The Rise in Shock Value

CapHydra

The internet, and myself included, were all in a tizzy this week with the announcement that in a new comic series, Steve Rogers #1, Captain America is actually an undercover Hydra agent.

Nope.

No.

Not having it.

Fans were quite rightly upset and for good reason.  Captain America has stood as a moral icon, defending the defenseless against tyranny and oppression, and choosing the right path, regardless of personal cost, for 75 years.  He’s the good guy, with no hints at all to his character to the contrary.  Many fans believe this is just a publicity stunt, shock for shock value alone, and I agree.

With his rise in popularity due to two wonderful films in the MCU, I can imagine that there was a meeting in which execs and writers came up with a few “what if” scenarios, but as a fellow writer, I can attest to the fact that not all ideas are good ones.  I can’t fault a writer for wanting to take a risk, especially with a character of Cap’s reputation, but taking a character with such a strong moral code and turning that on its head without any warning is just feeding into the mentality that the only way to be relevant is to be shocking.

We, as a people, continually exposed to all manner of craziness via the internet and the rise in dramatic, stunning television, I think, are the reasons behind such bold moves.  In order to be noticed, we’ve resorted to becoming the one-uppers.  Shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and American Horror Story, among others, have risen the bar in the way of surprising their audience, and I thank them for it, but at the same time wonder if it’s not hurting us as well, overall.

We now expect so much more from all our media-going experiences, and this is forcing writers to do the unexpected often without reason.  A scene like the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones had a great deal of build up.  It wasn’t an out of left field surprise, although yes, it was upsetting.  The stage was set, long before we arrived, with bread crumbs left along the way that led us to such an inevitable conclusion.

GoT

This is something as writers we need to be aware of.  We can’t throw in a shocking twist just because – there has to be a reason, motivation, there has to have been set up.  Audiences want to be satisfied, they also want to feel clever, and this is done by offering them morsels and insights they can piece together before the big surprise.

This offers us, as writers, a great challenge to think about the nuances needed to tell our story more effectively.  If we look at the big picture, how can we impress upon our audience what is to come with a little foreshadowing?  Is there a metaphor that could highlight the impending dilemma?  Is there a phrase said by a character early on that offers such insight?  Think of social media and how people dig into their favorite scenes, stories, characters, etc. to find more depth and hidden meaning (I have discovered a number of memes and the like showcasing foreshadowing I missed myself) and think of how happy it will make our audience if we can offer that to them.

I found this writing tip via Helping Writers Become Authors that offers the good and bad reasons to kill a character, but I think it can be utilized in regards to any plot device.

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Let us not short change our audience.  Let us give them the surprises they deserve; those that mean more because we cared enough to think our story through, and not just another tactic or ploy meant to incite emotion or a reaction.  Let us also not short change our work or our characters.  Be true to them.  They deserve no less…and so does Cap.

Happy Writing!

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A Rambling Review of Captain America: Civil War

I’m going to switch things up a bit this week.  No Quote Monday or Quote Monday on a Tuesday.  Nope, it’s movie review time!

As you may have noticed, I still have yet to post a review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Deadpool, among so many others, and there are a handful in the draft stage just waiting to be revisited.  I’ll get to them eventually…

Civil War

Because you know I have to talk about Captain America: Civil War (or Avengers Part 3).  Don’t worry, it’s spoiler free!

For months I’ve avoided most of the buzz in order to keep the mystery alive when the film finally came out.  Most of you know I’m Team Cap – here’s a little refresher as to why.  If you haven’t seen Captain America: Winter Soldier, here’s my ramble on that great movie.  It ranks among my top five in the superhero genre, and I think Civil War may have just joined its ranks…so which one gets the boot then…?

In today’s social media driven world, it’s hard to remain naive to story developments and spoilers unless you’re like me – dedicated to the ignorance.  I have to avert my eyes on so many things, because as you all know, I’m always behind.  It’s difficult sometimes and exhausting to almost always be on the outside, but it usually pays off.

It boils down to this – I don’t want my movie going experience to be ruined, and this harkens back to the time when I was a kid and all these devices of inundation had yet to be invented.

