Posts Tagged ‘Captain America: The Winter Solider’

So its been awhile. I know. 

The new job is awesome, but I have been putting in some long days .Actually, I am typing this up on my lunch break. THAT’S how crazy its been.  I will be better I promise! 

But here’s the real reason that I wanted to talk to you today.  There is this little article that @EllieSullie (and, unbeknownst to be until after the fact) @JulianGrant threw up on their Facebook feeds.

It pissed me off to no end folks.

I will be nice and link you to said article which you can read here.  The gist of the article is this, that the “strong female characters” we have been seeing in films lately are really just… to use the author, Tasha Robinson’s own words “Superfluous, Flimsy Character disguised as a Strong Female Character”.

She lists example after example of this: 

-Valka in How to Train Your Dragon 2

-Wildfyre in The Lego Movie

-Tauriel in THe Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

-Dahl in Riddick

-Carol Marcus in Star Trek: Into Darkness

and more and more.  Here’s where I get ticked off:

The idea of the Strong Female Character—someone with her own identity, agenda, and story purpose—has thoroughly pervaded the conversation about what’s wrong with the way women are often perceived and portrayed today, incomics {sic}, videogames, and film especially.” 

This is an annoyance right here. The entire article focuses on films. If you are going to mention comics and video games, then guess what, you need to give examples of those too, which Ms. Robinson does not. (This is Speech 101 kicking in). However, I would like to bluntly express, in my post, I will NOT be talking about video games because I am not a gamer.

However, I am a TV/Movie/Comic Geek and Gender theory in mass media is one of my favorite subjects.

The other thing, she only gives one- yes ONE- good example, which is….. Emily Blunt’s character, Rita in the recently released Edge of Tomorrow. That’s it. One example of a positive (by her standards) strong female character.

I do agree with Ms. Robinson that there are a number of “wanna-be” SFC in mass media, but to give only one positive example is ridiculous. I ranted on @elliesullie’s post on this, and I realized there are a ton of SFC in film, television and in comics. So to balance out the negative article, here is a list (not completely comprehensive, because that would take probably 8 years to read) of strong female characters, through and through.

According to Ms. Robinson, to be a “legit” strong female character needs to do the following:

  1. After being introduced, do something that is “fundamentally significant to the outcome of the plot”. 
  2. If she is contributing to the plot, is it something other than getting hurt to motivated the hero? (I.e. what I always called the “damsel in distress” role).
  3. If the character could be replaced with a note on an inanimate object, then she is not useful to the plot.
  4. She cannot be the strongest/fastest/meanest etc until the male protagonist shows up who is stronger/meaner etc
  5. If she never needed to be rescued before, does she get rescued in this story to make the male hero look good?  (For comic fans- think of the old Fantastic Four or X-men comic books where all of a sudden Sue Storm got a nose bleed in the beginning of a fight or Jean Grey wandered off to fix her make up). 

So with that five qualifiers in mind, I would like to present to you some of the most kick ass “Strong Female Characters” in TV, Film and Comics.

(Some with explanations, but a complete list will be added and continued to update as time goes on). 

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  • Glenn Close as Monica Rawling, Season 4 of The Shield

A former professor of mine, PG, can attest how much I love this character. I wrote a paper (it was suppose to be only 10 pages, I wrote close to 20) for my final grade for his class on Monica Rawling. 

Why is she so kick ass?  Well she is one of the first characters I ever saw that DID NOT fall into one of the major categories (whore/saint/damsel in distress). She was all of them. Coming from a cop family, I am VERY picky about my police shows but Ms. Close just made my jaw drop on the first line she has. Throughout the season she plays a tough as nails police captain (which right there, being a female captain is hard enough), dealt with unpopular politics of a controversial asset forfeiture program she spearheaded and even went out with the Strike Team to kick ass and take names. She didn’t see herself above anyone else, and even though she was a captain, didn’t have an office. She planted herself right in the thick of everything (defiantly-lead from the front, not behind a desk).

