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 )
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! )
Meanwhile, have some recs in several fandoms:
Lord of the Rings/ The Hobbit:
Wounds (1820 words) by Ias
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
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.
The Art of Convincing (4085 words) by zarabithia
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
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
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
“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.
The Sky and I (6706 words) by Anonymous
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
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
Fandom: The Avengers (Marvel) - All Media Types
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Tony Stark, Natasha Romanov
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
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
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.
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!
Tony Stark Meets an Extremely Unimpressed Time Traveler, or, Thomas Barrow Makes a Surprisingly Good 21st Century Butler (87671 words) by Alex51324
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
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.
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 )
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
- 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. )
Do I think he trusts her? No (and nor does Natasha, hence her "Stark trusts me as far as he can throw - " line to Coulson.) But not out of personal animosity; more in a realistic estimation of what her job means (and that she's really good at it). When Steve asks, re: Fury, why Tony would assume Fury is lying to them, the reply is "He's a spy - Captain, he's the spy, his secrets have secrets", not "Fury tricked me by letting Natasha work undercover for me". In conclusion: I wish that writers, if they have Tony interacting with Natasha, would take in the fact he's not still in Iron Man II mode. As both Avengers and Iron Man 3 demonstrate.
I mean, there are other fanfiction I wishes I have post IM3, sure. Pepper dealing with spoilerly stuff. (Have already spotted one or two promising candidates.) More fleshing out of movieverse Maya Hansen. Various Avengers responding to events once they hear about them. Maybe Ben Kingsley's character's backstory? But fandom has that covered in varying degrees. Happy, otoh, being stout and unsexy, is doomed to languish in unwritten character hell.
...look, chances are he's known Tony for longer than both Pepper and Rhodey. How did he get his job in the movieverse? (Somehow I can't see Obediah hiring him, though then again Obediah might have done on the principle that he (wrongly) thought Happy as a chauffeur plus bodyguard would get Tony killed and never counted on friendship developing (and Tony surviving). And considering ( a line from the film ), which of the other Avengers has he already met? Other than Natasha, obviously. And given his canonical fondness for a certain show, has he badgered Tony into downloading the episodes for him so he doesn't have to wait for PBS to show them?
These are important questions, fandom.
(Still not using the icon I really want to use for fear of spoilery implications.)
( Read more... )
Your main fandom of the year?
I remain a committed fandom polyamorist without a main fandom.
Your favorite film you watched this year?
The Avengers. Four times watched in the cinema and three times on dvd... yes, it's a pretty safe bet to say it was. :) I just loved it to bits.
Your favorite book read this year?
It's a tie between Her Majesty's Will by David Blixt (when I read the Yuletide prompts asking for Shakespeare/Marlowe adventures & relationship I thought every time "does the prompter know there is now an entire novel like that out there?) and Raphsody in Blood by Roz Kaveney, though I had the chance to read the later in manuscript last year, so I suppose it's a bit cheating to say "this year"? Anyway. Rereading it in printed form only heigtened the love.
Your favorite album or song to listen to this year?
Come Together: Black America Sings Lennon & McCartney. Detailed review explaining why here.
Your favorite tv show of the year?
Breaking Bad. Which I started to marathon early in the year and thus was able to watch in real time when it began its final season.
Your best new fandom discovery of the year?
I would say Breaking Bad as well, except for the part that Breaking Bad fandom aside from fabulous people on lj also includes the people majorly into Skyler and Marie bashing on tumblr and elsewhere, so, no. But I was delighted to see one of my oldest fandoms, Babylon 5, still has an influx of new watchers and writers, and B5 never inflicted shipping wars and character bashings on me either then or now, so I declare the new B5 fans my best new fandom discovery of the year.
Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?
Fringe's fourth season, after a promising start, cementing the show's decline. Alas.
Your fandom boyfriend of the year?
Jeremy Irons, for a) making Henry IV. for the first time ever the most captivating character in the two plays named after him to me in The Hollow Crown and b) continuing to do a fantastic job with Rodrigo Borgia, aka Pope Alexander VI., in the second season of The Borgias. I've said it before, I'll say it again: the man is a walking, talking illustration that some actors dramatically increase both in acting skill and hotness in their middle age. Young Mr. Irons, playing Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited? Eh. Current Jeremy Irons as Henry and Rodrigo both? Gimme gimme gimme!
Your fandom girlfriend of the year?
Skyler White. Followed closely by the ladies from The Borgias, Judi Dench's M, Katniss Everdeen and my darling Guinevere from Merlin, always, but still, no question about it: Skyler. For being complicated and not easily likeable but layered and smart and above all able to accept responsibility for her own deeds as opposed to blaming everyone else. A longer love declaration to Skyler is here.