I didn’t know the actual premise of the movie, because the storylines of some of the movies versus the original comic book series have been altered.  There were great memes of why Steve Rogers and Tony Stark might be at war, like this gem:

CivilWarMeme

But the actual storyline is much more interesting, obviously, because in the continuing Captain America theme, it deals with the current political climate.  After all the recent damage done by the Avengers while they’ve been trying to stop alien attacks and Hydra infiltration and global extermination, some people feel that they don’t care about what they leave behind, the collateral damage.

There’s no accountability, and the U.N. is calling for oversight by way of the Sokovia Accords – a document that requires the signatures of all the Avengers to comply with a U.N. council that will determine when and where they are needed.  Those who don’t sign will forcibly be “retired”.

Captain America and Iron Man have differing views on this topic, and for good reason, which leads to their falling out.  Another touchy subject, and a running theme, is what to do with Cap’s best friend, Bucky aka The Winter Soldier.  Oh, Buck Buck.

I like Iron Man a great deal.  It was his first movie that paved the way for all the subsequent films, and the first Iron Man is still one of my favorites, but I’m a Cap girl, all the way.  It’s easy to side with either man in this film, but my solution would be to find some middle ground, but as you might suspect, there’s more going on then just this document to fuel such a division in our team.

I squealed in both delight and fear during the trailer of Cap, Bucky, and Iron Man fighting.

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A great scene by the way, even if I felt it was a little unsportsmanlike, but again, there’s good reason.

Marvel has done an excellent job of weaving their universe through their films and Civil War is no different.  As most of you fellow geeks already know, Suicide Squad (which arrives in August), Black Panther, and yes, another Spiderman movie are all on their way and get a little peek in Civil War.

Overall, a wonderful film that brings to a head all the previous movies and their consequences.  I can’t wait to see what else the MCU has in store for us!

5stars

I’m already planning on when to see this again, in part because apparently only one other person, besides me, laughed at something and I can’t remember what it was.  The Sis and our friend both laughed at me afterwards as they reminded me of this, thinking that apparently the joke was meant for people of a certain age.  Sheesh.  A side note for those of you over a “certain age” and know of the RDJ film Only You, you’ll find a little nod to that movie as well.

And remember to stay for the credits, not only to pay homage all those hard working men and women who remain unseen, but also for the easter eggs.  I’m still surprised by the amount of people who leave the theater after all this time.

Have fun at the movies!

Exhibit C: Captain America

When I was in my teens, my mother introduced me to romance novels as a way to spark my interest in reading again (I think school had sort of sucked the fun out of it and it did work, so thanks, Mom).  One of my favorites was called A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux.  In short, it was about a medieval knight who travels to the present and a modern day love interest who then travels back in time.

CapThis book had a big impact on me in my youth, and thinking about it now, besides wanting to read it again, I think it played a major role in the creation of my first screenplay, and probably a few others.  I’ve always liked the idea of time travel (Hello, Doctor Who), and people out of time, the quintessential good guy, and tragic love stories, which is probably why I fell for Captain America.

And I mean fell hard.

It didn’t happen during the first film, it’s not my favorite, but in subsequent fanfiction that I was introduced to by a fellow blogger.  That was it – that was the spark (and I have the swag to prove it).  From there it was more fanfic, comics, cartoons, and finally Captain America: The Winter Soldier – it really is one of the best of this onslaught from Marvel.

Of course the stories vary, comics vs. movies, but at the heart of it all it’s about a man who never thinks of himself, only what’s right, no matter the cost.  He’s a tragic hero, and I’m not sure any of his colleagues really understand this.  He never thinks he’s good enough.  He didn’t get the girl.  He thought his best friend was dead, only to learn he’s a brainwashed super-assassin.  He sacrificed himself to save the world, only to find out it was for nothing.  The world changed while he slept, and all he has is “the fight”.  I just want to give him a hug.

And now he’s finally going to get his friend back and you think I’m not going to be on his side?!  Scoff.  And side note, I totally ship it!

Chris Evans has really grown on me in the role, I swear he gets better (looking) every movie, and Sebastian Stan as Bucky is just fantastic.  And that’s why I squealed like the fangirl I am when I saw this:  Exhibit C:

Is it May 6th yet?!

