Star Wars: Every Story in the Galaxy

Back in the 1970s a creative guy named George Lucas made a little movie called Star Wars.

No one expected it to be a big thing. Sir Alec Guinness (who played the original Obi-Wan Kenobi) acted in the film because he’d always wanted to be a “children’s movie”. 

At best, they thought they might make a sci-fi cult classic that would gather a small but fierce following who met in basements and had mini-conventions. That was all they expected.

This is what happened instead…

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The world exploded, and we have never been the same since.

Why is Star Wars so popular? I had a friend of mine ask me a question along these lines recently. She’s an adult with grown children, and not super into many movies. But she loves Star Wars. “What is different about Star Wars?” she asked.

I could list hundreds of reasons why Star Wars is all that and a bag of credits, but we don’t have time for all of that today. Instead, I’m going to list the biggest reason I think Star Wars has resonated so deeply with millions of people internationally for generations.

Star Wars tells us every classic, cliche story we’ve ever heard, but they do it in an unforgettable way.

Star Wars is one of the most cliche-ridden sagas ever. We started our journey with a young hero possessing a unique “ability”, the old sage mentor, a rogue with a big heart, a princess, and a cute animal (or droid) sidekicks.

Original trio

They joined forces with the underdog (the Rebellion) and go up against Goliath (Darth Vader and the Empire). The hero uses his unique abilities at just the right moment to destroy the story’s greatest threat against all odds.

It’s not the first time this story has been told. Star Wars borrows from many classic stories, established religions, and other known influences. And yet, the world exploded.

See, we “complain” about cliches, stereotypes, and classics. But there is a reason those things became so well known. It’s because they are real, and we experience them on a regular basis.

Star Wars tells us all of the old stories. An underdog story.

A New Hope 3

A redemption story.

Luke and His father

People bravely fighting against all odds for a better future.

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Questions about free will.

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Darkness vs the light. Free will vs destiny.

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The danger of allowing your emotions to be manipulated.

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Mentorship. Family. Friendship. Growing up with grace in times of hardship.

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Choosing to not give into victimhood, but instead to stand on your own feet.

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Making the hard choices. Becoming a part of something bigger than yourself.

Han Solo

Stormtrooper Finn

Learning what true leadership is.

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And on, and on, and on.

And these classic stories are told in the most exciting and colorful way. With spaceships, planets, aliens, blasters, lightsabers, dark and light, good and bad. They are told with heart, with humor, with a connected history, a force that binds all of these stories together. With characters that feel like old friends.

Star Wars tells our stories.

I love our galaxy. I love the characters, the history, the messages, the hope. The fact that by now generations of families have all gotten to enjoy the same world and story as it is continually told. I love it all.

Happy May the 4th, may the force be with you!

Real Women: Jyn Erso (Rogue One)

6 Ways that StarWars: Rebels Differs From StarWars: The Clone Wars

 

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Lost In Space: Storytelling Done Right

Is anyone else kind of obsessed with Netflix’ remake of the old 1960’s sci-fi show Lost in Space? *warning, slight spoilers ahead*

I didn’t know much about the show until I saw a preview at the movie theater. It looked shockingly interesting. As soon as I saw the first episode I was hooked. Lost in Space is one of the best TV shows I have come across in a long time, and I’ll tell you why.

Lost in Space is visually gorgeous, both the sets and the CGI are amazing. It nails the science/fiction part every single time. It has intrigue. A shadowy timeline. A colorful world. There is so much material for new plot threads that I am confident this show has a long and prosperous future ahead of it.

But none of the reasons I listed above are the core of why Lost in Space is such a phenomenal show. There’s another, more encompassing reason.

Lost in Space is storytelling done RIGHT!

The opening sequence of the pilot episode drops us into action almost immediately. We see the Robinson family seated around their “table” playing a game of Go-Fish. Sounds normal, right?

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Actually, no. The normalcy of a casual family game night is starkly contrasted by the fact that the family is wearing space suits and strapped to their seats in a ship that appears to be plummeting out of orbit onto some unknown planet’s surface.

How did they get there? Why is their ship crashing? Are they the only people in this corner of the galaxy? Is this just normal and terrifying landing procedure?

These immediate questions are grounded with a few layers of underlying tension that we are immediately shown between the characters. John Robinson is at odds with his children, especially his strong eldest daughter Judy. His wife Maureen is calm and collected, but there is a coolness in her manner towards him. Clearly, there is something going on in this family, but what is it?

We don’t have time for answers, because our ship is crashing, straight into an iceberg and cold, icy waters! The family makes it out into an ice cave, but their equipment is still inside their submerged ship and they are going to need extra help to survive the cold night.

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More family tension. The youngest Will (I adore this child) is the only one small enough to fit into the jammed hatch at the top of the ship. But he’s afraid, never fear! Brave big sister Judy is here! Judy plunges into the waters against her father John’s commands (again, what happened to this family) and attempts to retrieve equipment herself. Problem is, she is unable to get out of the icy water before it freezes over, trapping her in the thick ice just inches from the surface.

*cue panic attack* Claustrophobes know what I mean right here.

Maureen has a severely damaged leg, but her brilliant mind is still trying to work on behalf of her family. Still, her usefulness is compromised. Judy is trapped in the ice with several hours of air left in her suit, no amount of spunk or gumption is going to get her out of this mess. John is trying to keep himself to together while he attempts to free Judy, but he feels like he’s failing yet again. Will feels guilty that his beloved older sister is trapped because of his “weakness”, something you get the inkling he believes about himself a lot. Penny exhibits much of the lost behavior that is often attributed to middle children, she’s falling through the cracks yet again and doesn’t know how to contribute.

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This is a brilliant setup. Want to know why?

The best stories in any genre are always character driven. 

In just a few short moments, we already know important details about the Robinson family, the people who are the heart and soul of this show. We are given hints of their strengths, but we are more clearly shown their weaknesses in this beginning. We see how these weaknesses are not only affecting them as individuals but especially as a unit. We are put right there in their shoes, we feel their panic, their anger, their confusion. We feel the weight of every problem facing them right now, and at the same time, we have so many questions.

