Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Waiting for a Bug (pictures I like)

 Literally, that's what this bird was doing. As I was getting my camera out to take pictures of it, a bug flew by. I was aware of the bug flying toward the bird and was thinking nothing of it. The bird twitched and snapped the bug out of the air. It was like blinking your eye. So, yeah, I missed it, but I still got some good pictures when it went back to waiting for the next one.

Friday, April 1, 2022

WandaVision (an MCU phase four review)


There will be spoilers.

WandaVision is as good a place as any to start on MCU Phase Four. It picks up, basically, as soon as The Blip occurred. Wanda returns to find Vision's body gone and goes in search of him, and Monica Rambeau returns to find that her mother died while she was not existing. All of the action happens prior to Spider-Man: Far From Home.

I loved WandaVision when it was first released. From the first episode. Doing the series in the styles of different eras of sitcoms was a lot of fun. But, then, I grew up watching all of those old black & white television shows, so I can also understand younger generations who did not do that not feeling like they were in on the joke. That said, there is enough context provided within the show itself so that anyone watching should be able to at least get that there is a joke and not feel like they were being excluded.
[Yes, I'm talking about all the people (mostly young dudes) who complained that the first few episodes were stupid. They were objectively not stupid, so stop being pissy about not everything being tailored just for you. You are not the only audience.]

It was even better the second time.

It's the kind of series, because of the way it unfolds, where you miss things the first time through. You don't understand the significance. Like The Sixth Sense. If you think you caught everything the first time, I'm just gonna say that you're wrong.

Things that stood out for me on the second viewing:
Jimmy Woo and his magic tricks. Almost as soon as we see Woo, he pulls a business card out of thin air for Monica Rambeau. This picks up from Ant-Man and the Wasp and may be my favorite single moment from the series. It made me laugh hard. It made me re-appreciate having just re-watched all of the MCU movies.

Evan Peters showing up as Pietro. Now, I liked this the first time. Peters performance of Quicksilver is one of the highlights of Fox's X-Men movies, so it was a lot of fun to have him in WandaVision. On the second viewing, though, having now seen Spider-Man: No Way Home and knowing vaguely what's coming in Doctor Strange, I find this move by Marvel rather brilliant. And the mutants are coming to the MCU, too, so... yeah... Loved Peters in this even more the second time.

Kathryn Hahn as Agnes/Ag(atha Hark)ness (get the name?). First, Kathryn Hahn is great. She's amazing and completely underrated. She should have more and bigger roles. It changes your perspective once you know she's the bad guy, like watching Sixth Sense knowing that Willis' character is dead.

Also, I think Paul Bettany is completely underrated among the MCU actors. He has had to be way more versatile than anyone else, starting out as just a voice, being an unemotional machine, being human; it's a lot. His performances have helped the other actors to stand out. He's impressive.

Having said all of that, the real power of WandaVision is that it's a story about grief. And not just Wanda's grief, lest we forget that Monica is also going through her own grief that is just as fresh as Wanda's. It's two different perspectives, but Wanda has been touched by so much trauma, not the least of which is discovering that S.W.O.R.D. has confiscated her "husband's" body and won't give it back, that it's understandable why she would try to retreat into what was the happiest moments of her life. She can't face going forward. The story, while filled with action and a spectacular "boss battle," is heart wrenching and touching. Powerful. Especially considering what Wanda has to give up to set things right. No better encapsulation exists than Vision's words to Wanda to help her to realize that it is, actually, all okay: But what is grief if not love persevering?

We have a societal view that grief is one of those bad emotions. It makes people uncomfortable. But, you know what, it's okay to be sad. We don't need to try to hide it or pretend that we're over it or any of a number of other ways that society says that we should move along. But how much grief is too much? Who can say? That's for the individual to decide. Maybe if we did better at letting people grieve and be sad or any of a number of other "bad" emotions, people wouldn't get so messed up by trying to suppress them.
Just sayin'.

So, yeah, WandaVision is a great show, and, honestly, I'm more than a little impressed that Marvel/Disney took on such a heavy subject. It's not often we see these kinds of topics dealt with in popular media.