Black Widow and the Face of Family in the MCU

I’ve seen Black Widow!  Well, I guess a better way to put it is I keep seeing Black Widow ;).  It holds a special place in my heart.  Black Widow marks the return of two long running traditions.  My first showing on July 8th was the return of a Marvel movie opening night AND the return of seeing a movie after dinner on my birthday!  The latter is something I’ve done since high school but was naturally on hiatus last year as our local Covid lockdowns were in full force.  It felt so good to be back.  Each time I’ve seen it since, I’ve noticed how comforting it feels to be in a darkened theatre again and hear those pages flip as the Marvel logo appears on screen.  Black Widow is special for many reasons beyond my own traditions, too.  Scarlett Johansson FINALLY has her own solo film as Natasha Romanoff, a character she debuted in 2010’s Iron Man 2.  Yay!  And what a film it is.  It’s magnificent, one of the best within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Black Widow is the film Natasha (and Scarlett Johansson!) has always deserved.  I’d argue Natasha, more than any other character, best personifies the most important recurring message in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and this film illustrates all she is brilliantly.    

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Fascination and Frustration with the Loki Finale

Season One of Loki has come to a close and I have lots of feelings.  My relationship with Loki has been complicated from “go.”  The first episode left me with more concerns than intrigue, wondering about the direction they were taking the MCU’s overarching narrative.  The second episode setup so much!  It got me excited!  Maybe I was wrong!  Episode three was disconcerting as it was just filler.  Then comes four-five-six and I’ve been all over the board with how this show has made me feel.  Now, with the dust only beginning to settle, I wanted to explore my at-times-surprisingly visceral reaction to the end of Loki Season One.  MASSIVE SPOILERS for the Loki finale will follow.  A mass of FEELINGS will follow as well.  So tread carefully, based your comfort level with exposure to SPOILERS and my raging feels ;D.

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Spider-Man and Mockingbird: The Allure of the Workplace Romance

Welcome to the ninth installment in this li’l series using Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life)!  Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird is a scientific genius, Avenger, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and super spy whose relationship with Peter Parker would be a central part of Dan Slott’s final years writing The Amazing Spider-Man.  In Bobbi Morse, Peter found a witty, compassionate partner who could kick his ass and/or inspire him when he needed it.  Every bit as smart as Peter, she’d meet him in his brilliance and push him further.  As Mockingbird, she stood beside Spider-Man to face everything from Skrull invasions to Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign to the Zodiac terrorist attacks to Hydra takeovers.  Being a superhero herself, Bobbi could share Peter’s entire life.  Oh, and they worked together.  Which is good because, you know, nothing can ever go wrong when you date a coworker.

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Stream-of-Consciousness Loki Theorizing About the TVA and Variants

Am I doing this?  Am I writing a second post about Loki after the second episode?  Is this going to be a thing I do?  I don’t know what the future holds but for now…yeah, it totally is.  But it’s summer vacation!  I SURVIVED a year of pandemic teaching!  Now I can catch my breath, work on the book, and enjoy life…which includes watching, thinking, and (it would appear) writing about Loki.  Also, speculating and theorizing is part of the fun with new episodes dropping weekly!  The ideas in this post began with a comment Gemma (of Book Beach Bunny) left on my first post about Loki.  Then Krysta (of Pages Unbound) left a comment on that piece, too, which added more fuel to my contemplative fire.  Then Jeff and I spent like an hour on the phone after we both watched the second episode this morning considering everything we saw and discussing it in light of Gemma and Krysta’s comments.  Soooo…voila!  Here’s a new post.  But do you see what happened?!?  All these ideas began with comment thread discussions so maybe this post will lead to new ideas to obsess over until the next episode comes out!  Also this will have MAJOR SPOILERS for episode two of Loki so read on only if a) you’ve seen it or b) are ok with MAJOR SPOILERS.

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Loki and Questions of the MCU’s Multiverse

I just watched the first episode of Loki and decided to sit down and write about it.  This NEVER happens for me!  Normally I’ve too many thoughts to order as I write or life is too busy to go from reading/viewing to writing to posting or both.  Either way, here we are :).  I didn’t go into Loki planning to write about it.  But as I watched several serious questions began swirling around in my head.  And I figured, “What the Hel?  Just write.”  So here we are.  If you’ve not seen it, I won’t discuss any major surprises but I’ll be exploring the basic plot setup and the questions it’s presentation of the multiverse gives us.  Coolio?  Coolio.  Let’s jump into all the first episode of Loki gives us to consider about the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s concept of the multiverse, shall we?

