selenak: (Science Buddies by Mayoroftardtown)
( Aug. 22nd, 2014 11:05 am)
I won't be able to watch Peter Capaldi's first Doctor Who episode in real time, after all, and not for a considerable time after (read: Monday), but it's for a good rl cause. Meanwhile, there's multifandom fanfiction:

Marvelverse: Howard Stark usually shows up in one of two ways in MCU fanfiction - either as part of Tony's daddy issues, or, more rarely, in Captain America WWII era fanfiction in pretty much the same capacity as he did in the movie - flirting with Peggy (and/or Steve), but nothing series. This story, by contrast, takes the canon info of Howard having worked on the Manhattan Project and runs with it in this taut exploration of science and responsibility, dealing with history in a way very few Marvel stories do which usually go for window dressing. Short, but every sentence carries a punch. Like this one: He would ask Arnim Zola about it, once. About Poland. Once, and never again. Says it all about post WWII transfer of German scientists (though Zola, as he points out to Steve in the movies, is Swiss) to the US, and all the handwaving that entailed. Here's the story:


A particle, a wave (1068 words) by kvikindi
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Captain America (Movies), Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Characters: Howard Stark
Additional Tags: Manhattan Project, References to Injury of a Child
Summary:

"My father helped defeat Nazis. He worked on the Manhattan Project."




Highlander: Even shorter - a drabble - but a great character piece about Rebecca and Amanda, and how to survive as an immortal:

those who shine brightest (100 words) by storiesfortravellers
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Highlander: The Series
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Amanda Darieux/Rebecca Horne
Characters: Rebecca Horne, Amanda Darieux
Additional Tags: Pre-Series, Training, Swordfighting, thieves, Mentor/Protégé, Drabble
Summary:

Amanda and Rebecca are practicing their fighting skills when Amanda finds out that Rebecca knows some of her secrets.

selenak: (Cora by Uponyourshore)
( Jul. 27th, 2014 07:08 pm)
Still in haste and briefly:

Doctor Who:

Due to all the interest (and their server crashing), Big Finish is changing their 15 Days to 15 Offers, which each offer available for several days.

Make Mine Marvel:

Steve Rogers meta. Only connect, as Forster put it. And speaking of Steve, as you you can see in this bit from the Comic Con panel where the Avengers actors show up, Chris Evans got the most applause, which no one would have predicted a few years back. Methinks it was Cap 2 which made the difference.

Once Upon A Time:

Another SDCC goodie for those of us far, far away: The REAL reason why the writers decided to do that storyline in s4 which the s3 tag scene revealed. Read: a hilarious sketch in which the OuaT writing staff pokes fun at themselves. Complete with Jane Espenson's pizza fandom (known to the world since the audio commentary for Conversations with Dead People from BTVS was on dvd) and a cameo from a Dharma telephone from Lost. (The fact that some Lost alumni ended up in OuaT, others in Bates Motel and yet others in New Zealand doing Tolkien-Jackson stuff tells you all about what kind of a show Lost was. :)
Casting news (in one case older news for most people, I'm sure) that made me realise my priorities and double standards:

a) Bradley James is in the fourth season of Homeland. Sorry, Bradley James, I loved your Arthur Pendragon in Merlin, but there were a lot of reasons why I quit watching Homeland in early s3, among them loss of quality and questionable ideology, and I'm not going back.

b) Lucy Lawless is the the second season of Agents of SHIELD. Now this is a show I haven't watched so far; my flist/circle had about two third naysays, one third (all the more enthusiastic) yaysayers about it, there were so many other interesting shows to watch, and also I'm so fond of the MCU I didn't want to risk dampening the emotion by disgruntlement should I dislike AoS. However, Lucy Lawless in the Marvelverse? Must have! (Unless she's only in one episode, I should acertain that first.) (If you recognize where the quote titling this post comes from, you might feel similarly.)

Meanwhile, further news both on the Lewis & Tolkien and the solo Tolkien biopics in planning demonstrate someone's (be the publicity people, the reporters, or, heaven forfend, the scriptwriters) lack of actual knowledge re: Tolkien and Lewis, as is entertainingly pointed out here.

Penny Dreadful:

We have a Penny Dreadful vid! And a good one, covering the ensemble and the relationships between same - with one unfortunate exception. Which, sadly for me though not for the vidder and the vid, happens to be the relationship I'm most interested in. There is a complete lack of Malcolm in the vid (and hence also no Vanessa and Malcolm). Which reminds me that last week when someone at last posted Penny Dreadful icons, I was delighted...until I saw there were no Malcolm and no Vanessa and Malcolm icons. Alas. Anyway, back to the original point, which was: a shiny vid about a lovely twisted Victorian Gothic show:


A Shot for the Pain (11 words) by Franzeska
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Penny Dreadful (TV)
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Additional Tags: Fanvids, ConStrict 2014


X-Men: Days of Future Past:

Missing scene type of fanfic covering how old Erik and old Charles reunited, which is just what I need when the angst elsewhere gets too much:

Rescue Me (2492 words) by Unforgotten
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Erik Lehnsherr/Charles Xavier
Characters: Erik Lehnsherr, Charles Xavier
Additional Tags: Pre-Movie(s), jailbreak, Reunions
Summary:

Against all hope, Charles and Erik reunite at the beginning of the Sentinel War.




And lastly, not completely unrelated to the beginning of this post, something only funny if a) you know German, b) have a vague idea about what the Bavarian dialect sounds like, and c) are familiar with a certain 1990s fantasy show made in New Zealand: Xena auf Bayrisch.
selenak: (Black Widow by Endlessdeep)
( Jul. 21st, 2014 04:11 pm)
I strongly suspect one of the reasons why, by and large, I like the cinematic Marvelverse better than the DC-based movies, is that while DC ever since Nolan made his first Batman movie puts all their money on grimdark (both in themes and look) and shies away from anything looking remotely like it could be perceived as camp, the Marval guys embrace their comicbook origins and looks with gusto. (See also: Loki in full reindeer Asgard regalia in The Avengers.) This vid celebrates the comicness of the MCU (and the eyecandy) with equal gusto.


More on the thematic exploration side, but still MCU based, to be specific, about how Phase 2 of the MCU movies (Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Cap 2) had our heroes questioning the identiies they've built themselves without losing the drive to make a difference: Counting Stars .

Which was made by [personal profile] such_heights, who also made a great vid celebrating Buffy the Vampire Slayer (both show and girl): Level Up.


