Thursday, May 31, 2012

Seven Small Things in The Avengers That Aren’t Actually That Small

Oh look, my last Marvel Movieverse post. Links to my posts on the other five are at the bottom of this post.

The Avengers

This being the crossover movie to end all crossover movies, I want to take a look at some of my favorite tinier moments from this film that I, at least, have not seen talked about (much) in other reviews (not that I’m reading other reviews. I already know it’s good).

Obviously, this post is for people who have seen the movie. I don’t particularly care if you read this when you haven’t seen it, but there are spoilers, first off, and secondly, since these aren’t things you could have seen in the trailers, it probably won’t make sense to you. But do what you want, bros.

1. Loki getting into the back of the S.H.I.E.L.D. truck.

I just want to point this out because I think it's hilarious. I don't have any intense character insights about this moment, other than how much it illustrates the fact that Loki totally does not fit in on this planet. I mean, he shows up looking like a crack addict in withdrawal, kills a bunch of people, brainwashes some of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s best, and then he sort of lets Hawkeye lead their escape. So I imagine when he walks out to those cars with them, he's thinking something along the lines of “I have no idea what these things are but I guess I have to ride in one.” And then the way he gets in the truck is just so wonderfully awkward. It’s only a split second thing, but I laugh every time. Once he’s in they show him gripping onto the side, like he’s holding on for dear life because he's never been in one of these things before and he's Loki of Asgard and he has an image to maintain, here, and he definitely can’t look like he has no clue what’s going on with these mechanical contraptions mortals use. And then the whole chase sequence after that where he’s apparently regained some confidence about this truck situation and is standing up in the back of it like he's directing a chariot or something is so great to me and just, I have such an appreciation for Tom Hiddleston in this movie, and I know he's enough of a geek to have given this much thought to these tiny little decisions.

2. Agent Coulson telling the soldiers to leave the boxes of weapons as the S.H.I.E.L.D. base is about to collapse.

This is one of many moments in this movie that demonstrates how awesome Agent Coulson is. We saw earlier the conversation between Agent Maria Hill and Nick Fury, where he tells her to make sure they get the weapons out. The weapons are a priority, to Fury, more than just purely evacuating everyone. But when it comes down to saving lives, Coulson makes the right decision – the people matter so much more than the fancy weapons they were developing, and thanks to him telling them to leave them and go, those soldiers don’t get caught in the wreckage. I think this – and most of his decisions in this movie – can be traced back to the fact that he looks up to Captain America as much as he does. Cap is his hero. Cap, the embodiment of self-sacrifice, a soldier willing to give everything up to save the world. Coulson’s not a superhero, he doesn’t have any powers – but he doesn’t run away from a fight. He is willing to lay it all down to make sure the Avengers will all still be there to win the final battle. And that’s exactly what he does. (That said, he is totally not dead, and it’s not just me being in denial. No body, no death. Plus, it’s comics. They’re movies, but they’re still comics. And nobody stays dead in comics. And in the words of Tony Stark, “there’s a lot of things Fury doesn’t tell you.”)

3. Bruce Banner’s wardrobe.

When Natasha picks him up in Calcutta, he hasn’t had an incident in over a year. For the most part, he’s doing pretty well, at least where hulking out is concerned. But even then, with the tight lid he has on it, he’s still wearing these baggy clothes that don’t fit him. It’s especially noticeable when he first shows up on the helicarrier and he’s bumbling around… those clothes do not fit him. They’re a representation of how uncomfortable he feels in his own skin. Baggy clothes are probably for practical reasons – Bruce is probably hoping that if The Other Guy does show up he’ll maybe be able to stay somewhat dressed for at least a while. He knows he can’t trust his own body to stay under his control and that is an inevitability that he is always planning for. But it’s also a sign, I think, of how insecure he is and the fact that he actually sort of… hates himself. He hates what’s inside him, what The Other Guy is capable of. It’s depressing.

Which is why what Tony does for him is so great. I talked about this in my post about The Incredible Hulk, but Tony does really help Bruce come to the conclusion that he can turn his curse into a gift. And at the end of this movie, when these two dudes get into a sports car to go off and do some Science together, Bruce isn’t just wearing clothes that fit him. He’s wearing a bright yellow shirt and some khaki slacks that fit him perfectly. I mean, Tony probably got them tailored for him, let’s be real, here. The yellow shirt is my favorite, because up ‘til then Bruce’s shirt of choice was purple. Undoubtedly that was to call back to what Hulk wears in the comics, but the yellow shirt – yellow being on the polar opposite side of the color wheel from purple – perfectly illustrates Bruce’s 180. And I love it. Bravo, costume designers.

4. Tony offering to fly Coulson to Portland to visit the cellist.

I had to see this movie three times before I saw that this moment even happened. My initial reaction was “wow, Tony Stark using his excessive wealth to make someone else happy, wow, he actually noticed something personal about someone and is trying to be nice just for the sake of being nice.” I still think that, though I’m trying not to let my cynicism about Tony get too embedded here and avoid going off on a rant about how the only reason he even noticed anything about Coulson’s actual life is because Pepper did first. We all already know that Pepper makes him a better person. It’s a journey Tony is still taking, and I think this little moment was a huge step for him. I love that Coulson is embarrassed, like – “okay, I get it, yes, thank you, okay, can we go fight bad guys now” – but you know he’s flattered and probably grateful. And really surprised, too, given how the two of them left things in Iron Man 2. (Remember how Tony was using Cap’s old shield to level off the thing he was making? I bet that infuriated Coulson to the point of tears. I am not joking.)

But the fact that Tony is not only starting to notice the so-called “little people” more is part of the reason he’s more likable for me in this movie. That and the whole “sacrificing himself to blow up some aliens” thing, but that I think can be directly correlated to the argument he had with Steve, which hadn’t happened at the point of the Portland conversation. Maybe this moment was intended to add more padding to Coulson as a character, and I think it does, but personally, I think Tony needs to be shown as empathetic more than Coulson needs to be shown as having a life that would suck to lose. Coulson does enough of that on his own, in this movie. Getting to work with and hang out around Captain America? Dude’s living his childhood dream. So he has a love interest that moved away – so what? People can have fulfilling lives without those, so for me that moment does a lot more for Tony’s character development than anything else.

5. Natasha is terrified of the Hulk.

So, here’s the thing. Lots of people use Natasha’s fear of the Hulk as an excuse to call her weak and useless. That is categorically untrue, if you actually watch her in any of the other scenes she has in this movie. Like when she tricks Loki, professional trickster, into revealing his plan. Or like when she rescues Clint from Loki’s brainwashing by beating him in hand to hand combat. Or like when she hitches a ride on an alien air scooter to go take down the portal. Which she then closes. And not to even mention her entire introductory scene where she manhandles a bunch of Russian arms dealers in some pantyhose. This lady is pretty fearless. Which is why it’s so interesting to me that she’s so scared of the Hulk.

It’s completely logical to be scared of him, of course. He’s pretty much unstoppable, and as highly trained as she is, there’s no way she can take him down. But what I find fascinating is the fact that they have her playing it like Hulk is the only thing she’s afraid of. She barely blinks at Loki and his very real threats, she takes down all these giant alien monsters like it’s no big deal, but the Hulk leaves her curled up on the ground, shaking. I really, really want to know why that is. What does he remind her of? There has to be a story there. And I hope that story is in the Black Widow prequel I am desperately in need of.

