Saturday, February 17, 2018

"Black Panther" (2018) -- Initial Thoughts

And just when I think I've kind of figured out where the MCU as a whole is steering, they throw something utterly new and different on the table.  Cuz wow, this movie?  Not like any other superhero movie I have seen.

And I'm not saying that because this one is full of black faces instead of white ones, or because it takes place mostly in Africa instead of the US or Europe or a distant planet.  But because this movie is not afraid to explore some pretty deep issues facing our world right now.  And it does that simply by doing what superhero stories do best:  it uses superpowers as a metaphor for the problems we all face at one time or another.

In this case, the problem of adulting.  Which sounds silly, I'm afraid, but I don't mean it in a silly way.  I look around me at the people in their twenties and thirties who keep talking about how weird it is to have to do this adulting thing, or how adulting is hard, and I think... wow.  This is a legitimately troublesome thing for a lot of people.  There's this sense that the up-and-coming generation has been somehow unprepared for the business of being grown-ups, and they resent this.

In a sense, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman, a man who needs to make more movies so I can watch them) is facing the same issue.  He's been thrust into the role of king, a role his parents have done their best to prepare him for, and yet, he doesn't feel ready to step out from being a son into being a leader.  But he must.  And unlike the people around me, more than a massive credit card debt or a failed romantic relationship or the ignominy of living in his parents' basement hangs in the balance.  The fate of a nation rests on his (delightfully broad) shoulders now.

And so T'Challa does what the people around me are discovering they must do:  he accepts his new responsibilities.

(Source)

On the flip side, we have Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).  He's angry, he's vindictive, and he wants to take power however he can.  He says he also wants to help the masses rise up and fight off their oppressors, but really he just wants whatever power he can grab for himself.  Like a twenty-something who wants the advantages of adulthood without the responsibilities, he pushes his way into T'Challa's world, wrecking and ruining anything he sees as a threat.

And yet, he was surprisingly sympathetic in the end.  I empathized more with him than I ever expected to.

So, that's one thing Black Panther has going on.

But there's more.  It also faces up to the idea that, to borrow a phrase from another superhero, with great power comes great responsibility.  The nation of Wakanda has wealth and technology that they have hoarded over the years, worried that by sharing it, they will weaken themselves and endanger their people.  Pretty hard not to see the parallels here that the filmmakers are drawing.  The United States has wealth and technology other countries lack.  And we're very worried right now about who we share them with.

What the film points out is that hoarding can also be damaging.  But that helping others, holding out the hand of friendly assistance to someone regardless of what they look like or where they come from -- that is not damaging.  That is healing. 

In fact, as a Christian, it is my calling to do just that.  To help others, to show God's love to them.  Not to hoard the good news of salvation, but to spread it.

So yeah... Black Panther has some deep stuff to say.  But it's also very exciting and fun -- my fellow theatergoers and I laughed together many times.  We also clapped at the end.  And again after the first "stinger" scene during the credits.  Which scene, by the way, made me cry.  Cuz wow, it was great.

(And the second stinger -- you have to stay for that, okay?  Do not be like the vast majority of the people at my theater who just walked out after that.  The second stinger is worth sitting through alllllllll the credits for.)

Anyway, like most of my "initial thoughts" posts, this is a little scattered cuz I haven't had a lot of time to consider this movie.  I'll try to wrap it up here with a few thoughts on the film overall.  The storytelling was nicely streamlined -- once in a while, I'd be like, "okay, where is this going?" and then that scene would tie right in with the storyline just like it should.

The acting was superb -- I expected to enjoy Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong'o and Martin Freeman, but I didn't know I was going to like Letitia Wright so much!  She was sassy and smart and fun.

(Source)

The first action scene was a lot of darkness and shaky-cam and I was worried that the film as a whole would be that way, but it wasn't.  The rest of the fight sequences were perfectly watchable, and in retrospect I can see that one was supposed to be disorienting and choppy because of what's going on in it.

