The Kinks – Supersonic Rocket Ship: MARVEL Music Monday

Welcome To New Asgard!

Move aside, there, Lebowski!” – Tony Stark

Thor: “Do you know what is coursing through my veins right now?”

James Rhodes: “Cheez Whiz?”

 

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Avengers: Endgame – The Bradscribe Review

Dread It. Run From It. The Bradscribe Review Arrives All The Same.

And Now It’s Here.

“Unconquerable brilliance takes Marvel to new heights… an irresistible blend of action and comedy, guaranteeing a sugar rush of delirious enjoyment” – Peter Bradshaw. 

This is the end, beautiful friend…

In a movie that is the culmination of eleven years and over twenty movies, thus transcending the rules and expectations of the superhero movie genre, where the whole objective is to conclude all super-business in a convincing and compelling closure, AND fire decisive repulsor-rayblasts to your mind, heart and – hoo-boy! – tear ducts, where do we begin?!

Tony Stark is marooned in space with the daughter of the fiend who fatally slew him; where do the original Avengers – survivors of the Snaptastrophe – go from here?

To undo the Mad Titan’s wrongdoings, and try and restore some sorta semblance of order back to the universe, before you can say: “TREE! Help me find the handle!” they have constructed a “machine” that can transport what’s left of the cast into their respective subplots…

And to that end, as expected, the following three hours deliver on so many winning levels in the best way possible. 

The only way.

The MARVEL way! 🙂

“The only complaint is that it raises the bar so high that there may well never be a superhero movie to match it…” – Matthew Norman. 

PHOOEY to those critics who dared slate this gargantuan cinematic swansong as “preposterous”(!)

Look, this is a comicbook movie fer cake’s sake, where fans don’t bat an eyelid at such Stark Raving Hazelnuts stuff as a talking raccoon, a wizard’s cloak that has a mind of its own and a giant Peter Dinklage. 

One can appreciate how (the best of) these MCU movies have been created by comicbook buffs who not only know how crazy, clever and cosmic these stories can be, but understand how they work. Essentially, Avengers: Endgame has been (ahem) assembled in such a meticulous, but oh so MARVELous way that it looks – and works – like a remastered Greatest Hits compilation, with a handful of iconic scenes from the last eleven years – including familiar faces we thought we’d never see again! – lovingly spliced in to add an always-welcome tinge of nostalgia to that unfailingly spectacular eleven-year mix of action, drama and humour. 

Moreover, this time, we are presented with an unprecedented, but irresistibly intriguing premise in a superhero movie: 

failure, and how (what’s left of) the team deal with that. 

Just when you think the First Act would dissolve into something too morose to handle, and drag a tad, once again – thankfully! – writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are at the top of their (end)game, providing one of the best scripts of the year (and not to mention, as reliable as ever, a hefty wodge of rad quotable lines! 😉 )

The depleted number of protagonists means that Avengers: Endgame offers closer attention to character study, and even sends some of their story-arcs down paths that were (dare we say it!) hitherto undreamt of. One of them in particular highly uncharacteristically crawls into a bottle (Clue: it’s NOT Ant-Man).

At the end of the day, it’s so cool to discover that – like your fav cake-scoffing blogger 😉 – Clint is just as badass with a blade as he is with a bow.

Oh, and speaking of cool, that much-anticipated Stan Lee cameo is – how we remember The Man – real classy!

“We won’t talk about the technobabble inelegantly cited in a bid to hold it all together – the equivalent of taking out an airplane’s jackscrews and replacing them with bubblegum” – Ed Whitfield: The Ooh Tray. 

At three hours and one minute, this is the longest MCU instalment; kudos to its directors: Anthony and Joe Russo for not letting the pace slip at all, not once, during these epic proceedings. Against all odds, Avengers: Endgame manages to be a worthy and thoroughly enjoyable successor to Avengers: Infinity War.

However, once that sheer exhilaration settles down and those critical faculties kick in, a few niggles pop up preventing me from bestowing it the full quota of five perfectly balanced stars. 

The biggest drawback here happens to be the biggest character: despite having a few cool scenes, Thanos is inevitably relegated to formulaic antagonist.

When Captain Larson shows up at Avengers HQ, nestling the Benatar on their front lawn, there are no gawps or gasps from Steve and co. Obviously, this universe is positively heaving with enhanced individuals of one sort or another, so “New Girl” is allowed to hang around the base, no questions asked, until the moment the script has no further need for her she has to skedaddle to some distant planet to… do something for no discernible reason… She eventually returns, making a brief, but blistering impact during the Final Act which, incidentally, looks far too cluttered and chaotic. All in all, Captain Marvel’s appearance in this movie was not substantial or integral enough to have warranted her own lousy movie almost two months ago.

