Tag Archives: Iron Man 3

Letting Boys Cry

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One of the first things Yuri Katsuki does onscreen is cry. His establishing character moment is him weeping uncontrollably in a bathroom, the picture of vulnerability and hopelessness, after doing badly at the Grand Prix. And he doesn’t stop crying, either—his tears, and his anxiety, return time and again over the series, and while he eventually learns to handle this anxiety as his confidence is nurtured, the narrative never really presents this emotion and his expression of it as a bad thing or a weakness. Yuri is a highly expressive, emotional young man, and the show he’s in lets him be that. And that’s quite a rare thing to see in fiction, let alone from the protagonist of a sports anime—surely one of the most manly genres out there, given that they’re all about feats of physical prowess!

It seems paradoxical to have the protagonist of something in the action genre—be it sports or superheroes—cry, because crying is, well, such a non-masculine and non-heroic trait. Journalist Ben Blatt recently released the findings of a study on word use in books, which found that, among other things, women were commonly described as “sobbing” but men almost never were, especially when the novel in question was written by a man. The study suggests that “Male authors seem, consciously or not, to hold that if ‘real men don’t cry,’ then ‘fictional men don’t sob’.”

And yet there’s Yuri, sobbing—and not the only man to do so in that show either. Granted, a lot of Yuri!!! on Ice plays with and strays from what we would consider “manly” (dancing, themes of love, throwing away strict conventions of gender presentation with Viktor’s long hair and flower crowns, etc.), but this departure from gendered expectations is still worth noting. Usually, the perception is that boys don’t cry. Crying is a sissy thing to do, an unmanly thing to do, a girly thing to do, and society says the accepted and desirable alternative is to bottle up your feelings or project them outwards onto other people. This is one of the neatest examples of toxic masculinity you can find: being emotional is somehow feminine, and, of course, that that makes it bad.

Head to Lady Geek Girl and Friends for the full article!

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Marvels of Marvel: Iron Man

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(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

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