How easy it would be to love perfection, but to love imperfection is the challenge and the reward is that we learn to love and accept ourselves and the many other imperfect people we come across day to day.
I think the core thing that caused The Last Airbender to be the horrible, piece of shit movie that it is was the fact that Shyamalan clearly looked down on the TV series as just some dumb children’s show and not for the good thing it is. It really shows through in the movie that he thought that the show’s just a mindless cartoon made to momentarily distract children too dumb to comprehend the world around them. That was his first of many mistakes, and that, combined with his incompetence, laid the foundation for the film.
Okay, but how much of that scene between Tony and Peter in the trailer was Tony actually talking to Peter, and how much was he talking to himself? Because I bet you anything Tony's said those same words to the mirror every day.
I bet he’s considered it a lot, considering ‘who you are outside the suit’ was ostensibly what Iron Man 3 was about (if the movie actually accomplished that is another debate).
The whole conversation is full of things that Tony probably wishes either A) someone had told him, B) he had listened when someone did or C) he had been smart enough to figure out earlier, but the thing is that Tony did not have a Tony-like figure in his life like Peter does now, so damn straight he’s going to tell this kid, this kid that Tony thinks is amazing, all the things he wishes he’d known.
(I mean, I hope the movie expounds on this. Tony has always maintained that he is Iron Man whereas Peter seems to be trying to maintain a line between his heroic identity and Peter Parker, but I don’t know, I feel like Iron Man gives Tony something to live up to. Maybe he feels like Spider-Man needs to live up to Peter.)
It’s not hard to see why he would see himself in Peter. A lot of people have pointed to Peter’s line in CACW about how if bad things happen and you can stop them but don’t, you’re responsible for them means that Peter would have agreed with Cap, but they forget that that was Tony’s whole original MO. “I have to do this…I know in my heart it’s right.” Tony didn’t stop being Iron Man once he had fixed his own mistakes because he now had the power to help and felt he had an obligation to do so.
“I had become part of a system that was okay with zero accountability.” Tony has always wanted to do this the right way, but I don’t think he always knew how. Tony is the definition of ‘with great power’ in the MCU - he is the most politically, economically and socially influential character with the battlesuit that can shrug off tank shells, he has set himself up as the public face of superheroes. With that comes great responsibility. He doesn’t want Peter to make the same mistakes he did, and looking at this genius kid with these amazing superpowers, I think he would be incredibly hopeful and also very afraid for him.
And I’m sure part of it is control - Tony’s need to control everything is one of his greatest flaws. But he (probably, this is all speculation) desperately wants to protect Peter from the self-doubt and the mistakes that Tony has to live with.
Also, the context of Tony having been seriously disillusioned with not only himself but heroes and the men behind the masks in recent years cannot be ignored. Like, that’s a complicated thing right there. How much does Tony still believe in heroes? He’s still an Avenger, still Iron Man, but also: he knows he can’t stop Peter, the boy’s going to use his powers no matter what. But he doesn’t need Peter to be ‘a hero,’ he just wants Peter to be good. Better. And more importantly, I think the way RDJ plays that scene, he absolutely thinks Peter can, and just isn’t matching his potential/doesn’t have enough experience yet.
I know this blog has turned into 24/7 “Beauty and the Beast” (2017) fangirling at the expense of my other fandoms but let me get this thing out.
SO ever since the 1991 version the line from Belle “see this where she meets Prince Charming / but she won’t discover that it’s him til chapter three” has been identified as the most transparent piece of foreshadowing in the film. I can’t find a shot of the book in the animation, but there’s an illustration that the ‘camera’ sees for a moment that looks like a hulking animal approaching a girl in a meadow. At the end of the day, “Beauty and the Beast” (at least the 1991 version) is a story about stories. Belle is reading her own story and doesn’t realize it. One thing that bothers me about the 1991 version is that Belle doesn’t seem aware of this the way someone well versed in story structure should be.
The 2017 version improves on this somewhat because not only do they name drop “Le Mort d’Arthur” and “Romeo & Juliet,” but Belle is very interested in how to break the curse because she’s read this kind of thing before. That’s something that is essential to the structure of fairytales. Structure is something that is very important to Shakespeare as well (I’m less familiar with “Le Mort d’Arthur” but being a legend/adventure story I imagine similar rules apply).
Which brings us back to that Chapter 3 line. If this is deliberate foreshadowing, then “chapter” can be easily substituted for “act:” probably based on the five-act structure that Shakespeare uses in his plays. I’ve only seen the film once but I’d put Act 3 in the film between Belle’s rescue from wolves and the end of “Something There.” There are two ways to interpret this. One way is Belle realized the Beast is a really a cursed Prince who should undergo change in order to hammer the moral of the story in Act 3, and recognizes that he must change but doesn’t understand how.
Or there’s the way I personally like. In the line, Belle calls the character Prince Charming. “Prince Charming” doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s a prince or charming, but rather a romantic partner (male if the protagonist is female but since this film is pretty lax on that kind of thing we’ll let that slide) who represents a solution to the protagonist’s problems. The line in “Something There” where Belle posits that’s “True that he’s no Prince Charming / but there’s something in him / that I simply didn’t see” is a direct call back to the line in “Belle.”
