Infinity War Part 1: 4 Ways It Was Awesome

Regardless of it’s reception, no one can deny the major impact that Avengers: Infinity War had on superhero fans around the globe.

A wailing cry went up starting April 27th and I don’t think it’s stopped since. Watching so many people you love like family dissolve into dust is kind of awful (yes, I’m thinking about our sweet baby Peter Parker right now).

I saw the movie and didn’t have much of a reaction (except for my baby Peter Parker because that was just cruel). It was so intense, really chaotic, and kind of disjointed feeling to me. I also know that a whole lot of the people who are currently dead can’t stay dead because their Marvel contracts still have a long life on them. So I didn’t panic when they died, because I know that most of them are coming back.

And c’mon, no one in their right mind actually thought Marvel was going to just kill off our brand spankin’ new Spider-Man? Peter Parker is not only one of the most beloved superheroes of all time, but Tom Holland’s most recent rendition stole the world’s hearts immediately. He’s a fresh new character who we have the pleasure of watching evolve. It makes 0 sense to kill off an asset like that. I mean LOOK AT THIS ADORABLE FACE!!! I have full confidence that we will be enjoying Peter Parker for many years to come.

spiderman

It’s taken me a while to process Infinity War. It is an unfinished story, so I decided to not draw too many conclusions right away. I won’t completely know what I think of it until Avengers 4 comes out May 3, 2019.

I’ve drawn a few conclusions, however, and I wanted to share some positives as well as the negatives I have found. Today we will focus on the positives, the next post will contain the negatives.

I’d love to hear your take in the comments section, so when you’re done reading let me know what you thought of Infinity War now that the dust has settled (oohhh, too soon?) and you’ve had months to process. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

4 Ways Infinity War Was Awesome

 

1. THOR

I was NOT a fan of Thor: Ragnarok by any stretch of the imagination. To me, it felt that Taika Waititi pretty much worked his tail off to literally erase any traces of of the previous Thor material. Old friends and characters were killed off without ceremony. New and very serious threats (Hela) were introduced with no warning or time to feel fear.

And Thor was made a laughingstock so many times. The level of slapstick/downright stupid/crude humor was embarrassing to me. I felt 0 chemistry between Thor and Valkyrie as characters, be it platonic or a potential romance. The Hulk was confusing. I felt like Loki was mocked, etc.

Needless to say, Ragnarok was a deep disappointment to me. But, Thor in Infinity War?

Perfection! The Russo brothers managed to bring back the regal bearing and crazy-awesome might of the Mighty Avenger. Thor is a prince, a king! He’s a glorious warrior with a huge heart and a charming sense of humor.

Though I may not have been a fan of Ragnarok, I know many Marvel fans were. The Thor of Infinity War was a beautiful blend of the Thor from the previous films as well as the good changes to Thor from Ragnarok.

Let’s just say it, that self-generating lightning thing is the bomb…

Infinity War gave me the Thor I always wanted. When he touches down in Wakanda, giant new hammer blazing, I thought I was gonna explode. Yes! Welcome the King of Asgard, the Mighty Avenger!

infinity war thor

2. I Am Groot, I Am Steve Rogers, Rocket and Bucky

When you sit back and think about it, these Marvel movies are totally bizarre. How in the heck have a tree that says 3 words and a tiny raccoon made me cry so much?

Two guys who are biologically pushing 100 are physically only in their late 20s-early-30s?

A fully functional AI android who is deeply in love with a girl who can manipulate matter and minds because she was exposed to a magic space stone?

Yeah, this is WEIRD.

Occasionally we get to see our characters have an out-of-body moment where they become self-aware and go, “This makes no sense.” Like Hawkeye’s beautiful and brilliant speech in Avengers: Age of Ultron . 

city is flying hawkeye

But it’s been a few years since this all began. By now the characters have stopped asking why. The world is getting wackier by the minute and honestly, they’re tired. They are just so tired. Too tired to ask why anymore. They don’t ask, they just do now.

I felt that attitude was beautifully captured in two moments during the chaotic melee of Wakanda. Did that sound negative? Yes, it was meant to, but more on that in the negative post.

Steve and Thor have a cute little bro-to-bro exchange while fighting those disgusting creatures of Thanos. It’s old work buddies catching up. And then the talking, sentient tree we all know as Groot comes up. The old Steve Rogers would have said,

“You know I really miss the days when the weirdest thing science had created was me.” Captain America/Steve Rogers, Age of Ultron

But not the new Steve. He’s been around enough now. He’s too tired to ask why anymore, just rolling with the punches now.

Thor: “This is my friend, tree.”

Groot: “I am Groot.”

Steve: *doesn’t even blink* “I am Steve Rogers.”

work buddies in wakanda

By extension of this same thought, I didn’t think I could handle it when Bucky just plucked Rocket Raccoon up and they turned in an epic, bullet-spitting circle. There was no conversation leading up to this, no introduction, no,

“How is a raccoon wearing armor and shooting a gun that is at least his full body weight?”

