WB vs Justice League

justice league

Dawn of Justice was terrible. Snyder made Superman into a dull, whining emo and Batman into a dim-witted, drunken, murdering psychopath who happens to dress like a bat. It goes without saying, then, that even after a mostly very good solo outing for Wonder Woman, I had no hope at all for Justice League.

Imagine my surprise, then, when after weeks of trying and failing to get in to see it, I found myself entirely alone in the cinema, enjoying most of what I was seeing. That’s right, I went to see Thor. I jest. I didn’t see Thor. Perhaps ‘enjoying’ is too strong a term. Easily tolerating.

Given how long it has been out now, I won’t try to avoid spoilers here but, honestly, there’s pretty much nothing TO spoil.

First off, the postivity of my opinion will obviously be swayed by how awful BvS was and the fact that it’s difficult not to compare Justice League with that. Were this the first team up film they had made, I would on the one hand be less forgiving, but on the other be a little more hopeful for the future of the DCMU (which is what I’m calling it). It had plenty of problems, but they seemed smaller than those in BvS, and there were actually enjoyable parts. On a scale of 1 (BvS) to 10 (WW – not that I’d quite give WW a 10/10), I would call Justice League a 6. In a proper rating out of 10, standing on its own merit, I’m not too sure what I could give it. Definitely less than that. 4?

Let’s start with my three biggest problems:

The CGI – WB needs to get its &%$! together when it comes to many things, but perhaps the most obvious to even the most casual of moviegoers is the CGI. It is sensationally bad. JL contains the worst yet. From a terrible, 100% CGI villain to completely unnecessary 100% CGI Alfred, to green-screening that looks like an unfinished fan film, WB would be hard pressed to make the CGI any worse. Cyborg’s face doesn’t need to be CGI – just have him wear a half mask and do it up with little bits of CGI. Although, they couldn’t get Superman’s upper lip to look realistic, so perhaps all is lost in this department.

The length – Perhaps ‘learning’ from people complaining about the length of BvS, Justice League is only two hours long. That would be okay for a solo film, but this is a team-up of six major characters. Although it did, to be fair, seem to give the characters equal-ish screen time, it could have done with at least an extra 30 minutes. As it is, it feels as though Whedon or Snyder or someone forgot that a film should have a middle, and instead went straight from the beginning into a run up to the end. One moment, we’re seeing some of the characters doing their own thing, and the next it’s all go. It’s like Usain Bolt turning up for the Olympics opening ceremony only to hear the starting gun and everyone’s off running and he’s not even in his goddamn shorts!

The Foundation – The film itself can’t help that it has to work off BvS, but…it does. Snyder stupidly rushed into the death of Superman storyline when the world doesn’t trust him, Batman just tried to murder him, and Diana has barely even met him. Even we, the audience, don’t have a good grasp of him as a character (this particular iteration, that is). Yet we’re supposed to believe that the entire world is in mourning because of his death, and so is each of the soon-to-be League. There are shots of places around the world flying gigantic flags with the Superman logo on them. Simply moronic.

Since I’m not sure how else to continue this whatever-this-is, let’s talk about the heroes:

Batman

batman

Batman was a huge disappointment in BvS. He was stupid and oblivious (he lets himself get caught in Luthor’s servers twice, and clumsy, plodding Clark Kent manages to follow him there a third time without him even noticing. World’s greatest dewhat?). There was an allusion to him being an alcoholic womaniser, rather than this being simply a disguise and misdirection. He’s a murdering psychopath. He stands smirking as his traps hurt Superman instead of actually acting. He sees Doomsday about to laser-face him and cowers behind his hands instead of using his multitude of tools and skills to save himself (I maintain that the scene should have happened as is, except without him swearing and hiding, and when Diana turns around to see if he’s okay, he’s standing on the roof above, having escaped in time anyway – she’s still the hero who jumped in front of face laser to save him, and he’s still Batman).

batman arkham

But…I’m getting off track. In Justice League, we’re not too sure if he’s still a murderer because no one ever mentions it and he only fights parademons, which don’t count. He’s still not the Batman I want to see, but he’s a little closer to it. Despite being an older Batman, he shows no signs of the take-charge, always ten steps ahead, ready for anything, surprised by nothing Batman I want to see. For reference, Kevin Conroy is the definitive Batman for me – a live action version of the Batman of the Arkham games would be the Marvel-buster (basically a more brutal, adult version of the animated series Batman). But he doesn’t seem quite as stupid this time, at least. The worst part for me was when Superman first shows up to fight Steppenwolf and Batman literally gasps, with a huge grin on his face. I mean…no.

