Geeky kids

Weak Storytelling and Mishaps for Marvel

I received an ask on my tumblr asking me if I saw that Steve Rogers was now and always has been Hydra according to new canon. I’m angry enough about this topic to come out of my hiatus to rant.

I’m completely and utterly disappointed in this “new twist” on the Captain America canon, essentially rewriting everything that came before it. This move falls into the [does something dramatic and controversial for shock value] arena of poor writing. I know it’s poor writing, because I’ve written a plot twist in a novel and questioned it every day since. Luckily, the novel isn’t available and I can rewrite my mistakes, and the character isn’t a beloved symbol of good and an example of humble greatness.

The new development was discussed in an interview with Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort by TIME magazine. Marvel writer Nick Spencer apparently pitched the idea, and for the 75th anniversary of our man Steve, there was to be a shocking twist: a good guy was actually a member of a Nazi-adjacent evil organization. This whole time?! This whole time. But why is this a bad thing? From the the representation the character has and how beloved he is, to the concept and timing, it’s bad all around. It’s a recycled story line; they already did this with Ward in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and with the S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra agents in Winter Soldier. It’s a concept for the character that is neither compelling or coherent in thought. Like the killing characters off for shock value trope that has become a tiring staple, this twist is no longer a twist or a continuation of established canon – it’s awkward, offensive, and kind of fucked up. Some people simply don’t care and don’t understand why the outrage. Their response is shrug, big deal, it’ll be forgotten in a few months, but the reaction of people who love the character has been a resounding Fuck This, and I’m obviously in this camp.

[Note: I’m most definitely not in the send death threats to the writer camp either – please don’t do that. That’s more than unhelpful, does not prove any point, and is wrong. Steve Rogers would be ashamed of you.]

Why is this fictional character’s negative characterization so upsetting to me? Just his week, I explained to my oldest what “Hail Hydra” meant and why I didn’t want to hear him saying it again. He actually hung his head in shame the second I mentioned the link from Hydra to the Nazi party, and he’s only ten. He understands Nazi atrocities and what they represent. I hugged him and reassured him that he wasn’t in trouble, and that sometimes we do things we don’t know are offensive because we don’t know the meaning. When you do know the negative meaning of something, whether a symbol or phrase or action, and still perpetuate it,  then you’re an asshole. To hit me a little harder in the gut, I have been hand-painting a Captain America shirt and making a shield for my youngest’s Cap cosplay for Denver Comic Con. He’s eight, and Steve Rogers is his hero. So yeah, it does feel personal.

If this isn’t some bad idea for publicity gone incredibly wrong, it’s an amateurish, gimmicky plot twist that weakens the Marvel brand – a poor move, especially with the MCU being where it is right now. As fans are begging for female driven comics and diversity, excited about Black Panther coming to the big screen, and questioning why the Captain Marvel movie keeps getting pushed back while slipping in yet another Spider-Man reboot and an Ant-Man sequel (but we’re getting the Wasp so…), this only adds to the negativity regarding actions the profit-driven studio heads (i.e. the “women don’t sell toysIron Man 3 fiasco). Creating outrage on social media by disappointing fans equals dollars right? And that’s why we’re here…right? #WeWin.

If they’re doing this story line to avoid Captain America going after the Big Bad of the world at the moment (ISIS) like he was created to do with Hitler, that’s weak. I’m sure if that’s the angle, they would argue that it would cause greater Islamophobia (despite the fact that intelligent people realize that Muslims do not equate to ISIS and the same could be said for the first installments of Cap back in ’41), but how is Steve Rogers being on the side of the anti-semitic Hydra helpful at all when you have a xenophobic “leader” like Donald Trump running for president? Steve Rogers was created by Jewish men (Joe Simon and Jack Kirby) to fight Nazis. He controversially punched Hitler in the jaw before the United States even entered World War II. He questioned his government and its overreaching practices over the years. He is an example of what it means to be on the side that tries to do what’s morally right despite opposition – whether that is internal struggles or fighting against a world power vying for domination and promoting genocide – and to want what’s best for the people of a nation you love.

As the daughter of a Veteran, the wife of a Veteran, and a Veteran myself, patriotism has been gently instilled in me since I was a child, so I know how much a patriotic character with a moral compass means to kids – and how horrible it is to see the needless destruction of heroes when we so desperately need goodness. A rough lesson in how not all “good guys” are great men is one thing; taking a hero like Steve Rogers and making him Hydra – on the 75th anniversary of his creation, close to Memorial Day, and during Jewish American Heritage Month –  is frankly gross.  Watch the special that recounts the history of the character and how people feel about Steve Rogers and tell me this Steve is Hydra! story is a remotely good idea, let alone makes sense for the character, whether in the comics or in the cinematic universe.

