RBB2015 Art

Voila!! It’s a couple of days late, since my author was very busy with personal stuff AND writing another RBB fic at the same time, but finally the day has arrived for my Cap-Ironman 2015 Reverse Big Bang art to come to light!

It’s my second year, and I’m proud of the fact that I’m no longer classified as a newbie! Also, that this year I have done a larger quantity of pieces to help my author along – in part, actually because of their fic. I took a completely different direction from last year, challenging myself to go down the steampunk path. Actually, the initial character sketches of steampunked Tony, Pepper and Steve (which I was pretty happy with) detailing clothing, patterns and ornaments didn’t end up being part of the final product, but I enjoyed doing them, and they definitely influenced my work.

This was the result:

RBB2015 Heart

This was a later drawing, a line in the fic which really resonated, and made me want to draw a mechanical heart. So I did 🙂 Unfortunately, something about the red blood tubes makes it vaguely resemble a rugby ball… This was drawn in pencil and acrylic paint.

 

RBB2015Ship#2

The Iron Maiden! I’m not sure if I like it exactly, but here’s a depiction of the ship – Jarvis was obviously doing the laundry when I took a reference photo 🙂 This was done in pencil.

 

RBB2015 Cap'n'Tony

So, this is an earlier scene where Tony meets Captain America for the first time. It was actually drawn after the next picture, because my author created a really cool opportunity to have a sort of parallel scene 🙂 This was done in pencil.

 

RBB2015Masked

Last but not least, the original artwork!! (Or, rather, the original piece intended to be displayed for the RBB Challenge). This was a scenario I came up with, and my author rose to the occasion magnificently, writing a touching scene that also explained why Steve was in clothes and Iron Man was wearing his armour in a very convincing way! (Hooray!) This was done in watered down black acrylic paint, in lieu of watercolour or ink, which I had no access to, and pen for the detailing.

 

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Second companion piece for: Staring Into An Eclipse

BB 2014 Pencil Final

My second piece for the 2014 Cap-Ironman Big Bang – this one took rather longer, even though it’s only pencil, as I had to redraw it. Originally, I was going with Tony being shorter than Steve, never having seen them standing side-by-side in the 616 verse and thus simply presuming that he was. As it turns out, they’re the same height!

Thor: Dark World Review Part 2

As always, my review just grew and grew… (you should see all of the unfinished Cap 2 drafts) and as always, I seem to have put off writing my response up till  – gosh, half a YEAR – later. Not on purpose, I swear. Here is part two of my review on Thor: The Dark World. It pertains to everything else, apart from the premise and the first act of the film, which I discussed here in my first review. The delay has been terrible, and for that, I apologise.

Have a beautiful shot of Asgard’s gate to the Rainbow Bridge to cheer you up!

Directed by Alan Taylor, Thor: The Dark World was, in my opinion, a very spotty film, especially given its title. Whereas in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there is an underlying tension that is maintained throughout the film regarding the Winter Soldier himself, despite his minimal screentime, Thor: The Dark World doesn’t pull it off, with the titular Dark Elves neglected and underdeveloped to create a weak and cliched overarching storyline. While there are certainly moments of well-placed levity, including a brilliant cameo with Chris Evans as Captain America, the film is carried by Tom Hiddleston as Loki, whose fascinating mixture of acerbic vulnerability and smooth menace lifts the film into decent territory and creates the contrast required to make Chris Hemsworth’s Thor a more interesting character.
While I have made my feelings on the subject abundantly clear, let’s reiterate in short: the dark elves were incomprehensible, because of both motive (turn the world Dark. Then what?) and voice distortion, and had been pushed to the side until that final climactic scene so that everyone can save the day again. The plot of the film wasn’t spectacular; in fact, it was rather predictable, to the degree that I guessed that Loki wasn’t really dead long before it was announced in that dramatic reveal. However, there were some good scenes, especially those where Thor is back on Earth or with Loki, as well as the earlier scenes with Kat Dennings as Darcy. I enjoyed being able to clearly see the relationship between Loki and Thor change (as Thor grasps a concept that had apparently been evading him for centuries). Having Loki to counteract his booming brawn always makes for a more interesting scene, but in Thor: The Dark World, this was enhanced by the new freedom to pull away from that cliché a bit since Thor was on his home turf and showed more of an appreciation for strategy and cleverness than he had previously displayed in the first Thor film. I felt that previously, Thor was too direct and arrogantly self righteous to be regarded with a deeper gaze (through no fault of Hemsworth’s superb acting; it was the character himself), and that the balance had to be created by giving Loki such a contrasting, painful past to agonise over. The juxtaposition is certainly effective, but also it just makes me a bit bored of Thor when he’s not interacting with a character profoundly different to his own.