Batman’s first scene is by far the best and (along with a certain two-sworded villain’s appearance in the post-credits) actually gave me a little hope for his solo film (NOTE: Before editing this, I read that he may now not be playing Batman again after all, which is disappointing – the problem is the Batman he’s been given, not how Affleck plays him). There’s nothing particularly special about it, but it just felt…nice. It felt Batman-ish. A common burglar is climbing out of a window with his loot, and in the window’s reflection, you see Batman watching. Then comes a fairly typical cat and mouse sequence where the thief tries to shoot him but Batman’s never quite there. Again, nothing special, but the most Batman-ish we’ve seen this Batman (and credit to the city around them – it felt like Gotham).

Wonder Woman

WW

There’s not too much to say about Wonder Woman. Her role is fairly minimal outside of hitting and slicing things. Otherwise, she’s really only there to protest bringing Superman back and to explain, unconvincingly, why she went off people in between WW and BvS. But what she did do, she did well.

It looked from the trailers like the team was a bit of a mess right up until Diana takes charge and gets them working as a team. This is not the case. Neither do they work badly together to start with, nor do they work particularly well together in the final fight. Perhaps WB’s collective brain will start working and we’ll see a Patty Jenkins Justice League next. I don’t know how she’d handle Batman, but WW, Superman, and Flash would all do well under her.

I was disappointed to see that not once did she fly. I still don’t know for sure if this version of Wonder Woman CAN fly. She certainly seemed to in her solo film, but it wasn’t clear enough. I’ve said before that, to me, she is almost Superman’s equal. He has more raw strength and power, but she is a demigod (or maybe full god in this version?) and is magic-based, and a trained warrior. These things together – again, to me – make her pretty much his equal in terms of who can beat who (up until Superman totally unleashes, that is; which he didn’t). I was worried, then, when I saw in a leaked video of Superman’s fight with them, that they headbutt each other. She barely knocks his head back, but then he headbutts her back and she gets planted in the concrete. The full scene is slightly better, as he actually headbutts her first, and does as little damage as her return headbutt. This at least shows that the most powerful man in the universe has to make some real effort to hurt her (but look out further down for how that’s completely ruined later on).

Superman

superman

We all knew he was going to come back in this film, but it was as though all the characters knew he was going to come back in this film too. There was no light bulb moment when they realise they can bring him back; there was no clever or interesting way they went about it; there was no emotional realisation that it might actually be possible; there was no real drama to him suddenly being alive again. Aquaman and Diana put forward their ideas that it might be a bad idea – that they don’t know that he’d come back wholly himself – but otherwise, there’s not really any discussion about it.

Then there’s the fact that he’s only in three crucial scenes. His fight with the others, his talk with Lois, and then the end fight when he turns up to save the day, single-handed. Again, this is where a longer film would have come in handy. Perhaps the worst thing about this is that when he does turn up to fight Steppenwolf (cue Batman’s schoolgirl gasp), he bats him about like a cat playing with a dead mouse. This is badly handled. Not only because the other superpowered heroes do him almost no damage (remember how Superman had to really try in order to hurt WW?), but also because of the introductory flashback scene of the first time he comes to Earth, and is fought by Amazons, Atlantians, ‘the tribes of man’, and…wait for it…gods. Yes, the actual gods fight him, and he’s still only just sent packing. But Superman turns up and that’s that. He doesn’t even get a hair out of place while ‘fighting’ Steppenwolf. This, to me, is a little too much. Steppenwolf should at least have got in a couple of good hits. It should have been Superman’s power that allowed them TOGETHER to overwhelm Steppenwolf. Sure, he should be capable of defeating him single-handed, but it shouldn’t be that easy, or else what is the point of the Justice League? Not to mention, if Steppenwolf had hurt Superman a bit, we’d have been wondering just how much more damage Darkseid will be able to do (and I really just can’t get over how weak it makes Diana seem).

