Stories Matter: The Critic’s Thoughts on Captain America

If you were on the Internet yesterday, you probably saw the news that, in the new comic run that just came out, Captain America is really an undercover Hydra agent.

Just typing that sentence makes me vaguely sick to my stomach for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that Captain America was created by two Jewish guys during World War II specifically because they were “morally repulsed” by the actions of Nazi Germany. But there are so many more reasons I am angry than just that.

Art does not exist in a vacuum. Stories matter.

This is something we forget sometimes, I think.

Everything we choose to create, everything we bring into this world comes with myriad connections we may never have considered. And as responsible human beings, it is our JOB to consider all the implications we possibly can and to be aware of how our art can hurt people.

Because it can, and it does. And unfortunately, the people it hurts are usually the people who have been hurt time and again already.

Art does not exist in a vacuum. Stories matter.

Others have explained why this particular gimmick (it’s a gimmick; I don’t care what the PTB says) is tone-deaf and ignorant at best and downright hurtful and frankly enraging at worst, and they’ve explained it better than I can. (I would encourage you to read all of those links, especially the Twitter threads and the Panels.net article.)

Suffice it to say it doesn’t matter if this is a clone or an impostor or Evil Steve from a parallel universe or he’s being mind-controlled or if Marvel will retcon it at the end of the year (or, hell, even in the next issue). This “narrative twist” goes against everything Captain America has ever stood for, it spits in the face of his original creators and the Jewish community at large, and it does so at a time when we, as a global community, need real, good heroes more than ever. Even if the run finishes and it turns out Cap isn’t REALLY Hydra (and honestly, the editors are pushing the idea that he is SUPER HARD), the damage is done.

I am just so TIRED of this bullshit. I’m so tired of creators pushing the idea that morally gray antiheroes or actual villains are more interesting than people who try their best to do what’s right, no matter how hard it is. I’m so tired of ~edgy~ and ~gritty~. I’m so tired of evil characters being glorified, of good characters being gruesomely murdered or turned into evil characters for shock, publicity, and sales.

Art does not exist in a vacuum. Stories matter.

Right now, Marvel has forgotten both of those things.

News, Trailers, and Where Did August Go?

So, what’s been going on in the entertainment world since we found out who the new Doctor will be?

GLAD YOU ASKED.

Ben Affleck is Batman.
Yup, it was officially announced late last week that Affleck would be donning Batman’s cowl in the next Man of Steel movie. And, as you might expect, the Internet kind of exploded in all sorts of “oh blah he’ll be terrible” and “does nobody remember Daredevil?” and “WORST CASTING EVER.”

So basically, it was almost the exact repeat of what happened when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker, and you guys remember how that turned out, right?

Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight

Yes, let’s all have a round of applause…

I personally would be more excited if they’d announced Affleck was directing the movie (by all accounts, he’s a fantastic director), but I’m going to withhold judgement until a trailer hits and we actually get to SEE him as Batman. Until then, color me cautiously optimistic.

New Thor trailer.

So…normally I don’t do movies in November, but yeah, I’ll be making an exception for this one.

I am looking forward to the Maze Runner movie…
…solely because of this interview with author James Dashner. Here’s what he said when they asked him about the most important factor of making a successful book-to-movie adaptation:

I think to be careful of trying to be literal. A great example is the Harry Potter movies. I am a huge Harry Potter fan, I love the books. The first two movies, I felt were very literal to the book. It was like going through a checklist while I watched the movies, and it bored me to tears.

Then with the third movie, they thought “Well we can’t do that anymore, the books are getting huge,” so instead of trying to be literal they tried to transform the book into a cinematic experience.

It is what Peter Jackson did with The Lord of the Rings, and I think that is the key, to stay away from literal translation, and more about capturing the vision and spirit of the plot and characters.

Yes. Those are my thoughts. Exactly. I WANT TO BE MOVIE BROS WITH THIS MAN.

(I might also have already been looking forward to The Maze Runner for, um, other reasons…but this just makes me excited that it might actually be good.)

