Tag Archives: abuse

Spotlight: Ice Age – Sid

Today’s Spotlight! focuses on Sid, the Giant Sloth from the Ice Age films, specifically the first Ice Age movie. (I am not overly fond of the sequel Ice Age movies.)

Sid is presented as an annoying character that his own family cannot stand. In the first film, they get up early and begin migrating south, away from the frozen north, without him. Sid bewails his abandonment temporarily, then proceeds to begin migrating south by himself –

Only to get in trouble with a pair of rhinos.

Manfred the Mammoth and star of the show rescues Sid, who then starts following him around, irritating the already sour-tempered mammoth further by shortening his name to Manny and asking him some very personal questions. But Sid keeps up with Manny despite the growls and threats from the bigger animal. Manny tries his best to shake the bothersome sloth, but no dice.

Not long afterward, the two come upon a woman and her infant son in a freezing river. The woman pushes her baby toward Manny, who pulls the child onto dry land. Knowing her baby is safe; the worn-out woman allows the frigid water to carry her downstream. Sid, impressed by the moment, decides that they should return the infant to his “herd” – a group of humans with a camp on a nearby cliff top.

Manny absolutely refuses to help the human baby, stating he is “still trying to get rid of the last thing [he] saved” – Sid.

But the sloth is persistent, and he tries to return the baby to the humans on his own. That attempt fails miserably, and only the timely arrival of a saber tooth tiger, Diego, prevents the child from becoming a human pancake.

Manny then snatches the baby from the tiger, and Sid states that they are going to return the baby to his herd. Manny reluctantly agrees and the two climb the cliff (by a much safer route than Sid’s) only to find the humans have abandoned their camp in something of a hurry.

Throughout the rest of the film Sid continues to annoy both Manny and Diego. But at the same time he is irritating them, somehow Sid also manages to help his two companions grow. Manny and Diego both learn to forgive their perceived “enemy” – humanity – during the course of the film. But they would not have been prepared to forgive humanity if they had not been traveling with Sid.

Sid has a great many faults. He has so many, in fact, that his own flesh and blood has decided they will be better off without him. But Sid never holds this against them. He laments that his family has decided they can no longer put up with him, but he shrugs it off and keeps going. He later tells Diego, “Ah, you know me. I’m too lazy to hold a grudge.”

Too lazy? Say rather very forgiving. Sid takes a lot of abuse, verbal and physical, from a great many animals. But no matter the threats, indignations, or anger heaped on him, he simply lets it roll off his spirit like water off a duck’s back. He keeps on being his annoying, lovable self, and he never denies friendship to anyone – unless they are trying to eat him. Let’s face it; you cannot forgive someone for continually trying to do that!

I have a lot of work ahead of me with regard to forgiveness. Like most people, I find it hard to forgive. But I am trying, and if it took Manny and Diego a whole movie to let go of their anger, then I think I can learn to be forgiving. It might take me awhile, but I know it is not totally impossible. Ice Age and Sid were both pretty good demonstrations that forgiveness is possible, if we let it be possible.

Until next time!

The Mithril Guardian

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Caught

The Wasp

Hello, Marvel Writers!

      (Oh, boy.  Here it comes!) 

Yup, I’m back. 

     (Hide the story drafts!  Call SHIELD!)

Sorry, that’s not going to work.  Pay attention, everyone!  Today’s subject is the rampant paranoia among fans.

    (What?  What does that mean?)

It means that we, the fans, are paranoid about our favorite heroes.  You know what I am talking about – those days when the X-Men or the Avengers charge into a battle and, when they finally pull back, gasping for air, one of them does a headcount and finds someone is missing.

And then it turns out that the missing member of the team is on some infirmary table in the villain’s lair.  Cue the villain of the day’s egotistical bragging and the torture of the captured hero.

Of course, the hero/heroine cannot die, or you will lose their audience.  So the team comes to rescue them, they escape, or they are killed and ‘resurrected.’  Yippee, everybody’s safe….!   Right?

Hmmm….  No, not so much.

These days I, for one, cannot relax after watching an Avenger/X-Man (or any other Marvel hero) get caught by, and then escape from, the bad guys.  Several times a hero has been returned to their friends, or society at large, after being imprisoned by a villain only for something bad to happen when they get back. 

Sometimes it is a few years before the hero snaps; runs amok; gets cloned; or starts acting on pre-programmed villain instructions.  Eventually, one of these events will occur.  Generally it is the snapping story line, where the hero retaliates against the villain, the team, or society because of the treatment they received on the table.  The second most popular storyline is cloning.

Excuse me, but what exactly is the point of this?  It has gotten to be so common a plot point that I am amazed any of the heroes can catch forty winks.  If I was one of them, I would not be able to sleep at all for fear that one of the bad guys would grab me the minute I shut my eyes.

Honestly, fellow writers, this is too much.  How are we or our heroes supposed to function with this fear weighing on our minds every time a new adventure occurs?  It spoils the enjoyment we derive from watching our heroes work if we are always thinking, “Yeah, but Dr. Doom is going to grab [insert the hero of your choice here], experiment on him/her, and then this character will go berserk at some point in a future story.”

Was this the original point behind the heroes getting caught?  No.  The original ideas behind a hero getting caught are, I believe, as follows:

a)  To add suspense to a particular story arc/start a story arc;

b)  To prove the hero’s strength under pressure and pain;

c)  To show how cunning and strong a seemingly flippant or shallow hero actually is;

d)  To flesh out a new villain/hero by showing their motives/hidden virtues;

e)  To prove how deluded a certain villain was and start a plot line where the heroes would eventually bring him down;

f)  To bring a team into a tighter-knit group by having the teammates work to support the physically/emotionally injured hero;

g)  To have a hero conquer his/her inner demons through their own strength of character after being a guinea pig or after being tortured.