Personally, last year’s masterpiece – with its towering (and harrowing) central performance, a truly Mighty Marvel Team-Up in the unexpected groovy forms of Thor and Rocket, moon-throwing and THAT unforgettable ending – seared a more indelible mark on my memory, but this is still an incredibly engrossing piece of work, and provides a fitting finale to this frenetic franchise. 

When The BIG Bradscribe MCU Countdown is due to be revised shortly, Avengers: Endgame should be riding high in the Top 10. It deserves to snap out of existence all box office records; after only three days, it’s officially become the Highest Grossing Movie Of All Time. 

The enormous, exciting, and – oh yes – emotional effects have proved remarkable, and will surely never end – this really feels like the blockbuster to end all blockbusters.

Therefore, yours truly takes this opportunity to announce The End of my forty years of cinema-going. Let’s face it: during the next ten – perhaps twenty – years, methinks it probably unlikely that we will ever experience a movie, bigger, bolder or better than this…

At the very least, watching Avengers: Endgame is infinitely preferable to being stuck in a flying doughnut billions of miles from Earth with no backup…

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

“I like this one.”

 

“We like very propulsive storytelling. We like to keep it tight and focused, and to give the audience a thrill ride. No one’s been pushing us to cut the film… we’re primarily pushing ourselves” – Anthony Russo. 

 

“I Wouldn’t Say No To A Tuna Melt”: What Can We Expect From Avengers: Endgame?!

Eyes Up. Stay Sharp.

 

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN POTENTIAL SPOILERS

“The world has changed, and none of us can go back. All we can do is our best, and sometimes the best that we can do is to start over” – Peggy Carter. 

“This is the Asgardian refugee vessel Statesman. We are under assault! I repeat, we are under assault. The engines are dead, life support failing. Requesting aid from any vessel within range. We are 22 jump points out of Asgard. Our crew is made up of Asgardian families. We have very few soldiers here. This is not a warcraft. I repeat, this is not a warcraft!” 

Accompanied by such a moody score from Alan Silvestri, wow, methinks, this IS already turning out to be a masterpiece. And we haven’t even got past the MARVEL STUD10S logo yet(!)

After 59 viewings of this movie, it’s still unbelievable as to how all narrative threads of Avengers: Infinity War link up so effectively. 

So it was MARVELous news to learn that Avengers: Endgame will once again be written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and directed by those groovy fellas: the Russo Brothers – arguably the ideal creative team for such a Mad Titan-sized project.  

Naturally, the chances of the Russo Brothers revealing ANY plot-point is – as you would expect – as unlikely as Brad having any chance of ever managing to lift Mjolnir.

That’s fine. Chris Evans summed it up perfectly: “Marvel really wants to make sure that their stuff is the way movies used to be,” he said, when interviewed on the Infinity War set. “It used to be that the first you heard of a movie was the trailer. You know what I mean…? It was all discovery and mystery and reveals. That was the fun of movies for me, at least as a kid. So I think Marvel does a good job of prioritising that.”

Such was the almost-insane level of security, Chris was one of the few members of the gargantuan cast to receive a COMPLETE script. Printouts of each day’s dialogue had to be shredded straight after use; fake scenes were even written just to bamboozle potential party-poopers; and when it came to the Big Twist (i.e. half of the cast being written out) those closing moments were NEVER written anyway.

The production team had to go break it, verbally, to that unlucky 50%, that the big purple guy had WON…

“You could not live with your own failure, and where did that bring you? Back to me” – Thanos. 

“Chin there, done that…” 

Rocket Raccoon: “This is Thanos we’re talking aboutHe’s the toughest there is.”

Thor: “Well, he’s never fought me.”

Rocket Raccoon: “Yeah, he has.”

Thor: “He’s never fought me twice.”

“It was very flattering,” Anthony Russo explained, reacting to news that the once-in-a-generation stunning climax to Infinity War has been described as the 21st century’s equivalent of The Empire Strikes Back’s cliffhanger. “We were diehard fans of Empire Strikes Back. It’s our favourite Star Wars movie.”

You see?! TOLD YOU they were groovy fellas 😉

Empire’s iconic twist had a profound effect on them – especially the moment in which Lord Vader lops Luke’s hand off. In every MCU instalment, at least one character is guaranteed to lose a hand; a macabre bunch of Marvel fans have tried to predict who will be the next unfortunate victim of this grisly regularity in Endgame. 