And lastly, I got 12 out of 13 questions right in this Beatles quiz, which is good or pathetic, depending on your pov. (I appreciated the questions weren't of the dumb "what were their last names" type you often find with quizzes.)
Yesterday, when I had occasion to hunt for quotes, I was reminded of this bit in Lewis' early day memoirs, Surprised by Joy, about his teenage self - already a big fan of Norse mythology - distracting himself of the horror that was English Public School by writing. As one does. (The easiest modern day equivalent for the "Bloods" referred to in the quotes are high school jocks.) Quoth Lewis:

But the Northerness still came first and the only work I completed at this time was a tragedy, Norse in Subject and Greek in form. It was called Loki Bound (...) My Loki was not merely mallicious. He was against Odiin because Odin had created a world though Loki had clearly warned him that this was a wanton cruelty. Why should creatures have the burden of existence forced on them without their consent? The main contrast in my play was between the sad wisdom of Loki and the brutal orthodoxy of Thor. Odin was partly sympathetic; he could at least see what Loki meant and there had been old friendship between those two two before cosmic politics forced them apart. Thor was the real villain, Thor with his hammer and his threats, who was always egging Odin on against Loki an dalways complaining that Loki did not sufficiently respect the major gods, to which Loki replied

I pay respect to wisdom not to strength.

Thor was, in fact, the symbol of the Bloods; though I see that more clearly now than I did at the time. Loki was a projection of myself; he voiced that sense of priggish superiority whereby I was, unfortunately, beginning to compensate myself for my unhappiness.



While Lewis would probably be appalled by Marvel breaking up the Odin/Loki OTP by making them father and son instead of blood brothers and giving the fraternal relationship to Loki and Thor instead, methinks he would recognize the mechanism of (a lot of) current day fanfiction easily enough and be amused.

Incidentally, speaking of brothers forced apart by cosmic politics, the trailer for Ridley Scott's Exodus is out and it looks like this version of the Moses tale will go more into the Prince of Egypt direction than the Ten Commandments one in how Moses and Ramses start not as rivals but as friends. In fact, this looks more like a live action version of Prince of Egypt than anything else. (Incidentally, who first identified the Pharao of the Exodus with Ramses II. and why? Because Ramses II. is actually one of the Pharaos who got to live into a ripe old age and ruled for decades, which you'd think makes him an unsuitable candidate to have perished in the Red Sea. Considering Cecil B. De Mille did a silent movie version of The Ten Commandments first, it might have been his scriptwriters' fault, but maybe they got their ideas somewhere else?) The trailer also makes it look as if the current day moral trickiness of the Plagues, especially the last one where God kills all the first born of Egypt, will be addressed. Then again, Ridley Scott has an uneven record and could produce anything between a dud or something amazing. The visuals are bound to be great, though. Mind you, given that Noah flopped - obvious pun of "sunk" is too obvious -, I'm not sure about the success chance for biblical epics these days. Precisely because the idea of divine punishment sits so uneasily on our shoulders. Now, some of the core elements of the Exodus tale - an enslaved people breaking free, their oppressor vanquished - have guaranteed its adaptability and potential for identification through the ages (there's a reason why so many gospels use it, for example), but I think both presenting Moses as somewhat conflicted between his Egyptian and his Hebrew identity and writing Pharao as someone other than Evil McEvil tyrant and the Egyptians as someone other than Evil McEvil oppressors is a relatively recent (i.e. later part of 20th century and following) development. (One of the most original twists' I've read was Judith Tarr's novel Pillar of Fire in which Moses was in fact Akhenaten who had faked his death and became reborn in the desert, so to speak. I'm not sure she pulled it off successfully, but interesting it was.) Otoh, of course if the enslavement in Egypt isn't truly presented as horrifying, the narrative loses some of its power, and bearing Gladiator in mind, I'm pretty sure Scott will go for brutal oppression in Egypt. Otoh, "character who belongs to the ruling elite discovers he was, in fact, born among the oppressed powerless" is just his type of identity crisis. I didn't watch Noah, but I think I'll watch this one on the big screen.

...and in completely unrelated news: according to his interview with The Guardian, one of the things Edward Snowden currently does is marathoning The Wire. Somehow, this strikes me as very fitting.
selenak: Made by <lj user="shadadukal"> (James Bond)
( Jun. 3rd, 2014 01:45 pm)
First, spotted while surfing around, a meme:

Who is your Doctor? Don't have a single one. It definitely isn't my first, because the first Doctor I ever saw was Tom Baker, whom younger me did not take to at all. Later, I became in varying degrees fond of most regenerations (still not keen on Four, though, but he has the majority of fandom to love him best, he doesn't need me). Which of them I prefer above the rest really depends on a) the mood I'm in and b) the medium (because, say, Six is so ill served on tv, and he certainly isn't a favourite there, but on audio Colin Baker rules, and so these days when I think of the Sixth Doctor I think of him in his audio incarnation).

Who is your Doctor's companion? Donna Noble. With close runner ups Ace and Jo for Old Who and Evelyn Smythe from the audios, but really, DONNA.

Who is your Batman? Michael Keaton. Though Christian Bale in "Batman Begins" is my Bruce Wayne. It's just that too much of the Nolan films ultimately ticks me off that has to do with the Batman worship.

Who is your Cat Woman? Anne Hathaway, wowing all naysayers and by far the best thing in the awful third Nolan movie.

Who is your Sherlock Holmes? Jeremy Brett, no question about it. If I'm limited to more recent incarnations, it's Johnny Lee Miller.

Who is your fictional female federal agent? (eg, Dana Scully, Audrey Parker, Olivia Dunham, etc) : Oh, how I loved Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs. Then Hannibal happened. While I like all the tv ladies named as examples, I have to change agencies to answer the question for ongoing love, because: Sydney Bristow. Who is one of those characters who aren't my favourites, nor are they the ones immediately winning me over, but they are firm secondary loves and my affection never waves. And much as I have issues with the fifth Alias season on behalf of my favourites, I thought it did well with Sydney herself and gave her a good send-off. Encapsulated in the moment when Irina says you can't be a mother and a good spy, and Sydney replies "watch me".

If we also include comics, and again, branch out in agencies, then it's Agent Abigail Brand of SWORD.

Who is your Robin Hood? The fox one from the Disney movie. I imprinted on him! Runner-up: Sean Connery in Robin and Marian for autumnal grace and wit. (Well,the script is by James "Lion in Winter" Goldman.)

Who is your Maid Marian/Marion? Audrey Hepburn in Robin and Marian, definitely. See above, re: autumnal grace and wit.

Who is your Bond? Daniel Craig from his first outing onwards. Judi Dench is, of course, my M. But not until Craig came along did she have a Bond worthy of her. *verily, my Brosnan dislike runs deep*

Who is your fictional female assassin? (eg, Natasha Romanov, various incarnations of Nikita, etc): Natasha. Especially in her MCU incarnation. Tied with Mystique (definitely her cinematic incarnation).

And speaking of the X-verse, have another rec:

Running for Cover (3094 words) by RemoCon
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: X-Men (Movies), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Erik Lehnsherr/Charles Xavier
Characters: Peter Maximoff, Charles Xavier, Erik Lehnsherr, Hank McCoy, Alex Summers, Kurt Wagner, Raven | Mystique
Summary:

Peter wasn't really looking for more family.