Just a natural assessment,

“Small raccoon is causing big-time damage. Partner with small shooting raccoon.”

Audiences who know and love both characters see an even bigger picture as Bucky and Rocket actually have quite a bit in common. They would be good buddies.

But they don’t know any of that. They are just accepting life as it comes and making the most intelligent decisions they can at the moment.

Which makes it all the funnier.

rocket and buck

3. Anything Peter Parker, but especially how his well-rounded movie-watching career saved their bacon.

Again, this is why Peter Parker is gonna be around for years. This boy is GOLD!!!

madeup names

Peter already showed his ability to think on the fly in Civil War when he helped bring down Giant-Man using the AT-AT trick from the classic Hoth battle in The Empire Strikes Back. He may be making things up as he goes, but it’s working!

The fact that Tony, Peter, and Stephen Strange were able to rid themselves of Squidface-full-of-himself out there in space just by copying a classic thriller film is just the best thing ever.

And we can thank Peter Parker for it. Every moment that he is in this film is pure delight, with the exception of his slow and devastating decay as he gasps for air in his adopted-daddy Tony’s arms.

no idea tom holland

4. Enter, Captain Marvel

Sometimes the best way to announce something HUGE is to do it without even saying it. To hint at. To put in a quiet, subtle and chills-inducing moment that is surrounded by chaos. A moment that whispers, “…she’s coming…”

The end credits scene with Maria Hill and Nick Fury did just that.

captain marvel

I’ll give a few honorable mentions to some other parts I loved.

-Peter Quill and Gamora’s tender interaction in this movie was what I have been dreaming of since I fell in love with that wacky crew of Guardians back in 2014. It was deep, real love. Two people who know the good and the bad about each other, and they still choose love. I enjoyed their scenes so much.

-Gamora really stole the show if you ask me. Her past is so intricately intertwined in this movie, her scenes with the Guardians, and her scenes with Thanos were packed with powerful emotion.

-Bad Boy Steve. Mmmmmmhhhhmmm. His entrance in Scotland with his best friends/Secret Avengers at his side was kind of a glorious moment for me. That trio are my favorite Avengers, and I desperately want to know more about what they have been up to (more on this in the negative post).

-Dr. Strange heading out to order lunch. It was so crazy normal compared to literally everything else in this movie.

-Tony’s dream where he had to pee. If someone says this hasn’t happened to them at least once they are lying.

-Rhodey hanging up on Secretary Ross while his illegal buddies hang out in the background. I hope Ross dissolved and is accidentally never brought back.

-Loki getting to say the lineWE HAVE A HULK. It just felt right. I am honestly disappointed Loki is never coming back, I think hearing the rest of his story would have been neat.

-The fact that our original 6 Avengers are still standing. I know that every single character left alive was left alive for a very specific purpose. We’ve added so many new and wonderful characters to the mix over the past 6 years since The Avengers was released in 2012, but I have to say, I am deeply excited and curious to see why we were left our original 6. There is something meaningful and powerful there.

So, what were the good things you felt about Infinity War? What moments made you laugh, or just touched your nerd soul in the right spot? What character interactions did you enjoy the most? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Other posts you may like…

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Exactly What It Needed to Be

The Ultimate “ASSEMBLE” Collection

Wanda Maximoff’s Room: Backstory in Less than 3 Minutes

 

Advertisements

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Exactly What It Needed to Be

I’ve heard some talk floating around the internet that Marvel’s latest instalment, Ant-Man and the Wasp was “mediocre” following the massive movie event that was Infinity War.

antman and the wasp smaller image

My response to that?

you don't get it

Y’all don’t get it.

Ant-Man and the Wasp was NEVER meant to be Infinity War. The same way the Captain America movies and the Iron Man trilogies are vastly different, it’s like comparing a watermelon to a grape. If you want a watermelon, you watch Infinity War. Neither one is “better” than the other, they are two different stories. You are welcome to have a favorite, but don’t try to compare such different fruits.

 If you want to take on an entire watermelon, go watch Infinity War. If you want some refreshing grapes, go watch Ant-Man and the Wasp. 

Okay, now I’ll back up my argument with something a bit more substantial than fruit. Here are 3 reasons why Ant-Man and the Wasp was exactly what it was supposed to be. *Spoilers ahead*.

1. Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne are still fairly new heroes.

If you’re expecting Scott Lang, Hope Van Dyne, and Hank Pym to be gallivanting around with the other Avengers, guess again. That little trip Scott took to Germany to join #TeamCap was AWESOME, but it really was an anomaly, same for Peter Parker. Scott Lang is still a newbie hero, and while he may be older than our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, he’s still developing. And Hope Van Dyne make walk around with great confidence, but we have only had 2 movies to get to know her, she’s still a work in progress as far as the audience is concerned.

I know our Marvel universe has been building up to this climactic, dramatic place where Infinity War is raging, but as a character, Scott is still fairly early into his character arc, as is Hope. If you compare this second instalment to Iron-Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (the best Marvel movie to date), and Thor: The Dark World it’s not that far off. Ant-Man and the Wasp are still building up to the place the other heroes have already come to after years of fighting.

