Wednesday, 2 November 2016

♥♫ "Black Hole Sun" by Ramin Djawadi http://ift.tt/2ewmrsB
Thursday, 11 August 2016
Thoughts on Suicide Squad. I have them. I wish I didn't. I wish I'd had more to drink at the restaurant where I'd gathered with my Ladies Comic Book Night posse to eat drink and be merry prior to invading the movie theatre. But I didn't. And so, instead of appreciating this movie as the fun romp it was intended to be, I continue to discuss where it failed. Where comic book movies in general fail.


Not shown: Slipknot in his red shirt
There are the obvious technical problems, which were to be expected from the moment we started hearing about elements of the film being re-edited and re-shot in response to internet reaction to trailers and rumours and "leaked" footage. Or, as Felix Biederman describes it at The Concourse:
"I suspect the disjointed nature of this movie owes to the fact that it is two separate stories director David Ayer is doing a very half-assed job of trying to present as one. The first is a romance between the Joker and Harley Quinn. This element seems like the result of Jared Leto wanting to make a music video about how badass the Joker is, and Warner Brothers deciding they should build a movie around it using another film they were already shooting, a divorce and morality tale surrounding Will Smith, who must fight powerful monsters with his friends."
I'm so tired of hearing about movies getting this kind of treatment that ultimately results in a disjointed mess hitting our screens. Hate on Josh Trank all you want for his rant about the Fantastic Four he wanted to make versus the movie we got, but that's yet another example of people who don't know sticking their fingers in the soup to tell us what we ought to know and what we should want, without actually understanding any of it. And with more and more superhero comics being plundered by ignorant executives who are only interested in money, things are not going to get better. Not that I expect to see everything from the comics translated to the big screen exactly as they are. That's crazy talk. But I do expect bringing the essence of those characters and stories to be the priority instead of seeing how much shit can be crammed in to sell merchandise and bust box office records.

I'm naïve. Idealistic. I know. Truth is, dressed in my Harley corset and pigtails, I just wanted to see my Harley Quinn up there on the big screen. That's not quite what I got. Not that Margot Robbie was a bad Harley. I loved her. She did a fun job with what she had to work with. But what she had to work with was severely lacking. To be fair, the comics haven't been doing so great a job of dealing with Harley either lately. Her life since her introduction has had many ups and downs. While her sales figures indicate that she's very, very up, I still have ... concerns. Namely, the fact that the Harley that continues to be pushed in our faces is the objectified tits and ass first ditzy version. I have no issue with Harley being sexy or playing dumb. I do have issue when it's the writer and artist's constant go to weapon for a character whose arsenal holds far more than that. Sometimes in the Suicide Squad comics, we get to see the impish Harley, the devious planner, the violent psychopath, the fun-loving friend, and yes, the sexy ditz. It's clear in these pages that she uses any and all of these weapons to control the situation as she sees fit. Because ultimately, she is a brilliant psychiatrist who can analyze her opponents on that level--and can analyze herself and her own issues as well.

But the movie only gives us a limited, two-dimensional focus, all framed within a Joker story. Frankly, I could have done with far less Joker. Establish her origins in terms of how he affected her, sure, but there was no need to bind her to him right up to the finale. The film had a responsibility to show that her relationship with the Joker is an extremely unhealthy one, but it didn't do a good enough job. I understand that the leaked footage of Joker hitting Dr. Quinzel resulted in backlash--which I can agree with--but I am not a big fan of what we got instead in terms of the doctor patient relationship where we see a Dr. Quinzel that has already succumbed to the Joker's charms for no discernible reason, instead of one that showed no transition at all.
Suicide Squad Volume 1: Kicked in the Teeth (2012)
Batman: Mad Love (1994)
But Joker's abuse of Harley has always gone far deeper than physical violence. I like that the film also gave us a Joker that at least regretted not having her around because he needed her (for what?*), but that is dangerous ground for a society that romanticizes unhealthy relationships (50 Shades of Gray), promotes rape fantasies to young (female) audiences (Court of Thorn and Roses), and believes that The Hunger Games had a happy ending just because Katniss got married. This kind of harmful thinking needs to be rooted out, not perpetuated.

