In light of recent world events and the stories we’ve been hearing on the news about the shortages of necessities like toilet paper and hand sanitizer, I would like to take a little time and talk about the collectionist culture we live in today.
Note that I said collectionist and not collectivist. Two very different things. The word “collectionist” is a word I made up to describe people who have a habit of collecting items percieved to be of some value. Specifically, this pertains to the (usually) Western tradition of having collections of things. Books, mugs, comics, watermelons (at least for people in math problems).
Some people collect things that either have emotional/personal value, like childhood birthday cards or their grandmother’s old china. Some collect things with current monetary value, like gold or silver. And others collect things that may have monetary value in the future, like stamps, Funkos, wheatback pennies, or Cabbage Patch dolls. And some people just collect things that they like or enjoy.
Most people that I know have at least one collection of some sort, or have a family member who has collected things for them. I myself have collections of books, Funkos, comics, yarn, film score CDs, musical instruments, Sacajawea dollar coins, and porcelain bells from every US state I’ve ever been to. I’m not in any way saying there is anything wrong with having collections.
However, when you look at the news of late, you see a slightly different kind of collecting. As per definition, these collections are comprised of things that are perceived to have value. Except this time, the value is not monetary or personal. Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other things of which most stores are struggling to keep in stock are valuable now because of their scarcity.
I read an article yesterday about a store employee who encountered an older gentleman in the toilet paper aisle, walking back and forth between the empty shelves with a bewildered expression on his face. A few minutes later, the employee observed the same man in the paper towel aisle, putting the pack into his cart with the words, “These will have to do”.
That’s heartbreaking to me. Some people, driven by fear of the virus, have stockpiled and hoarded so many of these essential resources for themselves that the most vulnerable of us: the elderly, the very young, and the immunocompromised, those of us who have a much harder time fending for themselves, are left to pick up the scraps behind those who, in fear, have “collected” much more than we actually need.
This is wrong and should not be happening. We as a society should not let fear control our actions. Cultures, economies, and relationships rise and fall depending on how we treat those more vulnerable than ourselves, and judging by the news of today, we are not handling this situation well.
To anyone reading this article, if you have collected more resources than you need of anything (and I mean ANYTHING) that is essential, I beg you to turn your mind and heart to the needs of others and consider what you can do to spread those resources to those who need them more than you do.
There is so much we can do on that front! Think about hospitals, retirement communities, daycares, homeless shelters, and so many more places. The world will get through this virus, of that I have no doubt. The only question is, how will we get through it?
(Slight spoiler warning for all three seasons of this show, and a trigger warning for the discussion of this show’s sexual and violent content.)
Jessica Jones, as with Marvel’s other Netflix shows, is much darker and covers much more adult topics than the more broadly-known Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Speaking as an about-to-be college sophomore and having grown up in a fairly conservative home, it’s safe to say that this time last year, the thought of watching a show like this would have been repulsive and undesirable. After all, what kind of world is this where you have to shove violence and profanity down people’s throats to get them to like your story?
At least, that’s how I saw it. And after I left home and moved out of state for school, I mostly still adhered to that philosophy. I did start watching and reading material that I otherwise wouldn’t have, branching out into some slightly darker and more thought-provoking stories.
But I maintained the view that any show as dark as I had been hearing about was nothing more than an attention-grab, and not something I wanted to feed my developing mind with.
So I stayed away.
Around the same time that I was preparing to leave home, however, I fell in love with another, very different show: Doctor Who. I loved the clever storylines, I loved the emotional pull, I loved the energy and enthusiasm of the actors, and more than that, I fell in love with David Tennant.
When I discover an actor that I genuinely love, I immediately start rummaging through their work, looking for other things they’ve done so I can see them in as many different roles as I can. And I started doing that for David. So I watched Broadchurch, and Spies of Warsaw, and The Escape Artist. All amazing shows that I recommend. But I hadn’t seen him as a villain yet (except for his role as Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and when I heard about his role as Killgrave in Jessica Jones, I cracked a little.
One night, after class, I pulled up Netflix and hit play on episode 1.
And halfway through, I was disgusted.
What kind of a hero is Jessica supposed to be? Alcoholism, one-night stands, violent tendencies, profanity left and right. She makes a living taking pictures of people cheating on their spouses, pushes away everyone who tries to get close to her, and spends more time in a bar than her own home, and yet she’s supposed to be the hero in this story? She’s got nothing in common with the heroes I’m familiar with — in fact, she has a lot of qualities you would usually find in a villain.
So twenty-five minutes into the episode, with no interest in the main character and no sign of David Tennant, I turned it off and watched something else.
But it still haunted me in the back of my mind because I’d never seen a hero with so many un-hero-like qualities. It begged the question: If the hero is this bad, how bad must the villain have to be to top that?
I managed to shove the question into the back of my mind for the next few months, but eventually, I decided to try again.
I resumed the episode where I had left off, sort of halfheartedly because all I really wanted was for them to cut to the chase so David would show up already. But a couple episodes in, I realized why he hadn’t officially shown up yet. They were teasing his appearance. In flashbacks, in purple light, in a general feeling of unease. His reputation preceded him, and by the time I started episode 4, I was genuinely worried.