This makes sense as newer characters like Peter Parker, Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne ARE the future of Marvel! Once the dust settles on Avengers 4 most of our older heroes will have been killed or hopefully retired. We have to be left with somebody!

I loved the lighter tension of this movie. Infinity War was exhausting to watch. I didn’t mind the fact our villains weren’t bent upon world domination or mass genocide. I loved the fact that Ghost got a redemptive arc. Sometimes you want to see the “bad” person saved. If someone had gotten Thanos turned around centuries ago we wouldn’t be in this stupid mess now.

ghost.gif

Lighter, that leads me to my next point.

2. Ant-Man IS SUPPOSED to be lighthearted and funny!

Something I love about the Ant-Man movies is how down-to-earth and approachable they are! Scott is a cereal and Skittles kind of hero, and I love that. It sets him apart from Thor’s stateliness, Steve’s intense moral compass, Tony’s champagne and AI world. Any elegance or class Scott lacks Hope fills in beautifully as she creates this beautiful gravity to these stories.

I love Luis and co. I LOVEEEE CASSIE! I love the playful creativity and freedom of these movies. In what other Marvel movie would it be completely normal to take out a goon with a massive Hello Kitty pez dispenser.

pez dispenser

Where else do you get to see a giant ant play the drums? In what world can you carry all of your matchbox size vehicles in a lunchbox?

Btw, have you considered the fact that it was literally on someone’s to-do list AT WORK to “go purchase matchbox cars for Ant-Man and the Wasp“? How do I get that job?

I don’t know about you, but I needed every single laugh I got out of this movie. It wasn’t cheap humor. It wasn’t degrading humor. It wasn’t chock full of inappropriate humor. This was the hilariously crazy mixed in with the adorably normal and I loved it. I needed it. 

Laughter is good medicine. Ant-Man and the Wasp was good for my health.

3. The personal stakes were HUGE for these characters.

No, they weren’t trying to prevent a worldwide genocide, but that doesn’t mean this mission didn’t matter.

Can you imagine knowing the love of your life, the beloved mama you lost has been trapped in another realm for 30 years? And after grieving her tragic loss for years, you find out that maybe, just maybe you can ACTUALLY get her out??? That would be fire burning inside of you that you could not quench!

Can you imagine losing your parents violently, and then existing between two realms for your whole life? Being used for horrible things because you are “special”, but ALWAYS being in pain? Knowing you are going to blink out of existence in just a few weeks? Oh! The loneliness, the terror, the torment, the grief!

Can you imagine losing everything, your wife, your child, your freedom, regaining part of that and meeting a partner you want to spend forever with, and then losing it all again? And if you had a third chance? Wouldn’t you put everything you had into keeping that third chance?

This movie was huge when it came to personal stakes. Hank Pym was determined to get back the love his life, his true partner. Good thing, since the number of people who actually like him he can count on one hand. I can’t imagine the pain of being separated from a loved one that way, the agony he must have felt.

Hope wants her mama back. Her family fell apart when her mama disappeared. She lost both parents that night. All sense of security, joy, hope, laughter, gone! I know how it feels when your family is shattered so I can imagine how she feels. Not to mention, she had actually met this guy who is warm, funny, great with kids, and somehow complements her beautifully, and then she lost him too. She’s done losing people, she’s ready to get somebody back for a change!

Scott has worked his rear end off trying to re-establish his life so he can have a future that includes his daughter. I’m not a parent yet, but I know enough to know there are few motivators as strong as the motivators parents have. Plus, he found this amazing woman who he can have as both a superpartner, and a life partner. Yeah, he’s motivated.

This movie was hugely focused on partnership. Hope and Scott, they have a rhythm, a balance as partners. They need each other.

hope and scott

Janet and Hank, they belong together. They are better together.

This movie was about restoration. Restoration of partners. Of families. It was about healing a shattered little girl who had been in pain since her childhood. It was down-to-earth, it was funny, it was wacky and unexpected.

This is EXACTLY the movie I needed after the year I’ve had. EXACTLY the movie I needed after Infinity War. And the folks at Marvel knew that.

I hope you can laugh and enjoy yourself as much as I did. I hope you see the sweet heart and messages of restoration and healing in this movie. I hope you go home lighter.

4. Bonus…this movie is Giant-Man sized in terms of impact for Avengers 4.

The horror of that mid-credits, Infinity War tie-in scene settled in my belly like cold quicksand. The thought of being trapped in the Quantum Realm with literally no one on the outside to help Scott scared the living daylights out of me. Until I thought about it…

…and then I realized. What if Scott is actually the key?

I have a theory, one that I quickly found was shared by other Marvel fans. What if the Quantum Realm could somehow be connected to the Soul Stone where half of the world plus half of our heroes were sent after that dreadful finger-snap? If so, Scott could travel between worlds, perhaps even be the key to free those lost. And since Scott wasn’t one of those “taken”, he can still get out into the real world. Perhaps even bring vital information back to the remaining Avengers and Captain Marvel when she arrives. Every single hero we had left standing at the end of Infinity War serves a very specific purpose.