6. Thor can't pick up the hammer right away after he falls out of the helicarrier.

Huh – look at that. He’s not as immortal or indestructible as everyone thought. You know, this type of little moment is basically what I thought Thor was lacking. Specifically, actual character things involving Thor coming to understand himself and the world(s) he spends his time in. In that movie he sacrifices himself, but that was when he was just a really strong dude. He didn’t have the magical powers bestowed upon him by the hammer when he did that. Here, after he gets dropped out of the sky by his brother (ugh, that moment between them right before Loki presses the button, ugh heartbreaking), he still has his hammer, he still has all his powers and his strength… but he still finds himself weakened. He reaches for the hammer and it doesn’t leap up to meet him. Not right away. That moment, for me, is when he learns that he is not actually invincible. Hooray for character development!

7. "Sentiment."

The first time I saw this movie, I thought Loki was saying this about Thor. He’s not.

Loki and Thor are battling on top of Stark Tower, and Thor keeps begging him to stop it, to close the portal, to fight alongside him, to come home with him, and Loki takes advantage of one of these moments to stab his brother with a knife. The very same knives we saw him being utterly lethal with in Thor. He knows how to use those. He knows how to kill Frost Giants with them, and killing someone like Thor who is standing right in front of him would be so easy. But instead of going for the throat or the heart, he just stabs Thor in the side. Almost uselessly. It gets Thor to let go of him for a second, but after that it’s like it never happened. And so when he says, “Sentiment,” he’s talking about himself. He can’t kill Thor. He can’t do that to his brother, no matter what. He still loves him.

That’s Loki’s “weakness”: His love for his family. Whatever else he says or does, he just can’t cut that out of his heart.

I do think there’s a chance that he’ll be redeemed somewhat in Thor 2. I don’t think it’ll be a full redemption, and I don’t know if he’ll ever get one of those. But that one word (and ugh, the delivery of it) is proof enough for me that it is possible.

"What I find fascinating about [Loki] is that underneath all of his megalomania, ego, arrogance, jealousy and vanity is a wounded child, it seems to me. He is jealous of Thor, he is lost and damaged. I basically had to start there and build everything else around it to build the layers of how he is a character with a broken heart, and a broken heart that's hardened and is behind this shell of rage and destructiveness, basically."
-Tom Hiddleston (who I apparently can’t stop talking about in this post, but whatever, no regrets)

In my perfect world, Thor 2 would be called Thor 2: The Trial of Loki and would focus entirely on that, with lots of flashbacks and backstory about Asgard and all the adventures they had before Loki went bad… but that’s not going to happen. Some trial scenes would be glorious though, and since it has been announced that there’s going to be another villain besides Loki in that movie, I’d really like to see him team up with Thor to fight him, just for a little while, because doing so would be in both of their interests for some reason. (I don’t want to write Thor 2, I want to be friends with the person in charge of writing Thor 2 so I can tell them to do all these things and not have to do any of the actual work.)

I love this movie. You should see it. The fact that Marvel was ambitious enough to make all of these movies and set them in the same universe, and then make a movie with all of their superheroes fighting together, and the fact that they’re going to make movies like Captain America 2 and Thor 2 and Iron Man 3 and then do another Avengers movie… is seriously magnificent, in my opinion. It helps that all the actors and writers and directors they get to work on them are all so ridiculously talented. So while this post is the last Marvel post for now, there’s going to be at least a few more in the future.


Iron Man“Let’s face it, this is not the worst thing you’ve caught me doing.”
The Incredible Hulk“And Hulk? Smash.”
Iron Man 2“There's only 8,011 things that I really need to talk to you about.”
ThorNo More Than Another Stolen Relic
Captain America: The First Avenger“Is this a test?”

Monday, May 28, 2012

Writing is Hard.

I’m trying to be a real writer again/for the first time. And it’s hard. Look how many times I started this thing over.

writing

And I still feel all "ehhh" about it. I blurred it all out so you can’t read the things I wrote and promptly hated and X’d out, but each paragraph is a new start because I am a failure and will never amount to anything because I can’t even finish a sentence I like much less an actual book. Etc.

On top of being a terrible writer, I’m also a terrible procrastinator. For example, instead of actually working on something creative right now, I am writing this blog post. I’m telling myself that blogging is still writing so it still counts as work, but we all know that isn’t true. This post isn’t going to win any awards or change anyone’s life. And neither will my book, because I will never finish it. EVERRRRRRR.

All right, so that’s out of my system now. But for real, writing is hard. And scary, somehow. I feel like my time in California had the opposite of the intended effect. I was supposed to feel more creative, being surrounded by other people who loved writing and being creative, but instead I just felt really out of my league and like nothing I wrote was worthwhile (no matter what feedback I got, which was actually largely positive #humblebrag). It’s been almost six months since I left, but I still feel that way. I know it’s stupid, but I haven’t been able to shake it.

And I know all the advice – “just write! Just keep writing and it will all be okay! Somehow!” – but for some reason I’ve been too scared to, and in the last couple weeks since I’ve been trying to face this, I’ve written literally like, four pages. Handwritten. And then as soon as that happened it was instantly deemed too crappy to look at again, ever, and then I didn’t type it up or try to do anything with it because I just hated it, automatically, because it was something I wrote.

I don’t know what the point of this post is. I guess I just needed to vent. So thanks, internet, for existing and allowing me to spew my fears and insecurities into the void. I’m in a rut and it sucks, but hopefully that will get better. In the meantime, I’ll just be over here, watching Midnight in Paris over and over. And over. (AND OVER. Because seriously I just watched it the other day for the first time and it was instantaneously promoted to one of my top five favorite movies of all time.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

“Is this a test?”

I enjoy superheroes. And right now, I am on a ginormous superhero kick, where all I want to do is talk about superheroes. Specifically, the magnificent cinematic achievement that is the Marvel Movieverse. I’m going to be indulging myself on this blog by watching and writing about all the Avengers movies in chronological order and culminating with a post on The Avengers, which I’ve seen three times and love dearly. The focus will be heavy on the character development, because that’s what I care about most.

If you’re not into this, kewl. Nobody’s makin’ you read it, man.

cap
“I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they’re from.”
Boom. End of post.

Okay, not really. I have a lot more to say about this movie about the guy who has become my favorite superhero. Steve Rogers is, to put it simply, the best. He is the only one of the (super powered) Avengers who chose to become what he is. Tony’s arc reactor came from necessity, Bruce’s condition was an accident, Thor was born into it, but Steve volunteered. And he’s not even signing up for the super soldier thing, not initially. He just wants to join the Army. That’s it. He just wants to fight to defend his country. In that, Steve is a hero the way so many real people are heroes.

But then he gets chosen as the guinea pig for Dr. Erskine’s super soldier serum. Not because he’s the best. He can’t do a push-up. He can barely do jumping jacks, which is like the easiest exercise ever. When Steve asks Dr. Erskine why he picked him, this is the answer he gets:
"Because a strong man who has known power all of his life may lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength. And knows compassion. Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing: that you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man."
Boom. End of post.