Now, usually, when I’m watching a TV show, I get comfy. I get back to my dorm at night, slip into some loose pajamas, microwave a bag of popcorn or some other snack, and snuggle up in bed with my laptop so I can be undisturbed.
Episode 4 came and went, and Killgrave finally appeared, and when the credits started rolling, I let it autoplay instead of getting up to take a break between episodes like I usually do. I watched probably three or four more episodes before I realized that it was 3 in the morning and I had class the next day.
So, reluctantly, I went to shut down my laptop and realized I hadn’t moved for the past two hours at least. I was stiff. I was tense. I hadn’t eaten any of my snacks. And not only that, I was curled up in the fetal position. And I knew that I was going to have trouble falling asleep because Killgrave had terrified me more than any villain had ever terrified me before.
I managed to make it through all of my classes the next day, but I can’t say I paid any attention to them. And as soon as they were over, I headed back to my dorm to watch the rest. Forget homework. I couldn’t concentrate on it anyway. I had this weird feeling that I wouldn’t be able to think about anything else until I watched Killgrave die. Was he even going to die? I suddenly had the strangest pit in my stomach and distinctly thought, If Killgrave doesn’t die at the end of this season, I don’t know what I’m going to do.
Which is ridiculous, of course. He’s a fictional character. He can’t hurt me. And yet I had this compulsion, this need for his story to end in order for me to feel safe.
I won’t spoil the ending of the season, in case you’re coming from the same place as I started and have been avoiding it. But I realized, after reading some reviews and commentary, that the main idea of the season was rape and consent on a superhero level. The reason I felt unsafe was because Killgrave literally represents all the reasons women don’t travel alone at night or leave their drinks unattended, or accept rides from strangers.
And he also represents all the excuses that predators tell themselves to justify their own actions: “I can’t help being the way I am!” “How am I supposed to know whether you wanted it or not?” “I’m the victim here!”
There’s a poignant example of this in episode 8, “AKA WWJD?”, where Jessica confronts Killgrave and accuses him of raping her:
KILLGRAVE: We used to do a lot more than just touch hands.
JESSICA: Yeah. It’s called rape.
KILLGRAVE: What? Which part of staying in five-star hotels, eating in all the best places, doing whatever the hell you wanted, is rape?
JESSICA: They part where I didn’t want to do any of it! Not only did you physically rape me, but you violated every cell in my body and every thought in my goddamn head!
You see throughout the show that Killgrave is one of the biggest influences on why Jessica becomes the kind of character she is. The trauma she went through at his hands is enough to make anyone become a relationship-avoidant alcoholic.
The season is a brilliant social commentary on the topic of sexual abuse — a topic that deserves a lot of attention.
In my opinion, season 1 was the best out of the three, and my interest kind of trailed off during season 2. There were some interesting story arcs, and things to think about, but I wasn’t nearly as interested as I had been. However, when I started on season 3, my curiosity was piqued once again.
Again, no spoilers, since this season only came out in June, but though this season’s villain was formidable, there was one other character that I was completely fascinated by because the show does something with this character that I have never seen before: shows you what a villain’s origin story looks like from their point of view. After all, in the words of Tom Hiddleston: “Every villain is a hero in their own mind.”
But we always seem to meet villains after they’ve become villains, and their backstory is always in the past. With this character, their backstory is the story — and it’s fascinating.
This character’s story brings up some hard and thought-provoking questions and insights. What is the true difference between a hero and a villain? Where is that line? It’s scary how someone can start out with such good intentions and yet somehow become the very thing they swore to destroy. How far do you have to go down that slippery slope before you’ve fallen too far to be pulled back, and when should those around you stop trying to rescue you? Or should they stop trying at all?
Some villains are redeemable. In my mind, I would say that every villain is redeemable — it’s only a matter of circumstances including who is willing to try and save them and what the price is for doing so. But Jessica Jones introduces the concept that maybe the moral gray area surrounding heroes and villains is a) definitely not black and white and b) encompasses a lot more than maybe we tend to think that it does.
How do we define the term “hero”? How do we define “villain”? And how close are the two definitions to each other? Who do you root for in a story where every single character is morally reprehensible for something?
I want to pause and comment on the character of Malcolm for a second. Malcolm is introduced in season 1 as Jessica’s neighbor, a drug addict whose life is falling apart. I’m going to spoil the story enough to say that Malcolm turns out to have been under Killgrave’s control for quite a while, and Jessica rescues him.
Interestingly enough, or perhaps not, Malcolm is the one character in the entire show whom I have genuinely liked since the beginning. And I liked him more and more as the show went on, and I think I know why.
Malcolm himself admitted that he was an addict waiting to happen. Even if Killgrave hadn’t come into his life, he probably would have still become a messed-up druggie. But after Jessica rescues him, he takes control of his own life. He uses the second chance she gave him and makes something of himself out of it. He cleans up, starts making better life choices, and stubbornly sticks to Jessica to try and help her out in return.
Malcolm could have just as easily gone the same way as Jessica did. Hide behind drugs to avoid dealing with the pain like Jessica does with alcohol. It would be not only natural, but expected of him, especially in a show like this. But he doesn’t. He takes his experience as his wake-up call and resolves to use his life to benefit people. And yes, he makes mistakes, and yes, he starts going down the wrong path again at one point, but as soon as he realizes it, he turns himself around once again. His story in season 3 directly mirrors that of the other character I was talking about, and I think this gives us an idea of where the line is.