What the movie is missing is a Harley -- a Dr. Harleen Quinzel who clearly recognizes that she is in a bad relationship, even as she keeps pining for her abuser. I thought I was going to get that moment on the stairs where she asks Deadshot if he's ever been in love. It was the perfect opportunity to give us this--
Injustice: Gods Among Us Volume 1 (2013)
--even as she continues with her plans to return to her Puddin's waiting arms.

There's a reason why Harley is a popular and divisive character--even before this movie. Many reasons. She is extremely relatable in many ways--particularly relating to her status as an abuse victim. Some might hate her as the victim who keeps going back, because it's very difficult for some to empathize with such a situation--or because it's very ease to hate oneself for doing the very same thing.
Gotham City Sirens Vol.1: Union (2009)
Some might love her because she's the victim who can and finally does fight back.
Harley Quinn #25 (2016)
Harley's story is inextricably linked to the Joker but she doesn't need to be defined by it as she is in the Suicide Squad movie. I know. It's been done before in Birds of Prey:

You can have a Harley that is sexy/uses sex, is a brilliant and powerful crime lord in her own right, and is unpredictable and not to be underestimated--unless she tricks you into doing so because she uses her brain as much as her gymnastic brawl to kick serious ass--even if she does still harbour that unhealthy obsession with the Joker.

Speaking of the Joker. I really need Jared Leto to sit the fuck down. He is not allowed in the Joker Club. Please revoke his membership.

Okay okay. Aside from the alleged craziness that happened during filming, Leto's Joker showed potential, but that was overshadowed by what appeared to be a too obvious need to eclipse Heath Ledger. I got glimpses of Brian Azzarello's Joker that I really liked. “I’m not crazy anymore, just mad,” says that Joker as he reclaims his territory from rival gangs. Azzarello's Joker is still a psychopath, but he is, perhaps, a more mature one. A more subdued one. Perhaps not the kind of Joker a mainstream audience can understand though because Hollywood thinks movie audiences -- particularly summer movie audiences -- are stupid. *But it's a Joker that would have brought something new and interesting, not just to the character, but to the relationship between him and Harley that they seemed to be trying to convey in Suicide Squad. In Joker, Harley never speaks, but her importance to the Joker is clear, going well beyond ditzy play thing and victim. She is a partner that understands; the only person to whom he can reveal weakness.
Joker (2008)
It's still a sick, twisted relationship, but one with, ironically, more balance. Perhaps this is what the film was trying to give us, what with the alleged deleted scenes lying on the cutting room floor. And perhaps we will still see that relationship, now that Hollywood knows they have a winner with Harley Quinn.

My next beef is with Amanda Waller. I don't know the character that well from the comics, but I know well enough of her to know that her reputation as a badass is well deserved. She's had some questionable live action appearances with tragically wasteful results in the recent past, but there was never any doubt that the indomitable Viola Davis could give us The Wall that will stare down and eat The Bat for breakfast.
As with Margot Robbie and Will Smith, Viola Davis owned her character but was ultimately bound by the stupidity of the script. Consider this simple logic: Waller demanded the creation of a squad of deadly convicts to counter a potential evil meta-human--the next Superman. Then, through her own negligence and arrogance, she facilitates the creation of that very threat. I don't expect Waller to be perfect. I expect her arrogance to cause problems. I expect her contingency plans for her contingency plans to sometimes not work out, forcing her to improvise. What I do not expect, is utter incompetence that involves leaving a deadly artifact on her apartment shelf, trusting in loooove to keep the powerful immortal witch in check. Waller's entire concept of entrusting Enchantress' obedience to Rick Flagg's romance with June Moon would not have impressed Professor Annalise Keating one bit. And then she had to practically beg Bruce Wayne to cover her ass? P L E A S E.

Plus, that weird romance really left Flagg with nothing useful to do except threaten to push a kill switch (that the bad guys could have stolen at any time), which is unfortunate, since the original Flagg competently ran field ops with the team for a long time in the original comics. The ideal solution would have been to dump the Flagg/Moon/Enchantress threesome and let The Wall loose. Because not only is she a badass behind the scenes controlling the situation from a command centre, she can handle herself just fine in the field, too.
Justice League
And finally, Enchantress. What a waste. But since apocalyptic showdowns are the new black for comic book movies, we had to have that big bad Waller feared and subsequently created. Only, that's not what a squad of low level meta-humans (some of whom aren't actually meta-humans) can handle. What's Deadshot's going to do against people who can deflect bullets? How will Boomerang's jocularity save the world? I don't like the Joker's over-presence, but had the movie stayed focused on that, then using a team of psycho-criminals to go after psycho-criminals would have made sense. Instead, they faced the end of the world and Enchantress' had to be dialed back in order for this rag tag team to beat her.
After these major complaints, there are the minor ones involving the poorly used Katana, the suddenly friendship is magic! squad bonding, everything about Slipknot, and the obvious attempt to make Boomerang into a subpar Deadpool-like comic relief, complete with stuffed unicorn. As with so many comic book movies these days, there probably was a good movie (or two) left on the cutting room floor, but we shouldn't have to put our hopes on director's cuts to see them.