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  • Black Widow (both in comics and portrayed by Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2, The Avengers and Captain America: Winter Solider

Ill be the first to admit that I have a girl crush on Black Widow. She has always been one of my favorite characters ever since I started reading the Daredevilcomic book. She is THE spy. She is NEVER the victim. I mean really, to be part of the KGB red room training is not something anyone could go through. Did Natasha ever go “woe is me, I was made into a KGB spy against my will?” No. She rolled with it and then turn coat and started working with America. So now, you have a KGB agent, who’s now an American agent? Hell’s yes. And if anyone questions her, she pretty much kills them. 

Now, with the film adaptation, I was slightly disgusted because in Iron Man 2, she was handled more like a trophy wife until the last 5 minutes of the film. Now in Avengers, Wheadon actually gave the character some depth, and then in Winter Solider, she actually seemed more….human… then in Iron Man 2.

@EllieSully pointed out that alot of the aforementioned article that makes me upset does force feed some ideas down kids throats (in regards to The Lego Movie) and that there wasn’t really much out there for kids.

I beg to differ.

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-Merida in Brave

I mean come on. She stands up to EVERYONE going “yeah, no I am not following tradition to be married off so we can get some land”, she is an early tomboy, “yes, I much rather play in the woods and shoot things with my bow and arrow”.  She realizes her mistake and does everything in her power to fix it, unlike the delayed realization with her mother.

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-Torunn in Next Avengers

I love… LOVE… Torunn. This Marvel animated movie (set in an alternate universe), is a story about the sons (and daughter) of the Avengers. The parents were killed by Ultron and they are being raised by none other than Mr. Bachelor himself, Tony Stark. 

Torunn is the daughter of Thor and is upset because she thinks her dad either left her and/or is dead. Understandable why she is upset.  She is very much into her heritage. So much so she goes to the opposite extreme to be Asgardian as possible- even trying to put words like “Verily” into her every day speech. She goes through the true hero’s path (stubbornness, fighting, loosing something she thinks is important, realizing that it isn’t important, saving the day— wow, sound like her father much??) Her journey is practically a mirror image to the Thor film. At the end of the day- even though she could return to Asgard and be with her family, she decides to stay on Earth and take care of her little “brothers”. 

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Agents Simmons and  May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

There are various reasons why these two should go on the list. Simmons is smart as a whip, May is a tactical genius. Simmons creates all types of gadgets etc and geeks out reading scientific studies. May, well she is nicknamed (much to her dismay) “The Calvary” for a reason. These two, both being on the same show, display vastly different aspects  of a “strong female character”- both brains and brawn. Do they need to be rescued sometimes? Yeah that happens to even some of the male heroes on the show, so you cannot count it against them.

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Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller in Sons of Anarchy

There is a specific reason that I used the image above with that quote. I will agree with some people that the way Gemma handles things is not exactly ethical, but its coming from a good place. If they need to put a picture with the phrase “Mama Bear” then it has to be of Gemma/Katey. For those who haven’t seen the show, Gemma has been a victim of rape and also of domestic abuse. I am only using the word “victim” here to classify the plot. She was NOT a victim by any stretch of the imagination. She picked herself up, brushed herself off and in the moved on (to do some devious planning to retaliate against the people that hurt her, but you get the idea). 

Other Strong Female Characters: (listed)

  • Agent Carter (Captain America: The First Avenger and the upcoming Agent Carter miniseries on ABC)
  • Agent Scully (X-Files TV show and movies)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (both television and comic books)
  • Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager
  • Hermonie Granger in the Harry Potter Series (Both books and films)
  • Pepper Potts in the Iron Man films
  • Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games (both books and movies) 
  • Wonder Woman (Comics and the ever loved Lynda Carter TV Series)
  • Xena the Warrior Princess (TV)

Please feel free to comment and throw your two sense in here folks. The bigger this list gets the better! Support your reasoning and I will update this post (asap) with your reason on the list! 

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The theme for this post is really tied to this panel from Kabuki: Circle of Bloodkabuki_cob_morebs

So last night I am bumbling through my tumblr account to stumble across this great little message from one of my favorite creators of all time, David Mack :

DrDavidMrMack — Great news from Marvel Film Studios that I’m... (1)

You can read the backstory here.