I saw somewhere that the film's director, Ryan Coogler, said that Black Panther is going to be the MCU's James Bond, and wow, that was a really apt comparison.  There's even a casino-set scene that made me think of a similar one from Skyfall, plus T'Challa's sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) is basically Q.  Here's hoping they make more Black Panther films, cuz I definitely want to see them!

EDIT:  I forgot to say whether or not this movie is family friendly!  I'd say it's on par with the other MCU movies.  There's non-gory violence involving guns, knives, spears, and imaginary weaponry.  There's maybe a dozen bad words, though they're more vulgarities rather than profanities.  There's what MPAA calls "a brief, rude gesture," and you can probably guess what it is.  There's a little bit of kissing, but no love scenes, no nudity (unless you count shirtless men as nudity, cuz there be shirtless menfolks here).  So yeah, it earns its PG-13 rating but doesn't step beyond what the MCU has basically set up as their boundaries.


This has been my final post for We Love Superheroes Week.  Check out everyone else's entries here, and don't forget the giveaway is open through the end of today!  I was going to post the answers to all the games today too, but I think I'll hold off until tomorrow because people are still entering those.

Friday, February 16, 2018

My Turn with the Superhero Tag


My turn to fill out the tag!  My week got suddenly crazy-busy for an assortment of reasons, and I'm only now having a chance to sit down and work through this.  But at least I'm not late to my own party, eh?

1. Who are your favorite superheroes? (Go ahead and list up to five if you want!)

#1  Wolverine.  I have loved Wolvie for more than 20 years.  I even wrote a poem about him once.  I'm writing a post about him for Femnista right now -- look for it in the next issue! 



#2  Thor.  I have loved Thor only for a little over 5 years, but I'm so devoted to him, Cowboy gave me an almost-life-size cardboard cut-out of him for Valentine's Day a few years back.  It now guards our foyer proudly.


#3  Captain America.  So delightfully honorable, loyal, and stubborn.


#4  Rogue.  She's got such an interesting blend of sweet and strong, troubled and helpful.


#5  Spider-man.  I love his sarcastic, snarky, scrappy ways.  Tom Holland's version is my favorite film iteration, as it most-closely matches the Spidey I know from the comic books I read as a teen.


2. What's your favorite superhero movie?

Definitely The Avengers (2012).  Before then, it was X2: X-men United (2003), which I really thought no superhero movie could ever top, but The Avengers is so... perfectly formed, I guess?  There's nothing extra, nothing out of place.  I can't think of a single scene I would change, there's no casting that feels off, and everything from dialog to music to sets to costumes just sings.

3. Do you have a favorite superhero couple?

Probably Rogue and Iceman.  They're very sweet together.  I feel like they really get each other and have a good chance of being happy together.  They genuinely like each other, it's not just hormones, you know?


4. What was your introduction to the world of superheroes?

I was going to say it was seeing Superman (1978) on VHS as a kid, but actually I think it was this free comic I got as a little kid sometime around 1984.  It's part of why I've always been a Spidey fan.  I still have it!



5. If you could be any superhero for a day, who would you like to be?

Either Quicksilver or Yo-Yo because I could get a zillion things done in one day.  Like clean my entire house instead of just part of one room, plus catch up on some reading and finish some craft projects....

6. Do you have a favorite supervillain?

Yeah, Magneto.  He's got such a deliciously tragic backstory.  Plus, sometimes he's helpful.


(Though sometimes I love Loki.  I love him in Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and am varying degrees of irritated by him in the other films.)

7. Can you think of a superhero who should get their own solo film, but hasn't yet?

Black Widow probably has a strong enough character she could hold one up on her own.  More than that, though, I'd like to see Jubilee FINALLY actually do something interesting in an X-Men movie.  She was one of my fave superheroes back in the '90s, and even though she kinda-sorta showed up in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), she didn't do much and most people didn't even realize who she was.