The other day I came across about a great post about Tiana from Disney's "Princess and the Frog. Among the newer Disney heroines (i.e. last decade or so), Tiana is still my favourite, and that article made me go and rent the dvd to rewatch her movie. Yes, still my favourite. And still so unusual in its genre, if you ask me. You've got herones wanting freedom (either for themselves or for their family/country), you've got heroines who want romance, but Tiana's ambition - to have her own restaurant - doesn't owe anything to either romance or fantasy. Ambition as a trait is so often treated with suspicion in YA fiction, unless it comes in a tomboyish form (i.e. heroine living in vaguely medieval, sexist fantasy world wants to live like a man) , and here it's treated as a sympathetic key motivation of the heroine. I'll always love that spoilers for Disney under the cut. )Incidentally, for all that so much was made about Frozen putting a relationship between sisters in its centre, rewatching The Princess and the Frog reminded me that actually all of the most recent Disney heroines have meaningful relationships with other female characters in their narratives, and as opposed to Frozen, there are more than two important female character around in Tiana's case - her mother, her friend Charlotte and Mama Odie, all of whom are important to her and the story. (Post Princess and Frog, we got Tangled which had a dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship in its centre and Merida with a mother and daughter relationship in need of repair at its center, and the witch who is key to the transformation as a third important female character. Disney products have their problems, but all of the more recent ones are actually doing pretty well in including important relationships between women.)

Avengers and the actors who play them:

- a nice profile of Mark Ruffalo, talking about politics and acting


- RDJ tweeting a photo of the cast and Joss having lunch while shooting Avengers II

Post-Cap 2 fanfiction:

The Favored Sons of History (1570 words) by zeen
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Captain America (Movies)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Alexander Pierce & The Winter Soldier, Nick Fury & Alexander Pierce
Characters: Alexander Pierce, Nick Fury, James "Bucky" Barnes
Additional Tags: Abuse of Authority, Parallels, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Seventies Robert Redford
Summary:

Alexander Pierce and his justifications.



I'd been hoping someone would tackle Pierce (and his relationship with Nick Fury), so was delighted to see this.



Problem Solving (4544 words) by persiflet
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man (Movies), Captain America (Movies)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Bruce Banner/Pepper Potts/Tony Stark, Pepper Potts & Natasha Romanov
Characters: Pepper Potts, Tony Stark, Natasha Romanov, Maria Hill, James Rhodes, Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson (Marvel)
Additional Tags: Background Relationship, Neuroatypical Characters, Moral Dilemmas, Female Friendship, Panic Attacks
Summary:

Spoilery stuff happens )

. Pepper Potts deals with the aftermath.



By now there are a lot of "other Avengers and friends reacting to Cap 2 events" stories. This one puts Pepper Potts in the spot light, remembers her backstory with Natasha from Iron Man 2, doesn't forget Rhodey exists - something that used to happen a lot though less so after Iron Man 3; hopefully Sam Wilson won't suffer the same fate -, and assumes an established three way relationship between her, Tony and Bruce which is so my headcanon until we're explicitly told otherwise. It also falls under the rare category of story that doesn't assume everyone is best buddies post Avengers. I've seen a lot of people wondering why there is no Watsonian reason given for Steve and Natasha not contacting Tony during The Winter Soldier, which I didn't have a problem with. I mean, I like the stories written pre Cap 2 in which everyone became friends and moved into the tower as much as the next fan, but: what we actually know is that Tony kept contact with Bruce, not with any of the others, and that Steve kept contact (and work with) Natasha and Nick Fury, not any of the others. In The Winter Soldier, it's noticable that while Steve refers to Howard Stark as "Howard" in dialogue, Tony Stark still is "Stark" (in both a Steve-Fury and a Steve-Natasha conversation), so chances are that MCU Steve at this point still thinks of Tony as "my friend Howard's annoying son who turned out to be a good comrade in arms when we were busy saving earth but who otherwise gets on my nerves", not as a friend in his own right. Moreover, spoilery arguments ensue. ) As for Natasha, Natasha who was SHIELD's mole in Stark Industries during Iron Man 2 has better reason than anyone to be aware of the likelihood Stark Industries may still be infiltrated, which means a phonecall to Tony in the middle of the Cap 2 events would alert far more people than Tony. (In fact, given that Nick Fury in Cap 2 admits to spoilery things ), I'm 100% sure Natasha had a successor as a mole at Stark Industries.) In conclusion: not calling Tony Stark during Cap 2 made Watsonian sense to me. Doesn't mean he's going to be happy about it, which the story also deals with.


Once upon a Time:

Once in Purpose: bugging your friends about stories they need to write so pays off, she says smugly. This one deals with, to put it as unspoilery as possible, Rumplestilskin's mental situation at a certain point in s3.


Harry Potter

The Journey of a Thousand Miles (7069 words) by igrockspock
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Luna Lovegood, Xenophilius Lovegood, Severus Snape
Summary:

After the end of the war, Luna makes two surprising discoveries: her father attempted to give Harry to Lord Voldemort, and Severus Snape is alive.



This is both a beautiful Luna character exploration and a story featuring a surviving Snape which manages to avoid the most popular clichés, i.e. pairing him up with one of his former students and/or ignore he really is a pain to live with.
In a word: disappointing. Alas.

Read more... )
selenak: (Black Widow by Endlessdeep)
( Apr. 17th, 2014 09:18 am)
Having arrived at the APs for the holidays, I'm having a busy time as always. Here are a few links collected over the last week or so:

Remember me praising Adrian Lester in Red Velvet, a play about Ira Aldridge, first black Othello on the London stage and Shakespearean theatre star with a heavy price to play for his 19th century stardom? Here he is performing a scene from said play, albeit not in costume.

You know, I haven't read a biography of Benjamin Franklin yet, I only know him from fictional presentations (he's a main character in on of Lion Feuchtwanger's novels, and of course features heavily in anything about the American Revolution), but one of these days, I really must get around to that. Check out his advice to a young man as to why it makes more sense to take an older mistress than to take a younger one!

And now for a few Cap 2 inspired tales, the descriptions of which are all spoilery, so they must go under a cut.

Spoilery Fanfic awaits )
Or, Return of the First Avenger, as it's called in my part of the world. In English, I kid you not. At a guess, the change of title is caused by the raging popularity the US currently enjoys over here and the assumptions people tend to make about superheroes called "Captain America". Which is a shame, in a way, because this film happens to be the first addressing the decade-and-more trade off between liberty and "safety", the instrumentalization of fear, the way the various secrent agencies have run completely amuck in their megalomania head on. That's right. This comic hero block buster is a spy thriller worthy of the 1970s classics of the genre, pitch black in its view of what has become of us - and I'm saying "us" because that trade off wasn't limited to the US (while Germany doesn't have a camp in Guantanomo, we outsourced people to be tortured by the CIA; shame on us, and all the power to the one who is currently sueing because of that) - and yet also not cynical; it has a belief in the capacity of humans (and not just those who are in the title credits) for decency that fits its main character, even and especially under pressure. Oh, and it also happens to change the status quo of the cinematic Marvelverse in more than one instance, and in one particular regard breathtakingly so. It's definitely the best of the Phase II films so far (and I'm saying this as someone who loved Iron Man 3 and enjoyed Thor II, and who also thought that Captain America, while enjoyable in its own right, was the weakest of the Phase I origin movies).