You have no clue how stoked I am about this. I have talked about Mack before (which you can read here). Why am I sitting here like a kid in toy store that was told they could have all the toys?

1) David Mack has always been one of my favorite people. Not only is he brilliant as a creator/storyteller but I have had the good fortune of meeting him on a few occasions and you couldn’t find a more humble person than Mr. Mack. That and he’s a riot to hang out with.

2) Captain America (outside of Daredevil) is probably tied for my second favorite Marvel hero (Thor is in second place also). If you haven’t read Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America, you will totally be flabbergasted about who Winter Solider is. If you have already figured it out, trust me, you don’t know how he came to be. Its a great story line.

3) Take an epic story line and mash it into film with some of Mack’s art? *mind blown* Just to give you an idea take a look at this picture:

Vision Quest

If the picture is large on your screen, that’s intended. I want to make sure you can see the mind boggling detail. Yes. Those are actual feathers.

Want to see more of his art work? You can go to the official unofficial website here or follow him on Tumbler here. I could wax poetic about all of the different styles of awesome art that Mack has done over the years, but that’s not entirely the point of this post.

This is the reason for the toy store analogy above.

Ink Sketch of Captain America from a conventionMarvel yet again are playing the smart card. Most mainstream people know about the Marvel comics books (here on forever after referred to as the East Coast office) and the Studio (West Coast office). What many people don’t know is how much these two have been working together. Mack working on the title cards etc for Captain America: The Winter Solider is just the latest of it. Since 2007 when Marvel took out a loan with Merrill Lynch to start the studio division, I have pretty much trolled the news about ANYTHING that had to do with the company. As a comic book fan, I knew Marvel had a tendency to do things “The Marvel Way” and I was wondering how much of that would translate over into the film industry that is nothing but rules and regulations.

Marvel has been the first for a lot of things, including the East Coast office of writers, editors etc in setting the bricks for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was the smartest idea. The Winter Solider storyline was done in comics back in 2005/2006. That’s like yesterday when you take a look at how long some companies take to adapt a storyline. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, that Marvel needs to pay their casting directors and script supervisors in gold because they are the most crucial when it comes to the adaptations of the comics.  Grant it, if you read Mack’s post, it was really a round about way that he was included in on this project (it really was based on the art/concept pitch), however, his art is very distinct compared to most artists out there (and I am not NOT curtailing that to only comic book artists, but to artists in general).

Why was this so smart? How many times have you watched a movie or seen a poster done and go “man, I really like that and would totally

Cover to Daredevil V2 Ish 20-- one of the prints hanging on my wall.

Cover to Daredevil V2 Ish 20– one of the prints hanging on my wall.

hang it on my wall”?? At least once or twice in your life. Mack is one of the types that people either really LOVE him or go “ehhh”. I personally have a number of prints hanging on my wall by Mack and gotten a lot of commentary about them. That’s the point of this, commentary. Apples to Donuts, when you go see Captain America: The Winter Solider you will be going “Man, that’s pretty effing cool. I want that”. Marketing at its best folks.

Not only that, but you have the loyal fans of Mack’s talking about this because they are excited. That helps him indirectly because of course I am telling you about him and his work. Which hopefully (and I beg you too) will encourage you to read some of his work or get some prints etc.

You are probably saying that’s not any different than any other movie. Yes it is, because in this case, Mack has done a TON of work in the East Coast office, particularly on the Daredevil and Alias books (which I cannot recommend enough). How many of you would be tempted to go and try out these books either on the Marvel Digital Comic Website or at your local comic book shop?

Having the people that have laid the ground work in the comics put their two sense into the MCU makes so much sense I am shocked that other companies *cough* DC Comics *cough* are not doing this at all or if they are, its not enough/not working. Jeff Loeb, who many of you know as one of the creators of Heroes, is VP of Television at the west coast office. He also wrote TONS of comic books and knows the stories as well as anyone else.  Everything that has worked in the past in the East Coast office has been implemented/tweaked to incorporate into the West Coast office.

IT WORKS.

