What Pacific Rim Got Right About Lead Characters

I didn’t see this movie until just yesterday. The news surrounding casting choices for Pacific Rim 2 brought the film back to my attention. I had read feedback saying that the movie was all visuals with poor acting and storyline. I had my expectations set for moderate, but when I actually saw the movie I was blown away.

The visuals were unbelievable. This movie had to be incredible in 3D. Watching the battles between the massive Jaegers and Kaiju gave me a giddy feeling that only the greatest action movie battles can offer. I found the concept of connecting two people through “the drift” to be creative and fascinating.

The music was fantastic. I will listen to that soundtrack again and again.

But the aspect of this film that stood out to me the most was the characters. Yes, the characters. The ones that were said to be “poorly acted”.

Characters are in my opinion, the most crucial part of any film. Why? Because characters are the closest point of connection between a film and its audience. We have thoughts, characters have thoughts. We have struggles, characters have struggles. We have emotions, characters have emotions. A character doesn’t have to be a human in order to connect with us, it could be a little cowboy doll, a dog, or a talking tree.

I have noticed that many action films tend to rely on large explosions and intense gunfire exchanges rather than on good characters. Many action film characters are one-dimensional robots. For the men, they are filthy mouthed robots with muscles and stubble. For the the women, they are also filthy mouthed robots with muscles and chests. There is very little that I find approachable about these robot characters, and I most certainly do not end the movie feeling connected to them.

Pacific Rim could have limped along with action movie cliches for characters. They had visuals, battles, and explosions that were more impressive than most. I anticipated action movie cliches upon going into this movie, but what I found instead was a lovely cast of lead characters who had depth and personality. By the end of the film I felt very connected to them and wished to see more of their stories. Now, on to these surprising characters.

Raleigh Beckett

Raleigh Beckett, a former Jaeger pilot who lost his brother to a Kaiju. At first glance, I had anticipated Raleigh to be yet another muscle-bound fighter with a chip on his shoulder. I was so wrong. Raleigh, while bearing sorrow and scars, was actually about the nicest guy you could meet. He was brave, smart, and the most capable pilot available. But he never flaunted this fact, not once. Even when enduring taunts and slights from young Hansen, he kept a straight face and held onto his dignity.

You got the greatest view of Raleigh’s character when you watched his interaction with Mako. He instantly picked up on her skills and potential, and he wasn’t afraid to speak up for her. He valued her as an equal in their job, but at the same time he treated her like a lady. He is proof that chivalry can exist without chauvinism.

As an equal he believed in her skill, never gave her a hard time when she failed during the first drift, and was delighted to have her on board with him.

As a gentleman, he told her that she looked good in the uniform (which she rocked). When young Hansen was badgering Raleigh and Mako in the hallway following their near-destructive mind drift, Raleigh said nothing about the slights to himself. But the moment Hansen started calling Mako obscene names, Raleigh stepped forward in her defense and gave Hansen a good whooping. I’ll admit, I found that scene incredibly satisfying. And then, as the Gispy Danger was drifting down to destroy the breach, Raleigh made sure Mako got out in her pod first before he worried about himself.

Raleigh and Mako

Raleigh was relate-able in that he readily admitted to his emotions. He was deeply saddened over his brother’s death, and traumatized by the shared feelings he had experienced.

He was brave, stepping up to do a job that was likely a suicide mission. He treated those around him with respect. He knew his skills and was confident in them, but didn’t feel the need to flaunt those skills or prove himself. He was kind and encouraging to Mako.

I would love to see more male heroes like this in action films. Raleigh Beckett was a breath of fresh air. His humanness in no way compromised the strong, effectiveness of his character; but rather, it enhanced it by allowing me to connect with him. I want to see more of Raleigh Beckett.

Mako Mori

Mako Mori, one of the programs “brightest and best”. Mako was everything that I could have dreamed up for a female heroine. She was strong, intelligent, and capable. But the thing that delighted me the most about her character were the softer aspects. She was very feminine, and she carried herself with a sweet humility that was refreshing. She was gentle and vulnerable, her character showed real emotions regularly.

Somewhere along the way, Hollywood decided that strong women characters needed to sterilize their emotions. Perhaps this was an over-reaction and poor attempt to compensate for the over-dramatized emotions women displayed in older decades of film. I don’t care for either extreme, since real women in the real world are a mix of both strength and emotion. I don’t know about you all, but I am ready for some real women characters that make me feel.

I felt when I watched Mako. I connected with her. She wants a chance to fight against the evil monsters who haunt her dreams and destroyed her family. She has worked very hard to get where she is. At the same time, she respects Marshall Stacker Penecost and knows that his negativity towards her involvement stems from love.

Mako wanted an opportunity to fight, but she didn’t insert herself to the point of becoming obnoxious. That’s fine, because her eager willingness is all that she needed to catch the attention of Raleigh Beckett, who went to war for her right to become his co-pilot. This created a fantastic point between the two characters where their separate character threads became woven together.

She didn’t fight it when Raleigh stood up for her, nor did she throw his efforts back in his face like many female characters would. Instead, she accepted it gratefully which gave her character all the more dignity and legitimacy.

Mako was adorable, strong, and endearing. I loved everything about her, from the soft way she spoke, to her blue hair, and her non-air-permitting hug of Raleigh during the end scene. Mako Mori was exactly what a strong female character should be. She was a real woman who I connected with and would love to see more of.

