Monthly Archives: August 2014

Cochise, Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

Cochise

This is going to sound crazy but I absolutely love Cochise on Falling Skies. Yeah, it’s the family dynamic and the struggle to survive the extinction of the human race that makes Falling Skies so awesome, but I have to mention what a fantastic addition the Volm, specifically Cochise is to the cast. The Volm enhance the members of the resistance and provide a great foil for the Espheni and skitters. Not all alien life forms are out to eradicate humanity. It’s refreshing in a grungy way that Star Trek was not. (Still the greatest franchise to ever grace television. Don’t want to seem blasphemous.)

Ah, Cochise… I find him adorable. It’s not like he gives off the warm-fuzzies. He’s not pretty with his green reptilian skin, big buggy eyes and a tiny skull-like hole for a nose, but there’s just something about him that sticks. He intrigues me. Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of him at his essence. He’s a tall, upright turtle that could quite frankly perform with the best of them in a Shakespearean production of Henry the V. (Cochise in the park – “alas poor Yorick…” I giggle as I digress.)

Anyway, I’ve significantly analyzed my leanings toward him. The writer in me and this ongoing study of character and my tendency toward specific types. Tall, honorable, self-sacrificing heroes are my kryptonite. My findings: It’s in the way Cochise carries himself with stoic grace. His patience and deep respect for the human condition. The timbre of his deep voice and aristocratic cadence of his speech. His personality shines in his golden eyes and the tilt of his head when he’s curious. His kindness and self-deprecating manner when he’s vexed with a problem. All of that put together make him attractive. Endearing. A gentleman warrior. And make me wish that more humans could behave with such impeccable manners and compassion. Maybe he’s a throwback to a more genial time. 

Nevertheless, he makes me keep watching amidst this crazy Season 4 rehash of Nazi-brainwashing and the Chosen One Human-Espheni hybrid whose appearance is a direct rip off of the Mother of Dragons. Please, there can be only one of her. 

I know the story is about the Masons and their quest to save Earth, but it’s punctuated and enhanced with this amazing character in Cochise. I can only hope to see more of him next season.

More Marvel’s Marvelous Character Wounds

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I couldn’t do a Marvel Character Wound analysis of Guardians of the Galaxy and not go back and take a look at the fabulous festering wounds of The Avengers. Every single one of them is such wounded, anguished soul. I’ve seen some incredible, deep analysis of this movie so I won’t go into how all of this relates to the epic plot set forth by the ever-amazing Joss Whedon, but I do want to stay with the theme of character’s wounds. Those deep character sores are what give this movie its emotional layers and the meat that drives the plot forward. They are integral to each other. Without these wounds, the Avengers would be just another “blow ‘em up, big 3D-CGI-IMAX so loud and annoying you want to shoot yourself” fest like Transformers. Forgive me if you’re a fan. I never really saw the fascination.

So let’s us look:

Black Widow:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: she’s actively working as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and believes in the job, but returns to home base because of loyalty to Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (She’s used to the job as a spy, follows the mission and her orders, it’s all she’s ever known.) But, she owes Clint a debt––he saved her life after he was sent to assassinate her. “You lie and kill in the service of liars and killers, and you pretend to have your own code to make up for what you are and what they make you do.”
  • Wound: She’s a spy and a killer which she refers to as having “red in her ledger” which we can assume means blood on her as ala Lady Macbeth “out damn spot”. This killer however is afraid of the Hulk because he can’t be mind controlled, her specialty. She holds no power over him.
  • Skills: she’s a manipulator, uses her “pretend” vulnerability and weakness to trick men. In this way, she’s a reflection of Loki’s tricks, and manipulation.
  • Overcoming the wound: she listens to Clint, once she’s knocked some sense back into him and gets back on her horse for the greater purpose. She knows that working with these guys is for the greater good and will automatically help her redeem all that “red”. She is the one to push the mind control stick into the portal device which reflects back to she use mind control to overcome the bad thing.

Hawkeye:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he was taken as a puppet for the bad guy who used his skills to hurt people. We don’t get much more than that until he’s reunited with Black Widow. He calls her by her nick name which automatically links her to him in a more personal manner than she has with the rest and solidifies their bond.
  • Wound: he felt violated because Loki was in his head and he hurt people against his will. I assume in the next one we’ll get more of a look into who he really is. During this one, he’s little more than a sniper in a perch and a motivation for Romanov.
  • Skills: strategy, eye for detail, logistics, extremely talented sharp shooter. Quick and efficient
  • Overcoming the wound: he is now working with his partner, getting over the mind control and redeeming himself by saving people