When I first saw The Avengers I was enraged during that scene where Tony is arguing with him and says “everything special about you came out of a bottle.” No. No. Tony, no. I know that argument was partially due to Loki’s influence screwing with everyone, but no. That is a flat out lie. Specialness is not restricted to whether or not you can build a flying robot suit and then successfully operate it. Specialness is not only attributed to people who have billions of dollars and an insanely high IQ. Cap wouldn’t be who he became if he hadn’t started out special. If he hadn’t been a good man that Dr. Erskine thought was worthy of becoming a super soldier.

All right, so he’s not super flashy. He can’t fly, he’s not a super genius, he can’t control lightning or turn into a giant green smashing monster. He’s old fashioned and kind of a dork. But he knows how to get people to believe in themselves and to work as a team. And most important, in my opinion, is that he understands sacrifice. What it’s like to lay down your life for your country, for your friends, for what you believe is right.

The only other Avenger he can really be compared to is Thor, but they still aren’t the same. Thor is from Asgard – a god, an alien, whatever you want to call him. Steve is human. He represents the very best we can be. And while Thor sort of sacrificed himself for that town when Loki sent the Destroyer there, I don’t see that as the same as what Steve does in this movie. I don’t really think Thor ever thought he was actually going to die. Steve Rogers knew he was going to. There was no other possible outcome. There was no hammer to rescue him. It was just him and the plane with the bombs and the icy water below. And there was no other option. He died to save the world, and he didn’t even think twice about it. It was obvious, to him. The good of the many outweighs the good of the one, no matter how great a man that one is.

That’s the other thing. Captain America’s name seems sort of outdated in today’s world, where a lot of people can be jaded about patriotism. The USA wants everyone to believe we’re this beacon of light in the world, but the reality is so much more complicated. Having a superhero named after that seems a bit… well, old-fashioned. But Cap doesn’t stand for what America is. He stands for what America could be, wants to be, should be. Strives to be. That reflection of humanity’s potential – because that’s really what he is, to me – is something everyone can get behind.

I haven’t been including stuff from the comics in these posts, mainly because I don’t know a ton about them (yet; I’m working on it) but also because the movies really don’t have anything to do with the comics when it comes to plot. It’s a completely different timeline. But one thing that can be taken from the comics when you’re talking about the movies is character. And this moment, this speech from Captain America in Amazing Spider-Man #537, perfectly embodies what he stands for, and I love it so much that I’m going to post it here.

cap

This is a guy who doesn’t run away from a fight, not even when he knows he’s not going to win. He was always like that, even when he was short and scrawny. He doesn’t end up as the default leader of the Avengers because he’s the oldest or because he’s the strongest or even the best fighter. He leads them because the kind of person who refuses to run away, refuses to give up, refuses to back down is the kind of person who is born to lead.

At the end of the movie, Red Skull asks him why he was chosen. Why Dr. Erskine picked him for the serum. He asked, “What makes you so special?” And Steve Rogers says, “Nothing. I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.” The fact that that is his answer, even there, even after everything he’s done, all the fights he’s won and the lives he’s saved, that he still doesn’t find anything special about himself, that he still considers himself just a kid from Brooklyn who’s trying to do the right thing, that is what makes him so special.

My favorite scene in this movie is when he’s still at boot camp, trying his hardest to keep up with everyone else, failing at jumping jacks and push-ups and pretty much everything else. Dr. Erskine is arguing with Colonel Phillips over who should be chosen for the serum. Erskine wants Steve, Phillips wants this guy Hodge, who’s kind of a jerk but isn’t, you know, a toothpick. Phillips throws a dummy grenade into the group of soldiers as they’re working out, trying to prove to the doctor that the guy he picked is the one with the most guts. He shouts “grenade!” and everybody scrambles for cover – everyone except Steve. Scrawny, sickly, asthmatic, skinny Steve Rogers jumps on the grenade without a second thought. He yells at everyone to get back and scrunches up his eyes and waits.

Obviously, the grenade doesn’t go off. It’s a fake. After a few seconds, everyone realizes this and slowly peeks out of their hiding places. Steve just sits up and looks around at everyone, genuinely confused, and goes, “Is this a test?”

Of course it’s a test. Of course Colonel Phillips wouldn’t throw a real grenade into a group of his best soldiers. But that doesn’t occur to Steve at all. It’s instinct for him, to sacrifice himself to save the people around him. He will always put the safety of others ahead of his own. In Steve’s mind, his life is the only one that is expendable. And that’s why people follow him.
"That little guy from Brooklyn who was too dumb not to run away from a fight – I'm following him."
-Bucky Barnes
Boom. End of post.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Okay, Here’s What Happened

My computer died.

photo
My dad performed computer surgery, but it was not successful.

This computer was my college graduation present, so… two years old. I know laptops don’t last forever and all, and that’s fine, but the thing is, it has already died like this. A year ago. It just wouldn’t boot up. All it did was flash the caps lock and scroll lock lights at me. It was about three weeks before our year-long warranty was over, so that worked out fine. We sent it in to HP via the Geek Squad people and we got it back on May 19, 2011 and the problem was fixed. And then it proceeded to work perfectly for another year. And then, on May 21, 2012, it died again. The exact same problem. Only this time it was two days past the warranty we got with the repair. TWO DAYS.

Two. Days. And who were the people who fixed it? HP. I’m not a conspiracy theorist or anything, so I'm not going to come right out and say that this is a conspiracy, but if I were that type of person, I would definitely think this is a conspiracy.

Maybe I have unrealistic expectations, but when this much money is spent on a computer, I want it to like, function correctly. For longer than two years. And I don’t want it to randomly die on me with all my stuff still on it. Computers are supposed to make our lives easier, not completely ruin them.

Anyway, I have a new one now, so soon I will be back to writing movie posts that no one will read. In the meantime, please enjoy a few selections from my new favorite twitter of all time. (For the record, it's not really her.)

nottilda

Saturday, May 19, 2012

No More Than Another Stolen Relic

I enjoy superheroes. And right now, I am on a ginormous superhero kick, where all I want to do is talk about superheroes. Specifically, the magnificent cinematic achievement that is the Marvel Movieverse. I’m going to be indulging myself on this blog by watching and writing about all the Avengers movies in chronological order and culminating with a post on The Avengers, which I’ve seen twice, and love dearly. The focus will be heavy on the character development, because that’s what I care about most.

If you’re not into this, kewl. Nobody’s makin’ you read it, man.


lokithor

First, let me say that Jane is a great character. So is Darcy. I love them. Darcy especially. I love that the comic relief was given to an awesome lady actor for a change and I love that this movie passes the Bechdel Test in literally the first scene. However, I don’t have much to say about them other than this, and I barely even have anything to say about the title character. Because this movie, for me, is really about Loki.

”So I am no more than another stolen relic, locked up here until you might have use of me? You could have told me what I was from the beginning. Why didn’t you? Because I’m the monster parents tell their children about at night?”

