Cosplay Highlights from ACE Comic-Con Seattle!

Cosplay Highlights from ACE Comic-Con Seattle!

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.

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Captain America: Akemi, WA

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?

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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!

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Thranduil: Meesha, OR

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!

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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!

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Spiderman: Jaime, WA

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.

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Jedi with a Yellow Lightsaber: Mark, WA

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!

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Captain America & Hawkeye: Brandon & Chance, CA

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!

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Captain Marvel & Spider-Gwen: Emma & Amber, CA

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!

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Captain America x2: Bentley and Harper

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!

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Bro Thor & Shuri: Dustin & Laqawzia, WA

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.

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Captain Marvel: Michelle, ID

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!

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Harley Quinn: SmallRiniLady

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!

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Hydra Cap & Winter Soldier: Tesla & Nikki, AZ

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!

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Thor & Loki: Bernadette & Mary, WA

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!

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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!

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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!

Thanks for reading! If you want to keep up to date on more posts from Litmospheria, subscribe to get email updates whenever I post.

A First-Time Experience Attending ACE Comic-Con Seattle

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!

Attending

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.

The view from the window of my hostel room

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.

The line for one of the photo op sessions

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!

Panels

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:

Avengers Assemble

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.

Lee Pace in Pushing Daisies

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.

Taron Egerton

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!

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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!

Vendors

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!

My friend Momo trying out VR for the first time

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:

Tony Santiago

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!

Hannah McGill

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!

Finishing Up

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!

One Thing You’ll Never Take Away: A Tribute to Tony Stark (SPOILERS!)

One Thing You’ll Never Take Away: A Tribute to Tony Stark (SPOILERS!)

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.”

https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/little-known-sci-fi-fact-stan-lee-thought-marvel%E2%80%99s-readers-would-hate-iron-man-first

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.

Iron Man

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.

He is, and always will be, Iron Man.

So, to Tony Stark, my favorite Marvel hero:

Love you 3000.

The AltogetherUnexpected: In Praise of John Williams: The Beauty of Jurassic Park

The AltogetherUnexpected: In Praise of John Williams: The Beauty of Jurassic Park

The AltogetherUnexpected: In Praise of John Williams: The Beauty of Jurassic Park

Hey everyone! My wonderful friend Emily at TheAltogetherUnexpected, who wrote that amazing guest post earlier this month has allowed me to reciprocate and write a post for her blog. It’s about the film score for Jurassic Park and how John Williams could have written it like a horror movie but instead he saw beauty in disaster and scored it very differently.

I wanted to post the link here to encourage cross-traffic (seriously, her blog is amazing – check it out!) so here it is. I hope you enjoy it!

In Praise of John Williams: The Beauty of Jurassic Park

Guest Post: The East Wind Takes Us All in the End

Guest Post: The East Wind Takes Us All in the End

Guest Post: The East Wind Takes Us All in the End

This is a guest post from my amazing friend Emily B. over at TheAltogetherUnexpected. She’s a fantastic writer and just as much of a geek as I am, if not more. If you like her post, go ahead and check out her blog!

Enjoy!

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**Major Sherlock spoilers ahead! If you have not watched the entire series, then I am begging you to please not read this post**

There’s no such thing as bad. We have evolved to attach an emotional significance to what is nothing more than a survival strategy of the pack animal. We are confident to invest divinity in utility. Good isn’t really good, evil isn’t really wrong, bottoms aren’t really pretty. You are a prisoner of your own meat.

—Eurus Holmes, from Sherlock Se.4 Ep.3, “The Final Problem”

We all thought Sherlock had met his match when Moriarty came to play. Then we were all certain he’d met his match when Irene pulled at his heart strings. But never, in our wildest dreams, did we know what was coming when we met Eurus Holmes.

Eurus: the sister Sherlock never knew he had. Having wiped Eurus from his mind, Sherlock lived a life completely oblivious to the fact that he had a sibling locked up on an island called Sherrinford (cleverly named after the third Holmes brother from William S. Baring-Gould’s 1963 fictional biography). But Eurus, clever as she is, knows how to get in and out of Sherrinford without causing so much as a little fuss.

She can hide in plain sight, transform into anyone, make deductions with the sharpest accuracy, and manipulate anyone into doing anything she wants.

Many Sherlock fans accuse the show’s writers (Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat) of giving Eurus too great an intellectual capacity, but I beg to differ. While Eurus’s mind does seem capable of almost supernatural ability, all she’s had to live with for the past decade or so (the exact number of years Eurus spends in Sherrinford is never given) has been her mind. Born with an exquisite IQ, she had time to cultivate her mind into a super machine.