We haven’t even gotten to the potential possibilities presented by the “time vortex” Janet cautioned Scott against.

This is exciting stuff. Scott has proven himself capable in the Quantum Realm before, and as Marvel has taught us time and time again, nothing is ever insignificant. No hero is too “small”. And everyone has a vital part to play.

So, was Ant-Man and the Wasp mediocre?

Absolutely NOT! It was precisely what the Doctor ordered.

antman and the wasp gif

(Did Dr. Strange see Scott being a key player in the 1 scenario out of billions where they won? I guess we’ll find out next May).

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy:

Civil War: Why the Sokovia Accords Are a Waste of Paper

Civil War: The First Annual Avenger’s Football Game

Civil War: Why Vision Needed to Fail

Wanda Maximoff’s Room: Backstory in Less than 3 Minutes

If you’re a big Ant-Man fan, check out these awesome L-A-N-G tees! I have an entire ASSEMBLE collection, but I definitely need to add in a few heroes such as Hope.

*Available for US and EU buyers!

US TEE

EU TEE

_Hi, I'm Scott._

The Ultimate “ASSEMBLE” Collection

I apologize for my absence. I’ve been pulling some Tony Stark-level hours trying to release a specific collection before Avengers: Infinity War on April 27th!

*Deep breath*. Okay, who else is both insanely stoked and also coldly terrified for this movie? Every warning the Russo brothers release just terrifies me more and more. I really have no idea what to expect, I just know I will not be wearing makeup to this movie for fear I will come out smeared like some wayward clown.

But for now, we get to anticipate the unknown with joy. We are blissfully unaware of the tragedies and heartbreak to come, so we enjoy the sunshine while it lasts and discuss our theories, eagerly look forward to seeing our favorite faces, and watch every new TV spot that hits the social media channels.

We are in store for so many goodies, but we must prepare. If you are going to fight a war, you need to put on a uniform.

I’ve got you covered! No, you won’t need to pillage some poor mannequin at the Smithsonian for this uniform, you can get your perfect size.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I have created the ultimate ASSEMBLE collection for Marvel fans of all shapes and sizes. And this time, no heroes are left out. Are you a Dr. Strange fan who has been left without fanwear? Do you feel like the only The Vision fan in the world, not important enough to be recognized? Are you one of the many Clint Barton fans who are sick of feeling like the “forgotten” Avengers?

Y’all, I’ve got them all. I have been that fan, the one who loves something deeply, but no one thinks I’m worth making a shirt for. I started designing t-shirts because I was fed up waiting for someone else to design them for me. I made this ASSEMBLE collection as a Marvel fan, with Marvel fans in mind.

I hope you enjoy them! You can like my t-shirt page G’STEES on FB, and follow me on instagram @gsteeshirtdesign to stay updated. May the Force be with you, fellow Avengers.

Check out the collection here!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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?

bfnp

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. 

ptumblr_lthxchgx7g1qzzwmb

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.

bruce banner.png

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.

b05fb2d1d680366db31f41526aebcae2d3b22d99_hq

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.

dr strange

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.

white wolf

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.

tchalla

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!

scott lange

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!

spiderman

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!

 

gotg2

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!

 

Black Panther, Mostly Spoiler-Free Review

Black Panther is unlike any other Marvel movie you have ever seen. It is a story that is in many ways self-contained, fantastical, a fairytale of sorts. And yet, it is grounded in the heart struggles and deep questions that our world has been wrestling with since the dawn of time. Wakanda may not be real, but the battles it fights most certainly are.

I was deeply drawn in to these characters. They are complex, beautiful, mysterious. They are unlike anyone you have ever met before, and yet they seem like familiar friends. They surprise you regularly. The past and the present are entirely intertwined in this story, and that is something the characters themselves struggle with.

T’Challa is a beautiful character. He’s kingly, regal, and a strong warrior. The greatest strength of his character, however, lies in his gentleness and compassion. He makes compassion look like the most macho thing ever, and he uses his power to heal. I could scream at the world with how delighted that message makes me.

Nakia, she’s magnificent. Passionate, constantly in motion, and so strong. You feel the life and the heartbeat in her every look and word. I found her character to be so beautifully balanced, she was T’Challa’s equal, his perfect match. She was beautiful and vital to this story. I especially loved how they highlighted her compassion, something that many women carry but rarely get credit for. Her compassion changed the course of this story as it influenced those around her. Can I get an amen?

Princess Shuri. Hilarious. Lovely. Intelligent. Full of surprises. The dynamic between her and her older brother warmed my heart. Shuri is magnetic, you could see her winning the hearts of nations by just being herself. She’s like the Phineas and Ferb of Wakanda, and she will knock the socks right off of the other “brains” of Marvel.

