Tag: s.h.i.e.l.d. (Page 1 of 2)

Evan Rachel Wood on Westworld

Sexism and Androids in Entertainment

Recently, I wrote about androids in entertainment for Comic Book Resources. With the popularity of Westworld, and a new Blade Runner being released soon, I wrote it because I thought it was time to revisit all the great almost-human androids we’ve seen on TV and in movies.

While I was researching that list, however, a definite trend emerged that I hadn’t paid much attention to before. Most of the female androids were, essentially, a man’s fantasy made manifest. They’re beautiful and scantily clad. They fawn over the men who created them. They were almost all Stepford Wives, which I found disturbing and nauseating at the same time. Nauseating, because of the idea that 1) a man can’t or won’t earn the affection of a real woman so he makes a fake one instead and 2) just, ew. I found this trend disturbing because it feeds into the idea that women are only put on this Earth to serve men, that we are accessories to a man’s life. I didn’t like that at all.

About half of the androids on the list were male, but only one of those was built to be a sex slave — Gigolo Joe from A.I. The rest were scientists, mercenaries, police officers, guardians… you get the point. Only two of the females on the list — May from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Fembots from The Bionic Woman — weren’t specifically created to be sexual receptacles.

What really got me thinking about android sexism was when I was reading about Fembots. The evil Dr. Franklin created them to take the places of real women so he could get closer to some kind of device that controlled the weather (definitely a ’70s kind of villain). Here’s the kicker: The Fembots replaced six secretaries of the most important men who worked at the Office of Scientific Intelligence. I’ve got nothing against secretaries; I was a secretary for a long time, and I actually enjoy that kind of work. But I was really taken aback that, in the ’70s, it didn’t occur to any of The Bionic Woman writers to make even one of the scientists a woman.

Maybe it makes sense. The sexual revolution didn’t occur until the ’60s. In order for one of the O.S.I. scientists, who were top of their field, to be a woman, she would have had to have earned her Ph.D. by 1977, when the episode aired. She would have also had to have had a lot of research, publications, grants and journal articles on her resumé. Maybe that was asking too much of the writers.

What’s next?

Regardless of the whether the timing would have worked or not, being reminded that even in 1977 women wouldn’t have been portrayed as scientists served two purposes. First, I was reminded how far we’ve come in a short period of time. TV shows are filled with women in all kinds of important roles. While TV isn’t real life, at least it represents an ideal we can strive for. (For instance, half of Canada’s Prime Minister’s cabinet is women. Love you, Trudeau!) Second, it’s a reminder of how far we have to go. On average, women only earn $0.75 for every $1 a man earns. Our current president’s staff and cabinet are woefully lacking in women. Very few women lead our country’s biggest corporations.

However, we continue to fight for leadership roles, and there is hope. In 2015, the number of female CEOs replacing men was 70%. And, in 2015, women held 18 world leadership positions. (Those women still only accounted for about one-in-ten of the leaders of United Nations member states, but still!)

Hopefully, the May android of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will become the standard for fembots in entertainment, rather than poor Dolores on Westworld, who has been used by every man she’s ever encountered. Even better would be to see real life imitate art, with more women in leadership roles everywhere.

#askhermore

"Stronger Together" -- When Kara's attempts to help National City don't go according to plan, she must put aside the doubts that she -- and the city's media -- has about her abilities in order to capture an escapee from the Kryptonian prison, Fort Rozz, when SUPERGIRL moves to its regular time period, Monday, Nov. 2 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Why We Need Superheroes We Can Identify With

I have always been drawn to superheroes, especially ones who have super strength of some kind or excellent fighting abilities. I’m sure there’s some kind of psychological label that could be applied to my interest in superheroes, but I don’t care; I just like them.

But something happens, however, when I watch a female superhero go head to head with someone, or something, and take them down. When I see that girl  (or woman, if you prefer) kickin’ butt and taking names, something fires up inside me and I imagine myself as the superhero. Any movie or TV show, or theater production, can be stirring, but watching a superhero show that stars a young, white female who takes charge and saves the world is particularly powerful for me. Why? Because I’m a (relatively) young, white female.