Malcolm makes bad decisions, but when confronted with his mistakes he genuinely repents of them and resolves to change course to avoid making them again. Conversely, the character I’ve been talking about is confronted with their bad decisions but instead stubbornly insists that they are in the right, even when those decisions are directly hurting people. I think this is the subtle difference that this show is pointing at to define what makes a hero.
I’m not going to call this show “feminist” as so many other reviewers have called it. I honestly think that’s not only too broad of a term, as there are many different types of feminism (some I agree with and some I do not). Instead, I’m going to simply state that this show brings up a lot of questions and redefines several terms that are not only intriguing, but also important for us as a society to consider.
I personally have decided that I enjoyed Jessica Jones. Not because of the dark topics or violent storylines, but because of the realistic and thought-provoking way that the show portrays human nature and forced me to look at the cultural definitions of heroes and villains differently. The old black-and-white fairy tale story may be classic and enjoyable, but sometimes I think we need a viewpoint that digs a little deeper and makes us think about the world in a completely different way.
Sherlock and John from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.
Kirk and Spock from Star Trek.
Dean and Castiel from Supernatural.
Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes from the Marvel comics and movies.
Crowley and Aziraphale from Neil Gaiman’s book and new Amazon Prime show Good Omens.
What ties these pairs of characters together? They’re all characters from popular media who have close relationships with each other and are often found or thought of together within their stories.
They’re also some of the most popular characters in slash fiction, a highly erotic branch of fanfiction that focuses specifically on homosexual relationships between male characters.
They’re not the only ones. Many pairs of characters, in all genres ranging from anime to Shakespeare, have been featured heavily in fans’ imaginations to have more than just a close relationship.
These fans scour the source material for clues or references that they can use to build an argument for their fantasy, and then tell everyone that it’s “obvious” that they are in love with each other.
This soon spreads to any two characters with any relationship, so much so that people will even pair characters who are antagonistic towards each other, like Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, claiming their enmity is secret love.
Social media sites like Tumblr and Pinterest are full of text posts and minifics about these characters, and the characters have become icons for the LGBTQ+ movement.
Even the actors and writers have been having trouble changing people’s minds. Most just good-naturedly agree with the romantic accusations towards their characters to make the fans happy, regardless of whether or not that was their actual intent. But some actors try and clarify, but then dig a deeper hole for themselves trying to explain what that relationship is outside the defining characteristics of sexual tension:
And now even big-name creators like J. K. Rowling has been trying to cater to fans’ demands by amending her own canon material to include what she thinks they want.
Now this article is not meant to stomp on anyone’s dreams or put down anyone’s viewpoints, but I am going to say it now: this needs to stop.
This trend needs to be put to an end, because it’s killing something that used to be one of the most common and precious things in the world: friendship.
No two characters in a story, regardless of gender or any other qualification, are able to have a good solid friendship anymore without people adding a sexual spin. Characters cannot admire each other, share intimate life events, or grieve each others’ deaths anymore without someone taking it as a sign that there is sexual tension somewhere.
People forget that romantic love isn’t the only kind of love in existence — that there are other kinds of bonds between people that would lead them to sacrifice themselves for each other.
And this really bugs me. Maybe because I grew up believing that friendship was common and love was special, or maybe because not too long ago, they were just that.
I think the main source of confusion is the oversexualization of society in general. The word “love” used to apply to many different kinds of relationships, from family to friends to lovers, and the word was understood in the context of that specific relationship.
In fact, ancient Greek had at least seven different words for different types of love, which have all been boiled down to one word in modern day English.
Now, the word love is taken to mean sexual, erotic love in almost every case— even to the point where friends, who used to be able to tell each other “I love you” and mean it completely platonically, cannot even hint at it anymore without the meaning being twisted into something that was not intended.
This is especially damaging to men — women who are friends can still sometimes get away with telling each other, “Love you, girl!”, but for a man to say that to any friend — male or female — would be taken the wrong way almost immediately.
But it also damages actual sexual/romantic relationships as well. It turns sexual attraction into something commonplace and over-hyped, which makes it lose the meaningful, desirable quality it used to have.
Most, if not all, of these characters, were written to be close friends. There is nothing canon in the source material to confirm anything more. Most of the “proof” people use comes from moments in the canon when a character speaks fondly of another or praises them in some way, or when any character sacrifices themself for another.
But (and most of this is specifically directed at the Sherlock fandom, which I am a part of and this side of the fandom drives me crazy) the way books were written a long time ago is very different from today because of the social constructs of their time.
Keep in mind that in these time periods, female characters were much harder to come by and there were very few important female characters, especially in books written by men. Heck, The Hobbit doesn’t have a single female character in the whole book besides Lobelia Sackville-Baggins.
John spending more time with Sherlock than his wife both makes sense for the writing style and the time period, both in and out of universe. It makes sense for male main characters to spend a lot of time together having adventures in those types of stories, without the need to add in a sexual element.
The problem is, once people have decided that there is one, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: they will find proof in everything even when there isn’t any, like this post:
They’re freaking taking a walk, people. Watson is literally saying, He
wasn’t doing so well emotionally because of his crazy habits, so I took
him under my wing and helped him do something normal for a change. But nooo, the word ‘intimate’ must mean there’s sex involved.