Dr. Banner/Hulk:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he’s manipulated by Natasha to believe that he’s been asked because he’s the most preeminent expert on gamma radiation (He thought gamma radiation would be the key to unlocking the formula the super soldier serum that made Cap, but ultimately turned him into the Hulk.) His cynicism make him believe that S.H.I.E.L.D. is hiding stuff because why wouldn’t they bring in Tony Stark for the “clean energy” they’re working on.
  • Wound: He’s afraid to be the hulk because he causes damage and hurts people without meaning to. He doesn’t like this this is his own causing. He feels exposed like a “raw nerve”.
  • Skills: science and rationality, as Dr. Banner; brute strength as hulk
  • Overcoming the wound: he realizes that it doesn’t matter because he’s always angry and that constant state of anger can be controlled if he tries. He needs to help people by destroying the bad guys

 

Captain America:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he’s a soldier and it’s his duty. (Plus he’s got nothing better to do since he’s been frozen for the last seventy years)  A soldier is all he’s ever wanted to be. His greatest desire was to be in service his country and fight against the evil of Hitler, against oppression.
  • Wound: he feels old-fashioned. He’s a man out of time, an anachronism, upset that the world has changed so much that he doesn’t recognize humanity anymore, that there is no unity, no loyalty and we’ve become a version of the evil he once fought against. He believes that the Tesseract should have been left in the ocean because it is too dangerous.
  • Skills: super strength, extreme honor. Military skills, tactical and a great leader. The shield protects him from many assaults/weapons, used as a protection device and a tool. It’s an extension of his fighting skill and body.

 

Iron Man:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: He goes because they need his expertise and to prove he was right. He’s working on getting out of the war making business, and into the energy business, snd he’s a little upset that the Avenger Initiative was scrapped because of his personality (volatile and self-obsessed) He questions Fury’s motives and  doesn’t like that Fury doesn’t tell them everything, he keeps secrets.
  • Wound: his ego is huge and needs to be stroked. He’s more than a “billionaire, genius, philanthropist”. He is selfish and questions authority. He needs to know everything and be right. His sarcasm is his deflection.
  • Skills: strength, power, genius, fires lasers, variety of techno weapons and flying, has Jarvis as backup and navigation
  • Overcoming the wound: he gets the group to see that there is more to the picture and this causes conflict but then rallies and works with them after Phil is killed. He wants to avenge. He’s angered when he sees a bit of himself in Loki and knows exactly how it needs to be stopped. He gives the ultimate sacrifice by flying the nuke up to the portal and sending it to the Chitauri mothership. He doesn’t even get to say goodbye to the woman he loves.

 

Thor:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he’s there to retrieve his brother. He loves his brother. Believes Loki is going after earth to get back at him (he’s right). Earth is under his protection. But Loki believes that human need to be ruled because they are chaotic and kill themselves. He wants Loki to face Asgardian justice for his crimes.
  • Wound: he wants to protect humanity, and his love, Jane Foster, on earth, but part of him believes that he’ll only bring danger to humanity. His family bickering has already caused such problems. He embarrassed by his family’s dirty laundry.
  • Skills: super strength, hammer is indestructible that only he can wield, the hammer allows him  fly and summon thunder and lightening. Its an extension of his body and fighting skill.
  • Overcoming the wound: he realizes he has to fight here on Earth in order to protect humanity. He cannot protect from afar.

 

Loki:

  • Villainous motivations: wants to rule earth, Odin (father) and Thor’s (brother) favorite people, to get back at them for his perceived slights.
  • Wound: He wants approval from his father and to hurt Thor because he’s in the shadow of his brother’s greatness. Believes he was betrayed by Odin and deserves to rule. His deal is to get the Tesseract, control the Chitaruri army to take over Earth and then give the Tesseract to Thanos. His self-importance makes him believe he is above humans. And he will manipulate and use any means to get what he wants. He needs the scientist and the Tesseract to create a stronger more stable portal to get the army to New York.
  • Skills: master of words, manipulations illusions and tricks, super strength, holds a Chitauri weapon that creates mind control over humans with the essence of the Tesseract

 

Now, the two “regular” humans play a major part, as well. While they may not have superpowers, they are pretty damn important:

 

Director Fury: he is the visionary and pragmatist. He believes in the Avengers as the answer to save Earth, but he also believes that the Tesseract is needed to give them weapons to combat much greater foes. Now that humanity knows there are aliens from other worlds (because of the appearance of Thor), and now that Loki has returned as a threat to crush humanity, it’s proven him right. He believes they are at war. “Hopelessly, hilariously outgunned, the world is filling up with people who can’t be matched”, and as Thor states: “Earth is ready for a higher form of war.”

Phil Coulson: he represents humanity, the everyman. He’s the company man that follows S.H.I.E.L.D.’s directives without question. He believes in what he does and that the world will be a better place because of the Avengers. What’s great about him is that he’s interacted with all of them in one way or another. Most predominantly, he’s friendly with Tony Stark, able to manage Romanov, and awestruck by Captain America. There’s an innocent hero worship in his regard for Steve Rodgers. His eyes light up like a child’s when he gets to finally speak with his hero, and boldly asks for Rodger’s autograph on his trading cards. It’s his death that Fury uses to unit the arguing Avengers to a higher purpose.