Okoye. I think she is the character that intrigues me the most. General of Wakanda, their greatest warrior. I wasn’t sure how layered they would make her, I didn’t know if we would stop at just making her a warrior. But she was more than a warrior, she was deep. I felt like she represented an aspect of tradition, and yet it didn’t hold her character hostage. She surprised me with a rare sense of humor, an almost motherly attitude, and my favorite moment in the film involved something most unexpected with her character. She was fully a woman, fully a warrior, fully a Wakandan. Beautiful in every way.

Everett Ross. Well, if Bilbo showed up in Wakanda, this is what would have happened. Martin Freeman has played the same character in everything I have ever seen him in, and not once have I been disappointed. I think Ross was an important aspect of this film. The Wakandans were mostly raised with an air of superiority over the rest of the world, they hold the secrets no one else has. And they’re smug about it. Ross carries himself in this movie with a quiet confidence that remains unshaken, his faithfulness and steadfast courage take the other characters by surprise. He has a job, and he will get it done. I think his presence also did much to change the course of the story.

Erik Killmonger. He’s one of the coldest Marvel villains I have ever come across. He’s so full of hatred and bitter darkness it terrifies you. But he represents the opposite side of the coin from T’Challa. They are meant to be opposites even as they reflect one another, the contrast is there to be a lesson. Killmonger’s story moved you to a place of compassion, even if you abhorred what he became.

I still believe this to be one of the most violent Marvel movies I have seen. This is for two reasons.

(1) The violence is deeply personal. It’s hand to hand combat with sharp weapons. It’s full of betrayal, a life and death struggle for a nation and a set of ideals. Former allies turn on each other, and they do actually kill. This isn’t the Avengers fighting Chatauri, or drones, or Ultron bots. This isn’t even the Avengers fighting each other where the injuries could all be healed. These people KILL each other, and it is heartbreaking.

(2) It’s deeply raw in the emotions, which makes the blades all the sharper. I shook for hours after watching this movie. During the end climax I heard muttering, and looked over to see my mom praying tensely under her breath. It’s so intense you forget it’s not real. She was praying for T’Challa because it’s that intense.

This Marvel movie is so worth it. It takes on some of the hugest issues we are struggling with as a nation, and as a world; beautifully, this movie ends with the truth. It doesn’t deny the pain of past tragedies, you ache with that pain during the entire movie. Pain can move you to hatred, or it can move you to compassion. Both results are shown in brilliant colors in this movie, but we end in the right place.

I am so proud of the people who made this movie. It’s life-changing. It’s honest. It’s heartwarming and funny. And it puts value on the right beliefs. Beliefs that if carried out, will change our world for the better.

Wakanda forever!

*Deeper article to come later.

black panther car scene

Wanda Maximoff’s Room: Backstory in Less than 3 Minutes

The Russo brothers had their work cut out for them in Civil War. They had to bring us up to speed on all of our old characters, seamlessly introduce new ones, and engage in a deeply layered and interpersonal conflict in a way that was organic and engaging. What is the answer to that dilemma? Multitasking storytelling; using every aspect of a scene with characters, props, setting, music, etc to get the point across.

They pulled it all off magnificently. There are so many of this aspects of this film that I could discuss, but today I want to talk about how we were brought up to speed on the character of Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch.

When we last saw Wanda, it was in Age of Ultron where she spent most of the movie on the hunt for revenge on Tony Stark. We got a bit of her backstory, she and her twin brother lost both their parents and their childhood to a missile made by Stark Industries. Still, we didn’t really get to experience her heart, and we learned next-to-nothing about her personality.

Now, it is one year after the tragic events in Sokovia. Wanda lost her brother to that battle, and that meant she lost pretty much the only stability or identify she has ever known. Pietro was her foundation and safe place. She has been with the Avengers for a year now, and they have become her new sense of family and security. She’s no longer thirsting for vengeance, so….just who is Wanda Maximoff?

We got a few glimpses of who she is in the battle with Crossbones in Lagos, Nigeria. Wanda is obviously still in training, but her powers make her one of the biggest assets on the team. She was very tuned in to instructions and quick to have Captain America’s back. Her face was heartbreaking when she saw the accidental explosion caused by her efforts to save Steve from Crossbones’ bomb.

But the greatest download we got on Wanda was in the short scene in her bedroom. This scene was brilliantly done on every level, but I have to give the biggest applause to the set designer. Multiple levels of information and story were given to us in less than 3 minutes.

We know exactly who Wanda is when this scene is done; we know her desires, her hopes, and her fears. Her character arc for the rest of the movie is established in this scene. we know where she is coming from, which means we also now know where she needs to go.

Shall we examine this fine bit of set design?

wm-1

Notice the pin markers in her globe. Are these places she has already gone with the Avengers, or places that she dreams of going? Her life before wasn’t exactly one where she could dream, it was a life of survival and vengeance. She was experimented on and became this insanely enhanced person.