Marshall Pentecost

Marshall Stacker Penecost. He actually fit into a very typical action movie role of the veteran leader with a soft side. I don’t really mind those roles though, as this type of character lends a gravity to the story and creates a reference point for the other characters to revolve around. Plus, these types of characters are usual played by legends such as Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, and in this case, Idris Elba.

I greatly enjoyed seeing (and listening to) Idris Elba in this role. He has a rich and handsome quality to him that is riveting. He wasn’t unnecessarily harsh, had clear motivations for his actions, and the thought of him raising a tiny little Mako was simply adorable. His death at the end of the movie was a fitting and majestic end to his character.

I really have no idea why this movie didn’t do well in the US. There were many moments that just thrilled me in my movie-fan soul. Seriously, watching the Gipsy Danger drag a cruise ship into battle to use as a weapon was so exciting. My life-long movie dream was fulfilled when Raleigh said, “Let’s check for a pulse.” on the dead Kaiju, and proceeded to blast it to death beyond a shadow of a doubt. No one ever makes sure the enemy is good and dead, and it often comes back to bite them in the rear. Future action heroes could use some pointers from Raleigh Beckett in just about everything. The music made me feel energized and excited. The characters were awesome. Oh, and a shout-out to the little girl who played mini Mako Mori, she SOLD that role amazingly. How many kids do you see who can pull off intense emotions like that little lady did?

I am so excited to know that there is a sequel in the works, Pacific Rim 2: Maelstrom. There is very little known about the movie as of yet, beyond the fact that it was just announced John Boyega will be playing the lead. His character will be the son of Idris Elba’s character. John Boyega brought new life to the screen in The Force Awakens back in December, and it is rare that I have connected with a character as quickly as I did with Finn. I look forward to seeing what both he, and this sequel have to offer.

What did you think of Pacific Rim? What aspects of it blew you away? Were there any aspects of the film that disappointed you? What was your favorite moment? Did you also connect with the characters?

*****

If you enjoyed this post, then you will likely enjoy my other posts. Want to connect with me and talk all things movies? You can find me on Facebook and Twitter, and please follow my site for more great articles.

 

 

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10 Gifs That Sum Up Girl Meets World Fans

How we feel when the theme song starts playing.

#Rucas vs #Lucaya

Our reaction to the ‘triangle’.

Whenever something goes horribly wrong.

Us for the first 2/3 of the episode until all of the pieces come together.

Farkle time. What would we do without him?

When someone doesn’t understand why we love Girl Meets World.

Whenever Auggie opens his mouth with some words of wisdom.

When the episode ends and there are still problems and unresolved feelings.

When someone says something mean about Girl Meets World.

 

5 Reasons Why Captain America Will NEVER Become Hydra

You’ve probably read about the new comic book issue of Captain America where he is revealed to a double agent for Hydra.

I will admit, the moment I read the news I got pretty riled up. I do not read the comics myself, but I have done a lot of research into certain character’s backgrounds, Cap’s being one of them. There is just so much material to work with. But I am a huge movie fan and Captain America is my favorite superhero. Hearing that his good name was being defamed in a comic book, even as he continues to be a hero on-screen just hurt my  fangirl heart. Thousands of others feel the same way, if the explosion of outrage is any indication. It has honestly gotten out of hand with people making extreme threats and saying horrible things. Let me just take a minute here to say this. It’s very hypocritical to express love for a character who stands for goodness, justice, and freedom, only to later spew toxic waste out of your mouth towards someone for doing something you don’t like regarding that character. Guys, this is JUST a fictional story, these are FICTIONAL characters, and the individuals you are threatening are REAL people who have value and dignity. Let’s always keep that at the forefront of our minds when expressing our displeasure over something.

That being said, I was truly upset by this. We get very attached to our heroes, even if they are just fictional ones. And Captain America is like the pinnacle of a heroic good guy, and he has been that for 75 years.

But after my emotions had time to cool, and I spent a little bit more time in thought about this idea. It makes absolutely no sense for Marvel to turn their golden boy into a villain given the extreme success he has had both in print and on the screen. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that this is an incredibly effective (and incredibly aggravating) play on Marvel’s part to stir up a controversial media storm. In time, this plot twist will be explained and Captain America’s good character shall be restored. And here are 5 reasons why.

(1) Captain America is a pillar in American History. A recent documentary put out by Marvel celebrating 75 years of Captain America is incredibly eye-opening into just how intertwined the Star Spangled Man is with our real, life American history. Since the 1940s when Cap made his debut punching Adolf Hitler in the face, Captain America has had a response to the current events different generations of Americans have been facing. In every decade, Captain America has represented freedom, justice, and a moral compass that is both inspiring and comforting. He as a character has been a thread that tied multiple generations and events in history together.

(2) Captain America was created by two Jewish men, Jack Kirby and Joe SimonThese two men created a character who stood in the face of Nazi injustice. He never gave up, never gave in, and always stood up to defend those who could not defend themselves. To make the character of Steve Rogers a Nazi now would be grossly inappropriate and fly in the face of what those two men created. Even though I believe this plot twist to be a way to stir up controversy and gain some media attention, I find it incredibly cheap and highly inappropriate. It is glaringly disrespectful to the two men (both of whom were in the service during WWII) and the legacy that they left behind. For shame!