I also grow tired of the battle between DC and Marvel that causes much of this issue and feeds into their gross marketing campaigns that pit fans against each other, even as the Big 2 pit their own characters against each other in pointless combat. While I did enjoy Captain America: Civil War, It definitely wasn't the Bucky and Cap adventure it was meant to be because the exec types had to stick their two million cents in there in response to Batman v Superman (which wasn't actually about Batman versus Superman).

Simply put, I love comics. I want to share my comics so that everyone loves comics too. I don't give a shit if you prefer DC while I prefer Marvel. I just want to see my faves treated with the respect they deserve by people who aren't necessarily fans of the characters or even comics (though some appreciation for the source material would be nice), but at least can understand what those characters and stories mean to old fans and what they can mean to new ones.
Still, I remain cautiously optimistic for the future. I can't wait for the long overdue Wonder Woman movie, I love what Jason Momoa's Aquaman potentially represents, and Black Panther killed it in Civil War, paving the way for his solo film to give us even more awesome. And through these new films and shows, diversity is slowly becoming reality, though there's still a ways to go to help the ignorant understand why representation matters.

Anyway, despite all its flaws, Suicide Squad was still a fun movie. I'm aware that my deeper criticisms obviously stem from the fact that I know too much about the source material and therefore expected too much (even though I tried to keep my expectations low, as is the standard practice for comic book movies now). It's a Hollywood summer blockbuster that I shouldn't be picking apart because it's meant to be mindless fun. But I guess that's half the problem--the fact that some people still see comics as low brow trashy reads filled with flashy costumes and ridiculous abilities and boobs. Oh there definitely is that, but there's also so much more in these modern myths.
I'd love it if someone could stick all the ignorant execs who keep trying to tell us what we want in a little tiny room and throw away the key. Then we'll get the comic book movies that we deserve. And you know what? Those movies will probably make just as much money, without the critical mess.
Sunday, 7 August 2016

It's been about 18 years since first I set foot on the sparkling streets of San Diego to attend Comic-Con. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then. The first time, I attended on business as part of my work with Fan Expo Canada. This time, I attended as press along with several other members of the Women Write About Comics team. The trip also signified the first time in a long time that I'd been on a real destination vacation, and one on my own, without the family. This meant I could go wild with my girlfriends, and by that I mean heading to Target to shop clearance racks and cast judgmental eyes upon jugged milk and aisles of alcohol and sugary things, wrestling with air mattresses (I lost) and ordering fancy on brand drinks at the Cheesecake Factory. That's right folks, we were all kinds of crazy!

But back to the convention itself. One of the things that impressed me the most was the way the massive event is embraced by the community. The local businesses are going to profit off of us no matter what, but I appreciated that they didn't make us feel like that was our only purpose. When we walked into our hotel, we were greeted by a bat signal shining on the floor and staff dressed in superhero t-shirts (and warm cookies ... love the Double Tree Hilton). Nerd culture is more mainstream now, but there is still that level of ignorance and even disdain that we have to deal with from outsiders. We weren't made to feel like a tolerated inconvenience of weirdness. Instead, even those who don't quite get our ways showed a level of endearment and appreciation that made us feel so welcome.

My trio went our separate ways after grabbing the precious press passes that made this entire trip possible. I headed to the Stone Brewing to try their latest w00tstout at Hop-Con 4.0. Aisha Tyler seemed to be the only famous face present of the promised guest list that was to include Wil and Anne Wheaton, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Connor. Not that I was really interested in celebrity sightings, nor could I hear Tyler over the constant roar of airplanes overhead. I’m also not really a beer drinker, but the food, company, and music by Megaran and Bitforce were great. I also caught a Pikachu and several other rare Pokemon, so all in all, a great start to SDCC for me. 