Despite all that she lost before, her normal life, her parents, and especially her brother, I would venture to say that Wanda also feels a sense of relief. She is now free to dream again. She is young and it is a big and beautiful world just waiting to be discovered.

wm-room-2

The color palette in this room is very subtle and restful. Soothing grays, blues, greens, and ivory. Despite her superhero name of “Scarlet Witch”, Wanda Maximoff is very non-scarlet in her both her color choices and personality. This room is her refuge, her quiet place to be vulnerable and to dream. This room represents who she is inside, and inside she is a soft, sweet person.

See the guitar? Wanda is learning to play music. She is a very gentle soul. There is a soft throw on the back of the chair, perhaps she cuddles up in it to watch late-night movies or read a good book. A bit of laundry in the hamper? It would seem she is actually still quite normal in the fact that she is procrastinating laundry day.

wm-room-3

Her shelf. It has books, a glass globe (I have one like it), candles, and this oh-so-telling bulletin board which I will get to in a minute.

My favorite part here is the cute hanging rack she made with a gold chain and a feather. Feathers represent freedom and whimsy, a side of Wanda we never saw in Age of Ultron. She has a feminine pair of dangly earrings hung on this homemade rack. I’ll just bet you she got the idea to make it when she saw a similar idea on Pinterest. Wanda can manipulate and create with her powers, but she can also create beautiful things with her hands.

wm-bulletin-board

We can see a photo of what is obviously little Pietro. It is both sweet and heartbreaking. There are also photos of dogs and a cat. Were they her pets? Or does she just love animals? This bulletin board is completely stuffed. Memories matter to Wanda, she treasures them. She has experienced other people’s memories through the visions she gave them, how telling that she keeps her own memories out in plain view, even the tragic ones.

wm-room-5

More subtle colors. Another glimpse of her stuffed bulletin board. A stray headband that she never put away. Baskets stuffed with what looks like stationary or scrapbooking materials. And the final detail, a cross necklace hung in the background. Could it be a part of her past, or has faith become a part of her life since the events in Sokovia?

Dreams. Memories. Sweetness. Peace. Refuge. Femininity. We learned all of this just from the background setting, this doesn’t even include everything we learned in Wanda’s conversation with Steve.

This is not the room of a child, nor is it the room of a woman. It is the room of someone who is in between. It is a room reminiscent of the childhood that she never got to have, but it is also longing for the womanhood she is not yet sure how to grasp. Instead, she is a girl caught in the middle between fear and vulnerability, and bold strength.

Wanda made huge strides to grow and become braver. She faced down her fear when Vision confronted her and she triumphed. Everyone is well aware of just how powerful she is, she is not lacking for capabilities to protect both herself and others.

But underneath all of that, Wanda still has a sweetness that needs to be protected. All those who know her feel that and try to guard her. Steve, Vision, Clint, even Tony. She’s the baby Avenger, the kid sister, the girl who they have all grown to love and want to protect. I think Pietro would feel great relief to know that his sister is so well looked after.

We were truly introduced to Wanda Maximoff for the first time in Civil War. And we were introduced so subtly and organically that we never even noticed it.

Meet Wanda Maximoff, a sweet young woman with a heart that’s even bigger than her beautiful eyes.

 

The Need for a Sparring Partner- Part 2

Sparring partners can come in many forms. They can be good friends and allies. They are often love interests. Many sparring partners actually come in the form of villains who, by adding negative pressure, force the hero to get stronger. A sparring partner can also come in the form of a setting or circumstance.

Here are a few examples of good sparring partners.

Love Interest Sparring Partners

Han Solo and Princess Leia

There is no question that Han’s interest in Leia opened the door for him to reveal his big heart and put it out on his sleeve. Han’s drive to fight for Leia, Luke, and the Rebellion pushed him to greater things and more selflessness than ever before.

Leia’s love for Han opened up places in her heart that she had carefully shielded. She is a more well-rounded person because of him.

Image result for han solo leia gifs

And let us all just recognize the masterpiece that are Han and Leia’s verbal exchanges. I think some of the most legendary film dialogue ever written takes place in The Empire Strikes Back.

Finn and Rey

In the course of just a few days, Finn goes from being a frightened Stormtrooper to charging fearlessly into Starkiller Base and dueling with a Dark Side warrior. Finn makes this incredible 180 turnaround because of one person: Rey. Rey simply being who she is pushes Finn to desire to be better, to be more. And that mighty person is exactly what he becomes.

Likewise, Finn touches Rey’s heart by being the first person in her life who has shown her concern, care, and friendship. His choices regarding her make a huge impact on her chosen direction. Finn was a catalyst in Rey’s life that helped move her down the path she is destined for.

Barry Allen and Iris West 

I wish I had time to cover everything I have to say on the subject of West-Allen. I promise you, there is a juicy article in the works.

Barry Allen has been in love with Iris West since forever. Iris has always believed in Barry, even when he didn’t believe in himself. The combination of these two is dynamite.

Barry runs faster, punches harder, and doesn’t give up because he knows that Iris believes in him. She is his inspiration as well as his home.