Thor has been developed into a much more interesting character in Thor: The Dark World, thankfully!

On the other hand, with a character like Loki, it doesn’t matter who you play him against, because he’s interesting at the most fundamental level. The myriad of complexities that Loki is made up of, and the large screen time afforded to him and his arc is what sold the movie, for me. However, it brings up a debate which a lot of people have mentioned; that of the protagonist role. Named after Thor, the films so far have nominally focused on his story, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it is Loki who holds the audiences captive. Marvel has acknowledged it by giving the character solid expansion and time on screen, and while this seems to be a popular move, it rather undermines the story of Thor as the hero in some ways (although it makes for a better film). I wonder if there’s a chance of seeing an offshoot film with the anti-hero playing protagonist? I, for one, would definitely watch that!
Character-wise, Loki makes sense, and so does the theory behind his actions. Why is Odin so stupid? This is the crux of my problem in the Loki-Odin relationship – I find it very hard not to sympathise with Loki, because he seems, for the most part, to be surrounded by slightly boorish morons or Aesir who actively dislike him and cannot see past their furred cloaks. The Allfather gave up an eye for wisdom; would it hurt Marvel to portray him as someone who can make a good decision, or at least listen to reason every once in a while? Loki masquerading as Odin made better decisions than the Allfather himself.
It was therefore absolutely brilliant to have some Frigga-Loki interactions, and especially nice to see a woman whose strength lay just as much in her words and mind, as in the muscles of her arms. I think that the role of the mother was quite cleverly used as a device to bind Thor and Loki together, although I deeply regret that it resulted in the death of Frigga (who is played by Rene Russo). I do understand why it was necessary plotwise – for the two brothers to even think about teaming up, it couldn’t have been anyone else’s demise. Yet, there are so few female characters in Marvel, and the few that are mostly seem to be relatively younger women who are in a new relationship, or single; it would’ve made a good change, in my opinion, to also have a wiser matriarch, with a long marriage behind her and centuries of experiences to have shaped her. Somehow, even though I’d had this point spoiled a few months before I saw the movie, I managed to forget and thus be extremely surprised and somewhat angered all over again. The Fridging of Frigga was not to my taste. At all. Especially since we learn at the beginning of the film that she can cast illusions and send them quite a distance away – to Loki’s cage. As she had sufficient time to take Jane Foster and leave the room in the scene, I fail to see why the director didn’t simply make her appear to be dead.
Well, I guess you can’t use the same trope twice in one film, right?
My reaction at Loki’s death was surprised: but not for the right reasons. Hang on, I thought, Loki’s dead? That can’t be, no way would Marvel kill Loki off, it would be bad for business. Also, Ragnarok! Thus, after appreciating the very well acted scene, I concluded that Loki was Not Dead. And then I went ahead with my winning streak, and correctly guessed that Loki was the guard, and surprised my friend, who somehow hadn’t seen it coming 🙂 I couldn’t properly suspend my disbelief at his death, and it saddens me a little, because it mean that I was watching the scene with jaded eyes. Although, they did get me at the Odin part, that was good. Overall, the second half of the film improved upon the first, and the ending was a great cliffhanger.
I really loved Darcy, her snark was great, but I didn’t like the intern of intern drama, especially when she seems to get together with him at the end of the film. One kiss, I can understand, I guess – a the world did NOT end, yay, we live! kiss – but Darcy was a minority as a woman in a film who is single and happy about it (or seemed to be), and I liked that, and appreciated it a heck of a lot. So that annoyed me. Also, the slap is being overused in movies. But Jane is still better in this film than in the previous one (you can find my opinions on her over here, I wrote a thing). On that note, I would also be keen to seen more racial variety, because as it stood, we had Heimdall, who was very well played once more by Idris Elba, and Kurse, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who is very briefly seen and then turns into a CGI berserker-elf. Who promptly dies. And that’s about it for diversity.
I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but the other thing that piqued me was the lack of acknowledgement of why no help is coming from outside quarters. To drop in a line is easy – the audience understands that due to budget constraints it’s hard to get other Avengers to lend a hand, so pragmatic viewers wouldn’t have been expecting anything, but really, a simple, “oh, Stark’s dealing with an emergency in Oceania, Banner’s off-radar and Cap’s on a mission with Black Widow and Hawkeye, sorry they can’t help” would have helped so much!