Thursday was the busiest day for all of us. I started my day with some vampirism at the Robert E. Heinlein Blood Drive. In retrospect, I maybe should not have scheduled blood donation on my busiest day at the convention, but I am very proud of my body for surviving almost the entire day before almost passing out. Many thanks to my roomies, Megan and Kate, and artist Johnnie Christmas for the save and support. 

I got to do some normal convention stuff in between my schedules interviews and meet-ups. Namely, I attended a few panels, which I have never done at any of the major conventions I attend. Either I'm working and am just too busy, or I just haven't made a point of caring. This time, prior to the event, I spent an hour going through the program to find panels of interest. Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts meant I missed several ones that interested me, including a few covering library conventions and Free Comic Book Day, something I plan to bring to my local library), but I did get to attend the Adapting Octavia Butler's Kindred panel, featuring writer, Dr. Damian Duffy, who explained the process that has gone into bringing this incredible author's work to a new format and a new audience. 

After that, I got started on my interviews, the first of which was with David Mack, a creator whose work I have admired for a long time. The opportunity to sit with him and pick his brain about his writing and artistic process was fascinating, especially after having recently read the third volume of his Kabuki collection. 

Thereafter, I met with Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, authors and illustrators of Two Brothers. I jumped at the chance to interview them because their Daytripper had been such an incredible and memorable read for me. Two Brothers is no less powerful and the brothers provided wonderful insight about how this adaptation came to be. A highlight of our interview was having Margaret Atwood interrupt us (how rude!) to introduce a fellow Brazilian to the brothers. I managed to make eye contact and smile with Ms. Atwood as we stood awkwardly across from each other while the three gentlemen conversed. Later I arranged for my fellow editor to interview Ms. Atwood, so that was pretty sweet. 

Another panel after that, this time featuring comic journalists including my very own WWAC Editor-in-Chief, Megan Purdy, speaking on New Comics Journalism. Not a particularly well organized panel, thanks to an ill-prepared moderator, but the panelists held their own well enough. 

SDCC after hours is all about the parties, but first we needed food so we hit the Gaslamp district with our new found posse of fellow industry peeps. We decided to skip our plans to attend the Scholastic party and attend the Comic Book Legal Defense event instead. Turns out the Scholastic party was full of wild librarians and had impressive lootbags. Alas, our loss. 

Day two involved the realization that industry acquaintances I'd made over the years were probably at this event too, which resulted in several meet ups and more interview opportunities. I had a great chat with an old friend and his new business colleagues about the state of the kids comics market and where we need to go from here. Working with my local school board, I'm thrilled to see comics not just on the library shelves, but being introduced into the curriculum, but gone are the days when kids could easily pick up a comic at the convenience store. There's also the misconception surrounding what a graphic novel is, versus comic books. 

Thanks to arrangements with Nickolodeon, I got to sneak past security at the Hard Rock Hotel where Entertainment Weekly was hosting all of their events to speak with Marge Dean, co-president of Women in Animation and general manager of Stoopid Buddy Stoodios. After our interview, we traded comic book recommendations, then, with my work done I was off to enjoy the rest of the convention. In retrospect, I should have borrowed one of my daughter's Chromebooks and made better use of the press room to actually write up all my interviews on site, but mostly, we just used the interview to giggle and be silly. We're such professionals.

Saturday was my first official free day and I started it with a leisurely trip to the mall to hang out with my friends from Fan Expo. We shopped, I caught more Pokemon, we sipped Nordstrom ice teas, and discussed ideas for the Toronto show. Then I wandered over to the convention to meet Megan so that we could leisurely stroll the outdoor sights. This proved dire for my poor vampiric friend, who suffered a sunburn that later required a quest for aloe, but mostly, the day was enjoyable, ending in drinking geeky drinks and cooking our own dinner at the Strip Club, and attending the Black Comix panel where Ron Wimberly ordered the deconstruction of racism (you had to be there). 

Finally, I ended the convention with more actual convention stuffs. I learned that when friends find out you are attending SDCC, they require exclusives, which is an entire process. I was worried about line ups, which would have been an issue on Wednesday and Thursday, but surprisingly, and despite the impossible to move crowd on Sunday, the exclusive lines were small or non-existent and the items that my friends wanted were still in stock. The FedEx process was a whole other business. I refuse to stand in line, so we ended up hunting for a FedEx store off site. 