Fans turning normal relationships into sexual ones has become so popular that there are memes about it:
And the kicker? All the posts I’ve put in this article so far were from a simple search using the fandom or the character’s names. I didn’t have to type in a single ship name to find them because at least 7 in 10 posts, if not more, will display the same point — it’s that pervasive. And there are some people who have noticed the damage it’s causing, and have posted about this on Tumblr with the same points I’ve been making — these people are just fewer and further between.
Interestingly, the only friendship I’ve found so far that has actually managed to stay a friendship for the most part is Claudia Donovan and Steve Jinks in the show Warehouse 13. And that’s only possible because Steve is gay. Interestingly enough, fans tend to twist the sexuality of straight characters to fit their own interpretations, but almost never do it to canon LGBT+ ones.
Otherwise, like this Tumblr user says, watching the show, every cue that these sex-driven fans look for is present in their relationship, right down to Claudia’s grief when Steve is killed and her single-minded determination to bring him back from the dead. Sound familiar? These two characters are proof that a non-sexualized friendship can happen — it just needs to happen a lot more.
And before I get any nasty comments on this (please don’t post anything nasty, I’m really sensitive), look. I get that queerbaiting is a thing, and I understand why it happens. And I don’t actually know if the creators of some of these characters meant to depict them in a way that hints at romance or not. But I do think that there’s a point when it’s gone too far, and that time in my opinion is now.
It’s affecting more than just fandoms. It’s bleeding over into our everyday lives, pushing people away from each other because normal, friendly, human contact is becoming taboo. (I apologize for the language in this next post)
Let’s stop letting it happen.
I want to bring back friendships. Friendships so close that both parties care for each other as if they were family. Love doesn’t have to be sexual. Love, at its deepest, purest form, means putting someone else above yourself. Honestly, I wish everyone loved each other like that.
“My friend’s wiry arms were around me and he was leading me to the chair. “You’re not hurt, Watson? For God’s sake say that you’re not hurt!” It
was worth a wound -it was worth many wounds- to know the depth of
loyalty and love which lay beyond that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes
were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one
and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great
brain.” ― Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Three Garridebs
I don’t see sexual attraction in that. I just see two men whose friendship knows no bounds. I see the kind of friend I would love to have, and the kind of friend I strive to be.
As should all of us.
Thanks for reading! If you want to keep updated on my latest posts, subscribe to my email list! Also, this article is on Medium, which I have started writing for recently, so feel free to check that out, too!
In my last post, I gave details on my first comic-con, ACE Seattle. It was a pretty long post and covered multiple topics, but I decided to break it into two posts because I think the cosplayers at this con deserve a post to themselves.
I love cosplay, and have tried out a few cosplays myself, even though I’m not very experienced at it. In fact, I went to the con as Claudia Donovan, my favorite character from the SyFy show Warehouse 13.
But even though I had heard that cosplay was super popular at cons, I don’t think I was expecting this many great costumes. On Sunday, I spent a couple of hours chasing down cosplayers and asking them if I could take their pictures – I missed a few great cosplays whom I saw on Saturday but not the next day. But all the people I did manage to ask, not a single one objected to their photos being taken!
So here they are. I’ve got pictures of 24 amazing cosplayers – some handmade costumes, others professional cosplayers. I’m not going to rank them, because that would be unfair to all the uniquely different and ingenius cosplays that I got to experience at ACE. Instead, I’m just going to give them to you in the order in which I got their pictures, and you can decide for yourself which ones are your favorites.
Spiderman (Spiderman: Homecoming): Adrian, FL
This guy is the first cosplayer I photographed, on Saturday, and I’m glad I did because I didn’t see him the next day. I think, given the number of Spideys I saw at the con, Adrian deserves credit for this original Homecoming idea. He pulled it off beautifully! The color contrast really pulls your attention to him – I had actually noticed him earlier in the day because I would see this pop of color out of the corner of my eye and turn to see him sitting in the panel audience, or walking around, and I just had to get his picture.
Now this is what I’m talking about! I forgot to clarify whether this cosplay is meant to be Cap or one of the “star-spangled man with a plan” dancers from Captain America: The First Avenger. Because of the shield, though, I’m going to guess that she’s Cap. Either way, this is one of the things that I love about cosplay – you can be as canon-exact as you want or not at all. Unlike some other mediums, fan art doesn’t have to be exact – spin-offs and new takes on familiar looks are what make cosplay so great! And I love the shield, of course. I wonder if she got Chris to sign it?
Iron Man with Infinity Gauntlet (Avengers: Endgame): DoubleTakeCosplay
This guy is the bomb! I mean it: this professional cosplayer has everything down, even the sunglasses and the facial hair! I didn’t get his name but I did get his business card: the website doesn’t work but here’s a link to his Facebook page. This suit was so incredibly impressive I had to take a look at some more of his art. It looks like he does a lot of Marvel/RDJ cosplay and recreates Iron Man stills, though he has a few other things on there, too. That’s an incredibly specific niche but it fits him perfectly!