Now, considering that it is a thriller with twists and turns (some predictable if you know the genre, some not), I would advise you to watch it unspoiled. Everything below the cut will be spoilery in the extreme because I do want to talk about details. Above cut, let me just add one more thing: pre-movie, one reason why I was looking forward to the film was that the later trailers made it look as if Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff would be an important supporting character. In fact, as it turns out, she's basically the second lead, and until we finally get a Black Widow movie, this is the next best thing, and a very fine thing it is, too. If you're familiar with her comicverse connection to the person mentioned in the original title, this is actually not what her role is about in the movie and not why she's so important in it. The film also settles something fans have been wondering, i.e. whether or not movieverse Natasha would, like her comicverse counterpart, herself be a relic of the Cold War, kept young via serums etc.; we get a definite year of birth for her (1984 - of course it was!), which means her biological age is just what it looks like, which is useful fanfiction information to have. :)

And now, on to spoilers! )
selenak: (Bruce and Tony by Corelite)
( Mar. 21st, 2014 03:35 pm)
On the road again, and thus parted from tv. I feel weird about my [profile] rarewomen assignment this year, not in a bad way, it's just that the recipient & I were matched in three fandoms, and I'm just not used to having that much of a choice? Also I may have to revisit some old canon to get the voices right, but that's okay, I love the fandoms in question.

Meanwhile, have some recs in several fandoms:

Lord of the Rings/ The Hobbit:

Wounds (1820 words) by Ias
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Hobbit (Jackson movies), The Lord of the Rings (Movies)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Éowyn & Tauriel
Characters: Tauriel, Éowyn
Additional Tags: Past Kili/Tauriel, Grief/Mourning, Hurt/Comfort
Summary:

She had sat by many bedsides. She did not know why she thought of him now, with this golden-haired woman lying still and cold as death beside her.



In which Tauriel from The Hobbit movieverse pays a visit to Eowyn when the later is in the House of Healing. Lovely to read, and good voices for Eowyn and Tauriel both.

Avengers:

The Art of Convincing (4085 words) by zarabithia
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Avengers (2012), Iron Man (Movies)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Pepper Potts/Tony Stark, Bruce Banner/Pepper Potts/Tony Stark, Bruce Banner/Tony Stark
Characters: Pepper Potts, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, James "Rhodey" Rhodes
Summary:

Pepper doesn't plan on falling in love with Bruce. Tony probably doesn't mean to, either.



In the wake of Avengers and of Iron Man 3, I've read several charming stories in which Pepper, Tony and Bruce come to a three way arrangement, but these (at least the ones I read, which I realise may not be representative) were usually from Tony's or Bruce's pov. This story, by contrast, is from Pepper's and takes the trouble of letting her to get to know Bruce first (since on screen they haven't interacted yet) and shows what the attraction of such a constellation would be for her. (I mean, I do appreciate it in other stories, too, when the canon girlfriend isn't just declared invalid, evil or killed off to make way for the slash pairing but a threesome sometimes gives you the impression it's only there so one or both male partners don't have to feel bad about cheating, not because the author is really interested in the female partner. So I'm extra thrilled to find a story where the female partner is the focus!)

When You Go That Way (Four Times Bruce And Tony Never Met, One They Did) (2384 words) by seularen
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Avengers (Marvel Movies)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings, No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Bruce Banner/Tony Stark
Characters: Bruce Banner, Tony Stark
Additional Tags: Pre-Relationship, Mentions of attempted suicide
Summary:

Tony Stark?”

“The same.” As if there'd been another. Kinsella shakes his head. “They won every year he was enrolled. Wasn’t even a competition. That kid was unstoppable.”

I could’ve stopped him,’ Bruce thinks, looking down at the floor, saying nothing. 'Or at least, it would have been fun trying.'



What the title says. Witty and sharp.
selenak: (Clint and Natasha by Corelite)
( Mar. 6th, 2014 09:34 am)
When [personal profile] thalia_seawood visited last week, we chatted on the (cinematic) Marvelverse (and watched some), which sent me on a reading binge. Or rather, a looking-for-stories binge, since I'm not into several of the most popular pairings and was in the mood for gen more than romance anyway, but luckily, the fandom is so large that you can find what you're looking with some patience. Or with lucky, when there happens to be a ficathon at the same time.



The Sky and I (6706 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Avengers (Marvel Movies), Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Clint Barton & Natasha Romanov, Clint Barton & Thor
Characters: Clint Barton, Natasha Romanov, Thor (Marvel)
Additional Tags: Thor The Dark World Compliant, Iron Man 3 Compliant, Captain America the Winter Soldier Compliant, (as much as it can be with the film not being out yet), Recovery, Developing Friendships, Introspection, New York, Not Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Compliant, Thor Is Not Stupid
Summary:

If this is going to work, Clint needs to remember that Thor is not his brother.



This is not only one of those rare stories where Clint gets to deal with what Loki did to him in Avengers without the story leading up to hurt/comfort sex, but also a rare story that uses Thor in ways other than make fish-out-of-water jokes and/or pair him up with Loki. It makes sense that Clint would be wary at first around another Asgardian, but team-building stories post Avengers rarely tackle that, either. In short, it's a gem all around, and while Clint and Thor are the main focus, all the other Avengers are well written, too, and I loved reading it.


Queen of the Mountain (1397 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Avengers (Marvel) - All Media Types
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Tony Stark, Natasha Romanov
Summary:

Remix fic, Avengers Remix Round 2


Tony needs some help, some advice on heroing. He gets a little more than anticipated.



Also a rarity: Tony and Natasha bonding (again, without leading uip to a pairing). This one is set post Iron Man 3, and executes its "Tony learns from Natasha" premise very well indeed in a short space.


Once Around the Park (1896 words) by AnonEhouse
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Iron Man (Movies), Iron Man (Comic), Iron Man - All Media Types
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Happy Hogan & Tony Stark
Characters: Happy Hogan, Tony Stark
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, Crack Treated Seriously, Fluff and Crack, First Meetings
Summary:

A totally non-canonical version of how Tony and Happy met.

(Although it's entirely possible that Marvel simply refused to tell the truth. I've read at least 2 different versions in the comics.)



