Kids at Avengers Endgame: To shuddup or not to shuddup?

Ooo!!! Ooo!!! I just saw Avengers: Endgame!!! Yuh wanna know who DIES?!?!? DO YUH, DO YUH, DO YUH?!?!?!

Well, I ain’t telling. Go see it yourself. I took advantage of being between technical writing gigs and I saw it today, the day it opened (if you don’t count Thursday night). It was tough to get a seat, but I got one at the Great Mall: front row center, the one luxury seat in the house that would not fully recline. Sigh. To my right were eight kids of various skin tones. (I know it was eight because my seat was A9.) They made a little noise.

I will pause here to let you think about them and about me. I am a fanboy in my early 60s. I am Swedish ancestry, meaning so white that if I stand next to a bright light, you can see some of my vital organs. You’d think I’d be grumpy at those dang-nab kids making noise. (I once believed that blabbing during a movie should be added to the death penalty list.)

You’d be wrong. When these kids did some whispering, I resisted the urge to hush them, they were not loud. Their eyes and ears stayed glued to that screen. Not one lit up their cell phone. During the big climactic battle scene was when they made noise. They cheered when Thanos was clobbered and when Spider-Man swung into the picture and when Captain Marvel flew in and did what she does so well. When a big bunch of Marvel superheroines stood side-by-side ready to take names and kick ass, the girls in those eight harmonized like cheerleaders. And when Black Panther showed up ready for battle, one black girl crowed with pure joy: “Black Panthah, Black Panthah!!!” That made me smile, a young girl getting to see someone who looked a little like her on the big screen.

I digress here for a moment. Many years ago, I was listening to (ugh!) Rush Limbaugh. (I believe in getting to know my enemy before striking a match.) A young black man had called in to say he wanted more role models in America. Rush responded with the most obnoxious sentence in this universe, nay, in the entire multiverse: “Why don’t you use me as a role model?” The young man laughed and said, “You?”

No, Rush. Just NO! I like vanilla, but there are other flavors, some people are other flavors, and that cry of joy from that young black girl blended into the movie like music. Those eight kids were the happiest, cheeringest, having-the-best-time-at-the-movies-EVERingest I have ever seen.

I have had a bad experience with kids at the movies. At the first JJ Abrams Star Trek movie, the theater was filled with kids (mostly white) who climbed over the seats like a jungle gym, wrestled, blabbed about anything except the movie, and never even once looked up at the screen. When I left, a young black lady asked me if I’d been in that theater. I said yes, rather unhappily. She said she’d been there too and had complained to the management, but the management didn’t do anything. I complained to the management and got a free ticket. I still wonder if that was white privilege in action.

Take your kids to see Avengers: Endgame. If they cheer, let ‘em. But if they blab or wrestle or climb or any combination of that triple, smack them in the back of the head and say in your best Chicago leg-breaking thug voice: SHUDDUP!!!

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A Flaw in a Wrinkle in Time

This review is late. Very late. But I found this draft, and better late than never. Here goes.

I read A Wrinkle in Time when I was a kid. Loved it then, love it now. I did not even think about strong female hero. I saw a flawed heroic geek. I was (and still am) a geek. I think that geeky angry Meg planted a seed or two for my geeky angry character Super Holly Hansson. What did I think of the movie?

What I liked

Meg. Geek girl with a hot temper! I think Holly has some Meg in her.

Charles Wallace. Super smart little boy, with a proper hint of creepiness at being way too smart.

Oprah, when she was HUGE. That size difference make Mrs. Which stand out in the movie. In the book, she has no set physical appearance.

It. A giant brain, as done in the book, would not work in a movie. Well, it might have worked in the 1960s. In this movie, It is a nasty space-spanning web that looks a lot like neurons in a brain. Clever!

What I did not like

The movie story felt rushed and underdeveloped. Meg is introduced, shown to be hot-tempered and geeky smart, she meets the immortal ladies, and then it’s WHEEE, let’s find Daddy! And how long did it take for Charles to be seduced by the dark side, several seconds of multiplication tables? We needed to see, as in the book, Charles falling into evil due to his own arrogance.