 

I love the depth of each of them. I’ve watched the movie over and over to study the brilliance of Joss’s writing and the nuances of the character dynamic. I cannot wait until Avengers 2 is out when we get to scratch deeper into the wounds. I can’t even predict where he’ll go, but I’m willing to bet it’s amazing.

 

 

 

Marvel’s Marvelous Character Wounds

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Them more I watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe the more I learn about writing. The characters in this massively epic franchise are so fascinating. They have such depth underneath their seemingly shiny and comic exteriors. Each one has personal demons that need to be faced. Each one of them has a “wound”. The wound is the one thing the character can’t escape from. The one thing their superpowers or abilities can’t control over overcome. The wound is a tear on their psyche. It’s what makes them human and being human means being vulnerable.

I’ve always struggled with conflict, in my personal life and in my writing. We all have a tendency to want everything to be good and happy and perfect. But unfortunately perfect people don’t exist anywhere, nor do they make for good fiction. Sure stories are about plot and what happens. But, if the characters suck, then who cares. I once turned away from a movie because I wished the tunnel collapsed on all of the people trapped in it because they were all too annoying to live. I didn’t care. It was one of those disaster movies from the 90s and I think Sylvester Stallone was in it. (Don’t get me wrong. Sly Stallone has some cool gems in his acting pocket. The Expendables movies are sheer marketing brilliance and fun. And all of those crusty old guys have wounds––even if it’s their realization that they’re too old for this shit––so it makes it even more fun to watch).

I was discussing the latest Marvel awesome fest with my crit partner Renn and she asked what I loved about it. The story (i.e. plot) is cool, as most adventures are. They go after a MacGuffin for selfish reasons, fight some guys who also want it, have a big battle and become heroes in the process. It’s not that they all of a sudden decide, “Today I care about something other than myself and I want to be a hero.” It’s because their wounds ache for them to overcome it. And that’s why they become heroes.

The cast of misfits:

Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, is the de facto leader. His mother died of cancer when he was eight and he was immediately abducted by a space ship and raised by the pirate/scavenger, Yondu, who took him. Turns out there’s a secret about Peter’s heritage that even he didn’t know. I’m sure we’ll find out what that is in the next movie. (Abandonment issues, forced to look out for himself. Deflects with sarcasm)

Rocket Raccoon, is a bounty hunter/mercenary. He’s self conscious about the fact that everyone thinks he’s a dumb rodent, but he’s really a mechanical genius which most likely is because he was the result of a genetic and cybernetic experiment gone awry and he’s the only one of his kind. (Feels alone in the universe, deflects with extreme sarcasm)

The humanoid tree, Groot, is Rocket’s guardian and only friend. He only speaks 3 words, just with different inflections. “I am Groot”. Somehow Rocket understands this weird language and you can liken it to the way Han understood Chewie’s weird growls that all sounded the same to us. Groot is the only one of the group who is truly an innocent without any darkness in his soul.

Drax the Destoyer is a warrior whose entire family was killed by Ronan the Accuser (the Bad Guy) and his vow to seek revenge has consumed his every move since then. He’s incredibly literal and it often makes for miscommunication between others. He comes to respect and care for his new allies naming them as friends. (Lost everything that was dear to him)

Gamora was adopted by the Bigger Bad, Thanos, along with her sister Nebula. They were abused and experimented on as children. Gamora turned into an assassin. She is first allied with Ronan, but once she realizes his intentions to wipe out entire planets, she betrays him and goes to steal the orb herself to sell it to a secret buyer. (Jaded and righteous, needs to atone for her evil deeds)

Nebula, the more tragic of the two sisters is the bad girl. Thanos made her into a cyborg. She does everything to get back at Gamora and Thanos because Daddy Thanos loved Gamora more (He flat out says she was his favorite daughter). Nebula becomes incredibly loyal to Ronan but it seems he has no idea because he, like Drax is consumed with revenge. (Daddy issues and sibling rivalry)

Ronan the Accuser is a very powerful Kree and a religious fanatic hell-bent on destroying his mortal enemies. He only sees things as black and white. He ignores the treaty set up between the Kree Empire and the Xandarians and sets out to annihilate them with the Power Infinity Stone, which he had agreed to give to Thanos when he was done with it. However he betrays him stating that he’ll kill Thanos too. (Religious zealot who probably was indoctrinated and now only sees life through the lens of intolerance and hate)

All of their wounds come out at some point and inform the action. Each one does something that turns the plot until they come together not out of necessity but out of a true sense of believing in each other and acceptance. Ronan and Nebula, well they’re the bad guys, so they don’t but they confront some of their issues towards the end, as well. I fully expect to see both of them again so I don’t think we’re quite done exploring what their wound arcs truly are.

It’s good stuff. See the movie for fun. Peel back the layers if you chose. If you don’t, just go to see a great movie, but Marvel’s doing it right. I can only strive to be so brilliant.