I don’t usually go for the villains. That’s not my thing. I have no sympathy anywhere inside me for Draco Malfoy, I’ve never rooted for the Master at all in any time I’ve spent watching Doctor Who and I didn’t care for Zuko at all until he joined up with the rest of Team Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender. I am the Good Guys Or Bust type of fan. But Loki Laufeyson is my one exception.

Loki is such a magnificent and fascinating character. He is the product of his environment, of how he was treated by his family and his entire community growing up. He spent his whole life living in the shadow of his older brother, always feeling overlooked. In one of the first scenes of Thor, Odin is telling his young sons about the history of Asgard, and the most important line of that scene is when he tells them that they were both born to be kings. Imagine hearing that as a kid, thinking at first that maybe there’s a chance your dad might see you as the better brother for the throne… and then seeing Thor get everything handed to him anyway, even though he’s a selfish, brash person who makes decisions without thinking about the consequences.

And then imagine finding out that the reason you spent your whole life being passed over by the family you loved is because they aren’t your original family – you were an abandoned child in the realm of your birth, left to die by parents that didn’t want you and rescued by Odin who thought to use you to bring true peace to Asgard and Jotunheim. Then imagine only finding all of this out after you played a prank, letting some Frost Giants – your true people – into Asgard to mess up your brother’s coronation, “to put off [his] idiotic rule a while longer,” only to see him blunder into Jotunheim and start a war, rendering your father’s intended purpose for your life completely irrelevant. And then imagine being faced with the prospect of living the rest of your life knowing you’re “the monster parents tell their children about at night.” That you are a creature you and everyone in your home has been trained to hate.

I’m not saying Loki isn’t completely misguided in his actions, both in this movie and The Avengers. He absolutely is. He tries to commit genocide against one race and to subjugate and oppress another. But there are very obvious and clear cut reasons why he is the way he is, and equally clear cut ways his particular brand of crazy could have been avoided. Literally everything he does can be traced back to Odin’s failings as a father. Loki is seriously screwed up. (Which is one of the reasons it makes me laugh and roll my eyes when Thor’s like “you’re such a great dad!” at the end of the movie. Yeah, maybe to you, Thor.)

I really have to give credit to the actors playing Thor and Loki (Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, respectively) for portraying these two characters so beautifully. I noticed the first time I saw this movie how willing these brothers were to shed tears over each other as their relationship broke into pieces, and how much it very obviously hurts them both to see what things had come to. This is the main reason Thor’s confrontation with Loki at the end of the movie is my favorite scene. This is the first time we finally see how unhinged Loki has become. And then this line:

“I never wanted the throne. I only ever wanted to be your equal.”

He doesn’t even want to have what Thor has, or will be given. He just wants to be seen as worthy of it. He’s always thought he was more deserving of the throne than Thor, simply because he’s cleverer and more calculating than his brother. And when he finds out he’s actually a child of Laufey, king of the Frost Giants, he comes to the conclusion that it isn’t enough to be the adopted son of Odin. He rightly sees that Odin was never going to make him king over Thor no matter how much sense that would have made, so now he feels like he has to prove himself. After Thor gets banished – which I don’t think initially pleased Loki at all, because he does genuinely love his brother – and when Odin conveniently falls into the Odinsleep, there is an opportunity to be seized. And Loki is nothing if not ambitious. He may not have started out trying to steal the throne, but he isn’t going to say no if it’s handed to him on a platter.

Once he’s got the kingdom of Asgard at his command, he wants to keep it that way. He believes that if he can just keep Thor in his banishment on Midgard, if he slays and therefore rejects his real father Laufey in order to save the father whose approval he so desperately craves, if he slaughters the entire realm of Jotunheim and erases from existence the race of people he was born of – if he can accomplish these things, perhaps Odin will at last see him differently. As “the worthy son.” He’s wrong, of course. Odin’s last words to him are just, “No, Loki.” Thor begs him not to, but when Loki sees that he has failed, that he has disappointed his father, that it was all for naught… he lets himself fall into the abyss of space. And the look on his face when he does that is heartbreaking.

The Loki that tries to take over the Earth in The Avengers is much, much more damaged. His hair has grown out long and greasy, his eyes are sunken and he looks almost ill. He calls the heroes of the movie “lost creatures,” but none are so lost as he is. Honestly, I even think it’s possible that he has gotten himself in over his head, and while I do think he is more than okay with the idea of having his own realm to rule, he also has a boss to placate in the leader of the Chitauri. This is part of the reason I don’t believe he is beyond redemption, but I’m going to save the rest of that conversation for my Avengers movie post.

So up next is Captain America: The First Avenger. You guys, I have been looking forward to writing a post on that movie since I started writing these and I can’t wait to tell you all about why Steve Rogers is the straight up best. Because he is.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Just Take a Look, It’s in a Book…

Remember Myspace? Remember the little survey things? Well, I was obsessed with those in high school, and it was almost impossible for me to resist filling them out. Fast forward to present day and apparently I still can’t resist them. I found this book survey on Laura’s blog (she’s awesome by the way) and since I love books and I love talking about books, I’m going to do it.

These are the rules, because Myspace surveys always have rules:
1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favorite book cover
3. Answer the questions below
4. Tag a few people to pass the Q&A on to: Ummm… Elizabeth. That’s it. Well, and anyone who feels like doing it, obviously. I’m not here to order you around. This is the internet, I have better things to do than give you directions.

Favorite book cover:

creechred_thumb[4]

I haven’t read this book in forever, and I don’t know if I even still have it… I barely remember what it’s about, but I have always adored this cover. Googling it just now turned up a bunch of ugly covers for this same book that replaced this one, which offended me.

What are you reading right now?
A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin. It’s the fourth book in the ASoIaF series, the one the HBO show Game of Thrones is based on. Um… it’s pretty good I guess. I’m getting kind of burned out on this series because I’ve been going through them pretty fast, but since this is the last one of the books that is out in paperback, I’m going to take a break after this one. I don’t want to read a book this long in hardback (or on my Nook) (they’re like a million pages each).

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
Probably some more John Green books, and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, which I’ve read a couple pages of. I’m excited about it.

What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?
I really want to read everything by Jane Austen, but I’ve only managed to get all the way through Pride and Prejudice. I just usually get distracted when I try to read these. I have no excuses. I know I love the stories because I’ve seen so many adaptations of them, so I have no idea what the deal is.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?
I don’t read magazines. The last magazine I brought home was a USA Hockey magazine I found in the kitchen at my old job, and that was over a year ago.

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
I’m going to be nice and not say the Twilight series, even though I hated those books. That answer is too easy, anyway. The real answer is The Magicians by Lev Grossman. I may have dreamed this but I think when I finished reading it, I threw it away. Like, in a trash can. It wasn’t poorly written, and the world the characters moved around in was an interesting one, but I just loathed the characters and the plot so passionately by the end that I just wanted them to be erased from my mind entirely. This review on Amazon seems pretty accurate to me. (Okay, so giving it three stars means it’s not the worst book I’ve ever read… I guess Twilight is my real answer to this question.)

What book seemed really popular but you actually hated?
Uh, Twilight. And relatedly, Fifty Shades of Grey, of which I have read only excerpts.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Read it. Reeeeeeeeead iiiiiiiiiit.