“Agan, one of the great licences that you have with serialised storytelling in cinema is that you can take the narrative to places that an individual, standalone film can’t,” Anthony Russo continued. “That’s one thing we always committed to in Infinity War: telling a story that was not going to go to a conventional place, and it was going to go to a difficult place. And trusting that the audience was ready for that kind of experience with those characters.” 

Speaking of taking the narrative to other places, as a quantum weirdness buff, the prospect of the remaining Avengers utilizing quantum gubbins to somehow undo the Snaptastrophe could not make me squeal with delight any louder. 

Watch this multidimensional space…

“Even if there’s a small chance. We owe this, to everyone who’s not in this room, to try” – Natasha Romanoff.

“It’s not about how much we lost. It’s about how much we have left. We’re the Avengers. We gotta finish this. You trust me?” – Tony Stark.

“The fact that they could break these two stories and make them as different as they are – to me, in the history of all the writing I’ve ever seen, it’s the single greatest story-breaking achievement,” Robert Downey Jr. remarked on the Infinity War set.

There is something about the original Iron Man movie that has been bugging me forever. And it wsn’t until a recent rewatch that it suddenly struck me – as decisive as any of Shellhead’s repulsor rayblasts.

Consider the very first glimpse we get of Tony. No, it’s not a view of Tony’s mug, but a close-up of his hand holding a drink glass.

Look at the way he’s holding it. Photoshop the glass out and it looks like he is… ready to snap his fingers…

The oldest Easter Egg in the MCU and nobody noticed. Maybe it’s Stark’s destiny to wield the gauntlet in the Last Roundand snap Thanos out of existence…? 

But hey! 

Don’t listen to me.

Tried to predict the contents of Peter’s Awesome Mixtape Vol.2 and only got 1.5 out of 14 right. Perhaps that is the reason why most of my Followers have now drifted away… (Better not brood over this or Brad will start to look as miserable as Thor in the Endgame trailer – oh Lord (of Thunder), hope he gets a chance to shine in this movie. Still reckon that he and Rocket should get their own groovy movie together. “Cool? Cool.” “So cool!”).

No matter how adamantly the writers and directors stipulate that these are two very separate films, Infinity War and Endgame were conceived and written concurrently, with the story framework set out during the last quarter of 2015, and the scripts developed during the first five months of 2016. 

“Without being able to reveal anything about Endgame,” Markus explains, “They’re very different movies structurally and tonally.” 

One has mainly stayed away from the ever-trundling rumour-mill, but it would be amazing to see the likes of the Ancient One, or Hela – and Loki, of course! 😉 – make dramatic returns to the MCU.

One amusing story in paticular caught my attention: In the last few weeks, a growing number of fans have been speculating – all over again – that the golden boy himself: Adam Warlock will be The One to save Tony and Nebula! With uncertainty surrounding the prospects of a Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3, stories of Adam’s cinematic debut being pushed discretely forward naturally gained pace. As integral to the Infinity saga (in the comics) as Thanos he may be, even this fanboy readily accepts that no matter how groovy this prospect sounds, Adam’s appearance in this movie remains, alas, highly unlikely. 

Even with the characters-who-survived-the-Snap, chances for the already-dense 181-minute running time being staggered further by any new faces popping up also seem remote.

Or are they…? 

Peter Quill: “The Avengers?”

Thor: “The Earth’s mightiest heroes.”

Mantis: “Like Kevin Bacon?”

Thor: “He may be on the team. I don’t know, I haven’t been there in a while.”

“There will be great stakes for the characters,” Joe Russo warns.

There will be consequences, both brothers have advised.

Whilst it his been said that Infinity War was the brawn, Endgame will be the brains.

Oh, and the heart. A heckuva lotta heart.

If you thought last year’s epic brought on more emotional intensity than you thought mentally and physically possible, expect this year’s jawdropper to crank up the feels even further. So make sure to bring lots an’ lotsa tissues…

God, it seems like a thousand years ago since that playboy-billionaire-philanthropist-quip-dispenser fought his way out of that cave…

The most persistent speculation concerning Endgame plot-points involves Steve Rogers making the ultimate sacrifice. Indeed, Chris Evans’ emotional last-day-on-set tweet implied his departure from the franchise here.

But does it have to mean the death of Steve?  

The trailer indicated that these two valiant characters will, at last, reconcile after the almost-calamitous fallout from Civil War; personally, that would be one of my top moments to expect.