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This is how you tell a story without using the infamous “info dump” that so many storytellers make the mistake of using. An audience doesn’t need every detail to fall in love with a character and their story, they just need the right details and they are hooked. We were shown the heart of Lost in Space immediately as we are introduced to the Robinsons’ humanity and immediately given a chance to root for their success.

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I am pleased to say Lost in Space follows this pattern for the entire series. We are never given an information dump, we have to fight for the reveal of every piece of info we ever get, but we still don’t feel cheated in the waiting for those reveals.

Lost in Space strikes the perfect balance between the past and the present. We spend most of our time in the present, our immediate problems. Unknown robots. Fuel-eating eels. Mysterious characters who hide their true colors. Strange beasts. And above all, a need to get back on track.

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Much like real life, the Robinsons and all other characters have to stay in the moment, even as pieces of the past are revealed, and old wounds are dealt with.

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We already know that we are rooting for these Robinsons. We can’t help it. Not only are they our heroes, but we understand them on a human level. John aches over the time he missed with his family but really feels at a loss for how to repair that damage. Maureen is a red-headed Wonder Woman, is there anything she cannot do? But she’s lacking, there is something missing. Judy doesn’t know how to let herself fall apart, but she also knows she’s not fine. Penny is taking it one day at a time, but she still feels lost. Will wonders if he will ever be more than a failure and a weakling.

Other characters throw in unique problems and questions. Dr. Smith still blows my mind, I never know what to expect next. I have never seen a character quite like her, and she scares me more than 85% of the villains on screen.

 

 

 

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Don West’s I-couldn’t-care-less facade is quickly derailed by his adorable acts of compassion. He grows more endearing by the episode, and I am a huge fan of his precious chicken Debbie.

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Among all of these questions, theories, hidden histories, and secrets, one thing is starkly clear to us. This family needs to fix the fault lines within their circle. They need each other to survive. We can see who they are, how much they love each other, and how powerful they are as a unit, therefore we root for unity to be restored.

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Season 1 ended perfectly. We saw the Robinsons overcome, and reunite, and we saw the power of that newfound strength and unity.

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Maureen is smart and powerful, but she is even better when she has other strong people like her husband John at her side. John has failed to be there for his family in the past, but he’s here now and he’s never leaving again. Judy learns that it is not a weakness to be human, to not be okay sometimes, and her experiences simply feed into her already fierce compassion. Penny is not falling through the cracks, she’s a glue that holds her family together. She has a place and a purpose. And Will, sweet, kind Will learns what we have seen since the very beginning, Will is incredibly brave.

As this family repairs itself, they make a difference not just for themselves, but for those around them. Every other character is delivered because the Robinsons are together again. We started this story seeing the Robinsons’ greatest weaknesses and broken places, and we end Season 1 seeing them thriving with their combined strengths.

Robinsons stick together.

Season 1 was tough for this family. They barely hung on, but in the end, they stuck together and it changed the story for everyone. Considering that cliffhanger we were left on, this united front is going to be vital for the family’s survival going into Season 2. They are up against some terrifying unknowns, but so long as they stick together, they are going to be okay.

The writers of Lost in Space made sure that no matter where this story takes us, we would have one solid thread, the Robinson family. They are our core, our heartbeat, our purpose. We are rooting for them all the way, and no matter what colorful, frightening, or bizarre events they face in future seasons, we know we can always count on one thing….

….Robinsons stick together.

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That’s storytelling done right, my friends. Now, who else is ready for a Season 2?

Lost in Space Season 1 is Currently Streaming on NetflixIf you want a cleaner version for your family, Lost in Space is also available for filtered streaming on Vid-Angel

 

 

 

The Flash: Dear Ralph Dibney

I didn’t like you.

For 4 seasons of The Flash I have wondered why it seemed like the criminal underworld got the mega-share of metahuman gifts, seriously, didn’t any nice, normal people get hit with the dark matter and decide to help out like Barry Allen? Sure, we had a few nice ones get hit. But they appear and are usually dead in the same episode, so, they didn’t count.

And then we got Ralph Dibney. Gross, self-piteous, self-focused, dirty-minded Ralph Dibney. Really? THIS is the one we get to keep? Why in the heck couldn’t Julian have stuck around for another season?!? You actually made Joe puke, and I agreed with his assessment.

gross ralph

Ralph, sir, you made yourself so hard to like. You were a mess. I hated it when you made off-color comments about women. I hated it when you ate gross food. I hated your extraneous banter. I hated the establishments you loved to frequent. I hated your self-absorbed attitude about how your life had turned out. I was delighted when we had an episode where you were mysterious “out of town” or otherwise occupied. I hated it all, and I still do.

I. Did. Not. Like. You.

Dear Ralph Dibney, I’m going to miss you.

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I know, I never, EVER expected those words to come out of my mouth. You had managed to take me beyond indifference for an unlikable “good guy” character and make me actually wish you were gone! But now that you are, all I want is for you to come back.

‘Cause here’s the truth, Ralphie-boy, even when I still didn’t like you, you started to make me proud of you.

I was proud of you when you saved someone even if it meant letting the bad guy “get away”.

I was proud of you when you decorated for Christmas, even if your taste in decorations is atrocious.

I was proud of you when you encouraged Joe to stay true to his moral standards and not plant false evidence at the DeVoe’s house to save Barry.

I was even prouder of you when you choose to step up and protect Caitlin and Cisco from the Prankster’s acid, even if it meant you died a horribly painful death.

I ached for you and was proud of you when tried to help Izzy, when you didn’t turn away from her pain but rather embraced it. I saw the heroic, protective, kind heart you had hidden under the slime, and I was proud.

But Ralph, when you sat and told Barry what you were afraid of, that you didn’t fear losing your own life, you feared losing the people you loved. When you looked him in the eye and said with passion,

I would walk into a furnace for them….they’re mine! DeVoe can’t have them!

ralph's family

Ralph, at that moment, I wasn’t just proud, I didn’t just ache, Ralph, at that moment I LOVED you. You did it, you won me over. I loved you so much I couldn’t even believe I was there, but I was.

