations of medical experimentation and/or recruitment by kidnapping, rather than sex, and sex is the situation where most people (at least most people in fandom) generally contemplate the ins and outs of consent most often.

The one episode where the show did fuck up sexual consent is the Lorelei episode, and it’s been justly criticized for its failtasticness. Lorelei the Asgardian mind-controls Ward into having sex with her (and also leading a small army, etc. etc.) and all the characters act like the person most hurt by this is May, because she’s having sex with Ward and I guess the rest of the crew thinks that he betrayed her by having sex with someone else, even though he was, in fact, raped, and didn’t betray her on purpose.

That’s one episode. But this same failure underpins the entire show, and I can’t believe it took me two whole seasons to realize how deep that failure runs, given that season one kicks off with Skye being kidnapped by SHIELD agents, who then hold her captive and indoctrinate her. You could go through the first ten episodes or so and put post-its on all the classic cult indoctrination tactics that they use.

There’s love-bombing, there’s the sharp withdrawal of approval whenever her behavior displeases them, Coulson and May’s penchant for dangling information that she wants in front of her if only she can earn it, the refusal to let her interact with any outsiders (they put a bracelet around her wrist to make sure she can’t use the internet), all culminating in the moment where Skye utterly forsakes her old ideals, having concluded that freedom of information is a childish dream and the world needs SHIELD to protect it from the truth.

By the end of the second season, she’s A-Okay with mind-wiping. In fact, she badgers Coulson into mind-wiping someone, and it’s utterly, utterly typical that they don’t show whether the victim consented to the procedure. It doesn’t seem to occur to the writers that consent would have any bearing on whether or not that procedure was ethical.

New!SHIELD is the worst. It should be killed with fire and nothing would make me happier than having Coulson show up as the villain in a Marvel movie, just so the Avengers can recoil from the nightmare that he has become.

***

Now, you may be asking, “Why the hell did you continue watching this trainwreck for so long?” Two reasons. Well, three reasons. One is that trainwrecks are fascinating in a horrible sort of way.

Another is that I thought the writers were setting new SHIELD up in order to tear it down, the way that the Hydra reveal tore down old SHIELD in season one. More fool me for not realizing that the writers thought the infestation of Hydra agents was the only thing wrong with old SHIELD, not the SHIELD culture of compartmentalization and secretiveness and locking people up without trial that made it easy for them to thrive.

The big reason, though, is Skye and Simmons and Bobbi Morse and May. The show has a large and varied and very shippable cast of female characters (I am particularly partial to Bobbi/Simmons), to whom I became very attached way back before I realized that Agents of SHIELD was careening toward a moral abyss, and I’ve kept watching for them.
kitty, Agents of SHIELD

Television Overview, Part 2: Superhero Shows, Mostly Marvel

And now part 2: superhero shows! I have clearly attempted a lot of superhero shows this year.

Agents of SHIELD should technically also be on this list, but the part about it grew so long that I moved it to its own separate post.

Daredevil. I watched four episodes of this and bombed out of it. In between the time that Matt tortured a Russian guy and tossed him off the roof, and the time that Fisk smashed the other Russian guy’s head in a car door, and the fact that half the cinematography is so dark that I have no idea what’s going on - no. Just not feeling it. Even though there is a scene later in the season where Matt and Foggy cry at each other, apparently.

Jessica Jones. I started watching the first episode of this, but it looks harrowing, everyone tells me it’s harrowing, and I just don’t really feel like being harrowed right now. In between Daredevil and Graceland and Agents of SHIELD, I’ve had my televised harrowing for the year.

Supergirl. I watched the first few episodes of this and then missed an episode because I was on vacation and somehow never felt the need to catch up. Maybe I’ll watch it when it comes out on DVD? I enjoyed it; it just didn’t sweep me off my feet.

(I realize this is shallow, but I think I would be more interested in Supergirl if the show didn’t lean so hard on the “They’re sisters. Sisters!” angle to Kara and Alex’s relationship. They’re not biologically related! They didn’t even meet till they were teenagers! You didn’t have to go and make this potential ship all incestuous, show.)

Agent Carter. HOLY SHIT I LOVE THIS SHOW. I mean, I have my quibbles with it (the SSR makes a habit of beating suspects with large sticks, really?), but they are as nothing in the face of my adoration of Peggy Carter, cranky BAMF with gorgeous hats who defeats her enemies through the brutal use of staplers

I love Peggy, I love Jarvis, I would love to punch Howard Stark in the face (but, like, it would be a punch of exasperated fondness), I love Dottie Underwood and I will probably cry if she does not return in season 2, ALL I WANT IS FOR HER AND PEGGY TO BE NEMESES AND HAVE EPIC FOEYAY OKAY, like seriously, I want the two of them to have to team up to fight a Greater Evil and maybe argue about the merits of communism vs. capitalism, possibly while handcuffed together for Important Plot Reasons -

Okay, that might be devolving into fanfic territory a bit, BUT ON THE OTHER HAND the show did give us Dottie kissing Peggy in order to knock her out with knockout lipstick in season one, so it’s not impossible that the writers have a direct line to my id.
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December Meme, Question #6

poeticknowledge asked: What are the top 10 best films you have seen this year (or in the past year, either one)?

Oh, wow. I actually think that if I listed my top ten films this year, I might end up listing every film I’ve seen, because I haven’t seen that many. I tend to watch more TV than movies, probably because I’m already invested in the characters.

...Okay, I actually went and did a count, and in fact I saw seventeen movies this year, seven of which I already posted about, so this is clearly a providential opportunity to post about the other ten.

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In short, here are my movie recs from the things I watched this year.

For something funny and light, I’d recommend Night at the Museum 3.

For something that will make you sob like a baby even as you delight in its clever world-building, Inside Out. Blackfish is also quite sad, although in a very different way.

For tense and cynical with a tough, complicated heroine, Inside Daisy Clover or Fried Green Tomatoes. (Fried Green Tomatoes also has some delightfully light-hearted and funny moments. Inside Daisy Clover is pretty much 100% intensity, all the time.)

For tense but uplifting (with great scenery), The Martian.

I don’t think I’d anti-rec anything I saw this year, but the others are all flawed in some way that means I wouldn’t rec them unreservedly.
writing

Trickortreatex stories

I wrote a couple very short stories for trickortreatex! Both MCU, because that's just how I roll right now, I guess.

First, A Worthy Foe, about Natasha and Pepper: Pepper confronts Natalie Rushman about her true identity, and the two of them come to a tentative alliance.

Second, Nightmare, which is about post-TWS Bucky watching Steve through his bedroom window like a creeper. Steve has a nightmare. Bucky is concerned.
writing

30 Days of Fandom Meme: Day 9

9 – Pairings – For each of the fandoms from day two, what are your three favorite pairings to write?

Oh dear. For most of these fandoms I’ve only written one or two pairings. I guess I’ll just list the favorites that I have for each fandom, and if that ends up being one or three or five, I guess we’ll just go with that.

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