These days, imprisoning and experimenting on our heroes is more reminiscent of people playing entomologists chasing down rare butterflies.  Instead of following any one of the above possibilities thoroughly, as someone with any imagination would, you poke at our heroes with needles.  I am more than a little tired of it.  You should be, too.

Why?  Because the more often you use these plots where the hero gets cloned or goes crazy, or somehow snaps at his/her team or at society itself, the more easily the lead up to such a story twist will be recognized.  People will flick through the comic book and then put it back on the shelf, saying, “Seen it.”  The more often you use this plot, the more bored the readers will become, and then sooner or later you will be out of business.  

At which point our heroes will be stuck in literary limbo.

I don’t know about you, but I do not want to see that happen.

So how about pulling the pins out of our heroes and letting them get back to work, as full-fledged heroes who are secure in their self-knowledge, principles, and strength of will? 

I am not saying that you should not test the above qualities in our heroes.  By all means, do it.  Just remember that there is a fine line between testing a character and breaking them.

The fact is that right now, you are breaking our heroes.  A broken engine cannot always be repaired, fellow writers. 

Neither can broken characters. 

Sincerely,

Mithril (A True Believer Caught in between Pandiculaton and Story Paranoia)

Fletching and Nocking

Hawkeye's New Suit

Hello, Marvel Writers!

Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work, fellow writers! This letter has to do with the World’s Greatest Marksman: Hawkeye. First, the newest costume for the archer is great and a definite keeper, in my mind. The original wasn’t bad, but these days it looks really ridiculous. I would keep the hip quiver as well; as proved in the movie, Hawkeye can run out of arrows quickly.

Back to his persona. Wow, talk about getting tossed from pillar to post. This character has been hammered, and then some. First a reluctant villain under the spell of the Black Widow’s many charms, then the loudmouth upstart trying to prove himself to the fledging Avengers, next a stalwart Avenger, now…

Now he’s not exactly anything.

Hawkeye’s first slide into rampant flings began when he ‘dated’ the super-villainess Moonstone during the time when he believed that Mockingbird was dead (lousy choice of post dead wife date). Later he had a dallying ‘romance’ with the Wasp (she’s taken, people!) and after Disassembled he had a fling with the Scarlet Witch (who ‘killed’ him, twice). In the recent comics since Mockingbird finalized the divorce they started after Hawkeye discovered she had killed a man who abused her, he has ‘dated’ deaf vigilante-turned-heroine Echo (formerly Ronin) and, recently, Spider-Woman.

Despite all this, when told by Cap that Mockingbird was on a list of international spies wanted dead, he rejoined the Avengers so fast it left his teammates practically speechless. Later, he was distraught when she received grievous injuries in battle, injuries that prompted Fury to give her an experimental serum to save her life. Hawkeye was virtually mum on the obvious dangers of the whole idea (a first for a character who regularly has more quips than arrows). I don’t know of any other time the character was so quiet about a dangerous situation regarding Mockingbird.

In light of these instances regarding his ex-wife, why the yo-yo effect with Hawkeye’s romantic life? The character was never this fickle with his flirting in previous stories.

It is also worth noting that this isn’t the only part of the character that is being batted around more harshly than a ping pong ball: once a staunch advocate of the old ‘do not kill’ superhero code, Hawkeye has become somewhat picky when he follows it these days. I think that it’s understandable that he would not willingly spare any Skrulls he was fighting, since one of the aliens successfully impersonated his ‘dead’ wife. Anybody would be killing mad after something like that.

And his decision to permanently take down the Scarlet Witch not too long ago isn’t hard to understand, either, when one considers that she ‘killed’ him (twice). But this would hardly be a decision he wouldn’t wrestle with or have qualms about, something that doesn’t appear to have occurred when he made that choice.

Yet when faced with a criminal such as Max Fury or the ‘new’ Ronin (Black Widow’s ex-husband), Barton suddenly balks at finishing the villain off. Isn’t that a little silly? If he’s willing to finish aliens and former teammates, why not villains who have earned their walking papers many times over, and for whom he had absolutely no feeling?

A brief overview of Hawkeye’s history is enough to make plenty of new readers shake their heads and say, “Ouch. What a hard story!” Over the last twenty years, Barton’s been all but shattered and rebuilt to the point where it’s amazing he’s still recognizable as the character he was in the sixties. It’s nice to see him getting along better with his teammates and stretching his wings as a commander of the team (or one of its auxiliaries) true; however, the rest of his character is practically a disgusting mosaic of the shards of his previous integrity. There’s little farther that ‘mainstream’ Hawkeye has to go before he becomes interchangeable with Ultimate Hawkeye (who is a near-total perversion of the character).

The fact that Hawkeye’s been sent spinning off into one ‘romance’ after another seems, to one who looks hard at the list of circumstances under which he met these ladies, to be more like a search for his wife Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird) than the indecision of a berserk flirt. The pattern is something that she appears to be unaware of, but the threads of different stories point to Hawkeye desperately missing her all the same.

With all due respect, why not make Mockingbird miss him back for a change? Moreover, why not make her act on that? I don’t see anything demeaning or wrong with the idea for either character. They were married in a whirlwind before; why not go about it a little more slowly this time around? Reed and Susan Richards have lasted this long. Why not give another superhero a shot at that life?

Considering what he’s been through, Hawkeye’s definitely earned some happiness and needed respite. Heck, this type of story could open up all sorts of great avenues for both these characters and their teammates.

After twenty years on the rack, fellow writers, I’d say that Hawkeye’s been beaten enough.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled True Believer)