Bad faceAnd he was just creepy and weird, like a Henry Cavill doppleganger was brought in to play him. He was so inhuman and unemotional all the way through – even when fighting Steppenwolf – as though he resented having to be there – character and actor.

 

Also, where did he get his new suit?

Flash

the-flash

Apparently, Flash was most people’s favourite character. I don’t really understand why. His scenes with his father were a bit weak – there was no chemistry there at all. A lot of his humour was way over the top, forced, unfunny, and just childish. He runs weirdly. There’s a scene near the end where he’s running along a road, and I literally thought he was falling or something because of the way his arms were flailing about. But no, that’s just how he runs.

He is perhaps the most pointless character, as at least the others have reason to be there. Flash is just there because he’s part of the Justice League, so he HAS to be. Sure, he saves some people, but there’s no part where he earns his place in the team or the film.

Aquaman

aquaman

I expected to dislike Aquaman. I don’t dislike Jason Mamoa, but his characters come across as too arrogant and smug for my liking. But, aside from a bit too much of the “Oh yeah”s and the “My man”s and the “Yeah-ya”s – which are nails on chalkboard to most non-Americans – he was actually okay. Not more than okay, but okay. I’ve read reviews that refer to him as the ‘bad boy’, which is just ridiculous. There’s nothing bad boy-ish about him other than his initial refusal to help. That’s it. He doesn’t hesitate for a second once he’s onboard. Doesn’t second guess anyone, doesn’t take issue with Diana taking charge and giving orders (one order), nothing. He has a teeny tiny spat with Cyborg which is over in an instant and feels no more serious than the rest of his banter.

What I don’t understand, though, is why he helps in the first place. Steppenwolf attacks Queen Mera, and Aquaman turns up to get beaten too. Then Mera – queen, remember – tells him that his then-queen mother gave him up to protect him (which he seems to immediately accept and change his previously-negative opinion of said mother), and that it would have been the mother’s duty (as queen) to go after Steppenwolf, but now it is Aquaman’s. W…why? Why is the queen’s duty not the queen’s duty now that the queen is a different queen? At least the Amazon queen actually makes some effort herself (and is actually acted properly too). It’s made to sound as though this is the first time Aquaman has even turned up in Atlantis, too, which makes it all even weirder.

Cyborg

Cyborg

I’ve heard it said that this is the weakest character, but I don’t agree. I don’t think he is given any less screen time than other characters, and best of all, his self-pity doesn’t last long and isn’t overwhelmingly irritating like certain other Batman/Superman films I could mention. He’s well acted, badly-CGI’d, and plays a crucial role in the story – but not so crucial that you feel he should have had a bigger part to play.

But seriously, why CGI the entire cyborg half of his face? It’s unnecessary and awful.

JL

When it came to humour, as I’ve already said, Flash failed to amuse most of the time, but even that wasn’t totally horrendous as Age of Ultron taught me to expect from Whedon. The worst of it was the bit we already saw, with him getting excited about the Bat signal. Otherwise it was his general awkward, immature nature that was supposed to amuse. There were, I think, two parts that actually made me laugh – one of which is an older woman on the news, which has nothing to do with anything.

Danny Elfman – I’m assuming at Whedon’s behest, or at least permission – brought back the Batman and Superman themes (the proper ones), which worked quite well for Batman, despite him not being a Batman worthy of that theme. For Superman, I can only assume the part where it was used properly was cut. The only time we hear it is a bizzaro version when he’s not himself and is fighting the team. There is a recognisable sound when he punches Steppenwolf, which might be at least a bit of the theme, but it was barely audible underneath the noise of Steppenwolf hitting the ground. Perhaps just as well, since he was even less deserving of it than Batman.

