Tag Archives: MCU

Shot through the heart: Why I have a thing for Hawkeye

5 Aug

Kate Bishop in Hawkeye #9
(Fraction, Aja)

This is pretty much old news – forgive me. Being on vacation and weeks of confounding problems with my home WiFi have prevented me from debriefing San Diego Comic Con a couple of weeks ago.

But, to quote Ruby Rod in The Fifth Element, OHMYGOD! OHMYGOD! OHMYGOD! OHMYGOD! OHMYGOD!

Master producer Kevin Feige’s announcements regarding the MCU’s future are beyond incredible. First on the docket are a number of series extending the stories of several Avengers secondary characters as Disney launches its streaming service, Disney+, this fall. Loki isn’t dead! Winter Soldier will have some time to pal around with Falcon before the latter takes up Cap’s shield! Scarlet Witch and her AI-driven boyfriend Vision will happily co-exist in the 1950s (I think)!

But the best news was about Jeremy Renner’s next gig – starting with the logo:

I have to confess, I am a comics newbie (bordering on poseur). I didn’t grow up reading comic books. The few times I’d get my hands on an odd title, I read it too quickly to appreciate the art and got frustrated for entering in the middle of a story line with no context. I only got interested in Marvel because Robert Downey Jr. knocked the genre sideways in the first Iron Man film in 2008. As the MCU saga continued, I got more and more intrigued, until finally this year, I dipped my toe in the broad, deep pool of source material with the 2012-2015 Hawkeye series written by Matt Fraction and illustrated (mostly) by David Aja.

The lettering of Marvel’s announcement card matches Aja’s distinctive graphic design – and I knew that! (Call me cool or what?)

Created by Stan Lee and Don Heck in 1964, Hawkeye began his career as a reluctant villain but soon became an Avenger, replete with mask and tights. Fraction and Aja brilliantly bring the character into the 21st century by focusing on the daily life of Clint Barton, who is all too human in an industry dominated by super soldiers, aliens and gods. When he jumps off buildings, he breaks bones and ends up in the hospital; in most panels, he’s sporting bandages and bruises from the action a few pages back. He spends a chunk of his ample Avengers salary to keep creeps away from his neighbors in their Bed-Stuy apartment building. He is literally a guy folks want to have a beer with.

Unlike the movie incarnation, here Clint is divorced and has a history with a number of super-women, including Black Widow. One exception is his mentee Kate Bishop, who has filled in for Clint as Hawkeye upon occasion. Young and ambitious, she is probably the most important woman in his life – all the more reason to keep their relationship professional despite an occasional sidelong glance.

The new series will introduce Kate – no word yet on who will play her. Given this photo of Renner exalting before her image from the Fraction/Aja series, it looks like they’ll build in a lot of the comics’ aesthetic and personality – whoo hoo!

What I love about the modern era’s Clint Barton, in print and on the screen, is this: Hawkeye is in on the joke and fully appreciates the ridiculousness of his being an Avenger. Clint states on the first page of the comic, as he falls a dozen stories and hurtles toward a hard landing on a parked car: “I’m an orphan raised by carnies fighting with a stick and a string from the Paleolithic era.” Or, as Hawkeye told Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Age of Ultron: “The city is flying, we’re fighting an army of robots and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense.”

It doesn’t have to make sense. It just has to be awesome. And this is so, so awesome!

See you on the flip side …

P.S. As anyone who’s seen a Jeep commercial lately knows, Jeremy Renner has a side gig as a musician. Not my genre at all, but hey, you gotta admit the guy looks happier than he does in most of the Avengers movies.

So … about Fat Thor

29 May

It was a spectacular sight gag, I’ll give them that.

After Avengers: Endgame’s nearly hopeless first act, the action moved to New Asgard on the Nordic coast. Hulk and Rocket arrive to find Valkyrie had survived the snap, and Korg and Miek were happily playing Fortnite and eating their weight in terrestrial pizza. Then, he appeared, striding across the floor strewn with beer bottles and pizza boxes, hauling around a gut and back rolls: the God of Thunder.

(Insert your joke here. Everyone else has.)

Truth be told I think I figured mine out too. | THAT MOMENT WHEN EVERY CHUBBY KID ON THE BLOCK FIGURED OUT THEIR NEXT HALLOWEEN COSTUME | image tagged in fat thor,memes,halloween,costume | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

On first viewing, the scene was welcome comic relief in keeping with Thor: Ragnarok, the film that finally gave Chris Hemsworth’s character some character. In retrospect, as a number of people have pointed out, his situation in Endgame wasn’t all that funny. After five years of PTSD, depression, alcoholism and a half-universe of guilt weighing on him for not killing Thanos when he first had the chance, his emotional pain was literally writ large on his physical form. In that context, the fat jokes were particularly cheap shots.

The writers and directors of Endgame have talked a lot about how they and Hemsworth wanted to take the character in a radically new direction that not only addressed his mental state but also the nature of superheroes. They admit Thor was not much more than a pretty-boy brat in previous Avengers films, implying that losing his six pack after too many six packs helped him become the god he was supposed to be all along. Besides, they say, superheroes come in all shapes and sizes. Screenwriter Christopher Markus said, “We leave him in that state at the end of the movie, even though he’s emotionally resolved. We fix his problem, and it’s not his weight.”