Your biggest squee moment of the year?
Natasha pwning Loki in The Avengers. That moment when she turns around and says "thank you for your cooperation". (Come to think of it, Katniss Everdeen's "Thank you for your consideration" in The Hunger Games was also a fantastic moment and almost identically phrased, but Natasha's turnaround was when I went from loving The Avengers to SQEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.)
The most missed of your old fandoms?
I go through moments of missing the BTVS and AtS fandom heydays fiercely. Then I check to see what's happening, and people are either obsessed with being upset with the comics (which I have no interest in) or are still fighting the Spike Wars (ditto), and I remember all the reasons not to miss said days. Until, that is, I come across unexpected splendid meta essays like the one about Chosen this year, or anything timetravellingbunny posts, and I'm full of BTVS and AtS fandom love again.
The fandom you haven't tried yet, but want to?
Once Upon A Time and maybe Teen Wolf. Also I really want to watch The Wire, but is there still a fandom?
Your biggest fan anticipations for the coming year?
The second half of Breaking Bad's final season; the SHIELD tv series; X-Men: Days of Future Past; Catching Fire; and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
Still, it's fantastic to hold to have The Avengers at home now. It's been my sixth or so viewing altogether, and I still am completely in love, despite being able to recite dialogue now. It's the ensembleness, really; everyone's interactions with everyone else are interesting and fun and/or moving to watch. There isn't a combination of characters what makes me press the fast forward button. And even tiny non verbal gestures are telling, such as Steve giving Nick Fury those ten dollars in acknowledgment of their bet, or Natasha, while everyone else is busy squaring off and bickering, checking the monitors for updates on Clint. No wonder fanfiction still thrives.
Speaking of Avengers fanfic:
A different glow for every widow: is a great Natasha pov on a year post movie during which the team becomes friends. Hooray for gen friendship tales, and extra bonus for a Thor who isn't eternally speaking in capslocks and behaving like a five years old.
Still with a vague Marvel connection: Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield (who played the leads in the latest Spiderman film) were stalked by paparazzi and provided the best response to it ever. Go them!
There are no news yet as to which comicverse characters are going to be in it, which is why everyone is speculating. Personally, I'm hoping for my beloved Abigail Brand because Joss created her the last time he was in charge of a Marvel property, and since S.W.O.R.D. doesn't exist yet in the movieverse she has to get her early training somewhwere, doesn't she? I'm also hoping for Maria Hill, of course, though since I hear the actress has other obligations he might have to recast. Natasha sadly is out of the question given she's a hot movie property, and my guess is Marvel will want to keep Sharon Cartner for the Captain America films. But what about Mockingbird?
Here is a Joss interview about all things Marvel, in which he also gives a rare non-joking reply as to his thoughts about now having directed the third most successful blockbuster of all time:
I don't think it's a perfect movie. I don't even think it's a great movie. I think it's a great time, and I'm proud of it, but for me, what was exciting is that people don't go to see a movie that many times unless it's pulling on something from within, unless there's a need there. That's very gratifying.
Now whether like me you loved that movie to bits and watched it multiple times and still can't wait for the dvd or whether you feel the other extreme, that is an excellent definition.
Still Whedon-related, on the question as to whether Buffy should have ended with The Gift or with Chosen, I'm firmly on the Chosen side, and this wonderful meta details why.
Another meta link: Why Doctor Who and ST: TNG can be friends. I wasn't aware there is a section of thought who thinks they couldn't. But then, I'm coming to the fandoms from the exact opposite corner than the poster, in that I was a Star Trek fan first (and specifically a TNG and DS9 fan) and only discoverd DW years and years later. (Also I like the Seven era better than she does.) Anyway, these are good and charming observations on both shows.
By contrast, here's something vile. Not the actual post but what it collects to make a (gruesome) point. If you think the Skyler hate on tumblr is bad, apparantly it's even worse on twitter and facebook. Major, major trigger warning for rape and violence, not in the show but in the fannish reaction, but reading this collection of twitter and facebook posts - from this season, not from the start of the show, to make that clear - makes me seriously wonder whether Breaking Bad sets some sort of record of being the best show with the worst (vocal) fans. The introduction gives some spoilers for the first four seasons to create context. Just to get the horrible taste out of my mouth, I'm rewatching the epic Skyler-Walt confrontation scene from 51 now. (Aka why Anna Gunn should join Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as an Emmy winner.) SPOILER for BB, season 5, obviously. (I'd link but then you'd end up with the YouTube comments, which are, again, vile.)