HARWOOD

‘Flat’ is probably the best word to describe it. Nothing ever felt remotely dangerous or dramatic, the only time the characters had a hint of emotional interaction with each other was when Bruce annoys Diana and she shoves him. Even that was over in an instant and they were apologising to each other minutes later. There’s no coming together, no clumsiness of people not used to working as a team and not used to trusting others, no…anything much. I’m not even totally sure why it would have been so terrible if Steppenwolf got all three motherboxes. I’m sure it was explained… It’s full of missed opportunities, rushes into things too fast, leaves no time for meaningful character development. It’s more like a pitch for a full film: ‘These are just some of the things you’ll see if you let us make a full Justice League movie’.

So, perhaps the main reason I actually ended up enjoying my two hours was because it was not as terrible as Dawn of Justice. I can’t explain why else I left the cinema not feeling as though I wasted two hours. I want the extended cut (BvS was less terrible in the extended cut), but whose do I want? Snyder’s? Not really. Whedon’s? Not really. I just want a longer, fuller version. But for now, I’m just surprised that I actually want to see it again.

Batman

See also:

The Big Blue Boy Scout
Birth of the Superhero

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Jedises? Ben & Rey Skywalker?

The Last Jedi first artwork

The small bits of Star Wars: The Last Jedi artwork that we’ve seen have got people talking again – as though anyone needed an excuse to talk about Star Wars. Who is/are the last Jedi? Who are Rey’s parents? What is the connection between her and Kylo Ren? Why the hell did R2 magically wake up for no reason at all?

The most popular theory seems to be that Rey is Luke Skywalker’s daughter. I’m in two minds about whether I like the idea of the galaxy revolving around the Skywalker family, but if she is to be a Skywalker, I’d rather it was maternal. In the no-longer-canon Expanded Universe, Han and Leia have twins (and a third child, but who cares about him?): Jaina and Jacen Solo.

Jaina and Jacen SoloJacen turns to the dark side, while Jaina remains in the light, so Kylo and Rey taking an approximation of these roles would be a decent nod to this. Plus, Jacen kills Luke’s wife, which would add to the justification of Luke running off to sulk in the films.

The downside to this is that there’s little likelihood that Han wouldn’t know that Rey is his daughter. Sure, they could have been split up like Luke and Leia, but there would have been no reason to do that, or to keep her secret from Han. Plus she was around six-ish when she was dumped on Jakku – though this is probably about the right age to hide her to keep her safe from Kylo and Snoke.

Failing this, I’d quite like her to be Obi-Wan Kenobi’s granddaughter. His relationship with Satine in The Clone Wars is canon, so it’s a vague possibility. The downside to this is it still leaves room for the absurd Rey/Kylo romance people seem so desperate for.

As for The Last Jedi, we seem to have confirmation that it is meant as a plural. It’s possible that the foreign language versions were simply translated as plural but not actually told that it was, so I’m not taking it as a fact. But it seems likely. Even if Luke is the last at the beginning of the film, if he trains Rey to be a Jedi, there would be two of them by the end. But, given that Snoke is supposedly an ancient being, is it plausible that he was at some point a Jedi? Could The Last Jedi refer to Luke and Snoke? (No, I do not in any way count Leia as a contender.)

And who’s to say Rey will become a Jedi anyway? Perhaps the old ideas of Jedi and Sith are over, at least for a time. It would be interesting to see her become a balance of light and dark, rather than the extreme of either. This is a concept used in the Dawn of the Jedi graphic novel, and it would be interesting to explore beyond just the realms of Jedi = light side and Sith = dark side.

What do you think about these questions? Who is Rey? Who is Snoke? And seriously, were they that lazy at writing that R2 has no actual reason for waking up?! Will Benicio Del Toro be Boba Fett’s son?

Days of Winter Guardians

I have left it so long since the last blog post that the whole layout of this New Post screen has changed. But anyway, it’s time to update the world on my goings on and allow you to unbate your breath.