And it will come just in time. 

My instincts regrettably inform me that we will have to bid, instead, a heartrending farewell to Tony Stark. 

Throwing in my ten-satangs-worth – ’tis, after all, MY blog, by Jove! – during the inevitably edge-of-yer-seat finale, it looks like Steve is a goner, but Tony will step in – at the last minute – and pay the ultimate price. Wracked by post-Snap torment, this demise in particular sends Steve over the edge, and makes him secretly commandeer the time-bending technology (that everybody saus will feature prominently in this movie) so he can “escape” back to the ’40s.

And get to have that date – and a life! – with Peggy. A less morbid, more tender, denouement to the Cap’s story-arc – still going to play havoc on everybody’s tear-ducts though! 

That is how this ol’ sentimental boobie would have written it…

Let’s hope we can still expect some mirthful moments amidst these seemingly morose proceedings. Heck, if we can hear rib-ticklers as classic as: “Dude, you’re embarrassing me in front of the wizards” then it should be mighty fine and dandy! Expect Markus and McFeely to supply an engrossing narrative and deft dialogue; expect the Russo Brothers at the helm to tighten the pace and proceedings by smacking our gobs (and not numbing our bums).

But most of all, dear friends: 

expect the unexpected from this Endgame(-changer). 

Allfather, let the Marvel Magic flow through us one last time…

ASSEMBLE all these elements in the right, awesome order and Brad will certainly be ONE VERY HAPPY BUNNY!!

“The rabbit is correct and clearly the smartest among you” – Thor.

 

“I know I said no more surprises, but I was really hoping to pull off one last one…” – Tony Stark.

 

UVB76 – SG1: Manic Music Monday

Part Of The Journey Is The End.

When I drift off, I will dream about you. It’s always you” – Tony Stark. 

 

Some people in this galaxy DON’T dig Marvel movies. 0_0

But not us…

Not us! 

Before unleashing my Review next week, this chattering animal will be posting – midweek – a few thoughts on the soon-to-be-revealed Avengers: Endgame, so hope you can join me for that!

Ha ha! We all wondered how we would manage to wait a whole year to find out how this monumental story arc could come to a satisfying MARVELous denouement – now we are only DAYS away.

So this is it? It’s all been leading to this…

 

“Oh My God! I should’ve stayed on the bus…” – Peter Parker.

 

Magic Sword – In The Face Of Evil: MARVEL Music Monday

Here We Go!

“So much has happened since I last saw you! I lost my hammer, like yesterday, so that’s still fresh. Then I went on a journey of self-discovery. Then I met you” – Thor. 

 

This live set by Brad’s new fav band: Magic Sword was performed in Phoenix, Arizona on 19 October 2016, about a few months before this track appeared on the trailer for

Thor: Ragnarok. 

Enjoy! 

 

“Mmm mmm mmm, he’s wonderful. It is a he…?” – The Grandmaster.  

 

Captain Marvel: The Toxic Avenger

We Found Her And We Weren’t Even Looking…

captain-marvel-90s-movie-explosion-scene-official-trailer-2018-09-18

“This is an… odd superhero action movie… There’s an eccentric splurge of tonal registers from boomingly serious to quirkily droll… A lovable cat makes an important appearance…” – The Guardian.  

Imagine my nightmare. If you can…

Stuck in a packed cinema, trying to keep awake during the latest MCU instalment. Amidst a rather bland action scene – in space – one of the most annoying pop songs in living memory – by that eternally-detestable combo: No Doubt, no less! – starts to play.

Yes, it did make my one good eye roll.

No, it did NOT put a smile on my face…

You know, Bradman is NOT one to skedaddle from a battle, but in this case, the urge to split almost consumed me. 

Moreover, to compound the no-good-niggles tormenting my throbbing bonce, the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi throttled my mind: 

“I’m getting too old for this sort of shit…” 

‘0 _ 0’

After the jaw-dropping brilliance that was Avengers: Infinity War it seemed pointless going into Captain Marvel with any expectations. Nevertheless, confidence that we would get another top quality comicbook movie package remained fairly high. 

The plot is your basic “origins” tale: Nick “Two-Eyes” Fury teams up with The Cat From Outer Space and they set out on a quest to find the memory of The Woman Who Fell To Earth, with the Jude Law and the Kree Order in hot pursuit.

Okey-dokey, methinks, so far, so groovy. 

But…

Before you can say: “Higher, further, faster, baby!” it descends into a dismal display of bland performances, incoherent narrative and some of the most lame and lacklustre lines heard in a long while…

And don’t get me started about the Skrulls: those nefarious shapeshifting aliens who look here like Trekkie cosplayers. 