(3) Captain America is one of the most popular superheroes of all time. While we enjoy Tony Stark’s snark, the off-the-wall randomness of Peter Quill, or feel giddy when we watch Hawkeye hit yet another bullseye, there is just no one like Captain America. Even if he is not your personal favorite like he is mine, he represents a stabilizing force that makes you feel secure and gives you someone to believe in. He’s loyal, reliable, consistent, and reminds you that there are still good people in this world who are willing to stand up for what is right. Sure, he’s fictional. But the magnificent thing about fictional characters is that they serve to highlight and accent truths about people in reality. Captain America represents the best part of who we are as Americans, is they said in the documentary, that is all he was intended to be.

(4) It would break America’s heart. If the huge amount of backlash is any indication, it already has. I have yet to read one positive reaction to this Hydra development. Even Chris Evans, the guy who has played Captain America for the last several years and really become this icon has responded with shock.

Chris Evans tweet

We live in a world where we often see our heroes fall. Sports celebrities, politicians, actors, prominent pastors and speakers, any one on a pedestal. It is easy to see how many people have become cynical and jaded at the thought that there is anyone who isn’t hiding some dark secret in their closet. But the truth is that not everyone has skeletons in their closet. We aren’t all about to reveal our dark side. Captain America is a good guy, a hero worth looking at and emulating. Our people, especially our younger people NEED good heroes and role models to look to. This is what Cap has been for 75 years, changing that now would be wrong.

(5) We are celebrating 75 years of Captain America. People, I bought a shirt to commemorate this. An amazing documentary was released celebrating and recounting 75 years of Cap history. The third solo Cap film, Captain America: Civil War is still kicking-rear in the box office and has received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Marvel isn’t so stupid as to forget all of that by ruining who Cap is.

I really and truly believe that this entire thing is a play on Marvel’s part to stir up controversy and gain attention. I think it is cheap, but I have to say, it has worked amazingly. If anyone had doubts about the loyalty of Captain America’s fanbase, those doubts are wiped out by now. This article that I have written and the thousands of other responses like it are just proof that you can’t take a good character down.

As to the comic itself, let’s just see what explanation they have for Cap’s supposed affiliation to Hydra. Meanwhile, I will continue to wear my Captain America 75 Years shirt proudly and enjoy this fictional hero that gives me hope.

 

Why Movies Make Make Me Grateful on Memorial Day

I could write for hours on the amount of things that we are blessed with in America because of the sacrifice of our soldiers. But as this is a movie-themed blog, I’ll stick to this subject.

An amazing thought struck me one day when I was discussing a trivial and overly nerdy detail of the Star Wars universe with my brother. I have spent hundreds of hours in my life engaged in the subject of movies and movie worlds. I have often been tempted to feel foolish and superficial for this fact. And yes, it is good to step out into reality and face some real life things such as current events, vitamins, and walking the dog. Still, there are very few things that give me as much enjoyment as a good story on the screen.

I was thinking through all of these things one day, and the guilt threatened to creep up on me. Am I wasting my life? People who live in other countries don’t waste their time on movies, they are too busy thinking about where the next meal will come from. Or whether or not their village will be overrun by militants. But then, the profound thought struck me.

I have the time to spend on movies, because I live in a peaceful and prosperous country free from fear.

Pause for a moment and consider the non-essential things we Americans get to enjoy on a regular basis. Movies, amusement parks, zoos, trips to the beach, ice cream cones, parties, barbecues, the list goes on and on.

Why do we have the time to enjoy these things? Because we live in a free society where we do not spend our lives in fear. The majority of us live in comfortable, safe homes. We have food to eat. This is the case because our country has time to grow healthily and build up wealth and prosperity.

We do not live with the constant threat of evil people knocking down our doors and murdering us. I do not live in fear because I am a Christian. My freedom to privacy and freedom of religion are still intact while millions around the globe can’t even imagine it. I have time not just for the necessities, but also the pleasures of life and creativity.

Look at the countries in the world. The ones with the most freedom produce the largest amount in the creative arts and scientific advancements. You don’t exactly hear of any award-winning films or new potential cures to cancer coming out of North Korea, now do you?

Freedom and creativity go together. Freedom and individuality also go together. In America, we are allowed to be individuals who make our own choices. In communist nations your right to chose and live your life as your own person are taken by the government. Society becomes colorless and gray. The motivation to create and grow are stunted by the invasive control of the government.

Why do we have this freedom here in America? 2 reasons.

(1) God has blessed us immensely.

(2) Brave men and women have given their lives over the past few hundred years to defend out freedom.

There are many forces in the world that hate our guts because we are free. They would love to either enslave or obliterate us. Many forces have tried. But in every case, there have been brave souls who were willing to sacrifice themselves so that their brethren might remain free.

Even now, as we celebrate today, there are radical groups of people around the world in places like the Middle East and North Korea who would love to see us come to harm. There will never stop being threats to freedom because being free is good, and the opposite of evil.

To every man and woman who ever stood up in the face of evil and said, “No”, and died for their stand, I say thank you. To those whose loved ones paid the ultimate price so that I might be free to write this article today, thank you. I can’t imagine what you must feel on this day, and I know my simple ‘thank you’ can never cover your loss. To those who are still alive and stepping forward willingly to stand in the gap between evil and freedom, I say, thank you. You are in my heart and my prayers. These thanks go out to all soldiers, law enforcement officers, and even civilians who have given their lives to protect what is good and free.