And now you are gone. Just when I loved you, you are gone. You died looking at Barry and thanked him for the gift he had given you, and my heart broke.

How did you do it, Ralph? I’ll tell you how.

We are all broken people. So many of us are unlikable, smarmy, gross, self-absorbed, jerks. Without help, many of us stay there. But someone saw you, Ralph, for who you could be, and your story took a different turn.

Love empowers. But I’m not talking about just any old brand of “love” that gets sold as lust and chocolate. No, I’m talking about real love. Real love sees someone, no matter where they are at, and sees who they can be, and that kind of love never lets go. That kind of love can happen to anyone, it’s not confined to romantic relationships. That kind of love crosses colors, nations, boundaries, personalities, and any other obstacles that get put up. That kind of love changes people.

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It changed you, Ralph. You couldn’t even believe it, not for the longest time. Someone actually cared about you? About slimy, worthless, failure-ridden-old you? They cared more about you than you cared about yourself. When you fell down, they picked you up. When you made a mistake, they forgave you. When you hurt, they hurt with you. When you didn’t feel like a hero, they told you that you were one and gave you the strength to become that person.

It changed me too, Ralph. I believe in the power of Love to change, this kind of love anyways. Love came down and saved me at the Cross regardless of how unworthy or unlikable I was.

But it was nice to be reminded, I needed to be reminded.

You died a hero, Ralph; you died a changed person. You died knowing you were loved, and you died giving your life for the people you loved. Someone offered you something that no, you didn’t “deserve”. But that’s not how true love works, love keeps giving even when we don’t deserve it. And choosing to accept that love changes us.

It changed you, Ralph. And it touched me.

Dear Ralph Dibney, I wish I had seen you sooner. I wish we had more time. I don’t know if you will be brought back or not, that episode seemed pretty final. But I had to thank you, I had to thank you for reminding me of something so precious.

You reminded me to look beyond the book cover. To see beyond the unlikable. And to love first.

Goodbye, Ralph. You made a difference and watching how your story progressed encouraged me to keep making a difference as well.

Dear Ralph Dibney, you will be missed.

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Infinity War: The Avengers We Will Lose

You’ve probably seen the epic second trailer for Marvel’s highly anticipated film Avengers: Infinity War by now. If not, here you go.

Once we get past the awesomeness of Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill/Starlord giving Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Ironman some sass, or the sweet adorableness of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker introducing himself to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange

“Oh, we’re using our made-up names? Then I’m Spider-Man.”

Could this baby Avenger be any cuter?

And let’s not forget the intensity of Chris Evan’s Steve Rogers/currently The Nomad screaming at Thanos while holding back the Titan’s guantleted hand. Excuse me while I go find some AC, cause it’s getting HOT in here!

Obviously we all have one, very dreadful question hanging over our heads right now….

….who are we going to lose?

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We have been teased by multiple Marvel people that this movie is gonna hurt, and once the dust settles we will never be the same. The Marvel movies after Avengers 3 will be a completely different direction than the one we have been heading for the last ten years.

We’ve also been told to prepare ourselves, cause some of our most beloved people are gonna die. 

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I don’t relish character deaths. They hurt like heck and leave me in a fog for days as I mourn the loss of someone I counted as an old friend (NEWT, WHY???). But I’m going to try and look at this from an analytical angle and keep my emotions out of it.

So, my theories on the chances of which Avengers we will be saying goodbye to.

Tony Stark

Tony Stark/Ironman 7/10 Chance of Death

Tony has been with us since the beginning. 3 solo Ironman films, 2 Avengers films, and 2 major appearances in both Captain America: Civil War and SpiderMan: Homecoming. He is like the father of Marvel as we know it, and we would not be here without him. Tony’s personal character arc is deeply intertwined with the overall MCU story. He’s gone from being a reckless weapons dealer/playboy, to leader and father figure. Tony has faced some pretty fierce demons, but he’s still standing.

Tony’s arc feels like it’s heading to a point of finality. Either he will make the ultimate sacrifice and end his story with a heroic death, or he will survive and move into retirement where he just keeps making toys for “the kids”. I WANT Tony to make it. I feel like he should get to come home to kiss Mrs. Pepper Stark *squeal*, pick their baby up out of a high-tech crib, and have Star Wars marathons with Dum E.

But what I want, and what may end up happening could be two very different things. One point of hope we might be able to cling to is that Tony almost did make the ultimate sacrifice in the original Avengers movie, so perhaps to repeat that scenario would be repetitive. It may be a fool’s hope, but it’s still a hope.

Nat trust

Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow 1/10 Chance of Death

Given that it was recently announced that a Black Widow solo film was in the works, I highly doubt Natasha will be the Avenger to buy it. Not only is she a survivor, but Nat is a character with a lot more story to explore. Even though Nat’s arc has followed the typical pattern of making her a better character over time, her story is a reverse. She started out with her worst fears, there is almost nothing in her future that can compare to the terror and horror she endured as a young child/women in the Red Room. To Nat, fighting and potentially dying alongside people she loves and trusts is a gift, therefore, she has little to lose.

A character like Nat is deeply intriguing. We’ve literally watched her learn how to be human again. I believe that her film should focus on her future, rather than be a prequel film about her past. If I’m right about this prediction, our Nat is safe even with the Mad Titan roaming around. Which is good, since she’s my second favorite Avenger.

hawkeye

Clint Barton/Hawkeye 4/10 Chance of Death

We got a major fake-out foreshadow of Hawkeye’s death in Age of Ultron, only to be taken by surprise with Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver took the bullets for him. Hawkeye is the coolest Avenger. His ability to stay focused and on target #punfullyintended #yourewelcome shows his steady personality and grounded character. Hawkeye is also the happiest Avenger. He is the only member to have a settled home and family to return to. He only comes out of “retirement” when the other Avengers get extra unruly.

