My friend and I came out of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 convinced that the Infinity Wars movies, and the big Avengers/Guardians crossover therein, were mostly going to consist of Tony Stark and Peter Quill trying to out-Daddy-Issue each other. As well as both having facial hair and a penchant for roguish one-liners, the two heroes have a few things in common, most notably their parental situation: like Tony, Peter Quill has a complicated and at times antagonistic relationship with his father that forms the emotional core of a whole movie, and a sense of wistful mourning for his mother, who was sweet, kind, and only shows up in a few scenes. She’s also dead due to circumstances that were in no way her fault, so they can bond over that as well. At this point, maybe Thor can chime in too, perhaps initiating a group hug, since he also has a complicated relationship with his main-character dad and grieves over his good and nurturing dead mum. Jeez, is Infinity Wars just going to be one big session of father-related angst and mother-related mourning?
Fridge a kind mother and elevate a father to main character status once, Marvel, and that’s shame on you. Fridge a kind mother and elevate a father twice, still shame on you. Do this three times for three different superheroes and it’s officially a pattern. What exactly is going on here, and why does it annoy me so much?
Head to Lady Geek Girl & Friends for the full post!
(You all thought I’d forgotten about these, didn’t you?)
There’s a running joke I’ve seen in the MCU fandom: why are the Iron Man sequels simply Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3 as opposed to having subtitles like Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Thor: The Dark World? Well, because that would imply they were about something other than Iron Man. This speaks of an understanding of Tony Stark’s narcissism (as if he has reached through the fourth wall, tapped an executive on the shoulder and demanded full billing) but is also true, in a way: of all the MCU line-up so far, the Iron Man movies function the best as movies about a person.
Maybe this was why they were so successful, and kicked off the franchise properly—they serve as a good character study, of a character some of us knew already and others were being introduced to for the first time. There are plenty of explosions and robots in the mix too, of course, but what we want at the heart of our stories are characters to follow and peer at. That’s why Iron Man 3 happened even after Iron Man 2 was complained about so much: we still wanted more Tony Stark. Even if the story around him is a cluster-mess, it’s the hero behind the mask at the centrepoint of all the madness that we’re really interested in, and everything else is secondary to a certain degree.
Whether it’s due to writing or directing or the timeless magic that is Robert Downer Jr. I do not know, but Tony is by far the most compelling character in the Avengers and Co, possibly because we’re given a full look into his messy mind and get to watch it and the human attached progress through a character arc. Tony is not the same man at the end of the third movie as he is at the start of the first, and all along the way he’s consistently flawed and believable. Which may sound funny considering he’s the “charming genius billionaire” fantasy in human form with a snazzy beard stuck on. But they start with that and they take it down, bit by bit, until we see what Tony’s really made of underneath all that. Which the suit is a lovely metaphor for, come to think of it. Continue reading
For the love of God, someone send Nick Fury after Sherlock Holmes.
What are you smirking about, you life ruiner
I have no problem with characters that are terrible, or even just irritating, people. Lots of characters that I enjoy immensely in fiction are people I would either outright avoid or attempt to sucker punch if I met them in real life. It’s why I love villains, and antiheroes, and made-up people whose diabolical behaviour, snark and flaws I can study in a detached sense. But only to a certain point, and that point is where these characters start actually getting called, as they say, on their crap.
When a villain or antagonist acts awfully, we know it’s not alright because they’re portrayed as the villain and (hopefully and presumably) defeated or at least confronted by the hero or protagonist. Their blatant assholery or people manipulation or flat-out evil is pointed out as a bad thing and within the story world it’s brought to justice. The problem arises when these negative traits appear in the heroes of a story, and the story then goes ahead to treat this bad behaviour as, sub-textually or otherwise, the morally right thing. Protagonists will be rude or downright horrid to other characters, make a mess of things and act, whether in sweeping gestures or in everyday circumstances, in ways that we as members of a polite society are pretty sure we shouldn’t if we want to be accepted and not spurned, or at least complained about when we can’t hear.
Yet, these characters will go on like this undeterred because they make up for their behaviour by doing things no other character can do with whatever main character power-up they have, and thus they’re never (or at least very rarely) reprimanded for the things they do, in more ways than one. If the other characters just brush it off, it’s cemented as an okay thing to do in-world, and from a meta perspective, this character is still being portrayed as the hero of the story for all their awfulness, and thus the message being beamed to the audience is that this is the right and proper thing. And that makes me grind my teeth. Continue reading