This handmade edition of Thranduil is incredible! Cost-effective and creative, it adds a personal flair to the character while still remaining recognizable. And I love how you can combine fairly ordinary items of clothing together to create the look you want – you don’t have to handmake everything if you don’t want to! My first thought when I saw this cosplay was that if Thranduil wasn’t the king of the Wood Elves, he should be king of whichever branch of elves celebrate springtime. Great job, Meesha!
Captain America & The Winter Soldier: Jordan, WA & Sander, CA
These guys are so adorable! And as far as I know, these two cosplayers don’t know each other. I was just getting a picture of Jordan when Sander’s parents came up to him and asked if they could get a picture of the two together (that’s why they’re not looking at me – Sander is grinning for his mom). But I mean, if my kid was cosplaying Bucky, I’d want to get a picture with somebody dressed as Cap, too!
This Spidey was completely into it! When I asked him for a picture, he immediately gave me multiple equally awesome poses, so it was hard for me to decide which one to use. This one definitely looks the most like a poster shot, though, so I decided to go with it. I applaud not only the costume, but the full athletic characterization as well.
This guy was hanging out near the vendors who built life-size working R2-D2s – I’m guessing he’s with them, though I didn’t ask. I’m not exactly sure if his cosplay is a particular Jedi or not – as far as I know yellow lightsabers are only wielded by the Jedi Temple Guards. But then again, I’m not as up to date on the Star Wars fandom as I used to be, and he may be cosplaying a specific named character. Either way, it’s super cool, and I’m so glad I was able to get a picture!
We caught these guys as they were leaving. Brandon’s movie-accurate suit (stealth suit from CA:TWS), which is my personal favorite, looks great on him, and goes perfectly with Chance’s Endgame Hawkeye, complete with swords which aren’t pictured because they’re sitting on the floor at his feet. Father/son bonding at its best – way to go guys!
These guys are super cute! This is the first and only Spider-Gwen I saw hanging around the con, so she stood out as one of a kind! I love the detail, right down to the white headphones to complete the look! And Captain Marvel’s costume has a lot darker, more serious colors than some of the other cosplays of this costume I’ve seen – definitely more reminiscent of Endgame than her original movie or the comics. I love it!
These cute kids were super eager to pose for me! They were so adorable I forgot to write down where they’re from, but that’s okay – the pic is all that counts! Kudos to their parents both for bringing them to the con in true Marvel style and for letting me get pictures of them!
I love the creativity on this one! Both cosplays are spot-on, and out of all the different Bro Thor cosplays I saw that day (I think I saw 5 or 6) this one was one of my favorites. I was temporarily confused by the spear and thought maybe Laqawzia was cosplaying Okoye instead of Shuri, but I should have known just from the costume colors which character she was. Darn! I guess it just means I need to go watch the movie again.
Michelle really got into her cosplay! Full suit, perfect hair, and my absolute favorite pose! She had that particular pose all ready the moment I asked her, so I knew she’d already been thinking about how she wanted to portray her particular iteration of Carol Danvers. Way to go, Michelle!
This awesome lady is the second professional cosplayer on this list, and I’m telling you, professional cosplayers are super cool in my book! She handmakes all her own costumes and actually judged the cosplay contest on Saturday night. I also love the idea of Harley Quinn as a marionette – so creative! Here’s her website so you can check out her stuff!
This cosplay is really cool! For one thing, I haven’t actually seen a Hydra Cap cosplay before, so I had to ask and make sure it was what I thought it was. But I also love these two because of their presentation and movie-accurate Winter Soldier costume, complete with book, which it looks like they got signed by both Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan!
All I can say on this one is – very nice! I thought I was done taking pictures at this point, but then I saw them walk by and couldn’t miss the opportunity to chase them down. Plus, I had to get at least one Loki on this list, and this particular Loki is incredibly well-done! The Tesseract in her hand is actually a baseball display case with what looks like tissue paper and blue lights inside it. And they’ve both got bags around their waists, both as part of the cosplay and so they don’t have to carry any other bags around – clever!
Winter Soldier & Black Widow: Dawn & Amethyst, CAN
Woo-hoo! First and only Canadians on the list! With a very unique cosplay idea, as well! Of all the Buckys walking around, this is the first one-armed Civil War Bucky I’ve seen! And the sign is hilarious – the other side says “I’VE HAD WORSE”! Congratulations to these guys for a well-done and unique cosplay idea!
And finally, I want to give a shoutout to a couple cosplayers whom I saw but was not able to get pictures of – the full-costumed Batman who spent Saturday roaming around the con doing the Christian Bale voice, pointing at people and going, “I’m Batman!”, and telling kids, “Be good for your parents!” He was definitely entertaining and I wish I could have gotten a photo.
Additionally, one of the cutest and cleverest cosplays I saw was the little kid who came third in the costume contest. His mom had dressed him as Disappearing Spiderman, complete with a whole sleeve of his costume brown like it was turning into dust and a little sign that said, “Mr. Stark, I don’t wanna go!” The little guy was definitely an attention grabber, and loved every minute of it!
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I had the fantastic opportunity this past weekend to visit ACE Comic-Con in Seattle, and since I was approved for a press pass (amazing, right?) I got to bring in a camera with me! You know what that means – bring on the pictures!
I confess that I am not a photographer, and borrowed the camera from a friend. So don’t expect anything artsy. But you know what they say, no pics = it didn’t happen.