What are your 3 favorite poems?
Any poem of which a recording exists of it being read by Tom Hiddleston. Yep. No shame here. Zero. This right here is what I mean. Here’s another one. And um, yeah. Okay I’m done now.

Where do you usually get your books?
I know I’m supposed to say Tattered Cover for this, because they’re local and independent and all that, but they seriously have a terrible selection. It makes me so sad. I know you can ask them to order something for you, but I don’t want to order it. I want it to just be on the shelves already. The Denver locations are better than the one nearest to me, but… yeah. I usually go to Barnes & Noble, but I regularly pine for the Borders that used to be in Park Meadows Mall.

Where do you usually read your books?
Mainly in bed, but I also like to read while I eat. So, in bed.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
My dad read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings aloud to my sister and me… other than that I just loved reading and I would hide my book under the desk at school and secretly read while the teacher was talking sometimes.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
I don’t remember. Probably Deathly Hallows. I would say The Fault in Our Stars but I wanted to savor that one.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?
I guess I’ve fake read most of the Jane Austen books just because I’ve seen all the movies a billion times each.

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
Not that I can remember, but I do sometimes not buy books even if people have told me they’re good because they have an ugly cover. Also of import is what the font looks like inside. If it’s too big or too spaced out or just looks wrong somehow, I don’t buy it. If it’s something I really want to read I’ll get it for my Nook, where I can change the font and text size myself.

What was your favorite book when you were a child?
Probably The Giver by Lois Lowry.

What book changed your life?
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I first read this as a ninth grader at the start of high school, so I identified with Charlie, since he was also a freshman trying to figure everything out. Then I misplaced my copy of this book in my room somewhere and didn’t find it again until I was a senior, and then I read it again. It was like being on the opposite end of the world from where I was when I first read it, since all of Charlie’s closest friends are seniors. It’s such a good book, but I think if I were to reread it again now I would have too many weird and uncomfortable flashbacks to high school that I just don’t want to revisit. There is a movie coming out though, and I’m cautiously excited about it since Chbosky wrote and directed it.

What is your favorite passage from a book?
I’m not going to quote it here because it’ll give too much away about the story, but it’s on page 272 of The Fault in Our Stars.

Who are your top five favorite authors?
1. John Green
2. Heather McElhatton
3. Margaret Atwood
4. Audrey Niffenegger
5. Nick Hornby

What book has no one heard about but should read?
Oh the Glory of it All by Sean Wilsey. It’s a gorgeously written memoir that I’ve loved for years. Before I read The Fault in Our Stars (no I will not shut up about that one) it was my favorite book of all time. (Now it’s my second favorite.) Another amazing one would be Total Oblivion, More or Less by Alan DeNiro. It will sound insane at first, but trust me, it’s ridiculously good. And I KNOW you’ve never heard of it.

What are your favorite books by a first-time author?
I really loved The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, and of course The Time Traveler’s Wife made me sob like a child.

What 3 books are you an “evangelist” for?
Well, I’ve gotten at least three people to read TFioS since I read it (I’m getting tired of typing it all out). I don’t know if I’ve really campaigned for any other books.   

What is your favorite classic book?
I want to say Sense and Sensibility because that’s my favorite Jane Austen story, but I can’t, because I’m a failure. So I will say Hamlet. I’ve had a soft spot for that play since my fiasco of an 11th grade English class, where we spent literally an entire semester on it. It was probably my favorite semester of high school, actually.

5 other notable mentions?
1. What is the What by Dave Eggers. I know everyone loves his memoir, but I think this is his best book.
2. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. A lot different from TTTW and is about ghosts, which I think freaked people out, but this book is just as beautiful and really underrated.
3. Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single by Heather McElhatton. This is an anti-chick lit book. That is why I love it so. Sometimes I would have to put it down and step away because of how much I was laughing. This is the kind of book I wish I had written. And I just learned there is a sequel to it coming out in October so now I’m very excited.
4. Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card. I don’t love a lot of his newer stuff, but this book was great.
5. The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton. Yes this is a serious one. Granted I haven’t read it since middle school but Elizabeth and I bonded over it the first time we met, so I’m putting it on here and I am not sorry!

Let me know if you’re planning to fill this out, because I definitely want some book recommendations.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"There's only 8,011 things that I really need to talk to you about."

I enjoy superheroes. And right now, I am on a ginormous superhero kick, where all I want to do is talk about superheroes. Specifically, the magnificent cinematic achievement that is the Marvel Movieverse. I’m going to be indulging myself on this blog by watching and writing about all the Avengers movies in chronological order and culminating with a post on The Avengers, which I’ve seen twice, and love dearly. The focus will be heavy on the character development, because that’s what I care about most. 

If you’re not into this, kewl. Nobody’s makin’ you read it, man.

peppertasha_thumb[1]
You know, I really wanted to skip this movie and just go straight to Thor. I have a lot of things to say about Thor. I genuinely love many of the characters in that film. This is not a thing I can say about Iron Man 2. It suffers from the same thing The Incredible Hulk suffers from when it comes to plot. This is the second movie about this character, so how can we up the ante? Well, The Incredible Hulk was the second movie about the Hulk (though we have collectively decided to ignore that fact for the most part) and it has two hulks fighting each other. Iron Man already did the Iron Man vs. another guy in an imitation Iron Man suit, so naturally the only thing Iron Man 2 could do was add about a hundred iron men for Tony to fight. Most of them are drones, but then there’s Rhodey in his War Machine suit and Ivan in his suit with the giant electrical whips… it’s just too much. Everybody starts to look the same after a while.

And… alright, here’s the truth of it: I despise Tony Stark. Yeah, I said it. I’m a Tony Hater. I know there are at least two more of us. He's amusing on occasion, but I cannot get past the arrogance and the pretentious attitude about literally everything. I talked about how selfish he is in the Iron Man post and that hasn't changed at all in this movie. In fact, it has been amplified a thousand times because now everybody knows he's the guy inside the Iron Man suit.

I know, I know – being Iron Man is getting to him. He's drinking a lot. His arc reactor is flipping out and using the suit could kill him. I get it. He’s dying. He has a lot of problems and he’s trying to live it up while he can. But frankly, I don't think that's a great excuse, because he exhibited the same exact behavior before he was held hostage in Afghanistan. He's just a jerk, okay? He might be a jerk for different, deeper reasons now, but he still acts like everything about him. And if it's not, then he makes it about him (see: the year long Stark Expo). He's a dick.

Which is one of the reasons I love both Pepper Potts and Natasha Romanoff (aka the Black Widow) so very, very much. Neither of them have any time for his crap. They approach him in different ways, obviously, but they are both very effective at what they do concerning both Tony and their jobs. They are my favorite part of this movie and the main reason I didn't skip over it.

"All I'm doing is putting out your fires and taking the heat for it."