Good for them. Easy for them, too, because Thor is a male character played by a notoriously athletic actor wearing a fat suit that he certainly didn’t wear to do press for the film. That wouldn’t have been possible for the women.

Valkyrie is in similar straits when we first meet her in Thor: Ragnarok. An emotional wreck after seeing all her comrades die in battle, she staggers from bottle to bottle to drown her sorrow and pain. Arguably, she’s been drinking longer and harder than Thor ever did — yet she’s still in fighting trim.

Can’t there be a thicc Valkyrie – without it being a symptom of a serious mental illness, by the way? Why shouldn’t Captain Marvel be bulked up to better blast all those photons? How wonderful could it be if Pepper Potts wins Tony Stark’s heart and runs his multi-billion dollar corporation while shaped more like a pepper pot? We can only wonder.

There are so few female main characters in the saga in the first place, even fewer who are women of color – and the very fact there are any women at all riles up the trolls in spectacularly brutal fashion. I can only hope Marvel will one day take the truly radical direction and create a character who is fantastic, female and fat.

No joke.

See you on the flip side …

“Part of the journey is the end.”

13 May


Download at wallup.net

I saw Avengers: Endgame twice in its first two weeks in theaters, and I’m still aflutter. The first viewing was like a roller coaster: you brace for whatever the Russo brothers are going to throw at you, then you give over to the speed and twists and lack of brakes and end the three-hour ride exhilarated and exhausted.

This second time through, I let my mind wander a little more:

  • For all her fighting with, then against, Thanos, Nebula still has time to get her nails done. She also has eyelashes a Kardashian would envy.
  • Speaking of eyelashes, Chris Evans’ look like they’re made of chinchilla.
  • Natasha wore the most gorgeous lip color on her one-way trip to Vormir. Perhaps MAC will market it as “Soul Stone Sacrifice.”
  • So why didn’t Ben & Jerry’s come out with Hulk-a-Hulk-a-Burning Love – in gallon containers?
  • Speaking of Chris Evans, he is the most symmetrical human being I’ve ever seen.
  • Why would Scott Lang – a San Francisco native – eat hard shell tacos?
  • How much did William Hurt get paid to stand silently in the back of row of Tony Stark’s funeral tableau as his only appearance in the whole movie?
  • How much more did Samuel L. Jackson get paid for the same job?
  • How many Academy Award winners were in that movie? I counted seven people and eight Oscars: Michael Douglas (2), William Hurt, Brie Larson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Redford, Tilda Swinton and Marissa Tomei.
  • Speaking of Chris Evans’ symmetry, baby got back.

Over the past weeks, I’ve been obsessed. I’ve gone down every YouTube rat hole – including one hailing the mouse as the actual savior of the universe. I’ve located every Easter egg, read thought pieces in the New York Times and unsuccessfully searched for a Kevin Feige bobblehead. It’s not healthy – but that’s how I roll.

I have been a superfan many times in my life. I saw the original Star Wars 18 times in the theaters and still have four original action figures (minus the rifles, dammit). I was a stone cold X-Files freak until about halfway through Season Six, when I threw in the towel because Scully had been pregnant for fourteen months and Mulder was noticeably AWOL. The show Lost? I LOVED the final episode – don’t @ me.

Now I’ve been sucked into the MCU and never want to leave. I can only wonder why, as a grown woman who could be investing my time into more refined pursuits (writing, knitting, going down a Tom Petty YouTube rat hole like I’m supposed to), Endgame has hit me so hard.

This may be because, as much as it exists to be cool and blow stuff up, the final story of the 22-film saga centered on family bonds. Who do you choose as your family when you have none of your own due to being frozen for 66 years, or having been an assassin since childhood, or being a talking raccoon? If you could have one last conversation with a parent before they die, what would you talk about? And when death takes those you love, how can you possibly move on?

iron man marvel GIF

It’s also because of Iron Man, or more correctly, Tony Stark – or even more truthfully, Robert Downey Jr. His talent is breathtaking, funny, mercurial and heartfelt. His unique take on this role rescued his career after years of addiction and bad casting. It also set the whole MCU on the path of greatness, with subsequent films attracting amazing actors who embraced being sorcerers and African kings in vibranium cat suits and gamma-irradiated big green men without hesitation or apology.

Downey Jr. is six months older than me, and there won’t be any other central Marvel character who is my age in this universe again. At best, today’s greats might be featured in secondary roles, as everyone from Glenn Close to Annette Bening has been. I’m glad these timeless actors are getting work in such high-profile properties … but they aren’t the heroes anymore.

What does that say to me, at this point in my non-heroic life? I’m still working on that.

One of Tony Stark’s best lines from Endgame in his hologram goodbye to his four year old daughter: “Part of the journey is the end.” That’s really heavy news for me, much less a little girl mourning her dad. It bumps up against what I’ve wrestled with since I turned 50 more than three years ago, followed by the loss of my most beloved musical heroes and my novel imploding after more than a decade of work. With those parts of my life wrapped up, what now?

I am trying to frame my Endgame obsession as inspiration for my next great move forward: writing a totally different novel, balancing my personal and professional responsibilities, maybe even falling for a new favorite band. After all, in the MCU, there’s always another saga to be told.

See you on the flip side …

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