Live, love, and create. We have been given a tremendous gift that most of the world will never ever experience. This gift has come with a price, one that was paid willingly by brave souls, and is still being paid today. Celebrate your freedom, and don’t feel shame in it. But do take the time to recognize the rare treasure you have been given.

God Bless, Happy Memorial Day!

 

 

 

Civil War: The Tragic Tale of Tony Stark

“We need to be put in check. Whatever form that takes I’m game.”

Tony Stark: genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. Iron Man. Mad scientist. An amazing individual who is currently on the road to self-destruction.

We love him. He has a wonderful sense of humor that we eagerly look forward to. His gadgets are the stuff of science fiction dreams. The whimsical way he sets up his world (Christmas stockings for his robots and AI, people, that’s adorable) charms us. Tony has a charismatic personality that rallies people around him, even if they end up ready to murder him before it is all said and done.

But in spite of all of these things, Tony Stark never feels that he is enough. A lot of this feeling stems from his obviously strained relationship with his father. I’ll save the ‘importance of good fathers’ rant for another day, but Tony Stark really is a very visual image of what the lack of support from a good father can cause. As I said yesterday, Tony Stark is also straining beneath the weight of wealth, genius, and a God complex. And at some point in his life, Tony came to the conclusion that it was his job and his job alone to save the world. And he would do it, whatever it takes.

Where does this deep drive to save the world single-highhandedly come from? Well, Tony truly does care about saving people. The better part of who he is desires to protect innocent and powerless people. Perhaps it is also compensation for all of the years he spent in selfish frivolity. But even bigger than that, Tony loves being Iron Man, and he is good at it. Just imagine for a moment how wonderful it would feel to do something that causes everyone to sing your praises and thrill at the mere sight of you? The rush of adrenaline and satisfaction that would follow saving people. Somewhere along the way, Tony Stark’s source of self-worth and identity became linked to being Iron Man, savior of the world.

“The futurist is here gentlemen! He sees all, he knows what’s best for you whether you like it or not.” Clint Barton

Often when you feel insufficient personally, you find something to attach yourself to that gives you a sense of worth and identity. A job, money, applause. Tony has all of those things, and it is in those things that he finds his self worth. He’s no different than millions of other people, but unfortunately, the consequences of his actions tend to be global.

Tony is emotionally unstable and reactionary. He’s a grown man, but he still makes a lot of decisions from a place of deep immaturity. He’s brilliant, and is used to being able to fix a problem with some coffee and a few all-nighters in the lab. He can build it, buy it, or talk his way out of it in next to no time. He doesn’t know what to do with a scenario where he can’t come up with a solution.

In Age of Ultron Scarlet Witch drew out some of Tony’s deepest fears and insecurities and revealed them to the world.

“You. Could. Have. Saved. Us. Why. Didn’t. You. Do. More?”

It’s interesting to note that Tony rushed to check on Steve first before the others, even though Hulk was still moving around. I think we can take that as a small sign of how much Tony truly loves his friend Steve.

I also find it very intriguing that it was Steve who said the above words to Tony. Steve really represents a very personal part of who Tony is. He grew up listening to his distant, genius father regale the praises of this guy named Steve Rogers who succeeded in saving the world. Given that Tony was never good enough for his father, imagine what it would feel like to constantly hear about someone who was? No wonder Tony is trying to save the world, it’s like he’s trying to be as good as Captain America and be good enough for both himself and his dead father.

Oh, and then, later on, that exact man shows up in Tony’s world with his same handsome heroism, high morals, and great ideals. As much as Tony loves Steve dearly, he is also bitter and holds a bit of hatred in his heart toward Steve. Something which all came out in the light during that final showdown between the two of them.

Tony is reactionary. He feels something, and he tries to fix it instantly. The moment he came out of this vision he was on a mission. While Ultron had been set in motion in his mind before this event, that vision was the inciting event which sent Tony Stark careening out of control.

Ultron revealed more than anything just how far Tony’s downward spiral has come.

“Ultron can’t see the difference between saving the world and destroying it. Where do you think he gets that?” Wanda Maximoff

Ultron is just Tony’s current mindset put into robot form. The results? Death and destruction. Tony fails on a horrifying scale.

The destruction of Sokovia brings Tony’s ideas about creating a suit of armor around the world crashing to the ground. Literally. In Civil War we are introduced to Tony as he is reeling from the guilt of the large amount of destruction he caused. Like I said before, Tony is reactionary. What do we find him doing? Giving out millions of dollars of grants to a bunch of student projects. The scene with the grieving mother in the hallway is just salt in raw and open wounds. This is all amplified by the fact that Pepper and he aren’t together anymore. She has always been his anchor and stabilizing force, without her, he feels like a loose flag flapping in the wind.

He returns weary and raw to Avengers headquarters to be faced with a reminder again of everything that has ever gone wrong. Now, as I have said before, the ONE AND ONLY event that should have even been discussed here was Sokovia itself. None of the other battles involving Avengers were anywhere out of line.