Pepper Potts is awesome. Tony makes her the CEO of Stark Industries because of this indisputable fact. Oh, and also the fact that she was running the company anyway, while he gets up to idiotic shenanigans. She also knows him better than anybody else. She knows something is wrong, and she's not sure what to do to fix it, but she handles his crazy antics with, for the most part, complete grace and aplomb. Her one weak moment is when she tries to blame Natasha for Tony's behavior, but I can't really fault her for this. Natasha (then going by Natalie) is a stranger, and his acting out does coincide with her appearance, so... I can see how she might come to that conclusion, even if it is reaching. She's just grasping for any explanation she can as to why Tony is going off the deep end, because he won’t give her one.

Tony’s relationship with Pepper is the one constant thing I will always enjoy about his character and his movies. She is the only one who can really reign him in and give him perspective. In The Avengers, it’s at her urging that he concedes to look at the files Agent Coulson (oh, how I love him) brings him on the Loki situation. In this movie, she saves his company from collapsing in on itself while he… collapses in on himself. He loves her. And the only times he gets truly scared are the times when he’s scared for her. This is true in both movies. In Iron Man, when Obadiah steals the arc reactor right out of his chest and leaves him to die, Pepper is the one he’s thinking of the whole time. And she’s the one who saves his life in that situation, because if she hadn’t memorialized his original arc reactor, he would have died. As soon as Rhodey finds him there, the first thing Tony tells him to do is make sure Pepper is safe. In this movie, when Tony and Rhodey think they have defeated Ivan, when Ivan sets off the bombs he has planted in all the drones, Tony’s first instinct is the same: make sure Pepper is out of danger.

Pepper does not romanticize any of his hero stuff. She fell in love with Tony ages ago, I think. I’d also like to think she knew she deserved better, so she didn’t wait around pining for him. She loved him by doing her job to the best of her abilities. She doesn’t allow whatever feelings she has for him to get in the way of her life.

When Tony rescues her from the drone bomb and flies her to safety, her reaction is the best. See:

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Yeah, she’s not loving any of this. She isn’t swooning because her hero just saved her from the fiery clutches of death. She is freaking out because a) her boss just flew her away from a bomb that blew up right where she had just been standing and b) her boss just FLEW HER AWAY from a BOMB that BLEW UP RIGHT WHERE SHE HAD JUST BEEN STANDING. I mean, yeah, this moment turns into a romantic one, but the romantic part for her is when he finally talks to her and acknowledges how much she has meant to him during this totally insane time in his life. They’ve always been able to see each other for who they really are, and that’s why they’re great together. (I still think she deserves better.)

Perhaps the best scene in the movie is when Nick Fury schools Tony in a Dunkin' Donuts booth and literally tells him the world does not revolve around him. That is also the scene where Natasha's true identity is revealed to Tony, and I have to say Nick Fury's glee at Tony's confusion and dismay is pretty wonderful. (Seriously, I could go for a Nick Fury movie. Everyone could.)

"You can either drive yourself home, or I can have you collected."

Natasha's role in this movie isn't a huge one, but she is the first taste we get of what the people who work for S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury are capable of. And she is seriously badass. I honestly really love the moment when Pepper goes to Justin Hammer after Ivan hijacks his Expo presentation and demands to know what's going on. Hammer dismisses her, telling her to go away, and while he's in the process of saying to one of his men that they "need to get these bitches out of here," Natasha throws him down on the table and gets him talking in about two seconds. They could have had Natasha show up alone and throw them around without Pepper, or they could have had them just not waste any time asking politely, but I like that they had Natasha come to Pepper’s defense. I also really liked that Pepper didn’t bat an eyelash at someone who was supposed to be her assistant taking someone down like she’s been doing it for years (remember, at that point Pepper had no idea who Natasha really was). And I loved that they showed the pair of them being underestimated by a man who then immediately paid for it.

Because that's what Natasha does – not only can she more than handle everything that comes her way, she also is an expert at letting herself be judged by her appearance and using what her enemies assume about her against them. This comes out a lot more in The Avengers, but it starts in this movie. The patronizing way Happy talks to her in the boxing ring while she's busy trying to do actual work: "Rule number one, never take your eye off your opponent." Natasha's strategy? Taking advantage of the fact that her opponents' eyes are always on her, and that they don't see what they're actually looking at until it's too late.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say about this movie. Those two ladies are my heroes and I’m really glad they were both in The Avengers. There are also rumors that we might get a Black Widow movie, and if that’s true… oh man. Ohhhhhh man. Yes please. Just yes.

Next up is Thor and I’m going to try really, really hard to just make it one post.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Denver Music Scene: More Than Just The Fray

I usually don’t listen to the radio in the car, but yesterday I did and I was lucky enough to hear live sessions from two amazing Denver bands that I am now wholeheartedly in love with.

The first is Churchill. I have listened to this song about a hundred times since the first time I heard it yesterday.


My favorite part of their live session was when they talked about how they were opening for The Fray at Red Rocks but they still work at Starbucks. I’m pretty sure they’re going to be able to quit their day jobs fairly soon, though.

The second band is The Lumineers. Their whole album is very folksy, and I highly recommend them if you like bands like Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes.


Both of these bands have a bunch of stuff on Spotify, so get thee to your headphones and enjoy. And as always, if you feel like sharing any music recs of your own, please feel free to do so in the comments!

Friday, May 11, 2012

“And Hulk? Smash.”

I enjoy superheroes. And right now, I am on a ginormous superhero kick, where all I want to do is talk about superheroes. Specifically, the magnificent cinematic achievement that is the Marvel Movieverse. I’m going to be indulging myself on this blog by watching and writing about all the Avengers movies in chronological order and culminating with a post on The Avengers, which I’ve seen twice, and love dearly. The focus will be heavy on the character development, because that’s what I care about most. 

If you’re not into this, kewl. Nobody’s makin’ you read it, man.


hulk 1

Spoilers for The Incredible Hulk AND The Avengers ahead, because I don’t want to talk about the Hulk without talking about what he was like in The Avengers. So take note.

My rewatch of this movie to write this post was only my second ever viewing of it, because prior to seeing The Avengers, the Hulk was not high on my list of awesome superheroes. And actually, he still isn't, because I don't know if I want to venture as far as calling the Hulk a "superhero." I do think he is awesome, though. The Avengers changed a lot of people's minds about him, mine included, and that, I think, is a great achievement in and of itself. Especially considering there have been two Hulk movies, the first of which sort of ruined Bruce Banner's reputation with the masses. Joss Whedon and Mark Ruffalo finished the work Edward Norton started and officially made the Hulk cool.

The Hulk is easily the most intellectual of the major Marvel characters, because his greatest strength is also his biggest flaw. Normal people get angry, they can conceal it. Bruce Banner doesn't have that option. The monster is the personification of Banner's anger. It's not just that when he gets pissed, the Hulk comes out and deals with the situation. The Hulk doesn’t exist to protect Banner from whatever makes him angry. The Hulk IS the anger, the rage, the straight up madness inside him.

Bruce Banner, in this film, is not a hero. He's the only future Avenger who spends his entire his prequel movie trying to figure out how to cure himself from the condition that later MAKES him a hero. He doesn't see it as a gift, at all. And he doesn’t hide himself away in Brazil because he’s afraid of the people looking for him, or because he doesn’t want to suffer as an experiment in a government lab somewhere. He’s the flip side of the Tony Stark coin – he’s a genius scientist whose every decision puts others first. He secludes himself away because he knows what he’s capable of doing to other people when he loses control, and because he doesn’t want anyone else to have to go through the same things he goes through on a daily basis thanks to some government experiment trying to replicate what happened to him. He doesn’t want anyone else to be forced to give up what he had to give up. Or to have to live with the knowledge that if he gets just a little too worked up over something, people will actually die.