By Monday morning, the Double Tree Hilton was back to its secret identity of a mild mannered hotel (they also took away the waffle maker *sad face*) and we were ready to go home--but already making plans to return.

SDCC2016 Adventures

Posted by Wendy B
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Saturday, 6 August 2016

♥♫ "Animals" by Lion-S http://ift.tt/2b3K9yo

♥♫: Animals by Lion-S

Posted by Wendy B

♥♫ "Wait For Love" by Strand of Oaks http://ift.tt/2aCeqjd

♥♫ "Centuries" by Emika http://ift.tt/2aCexev
Thursday, 4 August 2016

♥♫ "Gun In My Hand" by Dorothy http://ift.tt/1mreybO
Tuesday, 2 August 2016


The statistics don’t lie, though some will try to deny the reality: The percentage of women in animation programs is approximately 60 to 70 per cent, yet women make up only 20 per cent of the professional creative roles.

This is how Marge Dean, co-president of Women in Animation and general manager of Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, introduced the “Cartoon Creatives: Women Power in Animation” panel at San Diego Comic-Con. Accompanied by Lauren Faust (creator, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), Brooke Keesling (director of animation talent development at Disney TV Animation), Lauren Montgomery (co-executive producer, Voltron: Legendary Defender), Stevie Wermers-Skelton (co-director, the Frozen Holiday Special), Gina Shay (producer, the Trolls), Katie Krentz (senior director of development at Cartoon Network, Steven Universe), Daron Nefcy (creator/executive producer, Star vs. the Forces of Evil), and moderator Leslie Combemale (Animation Scoop), the panelists discussed their experiences as well as the goals of their association, which include evening out the playing field by 2025.

Read more at WWAC.
Thursday, 28 July 2016

When it comes to creators who really push the boundaries of what comics can do, the name that automatically pops into my mind is David Mack. To me, Mack’s work epitomizes the melding of the “visual” with the “narrative,” emphasizing comics as an art form as well as a storytelling medium. I have admired his work since a wise comic book dealer introduced me to Kabuki: Circle of Blood almost 20 years ago. My original trade edition from Caliber Comics has since been loved to pieces. How convenient that Dark Horse has begun reprinting Kabuki in four gorgeous hard cover library editions, each collecting the pieces of the character and her creator’s evolution. Volume three was released just in time for SDCC, where I had the opportunity to speak with Mack about this book and his many other projects—and to indulge my curiosity. Because every time I turn a page in Kabuki’s life, I find myself wishing for a peek into the creator’s mind and to understand the process that shapes the transformations I see before me.

Read more at WWAC
Sunday, 24 July 2016

♥♫ "Moon" by Beth Orton http://ift.tt/1Vm0jDd
Sunday, 17 July 2016
I’m not sure what writer J. Torres expected when he stepped into the after hours gathering of Comic Book Addiction’s Ladies Night. We were very polite as he joined our circle to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the comic creation process and introduce us to his latest work, The Mighty Zodiac from Oni Press. Occasionally, we’d let the true nature of our monthly gathering slip. If Torres, with some trepidation, mutters something about the therapeutic benefits of murdering SIMS characters, our obsession with all things Brian K. Vaughan, our references to Garth Ennis’  disturbing series, Crossed, or the unconfirmed existence of a dungeon in the comic store basement, there may be some truth to his words…

Read more at WWAC
Monday, 11 July 2016

♥♫ "Pillars and Pyre" by Dralms http://ift.tt/1XKZkwh
Friday, 1 July 2016

♥♫ "Radar" by Danger Twins http://ift.tt/20VZaCX
Friday, 24 June 2016

♥♫ "I'll Take You" by MSTR ROGERS http://ift.tt/1SFcXsG
Monday, 20 June 2016

It must have started with Emma Frost. Classic X-Men was a big influence on my childhood, and the haughty White Queen burned herself into my young mind as one of my great role models for determination, confidence, and her (flawed) views on sexism. Or maybe it has something to do with Gone with the Wind, a movie that shaped me with a main character that, much like Emma Frost, refused to take no for an answer when it came to how she should dress and act in order to overcome those who tried to oppress her.