Even so, Sokovia is laid down at the Avengers’ door when really it should all be sitting in Tony Stark’s lap. Tony feels the guilt, but he hasn’t really stepped up to receive the full responsibility for what he has done.  Then the Accords get dropped onto the table and Tony sees a way to perhaps sooth his burning conscience. In an attempt to buy penance for his soul, Tony jumps headlong into a contract with unreliable government. Honestly, I think if he wasn’t reacting and was thinking more clearly, Tony’s more logical mind would have said ‘no’. This yet again proves his immaturity though, rather than take on the blame himself and say, “Hey guys, I need help and I need you to hold me accountable.” He grabs the easy option of signing his name and now becoming the politicians’ golden boy. When you have to face the music, it is sometimes easier and to have someone else regulate your behavior rather than taking steps and initiative on your own.

Steve knows the incredible danger that the Accords present. He has spent his life defending freedom and has learned to recognize when it is being threatened. Every single instinct he possesses is telling him that this is a bad move. While it would be the easy option to make everyone happy and get out from under the spotlight (Natasha’s first instinct), Steve knows that in the long run they will lose more lives.

But an even greater comparison is drawn between these two friends.

“This job….we try to save as many people as we can. Sometimes that doesn’t mean everybody. But if we can’t find a way to live with that…next time, maybe nobody gets saved.”

Here is one huge, glaring difference between Tony and Steve: Steve can accept failure.

That sounds really lame for a moment. But think about it. Failure is a part of life as human beings (something I discussed yesterday regarding Vision). Tony, whether he realizes it or not, equals failure as not being worth anything. It is a lie that he has believed his whole life. Tony cannot except failure, therefore, he goes so far to try and avoid it at all possible costs that he manages to fail magnificently. With the signing of the Accords, Tony is making a last ditch effort to keep himself from ever failing again.

Steve recognizes that he is going to fail because he is human. He has dealt with that and accepted it. Rather than spending all of his energy focusing on the impossible feat of not failing, Steve puts his effort into doing the best job possible while sticking to his morals.

I think deep down Tony knows that Steve is right, but all of his emotions are warring within him. He’s angry, he’s devastated, he’s scared, and he wants desperately to find redemption.

The airport battle pushes Tony deeper to a place of guilt as his best friend is injured for life because of his stubbornness. Tony begins to think that perhaps he is wrong. Throughout this entire movie I think we are seeing the beginning of the end of the old Tony Stark.

Tony follows Steve and Bucky out to the Russian prison to follow up on their hunch regarding the other Winter Soldiers. You can just feel the impending battle looming heavy in the air like a heavy, gray cloud. The cloud bursts when Zemo shows the footage of December 16, 1991.

The cloud breaks. And Tony is out for blood.

This part is probably one of the most devastating chunks of film footage I have ever witnessed. Tony is so, SO ANGRY! Everything he has ever felt about his father, himself, Steve, and now Bucky are coming to the surface. The grief over losing his mother is probably the most upsetting fact of all. It was obvious from the flashback that Tony loved his mother more than anyone else in the world. But it was also obvious that he grieves over the lack of connection with his father. He had established something of a family and connection with Steve and the other Avengers; but after Steve reveals that he has been keeping the secret of the Starks’ murder under wraps Tony feels that he has been stabbed in the gut. In a way, as much as Steve and Howard were a point of bitterness and jealousy for Tony, Steve was also a connection point with his dad. That is now gone as well.

It all explodes as Tony tries to kill Bucky. He’s only seeing red at this point, it’s pure emotion and adrenaline. Vengeance is the primary directive in his mind. I don’t know about you all, but my heart was hurting pretty bad during this entire scene.

Steve is bound and determined to save Bucky’s life, even if it is at the expense of his friendship with Tony. One thing I did notice during this movie though: Steve never, ever condemns Tony personally for his choices. While he stands firm in what he knows to be true, Steve has an almost compassionate and empathetic attitude towards Tony in this entire movie. You can almost see him hurting for his friend. There is no bitter animosity in Steve’s actions, even as he is punching Tony  repeatedly.

The fight comes to an end as Steve beats Tony down to the ground and is kneeling on his chest. Steve raises the shield above Tony, who moves to cover his neck. The look in Tony’s eyes is one of sheer terror. He truly believes that Steve is going to kill him. But we all know, that is not who Steve is.

Instead, the shield comes crashing down into the arc reactor and stays there. A very poignant image is created, the shield has crushed the arc reactor. Freedom and truth are the victor, Tony and the Accords are defeated. Tony looks both shocked and relieved. In one last quick flair of anger, he yells after a retreating Steve,

“That shield doesn’t belong to you! It belongs to my father!” 

Steve dumps the shield on the ground without a second thought. Tony lies on the ground looking broken and confused.

The movie ends with the Avengers still split, but not shattered. Tony seems to be calmer and walking around with a clearer head. He is still hurting. You can see the pain in his eyes as he watches his best friend Rhody struggle to walk. Tony seems to have accepted the fact that he had a part to play in his friend’s pain, which is progress. Of course, he designs something to help Rhody out, but what I think makes an even bigger statement is the fact that he stands by while Rhody starts rehab. When Rhody falls, Tony moves to help pick him up. I think this is incredibly symbolic of the fact that Tony is perhaps starting to understand his humanity and accept it.