I’m not the biggest fan of this movie. There are a lot of really great things in it – I love Bruce’s relationship with Betty, for instance, and the way Edward Norton plays Bruce is so vulnerable and perfect. But the plot is just… meh, overall. I don’t think the Hulk is “cool” enough to be able to carry a solo action movie like this one wanted to be. Like, I personally would love to watch a movie just about Bruce Banner’s life in Brazil or British Columbia or Calcutta or wherever he goes, totally focused on how his daily life is affected by his condition. But that’s not exactly lucrative when you’re trying to be on par with a movie like Iron Man. For me, the Hulk fighting an even grosser, more mutilated looking hulk was not particularly enjoyable, which is why I was prepared for the Hulk to be the weaker link in The Avengers. And I could not have been more wrong.

Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner is pretty different from Edward Norton’s. There’s a fairly significant time gap between the end of The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers, so I don’t see his performance as inconsistent with Norton’s incarnation of the character. And you know what? If I had to pick a favorite between the two, I’m going with Ruffalo. Don’t care how unpopular an opinion that is. They’re both great, but Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal was beautifully self-deprecating and dark in a way that I loved. He admits to having attempted suicide. I mean… there are tons of crazy things that happen in the comics, but admissions like that do not typically get thrown into mainstream movies, and it still sort of surprises me that they went there. Obviously, Banner has been in some scary places since his movie, and I really don’t think it’s until he meets Tony Stark that he starts to realize maybe some good can come of his condition. Tony’s friendship with Bruce comes so easy and natural to both of them that it makes perfect sense for the pair of them to drive off into the sunset together at the end of the movie. (A couple of brilliant science geeks with some vacation time and billions of dollars at their disposal, what could go wrong?) (That should be a movie. The Avengers 1.5.)

Ultimately, Tony gets Bruce to see himself as a hero by treating him like one. In The Incredible Hulk, everyone is chasing Bruce to try and study him so they can replicate the results, to try and recreate a super soldier serum that worked once (back in the 40s…). None of them are seeing Bruce as a gifted person anymore – all they want is the monster. Constantly being told that the thing he hates most about himself is all anyone finds valuable about him clearly took its toll. When Tony meets Bruce, the first thing he says to him is how much he admires him as a scientist, instantly recognizing him as a peer. (And considering that the person Tony Stark is most interested in complimenting is himself, it means a lot when he gives praise to the people around him.)

The other thing Tony does for Bruce? He’s not scared of him. Once he even tries to trigger the Hulk to come out – not really the smartest decision when you think about all the people who could have gotten needlessly hurt in that situation, but the fact that Tony is very obviously not afraid of Bruce’s “bad side” helps gives Bruce the ego boost he needs to start accepting himself and using his abilities as a gift instead of only thinking of them as something he needs to cure himself of. Tony is an equal, a guy who’s gone through his own crazy hopeless situations, and he came out on top. He more or less tells Bruce it can work that way for him, too.

In the end, Tony’s the only one who really believes Bruce will show up and help them in the final battle, and that belief is rewarded in a very big (and seriously the most awesome) way, officially making Bruce Banner a hero and a force for good in the Marvel Movieverse.

So yes, those are my Hulk thoughts… he really is one of the cooler things about the new movie. He has a lot of really great and badass moments, which I don’t think can be said for The Incredible Hulk, if only because Bruce was still trying to figure himself out at that point.

Next time I’ll be going on about Iron Man 2, and then finally I will be done talking about Tony Stark for a couple posts. Thank God. That guy makes me tired.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Little Gentleman

Sometimes I just can’t deal with how cute he is.

leoooooooo

Just look at him oh my goodness. I just want to scoop him up. And I do. Frequently. /gratuitous cat post

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

“Let's face it, this is not the worst thing you've caught me doing.”

I enjoy superheroes. And right now, I am on a ginormous superhero kick, where all I want to do is talk about superheroes. Specifically, the magnificent cinematic achievement that is the Marvel Movieverse. I’m going to be indulging myself on this blog by watching and writing about all the Avengers movies in chronological order and culminating with a post on The Avengers, which I’ve seen twice, and love dearly. The focus will be heavy on the character development, because that’s what I care about most. 

If you’re not into this, kewl. Nobody’s makin’ you read it, man.


iron man imdb

Spoilers for a four year old movie ahead – also a teeny hint of one for The Avengers, but nothing major.

Tony Stark is such a douche. Seriously. His personality is kind of overwhelming, and in the beginning of this movie he's channeling that into all the wrong areas. He's selfish and immature and drunk on himself. But he's also passionate, and when he comes back from being captive in Afghanistan, he is a man convicted. His first press conference is one of my favorite scenes in this movie, because isn't that something we all wish would happen in reality? The head of a high profile company realizing the damage they've done to the world and immediately seeking to rectify that.

What interests me most about that scene, however, is that this act is still an incredibly selfish one. Tony is all hopped up on his newfound idealism, believing he is doing the right thing by stopping his weapons company from creating weapons, but it's never so simple as just saying the words and willing it into reality. And the language he uses in his explanation is focused on himself as well –

"I had my eyes opened. I came to realize I have more to offer this world than just making things that blow up, and that is why, effective immediately, I am shutting down the weapons manufacturing division of Stark Industries until such a time as I can decide what the future of this company will be, what direction it should take, one that I am comfortable with and is consistent with the highest good for this country..."

Tony Stark is the most developed character in the Marvel Movieverse so far, simply because he's had two movies all to himself instead of just one. It would be boring if all he needed was one movie to reach some kind of "self-actualization," where one transformation is all he requires to go through to become a true champion for good. Tony's captivity vastly changes him, as it would anyone, but at this point he is still looking out for #1. I'm not comfortable with what this company is doing. I have more to offer the world. I'm in charge here and I know best. And he does – after all, it's still his movie, his adventure, and he is ultimately making the right decision. Of course it all works out okay. But the way he speaks about decisions involving an entire company made up of thousands of people, going all the way down to the janitor who sweeps out his office, is kind of troubling. He’s not thinking about them, because how Tony Stark feels about things is what matters. “I’m not my company,” he says later on, but here, he’s acting like he is.

I love the Gulmira battle sequence so much. I mean, he blows up a tank. The entire thing is just awesome to watch, and the US military trying to figure out who he is right afterwards is hilarious. I have to give Iron Man credit for defending people who needed him  in a country other than America, because that's pretty rare in superhero movies. And I also don't doubt that Tony was legitimately pissed that this attack happened in Yensin's town using weapons he created. But I still think he’s acting selfishly. A reporter comes up to him with pictures of the weapons in Gulmira and verbally attacks him for it, and he’s rightfully upset. Not only has he been lied to by his company, but his reputation is on the line if those pictures get out… and considering they're in the hands of a journalist? There's a lot in it for him to go and make sure those weapons are destroyed.