8. Do you read comic books?

I do!  Graphic novels too.  Not all the time, but I own volumes 1-5 of the Essential Wolverine collections, and also I think 3 volumes of the Essential Captain America collections.  But my 10-year-old has kidnapped the Cap books and keeps them in his room, and I haven't actually read more than the first volume.

9. Why do you like superheroes?

Because they give us so many interesting metaphors for our problems.  And because they can do things I can't.

10. Have you ever cosplayed as a superhero? Feel free to share pics if you want!

Not exactly, unless you count Zorro?  I went as Zorro for Halloween when I was like 8.  But I did get inspired by Black Widow to dye my hair red a few years ago, does that count?


One more post coming up from me tomorrow!  I'll be seeing Black Panther bright and early tomorrow morning and then posting my initial-thoughts review of it sometime tomorrow afternoon.  I'll also be posting the answers to the games tomorrow.  But not the winners of the giveaway -- that's open through the end of Saturday, and I'll chose and announce the winners on Sunday.  So if you haven't entered it yet, go do so!!!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

We Love Superheroes Week -- Iconic Couples Quiz

Happy Valentine's Day!  Plenty of superhero stories involve romance, so today our game is figuring out who is sending Valentines to whom.  All of these are based on MOVIES, not comics.  (A lot of characters have had many different pairings over the decades, but most of them are only in one main relationship in movie versions of their exploits.)  Put your guesses in the comments, and I'll post the answers and people's scores at the end of the week!

1

2

3

4

5

6

(I will accept either a person's superhero identity or their real name for any of these.)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Avengers Headcanons -- Guest Post by Jessica Prescott

(Note from Hamlette:  Thanks for contributing this post to the festivities, Jessica!  It is highly amusing.)

Avengers Headcanons 
Guest post by Jessica Prescott 

Basically, here’s a list (by no means an exhaustive one ;-) ) of my personal Avengers headcanons. I limited myself to the original set, mostly for reasons of space . . . so, sadly, you won’t see Sam, Bucky, Wanda, Peter Parker, or any of the others on here. But here’s what I do have:


Steve Rogers/Captain America 
- Has accumulated 37 separate tickets for not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle. Drives the S.H.I.E.L.D. public-relations team crazy. It’s not that he’s trying to be a rebel, you understand. It’s just . . . he’s never worn a bike helmet before. 
- Refuses to read his own comics; but is a massive fan of the other Avengers’ comics and has collected all the sets. Iron Man is secretly his favorite. But don’t tell Tony. 
- The D.C. public school system asked him to come around and do a program on “peaceful conflict resolution,” so of course he said yes—but now it’s kinda sorta morphed into “how to beat the ever-living you-know-what out of a bully” and nobody on the school board is quite sure what to say to that. Kids love him, though. He has an entire wall in his apartment covered with the handwritten cards and letters they’ve sent, thanking him. Sometimes even the parents write to say thank you. 
- He also owns three goldfish. One is orange and white, one is pure gold, and one has black stripes. 

Tony Stark/Iron Man 
- Is a giant Shakespeare nerd. Has read all the plays and sonnets and can quote them at length, usually right in the middle of S.H.I.E.L.D. strategy meetings. (Every time he does this, Cap carefully jots down notes and looks up the play later, on his own. He’s become quite the fan himself.) Tony also organizes free outdoor productions of Shakespeare in the nearby city parks, with Pepper’s help. One time he even arm-twisted/bribed David Tennant into reprising his role as Hamlet. 
- Favorite flavor of ice cream is pistachio. 
- Often stays up all night playing video games, mainly games of his own design & creation; and sulks for the next twenty-four hours if he happens to lose. Nat teases him about being a sore loser and he just glares at her. 
- Has instructed Jarvis to play the Donna Summer song “Hot Stuff” every. single. time. Thor walks into the room. 

 Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow 
- Paints her nails all sorts of colors whenever she has the time. Favorite shade is plum purple (it’s an excellent match with her hair). 
- Freely dispenses dating advice, which can be either good or shriekingly awful. Very hit-or-miss. But there are several blissfully happy couples at S.H.I.E.L.D. which have been set up through her kind offices. On the flip side, several other individuals swear they will never listen to her again. 
- Champion chess player. Fast-thinking & ruthless & mean. Nobody else on the team really likes to play, though—except Cap. Cap is nowhere near as skilled as her; but enjoys the game because of its Old-Fashioned Ambience. It makes him feel gentlemanly. They play on rainy evenings and drink wine. 
- She must have sliced bananas to put on her milk & cereal in the mornings. Always. Do not withhold the bananas. It is a matter of life or death. 

Clint Barton/Hawkeye 
- Blasts old rock bands (Journey and Queen and Guns ‘n Roses and Kansas) in his car whenever he’s alone, top volume; and usually sings along, too. He actually has a lovely soft baritone; but this is a massive secret. Nat is the only one who knows. No one else must hear. 
- Possesses a secret recipe for an amazing potato salad. Origins remain a mystery; but it’s pretty out of this world. He’s required to prepare it & bring it to all S.H.I.E.L.D social events (Christmas parties, cookouts, etc.) Thor eats at least half of the enormous batch, every time. 
- Has never learned to swim. Cap constantly nags him about this, “secret agent’s gotta know how to swim, it’s not optional,” but he finagles his way out of learning every time. He doesn’t like the water. 
- Has an odd habit of climbing up on tall pieces of furniture and sitting there, just chilling. Nat is the only one who seems to find this 100% normal. Bruce, on the other end of the spectrum, is massively weirded out by it. 

Bruce Banner/Hulk 
- Volunteers at the local animal shelter every Saturday morning, without fail, from nine o’clock to noon. To date he has adopted 3 dogs and 4 cats, and has his sights set on a fourth dog. Nat says he has an addiction.
- Has frequent Star Trek marathons with Tony. Spock is his favorite character, and Kirk is Tony’s; but when they attend fan conventions they cosplay as Scotty and McCoy, respectively. They make a great team. No one ever guesses who they really are. 
- Always—always—the last person to wake up in the morning. Doesn’t matter how early or late he went to bed. 
- Is an assiduous vegetarian, and a fairly skilled vegetarian cook. 

Thor Odinson 

- Usually tags along with Bruce to the animal shelter, and is a terribly bad influence when it comes to adoption. Has a hard time understanding how Midgardians could possibly be so heartless as to abandon these beautiful creatures. 
- Consumes alarming amounts of pizza. Tony thinks he should buy stock in Domino’s. His favorite flavor is—naturally—meat lover’s with extra sauce. 
- Has developed an intense interest in choral singing, and has joined roughly six different volunteer choirs around the city; some church-affiliated, some secular, some traditionalist, some more modern. It doesn’t make a bit of difference to him. He just really loves the singing. 
- Saw shot-putting and hammer-throwing on TV one time, when Cap and Clint were catching a bit of the Summer Olympics; and immediately insisted he would compete in the next Games. They’re... working hard to dissuade him. No progress as yet. 

BONUS: Agent Maria Hill 
- Is married to a dental surgeon, with two adopted children—boy and girl, both born in Korea. The team knows about her family; but it’s understood that the topic is not to be discussed. 
- Quite a competent amateur physicist, and enjoys discussing physics with Bruce over lunch at vegan restaurants. 
- Fabulous baking skills. Usually makes her kids and husband a batch of muffins before heading in to work, whenever she’s home and has time. On free weekends, she creates complex cakes and sweet rolls and fancy breads. Says she finds it relaxing. 
- Her workstation is the most organized, ever, in the history of S.H.I.E.L.D. and possibly of the world. Peggy would’ve been extremely proud.