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Black Widow: A Comic Book Retrospective – ‘10 through ‘20

I DID IT.  I DID IT.  It took me three years but I read over 300 comics and have successfully walked through all fifty-seven years of Black Widow’s comic history!  Natasha Romanoff has gone from a character I was familiar with from Avengers comics and team-up stories to one of the comic characters I know best of all.  I AM SO HAPPY I DID THIS!  Now, with a month left until Black Widow finally hits theatres, I’m examining the stories marking Natasha’s journeys from 2010-2020.  As usual, kudos goes to Kiri (of Star Wars Anonymous) for casually asking if Black Widow was ever blonde in the comics (she was! see ’00-’10) waaay back when the Avengers: Infinity War trailer came out and kudos to my over-committing parts for deciding to read everything from Natasha’s first appearance in Tales of Suspense #52 (1964) up through Web of Black Widow (2019-20) instead of just googling it.

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A Doctor of Kindness: Doctor Who and a Universal Ethic

So…I may have a problem buying sonic screwdrivers.  I’m not going to say how much I’ve spent but I will openly say I’ve purchased eight.  But they’re worth it because I almost always have one on me and I almost always point them at any light as I turn it on or off.  Regardless of the financial cost, my life is obviously immeasurably better being able to do this.  On more than one occasion, while waving a sonic around at work, a student has asked if it was a lightsaber (an understandable mistake as a) Doctor Who isn’t as big in America as Star Wars and b) they know I love Star Wars).  I explain that, no, it isn’t a lightsaber.  It’s much better.  A lightsaber is a weapon, the sonic screwdriver a tool.  One has the potential to dismember and kill (which it’s often used for); the other to analyze, augment, and repair (which it’s always used for).  When it comes to heroes, I’ll take the Doctor over the Jedi ten times out of ten.  Early this schoolyear a student posed a question – If I had to pick just one fictional universe to enjoy for the rest of my life would I choose Marvel, Star Wars, or Doctor Who?  The answer was surprisingly simple.  There are many reasons I’d choose Doctor Who but the most important is the way the Doctor moves through space and time, always modeling an ethic of kindness and sowing the seeds of hope across creation.

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Thor the God of the Unworthy – Reframing the God of Thunder

Jason Aaron’s time writing Thor – from Thor: God of Thunder to Thor to The Mighty Thor to Thor (again) to War of the Realms to King Thor – produced the defining version of the character.  No one, at least in my humble opinion, has ever done more with Thor nor understood the character, their world, and its theological fertility more than Jason Aaron.  Jane Foster lifting Mjölnir to become Thor herself was the heart of Aaron’s run.  But for that to happen, Thor Odinson had to find himself unable to lift the hammer.  This idea – the idea of Thor being unworthy – ties together much of what Aaron did.  Its seeds were sown in his very first arc, as Thor faced the brutality of Gorr the God Butcher.  Its actualization would lead to Jane lifting Mjölnir and becoming the mightiest Thor and the greatest of all the gods.  Its effects would culminate in Thor Odinson’s climactic battle with Malekith the Accursed during the War of the Realms and it would shape the sort of king Thor would become.

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the Weight of the Shield

I just finished the third episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and I’ve had a question bouncing around in my head since the first episode.  It never once occurred to me reading about these characters in comic books but it rises when you place them within the nature and structure of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The piece will have light plot spoilers for the first three episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Solider so if you’ve not seen any of it and you don’t want anything spoiled, feel free to click away now.  I enjoyed your visit!  If you don’t mind light spoilers, then by all means read on.  You do you :D.  With that being said, this piece will consider the question of the emotional and moral weight of trying to carry Captain America’s shield once Steve Rogers himself is gone.

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Spider-Man and Michele Gonzales: Hook-Ups, Hang Ups, and Bad Habits

I never would’ve guessed when I started this series it would hit an eighth installment.  What can I say?  Peter Parker’s dated a lot of women.  This series explores the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life) using only Spider-Man comics.  Michele Gonzales is an interesting chapter in Peter’s romantic history, as his roommate-turned-drunken-hook-up.  Yet the one night stand isn’t what’s most unique about Michele in regard to Peter.  Of all the women in his life, Michele Gonzales absolutely refuses to ever take any of his shit.  Granted, plenty of women have called Peter out, held him accountable, and challenged his negligence.  But Michele does so from the beginning, never accepting a single one of Peter’s lame excuses.  She knows what she’s worth.  She knows what a healthy partner and/or good person should be.  She has no time for bullshit or games.  And I love her for it!!  Peter’s baggage and bad habits kept them from becoming a couple yet, in that, Michele and Peter’s flirtationship reminds us of what we may be missing out on when we fail to own and address our own issues.

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