Quite naff Trekkie cosplayers…

Rather than the despicable race as depicted in the comics, the BIG twist here is that they are the repressed refugees of the galaxy. And we’re supposed to empathise with them? Don’t you know what they say? “Keep your friends close, your Skrulls closer.” DON’T listen to them, Carol – IT’S A TRAP…

And just why on C-53 is Ben Mendelsohn trying to do an Andy Serkis impersonation…?!

“Oh Captain, my Captain. There’s not enough on the page… It’s only two hours long and they kind of rushed through it…” – Double Toasted. 

It comes as absolutely no surprise to learn that Roy Thomas – legendary Marvel writer who co-created Carol Danvers in 1968 – felt less than impressed with this movie.

“Actually, the one thing I really hated in the film was turning the Skrulls into a peace-loving race, with the Kree as the heavies.” he said in a recent interview. “As far as I am concerned, as the principal conceptualizer of the Kree/Skrull War, (and I suspect Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would agree with me) the Skrulls and the Kree are each as bad as each other, as they say. Having the Skrulls all mushy and family-friendly at the end left a bad taste in my mouth…”

The only aspect to please him was thus: “Still, Yon-Rogg turned out to be appropriately vile, and that’s all well and good.” 

What about those 12-year old girls this film so desperately tried to impress and inspire? Incidentally, the number of that demographic in the audience at my screening could be counted on the “fingers” of MY gauntlet. And they looked bored to tears…

Wire sued Elastica for stealing their riff from Three Girl Rhumba. Nirvana lifted the bass-line from Killing Joke’s Eightites, which in turn “borrowed” from The Damned’s Life Goes On, and – hey! – here’s me slouching (nay, yawning!) in the middle of the latest MCU movie with my concentration drifting into such mundane musical matters, particularly wondering which alternative Kurt Cobain song would have sufficed instead, if at all…!

Sheesh! 

Is it any wonder that the only scene to actually move me happened to be the heartfelt tribute to Stan Lee over the Marvel logo? And the only cool scene was, of course, his cameo. He’s reading the script to Mallrats (also released in 1995), in which you can find the most extensive cameo of his illustrious acting career. 

Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck have never made a comicbook movie before and, quite clearly, it shows. The montage of flashbacks from Carol’s early life are so fragmentary and ever-so-minimally informative (not helped by Skrull scientists jabbering over each clip!) that they look confusing, almost to the point of annoyance. 

Imagine what a dramatic improvement we would have if allowed to see that key moment in the comics in which teenage Carol rebels against her overbearing Dad and walks out. 

There should be a terrific performance by Lashana Lynch, as Carol’s best pal: Maria Rambeau, but, there again, the shoddy script deprives Maria’s role the chance to really shine. Moreover, the 1st Act needed a bonding moment between them – it would have instilled the emotional resonance this movie so sorely lacked. 

The fact that three writers were involved proves yet again how:

The more names involved in concocting a major studio movie script = the more incoherent that script becomes.

Again, is this really the MCU we are dealing with here…?!

“They really tried to cram it all in… boring, generic, by-the-book, which is unfortunate for Marvel’s fist female-lead movie” – Medium Popcorn. 

“Packed with action! Humour! And visual thrills!! With an origin story that makes effective use of the franchise’s signature formula!” 

Uff, well, that’s a loada’ cobblers…

Allow me to suggest (mercifully briefly!why this movie is regarded as  “good, but not great.”

Apart from the obvious observation that Larson lacks charisma, consider how Captain Marvel is supposed to be an origins story. Despite countless versions of this theme – some produced, remarkably well, within the MCU itself over this past decade! – the only spectacular revelation to be had here is the way it fails in this regard.

Bafflingly, the core of this movie is mysteriously bereft of a hero(ine)’s journey, so no revelation, atonement, redemption, or moral/ethical self-discovery. 

Wow, she had no misdeeds and failings to rectify; no life-changing lessons to learn; no knowledge to attain; no challenges to overcome; therefore, we feel no curiosity or compulsion to follow what happens to her. Subjected to the full blast of the Kree core engine does not count as a “personal transformation.”

Ultimately, this is all a meaningless spectacle. 

Always appreciated the origins story of Marvel’s other Cap: the classic, compelling Captain America: First Avenger. Where was the stirring equivalent “world doesn’t need a perfect soldier, but a good man,” speech amidst this mess? We waited and waited again for something other than a perfect Power Lady (so she doesn’t need to learn great responsibility either, yay!) but the real good – i.e. relatable, compassionate, etc. – Carol Danvers failed to show up…

Yeah, but wasn’t Goose purrrfect?! 