A lot of this trip was a first for me – first time on a Greyhound, first time in a hostel, first time in Seattle – and first time at an actual comic-con! I was excited about the list of celebrity guests for this particular con as well – Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Lee Pace, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, and Taron Egerton. I know those aren’t all the guests who arrived, but they were the ones I was familiar with beforehand and whose panels I attended.
This trip was completely unexpected and yet a complete blessing and joy. I thank God that He gave me the opportunity to be there and that the trip went as smoothly as it did!
I don’t know exactly what I was expecting for my first time at a comic-con, but I just want to shout out ACE for exceeding everything I had been imagining. It was incredible! I traveled to the con alone, because I found out I could go at the very last minute (literally the day before). However, I made some wonderful friends at the hostel I stayed at, and ended up attending the con with them.
These friends both had photo ops and autographs with a couple of the celebrities, namely Chris Evans and Lee Pace, so even though I was unable to purchase any ops myself I stood in line with them as emotional support. This led to the lucky chance that I was able to go into Chris Evans’ autograph booth and I got to see him in person!
There have been a few trolls online complaining about the lines and the security, to which I say: please, just don’t. Security was thorough, but quick. The lines were orderly and well managed, and even though they got a little behind on the first day and some people didn’t get their autographs for Chris, they worked very hard to make up for it and got them all in on the second day. Even when I left my phone in the bin at the security checkpoint and had to go back for it, the staff were extraordinarily helpful and pleasant.
So again, I want to affirm to everyone that ACE is amazing – 10/10 would recommend, and I would go back. Problems are unavoidable, but it’s the way they’re handled that shows whether they do a good job or not. And they do. You go, ACE!
In between standing in line for ops and enjoying the vendors, I was able to attend three panels – Avengers Assemble, featuring Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, and Don Cheadle, The Galaxy is Calling, featuring Josh Brolin, Zoe Saldana, and Lee Pace, and Taron Egerton’s panel. All were extremely fascinating, and the live streams can be found here if you want to see them for yourself.
A couple highlights from each panel:
Chris Evans accidentally swore during the panel, and, though I personally don’t like swearing, it was incredibly amusing to hear the entire audience immediately react, almost with one breath: “Language!” The poor guy was mortified because there were children in the audience, and Jeremy and Don jokingly got up and left the stage, only to come back around the other side, surprising the moderator.
One of the first fans in line to ask a question had a support dog with her dressed as Iron Man, and as soon as Chris saw it, he jumped off the stage and beelined for it. Since I was pretty far back, I was unable to get any good pictures of this, but here’s proof it happened.
Jeremy had this moment where Chris whispered something in his ear and he cracked up and couldn’t stop laughing for like a full minute. I have no idea what it was but just watching him doubled over in silent laughter with Don rubbing his back was so much fun to watch.
And my favorite moment in this panel was when one of the fans asked Don Cheadle to do the “baby Thanos” (the hand motion that his character Rhodey does in Endgame when they’re talking about ways to stop Thanos from getting the Infinity Stones:
The Galaxy is Calling
This panel was just as much fun – it included Lee Pace not knowing that Endgame had been re-released with more footage and Zoe Saldana talking about being in the top two highest-grossing movies of all time (and saying she can’t pick which one she wants to win in that current battle). All three of them talked a little about what it’s like to act wearing tons of prosthetics and makeup.
I have decided that Josh Brolin is a teddy bear – no, literally – he has these smile wrinkles that reminds me of the kind of guy who flips burgers and makes horrible dad jokes. Seeing him on stage (and not having really seen much of his other roles), it’s a credit to his acting that I found it hard to believe that he’s played such intense villains.
He was asked, “If Cable was a rapper, and if he had a rap battle with Deadpool, what would his rapper name be?” And somebody in the audience shouted, “Cable One!” (which I personally like), and he said he’d like to be C-Steely, and that he would definitely win. And he caused an uproar by pretending to snap on stage.
Lee Pace got asked a fascinating question involving a show he did, called Pushing Daisies, which I hadn’t heard of so I had to look it up and watch it when I got home. The premise of that show is that he played a character called Ned, who has the power to raise people from the dead by touching them. However, if he touches them again, they die instantly, and if he doesn’t touch them again within a minute, someone else dies in their place. Makes for a really interesting story – I recommend the show, it’s pretty funny – but the question that he was asked was also interesting.
The question the fan asked was, If you were Ned in Infinity War, and you watched Loki die, is he really dead, and if he was would you touch him and bring him back to life? And he said that if the person who would die instead was Thanos, then yes, he definitely would, but he didn’t want to presume too much about the situation. It was a fun concept, though, and really set my imagination on fire for a bit, though.
And Zoe Saldana gave an amazing answer to a question about actors and other artists who are just starting out – know the history of your craft and learn to be passionate about what you do. And her encouragement in that moment really connected with me and I think that’s one of the best answers I’ve ever heard to that question.
To be honest, the only one of Taron Egerton’s movies I’ve seen was Robin Hood last fall, which was really good. And I decided to attend the panel, and I’m glad I did, even though I did feel called out a little when he said he’d be surprised if anyone there that night hadn’t seen Rocketman yet (*sheepishly raising my hand*).