Iron Man 3 left me craving more stories about Happy Hogan, and while there still aren't many, there are now at least some, including this delightful "first meeting" tale.
selenak: (Claudius by Pixelbee)
( Mar. 1st, 2014 02:54 pm)
So, of course I returned from England with a lot more books. In brief, my reactions:

Suzanna Dunn: The May Bride. I've liked Suzanna Dunn's previous novels in varying degrees; this falls for me under "interesting, also very frustrating, and I'm not sure what the author really wanted to get at so probably a failure - but one who did hold my attention a lot". The novel is told in first person by Jane Seymour (the third of Henry VIII.'s queens, aka the one who died in childbirth), but isn't about Jane, or her marriage with Henry at all. This isn't new in Dunn's work - for example, her Katherine Parr centric novel is told by the Duchess of Suffolk - but unusual in that the narrator is a far more known figure than the people the story she tells is actually about. Which is something very obscure in Tudor England history, though readers of Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell novels might recall it, because Hilary Mantel brings it up a couple of times, to wit: the first marriage of Jane's older brother Edward (who'd later go on to be the Lord Protector for her son, his nephew, before losing power and head), which ended in a major scandal because his wife supposedly had two sons by his own father, Sir John Seymour. (Historically, the wife ended in a nunnery, the sons bastardized but later re-legitimized - the later Seymours are actually descended from them - , and Edward went on to marry Anne Stanhope.) Now, in Dunn's novel, teenage Jane Seymour is absolutely fascinated by her brother's new bride, downright crushes on her, and is very sad when the ostensible love match gets worse and worse. Also, Dunn, as opposed to Mantel, lets Sir John Seymour be innocent (Mantel in the introductions to the dramatization of her novels, by contrast, points out Jane didn't go to her father's funeral and that having an affair with his daughter-in-law remains the thing he's best known for), and mostly blames Edward's lack of passion and later issue ridden paranoid jealousy; his first wife does have a one night stand with someone but not with his father. Leaving aside historical likelihood, within the universe of the novel it's psychologically plausible enough told, and teenage Jane who only gradually becomes aware of what is actually going on makes for a good narrator. However, the last fifth or so of the novel try to connect all of this with why Jane later marries Henry VIII, and this is where the author loses me. In her version, Jane, feeling guilty for various reasons, but also for not standing up for her sister-in-law when the later was sent to a nunnery, comes to court, serves Katherine of Aragorn as a lady-in-waiting just when Anne Boleyn becomes a factor, identifies Katherine of Aragorn with her former sister-in-law (also called Katherine, btw, Katherine Filliol), and, when Anne's star starks to sink years later, decides to avenge both Katherines by making Henry marry herself. Just how marrying Henry is supposed to be a blow for the sisterhood and revenge on brother Edward (who profits from this marriage along with brother Tom) for putting aside his first wife with an unjust (in the novel) accusation is beyond me. I'm all for Jane Seymour actually having an agenda instead of just being the tool of her brothers and producing Henry's longed for son at the price of her own death, but this one really lacks all logic, emotional or otherwise. What the novel mostly achieved, in the positive sense, is making me interested in Edward Seymour, who is by far the most interesting character in it. It's rare to find him in Tudor fiction that's not dealing with his brother Tom's and the young, teenage Elizabeth, and he certainly had some valuable reforms to his credit while otoh mishandling the Scots disastrously; keeping Henry's favour beyond his sister's life was more than any of the other in-laws of the other wives managed, especially considering Edward was a determined Protestant. But this was all much later, and Dunn's version of a young Edward both very competent and very emotionally mixed up, incapable of handling a bad marriage, was new to me.

The title, by the way, refers both to Katherine Filliol when marrying Edward and Jane Seymour (who of course married Henry VIII immediately after Anne Boleyn's execution - in May). It's just a shame that the author tries to enforce a parallel and motivation which refuses to appear.


Stuart Moore: Civil War. This is a novelization of the Civil War storyline from Marvel Comics; the novelization must have been only relatively recently published (I'll get to why in a minute) whereas the Civil War storyline in comics was published in 2006 and 2007. I reviewed the most important trade collections dealing with it in the following posts: Road To Civil War, Spider-Man: Civil War and Casualties of War/Rubikon, and Civil War: Iron Man; if you're interested in details about the original storyline, what it was about and why it was so controversial, check these out. Suffice it to say here that among various problems it had was that the various authors in this multiple comics characters extravaganza was that the various authors were quite obviously not on the same page as far as the characterisations of the main participants were concerned, nor, in fact, the characterisation of the main issue, the Superhuman Registration Act. So I was quite interested what a single author with years of hindsight would make of it. Given that just about every major Marvel hero and their spin-off had been involved, streightening this out to form a coherent book was not an enviable task. Stuart Moore focused on Mark Millar's main storyline, which I suppose makes sense but still unfortunate in that many of the most interesting and complex chapters of the Civil War saga weren't written by Mark Millar at all. He does include information from some of the tie-in stories, notably JMS' Spider-Man ones, and works them into Millar's main series. The main povs are: Tony Stark, Peter Parker, Steve Rogers/Captain America and Susan Storm. Something that's immediate noticable if you're familiar with the original comic books is novelization did some updates, both within and without the Marvelverse. The original Civil War storyline happened before Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane was retconned by editorial fiat into non-existence (on a Doylist level; Watsonian wise, it was retconned by a deal with the devil to save Aunt May, I kid you not). The novelization, however, goes by the new continuity, i.e. Peter never was married to Mary Jane, so Mary Jane accordingly had to be written out of the story she was originally a part of... until the last third, when she does show up again and gets to help Peter and Aunt May. The other within-universe updates are nods to the cinematic versions of the characters; thus, Christine Everhart, a movieverse character, shows up among the reporters interviewing Tony who does remember his one night stand with her (I might add the novel treats her more respectfully than Iron Man II does), and also recalls coming out as Iron Man at a press conference after her questions (which happened in the first Iron Man film but not in the comics - he did come out as Iron Man quite a while before the Civil Wars storyline, but not in the same fashion). Similarly, Peter Parker remembers MJ flirting with him and Harry Osborn when visiting them in the apartment they shared, which sounds to me more like a nod towards the first Sam Raimi film than to the comic book continuity. And then there's one update that's outside the Marvelverse. Now, Marvel comics usually don't have identifiable real life Presidents, they have fictional Presidents. (With exceptions; back when Obama became President there was one Spider-Man story set specifically around his inauguration, not least due to to the fact Obama had called Spider-Man his favourite comic book hero shortly before that.) Nonetheless, back when Civil War was published, many people saw it as a reaction to the Patriot Act and George W. Bush as President. Stuart Moore's novelization, however, sets the story specifically in the current day US, with Obama as President, not Bush. (Obamacare is referenced in dialogue.) The most depressing aspect about this to me is probably the realisation that it works as a story under either President. What with the NSA, the Obama government repeatedly described as the most control-obsessed and paranoid since Richard Nixon's, Guantanomo still not closed and Whistleblowers faring worse, not better, under Obama than under Bush? It works.