No.

When the “cat” freaks out, tentacles an’ all, it suddenly felt like a Men In Black movie – truly, one of the most abhorrent experiences anybody could suffer in a cinema…

Can’t get over the fact that the script is unbelievably inept. The dialogue is so clunky – Captain Clunky!

Despite having the “Supreme intelligence” onboard, there are too many dumb moments; considering all that flying: in jets, spaceships or just as herself, her “character” never gets off the ground…

This blog has been honed to practice (and hopefully perfect) my story-telling skills, for when my movie/TV breakthrough eventually comes my humble way. And yet this esteemed gig goes to…

this gaggle of amateurs…?!

Behold: the Plight of the Livid Brad?

Not at all.

Yours truly is too tired to generate any antipathy towards anyone or anything these days. So to read about these ignorant trolls wasting their energies – and our time – spewing their, quite frankly, pathetic Caps-Lock-laden rants at something they haven’t even bothered to watch(!) makes for the most bewildering behaviour.

Have reached that stage in my life whereby the race, sex – or even sexual orientation – of a character has become irrelevant, how that character is developed (or not!) however, means everything to me. 

“The film may be about women breaking their shackles, but the lead actress feels kept in check for much of the picture. Humor winds up being provided by Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury, heart by Lashana Lynch’s Maria Rambeau, and pathos by…well, it ain’t Larson” – San Diego Reader. 

Having watched her in a couple of TV promotional interviews, Brie Larson comes across as witty and charming, so it’s a shame that “Vers”/Carol is denied the chance to bring these qualities to this muddled mix.   

Out of 21 movies, this is the first with a female lead… 

…and yet, instead, we’re all raving about how cool and funny Samuel L. Jackson as a remarkably-undistracting-de-aged Nick Fury turned out to be…

Fortunately, this interplay between Brie and Sam is fun and entertaining to watch – they obviously got along fine and dandy whilst working on Kong: Skull Island (gee, remember that?!)

Considering how Brie has signed a SEVEN-movie contract with Marvel, ensuring this Cap’s prominent role in the MCU’s Next Phase, this movie should have delivered a more substantial, more distinctive, and, if you will, more thought-provoking introduction to supposedly the most powerful hero in the MCU. Up until now, this franchise looked, and felt, meticulously planned, years in advance – from its expansive plot-unfolding to those subtle Easter Eggs – and yet this movie feels too muddled, as if hastily thrown together at-the-last-minute just to appease the crowd who have been crying out forever for a female-led Marvel superhero movie. Thus, it does not present a suitable prelude to Avengers: Endgame, in which the hotly-anticipated rematch against Thanos may likely culminate in GOOSE GOING FOR THE HEAD.

Whatever’s in store, in the ever-reliable hands of the Russo brothers, Avengers: Endgame ought to be a more epic and engaging eyeful than what we got here…

Yep, Captain Marvel is now the most powerful hero in the MCU. 

Can’t dispute that. 

She single-handedly drained my will to write for at least ten days after my trip to the cinema. And almost depleted my enthusiasm for the upcoming Endgame (!) 

One fan Comment summed it up perfectly: “If Captain Marvel has to fight Thanos, I’ll be rooting for Thanos…”

Sure, the Captain Marvel movie mahelp pass the time, but it’s not worth dropping into a Blockbuster™ for…

 

“I could 

NOT 

BELIEVE 

what I was watchin’! I almost threw my chicken strips at the screen, man!” – rapper59.

 

“The Woman Is Breaking Free!”: The Evolution And Revolution Of Women In SF

A Look At Women’s Roles In SF On International Women’s Day 

“Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?” – Ellen Ripley.  

Many many moons ago, at school, there was one quick, and somewhat sad, way to tell the difference between boys and girls:  

boys read science fiction – girls did not.

Traditionally, my fav genre had been restricted to being a “Boy’s Own” pursuit long before my arrival on this Pale Blue Dot. My constant comic-reading consisted of Starhawk, Strontium Dog and Rogue Trooper – all male characters, of course! – used to irk some of the girls in my class no end. Despite trying to hide my mags, or chuck them over the playground wall, they never directly expressed any curiosity, or interest, in this reading-material. Shame, ‘cos such interaction might have extricated me from my insufferable shell a lot sooner…

No worries.

