and i can only expect so much badassery when this film actually comes out

Rambly thinky thoughts about why GotG2 is one of the best films in the MCU

So yesterday I saw GotG2 a third time (this time in IMAX), and let me tell you I have Realised A Thing.

Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 gives me the emotional satisfaction that I expected, wanted, but ultimately did not get from Captain America: Civil War.

After being utterly blown away by CATWS I went into CACW expecting All Of The Feels, but instead I got a bunch of dudes displaying the emotional maturity of concussed teaspoons, the most forced and pointless No Homo “"romance”“ to date, and a dull af colour palette that not even Chris Evans’ glorious biceps could brighten up. Plus a bunch of explosions and snappy oneliners, but that’s a given.

But mostly it was just a bunch of people getting into trouble and falling out because they just Would Not Talk To Each Other. And an ending to the friendship between Steve and Tony that didn’t really have that much of an impact ‘cause while we’ve seen them working together we’ve never really gotten to see them hang out, just the two of them, and actually be friends, so that big, dramatic end fight didn’t have the impact it should’ve had. And poor Bucky, who should’ve been the central character of the film, was barely more than a McGuffin who starts out just wanting to be left alone and ends up just wanting to be left alone to the point where he chooses to get frozen again. Hmph.

GotG2 on the other hand? WHOA.

HERE BE SPOILERS! (And I’m on mobile so no readmore for you)

They talk to each other. The “unspoken thing” between Peter and Gamora is still developing, in a way that feels a lot more natural than the Steve/Sharon thing. And there’s not really any room for superfluous, awkward romance when the film is dedicated to familial relationships, like Gamora and Nebula, who get a really good arc to themselves (Bechdel Test pass! And Mako Mori Test pass, for Nebula).

The whole Peter/Ego/Yondu thing is very well executed, ‘cause you can see how much Peter wants Ego to be the father he always wished for, but as soon as Ego reveals what he did to Meredith he’s dead to Peter. And Yondu won’t ever win any Father of the Year awards, but given his backstory it’s not really a surprise that he isn’t very good at the whole parenting thing, and I’m pretty sure he never expected to love Peter like he did. But he did right by him in the end, and actually told Peter that he thought of him as a son, and now I am verklempt.

The whole bit with Yondu, Rocket, and Groot escaping and taking back the ship? Fucking PERFECT. An excellent balance of humour (the toe!), genuine emotional beats, and 110% sheer, awesome badassery. And I love that they picked a song that on its own is kinda meh, but the way it builds along with the action somehow makes it the perfect choice. (This whole sequence has become my favourite part of all MCU films, can you tell?)

And the upshot of Rocket and Yondu’s bonding? Is that Rocket realises that he actually has a family, who won’t leave him behind no matter how much he tries to push them away. Emotional development for the acerbic asshole, woot!

Basically, GotG2 neatly sidesteps the thing that usually happens to the second film in an ensemble cast franchise. The thing where the first film shows the gang getting together, and the second film drives them apart, without there being any intermediate that shows them actually working together and enjoying each other’s company. GotG1 shows them becoming a crew, GotG2 shows them becoming a family. And I love that it’s Drax, aka the only one who’s actually had a family of his own, who defines their relationship out loud.

Of course, it’s quite probable that the expectations I had before seeing CACW and GotG2 has shaped how I feel about them. With CACW my hype was through the roof, simply because CATWS was so damn good, and CACW is a capably made film considering how much plot they had to cram into it. But beyond my initial squee at how they’d actually pulled it off there was just… Meh. It didn’t feel like it had the depth of CATWS, and thus didn’t invite me to explore it further through reading and writing fanfic.

Going into GotG2 I expected a fun, colourful romp through space, but not much else. And then I saw it and the Feels hit me in the face like a sledgehammer. And after a third viewing it still holds up; even though the ending isn’t exactly happy happy I still come out of the theatre grinning like a loon and feeling awesome. It’s not quite on par with the feeling Mad Max: Fury Road left me with, but of all the MCU films this is the one that comes closest to it.

And that’s just about as high praise that I can give.

Prince of Egypt Appreciation Week, Day 2: Character Appreciation Day

No offense to Moses or anything, but Miriam is the real hero of The Prince of Egypt.