Eurus is an extraordinary character. She is a clever, calculating, and brilliant young woman. She surpasses Sherlock intellectually, and the reason being is her insensitivity.

Eurus does not feel. She does not care. She does not love. All she sees is reason, logic, and rationalism. While she never exhibits any kind of belief, Eurus is indeed a rationalist through and through. To make this philosophically interesting, rationalism, a philosophical stance, is (straight from Google): “a belief or theory that opinions and actions should be based on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief or emotional response.” Eurus is definitely the perfect (and extreme) example of a rationalist.

Looking at Sherlock for a moment, he is a character who has been plausibly hyped up as being a hard, cold, senseless reasoning machine. All he cares about is solving crimes and doing what he loves.

We catch glimpses of his hidden emotions from time to time: when he begins to weep as he calls John before jumping from the St. Bart’s hospital rooftop, when he goes to hug a weeping John Watson as he cries over the loss of his wife, and especially when Irene Adler comes on the scene. #lordhavemercy xD

I think he was about to have a heart attack, poor man.

But, I digress.

Despite the rare moments we see his humanity pop out, Sherlock is a cold, socially awkward, calculating, and arrogant (yes, I said arrogant) sort of human. And, as sympathetic people, we can get on him for being so tough. Sherlockian insults are a very real thing.

“Dear God, what is it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring!”

“Anderson, don’t talk out loud – you lower the IQ of the whole street.”

“Because you’re an idiot. No, no, no, don’t be like that. Practically everyone is.”

“I dislike being outnumbered. It makes for too much stupid in the room.”

“Moron.”

However, that’s what made “The Final Problem” such a fantastic ending for season four. 

Because before “The Final Problem,” we equated Sherlock’s personality with Eurus’s. As we continue through season four’s final episode, we see just how good and how human Sherlock really is.

Eurus, through a series of unfortunate events, puts Sherlock in a position where he must do everything she says, because it is his only hope for not only his survival, but the survival of John and Mycroft, who are with him.

She tests Sherlock ethically, psychologically, and morally. 

Many viewers who don’t care to analyze media critically claim that Eurus was a horrible villain because she had no motive. However, Eurus does have a motive. Her motive for putting Sherlock through her tests is her desire for him. She simply wants the brother who was never there for her. She wants to play with him, and to be loved by him. And she knows that the only way to capture his attention is to pull on his sympathies: the sympathies and emotions he was always known for…what she thought him weak for.

Eurus kills people without a care, she laughs when they die, and she thoroughly enjoys tormenting her brother’s mind.

The test that really shows us just how much Sherlock actually feels and actually loves is when he is told, by Eurus, to shoot either John or Mycroft. Conflicted beyond belief, it is so plain to see how Sherlock agonizes over killing his brother or his best friend. In the end, he chooses neither and turns the gun on himself. He would rather die than kill two of the people he loves most.

And if he was as heartless as we had believed all along, he wouldn’t have cared. If he had been like Eurus, he wouldn’t have hesitated in killing John or Mycroft to “play the game” with Eurus.

But, like Irene (as I mentioned in my post “…Let Me be Vulnerable.“), Eurus acted invincible. She was calloused, hard, and icy, but when she had a chance to be in Sherlock’s life, she took it. Posing as a young girl on a plane about to crash, Eurus finally gained Sherlock’s attention and his genuine care: the sympathy she had always wanted from him.

Realizing that the girl in the plane was all a façade, Sherlock took his sister in his arms and gave her what she had wanted from him for her entire life: love.

“Open your eyes. I’m here. You’re not lost anymore.”

I cried.

I’d never seen Sherlock get down on his knees and cradle someone in his arms like he did for Eurus. He was a solace for his sister, rocked her back and forth in his arms, and told her it would be all right.

And finally, here, at the end of season four, we see the full, 100% caring, emotional, and loving side of our hero, Sherlock Holmes. Here, as he gets down on his knees to hold, caress, and hush his drowning sister, we see the humanity we have longed to see throughout the entire show.

When Sherlock mourned internally for the “death” of Irene Adler, Mycroft told him, “All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock.”

And it’s true. 

Caring isn’t an advantage, and it’s most certainly not a way to get ahead in life, but it is worth it. It can be argued that Mycroft’s statement is, truly, the pulse of the entire series. It’s seen everywhere. And it popped out fully at the end of season four.

And when Christ chose to love us, He did not do it for His own benefit. Indeed, caring did not give Christ an advantage. On the contrary, when He chose to love us, He died. He rose again victoriously, yes; but first, he died. His care for us was what killed Him. 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:34-35

There are people in this world in the exact likeness of Eurus Holmes. Lost, lost in the sky. No one can hear them. 