There is so much more to talk about on this subject, but I’ll leave it at that…for now.  I’d love to meet other Cap fans, so comment below and let’s chat!

SIW (self-indulgence week) is drawing to a close…just a couple more days to geek out over things.  What will be next?  Hmm…stay tuned.  🙂

The Discrepant Writer Rambles about Captain America: The Winter Soldier

CaptainAmerica2shieldSo as you may have noticed, I have been quite absent as of late.  The new job is just sapping my energy and creativity, and by the time I get home the last thing I want to do is look at another computer screen.  I thought by now I’d be on a better track, but I’m not quite there yet.  So I thought instead of rambling about the job and the lack of writing, I’d do something a bit more fun and do another movie review.

I am now always behind in my tv and movie watching, this never used to be the case…I wanted to write this post over a month ago, and even then I was already behind.

As some of you may already know, I am a big fan of Captain America, the character.  Chris Evans is absolutely adorable, don’t get me wrong, but I am smitten with the good ol’ American blond boy in general.  I like to think of myself as a good person, that I would do the right thing; even in my video game playing I always choose the “right” path (for which The Sis will usually mock me) and something about that quintessential good guy is extremely appealing.  The good guy doesn’t necessarily have to finish last – although if Tom Hiddleston’s Loki was standing in front of me (or just Hiddles in general), I might leave Cap in the cold. 😉   I like a big action/blow ’em up type movie, and the surge of comic book movies has been a lot of fun for the movie-going experience, especially with Marvel doing such a good job of mixing their universe.  Side note, I’m not going to discuss all the prejudices and politics that have become the main topic of conversation recently in association with these films.  That can be for another day.

I wanted to see CA2, but when it was being released I wasn’t quite the Cap fan that I am now.  I have one friend in particular to thank for turning me on (pun intended) to the world of Captain America.  So when I realized how much more I wanted to see this movie, it was already on its way out of theaters and I had to wait for the dvd release – months later.  Another reason for my late entry on this subject.

So here’s my insight, kept to a minimum because I’ve already rambled a bit more than I anticipated (and it’s been a little while now since I watched it), of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I was aware of more of the particulars by the time I finally saw the film, so I felt I understood more going in then I would have before this new interest.  And don’t worry I won’t spoil anything for those of you who are behind too.  The movie had a more realistic feel, despite the superhero nature.  Of course there are some big action sequences and massive destruction, but most of the time, I didn’t feel like I was watching a comic based movie.  It is based in the real world and deals with the current political climate and the lengths some people are willing to go to.

I like Natasha being a part of the film, as Steve’s friend and partner, without there being that underlying romantic theme.  I don’t understand why the majority of movies feel it necessary to put the guy and girl together, regardless of their compatibility, just because.  God forbid a man and woman just be friends and work together…side note, she deserves her own movie!

We meet Falcon, who, from what I’ve seen in other mediums is a teenager, but is now a war vet.  He’s not a superhero, but just a good man who wants to do good and because of his admiration for the Cap joins his fight.  I’d like to learn more about him.

The title gave me hope that we would see more of The Winter Soldier, which unfortunately was kept to limited, mostly non-verbal scenes.  Although the few scenes he does have are poignant and will make you more sympathetic to his plight.  There is a whole other post I’d like to dedicate to this character and his relationship to Cap.

After watching the film, I was interested more than ever to learn more about Captain America and his story, especially as hints of The Civil War story line continue to spread.  Then the move happened, and the new job, and I’m no closer to knowing any more than I was just after watching the movie.

My final take on the movie – it’s among one of the best of this genre.  I’d say it’s in my top 3; behind The Avengers and Iron Man and no, I have not seen Guardians yet..I know.  It doesn’t feel as far fetched as some of the other stories, and I think it resonated more with audiences because of its modern take.

Needless to say, I’ve been on the hunt for just the right Captain America shirt and have some comics waiting to be purchased.  I bought a reusable water bottle with Cap’s likeness from the comics and it is this new habit, that could be the right word, that got me the job.

So thanks, Cap!

If you’re interested in some Captain America fanfic, give Archive of Our Own a look.  That’s what started all this.

Have a great week everyone!