We have the cute “Tony Stank” scene where the package arrives from Steve. Inside is a letter and an old flip phone. #oldguy #oldtech

“Tony, I’m glad you’re back at the compound. I don’t like the idea of you rattling around a mansion by yourself. We all need family. The Avengers are yours, maybe more so than mine. I’ve been on my own since I was 18. I never really fit in anywhere, even in the army. My faith’s in people, I guess. Individuals. And I’m happy to say that, for the most part, they haven’t let me down. Which is why I can’t let them down either. Locks can be replaced, but maybe they shouldn’t. I know I hurt you, Tony. I guess I thought by not telling you about your parents I was sparing you, but I can see now that I was really sparing myself, and I’m sorry. Hopefully one day you can understand. I wish we agreed on the Accords, I really do. I know you’re doing what you believe in, and that’s all any of us can do. That’s all any of us should… So no matter what, I promise you, if you need us – if you need me – I’ll be there.”

Tony’s face when reading the letter is very healing to watch. He has the look of a man who has just faced his inner demons, but feels freer for having fought them in the open. He also smiles and seems to receive Steve’s earnest apology. There is no sarcasm or bitterness in his eyes this time, instead, there is something resembling peace. Maybe he and Steve can repair the damage and start afresh.

He ends the scene by putting Secretary Ross on hold, an action which I believe is symbolic of the fact that Tony is beginning to change his perspective.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Tony Stark has been on the road to hell for a while, and in Civil War I believe he walked right through it. But sometimes in order to heal and become whole, you have to walk through hell and then climb back up again into the light. Luckily for Tony, he is surrounded by people who will have his back and are willing to walk walk with him. After all, how do the Avengers do anything?

Together.

What did you think of Tony in this movie? Were you Team Iron Man, and if so, was it for political reasons or just because you like him? What scenes made you feel the most? Where do you think Tony will go from here?

If you liked this article, you might like these as well! Civil War: Why Vision Needed to Fail Civil War: Natasha Romanoff, Steve’s Friend Civil War: The First Annual Avenger’s Football Game Civil War: Spiderman, Meet Steve Civil War: Why the Sokovia Accords Are a Waste of Paper Captain America: Civil War – Parental Review 5 Things We Will Miss About “Agent Carter”

 

Civil War: Why Vision Needed to Fail

Vision feels utterly perfect. From the moment of his creation (whatever the heck happened there, still scratching my head over that one) Vision has come across as perfect. He never makes a mistake, he is never wrong. His perspective is so objective and gently stated (in a British accent) that you feel he must right. Oh, and to put the cherry on top, he can lift the hammer.

Civil War is the first movie where we really get a feel for Vision. He is kind, intelligent, and gentle. And yet, he doesn’t know what it is to be human. He wants to know, he wants to understand. He is fascinated by humanity in a very objective and curious way. He seems to be especially intrigued by Scarlet Witch and the enigma that she presents. She is so incredibly strange and powerful, and yet, still so human.

Vision actually has a conversation in Age of Ultron that does a great bit of set-up and foreshadowing for his role in Civil War.

“There is grace in their failings.” 

Vision speaks to Ultron with a perspective that is far more positive towards humanity than that murder bot had. At the same time, the very manner in which he speaks of mankind shows just how little he actually understands about us.

In Civil War  Vision is quite obviously trying to explore humanity. He seems to sympathize with Wanda in that neither one of them seem to know what they are, and are both wary of what they are capable of. It’s like he is at the edge of understanding fear, but he still cannot enter into it. I think he may be beginning to understand compassion, and perhaps even one day love. His attentiveness to Wanda shows the potential for his character.

Then, the rubber meets the road, the stinking Accords are dropped on the table, and Vision goes back to his numbers, statistics (dumb statistics by the way), and objectivity. I don’t blame the guy, he doesn’t know any better yet. But I think the core issue, the one message that is lightly buried beneath the surface to be dug up is: perfection.

“I know we’re not perfect, but the safest hands are still our own.” Steve Rogers

Tony Stark is frustrated by the fact that he isn’t perfect. He struggles beneath the weight of genius, wealth, and a God complex that is starting to break him. In an attempt to create the perfect form of protection, Tony created Ultron. Ultron revealed more than anything else just how far out of reality Tony’s mind has gone when it comes to his actions. More on that tomorrow in, Civil War: The Tragic Tale of Tony Stark.

“Sometimes I want to punch you in your perfect teeth.” Tony Stark

Let’s be honest, Steve Rogers is about the closest thing to perfection that humanity has to offer. And yet, he’s still human. He hurts, he bleeds, he makes mistakes, and he faces consequences. His track record isn’t spotless, and he knows that.

How does this apply to Vision? The writers of the Accords find the perfect opening to produce their garbage following Wanda’s mistake which led to a bomb that killed several people. They are all over her for not being perfect enough. Yeah, demand the impossible and then get mad when there are some consequences. That makes sense.

Vision does what he thinks is right. He displays kindness and compassion towards Wanda, he even cooks for her. That scene was pure gold by the way, I really look forward to seeing where things go between the two of them. But he also holds Wanda back because of the Accords. She made a mistake and now the world is ready to go on a witch hunt (pun fully intended). Vision’s non-human perspective tells him that the Accords is the right course of action to ensure there are no more mistakes, slip ups, or horrible consequences. The Accords will ensure perfection.

A neat moment happens when Hawkeye comes to pick up little sister Wanda. Yes, I really think Hawkeye has become surrogate big-brother to Wanda while Steve has stepped into surrogate Daddy role. And do I find it adorable? You bet I do.

In this moment, Wanda makes a choice to overcome her fear of failing, and to keep trying instead. This is a neat culmination of that not-so-eloquent and yet totally awesome pep talk Hawkeye gave her back in Sokovia.