And then there’s us. 

Will we choose to be the ones who can tell them just what Sherlock told his broken sister: “Open your eyes. I’m here. You’re not lost anymore.” Caring is a choice. Loving is a choice. Choosing to love and care is never an advantage. We will always be vulnerable in love, and we will always be endangered in care.

But to live our lives in that risk is what this life is all about.

And what made me love the ending of Sherlock season four even more was the violin duet played by Eurus and Sherlock “Who You Really Are.” Eurus doesn’t speak, but she feels the love. Look at that smile already beginning to take over her face:

What will we do in this life to bring Christ’s unfailing love, to bring His joy, and to bring a smile to someone else in this world? It is our calling from on high, our sacred duty, our “manifest destiny” if you will!

But really, what will we do?

I know you two, and if I’m gone, I know what you two could become, because I know who you really are: a junkie who gets high to solve crimes, and the doctor who never came home from the war. Will you listen to me? Who you really are, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about the legend, the stories. The adventures. There is a last refuge for the desperate, the unloved, the persecuted. There is a final court of appeal for everyone. When life gets too strange, too impossible, too frightening, there is always one last hope. When all else fails, there are two men arguing in a scruffy flat, like they’ve always been there and always will. The best and wisest men I have ever known. My Baker Street boys: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

—Mary Watson, from a posthumous recording to John and Sherlock

Because that’s truly what it’s all about: the stories. The adventures. The refuge we give to the desperate, the unloved, and the persecuted.

Shall we go on this adventure together, then?

“The game is afoot!”

________________________________________________________

Thanks for reading! :)With Joy in the Lord,Emily 🙂“He must increase, but I must decrease…”- John 3:30

Narratives of Infidelity and Revenge: Euripides’ Medea vs. Gone Girl

Narratives of Infidelity and Revenge: Euripides’ Medea vs. Gone Girl

Narratives of Infidelity and Revenge: Euripides’ Medea vs. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Disclaimer: I have not seen the 2014 movie Gone Girl just yet – this review is based on the book alone. Warning for sensitive readers – the novel contains graphic sexual imagery and quite a bit of profanity. In this review, I am analyzing the story and not critiquing the content; however, quotes used in this review were carefully chosen to avoid these aspects while still giving weight to the argument.

One of my New Years’ resolutions that I’m striving to uphold is to get back into reading more. I used to read book after book but last semester I found it hard to keep up the habit.

So last week I went to the library and picked up some books to read, and incidentally ended up choosing the novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The book had been recommended to me by a friend so I decided to give it a shot.

Coincidentally (or incidentally, I’m not sure which is more appropriate), my theater class this semester kicked off by reading the play Medea by the Greek playwright Euripides.

We all volunteered to read for characters, and I volunteered to read for the role of Medea. I was about halfway through Gone Girl at this point.

When I got back to my dorm that night and picked up the book again before going to bed, it suddenly hit me that these two narratives, written over two thousand years apart from each other, deal with the same basic concept – what would a woman do if she found out her husband was cheating on her? To what lengths would she go?

Now, if it was me (and hopefully I would never end up in this situation), I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t go as far as trying to kill my husband/children/husband’s girlfriend/whoever else gets in the way as the characters, Medea and Amy Dunne, do, but it still begs the question: If I was placed in a situation like that, how would I react?

I’ve known the story of Jason and Medea at least since I became fascinated with Greek mythology around the age of 11 or 12, and it’s interesting reading for Medea, knowing the monster of a character she is, and ending up sympathizing with her position a little.

As a reader, I can’t sympathize with either main character – Jason or Medea – because both characters have committed grevious wrongs and have not repented of them. They still believe what they did was right and their ego or their anger gets in the way of truly realizing the horror of what they have done.

And the same goes for Nick and Amy in Gone Girl.

Without giving away the plot of the book entirely, I was rooting for Amy for most of the first half of the book, especially when I found out Nick had been cheating on her. But then Amy’s true character starts to be revealed and I start to side with Nick a little. By the end of the book, however, I’m shaking my head at both of them. I can’t pick a side here. Both characters are in the wrong.

The interesting thing here is, though I can’t condone the characters’ actions, their motives and emotions are easy to understand. Medea is upset at how women are treated in her time, like possessions and trophies instead of people:

“Of all Earth’s creatures that live and breathe,

Are we women not the wretchedest?

We scratch and save, a dowry to buy a man –

And then he lords it over us: we’re his,

Our lives depend on how his lordship feels.

For better for worse: we can’t divorce him.

However he turns out, he’s ours and ours he stays.