Other observations: writing-quality wise this is a good tie-in; not better and not worse than avarage fanfiction fleshing out canon scenes. If Stuart Moore can't sell some things - like Sue's reconciliation with her husband, Reed Richards, at the end - it's the problem of the source. (Mind you, both Mr. and Mrs. Richards fare better here charactersation wise than they do in the original comics, see my linked reviews; Sue, the unconvincing reconciliation at the end aside, is written consistently and sympathetically, while Reed Richards isn't saddled with such clunkers signifying evil as "hooray for MacCarthy!".) What surprised me, given that Millar's main series of which this is a novelization certainly favours Cap's side over Iron Man's, is that Tony Stark emerges as the better written character, not because he doesn't do the stuff he does in the original comics - he does - but because Moore in his pov chapters shows him as emotional, conflicted over what he's doing but convinced it's the right thing and because the alternative is worse (it's also the difference between visual - the comics showed him mainly in armour, thereby emphasizing the threatening aspect - versus the written - we're repeatedly in his head). Whereas Captain America, called "Cap" in his pov characters and never "Steve" which is probably already saying something, is written as in the right but without any interior conflict (not least because Moore doesn't use any of the Cage and Bendis stuff re: the Captain America/Iron Man relationship; we're told they used to be friends but don't see it from Cap's pov, who instead mentally compares punching Tony with punching Hitler). With every other pov character - Sue, Peter, Tony - being conflicted and torn during the course of the narrative - this makes Cap the least interesting, which is a shame. Especially since I guess one reason why this novel gets published now is to interest people who only know the characters from the movieverse in the comics (hence also the movieverse nods). Anyway, this also means that the main emotional breakup happening in the novel is the one between Peter Parker and Tony Stark, not the one between Steve and Tony; which reminds me that relationship actually was interesting before getting retconned out of existence along with Peter's marriage and other signs of adulthood. Oh, comics. You do provide so much engagement and frustration at the same time.

Jo Graham and Melissa Scott: Silver Bullet. The third of these authors' "Order of the Air" series; like its two predecessors, see here , a great adventure novel set in the first half of the 20th century, with an engaging ensemble of characters. By now, we've arrived in 1932 and there are ominous historical rumblings. That one part of the plot is kicked off by a German-Jewish collector of antiquities wanting to sell in order to leave the country is maybe predictable, but far less predictable and very interesting to me was that the bad guys aren't operetta Nazis clicking their heels but various (American) people from the American Legion, and that with the country still suffering from the Great Depression the way some of the rightwing extremist ideas gain traction has uncomfortable present day parallels. (And not just because chief baddie Pelley is talking about a coalition of the willing, borrowing a Dubya phrase.) As in the other novels, there is a mixture of adventures flying and magical peril going on, though in this novel the magical peril is scaled back (though still there - it's clear there will be a long term arc with one of the villain's schemes) in favour of technological peril, since of of the plot MacGuffins is a malfunctioning Nikola Tesla invention at Tesla's old laboratory in Colorado (no, not the invention from The Prestige, she says evilly) which the villains would like to get their hands on, while our heroes manage to recruit the aged Tesla himself. (BTW, this affords the opportunity for a nice Sanctuary in joke when Tesla has to deny he's a vampire.) The flirting between Mitch and the newest addition to the team, Stasi, which started in the previous novel has now reached the serious romance stage, and given Mitch's backstory there are some obstacles which, however, are sensitively dealt with (by the narrative) and gloriously overcome (by the characters). While I still love Alma and Lewis, I must admit Stasi, conwoman, thief and medium, is pushing all my Amanda-from-Highlander buttons and has become my favourite, plus Mitch is very endearing as well, so their scenes were particular highlights. But really, there is no character in the team who doesn't hold my interest and sympathy, and I hope for many more of their adventures to come!
So, I've stopped watching Downton Abbey two seasons ago. But as soon as I saw this crossovery, I knew I'd read it, and did with ever greater joy, for verily, idea and execution are golden.

Tony Stark Meets an Extremely Unimpressed Time Traveler, or, Thomas Barrow Makes a Surprisingly Good 21st Century Butler (87671 words) by Alex51324
Chapters: 3/3
Fandom: Downton Abbey, The Avengers (Marvel Movies)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Thomas Barrow/Tony Stark
Characters: Thomas Barrow, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers
Additional Tags: Time Travel, Butlers, Crossover
Summary:

In which Tony Stark ditches a boring party, makes an addition to the household staff, throws a much better party, and tries not to sexually harass his new butler.

Or,In which Thomas Barrow has a little trouble getting home from the pub, is generally unimpressed with many aspects of the 21st century, never thought of himself as a conservative dresser before, and may or may not be falling in lust with his new employer.

tl:dr: Thanks to time travel, Thomas Barrow becomes the Avengers' butler.



The one thing you have to handwave is that Downton Abbey is actually referenced in Iron Man III, complete with clips (Tony's chauffeur/bodyguard Happy Hogan is a fan), but otherwise, this is perfect. Not least because it uses the ensemble well, not just the two main characters, and has everyone in character. It's funny and touching in turns and the dialogue is golden.
The characters on my list were:

1. Alex Millar (Being Human UK)
2. Hank Schrader (Breaking Bad)
3. Jamie Moriarty (Elementary)
4. Cora Mills (Once upon a Time)
5. Felix Dawkins (Orphan Black)
6. Lix Storm (The Hour)
9. Guinevere "Gwen" (Merlin)
7. Bruce Banner (MCU)
8. Ichabod Crane (Sleepy Hollow)
10. Lucas Buck (American Gothic)
11. Jo Grant (Doctor Who)
12. Ray Carling (Ashes to Ashes, Life on Mars)
13. Andrew Wells (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
14. Cameron (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)
15. Jack Harkness (Torchwood, Doctor Who)

Now for whacky adventures caused by questions under the cut! With spoilers for the shows/films these characters are from )
selenak: (Norma Bates by Ciaimpala)
( Jan. 1st, 2014 04:03 pm)
How better to begin the new year than with a look back at the last? :)

1. Your main fandom of the year?

I'm a fandom polygamist, always was, always will be. However, I think the fandoms that occupied me a bit more than the others this year were Breaking Bad and Once upon a Time.


2. Your favourite film watched this year?

Wadjda, my review of same linked, which was absolutely amazing and would have been even if it wasn't a) the first Saudi Arabian big screen movie, b) the first Saudi Arabian film directed by a woman, and c) all about a girl.

Runner-up: Iron Man III, which broke the curse of the third movie in a popular franchise being weaker than the previous ones, was highly entertaining and provided a good wrap up to the Iron Man films while leaving Tony and friends available for Avengers shenanigans.
.

3. Your favourite book read this year?

It's a tie between Steel Blues, which is just the kind of ensemble adventure with great character stuff I love, and the first volume of Mark Lewisohn's monumental Beatles biography.


4. Your favourite TV show of the year?

It was a very good year for tv, both new (how so awesome, Orphan Black?), and recurring/finishing, but this, too, is a tie of the two named in 1). Though if you push me: Breaking Bad. Because it is complete now and thus one can say it really remained and ended as one of the most amazing accomplishments on tv.