Hollywood take note, whatever magic Marvel is doing you need to start trying to figure it out. The box office numbers alone should prove this (let alone digital copes, rentals, dvd/blu-ray/3d discs and merchandising). I can tell you one secret I have figured out to get you going Hollywood:

Hire people that actually care about the source material. If you look at everyone that has worked on the films from Iron Man all the way through to trailers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy PLUS Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D you can see that every single person working this truly loves the characters and the story.

That’s why Marvel is so awesome, they hire great people- like David Mack.

 

So I love comics. I love movies.

Naturally I love comic book movies. Ok, well not all of them. Some of them suck pretty badly. However a majority of them, especially as of late, have been pretty damn good. (I mean, have you see the “Guardians of the Galaxy” Trailer??)

If you don’t know anything about the comic book fandom let me explain. If you are part of the comic book fandom, I apologize for the explanation, but feel free to expound upon it.

The best thing about the comic book fandom is the accessibility to the industry folks. This isn’t just at comic conventions, but really heavy within social media. Right now there are a handful of creators that I could email and ask a question and actually get a response- that is NOT some auto generated non-sense. How many sports fans can say that? Or movie buffs? It’s not like I could shoot an email to say, George Lucas and not get an almost instant response like some comic book writers and artists.

That is, in my humble opinion, what makes us unique as a fandom. It’s great. It truly is! There are extremes, but in general, comic book fans are pretty effing cool about things. So much so, I cannot begin to tell you how many charities the industry has, or when something goes south (i.e. 9/11, Hurricanes, Typhoons, Earthquakes etc) the fandom- and the industry- rally together to help in anyway they can.

Do you want to know how many times my faith in humanity has been restored because of the fandom? Too many to count. Some of which never made any news, that was only known by a handful of creators and the people that were in trouble.

However there is something that I need to address. This is strictly aimed at those extremists. In this case, the ones that go nuts around actors and other celebrities in the industry.

 

STOP IT. 

FUCKING STOP ACTING LIKE MORONS. 

Yeesh.

Working/Living in Chicago I have come across a lot of celebrities and politicians. So much so, when I interviewed for a job for a new flagship store on State Street years ago, the GM flat out asked me how I would react in X or Y celebrity walked in. Considering we were attached to a famous hotel, the 2 years I was there, I lost count how many times we had to close down per orders of Secret Service (yes, THE Secret Service) or block off areas for incoming movie stars/sports teams to avoid a rabid fan attacking someone.

This post was really started after reading this– a tiny bit whiny- a beit heartfelt post about certain fans of the Hiddlestoners fandom. What’s a Hiddlestoner? A fan of Tom Hiddleston. You know him probably best as the guy that played Loki. To be honest, my favorite role he has done hasn’t been Loki (which is just mindblowing), but actually as Prince Hal in The Hollow Crown. But that’s also because I am a Shakespeare fan. Regardless, I was discussing this with my fellow Movie/Comic Geek best friend, Scourge. We started doing comparisons, and he came up with a great analogy that I am totally giving him credit for:

Robert Downey Jr= Elvis Presley

Tom Hiddleston= The Beatles.

Both actors have wholeheartedly embraced their roles as Iron Man and Loki respectively. Downey runs around and sometimes I wonder if he doesn’t think he is Tony Stark.

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What’s great (and could also backfire eventually) is that the Marvel Studios office encourages this. It feels as though the West Coast office has been trying to bring the comic fandom ideal over to its movies for awhile. I thought that for quite some time. But 2013 SDCC confirmed it for me.

 I would like to point out that it takes some mighty fine talent to quiet Hall H with the move of one finger. Hiddleston just cracks me up with the above video. Along with some of his tweets. Its obvious that he loves not only playing Loki, but the fans.

Image I am very tired of seeing fans attack celebrities- whether its in the movies or in the comic book world. In this day and age of 24 hour news, it feels as though fans demand, nay, expect to have this instant gratification from their idols. Do I admire and respect Hiddleston and Downey? Yes, because they are damn talented actors. I think it would be absolutely hilarious to have both of them at a dinner party because, I have the impression from interviews they have both done, that they are genuinely nice, funny gentlemen.

That’s the catch folks- what you see in interviews, clips, pinterest, tumblr etc, is just that- an impression.