Candace Patton as Iris on 'The Flash'

Candace Patton as Iris on ‘The Flash’

I had always known this, without ever really thinking about it. Over the years I’ve been a fan of Wonder WomanCharlie’s AngelsBuffy the Vampire Slayer, Heroes and Alias. Now I watch Game of Thrones (Mother of Dragons!), Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel’s Agent CarterOnce Upon a Time and, most recently, Supergirl, no doubt because those shows are full of women who are heroes. I admire those characters and I can easily identify with them.

Watching the impressive first episode of Supergirl, when she finally comes into her own, wearing the iconic “S” on her chest, I realized something: Identifying with a superhero who looks like me, a fictional one, is empowering. My very next thought was, what about everyone else? Who do they identify with?

I have a very good friend who is a strong, black woman. She and I both love superheroes, fantasy and sci fi. I remember, years ago, how disappointed she was when the first X-Men movie came out. She told me that she had grown up reading the X-Men comics, and that Halle Berry’s performance as Storm, her favorite character, was awful, a real letdown. At the time, I didn’t think much of her comment. I simply agreed that yes, Halle Berry was awful as Storm. (She’s gotten only slightly better in the sequels.) But after Supergirl got my adrenaline pumping, I thought, oh, that’s what Storm means to her, and isn’t it sad that she doesn’t have dozens of black female superheroes to relate to?

There is something incredibly powerful in seeing yourself visually represented, whether it’s a baby doll, a Barbie, an action figure, a movie or TV show. Seeing someone who looks like you do things that you only wish you could do can spur you on, help you get through rough times, or inspire you to be more than you are. So what do people who aren’t white males, or white females, do when nearly no one in the media looks like them?

Right now in the United States, possibly around the world, racial tension is high. I don’t pretend to be an expert on race relations, racism or anything about it. I’m struggling to understand racism, privilege and all its implications. But having this “aha!” moment, even though it was while watching Supergirl, gave me the tiniest glimpse into someone else’s world.

I’m no comic book expert, but even I know there just aren’t a lot of superheroes who aren’t white. No wonder so many fans were excited that Black Panther will get his own movie. We’ll have to wait until 2018 to see him in a starring role, but we’ll get a glimpse of him in Captain America: Civil War.

Melissa Benoist and Mehcad Brooks on 'Supergirl'

Melissa Benoist and Mehcad Brooks on ‘Supergirl’

There’s been the tiniest increase in diversity lately. James Olson on Supergirl is played by Mehcad Brooks; Candace Patton plays Iris West on The Flash; David Ramsey plays John Diggle, Oliver Queen’s best friend on Arrow. (It’s no coincidence that Greg Berlanti is the executive producer on all of those shows.) Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stars Ming-Na Wen and Henry Simmons. But that handful of roles is a small fraction of butt-kicking guys and gals on TV.

In an increasingly diverse population, it is past time to see more diversity on TV — and comic books and movies and, well, you get the idea. Like I said, I’m no expert and I can’t begin to understand what it’s like to be a person of color. I do understand what it’s like to be female, and continually underestimated, patronized, passed over and dismissed. So if Supergirl can make me feel better about my place in the world, what would a strong superhero of color do for someone else?

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD 4,722 Hours

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “4,722 Hours”: Who Was That?

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “4,722 Hours” prompted me to write the geekiest article I’ve ever written. Sure, sure. I know. I write about geeky things, from Daredevil reviews, to my thoughts on the latest Batman comics. Sometimes I even talk about why Elvis was the greatest living being in the history of civilization. So this isn’t going to come to a surprise to anyone that I’m geeky.

But consider this the geek version of a friend who drunkenly admits that he’s into light bondage, and then three years later is arrested for killing a mousy co-worker in his sex dungeon. In my case, you would go into my attic and figure out that I had spent thousands of dollars on comic books over the last twenty years and have nothing to show for it but some useless knowledge that I’m about to flex on [virtual] paper, outing myself forever as someone who knows way too much about this kind of thing.