5. Your favourite online fandom community of the year?

I loved the disussion of The Charioteer which [personal profile] naraht was hosting on her journal, but as far as communities go: 2ceuponatime, which will resume its s1 rewatch now that the show proper is on hiatus. It makes think of b5_revisited a few years ago.


6. Your best new fandom discovery of the year?

Considering I didn't discover BB this year but did start to marathon Once upon a Time after Christmas last year, it's the fairy tale show, together with Orphan Black which I marathoned in the summer, and Bates Motel (ditto). Of these three, Orphan Black wins in sheer quality, but Once upon a Time in terms of my emotional investment.


7. Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?

Homeland. Alas.


8. Your TV boyfriend of the year?

Tricky. I don't really have one in the sense the meme means, I suppose, and in terms of my male tv loves of years past (and forever - Londo Mollari, I will never quit you *g*). Not that I didn't like various male characters, sometimes a lot, but never in the sense of crushing on them. Although, you know, if I had to pick one to have an affair with, well, err, I'd probably go for Rodrigo Borgia, him being Pope not withstanding, in the hope I'd get a graceful exit like Giulia and not a bloody demise courtesy of general scheming in Rome.

9. Your TV girlfriend of the year?

Norma Bates. As she's ever so doomed by narrative, I'm trying to steel myself for the inevitable. But Norma is such a vivid, rich character, impulsive, loving, controlling, repressive, resourceful, mamma bearish, hopelessly damaged, helplessly damaging.

10. Your biggest squee moment of the year?

The Day of the Doctor was everything I'd hoped the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special would be. Also, in April I saw Helen Mirren and Judi Dench both on stage in London. Don't make me choose.

(The amazing last bunch of Breaking Bad episodes, particularly Ozymandias, certainly left me breathless, emotionally wrung through and pulse racing, but squee is the wrong term for what I felt.)


11. The most missed of your old fandoms?

You know, I always go periodically back to my old fandoms like Star Trek or Babylon 5 or Highlander, so I can't say I miss them. Writing a Torchwoodstory for this year's DW remix made me rewatch a lot more TW than was needed for the story and made me miss the show, but most certainly not the fandom, the majority which I always remained at a cautious distance from due to my utter lack of Jack/Ianto shipping.

12. The fandom you haven’t tried yet, but want to?

Other than Slings and Arrows, which the "this year I really will do it!" show to marathon, I'm now tentatively eyeing Sleepy Hollow and The Americans.

13. Your biggest fan anticipations for the New Year?

Orphan Black, season 2: will it keep up the quality or have a second year downfall? Also, seeing MCU Natasha Romanov again in Captain America II, and watching the third part of The Hobbit.
In short: an enjoyable and entertaining fantasy movie. Not a must, but just plain likeable.

Also set exclusively in England and in outer space, which has to be a first for Marvel movies )
The other day, when looking for someone, anyone, writing anything about Regina and Snow that's not driving me crazy, I came across about the comment that "Regina has been remarkable patient with Snow", complete with somewhat later a comment about "The Charmings' black-and-white morality". Now, other than immediately thinking "you have that backwards, Ma'am, on both counts" (and massively so), it reminded me of something that I've observed in fannish circles since ye olde Highlander days, and the more time passes, the more fandoms I travel through, the less true when one looks at the actual canon it appears to me. To wit, two basic assumptions:

1) Heroes (male or female) have a black-and-white morality, are unwilling to compromise, and have a narrow, inflexible world view. By contrast, villains (and morally ambiguous characters) have a far more sophisticated point of view and are able to appreciate the shades of grey in life. This goes hand in hand with heroes being naive and child-like whereas villains are mature and smart.

2) Being able to see the moral shades of grey as opposed to having a black and white world view equals unconditionally supporting the fannish favourite, no matter what good reasons there might be to object to actions of said favourites, act against the favourite or, gasp, dislike or hate the fannish favourite.


Going back to my earliest online fandom, back in the day, and I bet that's still the case, show hero Duncan's reactions in the Horsemen episodes was unfavourably contrasted to Joe's. Duncan, a great many fans argued, was showing his narrow, black and white world view via his shock at the revelation that their friend Methos turned out to have a past as a mass murdering warlord, whereas Joe was able to see the shades of grey (different times). By which they meant Joe's instinctive reaction to Cassandra's revelations about Methos' past was "that crazy bitch must be lying" (classic rape culture, though the phrase hadn't been coined back in ye early 90s), and then, when it turned out she hadn't been lying at all "these were different times and Methos is totes different now" (well, yes, but a) doesn't mean Cassandra is obliged to forgive him, and b), that's not what you said when it wasn't your buddy but Kirin/Kage, an Immortal whom you only knew via the chronicles, Joe. Back then, you declared Duncan crazy and naive for giving Kirin/Kage the benefit of the doubt and allowing for the possibility that even an evil warlord might change and become a good person.) In conclusion, what Joe was showing in the Horsemen eps wasn't greater appreciation of shades of grey, it was buddy loyalty. Which is a very human trait, and it means he's a good friend to have, but it's really not the same thing as greater unterstanding of moral dilemmas. Meanwhile, Duncan starts by NOT declaring Cassandra a crazy lying bitch but hearing her out, then hearing Methos out, and spends the rest of both episodes despite his shock clinging to the hope Methos has changed, at least enough not to aid and abet mass killing anymore, looking for clues that this is so, and making a massive leap of faith based on that. While trying to keep both Cassandra and Methos alive. Yep, that's truly a man of black and white morality unable to see outside of his own narrow pov.

There is an earlier episode in the same season, Valkyrie, which also comes to mind here. Duncan's old friend Ingrid, due to guilt of having had the chance to kill Hitler and having been unable to go through with it, is currently assassinating wannabe dictators, demagogues and up and rising scum left, right and center, which often involves killing several or even alot of bystanders as well. Whenever I see this episode quoted as an example of Duncan having a black-and-white world view and Methos evidencing his superior understanding of the shades of grey in morality, I'm similarly boggled. What Methos evidences is his pragmatism. (Not the same thing.) He has an opinion from the get go, which is that Duncan should just kill Ingrid, never mind understanding her reasons. He doesn't budge from this opinion for the rest of the episode. It's Duncan who changes his opinion on what he should to several times depending on his state of information, who because he understands where Ingrid is coming from but also can't do nothing once he knows doing nothing means letting her kill both people for what they might or might not do, and people who happen to be in their vicinity tries just about everything to find another solution, including various attempts to talk to Ingrid and one, via cooperating with a mortal policeman, to get her arrested which would mean her imprisonment but not death. It's this mortal policeman (one of HL's great minor characters) who has the episodes most famous lines about seeing things in black and white as a child and now finding there were only shades of grey. He, too, understands Ingrid's reasons. But you know what he doesn't do? Letting her continue to do her thing and look away because of that.