Iris has always been inspired by Barry, she has always believed in him, even before he became the Flash. Her relationship with Barry throughout the years has helped shape her into a compassionate and mighty person who makes things happen. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind to Barry, even when he doesn’t want to listen.

Like I said, dynamite.

Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter

*Sigh*, we’ve lived this story so many times and it always hurts. But it still wows me.

Steve Rogers immediately saw the strength, dignity, and heart in Peggy Carter. She was everything he could have ever dreamed for in a woman. Knowing her made him want to be better all the time. He carries a picture of her in his compass because Peggy is his true north, his guide, even after her death her words and heart still reach him at his core.

Peggy Carter was almost instantaneously impacted by Steve Rogers. She fell in love with him on Day 1 and his memory inspired pretty much her entire life. She felt that no one, including her, could ever hope to be everything that Steve was. Keeping him in mind, Peggy lived a legendary life that inspired others.

Best Friends

Steve and Bucky

They are with each other “To the end of the line.” 

Growing up, Bucky kept Steve alive. He never failed to have Steve’s back. He took punches, fought battles, and held his friend up through anything. Knowing that scrawny kid from Brooklyn with the massive heart made Bucky into the best friend everyone dreams of. He is a total hero. Without Bucky, there never would have been Captain America

Steve had the best friend in the world, one he could always depend on. When Steve thought he lost Bucky, he kept going with Bucky still sitting in his heart. The knowledge of who Bucky was and the sacrifices he willingly made hugely impacted Steve’s life choices. Later on, when Steve learned Bucky wasn’t actually dead but now a brainwashed assassin, Steve didn’t write his friend off. He walked through fire and ice to save his friend, without hesitation.

Hiccup and Toothless

Hiccup Haddock began to come into his own as soon as he met Toothless. While Hiccup already had many unrecognized talents and abilities, he never had a reason to bring them forward until he met his dragon. Toothless made Hiccup grow into a selfless leader who is constantly improving. Hiccup never settles or stays stagnant, he is always improving, always growing.

Bonding with Hiccup pushed Toothless beyond the bounds of ordinary dragons. Toothless was already an extraordinary dragon, but his great love for Hiccup has pushed him to do things that go even against his own biological instinct. The greatest example of this is when he challenges the Alpha Bewilderbeast in order to protect Hiccup.

Hiccup and Toothless are stronger together, they inspire and push each other to greater heights all the time.

Woody and Buzz

Despite a rough beginning, Woody and Buzz have a friendship that real life people are jealous of. While Woody at first felt threatened by Buzz’s strong presence, he has since grown to appreciate and lean on this brave little space ranger’s shoulder. Woody helped Buzz face reality, learn resourcefulness, and taught him the joy of being a child’s toy.

Buzz is Woody’s backbone. When Woody needs support, Buzz is there. When Woody can’t lead the other toys, Buzz steps up to the plate. When Woody forgets who he is and what being a toy means, Buzz is there to remind him. Great friends remind each other who they are when one has forgotten.

Woody and Buzz make each other better, they fill each other out and made one heck of a team.

Enemies

Flash and Reverse Flash

Run, Barry, run!

Eobard Thawne (aka Harrison Wells/The Reverse Flash) is a top example of a how a villain can be an excellent sparring partner.

Thawne is incredibly layered and complex because he has been the friend, mentor, villain, and created circumstances that have all shaped Barry and forced him to become better. Thawne is constantly moving around and changing up his strategy to manipulate Barry’s actions. That being said, everything that Thawne has done has still made Barry faster, stronger, and smarter.

 

Barry continually overcomes obstacles and springs back up. Whenever Thawne thinks he has won, or at least stolen something from Barry, the strength of Barry’s will and heart still carry the day. Thawne continually has to change and evolve his strategy because he just can’t seem to take a good Barry down.

Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader

There are dozens of articles waiting to happen regarding the Skywalker family. I’ll try to keep it simple here for now.

Luke Skywalker came onto the scene as a whiny kid who had raw talent and Force abilities. And he was in WAY OVER HIS HEAD. Still, he had a enough mentoring in the form of Obi-Wan to jump-start his Jedi career. He also adopted his own personal enemy, the scary guy known as Darth Vader.

Luke was driven to conquer Vader for multiple reasons. He knew Vader to be the villain that destroyed his father (whom Luke worships), Vader killed his mentor (Obi-Wan), and Luke knows that in order to become a powerful Jedi, defeating Vader is his primary concern.

This drive to defeat Vader pushes Luke to train. His time spent on Dagobah was all geared towards his impending confrontation with Vader. Mentally, and physically, Luke was preparing himself for the sole goal of defeating Vader. And then, SURPRISE!

This was a huge moment for Luke’s character. Everything could have fallen apart right here, but lucky for us Luke was smart enough to fall down a ventilation shaft and get the heck outta there.

By the sixth movie, Luke’s goal and drive was to win his father back. He was calm, focused, and frighteningly strong. He faced down Vader and the Emperor without fear. He declared himself to be a true Jedi and confirmed his belief in the good left in Anakin Skywalker. Because of his back and forth battle with Vader, emotionally, physically, and mentally, Luke walks out of Return of the Jedi a total superstar.