Read more at WWAC
Saturday, 14 May 2016


Marvel's Civil War was where I stepped back into comics after a long break up, only to discover that the problems that made me ditch comics in the first place had only gotten worse. Worse because now Marvel's focus was entirely on selling as many books as they could with this new tie-in crossover epic event bullshit. Civil War should have been a great story and it started that way, pitting Cap versus Iron Man over a mutant registration act that would help keep super powered beings in check. Too bad the result was convoluted plot lines and out of character characters that devolved the entire thing into a giant episode of "who would win in a fight: ___ or ____?"

For me, the only good thing to come out of that mess was this moment in Amazing Spider-Man #537:

When they announced that the next Captain America movie would be Tony versus Steve in Civil War, I wanted none of that.

And yet, the Russo Brothers had already given us The Winter Soldier, a movie that showed a level of character depth and realization--for women and people of colour no less--that is sorely lacking in the glut of superhero movies we've got going now. Plus Joe and Anthony Russo specifically said that, while the concept of registration and keeping super powers in check would be a focus of the film, they were not delving more deeply than that into the comic source material.

So months later, here I am walking out of the theatre with my faith renewed in the future of the MCU (if not super hero movies in general, since we've still got other problem ones out there...). I took my 8yo daughter who likewise loved The Winter Soldier and Captain America himself. "We're on Captain America's side, right mom?" she asked at the start of our day. "Because Iron Man is kind of mean, even if he did save the world." At the end of the movie, she was still very much Team Cap, but she could see where Iron Man was right in many ways and the ways in which Cap was wrong too, while for me, I found myself questioning my loyalties--which is exactly what the original Civil War story was supposed to have done had it not chosen instead to make Tony and several others into fascist assholes, resorting to underhanded methods to get their way.

There were some very specific elements that the movie did capture from the comic, such as this scene.  The most powerful moment for me was a variation of the "No, you move." speech above. But it was not Cap saying it to a Spider-Man questioning his choices. It was Sharon Carter speaking Peggy Carter's words *to* Steve.

There were many, many other emotional scenes in the film, framed beautifully by the score, or by silence. The Russos know how to make a moment, I tell you. From the more obvious heart wrenching moment of a dead father in his son's arms as a legacy is passed on, or a man clinging beyond all hope to his friend.
See those words up there? Those are the words of a person who gets it. One half of a team who gets it. I was able to appreciate Age of Ultron because I saw it with my kids and could appreciate their perspective, but when I sat back, I saw it for all the flaws. I gave Joss Whedon some credit for having  to cobble together that mess into one single movie when it should have been at least two, but I hated his reliance on every trope possible, including the ones he himself has made standard practice in his own work -- from motivational shock death to abyss kiss -- along with all kinds of visual distraction. With all the things going on in the MCU, having everyone show up in a Captain America movie seemed like this film ought to have suffered the same problem, and yet the Russo Brothers managed to weave together a completely cohesive story that did yet another thing 100 comics failed to do: give every character an absolutely legitimate reason for being there and for choosing a particular side and even letting them recognize where their views might be flawed.

And the disagreement over those views -- was it enough to justify all out battles against each other to the death? Well that's the thing. The movie didn't set it up that way at all (though the marketing of course capitalized on this in a similar fashion to BvS). "Move. Or be moved." That's what the battle was about, rather than a straight up death match, The comics had someone die to add weight to the story, but in comics, death means so little. The movie instead leaned heavily on the death of innocents, while with the heroes fighting each other, it offered us pain. Very real pain with very real, long lasting ramifications. There was no real fear that any one of these characters were going to actually kill their comrades -- at least not until the very end where that tension became very, very real when the villain -- who himself was not some simplistic monster -- made his final play. In the final show down between Cap and Iron Man, I had to assure my daughter that it wouldn't end the way it seemed to be heading, but frankly, I wasn't so sure.

Here for lulz and truth.
 Credit to whoever made it. 
This was a Captain America movie that involved far too many people, but, for the most part, it sidelined none of them (which is no surprise after seeing Falcon and Black Widow in The Winter Soldier (which included the kind of empowerment of characters that is at the heart of who Cap is), nor did it stick them into weird story lines or relationships that made no sense beyond serving as plot devices (yes I'm looking at you, Age of Ultron).