Aunt Beast was cut out. In the book, that was a necessary scene for Meg’s development: when she first meets and escapes from It, her flaws are showcased! And she has to face them down. In the book, the line, “I give you your faults” gave Meg her best comeback: “But I’ve been trying to get rid of them for years!” In the movie, the line went over like a lead balloon and Meg had no comeback. If they could turn The Hobbit into a trilogy, they could have added time for a big furry auntie.

Meg’s flaws were mostly removed. In the book, she is stubborn, she yells at her dad in a soul-stabbing hurtful way, her emotions are as stable as nitro glycerine, you do not insult her brother Charles if you want to chew your dinner afterwards, and she is a strident non-conformist (okay, that last one is kind of a good thing). In the movie, she’s tough. So tough that she does not need Aunt Beast or her dad, and she does not make up with her dad because she never hurts him in the first place. Movie Meg is more mature than her dad, didn’t the scriptwriter ever watch Leave It To Beaver? When Meg lands on Camazotz again, I wonder if they should have played the James Bond theme. Leave the super competent hero role to Sean Connery, I loved Book Meg as a flawed geek. (Hmm, is James Bond a Mary Sue?) I was and still am a geek, and proud of it, man! Yes, non-conformist Super Holly has lotsa Meg in her!

Calvin. His rough edges were sanded off. Sure, as in the book, he fell for Meg, which was great. But in the book, he also conflicted with her: he wanted to protect her (which she did not want) and he yelled back at her and about her: “She’s backward!” When I write my characters Super Holly (hot tempered super geek) and Cal Critbert (more mature super-intellectual), they argue, they fight, and they stay head-over-heels in love. When you have different personality types, you get conflict. There was NONE, ZERO, ZIP between Meg and Calvin. BIG disappointment.

“Be a warrior.” That did not belong in this story. Meg is a geek girl, not a soldier. Lisa Simpson does not need a catchphrase, and neither does Meg.

The immortal ladies were too glamorous. Oprah lost her otherworldliness when she became human size. She should have been big and then small, never hitting the correct size. They coulda done a Tinkerbell joke! In the book, one lady was old, one was plump, one was formless. In the movie, they were Disney fairies.

The religious element was toned way down. Jesus, Buddha, others were mentioned in the book. Not here. I have been wondering about my novel “The Comic Book Code” (Stewie Griffin: “How’s that novel coming along, HMMMM?”). Specifically, should I back away from the Holy Grail thing? (Holly having Grail-type DNA, thus bringing superpowers into the world). I do love the line in Captain America when the Red Skull asks Cap, “What makes you so special,” and Cap says, “Nothing. I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.” But Holly grew out of my trying to write a satire of The DaVinci Code. I’m considering a dream sequence with a Jesus-and-Mary type couple (the guy looks like Wil Wheaton). I say to this movie: Thanks for making up my mind for me! I ain’t backing off. (P.S. Cal Critbert is atheist, and I ain’t backing off from that either, you Trumpy evangelical traitors! Nyah nyah nyah!)

What I did not care about

The actress being African American. Meg’s skin color was irrelevant. She was played by a fine actress, doing the best job she could with a flawed script. I liked her. I know this casting bent some racists out of shape, and thoughts like that keep me warm at night. But me? Like Stephen Colbert said in his Colbert Report days, I don’t see color!

Conclusion:

This movie is a huge improvement on the 2003 version. But flaws make characters interesting. Disney, wait several years and try again, and PLEASE keep Meg’s flaws next time. Like Super Holly, Meg is an angry and flawed geek, not a Mary Sue!

Captain Marvel and Super Holly: Let’s you and her fight!

I saw the Captain Marvel movie. Loved it, of course. But I wondered: who wins in a fight, Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers or Super Holly Hansson? (When two mightiest-of-the-mighty superheroes meet for the first time, they ALWAYS fight! But why?)

A FEW MILES AWAY FROM SOME CITY IN THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE. A FEW HUNDRED FEET STRAIGHT UP.

Captain Marvel wipes a drop of blood off her lips, thrusts her hands toward heavyweight-boxer-posed Super Holly hovering ten feet in front of her, and photon-blasts Holly’s up-arrow chest-logo! ZZZZAP!!!