But it was really fascinating when he was talking about filming that movie, including details of a scene where he is singing underwater, and the diving and unique experiences involved in getting that scene made. I always love hearing background information on how movies were made, especially straight from the actors or directors themselves.
But the number one thing that impressed me most about Taron was his incredible memory. All the fans who came up to ask him questions, he remembered – their names, what they’d asked for in their photo ops, even that one girl ran a fan page for him (which she seemed mortified that he knew about). The only other celebrity I know of who does that is everybody’s favorite Tom Hiddleston, and the amount of attention and respect that kind of memory implies is amazing!
That synopsis wasn’t nearly all that happened during these panels, just some things that made an impact on me. I was so incredibly blessed to have been there and gotten to experience these panels live!
So when my friends and I were walking around between panels, there were a lot of things to look at. One friend and I got caricatures of ourselves (as Avengers Loki and Ragnarok Loki) at a caricature booth, and both my friends and I tried out a VR game which was completely awesome – I see VR getting big in the future, ladies and gentlemen!
And there was even a booth where some people had recreated Baby, Dean’s Impala from Supernatural, in all detail from the show, down to the carved initials, the toy soldier stuck in the door handle, and the concealed weapons in the trunk.
There were so many great artists selling their art. I wanted to buy the entire con and decorate my house with their art because it was all so good. There were two vendors in particular that I want to give a shout-out to:
His art is incredibly lifelike. I came back to his booth probably six or seven times just to look at the art, and every time, I saw a character or several I hadn’t seen on my previous trip around. If I’d had the money, I would have bought several of his prints to hang on the wall because they’re so realistic they look like photos. He is really able to capture the essence of a person’s face and posture in a way I only wish I could – definitely check out his site if this is something you are interested in!
The other vendor I want to promote is Hannah McGill, an independent author and illustrator in the middle of her first graphic novel, Warlock’d. It’s not finished yet, but the plot she described sounded amazing! Additionally, she’s done all the art for her book herself! I especially loved all the images of birds she had scattered through her collection of art. I love small, independent artists and I want to give her kudos for making it to ACE to promote her book! Check out her website here!
I know this has been a really long post, so for the last element that I loved about ACE Seattle, I’m going to publish as a new post in its own right. It will feature pics of only some of the awesome cosplayers who allowed me to photograph them while I was there.
Thanks for reading! I had a great time, I definitely recommend ACE, and I plan to attend and cover more cons in the future!
I want to start off this post by saying that I never really liked Tony Stark. Well, I can’t say I never liked him. I just never considered him one of my favorite characters out of the many to choose from in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Usually, I don’t pick favorites at all, but when the question came up, he was never a first choice.
I mean, who would pick “genius, playboy, billionaire, philanthropist” Anthony Stark as a role model? Who likes listening to somebody that arrogant and snarky? Pick Captain America, the do-gooder who always does what he believes is right. Or Thor, the buff god of thunder with a redemptive origin story.
Not Tony. Tony’s too flawed.
Tony Stark Was Made to be Hated
I once read something about Stark’s character origin that I thought was interesting, so I went and dug up the article again. Long story short, Tony Stark was created to be despised.
Stan Lee recalls in an interview for the first Iron Man film: “I think I gave myself a dare. It was the height of the Cold War. The readers, the young readers, if there was one thing they hated, it was war, it was the military. So I got a hero who represented that to the hundredth degree. He was a weapons manufacturer, he was providing weapons for the Army, he was rich, he was an industrialist. I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like, none of our readers would like, and shove him down their throats and make them like him … And he became very popular.”
And I thought that was very interesting. How do you make people like a character who represents everything they hate?
But then look at what Tony Stark became. From the minute Robert Downey Jr. stepped in to play the billionaire in 2008, a previously unknown character suddenly became a household name, and it’s not because of the storyline, it’s not because of the CGI, it’s not even because of the music (though I love it to death).
It’s because of the character and Downey Jr.’s portrayal of him.
That being said, back to the original question. Most likeable characters are generally agreeable. Some of the more interesting ones start out with issues, but go on the “hero’s journey” like Luke Skywalker or have a redemption arc like Thor. Usually, unlikeable heroes don’t last very long, which is why there are so few of them.
So what makes Tony different?
The Story of Tony Stark
Let’s look at Tony’s journey throughout the MCU. There will be Endgame spoilers in this section so if you haven’t watched the movie yet, a) go watch it and b) please don’t continue reading past this point, though I don’t know why I bother as the spoilers are all over social media anyway.
Tony Stark is basically the father of the MCU in terms of characters. In Iron Man, after being attacked and captured in Afghanistan by the Ten Rings, Tony, a completely self-enraptured, profiteering celebrity arms dealer, realizes that his weapons are being stolen and used against American citizens.
He builds his first suit as a way to get out of the cave and when he gets home, building a better, more streamlined suit becomes his obsession. Soon not only has he designed one that can fly, but is basically his own personalized weapon only he can control. Using the suit, he rectifies the wrongs that his company had been causing and becomes a national hero.
Iron Man 2
Fast forward to Iron Man 2. At this point in a typical hero’s journey type story, Tony should be sorted by now. Right?
Not even close.
Tony allowed the suit and his own genius to boost his own ego. Being the hero and getting to save everyone all the time went to his head and made him more arrogant than ever. It’s not that he was doing anything wrong per se, he made the US safer, he saved countless people, he definitely qualifies as the good guy.