Let me take a minute to talk about Wanda. Everyone's talking about Black Panther (and I will too), but Wanda. She was dismissed by Maria Hill as the "weird girl" in Age of Ultron, and fans of the character have feared for her depiction after her horrible treatment in the comics. The Scarlet Witch is the "crazy" one. The frightening, powerful woman that needs to be destroyed because oh how easily she could slip into madness. The movie dips into this. Tony is aware of her capabilities and tries to keep her in check because of what she is capable of, but the rest of her compatriots never express fear in working with her. She shows awareness and  responsibility for her own actions, and we get wonderful moments between her and Vision as they both seek to understand their powers and their place in this world. More of this please.

Even Tony gets to be more than just the antagonist here as he continues to deal with the repercussions of all of his actions and adventures since his first movie, as well as his father's legacy. The Russo Brothers don't let him off the hook for his ego, nor do they allow him to be simply the villain the comics made him into.

Consequences and responsibility is the theme for everyone in this movie, and no one is let off easy. Action stories and super heroes are fun, but little mind is paid to the innocent lives lost even as the good guys save the world. This was not a gimmick. The movie held true to this purpose from start to finish.  It was an emotionally heavy film, without being an overly dark and gritty one. It could still have fun (I need a Bucky and Sam sitcom) while delivering the necessary gravity.

One of my few beefs with the film beyond the technical plot details (such as why did no one bother to analyze that one image of Bucky?) is related to Tony, in that the very first appearance--or even mention--of Maria Stark is basically all about her being fridged in order to push Tony's resolve. She might as well have been named Martha.

My other criticism comes in the form of Spider-Man. That is to say, I loved Spider-Man. The pithy introduction of Peter Parker and his aunt made absolute sense and worked well. It almost makes me forgive them for forcing yet another Spider-Man movie down our throats if only because we might actually get one that doesn't feel the need to tell us once more about spider bites and Uncle Bens. But let's talk about why Spider-Man was there in this movie. See, in the comic event, his story line carried some serious weight as Peter struggled with his choices. Initially, he sided with Iron Man, willing to reveal his long hidden identity to support the registration act.
Peter Parker, Spider-Man: Civil War | Marvel Comics
The announcement that the MCU had obtained Spider-Man from Fox implied that this tipping of the scales was some how in the works for the movie story line. But in truth, while I liked Spider-Man's appearance, he served no greater purpose than for his comic relief (which Ant-Man was already providing) and his particular abilities. In which case, I am extremely disappointed that the opportunity had not been taken to introduce Miles Morales (and his mother) instead. Miles has already made the move into the Marvel comic canon from his original Ultimates run, he is an established character on the cartoon, and, precedent has already been set with Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury. Why not give us something fresh for the web crawler?

But, while there is a serious dearth of women of colour in this film, I guess I should not expect another man of colour in a movie that already features three black guys. I'm so ungrateful, I know.

Ah well. Let me move on to that one black guy everyone is talking about and for damn good reason: Black Panther. There was some question prior to release in regard to what Black Panther was doing in the movie in the first place and why he had such a hate on for Bucky. I was deeply worried that he was just being shoved into this film as a promotional piece. I was deeply worried that all the heart and soul Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze are putting into the new comic book series would be wasted. But Marvel has clearly invested in this character and the movie did not sell him short at all. Black Panther was everything he should be in shape and form and function--he even moved like a cat, complete with silent landings that have made him my daughter's new favourite character in accordance with her obsession with our own pet black cat. T'Challa was regal and uncompromising--until he needed to compromise, and then his humility was a thing of beauty. He literally stole the show because frankly, his arc is what Cap should have gone through in coming to terms with the reality of Bucky's situation. I love to hear the excitement over his solo movie, especially with casting and directing news like this.  

So yeah... this is what a super hero movie should be. Yes there were fight scenes and explosions (though none that were as mind numbingly confusing as Age of Ultron -- I didn't even mind seeing Civil War in 3D since it did not abuse the medium) but none of them were wasted within the movie itself. We got the big pay off battle, but it wasn't just the man pain punch fest that other movies have promoted and then skimped on. Every moment had purpose and power, and, despite all that had to happen to continue the MCU wheel that is turning, it all worked together (sometimes with questionable plot jumps, but at least not ridiculously glaring ones... mostly) while still taking the time to remind me of what made me love comics in the first place: the characters. I love being able to see myself in those characters, even and especially when I hate their decisions and actions. Super powers are cool, but what makes those people mean something to me is because they struggle the same way I do with their choices and their relationships. For all the costumes and abilities, they are still very much real. Very much human, rather than gods among us.....

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WHAT IS THIS?

This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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