Teen Wolf season 3a ended, and here is what I learned:

– Scott is best when he’s being hero-Scott.
– Allison is a badass (or a BAMF, if that is your preferred terminology).
– The (platonic) relationship between Lydia and Stiles was my favorite out of the entire season.
– GO TEAM HUMAN.
– The UST between Derek and Stiles could power a small city.
– Isaac is the spiritual successor to Jack Harkness, and it is HILARIOUS.
– Sheriff Stilinski + Mama McCall 4-ever.
– Jeff Davis can’t math.
– Slow motion was used effectively precisely once out of the 1,000 times it appeared in 12 episodes.
– The writers have Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny and only the loosest grasp of consistency, continuity, and character motivation.
– It’s easy to call the hidden villain when you realize it’s the only way to make that character interesting.
– Flashbacks are the most aggravating narrative tool EVER and you SHOULD FEEL BAD FOR USING THEM IN TWO EPISODES. BAD WRITERS NO COOKIE.
– Peter attended the same community theater class for Overly Dramatic Villain Monologuing that both Gerard and Deucalion did.
– Stiles is my favorite forever.

Dylan O'Brien as Stiles Stilinski from Teen Wolf

For so very many reasons.

How has your August been, friends?

And the new Doctor is…

The BBC announced on Sunday that Peter Capaldi will take over the TARDIS when Matt Smith leaves at the end of this year.

Peter Capaldi

Ladies and gentlemen, your new Doctor.

I’m actually kind of excited. I mean, I was hoping that they would go with someone either not white or not male to shake things up, but I knew it was a long shot.

Capaldi’s been on the show before (in the episode “The Fires of Pompeii”) and by all accounts he’s a terrific actor. That episode would be the only thing I’ve seen him in, so I can’t really comment on that.

I will miss Matt Smith. Even though it took me most of the first episode to get used to him, I have ultimately really enjoyed his take on the Doctor, especially since he drew a lot on Patrick Troughton’s portrayal (and I love the Second Doctor with SOOOO much of my geeky heart). However, as always, I’m intrigued to see what a new actor will do with the role.

Naturally, some fans are displeased (because there are always a few who whine about the changing of the guard; that’s part of being a fan, right?), even going so far as to say that Capaldi is “too old” for the part.

William Hartnel, Doctor #1

The First Doctor frowns on your shenanigans.

Which…um…

Patrick Troughton (the Second Doctor)

The Second Doctor is not amused.

Have you seen this show?

Jon Pertwee (Third Doctor)

The Third Doctor would like you to reconsider your statements.

If you’re saying he’s “too old,” CLEARLY you are unfamiliar with the nearly-50-year history of this show. And since Capaldi is the same age as William Hartnell (the First Doctor) was when he was cast, it seems fitting in a way, a little like they’re making full circle for the 50th anniversary this year.

So yeah. I’m looking forward to seeing what the new Doctor will bring to the table.

How do you feel about the new Doctor? Excited? Disappointed? Ambivalent? Wondering what the hell I’m talking about? (If it’s the latter, here’s your primer. Now get thee to Netflix and watch!)

News & Notes from Jan. 21-25

– As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, J.J. Abrams will be the director of the next Star Wars movie.

i'm-ok-with-this

Seriously, Abrams did a great job with Star Trek, and Star Trek Into Darkness looks amazing. I can’t wait to see what he does with Star Wars.

– More characters have been added to X-Men: Days of Future Past, specifically Rogue, Kitty Pryde, and Iceman. Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, and Shawn Ashmore are all coming back to reprise their roles.

Back in the ’90s, Marvel took a bunch of X-Men comic arcs and turned them into chapter books, and my brother and I ate them up like they were candy. Days of Future Past was one of the books we had, so a combination of nostalgia and my inner Marvel fangirl is making me go “squee!” every time I read another update about this movie.

– I spent most of Friday–well, I spent it working, but on breaks, I was hanging out on Twitter doing #PitMad, basically a 12-hour-long pitch party where agents hang out on the hashtag and writers condense their sprawling works into 133 characters (because you have to save room for the hashtag!). First time in my life I’ve ever tried to condense a story into a Tweet, and it is quite possibly harder than writing an actual query letter.