The last thing I wanted to mention is the slightly disturbing trend to the Phase 2 films so far: the metaphorical hanging up of the cape. In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark blows up his suits and operates his reactor out of his chest. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Natasha Romanov’s cover is blown and she goes to ‘discover herself’, while Steve Rogers distances himself from the role of hero as he goes on a personal on a mission to find the Winter Soldier with Sam Wilson. Now, in Thor: The Dark World, Thor decides to return to Earth and forego his princely duties on Asgard for the time being. I have no idea what’s happened to Clint Barton and Bruce Banner, but I assume that one is in psychiatrists’ hands, and the other has gone back to a third world country to lie low and help the locals.

The question is; how do they reforge the Avengers in Age of Ultron?What do you think?-Let’s call me Lily

Sam Wilson, the Fresh-Faced Falcon in the Sky

Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Or, CA:TWS, as people have logically been labelling it (for some reason, this makes me think about cat food, though, so I’ll just stick to the full name 🙂 )

I went to watch the newest Marvel offering with two friends, and the one on my left (“on your left!”) hated it, and the one on my right loved it. Now, after loads of brainstorming, I feel ready to attempt the colossus thing that will be my very spoilerific series of reviews.

So. This is how things will work: I shall be splitting this up into different parts, because otherwise the word-length of this thing will be awful, and I’ll jump all over the place and nothing will make sense. I’ll be linking my posts to each other for ease of access, and also, that way you can read the parts that you want to, without wading through masses of words you don’t care enough about to read.

Disclaimer: in the desire for all honesty, I just want to remind you all that when I’ve written about something here, especially in review context, it’s usually an opinion that has been revised and discussed with other people, as well as influenced by the reviews of others which I have read. Please keep that in mind 🙂

For a look at my reaction to the introduction of The Winter Soldier, click HERE!

For a look at my response to the development of Captain America, click HERE!

If you don't want to be SPOILED, fly away, birdie!!!

If you don’t want to be SPOILED, fly away, birdie!!!

I really admire Marvel in their adaptation of Sam Wilson’s character in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Sam (codename: The Falcon) is a former USAF pararescueman trained by the military in aerial combat using a specially designed wing pack, whose best friend died in battle. Played by Anthony Mackie, Sam is something of a cross between the ‘buddy’ in the buddy cop film (sharing that role with Natasha Romanov, codename: The Black Widow) as well as the more supportive and emotionally stable role of the ‘love interest’ (which is not to say that he is the love interest – he simply has some of the attributes commonly associated with the role, especially for superhero films). I enjoyed his quips, which were great for the necessary moments of comic relief, but he also has a more serious side and seems pretty well-rounded for a new face on set; a pleasant surprise, seeing that ‘funny characters’ are often sidelined and serve no purpose apart from their humour. He was comedic, but he was also heroic, a good friend, compassionate and helpful. He also contributed quite lot in the climactic sequence and saved the day together with Steve and Natasha. As Mackie describes in an interview, Sam has “more of a working relationship [with Captain America], a respect relationship as opposed to a leader and follower. The three of us [Steve, Sam and Natasha] work really well together.