The latest episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “4,722 Hours,” was, for me, easily their best episode. It was written by someone named Craig Titley. Let’s all keep our eyes open for him! Good job, Craig! “4,722 Hours” involved the untold story of Jemma Simmons, stranded in an unknown region of space on a planet that had water, food, and oxygen– so, she didn’t die. On the show, Jemma had already been rescued from the planet, but now we got an entire flashback episode to finally see what happened on the planet. And it was a doozy of a story.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “4,722 Hours” really found it’s legs and finally told an interesting, compelling story that recalled the best of the Star Trek and Marvel universes (Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra). I really didn’t think ol’ Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had it in her. And how about that Elizabeth Henstridge who plays Jemma? She was really, really good, at times becoming a completely different person than her previous moments on AOS would have led me to believe. I know she won’t get an Emmy, but it was that good.

What Happened

So, Jemma was on the planet and she met the handsome NASA astronaut Will Daniels, played by Dillon Casey, who was the best guest star that AOS has ever had, and was probably a better and more dynamic actor than anyone currently actually on the show, recalling a young Jeremy Sisto (Jeremy’s not that old!). Jemma and Will tried to get off the planet, eventually succumbing to a love-the-one-you’re-with-on-the-planet-forever-with-no-hope-of-getting-home, and going to smooch-up city. On the planet was a shadowy figure, recalling death at one point, and a scary Twilight Zone astronaut at another moment, who stalked their every move outside of the love hatch. Will kept saying that the figure was death. Also, scary death guy kicked up a sand storm whenever he was on the way. Eventually, Jemma was rescued by the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Will was left behind, firing his last few bullets at death guy.

So who in the hell was that other thing on the planet?

Let’s start with, how did Jemma get to the planet? There was an obelisk that was created by the Kree (one of Marvel’s alien races who figure heavily into Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Kree are blue.) that would become a portal to another world in its liquid state and then turn back into a monolith. I don’t remember all the things they said, but the Inhumans were afraid of it.

So who are the Inhumans? They are a weapon that the Kree created by goofing around with the genetics of the nascent life on Earth. It’s too crazy to look up every little detail, but in prehistory, the Kree were experimenting with life on Earth to weaponize it, hence the Inhuman’s powers. The Inhumans are supposed to be an army for the Kree. Several regular characters on AOS are Inhumans, including Skye, who is now called Daisy Johnson, and sometimes “Quake.” That’s not at all confusing, AOS! Change the main character’s name in season three! Why not?

Okay, that was all pretty geeky for off the top of my head. It’s about to get a thousand times worse. Another of these weapons created by the Kree are the Dire Wraiths, but they’re from another planet. In other words, the Kree went to hundreds of worlds and tried to weaponize the indigenous population through genetic meddling. Dire Wraiths are another Marvel alien race, except these ones are shape shifters, meaning that they can assume just about any shape they can think of, as long as it is roughly the same size as them. And they’re witches. And lately, they have been displaying some psychic ability.

A long time ago in useless Marvel history, there was another planet, Galador, that was about to be overrun by the Dire Wraiths. They took their best and brightest and encased them in permanent suits of armor as a successful, last ditch effort to thwart the Dire Wraiths. These were the Galadorian Space Knights, of which ROM was the finest and had his own super weird comic book for many years. For licensing purposes, I doubt we’ll see ROM show up anywhere in the Marvel universe, although that would be awesome. Oddly, Hasbro owns him.

But the reason I bring ROM up is that, like I said, the Dire Wraiths are shape shifters. So they were trying to infiltrate and take over Earth and ROM showed up on Earth to stop them. But since Dire Wraiths looked like humans, it seemed to the humans that this giant robot (encased in armor, remember) showed up to randomly kill people with a ray gun that reduced their bodies to ash. It turned out that ROM wasn’t killing the Dire Wraiths; he was banishing them to Limbo. Limbo is not the Catholic Limbo, but a dark dimension where not much grows, but it is survivable in a horrible way. ROM used this other dimension as an intergalactic Gulag for Dire Wraiths.