(There's no reason for this final picture, I just found it in my vaults and wanted to share it.  -- Hamlette)

Monday, February 12, 2018

We Love Superheroes Week -- Secret Identity Quiz


Time for our first game!  So many superheroes have secret identities.  I know a few don't -- Thor's superhero name is also his real name, after all.  But most of them try to keep their private lives and their superheroic lives separate.  We fans know both their names, of course.  Most of the time.  Our first game for the week tests how well you know your superheroes and their alter egos!  Here are the names of twelve super people, and you need to give me their superhero names.

Put your answers in a comment on this post, and I'll share the answers and everyone's scores at the end of the week.  I've put comments on moderation so there can be no cheating :-) 

1.  Sam Wilson

2.  Sue Storm-Richards

3.  Bruce Wayne

4.  Helen Parr

5.  T'Challa

6.  Diana Prince

7.  Steve Rogers

8.  Ororo Monroe

9.  Peter Parker

10.  Natasha Romanoff

11.  Charles Xavier

12.  Jubilation Lee


Have fun!  And don't forget to check the master post for links to other stuff people are sharing for the party.  You can also find the official tag here and enter the giveaway here.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

We Love Superheroes Week -- Master Post


Holy buckets of fun, Batman!  We Love Superhero Week is here!

To simplify matters, we're going to use this one link-up widget for everyone's posts. All the posts. Whether they're tags, blogathon posts, games you've thought up, whatever! All your posts go here:


At the end of the week, I'll do a wrap-up post with a list where the tags are separated from the other posts, but for right now, please put the links to your We Love Supereroes Week posts in that widget and don't leave me a zillion comments with the links in them. I'll be putting comments on moderation when I post games soon, so that way you will all be able to access each others' posts without me needing to find time to hit "publish" on your comments first.

If you're wondering what movies/shows/topics have been claimed for the blogathon, the list is here.

Now that we've got that straight, go enter the giveaways here, check out the blog tag here, and start having fun!  There will be games coming soon, so check back all week!

Pow!  Snikt!  Thwip!

We Love Superheroes Week -- The Giveaway


The post you've been waiting for, right?  The giveaway!  Feast your eyes on the prizes:


This giveaway is open WORLD-WIDE!  Here are all the pertinent details about the various prizes, along with close-up photos and so on.

There are FOUR bookmarks, one each for FOUR winners:

1. Captain America: Civil War
2. Laminated film cells from Thor
3. More laminated film cells from Thor
4. Wonderwoman


There are THREE sets of buttons, each containing four buttons.  One set each will go to THREE winners!

1.  Zap! Pow! Splatt! Bonk!
2.  Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash
3.  Biff!  Sock!  Bam!  Eeeyow!


There is ONE Avengers-themed set that will go to ONE winner, containing one lenticular spiral mini-notebook and one magnet:


There are TWO list pad sets that will go to TWO winners, one with a Batman-themed magnetic list pad and a Batman pencil with cape, and one with a Wonder Woman-themed magnetic list pad and a Wonder Woman pencil with cape:


ONE S.H.I.E.L.D.-themed set that will go to ONE winner, containing one SHIELD-logo pin and one SHIELD-logo magnet:


ONE brand-new copy of The Incredibles on DVD that will go to ONE winner:


This giveaway runs through the end of Saturday, February 17, 2017. I will choose the winners on Sunday, Feb. 18 and post them here, as well as notify the winners via the email addresses you provide to the giveaway widgets when you enter. Please make sure you use an email address you check often. If I don't hear back from you by Sunday, February 25, I will disqualify you and pick a different winner for what was to have been your prize.

The widget will ask you to leave a comment with your choices of prizes. I do not guarantee that, if you win, you will receive one of the prizes you chose. I try to match people up with things they want the best I can, but sometimes I just can't do it. If there's anything you DO NOT WANT, PLEASE SAY SO in your comment as well.

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