The only reason I have any fear for Hawkeye’s potential death is because he is so happy, I’m afraid the writers won’t leave him in peace. They had better leave him alone. The knowledge that the Barton farm and family exist have literally kept me going during the most upsetting Marvel moments. I need to know at least one of my Avengers is happy. And I am willing to bet he will get to stay that way.

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Bruce Banner/The Hulk Chance of Death 8/10

I hope you didn’t just choke on your drink. I’m gonna go out on a limb here with this one, so bear with me.

The Hulk is “unkillable”. He’s a powerful smashing machine who has survived death a hundred times and ways over. That’s exactly why I think The Hulk may be the one to go. Our MCU world is about to be turn upside down! It would shock everyone if the second-most powerful Avenger was the one to buy it well before his fellow Avengers did.

But shock value aside, here is another reason. I think Bruce Banner is nearing the end of his story. I don’t see much of a future in following MCU films for this character, and it feels as if his light might be fading. Banner is tired. He was just trapped as The Hulk in space for 2 years. Fun fact, I’m pretty sure that’s the vision that Scarlet Witch gave Banner back in Age of Ultron. His worst fear, being trapped as a smashing machine with no control. And that’s exactly what happened for two years.

Banner hasn’t really been a part of the continuing story on earth for a while now. He’s not as vital to our overall story as other characters, but his death would still punch us in the gut.

One final reason? I think Bruce would be okay with dying. As I said above, he’s tired. Other than his science sessions with Tony, and his feelings for Natasha, Bruce doesn’t feel he has a whole lot left to live for. I believe that dying for someone he loves would be perfectly okay with Bruce, I think he would almost welcome it.

Okay, okay, stop crying! I know *sniffs*, it’s so sad. But I can see it happening.

thor in arena

Thor/Himself 7/10 Chance of Death

Directly after Thor: Ragnarok I would not have thought that Thor’s chances of doom were so high. A whole new chapter had just been opened up for the prince, no, the King of Asgard. Despite the fact that he lost his father, and his planet, Thor’s character was given new life and purpose as he led his people into space in search of a new home.

However, that end scene in Ragnarok where we see the Asgardian ship come upon a oh-so-familiar hostile alien ship left me feeling very nervous. I got even more nervous when the first Infinity War trailer came out and showed Loki (who has chosen to stand by his brother in Ragnarok) holding the Tesseract/Space Stone, surrounded by dead Asgardians. Loki has had dealings with Thanos since Avengers, and Loki didn’t deliver his end of whatever bargain was made. Thanos is not one to forgive past grievances, as the dark scene on the Asgardian ship could mean that the Asgardian people are dead, thus freeing Thor up from the task of leading his people. Which means he’s now open for the kill.

Another reason Thor could be in danger is because Chris Hemsworth who has brought The Mighty Avenger to life recently announced he is thinking of retiring from acting for a while so he can watch his children grow up. An incredibly noble choice, one I applaud him for, even as my fan soul sinks a little.

One hope we may have is that like Tony, Thor has already sacrificed himself in his first movie Thor. He allowed himself to be killed so that Jane Foster and the small town in New Mexico would be saved from Loki’s wrath. Perhaps killing him again would also be repetitive.

Then again, maybe it just proves Thor is fully prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.

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Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch and Vision Chances of Death 5/10

Again, I hope you didn’t just choke on your drink there. I know I must sound like a crazy person since Vision literally is a host for the Mind Stone, and we have seen Thanos attempting to remove this stone in one of the trailers while Vision screams gut-wrenchingly. Something has to have happened to Wanda for Thanos to have gotten that close to hurting the one she loves. And that “something” has to be drastic as Wanda is the most powerful Avenger, something she proved when she brought even the Hulk to his knees.

However, I am betting these two are safe for a couple of reasons.

One, they’re the new kids on the block. They haven’t had the years of tragic backstory and fighting to wear them down like the veteran Avengers have. They are new, fresh, and have a lot of story left to tell. Vision is just learning what it is to be human, to feel, to love someone. He is a puzzle of a character, and fans love a good puzzle.

Wanda is a beautiful character, she has come so far, and she has so much to learn. Her character, as well as her mind-blowing powers make her ripe for more movies, perhaps even a solo film in the future. She’s still got a lot more to give to the MCU, a fact that I think makes her very safe. Her brother has also already made the ultimate sacrifice, it seems like at least one of the Maximoff twins should remain standing.

Wanda and Vision being together as a couple also protects them from death-by-gauntlet. A love story creates this other, new angle that needs to be followed through and explored. Unless the writers are able to follow-through with this story and wrap it up properly in Infinity War, Wanda and Vision have plenty of time left!

Unless they pull a Romeo and Juliet on us. But that’s been done, let’s leave the one to Mr. Shakespeare.

And as a final bit of ammo for my argument, Paul Bettany was filming for Avengers 4So, while it could be a flashback, there is a good chance that Vision lives. And if Vision lives, I’m betting Wanda does as well.

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Dr. Stephen Strange/Dr. Strange Chances of Death 0/10

Dr. Strange is a fresh, unique new face that was recently added to the MCU with a great reception. He can venture into dimensions that other heroes cannot, which makes him extra powerful and gives him a way of survival.  He also has a great future and much more story to be told, as is confirmed by the fact that Dr. Strange 2 is a future MCU film on the docket for 2021. I believe Strange may get some bruises along the way, he is after all, the caretaker of the Soul Stone, so Thanos will be paying him a visit. But the Sorcerer Supreme (sounds like a knockout pizza) will survive.

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Bucky Barnes/White Wolf Chances of Death 0/10

Bucky has been to hell and back again. His worst fears have already come true. Bucky has recently been reborn and given a new purpose as well as a new superhero title after his healing in Wakanda. And dogon-it he deserves it! I am convinced if death even tried to send Bucky so much as a text a horde of rabid fans would arrive on scene and kill death on the spot!