Beginning to see where I’m going with this?

Instead of ROM’s ray gun, we have the obelisk. And who knows who banished people with the obelisk originally? But I’m betting it was some Kree thing that doesn’t really matter. Maybe it’s what they did with Inhumans who were jerks? So I think that was a Dire Wraith on the planet, menacing any visitors. And I think Jemma and the astronaut, Will, were in Limbo.

Okay, probably the simplest explanation is that the death apparition on the planet is some jerk Inhuman with weird powers who got banished there by the Kree. Hell, it also smacked a little bit of Marvel character Nightmare, who lives in another dimension and can go into people’s nightmares and drive them crazy. But I’m going to go to crazy town and say that it was a Dire Wraith, who was banished to Limbo, and that Jemma was in Limbo. Remember how she and the Duke of Handsome kept saying it was “hell?”

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. - "4,722 Hours" - After her dramatic rescue from another planet, Simmons is still reeling from her ordeal and reveals how she had to fight for her life in a harsh new world, on "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Tyler Golden) DILLON CASEY

(I really liked Will!)

By the by, I realize that the death apparition (I really wish the episode would have offered us a name) didn’t really change forms, rather just threw on a space suit and picked up a sword. Is that how he got “into people’s heads,” playing dress-up? If so that’s kind of lame.

Why the Obelisk?

So why did NASA send anyone through the obelisk? I’m guessing that’s just a “Hydra-infiltrated NASA” or “because it was there” thing. It doesn’t really matter, although I’m hoping we will get some kind of explanation.

One thing that wasn’t really covered on the show yet is that it really seemed like that obelisk grabbed Jemma, like on purpose. Like the obelisk splashed into water with the express purpose of gathering Jemma up and taking her to the planet. But maybe it was a coincidence that she got grabbed up.

Other Theories

I’ve read a few online theories that Jemma was on Ego the Living Planet, which is exactly what it sounds like, a jerk planet that is a bad guy in a lot of comics. Will did say that the planet had “moods.” And Ego would explain why the canyon got larger, which my Dire Wraith explanation doesn’t explain. But I would be really surprised if super scientist Jemma was on a living planet and didn’t figure it out. Also, Ego is always babbling about how he is Ego the Living Planet, in what I assume must be an extremely loud voice.

Another weird thing from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “4,722 Hours” is that every time– except for once– that we see a sandstorm kick up, the mysterious figure appears to menace Jemma. In the exceptional sand storm, Jemma is actually caught in the sandstorm and wakes up unscathed. Could it be that everything that happened after that was one of the “tricks” that Will described? By the end of her time with Will, Jemma was pretty devastated. On the other hand, that would involve the Star Trek logic of believing the things that Will told her, and applying them to her situation, where it would be much more likely that if Will was some sort of will-o-wisp, he wouldn’t be honest with her. But why in the hell did she live through her first sandstorm?

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that it could be Ego. One of the things that makes Marvel shows and movies so great is that they embrace their comic book origins and don’t try to duck the costumes and funny names. It took Arrow FOUR seasons to be called Green Arrow! But Marvel, hell, I can see the same people who threw Howard the Duck into the end of the Guardians of the Galaxy have a Dire Wraith show up here. And the cosmic Marvel is having its day in the sun. Thanos and the Guardians of the Galaxy are all cosmic Marvel. Ronin the Accuser is Kree! And the Collector from Guardians has a brother named the Gardener, who easily could have been on the planet that Jemma was on, then left and everything died out. So Marvel don’t mind taking it to the crazy hoop. And that’s why I’m comfortable telling you my ludicrous theory that probably won’t be correct.

Sometimes AOS can be lame, so the alternate explanation is that the other guy on the planet is the British guy who got sent back in the second episode, “Purpose in the Machine,” and will be some dude we’ve never heard of who just likes to kill people.

But I’m going on record with a crazy theory that can’t possibly be true: Dire Wraith, Limbo, Jemma. Let’s see what happens.

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