Which brings me my next point. Acknowledging moral dilemmas, trying to understand where the other side is coming from, to compromise instead of pushing for a "my way or nothing at all" solution, that's not something I've seen the majority of villains do in genre tv (and cinema) during the last twenty years or so. Au contraire. It's what I keep seeing the heroes do. Take the earlier quoted Once Upon A Time examples. If anyone has a narrow black and white world view from which she only very recently is starting to move away, it's Regina. Regina actually trying to understand someone else's pov instead of always insisting she's the wronged party (even if the wrongers in question are, say, two children she kidnapped, sent in lethal danger and who strangely don't want to live with her afterwards) is breathtakingly new (and good to see). It also puts her ahead of such other fannish favourite villains as Loki (MCU edition) or Morgana (BBCs Merlin edition), who kept the "everything bad that ever happened to me is always someone else's fault and never my own, my point of view is the only one worth having, everything bad I did was something the other people had coming, and/or was someone else's fault as well, and/or who are these insects anyway and why should I care?" attitude till the very end, in Morgana's case, or till the most recent point in canon, in Loki's. But it took Regina a really long time to get there, and we still don't know whether it will keep, or whether she'll be able to show empathy for anyone she's not either related to or used to be friends with.

Meanwhile, also in Once Upon A Time, you had Snow understanding where Regina was coming from when Regina was making her first attempt on Snow's life (via the Huntsman), rescueing Regina's life (for the first, not the last time) when already an outlaw whom Regina had put a price on, expressing fervent belief in Regina's redeemability and longing for her company that stopped only when presented with the dead bodies of an entire village Regina had ordered slaughtered, saving Regina from execution (again) after her own victory and giving her the chance to live another life (again), only to have that thrown back in her face. You have Snow, the two times she has wronged Regina (once as a child, with that fatal breach of confidence which however was the result of manipulation by an adult), once as an adult, this time very intentionally and with deliberation (that spoilery thing at the end of The Miller's Daughter), doing that bemusing thing: accepting responsiblity (both times), and, following her own conviction that deeds count more than words, act on it. (Both in self punishing ways - which are spoilery ) - and in more constructive ways (also spoilery )). OuaT canon offers a lot of examples of Snow not only trying to understand Regina but actually showing she does understand Regina rather well. (Some of my favourites are spoilery )) Yup, truly a narrow-minded person unable to see anyone else's point of view, that Snow White.

There is another example that comes to mind, though more complicated, because the comics versions are written so contradictory, depending on the writers and the editor du jour and the retconned continuity du jour, and the film versions, too, have by now their somewhat internally contradictory canon, with more to come, but still: Erik "Magneto" Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier often are also quoted as examples of the sophisticated villain/morally ambiguous character able to see the shades of grey and the rigid good two shoes who can't see how much more complicated life really is than his narrow point of view. Leaving aside Xavier's own capacity for morally shady stuff in either canon and acknowledging Magneto really has the world's best backstory reason for believing everyone is out to get him and anyone close to him: I still think that estimation is having it backwards, too. Magneto in most incarnations I've seen him in has as rigid and black and white a pov as you're likely to get. He's right, everyone else who disagrees with him is wrong. Mutants are superior, non-mutants are envious little wannabe genocide committers or at best necessary historical debris. Certainly not people with an identical right to live. Compromise? Is the first step to annihilation. This isn't "seeing the shades of grey", this is a sterling black and white.

I'm not saying that all the hero characters I've named can't also be (or act) naive, or occasionally inflexible and unwilling to budge from their pov. With the longer lived ones, like Duncan, it also depends on which point of their lives you catch them. But by and large, their "narrowness" or lack of maturity seems to express itself in not being able to to look away or walk away when someone, no matter how sympathetic a someone, is actively damaging other people. And again, I point to that policeman in the Highlander episode Valkyrie. Who, as he told Duncan, is well aware that it's entirely possible the demagogic politician they've just saved from getting assassinated by Ingrid will become someone who inflicts great damage. And then he, too, would be responsible for the man's continued existence. But he still couldn't not act. The fact that there was no "good" solution, that there were shades of grey, all this didn't mean to him that he shouldn't have done anything at all or should have looked away.

I'd say that makes this character, and others like him, a mature character, able to see the shades of grey in morality, able to see other view points. And a hero. As opposed to a great many villains, with their emotionally childlike nature that tends to see things entirely in black and white, for-me-or-against-me, and their utter inability to acknowledge any shades of grey.
selenak: (Tony Stark by Runenklinge)
( Aug. 13th, 2013 06:38 pm)
You know, for me, there are only a very few authors - all the more admirable for it - who can pull off the genre known as curtain fic. I.e. the main characters busy doing domestic things, like, well, buying curtains, and not much else of an exterior plot happening. And it's great character and relationship exploration. [personal profile] penknife is one of those few. She has done it for Xavier and Magneto in the past, and now she's given us a look at young movieverse Tony Stark and Jim Rhodes:

Housekeeping: Four and a half times Tony did housework (or, five times Rhodey wasn't sure Tony Stark was cut out to survive in the real world.)

In which Tony and Rhodey meet at MIT and start their friendship. Also, there is washing. Seriously, though, this makes for a great backstory, and a lovely exploration of the Tony and Rhodey dynamic which is shamefully neglected in fanfiction when the movies made it clear how important it is to both their lives.
selenak: (Bruce and Tony by Corelite)
( May. 15th, 2013 05:57 pm)
Let me tell you, having my Avengers reading hunger rekindled by Iron Man 3 was tricky, because while on the one hand there are gazilion stories, on the other I have to eliminate so much which I'm really, really not interested in. My avarage look through archives and lj communities goes roughly like this:

- is Loki mentioned in a prominent position in the summary and paired with an Avenger in the pairings list? Do not want.
- Clint/Coulson? Do not want.
- Steve and Tony as adopted fathers of Peter Parker? SO DO NOT WANT, Peter is one of those characters you can't detach from Uncle Ben and Aunt May without altering him (any version of him) so much that it kills any interest I might have)
- Tony as Darcy's newly discovered bio dad? Okay, new trend, is at least more plausible than the Peter Parker stuff, but still not exactly what I'm looking for
- Clint/Natasha - I'm okay with this, but right now I'm more in a Natasha and Clint as team mates mood
- Tony/Steve - absolutely for the comics, but so far I don't see it in the films; author would have to start from scratch to convince me
- any summary indicating it postulates Howard Stark as an abusive parent: DO NOT WANT. I'm aware that some of the comic versions (and they get endlessly retconned anyway) go with that, but the movieverse didn't indicate anything more than Howard having been focused on his work and not having spent much quality time with his son. I get so TIRED of the fannish trend to blame parents, I can't tell you. (Not just in the Marvelverse. Everywhere.) Anyway, if you want a MCU character who has had an abusive father on screen, go with Bruce Banner. (He did in the Ang Lee Hulk.)

Having filtered all this out, still looking in vain for Happy Hogan centric stories and also having been converted to Tony/Pepper as a pairing by the combination of their screentime in Avengers and by Iron Man 3, this leaves me with the following stories I can recommend.

Below the cut, as they can't be described without spoilers. )
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