On a more practical note, Sebastian Stan still has quite a few Marvel films left on his contract. Our boy is just getting started!

falcon war machine

Sam Wilson/The Falcon Chance of Death 3/10, James Rhodes/War Machine Chances of Death 5/10

Rhodey almost bought it in Captain America: Civil War. He’s back on his feet thanks to some snazzy Stark tech, and as we have seen from the trailers, he’s not only back in the fight, he’s fighting alongside Avengers that he formerly fought against in Civil War. This is a big deal, since in my opinion, Rhodey was the strongest supporter of the Accords. I think Rhodey could make for a lower impact death that kind of softens us up for a bigger character death. I could also see him walking away from the fight. (was that joke too soon?) I’m pretty much 50/50 on his chances.

Sam Wilson (who is my 3rd favorite Avenger) I believe, will survive. Sam is one of the most amazing and underrepresented characters in the MCU. The way he just calmly walked into Steve Rogers’ life and never left, come heck or high water, blows me away. Top that off with a smooth, oh so smooth, personality, and a combat skill-set from a normal guy that puts some super-powered individuals to shame? SAM WILSON FOR PRESIDENT!

Sam just has the feeling of a survivor. He’s a great character who I would love to see pulled out of the woodwork and given more limelight.

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King T’Challa/Black Panther. Chances of Death? Death asked Okoye for permission, very politely, and she stabbed Death to death. 0/10

The King isn’t really an Avenger, he’s his own thing. Wakanda is it’s own version of the Avengers. Not to mention that T’Challa and Black Panther is making massive waves in the world right now. He has a second movie coming, and like I said, Okoye said NO to death.

The King is safe!

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Scott Lang/Ant-Man Chances of Death 0/10

Look at this goober, he’s gonna be fine! Ant-man is a fresh new hero who brings a lot of heart, and a lot of laughs to the table. Even though his next movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place before the events of Infinity War, Scott has a long and happy future ahead of him. The potential for his character in the future MCU is huge, especially since Hope Pym/The Wasp is joining on as his lovelier co-star. There is a lot of untold story to look forward to, and we can’t wait to hear Luis narrate it!

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Peter Parker/Spider-Man Chances of Death….if you touch my baby Avenger I WILL END YOU! But for real, 0/10.

Look at this precious boy! I love him so much, I want to adopt him. Tom Holland has brought our friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man to life in such an endearing way, I know we have a long and happy future with this character. He’s young, he’s fresh, he’s energetic and because he is choosing (oh so maturely) to take his time and build up, he has a long runway ahead. Spider-Man, I believe, will be a key player in the future of the MCU once our Avengers’ chapter has been closed. God bless Peter Parker!

 

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The Guardians Chances of Death 1/10

If anyone buys it, it will be Nebula. And she will die doing something that hurts Thanos, perhaps even eventually destroys him. I hope she gets the killing stroke, she deserves it the most.

Our Guardians are pretty safe. They have a whole galaxy to keep worrying about, we already lost Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, and Yondu in Vol. 2. Our Guardians also are a key part of the MCU after Phase 3 closes, and they have one more movie to go. I anticipate a happily-ever-after for them. After all of the chaos, the pain, the horrible backstories, it just feels right. This family has a future.

And you’re thinking, she’s missing someone very big.

No, I haven’t forgotten. I left him to the very last for a reason.

the nomad

Steve Rogers/Captain America/The Nomad Chances of Death 5/10

Really, you need to stop drinking your beverage right now, I don’t want to be responsible for you choking to death. Yes, I did just give Steve Rogers a 50% chance of surviving Infinity War. And no, I didn’t do it just because he’s my favorite Avenger, my main man, and one of the greatest characters to ever be created in the history of stories.

I say it, because everything is pointing at his death. He’s Steve Rogers, he’s the guy who throws himself on top of the grenade. He’s the guy that ditches the plane and is frozen in the ice for 70 years. He’s the guy who takes down Hydra and still lets his best-friend-now-assassin beat him almost to death because “you’re my friend”. He’s the guy who is willing to stand against an entire room in opposition against him and stay true to what he believes.

Yes, I saw the same trailer you did. I saw Thanos going one-on-one with Steve. I’ve seen Steve’s nightmares in Age of Ultron where he couldn’t be at peace. I’ve seen it all and been terrified the whole time.

But now I’m starting to wonder if it is all too obvious. Marvel is great at the big fake-outs. We expect one thing, and then the opposite happens. They do it over and over again, and we still don’t see it coming. Steve is the most glaringly obvious choice for a sacrificial character, which is exactly why it would be perfect for him to actually survive.

Clearly the Steve Rogers we will meet in Infinity War is a bit darker, a bit badder than our Rogers of the past. He’s been off with his two amigos, Nat and Sam (a triangle of perfection and my top 3) doing Secret Avenger stuff. I think he’s only grown stronger, more strategic, and more determined than ever. I wouldn’t count America’s golden boy out yet.

Chris Evans has said that he is open to more movies with Marvel. Whether they choose to head in that direction or not, I’m not believing that they have signed his death warrant. I think Steve may have just bought himself a happy ending after all, one where he finally gets some peace and can pass his shield on to a “younger” generation.

I’d love to see him get to settle down with the right partner. I don’t know if that will be Sharon, a resurrected Peggy (it’s Marvel, we know it can happen) or my personal choice, Natasha. But Steve is a man who will always have friends, and after the dust settles, I believe he will finally come home from the mission he set out on all the way back in the 1940s.

So, what do you think? Who is going to buy it in Infinity War? Are my predictions sound, or way off? What do you hope happens? Who do you hope survives?

Share and write your predictions!

 

Timeless: What Sets it Apart

NBC’s Timeless made history last year after it was resurrected from the “cancelled” grave in less than a week and brought back to life by a vibrant fan base of #clockblockers that refused to let their beloved show be resigned to the TV history shelves.

Why do we love our little time travel show so much? It’s not like it is the first of it’s kind, time travel shows have come and gone throughout the decades (Dr. Who, you’re still here). What makes Timeless stand out? *spoilers ahead*

I’ll tell you why.