The main, important things are that I have now finished my second short story featuring Kira. It is tentatively entitled ‘Kira Part 2’. Or ‘Horizon’. It will be first published in the sequel to last year’s anthology: ‘Wyrd Worlds II’. The exact date isn’t known just yet, but it will likely be as soon as this September! So I should probably get started on the cover.

The second important thing is that I’ve been writing a number of blog articles for Uproar Comics, hence why I’m even more quiet than usual here. I’ve been writing about a range of subjects, from the usual films, TV and games, to extraterrestrial life and the Mariana Trench. If you’re interested, which…why would you NOT be, they can all be found here.

And now for the all-important film update! I’ve watched several films in the past couple of months, some of them crap and some of them good.

Captain America 2: Winter Solder is good. Very good. Damn good. I think it’s tied for second place in my list of best Marvel films with Guardians of the Galaxy. The Avengers is better, I think. The only downside is that I guessed the big twist before the film was even released.

Guardians of the Galaxy is also good. Very good. I should probably say damn good, too, because it’s tied with Captain Freedom. It’s not the typical Marvel film, yet ties in with the Marvel universe well. I expected it to be pretty bad purely, simply, because of Chris Pratt. He seemed from the trailers to be an incredibly irritating…prat. But, in fact, he was pretty decent. Personally, I think Nathan Fillion would actually have been better in the role, but it doesn’t matter. It was damn good. And very funny.

X-Men: Days of Future Past was…actually a bit of a let down. Probably mostly because of how much people raved about it, and claimed it was the best Marvel film yet. It isn’t. There are several better ones in my opinion, including at least two previous X-Men films. But it was pretty good. Wolverine was in it, so that was good. But it didn’t feel like a superhero film at all. It was mostly talking, and shouting, and running around. The scenes in the future seem to be there more because they realised how boring the main film was in terms of action, so stuck them in there to keep people interested. And Quicksilver was pointless. But, good acting and a decent enough story. I’m not entirely sure what to think of it, so it’s just as well I’m not giving it a star rating.

Machete Kills. Surprisingly entertaining and amusing.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 was terrible. The worst Marvel film yet, perhaps. Not quite as bad as I’ve heard people say, but terrible. Electro, or whatever his name was, was a complete joke of a villain. Foxx played him well, but the character himself was just ridiculous. I can’t even be bothered to explain why. Plus, spoilers. The conclusion of the relationship with Gwen Stacy wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was ruined by the stupid ending.

So, that’s that. Look out for Kira in Wyrd Worlds II next month. Probably.

The Strong Female Controversy/International Crisis

Ok, I’m going to attempt to lure my thoughts out and onto digital paper. It may or may not work. And yes, it’s not quite a controversy, but it seems people here and there are trying to make it one.

WARNING: I have no particularly direction for the post, so I may very well wander off topic and start ranting about why I can’t save my car in GTA 5, or something.

The topic is the ‘Strong Female’ in fiction. I would like to broaden this to include film/TV and games as well. The argument is that while male protagonists get to be all sorts of assorted adjectives, female protagonists only get to be ‘strong’. That can sometimes be replaced with ‘feisty’ or something similar. I think, like anything, there’s something to say for both sides of this argument.

Firstly, what are we talking about? What genre? What medium? Who is the writer? Let’s take science fiction as our first example. Chances are, the first few sci fi works you think of will feature a male protagonist. Perhaps a female sidekick or love interest. And yes, chances are if that’s the case, that sidekick or love interest will be portrayed as feisty and ‘strong’, but will lack any real depth.

Princess Leia

If you are over a certain age, then it’s likely that Princess Leia will be the first sci fi female your mind’s eye lands on. She’s a good example. She’s ‘strong’, right? She’s feisty. She grabs Han’s blaster and takes control of the situation, basically taking command of her own rescue. She’s always quick with the sarcastic retorts and stinging insults. And…that’s about it. What else is she? What does she actually do? Granted, I haven’t watched the films for a while, but all I remember about her is standing like an idiot in the open, shooting at storm troopers. Shouting orders at men. Scathing remarks. Being incredibly annoying. I think perhaps the reason she is so annoying is that she is such a flat character. She is nothing more than strong.