 

Darth Vader was trapped. He was evil, he hated the Emperor, and he hated himself. But he was too weak to do anything about it. Until he met Luke.

“The Force is strong with this one.” He becomes obsessed with tracking Luke down and bringing Luke over to his side to join him and overthrow the Emperor.

But that Luke is just too darned determined! He’s slippery, he has good friends who have his back, and Luke is surprisingly strong. Vader has to keep thinking outside of the carbonite chamber in order to track Luke down.

He tries to play the “I’m your Daddy, I know you have Daddy issues” card and his kid purposely falls down a ventilation shaft to get away.

Luke awakens something in Vader. He awakens whatever is left of Anakin that is buried inside of this dark Sith lord.

Vader is in awe of this kid, his kid, who keeps popping back up and just getting stronger all the time. Vader is at war within himself, the Dark and Light side are both tugging at him. One side is his enslaved mind to his Master, and on the other side is his love and admiration for his son.

Luke’s faithfulness and strength are strong enough to make Darth Vader shake himself out of years of darkness and slavery, and overcome the evil that is both himself and the Emperor.

If Luke had never been forced to face Vader, he wouldn’t be so strong. And if Luke hadn’t been so strong, Vader never would have returned to being Anakin. That right there is a showcase of the great power of a excellent sparring partner.

Vader and Luke were sparring partners from the very beginning, even though the nature of their interaction with each other evolved and changed throughout the story.

Setting/Circumstance

Mars and Mark Watney

The Martian has to be one of the best films I have ever seen. It was man vs. Mars wrapped up in a dramatic, yet lighthearted and educational package..

There is no villain in The Martian, but there is an antagonist, and one heck of a sparring partner: Mars.

An inanimate object, a thing with no mind, will, or emotions still takes on the role of the opposition. In order to stay alive, Mark Watney has to essentially beat Mars. He has to out-think, out-math, out-science, out-wit, and out-mental Mars.

Mars proves to be a pretty tough sparring partner. It constantly throws things Mark’s way that almost kill him.

Mark jumps through hoops, solves seemingly impossible equations, and comes up with gadgets and gizmos that would make MacGyver weep. Mark also grows very mentally strong during this ordeal. While he faces heartache, loneliness, despair, and fear, he never gives up.

The Mark Watney who went into space with his buddies is not the same Mark Watney that comes back to earth. He has conquered the unimaginable and come out victorious.

Mark still has an affection for Mars. Even though just about every aspect of Mars was trying to kill him on a regular basis, Mark appreciated the beauty and wonder of Mars. Mars was practically became a character in its own right.

Mark’s character sparred with Mars and he grew exponentially. Those watching Mark grew. Mark’s goal to stay in the match (stay alive) with Mars created a ripple effect that went all the way down to earth. Thousands of people were effected and made stronger by the match with Mars.

Jurassic Park Movies- Man Vs. Nature

Yet another series that I have so much to say on, but now is not the time.

The Jurassic Park films are an amazing example of using setting/circumstance as a sparring partner. I put the dinosaurs into the category of setting because the dinosaurs are not dangerous for any emotional or personal reason. This takes the soul and emotion out of the situation, fitting it more into the category of an emotionless setting or circumstance rather than an emotionally-driven character.

While there are human villains in these films, those humans and their effective harm pale in comparison to the dinosaurs and the damage they cause.

Yes, a dinosaur is a living creature, but it is a creature without a spirit and soul. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are merely behaving out of their instincts, making them less personal, but no-less deadly. This of course was changed in Jurassic World, when the Indominus Rex began to rampage beyond the need for food or defense, but instead merely for sport.

The characters in the first 3 Jurassic films often go into the situation with wide-eyes and little wisdom.

It doesn’t take long for them to realize that they are pretty well out-matched and they are going to have to adapt and learn fast if they want to live.

The ones who make it out do so because their characters had a growth spurt. They learned to stop underestimating these animals. They learn the animals’ strengths and weaknesses.

The animals also change and adapt. The velociraptors in particular. They experience new circumstances, absorb the information, and then adapt to the new situation. More than any other dinosaur species in this movie series, the velociraptors prove that they are not stagnant and will continue to change and grow. That makes them ever-increasingly difficult to defeat.

This is an incredibly unique set-up, one where an animal is the human’s great sparring partner/enemy, but the non-emotional creature is also learning and growing because of the human’s involvement.

*****

The need for good sparring partners is vital for any story, be it a film, a book, or your real life. I draw a lot from studying these interactions on screen, and I hope now you can too.

What type of sparring partners do you enjoy the most? Villains and heroes? Love interests? Best friends? Setting/circumstance? What are some of your favorite sparring partners on screen? Do you have great real life sparring partners that help you grow and mature?

I’d love to hear your stories and your opinions. Share what you love, I want to know what you think.

And if you missed my previous article, you can find it here.