So what are Belle’s problems that the Beast has proven he can solve during Act 3? She wants adventure and someone to deeply understand her hopes, dreams, and desires. He’s already provided an adventure: learning about magic, going on a quest for his salvation and finding some emotional resolution to her mother’s death. He also shares her love of reading and understanding abstract concepts like Love, Hope, Grief. He doesn’t agree with her necessarily, but he does understand them enough to enter a conversation about them with her. Once he un-learns his dickishness, he even displays gentleness, kindness, and generosity.
During the concluding scenes to “Something There,” Belle realizes that the Beast (while deeply flawed) is her Prince Charming - someone remarkably suited for her. He’s not flattering or wooing or assumes she should like him (like Gaston) because Belle hates that. It’s at this point she realizes she loves him.
“So good God why does she leave in the end if that’s the case?” you might be shouting right now. The obvious answer is she doesn’t know if he loves her. He doesn’t say it, and he only asks if she could be happy in the castle. I think she fears he might just be lonely. But the largest fear is one that does get articulated by Belle: “Can anyone be happy if they’re not free?” I don’t think she’s just talking about herself, because in all honestly she chose to come back. There’s no sign after the wolf chase that the Beast would keep her from leaving, so there’s no fear holding her back (this is another reason I get annoyed when people say it’s Stockholm Syndrome but this is already getting long). The Beast isn’t free either. Nobody can truly love in isolation - the Beast from society, Belle from her father, the staff from their loved ones. The Beast needs to let Belle not only to prove that he cares for her needs over his own, but to understand that they both have responsibilities they need to answer for. “Evermore” exemplifies this because in it the Beast holds himself accountable for everything he’s done. He wasn’t cursed for his capriciousness, but because he ignored the needs of the world around him. Belle is needed in that world, the Beast recognizes that need and let’s her go.
Belle comes back because she loves him, and in doing so truly becomes the conduit between the Beast and the society that he turned his back on even before he was the Beast. If you love your fellow man, they will love you back. When society works well, it’s when we love and take care of each other. That’s what Love, Big Picture Love is, and Belle and the Beast are just a microcosm of that love.
alex supporting maggie so wholeheartedly because she knows that mistakes don’t define you. that maggie cheating doesn’t make her a bad person, it makes her flawed, sure. but not bad.
alex tells her they all do dumb stuff, and alex’s? well, she drunk and she partied and she got arrested. but she realised that it doesn’t define her, that was who she once was. before the deo, before supergirl, before maggie. her past was a seemingly straight party girl failing out of school. if alex believed, even for a minute, that your past is who you are, she’d still be that same girl. she wouldn’t be a top agent at the deo, saving lives daily, working with superheroes, gay as you like and in a relationship with the love of her life.
maggie was supported and shown care and love and exactly what she needed after a lifetime of not getting that. and you can tell that she felt absolutely horrible about what she did to emily. that she still held that as something that made her feel like she was a bad person who doesn’t deserve the happiness alex gives her. the part of her that made her believe her other ex when she said she was insensitive, borderline sociopathic… after she was outed to her parents, she hid inside herself. she didn’t open up to girlfriends and lost many relationships. her longest relationship was emily and was when she was pretty young (probably very early 20s) and she sabotaged it herself. because she hasn’t believed she deserves happiness long before emily told her so.
but here alex is. here she is telling maggie that she does deserve happiness, love, kindness. that anything her ex girlfriends, her parents, ever said to her, is not true. alex is ready to fight to the end of the earth to protect and defend maggie to herself and to others that may think badly of her. and she knows maggie. she knows what she’s done, what she has been through, and loves her because of that, not in spite of it. and god, does maggie sawyer deserve alex danvers.
The Corner That Held Them by Sylvia Townsend Warner Just starting this imagined history of life in a 14th-century nunnery (cloistered drama with black death and medieval aesthetics are my favourites)! I read the brilliant Lolly Willowes by Townsend Warner earlier this year (dreamy young woman rejects the trappings of Edwardian spinsterhood and becomes a witch to commune with Satan and be at-one with the woodland - that is seriously the plot) and it was superb, so I’m really looking forward to this.
Poems by Elizabeth Bishop I prefer to read poetry one poem at a time and then sit with it for a bit, so I’ve been reading this collection on-and-off for a while. I find her writing so calming; cool, objective and precise with these tantalising hints at a vigilantly-constrained ocean of feeling. I can’t describe the way I experience her words. I plan to read the new Bishop biography (A Miracle for Breakfast by Megan Marshall) soon, which will probably make me want to re-read them all again.
Lord John and the Hand of Devils by Diana Gabaldon I’m reading the Lord John Grey books as part of my Outlander re-read (mostly re-reading the main series, but throwing in all novellas and tangentially related works in the order in which they were written, because I’m a crazy completist, and just total trash for this fictional world generally), so I’m jumping in and out of this short story collection as they occur chronologically. This morning I finished Lord John and the Succubus, which was good(ish)! Phew, as I was not much enamoured of the first two LJG stories - mysteries are REALLY not my thing - but I’m committed now ( or should be committed, like institutionally?) and everyone assures me they get more awesome. Yay Lord John feels!