It’s not the amazing sets that put you right on the ground of New Jersey, 1937. Or Texas, 1836, or Chicago 1893. Sets that make you feel as if you can smell, taste, and feel the past. Nor is it the costumes that leave this history nerd salivating. It’s not even the incredibly engaging and terrifying plot involving “Rittenhouse” a secret organization who has been arranging history from behind the scenes for centuries.

All of these things are wonderful, but they would fall utterly short if it were not for the true, beating heart of Timeless. That heart is, the characters.

History is the story of humanity, from Day 1 until now. Our good, our bad, our hopes, our disappointments, our triumphs and our failures. Timeless steers it’s viewers through time using the lens of people that we connect with on a soul level. It teaches history the way it should be taught, as a story about people.

Characters are the heart of every story, be it fictional or real. Timeless tells us a magnificent story that brings both fiction and reality together in an unforgettable way. There is little to connect us, in 2018, to the people of past centuries if we only consult dusty history books full of dry narrative and facts. But put a face to those narratives, give me a heart struggle, questions all humanity has asked, and suddenly I cannot look away! Through these character elements, we discover that those of past centuries were people just like us, and their stories come alive in a whole new way that both breaks our hearts and raises our spirits.

Timeless kept their character list focused and simple. We were given 4 main characters who are very skilled, very imperfect and often weak people who were thrust into an unimaginable situation that likely none of us will ever experience. And yet, we were able to understand not only these fictional characters, but also the real life historical figures they bump into along the way.

How did this happen?

It happened when we felt their pain. Their fear. When they asked questions we have all asked. When they laughed, and when they cried. They touched our hearts and we reached out for more.

time team

Lucy Preston (Abigail Spenceris a brilliant historian, a loving daughter/sister, a kind soul and a beautiful woman. She’s not perfect. She makes mistakes, she’s afraid much of the time, and she doesn’t have all of the answers. The dragon that Lucy has to slay in Season 1 comes in the form of her family legacy. She was born into Rittenhouse, a pureblood princess of an evil organization bent upon controlling millions of people. Throughout the season we see both Rittenhouse, and Garcia Flynn whispering things in Lucy’s ear in a oh-so-Emperor-Palpantine way. “This is your destiny, you cannot deny it. This is who you were made to be.” Lucy asks the question, “Can I decide who I will become? Or am I forced to be who they say I am?”

How many of us have asked this question? “Do I have to become an alcoholic like my father?”, “I grew up on the wrong side of town with no guidance and a lot of anger, is this my lot in life?”, “People find me unlikable, am I worthless and destined to be alone?” We’ve all had our devils whispering in our ears, “This is who you are destined to be.” And those whispers paint a picture of someone we do NOT want to be. Lucy’s struggle tugs at my heart, as I am sure it did yours. Her fear is one that I too, have felt.

Wyatt Logan (Matt Lanterthe handsome, protective soldier with a huge dose of regret and survivor’s guilt. He’s a warrior in every inch of his body, strong and capable. But inside his heart is failing him. He sees the ghosts, the ghosts of his fellow soldiers he had to leave behind, the ghosts of “failure”, and the biggest ghost of all, his murdered wife Jessica. Wyatt regularly asks the question, “How can something like my murdered wife be meant to be?” He grieves over the evil in the world and how powerless he feels to stop it. He’s trapped in the past, and no, I am not speaking about being stranded in a past century. Wyatt is mired in the regrets and pain of his past.

Does this ring a bell for anyone else? Show of hands please! We all have ghosts, some bigger than others. It’s easy to become mired in the pain of the past, and we have all cried out, “Why???”

Rufus Carlin (Malcolm Barrettis a soft-spoken, gentle, shy genius with a crush on his cute coworker Jiya (Claudia Doumit). He also feels zero courage or words to express himself. He jumps at shadows, as well as real monsters. He regularly questions his ability to be the person his team needs him to be. He’s straight-up terrified, feels out of his element, and hears a voice in his head saying, “I’m not strong enough and I can’t do this.”

Ever felt that? *entire world raises hand* Hello, Insecurity! Hello, Fear! There is not a human being on earth that has remained untouched from these very human things.

Garcia Flynn (Goran Visinjica former NSA operative who stumbled upon Rittenhouse by accident, which caused the death of his family and sent him plunging through time to destroy Rittenhouse, by whatever means necessary. Flynn is drowning in grief, anger, and he is consumed by both revenge and a desire to save his family. He performs dark, dark deeds, believing that “The ends justify the means.” He’s a man in horrible pain, doing horrible things to try and relieve that pain.

Flynn is a very vivid, crimson image of us as human beings when we are in a place of raw grief and anger. Even as I rooted for our Time Team to stop Flynn, I still ached for his pain. My humanity cried out for his broken heart. Have you ever had a broken heart that hurt so bad, you wanted to do whatever it took to stop the pain?

These were our vessels, our “Lifeboats” that dropped us right into the middle of human experience. And then these vessels, these magnificent characters took us through time. We saw them experience those of past centuries and decades. And we saw the same humanity in Robert Todd Lincoln, Ian Flemming, Katherine Johnson, Harry Houdini, and so, so many more. We saw the people of history in brilliant colors.

By the end of Season 1, our characters were giants compared to the smaller versions of themselves that they began with.

Timeless - Season 1

Wyatt realized that he was “meant to be here, helping you and saving history”. He faced his grief, his regret, his fear. He’s not completely healed, healing can sometimes take a lifetime. But he is also no longer stuck in the past. He’s moving forward and opening himself up to something new….#LYATTFOREVER

Wyatt has found a hope and a future.

 

Lucy grows bolder. She questions less about what is right and wrong, she plants her feet upon what is right and leads her team forward. She also faces the truth, “I decide who I will be, and I will NOT be Rittenhouse.” She is taking her stand and speaking in the truth of her free will.

Rufus. I think I loved Rufus’ arc the most. He believed himself to be the man cowering in the corner. In his heart, Rufus often still feels this way. But we all, including Rufus, know the truth now. Rufus is a warrior! I triumphed with Rufus every single time he was scared and did the brave thing anyway. We watched the hero be called out of Rufus, and we felt our own spines straighten as we gained courage with him.