"I shouldn't be alive, unless it was for a reason. Maybe I'm crazy, Pepper. I just finally know what I have to do. And I know in my heart that it's right."

It is right. Stopping the production of weapons, taking rather extreme measures to destroy the ones in the field... it's the right call. And this quote right here is what makes Tony not such a dick after all. He might be selfish, he might be concerned about himself and his reputation, but he is sure of his convictions. It's just that this is the first time in his life he's operated as a person driven by more than profit, or the desire to be adored. And he has no experience processing that. The filters in his brain at this point in his development exist to inform him on how any given situation affects and applies to him. The one true exception to this rule is Pepper Potts, but we will be talking more about her and her influence on Tony when we get to Iron Man 2.

At the end of the final battle between Tony and Obadiah Stane, Tony tells Pepper to blow the arc reactor at possible risk to his own life. Pepper even shouts at him, "you'll die!" but still he tells her to push the button, because he knows it is the only thing that will stop Obadiah. This situation is interesting in light of things that come later (specifically, a conversation between Tony and Steve Rogers in The Avengers). In this moment it does seem like Tony is learning how to be selfless, to think of the good of the many over the good of the one (to put it in Star Trek terms). If Obadiah dies, so will all his evil schemes to continue selling weapons to terrorists. On a scale of things worth dying for, "stopping terrorism" is probably listed pretty high. But even now it can be argued that Tony is still trying to preserve his reputation. If he has to die trying to keep Stark Industries from continuing to create weapons, at least he would be remembered and loved as the hero he has spent the movie striving to become.

Ultimately, it doesn't really matter whether he showed true selflessness or not with the arc reactor situation. I think it does show definite progression of character, but the press conference at the end of the film clearly illustrates how far he still has to go to be a real hero. Agent Coulson (oh, how I love him) gives him an alibi, telling him to stick to the story and help everybody cover up his identity as Iron Man... but instead, he tells the whole world who he is. "I am Iron Man." He wants the credit. And while that moment was incredibly badass, it pretty well showcases the fact that he still selfishly craves the adoration of the masses. He’ll put in the work to keep people safe, but he still wants everybody to know exactly what he did and how much he risked to do it.

There’s a lot more to talk about the movieverse incarnation of Tony Stark, but I’m leaving it there for now. Next up is The Incredible Hulk, a movie almost nobody cares about, and yet I am going to write a nice long blog post about it. Don’t worry, I don’t expect anybody to read that either.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pretty Purple Plant

Our back yard is pretty bland, overall. This picture is over a year old, yet it still looks like that, and has looked like that for the entire time we’ve lived in this house (I was ten when we moved in). And actually, it usually looks less interesting than that picture. At least the leaves that fell from neighboring trees added some color.

We do, however, have a lilac bush. And right now, it’s looking pretty nice.

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Even Leo and Pippin got a chance to check it out (though their time investigating it ended when they tried to start eating the flowers).

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There are lots of beautiful blooming trees and bushes around these days… springtime is pretty. However, allergies are not particularly pretty, and I am already preparing myself for the sneezing fits that are probably about to seize me after spending five minutes outside near this plant. Happy spring!

Bonus cat video:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Unpaused

downtown
I was fixing up my About Me page the other day (shameless plug to get you to go look at it) and I realized I never actually wrote a post about moving back to Colorado. There’s… kind of a reason for that, though I was sort of ignoring it and trying not to let it surface so I didn’t have to think about it.

The truth is that I feel like I’ve regressed. You know those times when you’re watching something on the DVR, and you’re also messing around with Twitter or something, and someone links an interesting article so you pause the TV while you read it? And then like half an hour later you look up and see that you still have that show paused? That. My real life is the TV show.

These days I dread going places where I will encounter people who might ask me what I’m currently doing with my life, because then I have to spill my whole story about how I was here, and I had a job, and then I quit that job to go to California, and then I moved back because I didn’t like it and now I’m just another one of the many, many, many unemployed recent college grads living with their parents (NOT in the basement, though). I’m trying to fix that, but so is everyone else. And talking about it makes me uncomfortable, because I always feel judged as a failure. Not necessarily by the person I’m talking to… I have no idea what they’re usually thinking, or that there’s a “usual” thought process for a bunch of different people to have. I guess whenever it comes up, I judge myself for not having everything figured out. Because obviously, I’m the only person on the planet with this problem.

Colorado is my home. I want to build my life here. But until lately, I’ve had no idea how to even start doing this. In high school it was easy – I met people at school, I met people in youth group, and we then proceeded to hang out. College was the same way. It’s different now. Maybe other people meet people at their jobs, but we have already discussed my status there. And anyway, when I did have a job, the majority of those people were not people I would ever choose to hang out with (trust me, you would agree). So that wasn’t really an option.

Not once in any years leading up to this did anyone say to me, “hey, maybe don’t take this orchestrated social life for granted, because it’s going to be almost impossible to find people to hang out with after you graduate!” And okay, maybe it’s only hard for me, but whatever. I know some people just stay in the same group friends from college or even high school, but this has not been my experience. Most of them have moved away and lost touch or just become people I no longer have anything in common with.

I can’t be the only person who joked with their best childhood friends about how “surely we’ll all still be hanging out together when our kids put us in a nursing home!” or something equally overreaching and unrealistic. And I’m sure there are some people who get lucky and find friendship soulmates that they stick with to the end, but this isn’t Dawson’s Creek. This is real life. Hollywood endings are not the norm. And it’s fine. It happens. It’s supposed to happen, even. People change. I changed. I’ve changed a lot.

Anyway… things are starting to feel less lonely lately. First off, I am pretty sure I’ve finally settled on a church. That’s some definite progress. All I wanted to find was a church I wanted to go to more than I wanted to stay home in my pajamas, and I think this one is it. It’s full of people my age and meets at an amusement park. So, yeah.

Secondly, I’ve met some people in similar situations to me where they are looking for people to hang out with. They are also close to my age and not creepy (this is really my only requirement at this point). I feel strange being like “pat me on the back, I made friends!” but seriously. It’s hard. Meeting people just in general is hard. I love my friends that I talk to online, but the reason we talk online is because we’re far away from each other. I do love being alone, but I also really crave community sometimes, just like everybody. I’ve been substituting the online interactions for the “real” thing, and it’s not the same. I’m not by any means saying that online friendships are less “real” than relationships with people you see in person – some of my closest friends I would never have met without the miracle of the internet. Those friendships are not less legitimate because of the tools we used to form them. But there’s a certain satisfied feeling that settles on me after I go out and do things with people, sitting down with them face to face and talking over drinks or food or both. I don’t know if that feeling is called something or if it’s just a kind of nameless comforting social blanket that wraps itself around you when you put forth the effort to encounter people without a computer screen in front of you, but I like it. And I’ve missed it. And I want more of that.

rockbottom
The job thing is… endlessly frustrating. But all I can control is what I put out there, and I am putting myself out there, in more ways than one. Since I’ve been back, I’ve felt like I’ve been treading water, and it’s a relief to finally start feeling rescued. Things aren’t perfect yet and I’m not under any delusions that they ever truly will be, but at least they’re getting better. I’ll take it.