Steve Rogers being Hydra goes against everything that the character was created for and fought against for his 75 years of existence. This feels not only like bad writing and poor creative choices, but like a terrible publicity stunt that is working – it’s certainly got everybody talking.

TL;DR – Making a ‘Steve Rogers is Hydra’ story line is utter bullshit, but that’s just one fan’s insignificant opinion.

Of Motherhood and Geeky Children

I had a strange day today.

I’m not sure what happened, because my day was not supposed to turn out this way. I had a simple goal – go to Target, pick up spinach. My awesome children I affectionately call the Oldest and the Youngest are on their last day of winter break. Remembering they had gift cards from Christmas, they ran upstairs and came back down already plotting what they were going to buy. The Youngest immediately tried to find a Spider Man Infinity figure for Xbox 360 that has been eluding us for months (when we remember to look), and the Oldest who has been saving for the Lego Imperial Star Destroyer came across something that made him forget about it completely. X-Wings are his favorite, and in the display box was Poe’s X-Wing fighter. It was $30 more than what he had on the gift card, but he was willing to give up his Imperial Star Destroyer money for this. Alas, it was out of stock. The Youngest found an Avengers Lego set that he immediately clung to while I tracked down a Target employee to find out if they had any on the way. No dice. But, we were assured a Target six miles down the road had four. Jumping in the car with the Youngest still holding his new Lego set and so excited he now had all the Avenger Lego characters (“Black Widow! Finally!”), I drove through lunch-hour traffic to get to the Target With The Thing.

At the store, the Oldest walked behind me, humming the Star Wars music as we searched for the toy aisle in this unfamiliar Target. We turned the corner and saw the X-Wing display, but again, no set. I found an employee who was very helpful and found that no, they didn’t have any, and definitely not the four we had been assured of. New shipments were going out and mistakes happen. She found the nearest one to us, another six miles away, that had three in stock. She asked if she needed to call and hold one for us, but I thought that surely if we drove straight there we would be fine and she didn’t need to be troubled with it.

Thanks to Google Maps I found the Target in a part of town I hadn’t been in, and we raced to the toy section, the Oldest so excited. This time, this time we were going to find it. He hummed the Star Wars theme even more enthusiastically, less of a hum, more of a DUUUUUUUUUUUUUNDUN DUHDUNDUHDUUUUUUNDUN at normal volume as we made our way through the aisles. I could see the disappointment in his face when we walked down the Lego aisle and there was no X-Wing.

I asked a Target employee if I could steal him for a moment, and after finding out that there were three in the store somewhere, they were refitting their toy section and the boxes and boxes of toys on carts at the end of each aisle told me that we weren’t going to find it. To his credit, the employee went through a few boxes, had a stack fall on him because I couldn’t catch them in time, and none of the ones he opened had Star Wars Legos. Bless all of the Target employees that politely helped me today, sans makeup and looking as exhausted as I felt with two kids in tow sporting faces that were a combination of excitedly anxious and let down.

The defeat was strong with this trip, but the Oldest shrugged and said he’d just not get anything today and would wait until we found one in stock after joking about going to seven more stores to make it an even ten. On the way home while the boys discussed who their favorite Doctor was (Ten is the general consensus), I couldn’t believe that I’d driven twenty miles away from the house just to find a Lego set. I never do that kind of thing. But his enthusiasm was infectious, and that is something I recognize. It wasn’t a whiny I want this so bad and I want it now! from a ten year old, but an I am so into this and it would be amazing if I could put this together and I’m willing to wait to get it kind of thing. And as they started weighing how much they missed Rose Tyler over Amy Pond and if they liked Nine or Twelve better, I realized that he hasn’t even seen the new Star Wars. He has Darth Vader everything, got the original trilogy for Christmas, and loves Star Wars probably more than anything else he’s ever gotten into, including Doctor Who, but I haven’t been able to take him to see the new movie.

If it doesn’t come back in stock soon, maybe we should get a theater gift card with his Target Gift Card and go to the movies.

Update:

Four days after this post was made, we receive a mysterious box in the mail.

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Huge thank you to @mercymegaming. You’re unbelievable.