“It’s all our fault!”

“Hey, look at me. It’s your fault, it’s everyone’s fault, who cares? Are you up for this?”

Vision doesn’t understand that Wanda has just accomplished one of the greatest triumphs we humans can reach: she overcomes her failure and gets back up again.

You cannot truly understand the beauty and joy of success until you understand the pain and fear of failure. Wanda has honestly been struggling with fear since the battle at Sokovia. She is terrified by what she can do, and terrified by her actions going wrong. Her fear of failure is something that we can all connect with. Failure often has consequences, and it can scare you away from trying any more. But in order to grow and move forward, we have to come to terms with our imperfection, embrace our mistakes, and then get up off our rears and keep going. The moment Wanda sends Vision (who represents the fear of her failure) cannon-balling down through the floor is a victorious moment of the human spirit.

On to the airport scene. Team Tony is getting their rear kicked when backup arrives. Vision is a formidable opponent as he can do what no one else can, and he seems immune to just about everything. After all, he’s Vision. What can go wrong?

Vision is doing fine and succeeding at every turn. And then he goes down to check on Wanda who has just been brought to the ground by War Machine’s sonic blasts. Again, another sweet scene between them. Vision wants to understand and connect with this woman so badly, and he seems to be developing real emotions regarding her. But there is still a distance between them, a barrier that he cannot seem to cross or grasp.

Uh oh! Falcon is bugging Tony and Rhody and getting in their way. Yo Vision, how about a little firepower over here? Vision carelessly looks up and shoots a powerful beam in the flying trio’s direction. A beam which Falcon avoids (because he is awesome) and instead, the beam hits Rhody’s arc reactor, sending him plummeting out of the sky. It’s a horrific moment that causes everyone to stop. One of their own is now lying motionless on the ground and there is no way to fix it.

And in that moment, Vision finally understands. These humans he is fascinated by, the ones who have a certain grace to their failings; He finally understands what it means to be one of us.

Because you are never more human than when you fail.

The question is now: will Vision learn to triumph and get back up again?

Despite that fact that he is made up artificial intelligence, synthetic tissue, and robot parts, Vision can now understand what it means to be a part of the human race. If he wanted to grasp the human experience, he just started at ground zero. Vision has now opened the door for his character to fully embrace humanity and grow in understanding.

Vision appears to be the most infallible member of Team Tony, and yet, even he proves what we all already know. Perfection is impossible, no one can dictate it, put it into law, or build a machine to enforce it. The greatest thing we can do is to not get hung up on trying to pursue perfection, but rather learn to accept failure with grace and then keep moving forward.

Did you enjoy Vision’s character arc in this movie? What did you think of his interaction with Wanda and the other Avengers? Would you eat something cooked by someone who has never tasted food before? What do you hope they do with his character in the future?

If you liked this article, you may like these as well. Civil War: Natasha Romanoff, Steve’s Friend Civil War: The First Annual Avenger’s Football Game Civil War: Spiderman, Meet Steve Civil War: Why the Sokovia Accords Are a Waste of Paper Captain America: Civil War – Parental Review

 

 

 

Civil War: Natasha Romanoff, Steve’s Friend

“The truth is a matter of circumstance. It’s not all things to all people all the time. And neither am I.”

“That’s a tough way to live.”

“It’s a good way not to die though.”

“You know, it’s kinda hard to trust someone when you don’t really know who that someone is.”

“Yeah. Who do you want me to be?”

“How about a friend?”

This scene is so amazing in revealing aspects of both Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff’s characters. Not to mention the lighting is just right (just take a look at Scarlett’s eyes!). Steve is the guy who always knows who he is and where he stands. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the movie where Steve decided once and for all that he wasn’t going to let the world around him change who he was or what he believed. Even if he uses a cell phone now instead of a telephone booth, Steve Rogers is essentially the same man that he was in ’45. Good thing, too, otherwise he wouldn’t have been around long enough to star in Civil War.

This scene is incredibly revealing of Natasha as well. She appears chipper, throwing in cute smiles and digs about Steve’s good-guy mentality. But after some conversation, a bit of the veil drops and we see the truth of who Natasha is.

(1) She’s a survivor.

You would have to learn how to be a survivor to make it out of the Red Room *shudders* The places that Nat has been, the things that she has done, the things that she has had done to her, they are unthinkable. She has had to reinvent herself so many times, she probably wonders who she is anymore.

(2) She’s lonely.

You can hear it in the soft and husky tone of her voice. There is an emptiness in both her eyes and her smile that break your heart just a little bit. She has an almost longing expression as she and Steve drive down a peaceful road in the warm, evening light. How much do you want to bet that the only person Natasha actually counts as being her friend is Hawkeye. And he is busy with a growing family, something that she knows she can’t have. You can practically see what is running through her mind as she talks to  this clean-cut and sweet guy who would like to count her as a friend. Why would he want her as a friend? Why would he trust her? Nat still feels pain for the bad things that she has done, her heart is still deeply grieved. And sometimes, she has trouble believing that she is worth anyone’s time, especially Captain America’s. After all, he’s the poster boy for goodness and doing the right thing.