Super Holly is knocked back fifty feet. “OW OW OW OW OWWWWW!!! That really STINGS!!!” She flies toward Captain Marvel, punching telekinetic-transparent blue bowling-ball fists onto Captain Marvel’s kisser! POW POW POW POW POW!!!

Captain Marvel says, “OOF OOF OOF OOF OOF!!!” and raises her fists just in time to parry Holly’s super right hook. But not Holly’s left uppercut: BIFF!!! Then Holly and Carol get close and personal.

POW POW POW POW!!! “Take it back, Captain Marbles!”

ZAP ZAP ZAP ZAP ZAP!!! “I have nothing to take back from you!”

“You know what you said!” PUNCH PUNCH KICK KICK PUNCH!!!

“I did not start this, but I shall end it!” PUNCH PUNCH FEINT HEADBUTT-KERRRRUNCH!!!

“OOOTCH!!!” Holly rubs her beaky nose and smiles with respect. “Good one! Your mommy teach you to fight dirty?”

Captain Marvel aims her glowing hands at Holly’s face. “No, your nose happens to be a big target! And I don’t remember my mother.”

Holly’s smile instantly vanishes. Her lips tremble. She blinks her big, liquid blue eyes. Her voice cracks: “You… you don’t? Nothing at all?”

Captain Marvel takes a closer look. “Holly? Are you crying?”

Holly wipes off a tear. “I lost my mommy and daddy when I was five. My Uncle Pops was a great father figure after that. But I miss my mommy every day. I do everything I can to hold onto the memories. That’s why I wear the strawberry lip gloss.” Another tear goes down Holly’s cheek. “My mommy smelled like strawberries.”

Carol lowers her glowing fists, and the glow fades out. “You poor thing.”

Holly floats closer. “No, you poor thing. You don’t even know what you’re missing.”

They hug. They sob. And they fly to the nearest coffee shop.

A TABLE AT A COFFEE SHOP PATIO.

Carol sips an iced coffee and laughs. “Harry Headbutt sounds like a hoot! We have a big hulking guy too, but he tries to be good. But does that Icy Guy always get the best of you?”

Holly slams down her third iced mocha, licks her lips, and smiles. “Ice Cream Guy. And somehow, he does. That Thanos guy sounds like a real tough customer.” Holly sighs. “Too bad I wasn’t around to help.”

Carol sips her coffee. “I would have welcomed that. In the fisticuff department, you’d have given him a run for his money.”

Holly laughs. “Yeah, it would have been fun to belt him in his big fat mouth right when he starts pontificating about genocidal righteousness. Why didn’t that idiot just double the resources?”

Carol swallows her coffee and cocks her head. “I should have asked him that. But defeating him would take more than super-strength. The power of his Infinity Glove would have been more than a match for you.”

Holly smirks. “Really? Hold up your right hand, kinda like you are about to snap your finger and erase me from existence.”

“Um, okay.” Carol raises her hand and prepares to snap her fingers. Then she smiles wickedly. “And now, with a snap, I shall erase you from—”

“Yoink!” Holly is holding her right hand up, and it is holding Carol’s glove. Holly is smiling wickedly.

Carol looks at her gloveless hand. And back to Holly. “Neat trick.”

Holly tries on the glove. “Hmm, a little small. All I did was right-hand pantomime my telekinesis into your glove, expand it, and yoink off the glove.”

Carol nods and giggles. “I would have loved to see the look on his big purple face.”

Holly hands back Carol’s glove. “Of course, Batman would have beaten Thanos. Batman’s the smart one.”

Carol waves her hand dismissively. “A guy in a bat suit? When there are lives at stake, I’ll fly that plane. Costumed wannabes should stay grounded.”

Steam blasts out Holly’s nose. She stands up, fists cocked and ready! “YOU TAKE THAT BACK!!!”

Carol stands up. “I’ll do no such thing! We should leave the battle to us soldiers, not to a guy in a Halloween—” BIFF!!!

Holly has her left hook cocked and ready! “Not so easy insulting my idol with a mouth full of knuckles, is it, Captain Marbles?”

Carol wipes a drop of blood off her lips and raises her glowing fists. “Punch me again, and I’ll put my photon blast in a place it is not supposed to be!”

And the fight is on. Again.