Hope: An Audience’s Odyssey

After all, Charming Orphan Annie singing her way to a family is more optimistic than Malnourished Orphan Annie decrying the wealth gap created by the capitalist system.

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Last week, I expressed the heretical opinion that Logan is excellent but miserable, a one-view-only masterpiece that is bereft of hope. This week, I thought I’d elaborate a bit more on just what hope means.

That’s a tall order, of course, just like it’s hard to express something that’s so subjective, as well as being a fundamental word, like trying to describe “hot” or “soft” without using those words. But perhaps there’s a way to narrow it down. Perhaps by grasping to explain, I can clear up the picture and feelings behind it for others. Just what IS hope in stories?

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Logan: Les Miserables Masterpiece

I don’t feel hopeful that they’ll beat the odds and succeed; I feel resigned to their deaths, and think it’d be nice if they met it with dignity.

Logan does a lot right. Well-paced, good balance of action and emotion, very elegant conservation of information that is transmitted smoothly in a plot-relevant way, all of which are difficult to achieve in any film, let alone an action-fantasy. Does a lot for the comic book movie genre to bring more mature storylines to light, along with all the other ‘serious fan’ pontifications. Proves that good writing can transcend genres and categories, surpassing supposed restrictions with creative execution.

In fact, there’s only one thing it fails to do: Make me happy.

…WHAT? How can I be UNHAPPY with Logan? That’s like saying I enjoyed the Star Wars prequels! …Except wait, I DID enjoy the Star Wars prequels…

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Love-to-Hate Relationships

We’re talking Scooby-Doo, villain-of-the-week, “tear down the orphanage and build a toxic pollution factory because I love the tears of children” levels of motivation.

Today I’ll be talking about characters you love to hate! Or is that characters you should hate but love? The answer, my readers, is: Yes.

So, everyone knows their own reasons for liking a characters. Could be personality, abilities, design. Could be a snappy one-liner or an achievement you really loved. There are characters we love wholeheartedly, and ones we despise and want to see dead.

But somewhere out there, some characters occupy a sweet spot, a mix of antagonism and admiration. Whatever it is, they share one thing with the characters that matter to you: You enjoy watching them.

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Captain America: Hail Hydra

Yes, we get it, America covers more than the United States. Nobody cares.

Yes, we get it, America covers more than the United States. Nobody cares.

Figured I’d do this as a companion piece to good ol’ Tony and cover Marvel’s Big 2 to contrast DC’s most famous couple. Or rather, their most marketed as opposite-rival-frenemy-allies in recent times. So who is the guy who hurls his mighty shield? Who was he before becoming Hydra Supreme?

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Yeah, we’re pretty much up to speed.

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Everyman For Himself

Where other heroes treat things as a matter of course, they are the ones who’ll laugh off their insecurities and point out just how insane it is that there is an actual place called Gorilla City.

A hero. A shining paragon of might, intellect, charisma, and willpower. The great champion who will rise to the challenge, armed with a mighty advantage to turn the tide. The ones who ride off to defy fate and forge their own destiny, riding upon the tide of their allies.

And then there’s the other guy. Ladies and gentlemen of the net, meet the Everyman. As the name describes, they are like every man or woman.

They are not chosen by fate. They are not fiery, warping reality with their sheer passion. They are not brilliant, staying 500 steps ahead of the opposition. They are not divinely awe-inspiring in personality or looks, eliciting worship and adoration. No superpowers, no super training. Just enough to get by in the world.

But when stories can vastly vary what makes up ‘normal’, what marks an Everyman when one universe’s Average Josephine is another’s demigod?

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Iron Man: Does Whatever An Iron Can

Iron Man, Iron Man, does whatever an iron can. Straightens clothes, gets real hot, smashes you up the butt. Hey there! Here comes the Iron Man!

Well, it’s another of those things I’m looking to stock up in here: character crash courses! And this week, we’re talking about…what do you mean he’s already super popular, more than ever? As if I’d let that stop me!

A cool exec with a heart of steel. And, most importantly, severely crippling physical and psychological issues, and THE suit of high tech battle armour. To some of you, he’s Robert Downey Jr.. To others, he’s Iron Hitler, the asshole with the keys to the toybox.

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Nuanced characterisation was a casualty in other Civil War titles.

But really: Who is Iron Man? Has he lost his mind? Can he see or is he blind? Was he turned to steel in the great magnetic field?

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Metaphors Embodied: The Psychopomp’s Circumstances

No, it’s not the Psycho Pope, the main antagonist in a poorly written Young Adult novel with hamfisted anti-religion themes.

In today’s edition of Things You Recognise But Don’t Know The Names Of, a totally legit and not-at-all-made-up series, we’ll be talking about the PSYCHOPOMP! What thing that you recognise is it?

No, it’s not the Psycho Pump, an item in point and click adventure games to fix the Psycho Plumbing.

No, it’s not the Psycho Pope, the main antagonist in a poorly written Young Adult novel with hamfisted anti-religion themes.

No, it’s not the Psycho Crusher, the signature torpedo move of Master Bison, overlord of Shadaloo.

The PSYCHOPOMP is in fact…DEATH! Well, kinda.

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