falconncap

He’s also an empathetic character who gives us insight about PTSD in a vastly different way to Tony Stark’s civilian take on it in Iron Man 3I was especially happy to see PTSD being covered in a film about soldiers. This is such an important issue that rarely ever gets the attention it deserves in our society. Most films glance over the traumatic effects of war, and the long-lasting impacts that it has on people’s lives, and focus more on the action, so to have the support group scene was a big step forward, in my opinion, and this was emphasised by Marvel’s take on it. Instead of emasculating Sam for caring about the emotional welfare of other people, or Steve and the other members in the group for wanting or needing that type of support, Marvel showed it as a regular course of action for people; something to be sought out on a soldier’s return and recognised as an important part of readjustment to life. The scene is also vital for the development of Wilson’s characterisation, as it gives Marvel a supportive male figure, whereas this role has normally remained within the domain of women.

The Falcon hails from one of the most iconic of Marvel’s African-American superheroes, preceding many of DC’s creations and being perhaps most notable for being the first hero without the qualifier “Black” in his superhero name. It was great to see that Marvel kept this aspect in the MCU, as well as choosing a really great actor to play him – I believe Anthony Mackie is well-deserved in the positive reviews that he has received for his performance as Wilson. It’s also nice to note that he recognises how this will affect the lives of viewers, stating in an interview that the biggest thing for me, the most exciting thing for me, is to come out on Halloween and see all the little black kids dressed up like the Falcon. There are so many parts of our society that are not catered to or represented fully and this will give a new generation of our society someone to look up to and identify with. That’s why I am so intensely focused on bringing the character to life in a special way.” The dedication which is apparent on the screen shows that Mackie’s desire to portray Sam Wilson as a way to give children the opportunity to have a role model to look up to in the MCU and honour the tradition of the character is clear from his performance, creating a character with true integrity and, even better, emitting a quiet self-confidence and aura of trustworthiness.

falconcatws

Sam’s ‘piloting’ is a cool twist, and a nice modernisation – I just hope that we get to see more of his comic-character shining through, because bird telepathy was really an integral part of his skill-set. Although, Marvel so far have either science or magic (which Jane reveals is just advanced, science in Thor: The Dark World, anyway), rather than actual supernatural stuff, which the telepathic ability kinda falls under (that or mutation, which is strictly not part of the MCU, because of copyright reasons), and thus I feel MCU isn’t going to do that, simply because they’re trying to make everything more believable. For example, everyone’s suits are more “real world” and not skin-tight outfits in bright colours, something that I will forever be thankful for. However, maybe MCU will surprise me and make another clever parallel in some way!

Simply put, Sam Wilson is a man, who, despite his retirement from the military after the death of his best friend in action, and how much it must have cost him to regain a sense of normalcy and routine, sacrifices a civilian life, takes in Cap and follows him till the end of the road, putting his trust in a relative stranger and highlighting his skills and humbleness in the simple statement; ” Don’t look at me – I do what he does, only slower“, that encapsulates his steady attitude towards life. I am proud that he’s joined the MCU cast.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: Chris Evans
Steve Rogers: Chris Evans

is that even REAL????

This was just about my first response to the film.

I’m going to show you two shots, of the same actor, Chris Evans, first as Skinny Steve Rogers, and then as Captain America.

Yep, people, this is THE SAME PERSON. He must have done some intensive exercise...in both directions, since he's not that skinny in real life either.

Yep, people, this is THE SAME PERSON.
He must have done some intensive exercise…in both directions, since he’s not that skinny in real life either.