– Medea, Euripides

And Amy Dunne has a similar rant in Gone Girl – a different era, a slightly different situation, but the same idea:

“You don’t ever want to be the wife who keeps her husband from playing poker – you don’t want to be the shrew with the hair curlers and the rolling pin. So you swallow your disappointment and say okay.”

Gone Girl, Pg. 157

Now, I’m not saying that I agree with these generalized definitions of men in these passages, but I do agree that both women are in the sort of situation where their husband is that type of man to them. And it’s easy to be bitter. It’s easy to want to get out, to plot revenge against them. And the women in these stories go incredibly far.

One thing my theater professor kept polling the class about was whose side were they on: Jason’s or Medea’s? Are you Team Jason or Team Medea? And I didn’t raise my hand for either one. Because the other side of this issue, the flip side, is just as bad because the characters’ reaction goes WAY too far, to the point of murder.

Yes, Jason and Nick cheated on their wives. In Medea, Jason doesn’t even repent of it. He makes excuses instead, about needing more sons and wanting status to protect her and the children. It makes me sick just reading it. He doesn’t care about her at all, it’s obvious.

In Gone Girl, Nick realizes that he did wrong and sincerely repents of it, but then grows bitter at what his wife is doing to him and the pendulum swings the wrong way. Now he wants to reveal her as the murdering deceiver she is, send her to jail and make her pay for exposing him and plotting against him. But he’s now also afraid of her, of what she might do to him.

Medea and Amy have a right to be angry, to be upset, to feel like they need to do something about it. The problem is, they deal with that anger in the wrong way and lash out. They use their intellect and cleverness not in trying to make it right, but in getting revenge.

Medea, describing her plot to kill the princess Glauce, Jason’s lover, and Glauce’s father, Creon, and eventually her and Jason’s own two children, to deprive Jason of everything he’s ever loved:

“Evil, evil on every side,
But watch and see.
Unhappy times await that happy pair,
And all who fawn on them.
D’you think I’d have crawled to him,
Pleaded with him, touched him,
If I’d not had secret plans?
The fool could have banished me today
And aborted my revenge. Instead,
I have one whole long day. One day
To make all three cold meat:
Father, daughter – and that man I hate.”

Medea, euripides

And Amy, fed up with her husband’s attitude and behavior:

“It’s rather extreme, framing your husband for your murder. I want you to know that I know that. All the tut-tutters out there will say: She should have just left, bundled up what remained of her dignity. Take the high road! Two wrongs don’t make a right! All those things that spineless women say, confusing their weakness with morality….”
But it’s so very necessary. Nick must be taught a lesson. He’s never been taught a lesson! He glides through life with that charming-Nicky grin, his beloved-child entitlement, his fibs and shirkings, his shortcomings and selfishness, and no one calls him on anything. I think this experience will make him a better person. Or at least a sorrier one.”

Gone Girl, pg. 234-35

Suffice it to say, neither of the stories end well for any of the characters. Not a single character is unaffected. The moral we can take from these stories is to stay far away from the cancer that is vengeance. The Bible is very clear on this:

“Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written: Vengeance is mine,
I will repay, says the Lord.

Romans 12:19

So what are we to do instead? You know what the answer is, turn the other cheek. The problem is that’s it’s been used so often it’s become cliche, and that’s a shame because it is just as relevant today as it was when it was written, as evidenced by these two stories.

All the evidence tells us that revenge is a bad idea. It never fixes anything. You can punch a bully in the nose and rejoice over the temporary feeling it gives you, but in the end it never helps. We risk exacerbating the problem, or worse, becoming a bully ourselves.

In fact, I just watched a Supernatural episode (After School Special, Series 4) that involves that very thing: Sam, in high school, defended a friend against a bully by fighting back and winning; but the bully ended up becoming the bullied one and killed himself.

It’s a vicious cycle – one that can never be escaped unless someone has the guts to realize what’s going on and take a step back. And lest you think that turning the other cheek involves becoming a doormat to keep the peace, Scripture has a slightly more proactive approach. Here’s the next two verses:

If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In so doing, you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.

Do not be conquered by evil; but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:20-21

Basically, the only way to reverse the cycle is to turn it around. Not only turning the other cheek, but also to do good to those who hurt you. It might not be easy, it might not be pleasant, you might not even see lasting benefits, but if you’re not perpetuating the cycle, the buck stops with you.

Ever heard the phrase, “Be the change you want to see in the world”? This is your chance. Don’t be like Medea. Don’t be like Amy. Revenge isn’t best served hot or cold. Healing begins when you decide to take God’s advice and leave the vengeance up to Him.

Leave a comment below to tell me what your opinion is on these two narratives – have you read them before? Did you side with one character or the other? What would have been your reaction? Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to have revenge on someone? What did you do?