(3) She’s scared. She’s been running to stay alive her entire life. Trust is a luxury she could never indulge in. And now, here she is yet again, running for her life with next to no one to trust….except Steve. But a life of mistrust cannot be switched over in a single moment. She wants to trust Steve and accept his friendship, but her finely tuned instincts are holding her back.

You know what happens next. Zola does his big reveal that Hydra is about to have their coming out party. Hydra sends a missile their direction and Steve saves Nat and covers her with his shield (an action that he also performed in The Avengers when fighting side by side with her #foreshadowing).

The next big Steve/Nat friendship milestone happens when they are cleaning up for breakfast at Sam’s. Seriously, by now how many of us dream of eating breakfast at Sam Wilson’s?

“I thought I knew who’s lies I was telling. I guess I can’t tell the difference anymore.”

“There’s a chance you may be in the wrong business.”

“I owe you.”

“It’s okay.”

“If it was the other way around, and it was down to me to save your life, now you be honest with me; would you trust me to do it?”

“I would now.”

Nat trust

Take a moment to explore that look of shock on Nat’s face. Captain America just said that he trusts her with his life. Her.

In this moment one of the best friendships in the MCU is formed. I saw the beginning of it in The Avengers, and I have loved watching this friendship bloom. We have never seen the backstory behind Natasha and Clint’s friendship, that was something which was already established by the time we were introduced to their characters.

But Steve and Natasha we have gotten to watch the whole way through, from the very first, “Ma’am.” “Hi.” we have been present to see two very opposite, and yet, very similar people bond.

Honestly, when I heard that Widow was going to be on Team Tony, I was pretty upset. BUT WHY I wanted to know! That completely flies in the face of everything she and Steve have gone through together, he’s one of her favorite people in the world. He pushed Banner to give it a try with her, and she told him to ask Sharon out. She trusts him! And he trusts her! They both love each other dearly and are rooting for the other’s happiness and success.

So why the heck was Widow on Team Ironman? I actually answered that question earlier: she’s a survior.

It’s her instinct to survive, to adapt, to change faces in order to live to fight another day. When the Sokovia Accords hit the table her instincts kicked in. This is the best way to stay under the radar, to maintain a good image, to make people happy so they won’t cause further problems. She listened to her head first while trying to ignore her heart.

And yet, her heart wouldn’t leave her alone. She has come far enough by now that she has allowed herself to love people, to care about their well-being. The parts of her heart that the Soviets tried to sterilize have been awakening again, and Steve owns a piece of property in there.

Their entire interaction in this movie is one of two people who are highly attuned to each other. She comes to him at Peggy’s funeral because she doesn’t want him to be alone. He asks if she is OK before getting the details of the UN bomb. Despite them being on opposite sides, they still seem to dance around each other with cautious steps.

“You know what’s about to happen. Are you sure you want to punch your way out of this one?”

Funny thing, Steve and Nat never actually engaged in combat during the airport battle, even though she and Clint locked horns. Somehow, they managed to avoid it. I can’t even picture him throwing a punch in her direction, he’d rather have her hit him all day.

All throughout this movie we see Natasha struggling between her head and her heart. She wants to reason with Steve to bring him over to the same side that she is on, and yet, she wouldn’t respect him as much if he did change his beliefs. But she desperately doesn’t want to oppose him.

We also see her thinking, “Maybe something is missing here.” She’s too smart to completely buy into the idea that the Accords came about from only good intentions. So when Steve tries to tell Team Tony what’s really going on #assassins #stopbeinganidiottony guess who believes him first?

What happens next is the fulfillment and cementing of all of the Steve and Nat groundwork laid in The Winter Soldier. Bucky and Steve manage to make it to the hanger and the quinjet, only to be confronted by Black Widow herself. True to her sense of humor, she plays “bad cop” for a minute, but if you pay attention you’ll notice that Steve never really looks nervous. He almost looks amused. I can’t say the same for Bucky. 😉

Natasha proves her real allegiance with her next action: stopping Black Panther to save Steve and Bucky. #iknewit #natashaandsteve #takethatteamtony

Black Panther is literally the only person who came to this fight to kill. He doesn’t care about politics, and he has no happy past history with any of these people to keep him in check. He wants to kill Bucky and anyone else standing in his way. We saw Steve and Black Panther face it off a few times, Panther is very dangerous and could take Steve out.

We never needed to worry though, because Natasha’s heart and conscience won out over her head. And when it all came down to it, she’s not just Black Widow….

….she’s Steve’s friend. And he trusts her with his life.

Nat and Steve

I absolutely love the character of Natasha Romanoff. She is one of the most interesting and three-dimensional female characters to grace the screen. She is not a stagnant character, but she has revealed multiple layers and grown so much as a person. She is strong and can be lethal, but she has a very tender heart and a hint of a femininity that is refreshing. I hope to write more on her in the future. I love her interaction with Steve (honestly, I was shipping them for a bit). But I almost think the friendship that these two unlikely pals have created is more fascinating and engaging than if they had become a couple. I hope to see them side-by-side many more times before all is said and done.

Were you surprised by Black Widow’s choice of teams? Were you shocked when she defected? Do you enjoy her friendship with Steve? Would you have changed anything?

If you liked this article, you will like these articles below!

Civil War: The First Annual Avenger’s Football Game Civil War: Spiderman, Meet Steve Civil War: Why the Sokovia Accords Are a Waste of Paper Captain America: Civil War – Parental Review 5 Things We Will Miss About “Agent Carter”