Think about this: you are going about your day, running some errands, doing a bit of shopping at your favorite store, maybe grabbing coffee and catch up time with a good friend. Then some random person whom you have never seen before nor probably ever will again, walks up to you acting like you are the oldest friends on the planet.  This happens EVERY TIME YOU WALK OUT OF YOUR HOUSE.

After awhile, wouldn’t you get a bit pissed off?

Don’t give me the story that “Oh celebrities know this comes with the job” Bull shit, absolute bullshit.  They know they will have fans, that some of their anonymity goes right out the window, but it does NOT mean, that as a fan you have the right to interrupt them at any given moment.

Scourge worked at a restaurant for awhile back in Ohio. Because of the location of said restaurant, he ran into A LOT of celebrities (I mean, the list is pretty extensive and mindblowing). When X person would walk into the restaurant, he would eventually have to take over the table because the waitress was wigging out to much or have other patrons back off because the celebrity couldn’t even finish their meal.

The most Scourge would ever say to these people that would even address the fact they were celebrities was “Hey I really liked [insert album, game, etc here]. Thanks for that”. Even that sentence was a bit much for him. Scourge told me that usually it was the silent head nod acknowledging their presence and then leaving them be.

Best example of crazy that ticked me off:

When Public Enemies was in town filming, I noticed one night that there were no parking permits put up around my neighborhood. On my way hope I also noticed alot of gear trucks parked along certain streets. The next morning Scourge and I went to go return a DVD . Scourge went in one direction and I doubled back over to Portage Theater where I was pretty damn certain they were filming. I made small talk with the lighting guys unloading a trailer. Outside of talking about gear, they refused to mention anything.

Scourge called me to tell me if I ever was going to hire a security firm, not to hire X company because the guard was a chatty cathy. Turns out Scourge found out that Johnny Depp was inside the theater.

Kick ass.

Meanwhile I called Ellie Sully and told her to make her way over to the theater, because at the least, as a production designer, she had to see the costumes that the extras were wearing. It was hotter than Hades that day and the three of us were sitting on the curb of a side street just watching everything. Ellie Sully was looking at things from an artist perspective, while Scourge and I were dissecting security and operations. Eventually the neighborhood kids figured out what was going on, and someone (not us) told them that Depp was inside. There were these 4 girls, around the age 15 that were absolutely having a melt down that Depp was inside.

We decided to hang on the curb to see if we could catch a glimpse of Depp. Not because its Depp (that was a partial reason) but Ellie Sully wanted to see his costume while Scourge and myself were making a bet on a security procedure of how they were going to get Depp out of the theater and around the mess of one ways in the neighborhood back to his trailer on the other side of six corners.

Sure enough Depp came out and I was right on my guess of how security was doing things. Depp gets in an SUV an as they pull out on the side street, he rolls his window down to wave to everyone. That was nice!

Then the 4 girls in question proceeded to chase the SUV throughout the neighborhood. Meanwhile the three of us decided to get something cold to drink, so we walk to the other side of six corners to a store where the trailer happened to be in the parking lot. I just remember watching the girls faces as they tried to figure out how we were already there, munching on stuff after Depp’s car pulled in. Depp got out and went right to his trailer to get changed. Do I blame him? Nope.

The girls were so disappointed that they were crying. I am not saying the simple crying, but the type of crying that involves huge gasps of air because they are practically hyperventilating. Eye roll.

I can’t speak for musicians but I can say making any sort of film is EXHAUSTING. I don’t care if you are actor, crew, producing- whatever role, it is exhausting. It’s a mind drain. It’s emotionally draining. You wouldn’t think this, but trust me, its true.  Art in general is an artist putting some part of themselves on the world stage for everyone to dissect and analyze.

So in essence, if you see a celebrity outside of an actual appearance they are making at a convention or tv show etc. Be nice and leave them alone. If you can’t help yourself, be polite, don’t take up their time. They are human beings and just think about how you would feel in their shoes.

So to those out their that are all in the “beatlesmania” type knocking on glass windows as a celebrity is trying to eat dinner or asking for an autograph while in the bathroom (I saw this happen once) STOP IT BEFORE YOU RUIN IT FOR THE REST OF US!