Timeless - Season 1

Flynn. No, the ends do NOT justify the means. Flynn came to the place where I believe he hated himself. His heart was now breaking for more than just the loss of his family, it was breaking over the monster he had become. But he did not see a way to change his course. He believed himself to be too far gone.

Lucy didn’t. Lucy slayed her dragon, owned her free will and her right to choose a path other than Rittenhouse. Through that place of strength, and through the honest lens of her own pain and humanity, she reached out a hand in grace and compassion to Flynn and said, “Come on, I’ll give you a second chance.” And he took it. It was beautiful.

Meant to be.

Free will.

We can be warriors.

Second chances are possible.

We are not alone in this world, we don’t have to stumble in the dark of random chance and bad luck. I for one, know Who is at work in my world, He is the Creator and Author, as well as my Friend. I believe in meant to be, and it gives me a hope and a future.

We get to choose to rise above our past pain, our dark legacies, our hopelessness. I loved how Timeless showed how meant to be and free will are not at odds with each other. Meant to be simply means, you’re not alone, and there is a plan. Free will is our ability as thinking, creative beings to make choices in our moment by moment. It’s when these two things align, our free will, and the plan, that amazing things happen. Amazing things, like #LYATT

Timeless - Season 1

We can be braver than we think, and rise to a new level of warriorhood. Can we have a round of applause here? The stories in history that have always inspired me the most are the stories of normal, scared people who had the hero called out of them because of their circumstances. They were faced with an evil, an injustice, an obstacle, and they overcame it. It gives me chills just thinking about it.

rufus

And second chances are real. There aren’t many people in our world who are willing to give second chances. We judge each other based on performances so often that many of us are blinded to the people who are crying out for help, crying out for grace. I believe in second chances, I believe in grace. I am so glad Flynn was given a second chance, and I can’t wait to see what he does in Season 2.

flynn timeless 2

All of the above is hit-you-in-the-gut humanity kind of stuff. And Timeless captured it all while giving us a funny, terrifying, beautiful ride through history. Timeless showed us the people of the past, the present, and what will still be true for our future as human beings. And we loved it.

If you have not already seen Timeless, might I suggest you give it a try? The clockblockers would be happy to welcome you with open arms. And if you are already a fellow Clockblocker, hello, Friend. I cannot wait to join you tonight for Season 2, Episode 1: The War to End All Wars

A review of tonight’s episode will be posted tomorrow. Until tonight, clockblockers! Keep being human!

timeless season 2

Timeless airs on Sundays on NBC at 10/9c 

If you liked this article, you may like this article on Timeless‘ NBC sister show, The Brave, and why we need more of it.

 

Real Women: Jyn Erso (Rogue One)

I imagine most of you have seen Rogue One by now. If not, do not read further as there will be spoilers included. And if you have, then welcome, Fellow Star Wars Fan. We are forever changed after seeing that film.

There is so much to say on the subject of Rogue One, I have several articles waiting in the wings, but for now, I would like to focus on the titular character of the movie:

Jyn Erso.

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) joined the annals of Star Wars history as yet another deserving Star Wars leading lady. She owned her role beautifully and brought a level of human authenticity to the Star Wars world that was unlike anything I have yet seen. Not to say that the other Star Wars leading ladies have failed, quite the contrary, but their stories and roles are drastically different from Jyn’s.

Rogue One was such a raw and personal movie that it was only going to succeed if it’s characters were equally raw and personal. Jyn had a brief, but fiercely important role to play in the timeline of Star Wars. And because she played that role so well, she will never be forgotten.

I want to share a few specific things I found deeply attractive about this character, and why I am adding her to my list of real women in cinema.

1. She was scared.

Based upon earlier trailers for Rogue One, I was not at all looking forward to Jyn’s character. To me, she came across as untouchable and sarcastic. In fact, before the re-shoots, I have a feeling that may be closer to Jyn’s original portrayal. But more on that another day.

When the final trailer came out I was delighted to see that she actually appeared to be far more human than I had first believed.

My secondary impression was correct. We first meet Jyn as an innocent child, yet another victim of the Empire’s cruelty that robs her of both her mother and father. She’s a sweet little girl with braids and a stuffed doll that she drops when fleeing the Storm troopers.

little-jyn

As a young woman, you can still see that haunted and frightened look of a child in her huge eyes. She doesn’t walk around with a chip on her shoulder and an exaggerated swagger (she’s no Solo after all). Instead she goes through life with her head down and keeps running. Even when she is “rescued” by the rebels she attempts to flee. Her fighting reactions are that of a cornered animal rather than a fierce warrior.

frightened-jyn

To me, this is far more accurate than if they had made Jyn some fierce and untouchable warrior. She has quite obviously gone through terrifying things, and she just wants to feel safe. She just wants her daddy back. Is there anything more human than that?

2. She was compassionate

One of my absolute favorite moments in this entire movie was when Jyn saves the little girl during the raid in Jedha. She looked at that child and saw herself, and despite the fact that she has a huge survivor’s instinct, her instinct to protect that baby was stronger. Cassian tries to call her back, but she ignores him and runs into the crossfire. She scoops up the terrified little lady and returns her safely to her mama.  As much as that moment frustrated Cassian, he was also deeply attracted to it. Compassion is a rare quality, but it’s also one of the most alluring.

Jyn’s compassion extended further when she learned the truth about the Death Star and was given the information about how to destroy it. Her earlier instinct to get in, get out, and survive is once more overridden by her desire to protect others. Jyn’s heart for others is even bigger than her beautiful eyes. These moments were a beautiful illumination of her true heart, and made her an unforgettable character.

3. She was hopeful

Hope, like compassion, is a rare quality. Jyn has a lot of reasons to stop hoping. She has been haunted and hunted by the Empire since childhood. They have taken everything from her and millions of others in the galaxy. She could just throw her hands up in despair, but instead, she chooses to grab onto hope and charge into battle with it.