Science fiction has always exuded a voracious appetite for change. And to reflect those gradual, now quickening, changes in society, most notably in attitudes towards, and rights affecting, women, the genre has dramatically achieved so much to this end and, promisingly, continues to do so. 

To accompany this analysis, there will be a selection from the feminine side of Brad’s jukebox: 

“This is what Jodie Foster said when she first looked at me: ‘You’re not nearly as big as I thought you’d be.’ I thought she was joking so I kind of giggled but she kept laying it on thicker and thicker… She wouldn’t let up. I was a little crushed…” – Dave Bautista. 

At its best, science fiction makes us THINK.

And there was one particularly awesome comicbook cover that single-handedly altered my mindset in regards to women in SF.

In one of my most beloved books from the Library Brad Manor, a compendium: Alien Creatures, by Richard Siegel and J-C Suares (1978) – “Dedicated to those who haven’t landed yet” 😉 – on page 40 to be exact (that fact is proudly printed indelibly in my memory), this exquisite classic vintage cover (by Al Williamson and Frank Frazetta, above) of Weird Fantasy #21 made me realise the potential of incorporating strong, distinctive female characters in my own fiction. 

Note how the traditional gender roles haye been reversed: this woman – armed and sensibly-dressed (obligatory goldfish-bowl permitting) – assumes an assured, active and commanding position in the foreground while the male is reduced to just scantily-clad manflesh. Bold, and very progressive, especially when you consider this artwork was originally published – slapbang in that “Boy’s Own” era – in 1953!

2000AD – still “the longst-running comic in the galaxy” – has always been considered to be an highly-esteemed tag to have on any comic writer’s/artist’s resume, and yet it’s most notable alumni began their respective careers… working on girls’ comics!

Lately, my scope of classic comics has veered towards British publications of the ’70s. Whilst searching for the “lost Starhawk stories,” in The Crunch, imagine my astonishment, but sheer delight, upon discovering “Ebony”: a black, female MI5 agent; for 1977, this looked like an extremely impressive and empowering premise –  the spitting image of Nina Simone, she’s every bit as tough and classy as Pam Grier! And way too cool to be this obscure. (Not surprisingly, there are no clear images of her online).

While stories for boys centred on action, comics for girls concentrated on romance. 

Interestingly enough, there was indeed only one (albeit short-lived) British SF/fantasy comic for girls from that time: SpellboundHeard a lot of encouraging items about one of its contents – that quartet of enhanced femme fatales: the Super-Cats, so will endeavour to check out this “Fabulous Four.”

Back then, one would have been branded a “sissy” if seen with a girls’ comic, but now, who cares…? 

“Let me tell you something about sexism, girl. When you wear that costume, it cheapens you, but when I wear it, it cheapens them. It’s all about how you use it” – Emma Frost. 

How apt: playing this on the Eighth Day of this month 😉

No NO, Lady Go-Go! 

Let Hazel show you what a bona fide unorthodox-but-awesome songstress really looks and sounds like!:

J. Jonah Jameson: “You! Ms. Marvel!! I knew one of you super-creeps was responsible for this! Good or bad, it doesn’t matter – you’re all the same. You’ve got to be stamped out… and if J. Jonah Jameson has anything to say about it, lady, you will be!” 

Ms. Marvel: (I hear you, J. Jonah, and I’d love to argue the point, if I had the time… but I don’t. I doubt you’d listen anyway. Still, that’ll probably become one more editorial hassle Carol Danvers doesn’t need…)  

“The horrible immorality” argued Anatole France, ominously, as early as 1905, “…is to be the morality of the future.”

Whereas bygone authors of general fiction felt restricted from writing about the realities of human relationships, science fiction auteurs went ahead anyway and experimented with gender as well as genetics, and sex and sexuality in addition to science and scientific plots.

The main credit for breaking through the barriers of taboo is usually given to Philip Jose Farmer, whose The Lovers (1952) dealt with the unfortunate consequences of a love-affair between a man and an alien, although some would argue that Nice Girl With Five Husbands  (1951) by Fritz Leiber, at last deserves critical reappraisal.

The 1960s proved permissive enough to see an influx of more gender-based stories; Harlan Ellison’s anthology: Dangerous Visions (1967) confirmed that any speculative fiction concerning sexual matters could thenceforth be published, while the ground-breaking Left Hand Of Darkness (1969) by Ursula LeGuin offered a more sensitive approach to sexual roles and mores. The 1970s witnessed an increase in feminity – and feminism – through science fiction with the most prominent examples being: When It Changed (1972) by Joanna Russ and Marge Piercy’s Woman On The Edge Of Time (1976). 