Something similar can be said for what’sherface with the blue eyes in John Carter (admittedly, I refer to the film, as I haven’t read the graphic novels). Strong and feisty, but little else.

Firefly Zoe

But what about, say, Firefly? Zoe is a strong female. She’s also witty, intelligent, loyal, loving, unnervingly cold… In fact, put it this way. If you were to read a description of her character without seeing her name or the term ‘her/she’, you might automatically assume that you’re reading about a male character. The same goes for River. She’s far more complicated and deep than the typical Strong Female.

What about Hermione in Harry Potter? She’s a pretty strong female protagonist, especially for a child. She’s also intelligent, cunning, quirky and eccentric. She’s more than the typical Strong Female who’s there to make the thing more welcoming to female readers. Ah, but she was written by a woman! Is that the difference? Do we get flat, uncomplicated Strong Female characters because most of them seem to be created by men? And men don’t know how to write and develop females?

No.

I can’t say from experience, as I’ve never read it, but I hear that the female lead in Fifty Shades of Gray is a pretty poor example of a realistic female. Conversely, Lee Child seems to be good at writing female characters. I’m only partway through the second book, but I know that the female FBI agent in that is strong, intelligent, selfless, professional, resolute/stubborn, resourceful…and that’s at page 220 of 560. She’s not the typical weak female who lies in captivity crying and waiting for her knight to come and rescue her. Nor is she the typical Strong Female, who sits there with a scowl and a scathing remark whenever her captor enters the room, waiting for some weak man to come and rescue her so she can berate him for being late and/or stupid. Terry Pratchett can write a woman as well as he can write any man. A good number of his books feature a female lead, and they’re no weaker than those with a male lead. Those characters are no less rounded and complicated than the male ones.

Granny Weatherwax

It would be a lie to say that for every flat, 2D Strong Female, a properly developed one could be named, but let’s not pretend that’s the only kind there is. While we’re at it, let’s not pretend that all male characters are complicated, deep, thoroughly developed things. They’re not.

In fact, let’s go back to Harry Potter. The titular character is more 2D than the female secondary lead. As is Ron. The more action-oriented the piece of fiction – be it a novel, a TV series, a film, or a game – the more flat the male leads are. And aren’t those types of things where we usually find mention of Strong Females? When was the last time someone described the romantic comedy they watched last night, and called the female character a Strong Female? Or a straight up comedy, or even a drama?

Arnold Schwarzenegger

So, then, are we saying that because they are women and not men, these characters should be more developed, more rounded, more complicated? Shouldn’t all our characters aspire to this, regardless of gender? Do we ask if a female character is ‘strong’, while assuming that a male one is, because it’s some kind of novelty for a female to be strong, or because female characters are far more versatile than their stereotyped, typecast male counterparts?

And what are we actually saying when we say ‘strong’? Are we saying that, like Trinity, she can beat the hell out of people? Or maybe she can pick up tanks with one hand? Or is she emotionally strong? Morally strong? Strong in her convictions and beliefs? Is she strong in her muscles, her skills and abilities, or strong in her character? Does it perhaps depend on who’s talking? I never use the term, but if I did, I’d be willing to bet I’d mean something slightly (or completely) different to you.

The general consensus is that most weak female characters (weak as a character, not weak IN character) are written by men. That’s understandable, I suppose, because after all, men don’t understand a thing about women, right? Unlike all the totally believable male characters we churn out, we simply don’t know how to write a realistic woman. Women, naturally, can write perfectly accurate males, though. Just flick through a romance novel or an erotic short and you’d swear it was a biography, wouldn’t you? After all, women are another species altogether.

Yes, women think slightly differently about things. They have different priorities. They take a lot longer to put on their combat armour. But that’s a sweeping generalisation and they’re not as different as society has taken to claiming. Although the whole talking in the middle of a film is simply inhuman.