Cassian was raised his entire life in this Rebellion. He’s used to sleepless nights, long odds, and big regrets. He doesn’t give up, and yet, even he seems to be awakened in a new way by Jyn’s hope and determination. Jyn’s sweet little quotation during the Rebel council,

“Rebellions are built on hope,”

was actually his original statement. And yet, Cassian’s reaction to her hopeful initiative is like someone coming alive again. It’s as if he is hearing that concept in a completely new, and reachable way. He is going into battle with a fresh countenance and renewed sense of purpose that only Jyn was able to awaken.

jyns-rallying-hope

Hopeful people heal and rally those around them. Hope is like an infectious disease, it cannot help but spread. Jyn’s hope was beautiful and rejuvenating. She rallied an entire organization, a group of incredible and effective individuals around her because of her hope and determination. I have a hard time believing a jaded and sarcastic character would have been nearly as effective.

4. She was beautiful and ladylike

Despite the fact that Jyn was in one, practical outfit, went through multiple battles, killed storm troopers, climbed towers, and did a million other “dirty” things, she was such a lady. Being termed a lady has nothing to do with keeping your clothes clean or staying out of harm’s way, it is an overall bearing and way of carrying yourself in any situation.

Jyn felt so feminine to me. She wasn’t seductive once, she didn’t try to gain attention for herself, she didn’t constantly have to advertise how smart and capable she was. And yet, by the end of the movie during that dreadful and wonderful beach scene, you could see in Cassian’s eyes how much he loved her.

She was not unnecessarily crass and she wasn’t hardened and bitter. She was strong and tender.

Jyn was so, so beautiful. Her beautiful heart and wonderful character came out and clothed her as brilliantly as if she had been a member of Princess Leia’s court. Her daddy’s sweet nick-name Stardust was perfect for this lovely girl, for she sparkled and cast light like a beautiful star.

jyns-face

*****

I loved the character work done with many of the characters in this beautiful and heartbreaking film, and Jyn was one of the finest. Gareth Edwards and Felicity Jones can be proud of what they accomplished with her, she was a wonderful character to grace the screen and I hope we have the privilege of seeing many more women like her in the future.

As I said above, I have more Rogue One articles waiting in the wings. I would love to hear from you all as well. What did you love about the movie? Did you love Jyn Erso as much as I did? What is one thing you thought they incredibly well?

Like Star Wars? Here are a few more articles you might find interesting.

5 Reasons Why Finn Is Still Going to Be a Jedi

6 Ways that StarWars: Rebels Differs From StarWars: The Clone Wars

Why Ezra Bridger Will Ultimately Choose the Light Side

The Flawed Film That Succeeded: My All American

Every film has flaws. Some are flawed to the point where you are wondering just how low-blood sugar the makers were during the process of creating and producing that particular film.

Other films are largely wonderful, with just enough flaws to keep them human.

My All American was a film with some very obvious flaws.

It started out with the let me tell you a story form of narration that rarely works. That type of narration is often a very weak way to begin and end a film. It removes you emotionally from the primary characters in the story.

Also, My All American decided to put their weakest actors at the very beginning, a big no-no in my opinion. The first scene taking place in Coach Royal’s office was awkward and a weak way to launch the movie.

The timeline went to work telling the story of one of Coach Royal’s former players, Freddie Steinmark, from his childhood to college days. We saw glimpses of his childhood, high school years, his sweetheart Linda, and his hard-worked-for football scholarship to college. We were then shown the first few years of his college football career.

All of these events felt rushed. Passage of time was not clearly marked, it all blurred together. I kept thinking it was just me, that somehow my brain was blocking important details with the what, where, when, why, and how of Freddie’s life. But then the  others watching the film with me confirmed that they were also lost.

A few details and reactions to personal events in the lives of characters surrounding Freddie were also unexplained. They just happened.

The film did not gain traction until the last 3rd, when it finally grounded itself in specific times, dates, and events happening chronologically. The focus of the film zeroed in more on Freddie’s personal struggles, how they affected him and those around him. The film wrapped up with an end to Freddie’s story, capped by another weak scene in Coach Royal’s office.

And yet, when the credits started rolling, I was swallowing the lump in my throat. Despite everything that had been done “wrong” in this film, it was successful in the most important way. And why is that? Because….

….by the time the credits rolled on My All American, knew who Freddie Steinmark was.

A weak beginning, poor time passage, and loose details? In the end, none of that mattered. From his first appearance on the screen until his last, we were given a clear picture of who Freddie Steinmark was, even if the other details surrounding his story were foggy.

Freddie Steinmark was a brave little man. He worked hard, complained little, loved deeply, and never gave up. He was a man of faith and a faithful man. He inspired those around him with his fierce spirit and sincerity. He was confident and humble. His very existence pushed those who came in contact with him to strive to better themselves.

My All American was a film made to honor and respect Freddie Steinmark. It was a film made to introduce you to this extraordinary human being. And while they “technically” failed on many counts, they succeeded in their most important goal. We now know who Freddie Steinmark is, and we are better for it.

My All American, a flawed film that succeeded where it really mattered.

*****

I was inspired both by Freddie Steinmark, and by this film itself. It is encouraging to me to think about the concept of something imperfect still coming through where it really matters. This happened, I believe, because the makers of My All American kept their eyes on their priority and stuck to it. They knew what mattered the most to them and didn’t allow other things to get in the way of that priority.

This is not to say there isn’t room for improvement, perhaps if the makers of My All American had to do this film again they would change some things. But that’s life, isn’t it? You do the best you can with where you are at, and you try your hardest to succeed. Some things you fail, and in other things you do well.

Freddie Steinmark inspired and encouraged me. And this movie itself inspires me to stay focused on the things that truly matter to me, even as I do my best to succeed in everything. I want people to be able to look at my life and know who I am, and I want them to see that while I failed regularly, I succeeded in the things that mattered the most.

May I encourage you to think about the people and things that matter the most? May I encourage you to keep going even after you fail, or are faced with difficulty? May I encourage you to choose to focus on what will have a positive, lasting impact on your life?

Bless you all this Christmas season. The celebration this time of the year is a gift, one that I pray you may find and engage. Merry Christmas!