More varied roles for female characters appeared on a relatively healthy basis up to the end of the 20th century, and beyond, culminating in the current blossoming subgenre of YA fiction.

Princess Leia: “All troop carriers will assemble at the north entrance. The heavy transport ships will leave as soon as they’re loaded. Only two fighter escorts per ship. The energy shield can only be opened for a short time, so you’ll have to stay very close to your transports.”

Hobbie Klivian: “Two fighters against a Star Destroyer?”

Princess Leia: “The ion cannon will fire several shots to make sure any enemy ships will be out of your flight path. When you’ve gotten past the energy shield, proceed directly to the rendezvous point. Understood? Good luck.”

Arguably, the strongest, most positive female role in science fiction has to be Ellen Ripley, superbly played by the incomparable Sigourney Weaver. 

The character had originally been written as male, but Sigourney impressed the director: Ridley Scott to such an extent that he not only changed the course of movie history, but furthered the opportunities for women’s roles in science fiction. Crucially, when she returned in the equally-impressive sequel: Aliens (1986), the addition of terrorised infant, Newt, allowed Ripley’s character to be enhanced by expressing long-suppressed calm and compassionate maternal instincts.

We inevitably turn our attention to the woman’s role that defined its time: Princess Leia, immortalised by the late great Carrie Fisher. 

Some would argue that she was upstaged by that young farm boy; he was the one who destroyed the Death Star and received the glory, cake and medal, but the cultural – and psychological –  impact that Leia had on each generation over the last forty years makes said space station look like a ping pong ball…

“Well somebody has to save our skins…”

But that was before the dark times.

Before Disney…

What chance do we have? The question is “what choice.” Run, hide, plead for mercy, scatter your forces. You give way to an enemy this evil, with this much power and you condemn the galaxy to an eternity of submission. The time to fight is now!” – Jyn Erso.

In this modern Star Wars era, there is, alas, not much to get excited about.

The lone redeeming item is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It offers a striking lead performance by Felicity Jones – an ingenious case of casting as Jyn Erso; her soft and slight build belies the fact that she has had to become tough, confident and resourceful – she was more of a “rebel” in every sense of the term than any other member of that Rebel Alliance. 

One of the multiple problems that beset Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the baffling observation that although the cast featured a commendable and considerable number of female figures in its cast, due to poor writing, strong, discernible characters did not manage to flourish. 

Naturally – ‘cos you know it’s Brad – we come to the MCU, the franchise that just keeps on giving. There are various instances of strong and commanding superheroines therein, to name but a few:  

Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is the only reason to watch Iron Man 2 (which should have been the Black Widow we all deserve!) and she further excels in the Avengers movies AND Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Hayley Atwell is exceptional as Agent Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger; whilst my personal fav (see below!): she’s not a queen, or a monster, she’s Hela, the Goddess of Death.

And we come to the latest – and possibly most game-changing – instalment: Captain Marvel. 

Where there’s good, there’s bad – cue the rise of that “horrible immorality” in the repugnant form of sexist trolls who have crawled out of the depths of their own ignorance, this time, to belittle Brie Larson: the first female lead in a Marvel movie. Rather than shut down her TwitFace™ account (or whatever you blessed younglings call the bally thing) she’s done what any honourable superhero would do: STRIKE BACK.

“Up an’ at ’em, lady!” 

“You know, I used to want to be a Valkyrie when I was younger, until I found out you were all women. There’s nothing wrong with women, of course, I like women. Sometimes a little too much. Not in a creepy way, just more like a respectful appreciation. I think it’s great, an elite force of women warriors” – Thor. 

And so, considering how – over thirty decades ago – such a prospect would have seemed unthinkable (certainly in my school yard), SF enjoys a poignant and promising age in which more girls and young women than ever before actively watch science fiction movies at the cinema, read SF novels – AND comics!! –  participate in, and cosplay, at comic conventions in record numbers. More crucially, some have been inspired to create their own far-reaching fiction!

Let me say how, for me, this is a genuinely thrilling and reassuring situation to behold. Long may it continue! 

Let me finish by saying just this: 

Those girls who, back in the day, nabbed my comics, now, most likely, have daughters who wholeheartedly embrace science fiction! 

And, what’s more, if they can craft an intergalactic saga better than anything this humble ol’ nerfherder could muster, then that would be really groovy. 

“Go get ’em, girls!”

 

Sarah Connor: “Kyle, the women in your time, what are they like?”

Kyle Reese: “Good fighters.”