James Bond

Let’s stick with the Strong Male character for a moment. Think about a book/film/game that’s hugely popular. Now, who is it popular with? If a man was to say to his wife, girlfriend or female friend, ‘Let’s go and see…’, would she sigh and try to think of an excuse not to? Most likely. It’s generally accepted that most women (sweeping generalisation) do not like action films or sci fi. Is that because they contain guns and/or aliens? Or is it because the characters aren’t complicated creatures with depth of character? How 3D a character is James Bond? Maybe men want to be him, but do women really want to be with him? I doubt it.

So, is the complaint really about Strong Females being nothing BUT strong? Or is the complaint that because they are women, they should be more than strong? Because I don’t recall ever reading the term Strong Male in a rant about such characters. Perhaps this is being used as an argument in female equality. Perhaps it’s vaguely analogous to all those who complain about scantily-clad women on, for example, someone’s Facebook timeline. …and then post a topless cowboy and tag all their friends to come and drool over it. Or, with a stack of romance novels beside them (have you ever seen the covers of such books? Imagine a romance novel cover with a woman wearing as little… Would people let that stand?), type an angry comment about how that image their male friend just posted of a bikini model is objectifying women and offensive.

Perhaps the issue is that female characters should be more like American sitcoms. They should be the Alpha Female. Bullying and abusive to their depressed and emasculated husband/male protagonist with no will of his own. They should be the intelligent leader to their brain dead, useless, selfish, sexist (ironically) male counterpart.

Or maybe…just maybe…we shouldn’t give a damn about whether a character is male or female. What we should care about is ‘Is this a good character?’.

The real problem with hearing the term Strong Female, is that it’s quite likely that the referenced character IS indeed Strong, but not a strong character. I’d like to think the difference is becoming more widely understood.

Starbuck

So that is more or less my off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts on the matter. There is arguably more depth to the issue, but I don’t personally think so. I think the real issue is that we need to stop caring so much about whether characters are male or female. The argument used to be that there weren’t enough black characters in films (at least, one’s that are there for more than being the first to get killed off). Now, established white characters are being recast as black (Perry White, Nick Fury, even Pegasus). It has now become the case that people want male characters recast as female, and those characters have to be more than Strong.

To me, the prevalence of female characters is a more important issue. I have found myself playing games and thinking how I’d like more female protagonists (though I’m not sure why). Not only does it give female readers/viewers/players more characters with whom to relate (although arguably, any character should be written well enough to be relatable, no matter the gender), but it offers a slightly wider range of character options and…whatnot. But that’s not really the point of this post.

Before I go back to my editing (WARNING: My next novel only has two female characters!), I’ll talk briefly about female characters in my own writing.

Firstly, the sparsity. Admittedly, in the first book (and the following numbers are entirely off the top of my head, so I may be wrong), I have one female character of note. Yes, there are background female pirates, receptionists (not sexism, shut up), soldiers, etc, but only Juni is of any importance. In the second book there are four or five. Hundreds if you count the army of female warriors. Kira contains a single female: Kira herself.

Why are there so few? I don’t know. I don’t consciously think, ‘I better put a token female in here now’. My characters are what they are, whatever that happens to be. Some things just don’t seem to fit a female character. For example, book three of my NEXUS series features a young Necurian boy who is disenchanted with Necurian ideals. His character simply doesn’t feel very female to me. So why the hell should I go and make him female just for the sake of it? That said, I have considered it, and I haven’t dismissed the idea.

It also depends on the situation/setting. For example, as I look up now, over my computer screen I see twenty men and one woman. If I walked on to a military base, what ratio of females to males would I see? Yes, my series is set in the future, and things have changed, but generally speaking, how many women are inclined to go and join the military, regardless of whether they are encouraged to or not? I imagine even in the future, there would be a lot more male soldiers and pirates and assassins and whatever else. So it depends. But mostly, I simply refuse to make a character female for the sake of it. If a character is female then it’s because she’s female, not because I thought ‘oops, I’d best change some of these to women’.