So, yeah…I was gobsmacked that the change shown in Captain America was real, not part CGI or to different actors. I realise that there were quite a lot of special effects like camera angle-shots that allowed the change to be emphasised and to trick viewers into seeing Captain America as much more physically impressive than Steve Rogers, like the ones in the Hobbit for when Gandalf and Bilbo are sitting at the same table, but Bilbo’s about 4 feet back, but still…

Erm, did anyone see a resemblance between Agent Peggy Carter and Black Widow??? Or is it just me? I realise that their faces are completely different, I’m talking more about the attitude of, yeah, let’s just shoot the dude to see if his shield works, their bright red lipstick and the hairstyle (actually, now that I think about it more, Natasha doesn’t wear bright red lipstick, and their hairstyles are way different. And Natasha’s attitude isn’t the same as Peggy’s. Um. They’re completely different.)

Anyway, so they aren’t alike in any way, but I still somehow thought there was a resemblance between them. Did anyone else?

Peggy Carter

Peggy Carter

The Black Widow

The Black Widow

Another major impression I had was admiration of the costume designers, who explained how they came up with the evolving Captain America costumes in a really interesting special feature. The costumes were all really cool, and you can definitely see that they used a lot of comic books to inspire the various costumes, as well as research practicality and real 1940’s army gear.

Personally, I found that all the tech in Captain America was a bit, um, advanced…like stuff we’d only have on this side of the century. I realise that I don’t know anything about technology, but I’ve seen some of the WW2 planes, and they were nowhere as sleek as the ones on screen, just to start off with. I guess they decided to do it for effect, but I feel that it would have made the Tesseract stuff that much more  impressive if the other technological aspects weren’t so advanced. But what do I know? Maybe they did have planes like that in 1940! It was hilarious, because my brother was practically drooling over Red Skull’s car (“not a scratch” lol).’ My favourite piece of tech was Roger’s motorbike, which reminded me somewhat of Hagrid’s motorcycle in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Chris Evans played the earnest Steve Rogers excellently, grounding his next (at least 3 more movies!) performances as Captain America well, in my opinion, and really bringing across the sense of righteousness that Steve has about right and wrong which have made him the icon of morality in Marvel, as well as the core values of Steve, who, in reality, doesn’t actually follow orders very well, preferring to act as he judges the situation (both aspects which have emerged from comic-verse, and are integral to Captain America’s origin story). Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell, was, in my opinion, a wonderful example of the competency that women in WWII would have had to display, and her character was fleshed out into much more than simply ‘Steve Roger’s sweetheart’, which I appreciated very much. Especially since after Steve survives, Marvel will probably focus on the lost romance between them. Sebastian Stan as James ‘Bucky’ Barnes was great too, cementing the close bonds between Steve and Bucky and depicting their friendship as something to be built upon, especially in light of comic-verse and the title of the next Captain America film – The Winter Soldier. Colonel Chester Phillips, played by Tommy Lee Jones had some very dry, funny lines, which I definitely appreciated – in fact, this film was quite light-hearted, with its chorus girls and playfulness. It was also nice to see fondue in context (I’d only heard/read/understood it from fanfics) and there some good reiteration (and parallels) of catch phrases like “you’re late”, “I could do this all day“, “I’m waiting for the right partner“, etc, etc., as well as the almost constant foreshadowing that I spotted, having already seen The Avengers.

However, I felt that Hugo Weaving, while a great actor, was limited in the role of the Red Skull. He was simply another rendition of the archetypal bad guy, without the depth or ambiguity which makes or villains interesting. This was especially clear in the face of the setting, wherein there were many ambiguities and cases of coercion and perceived lack of choice. Within the World War II placement, to have the bad guy as German and Nazi-red, with a snivelling right hand man that reminded me of Wormtail, felt like a bit of a cop-out to me, although it is a straightforward interpretation of the comics.

What I’m looking forward to now are the upcoming movies that Marvel has planned:

  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • The Avengers 2 (2015)

It sure sounds like they have a lot of stuff planned!