Wait… just hear me out.

This woman, a slave in one of the most powerful empires that ever existed, is someone you’d expect to have no real power over her own fate, or anyone else’s, right? Yet Miriam is probably the best example of agency in this movie. She always knows what’s up, is always aware of what needs to be done and how to make it happen, and then she actually does it. Often running on no resources except the words in her mouth and an unbreakable spirit.

This girl does not waste time ever, not even as a small child. During the prologue, immediately after Yocheved sends Moses away, she steps up, follows the basket down the Nile and gets dangerously close to the palace. (This is literally the same place where the order to kill all the newborns came from, so take a moment to appreciate just how frightening this must have been.) And she doesn’t leave until she knows her baby brother is going to be safe. She has a hand in saving Moses’ life - and more to follow.

Like right here when Miriam helps secure Tzipporah’s escape from the palace by giving her water from the well. It seems like a small gesture, and the film kinda glances over it. But she is literally aiding a fugitive, a stranger – without hesitation, or regard for her own safety – and ensuring that Tzipporah has what she needs to survive out in the desert.

The reunion at the well is the most important scene in the film. And at the heart of it is Miriam trying so hard to flip the switch in Moses’ head that will bring him back to his people. There is so much risk in what she does here: the likelihood that she’s going to get herself flogged or worse just for speaking up is so much greater than the chances of her actually getting the truth through to him. And it doesn’t stop her for a minute.

When she realizes Seti and Tuya have totally kept Moses in the dark about his identity… she could have turned away, could’ve gone along with Aaron’s ruse that the exhaustion was messing with her head. She could have done the safe thing. But she presses on, relentless, no matter how desperately Aaron and Moses try to shut her down. And she doesn’t stop until Moses finally gets it.

^ This is one of the bravest and most selfless things anyone does in this movie. Does she even know the slave who’s getting whipped? This is my absolute favorite thing about Miriam. She cannot stomach injustice, she sees suffering and just can’t turn away from it. Here Aaron has to literally hold her back from getting involved. But knowing there’s no way she personally can help this man doesn`t stop Miriam from trying - she cries out for someone else to put an end to it. And, hearing her, Moses makes the pivotal decision to intervene. She really is his conscience, not just here but throughout PoE.

When Moses does come back she is his first (and only) supporter. The Hebrews are angry and already getting violent with him, and she passes up the chance to join them. With how he treated her at the well, maybe he deserves it. But she steps in to protect him. I love the symbolism in this scene in general, how the Hebrew slaves here are elevated above Moses – their status is now higher than his, he’s a pariah even among his own people. But Miriam, she doesn’t stand over Moses and his wife and talk down to him the way Aaron does. (I appreciate what Aaron has to say here, but that’s another essay.) She actually lowers herself to where he is and deals with him as an equal - and she does it with compassion and wisdom. It’s such a beautiful moment, and and it’s her words more than anything else that lift him back up and give him the resolve to face Rameses again.

Miriam is so invaluable to When You Believe, I can’t imagine how they would have swung this scene without her, especially right after the final plague. She and Tzipporah both get singing parts here, but truthfully, I’ve always thought of this as Miriam’s song. It sums up of one of the movie’s main themes – and more than anyone else, it’s Miriam who represents the whole hope-in-hopeless-places thing. She’s the optimistic undercurrent that runs throughout PoE. And here’s where she really shines. Moses is paralyzed with grief, and everyone else is too scared, still adjusting to the idea that they’re actually free, to take the those significant first steps away from Egypt. Miriam is the one who guides them, pulls everyone together and gets them focused on what lies ahead. This scene is where the Hebrews really begin to coalesce behind Moses as their leader, and it’s Miriam who quietly, symbolically, draws both Moses and Tzipporah out of their outcast status and into the fold.

The gentle, understated way Miriam does these things – in a lot of places she twists our ideas of what a strong female character looks like – it doesn’t really lend itself to gifs and memes. It’s not as memorable as more overt displays of badassery. And this usually means that what she adds to The Prince of Egypt, as a necessary part of the story’s structure and even just as a great character, is really undervalued. When people choose a heroine to represent the movie, here on tumblr or elsewhere, often it isn’t her. But it should be.