I didn’t get any bites (not surprising), but it was a fun experiment and I’d like to try it again…perhaps with a little more prep time. A big thanks to Brenda Drake for putting it on and Becca Weston for offering a place for us to practice our pitches!

– My friend and co-ML Rebekah is in the final round of the Curiosity Quills NaNo Virtuosos contest! This is the final round, and the winner gets a publishing contract.

You can read the pitch and first 30 pages of her novel, Catalyst, at the website and then click here to vote. Voting closes February 8.

Holy Cow, Disney Owns Star Wars

So, if any of you were near a computer between 3:30 and 4 (Central time) today, you saw the “HOLY CRAP” news that Disney has purchased Lucasfilm.

And the Internet promptly had a collective freakout.

My reaction:

Seriously, the potential for character mashups with this will be EPIC.

Moises at Arthouse Cowboy has a lot of information on what’s coming from this acquisition, and he’s continuing to update that post with more information.

I just want to bring out two salient points from his article:

3) Disney plans to release a new Star Wars movie every 2-3 years starting in 2015. All of them will be in 3D.

4) Star Wars Episodes 7, 8, and 9 will be a trilogy. The treatment is done, is in “early stage development”, and the movies are to be released every other year.

Star Wars is actually the story responsible for getting me writing in the first place. The series holds a very special place in my heart, despite the significant problems I had with the prequels.

Generally, I don’t think there’s any way Disney could screw Star Wars up more than Lucas already has. And given how well Pixar and Marvel have done since Disney acquired them, this may actually be a very, very good thing.

While I would be hard-pressed to say that I’m squeaky-fangirl excited about this, I am cautiously optimistic.

And seriously, Disney? I want to see some Star Wars characters in Kingdom Hearts 3. And Marvel, while we’re at it. Make it happen.

Elves, Hobbits, and Allomancy: Book and Movie News!

First off, Christopher Eccleston—better known as “Nine” to Doctor Who fans like me—will be playing the villain in the next Thor movie, Thor: The Dark World.

He’ll be playing Malekith the Accursed, the ruler of the Dark Elves.

To say my inner fangirl is pleased that the Doctor is going to be in a Marvel movie is like saying the Atlantic Ocean is a little damp. I can’t WAIT to see what Eccleston looks like as a Dark Elf!

And you’ve probably heard this already, but Peter Jackson announced on his Facebook page that the Hobbit films will be three instead of just two.

Why no. I’m not excited about this AT ALL. (I only saw the original LOTR movies eleven times in theaters and own three different versions of the movies on DVD and dressed up as Arwen for Halloween and went to Trilogy Tuesday to see all three movies when Return of the King came out. I’m just a casual fan.)

And finally, Brandon Sanderson just finished writing the Wheel of Time series.

His blog post is a fascinating look at what it’s been like these past few years, working on completing one of modern fantasy’s most famous epics while still eking out his own stuff in between.

And even more importantly, here’s what he says about his upcoming projects:

Returning to the stories of Kaladin, Shallan, Jasnah, and Dalinar will be my next major project. You’ll also see me doing revisions on both The Rithmatist and Steelheart this fall—as I’ve made arrangements for both to be published next year or the year after. You’ll probably hear more about them in the days to come. And yes, I WILL be doing a sequel to The Alloy of Law.

Emphasis mine.

I won’t lie; I nearly shrieked with joy when I read that. As it was, I punched the air and danced in my office chair.

The Alloy of Law - autographed!

Because we all know how I feel about The Alloy of Law.

Between these three awesome pieces of news, it was difficult to keep the smile off my face all day. In fact, the knowledge that there will be a sequel to The Alloy of Law is almost enough to offset the news that another writer got a seven-figure deal for republishing their Twilight fanfic.

That news prompted me to jokingly ask Becca if I should revise a Star Wars fic I wrote when I was eleven. And that spurred a Twitter conversation involving Andrew, Avery, and Lady Jai, among others, the end result of which was yes, there should be a Star Wars-based fanfic mashup featuring space vampires, erotic sexy-times, insane amounts of angst, forbidden love between a Jawa and a Wookiee, and 101 things you can do with a blaster.

I’m so tempted to make that my NaNo project for this year.