Juni

Secondly, strength. Juni (who is THE female character) is a strong female. But not a Strong Female. So far, she’s in one and a half novels. She’s a side character in book two. I’ve received one complaint that she was a strong character to begin with, but by the end she was weak. Personally, I don’t see a character beginning to show emotion as weakness. In fact, I see that as strengthening a character. Through most of the book, she is cold and hard as nails. She doesn’t allow anything more of her character to show. This may give the false impression of a Strong Female, with no more to her. But that IS her character – not allowing people to see deeper into her. By the end of the book, she is opening up. Unfortunately, the rush of the unfamiliar trust and liking causes her to open up too much, and by book two, she is shutting down again. This internal conflict will be explored and expanded going into the future.

So, I think I could maybe summarise my thoughts into: Who cares? No one complains about the Strong Male, so why is it all-important when it’s a female character? The important thing, surely, is to have good characters. Full stop.

Updates and Peanuts

Disclaimer: There are no peanuts involved in this post.

I can’t think of much to write about, so I’ll just update y’all – to be momentarily American – on stuff and whatnot.

First off, I am in Underground Book Review’s Self-Published Author Awards, and I joined late, so I have quite a way to catch up. Any votes would be very helpful! It is, of course, ‘Shadow of the Wraith’. Thank you 🙂

Secondly, my second novel in the NEXUS series, Temple of the Sixth, is currently with my editor! After I get it back and have implemented the changes, it will be a matter of waiting for the cover, and then it will be ready to publish. So, unless there are unforseen holdups, you can expect it before Christmas!

Thirdly, what I was going to say next has slipped my mind because I went to blow my nose. Instead, I will share some brief thoughts on films, for no reason at all:

  • Skyfall – Very good. Amusing, good villain (with a very good and funny introduction to him). Some good nods to the old films, some good ignoring of the utter garbage that was QoS. The villain was more funny than scary, but the film was more about Bond and Bond/M, so that was ok. What wasn’t quite so ok, for me, was that there were a couple of things that just don’t work timeline-wise. I can’t say anything about them without giving spoilers, so I won’t. Overall, one of the best Bond films – much better than Quantum of What The Hell is This Crap, but not quite as good as Casino Royale.
  • Men in Black 3 – Got off to a very shaky start, with horrendous CGI, terrible acting, and several cringe-worthy, cheesy, childish moments. Around about the time jump, though, it got much, much better. Some very funny moments, and Brolin did a very good job indeed as a young Tommy Lee Jones. Good ending, too. Better than 2 by far, not quite as good as the original.
  • Legion – As awful as I expected it to be. Yet somehow Paul Bettany managed to be quite good in it. Why won’t someone offer him a good role?
  • Snow White and the Huntsman (I think that’s the right name, anyway) – Guess what? Whatsherface can actually act! I’ve never seen Twilight, and I don’t intend to, but the main issue with her seems to be that she’s as wooden as a…piece of wood. But, it turns out she can act. She’s nothing special, and there were still times where she could have done with some semblance of emotion on her face, but overall I thought she was fine. The film itself was very good, too. Bigger and more expansive than I expected.
  • Looper – Pretty good. I don’t really like films where the ‘hero’ is an unlikeable ponce, as he was to a degree. However, it was good enough. Some good little twists, though the end didn’t make a lot of sense to me. One minute, he doesn’t care about anything but himself, and then the next… Well, it just seemed like a bit of a leap to me. But still, good.
  • Total Recall – It seemed to me more as though someone wrote this film, and then suddenly realised, ‘This is Total Recall!’, and rather than scrap it, just said it’s a remake. I’ve heard it’s more along the lines of the book than the original, which would explain the huge difference. I tend to watch remakes as though I’ve never seen the original, and doing so, I quite enjoyed it. I’m not too sure why, in the United Federation of Britain and the colony of Australia, Farrel plays an American. I don’t see the problem with letting him just be Irish. Perhaps it’s in the book that he’s American, or perhaps they thought Americans would enjoy it more if it was the usual evil British, hero Americans. Even Bill Nighy, who can’t even do an American accent, played an American. Anyway, again, nothing special, but enjoyable. Kate Beckinsale is in it, so that’s good enough.

Peanuts. I lied