Late Again…

Crashed into Monday morning with all the finesse of a cyclist with wet leaves clogging his brakes. It’s 5pm and only now do I have the time to sit down and blog. I expected to be doing this over my breakfast.

So, apolgies for that and what will be a slightly rambling post. I’ve already written 1500 words today and they’ve slightly fried my brain…

Sunday, I made the wise decision to read all day. Finished the book about narrative in one sitting and then thought I’d read the opening pages of Don Winslow’s The Cartel, which proved a big mistake. I’m now hooked, though I don’t remember a thing about The Power of the Dog. Luckily, he’s generous is filling out details from the first book, which I guess I should reread but I don’t get enough time to read as it is…

After the reading, late last night, I set time aside for films which was also mistake. Ended up with a double bill and not the first time that’s happened in the past seven days…

I might as well get this out there. What I haven’t mentioned recently is that I’ve been enjoying the Marvel movies.

Yes, yes. I know I’ve always dismissed them. I’ll probably dismiss them again before I’m finished but they’re definitely something you have to embrace wholeheartedly or they mean nothing. I have embraced them.

A week or so ago, a bit glum because of the heat, I threw my pen down and went to watch a film. I knew I wasn’t going to sleep because of the thunder but I also needed a break. That’s how I came to watch the second of the Tom Holland Spiderman movies. I’d enjoyed the first one a couple of years ago. I thought it quirky, upbeat, and just clever. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise that the second was meant to be watched after the Avengers movies. That, in itself, is a bit annoying. I’m a Spidy fan, never been much into the Avengers. I watched a couple of the early films but couldn’t remember enough about them to make much sense of the third.

It’s clear now what happened. To understand the Avengers movies, I had to watch the Captain America movies since Captain America: Civil War is really an Avengers movie in all but name… But I get ahead of myself.

I watched Spider-Man Far From Home (btw: what’s with the hyphen?), enjoyed it, and thought I’d make the most of a Disney+ subscription that I’ve still got access to (it’s a Hamilton thing), by watching the last two Avengers movies. I’m also a big fan of Community and knew those two movies are directed by the Russo brothers, who were instrumental in Community. A few Community actors have cameos in the Avengers movies so I was intrigued…

Avengers: Age of Ultron. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Marvel movies are so much better when they don’t take themselves too seriously and being a fan of Taika Waititi, I’ve come to have a soft spot for anything where Thor is front and centre. Watched Ultron one night. Next night settled down for the three hours of Endgame.

Again, really enjoyed it but niggled by a couple of things.

First, Captain Marvel. She is so overpowered I wonder why there’s any need for the other Avengers. Of course, this is a problem with the whole superhero genre – the arms race of superpowers— and takes us into some uncomfortable places. I feel slightly on edge, for example, with how normal folk are portrayed in these movies. Power is often a gift exercised by a small elite with almost no thought to ordinary people. Having now caught up on all the Avengers movies, I now see how this theme is explored, especially in Captain America: Civil War… It’s the very reason there’s a civil war.

But back to the Captain Marvel character. She was hugely overpowered. In fact, it was noticeable that two figures with seemingly excessive power are Marvel and the Scarlet Witch. It’s also clear that it’s done for ideological reasons. There’s a moment in Endgame when the gender politics become really heavy handed, with the female heroes stepping up and doing the job that the men had failed to do. All done stylishly, of course, but that only emphasises it more. I admit I groaned.

Now, I’m usually not one to get too riled up by this kind of gesture politicking. It did, however, unsettle the whole balance of the movie. Spiderman, one of the oldest and most popular superheroes, is reduced to a kid with some party novelties strapped to his wrists. Why bother with him when Captain Marvel can turn herself into a missile and literally punch her way through a starship?

Even as I type this, another part of my brain is screaming that I shouldn’t care. Yet I do.

Anyway, I wasn’t much up for watching Captain Marvel because of all the above but I’d run out of Avengers movies and it does star Samuel L. Jackson. I thought I’d give it a try.

Sigh.

I loved it even more than the Avengers movies.

Again, perhaps these films are just catching me at the right time. I might be a lockdown thing. Maybe my tastes are really sliding. Maybe I just don’t care and I’ve had enough of struggling through miserable Polish drams that are considered artistically challenging. Perhaps I just wanted to relax.

Captain Marvel was like many of the old sci-fi B movies I used to love. Person with alien powers comes to Earth and gets mixed up with secret government departments trying to uncover the alien threat… Despite all the special effects, it had that low budget movie sensibility. It also explained a bit about the Avengers which I hadn’t liked. There was a moment when she said “I’ve been fighting with one arm tied behind my back” which suddenly brought Avengers Endgame into perspective and why these female characters are so overpowered. It’s not “overpowered” as much as freshly re-empowered. Not only did I not mind it, I actively enjoyed the sense of liberation.

The result is that I’m now cramming all the other movies in whilst I have a subscription. Tonight, I might start from the beginning and catch up with some of the early films which I’ve probably not seen.

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It’s a cool domain name and it was available. Yes, I know. Available. Crazy, isn’t it?

Really?

Yes. It also helps that it’s also my favourite satire written by Alexander Pope, one of the most metrically pure English poets who also knew his way around a crude insult or two. If you’ve not read it, you should give it a try.

So this is satire, right?

Can’t deny it. There will be some. But it’s also an experiment in writing and drawing, giving work away for free in order to see how many people are willing to support a writer doing his thing. It’s the weird stuff that I wouldn’t get published elsewhere in this word of diminishing demands and cookie-cutter tastes.