But I think pride has a unique place among other character flaws because it’s something everyone struggles with. Tony Stark became the embodiment of one of the sins that roots more deeply and is harder to beat than almost any other. It doesn’t cause any obvious problems, not right away.
But left unchecked, pride is one of the most dangerous and self-destructing things that can ever ruin a person’s life, or in Tony’s case, the world.
The Avengers and Iron Man 3
The Avengers does a bit for his character development, but not much. The movie makes sure viewers are aware that he “doesn’t play well with others” by focusing on his conflict with the other Avengers, specifically Cap. The end of the movie also establishes, however, that he is capable of working with other people and even more than that, that he is willing to sacrifice his own life to save the people he loves.
Follow his story through Iron Man 3 and you can see that his arrogance is still there, but by the end of this story, he realized to some extent what his pride had done to Pepper, and from there his character development started to skyrocket.
Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War
In Age of Ultron, it seemed he had become more of a team player. However, this movie is where that arrogance started to cause major issues for more than just himself. Ever since the Battle of New York, he’d had PTSD about what would have happened if he hadn’t been able to save everyone. His pride made him take the weight of that burden onto his own shoulders. He became obsessed with finding a way to protect the earth from alien invasions.
He went behind the team’s back and coerced Bruce to help him use the Mind Stone in Loki’s scepter to try and create what he called “a suit of armor around the world”. And then the plan went out of control. Ultron emerged, twisted Tony’s plan to include the death of all humanity, and suddenly Tony has put the entire world in danger because he didn’t listen to his teammates.
An encounter with Scarlet Witch makes his PTSD worse, and by the time you get to Captain America: Civil War, he’s so afraid of himself and his own arrogance that he agrees to the Sokovia Accords. This is a large part of what caused the division between himself and Cap.
I want to make sure you’re understanding this.
Make a note here that Tony is still trying. Despite his flaws here, he still cares about his friends and the fate of the world more than anything else in the world, and he’s willing to do anything to ensure their safety. What his pride is preventing him from seeing, however, is that he alone is not responsible for the fate of the world. He cannot expect himself to take on that burden alone.
His character development has gone on an amazing journey by this point in his story – he started out only caring about himself and now he’s destroying himself trying to keep everyone else safe.
This is also the main point of conflict between Tony and Cap. Tony has gotten so paranoid that he has placed safety above freedom. Steve believes nothing is more important than freedom – evidenced very clearly by his stance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And then when he felt he had failed, his pride prevented him from taking responsibility. Instead, he blamed the others.
Infinity War and Endgame
And then comes Avengers: Infinity War. After finding out that the baddie responsible for the danger to the world since the Battle of New York is planning on attacking, after having been a part of such a catastrophic team split that he doesn’t even feel he can call on Steve for help, he chases his young protegee Peter into space and loses everything.
Very little of this is actually his fault. But his pride and ever-decreasing self-esteem causes him to think that it is.
Now for the Endgame part. Captain Marvel rescues him and Nebula from a slow death drifting in space and he gets reunited with Pepper.
And he gives up. He finds a cabin in the woods, hides away with Pepper, has a kid: Morgan. He’s lost a lot, so he’s clinging to what he does have, because for once in his life, he’s stopped believing it’s up to him. He’s lost hope.
But, irony of ironies, guess what?
According to Strange’s visions of the future, the fate of the world actually is up to him.
He refuses the team’s suggestion of time travel when they approach him for help. He doesn’t want to lose his family over the chance of bringing Peter and the rest of the world back.
But Tony Stark is, deep down, a hero. He could never be anything else. And for once in his life, he puts away his own desires. His genius kicks in and he realizes, not pridefully but accurately, that he can help.
An accurate assessment of one’s abilities is not pride, it’s common sense. And Tony realized that without his expertise, that slim chance of recovering what was lost was no chance at all. And ultimately, that expertise was the only way to save everyone. Tony’s ultimate goal, to keep the world safe from otherworldly threats, was finally accomplished.
At the cost of his life.
A True Hero
He knew that was probably going to be the price. And he paid it willingly. Not for attention or recognition, not for a martyrlike self-shouldered burden of care, but for his love for his friends and a desire to make the world better. And I love Pepper’s words to him as he lay dying in the aftermath of the battle: “We’re going to be okay. You can rest now.”
What does the life of this one remarkable character say to us? It says that even the most flawed people can be heroes. It says that it doesn’t matter the mistakes you’ve made in the past if you make the right decisions in the future. In our lives, no matter how broken we are or how many mistakes we’ve made, God can still use us if we let go of our shortcomings and follow Him instead. It says that if Tony Stark can be a hero, so can we.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13, KJV
This is what makes Tony Stark a great hero. He wasn’t my favorite character originally. He was created as an embodiment of everything people hate. His movie character was dominated by pride and caused as many problems as he solved. But not every hero is perfect, not every hero never makes mistakes or has no flaws.
A hero is someone who cares for someone else more than they care for themselves, and is willing to take action to defend them.
From the moment he created that suit to escape from the desert cave to that final, defiant snap wielding all six Infinity stones, Tony Stark created a legacy for himself that other characters will be hard-pressed to match.