Tag Archives: brothers

Big Hero 6 – A Brother Story

Big Hero 6 is an animated Disney movie that came out in 2014, I believe. Loosely based on Marvel Comics’ Japanese super hero team, Big Hero 6, Disney changed a few things when they made the film. I will not go into those changes, but there are links at the bottom of this post to articles about the comic book Big Hero 6. If you would like to look at those, readers, feel free to do so.

I saw Big Hero 6 earlier this year. For awhile there, I did not think it was worth talking about. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I had thought I would.

Not too long ago, though, I saw the movie again. And again. And again. Maybe it was not that impressive in theaters (for me, at least), but I find now that I really do not mind having it on.

As I was watching it one of these last two or three times, I remembered something a friend mentioned to me. This friend was discussing a movie called Warrior, which I had only seen the end of. My friend mentioned a scene where one of the brothers in the movie hugs his drunk father as he (the father) collapses, overcome with liquor. This friend said, “I don’t know, but I think there aren’t enough brother or father stories out there. You know what I mean? We have lots of movies about mothers and daughters, and sisters, but very few about brothers, and fathers and sons.”

Thinking about what my friend said, I realized the rightness of this statement. I cannot even begin to guess how few films there are about fathers and sons. Sure, stories about one father and one son exist – The Road, Real Steel, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and (to a lesser extent) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull are all evidence of this.

But what about two sons and their father? Or brothers, however many there may be in the family? Those are harder to find. The Sons of Katie Elder is one film; Warrior is certainly another. But there are more movies about sisters, daughters and mothers, a father and a son, than there are about brothers, or sons and father.

Watching Big Hero 6 yet again, it hit me that this film has a fair bit of what my friend was talking about. In the movie, Hiro Hamada has an older brother, Tadashi. Both of them are science whizz kids, though Hiro apparently has the higher IQ. But, instead of using his gift productively, Hiro spends his time betting on and winning robot fights. This is where the film starts out; when Hiro’s latest ‘bot fight lands him in trouble with the owner of the last ‘bot he trashed.

Luckily for him, Tadashi arrives before the ‘bot fighter’s lackeys start throwing punches. Tadashi picks Hiro up on his scooter and asks if he is hurt. When Hiro says no, Tadashi hits him a couple of times to emphasize his point as he shouts, “Then what were you thinking, knucklehead?!”

Tadashi and Hiro both end up in the hoosegow when the police arrive to arrest all the battle ‘bot fighters. Their Aunt Cass picks them up and reprimands them both, apparently unaware that Tadashi’s only crime was trying to keep Hiro out of trouble.

Tadashi finally comes up with a plan to keep Hiro off the streets and get him to use his “big brain” for something more than illegal robot brawls. He takes Hiro to the San Fransokyo institute of Technology, saying he “has to pick something up.”

Hiro is not happy with this; since he sees no point in his going to college (he graduated high school at thirteen and is now fourteen). What is he supposed to do in college, listen to professors tell him stuff he already knows? He derogatorily refers to Tadashi’s school as “the nerd school,” and Tadashi’s work place as a “nerd lab.”

But once Hiro gets a look at the robotics and chemistry projects Tadashi’s friends are working on, he starts thinking better of the school. He is also impressed by Tadashi’s robotics project, an inflatable robotic nurse called Baymax. And, once Hiro meets Tadashi’s mentor, Professor Callaghan, the man who invented Callaghan’s Laws of Robotics, the deal is sealed. Hiro now wants to go to “nerd school.”

Unfortunately, Tadashi dies early on in the film. We do not get to see much more of him, but what we do see is enough. This is a brother movie. Tadashi and Hiro’s interactions are what start off the film and Tadashi’s influence on Hiro – even after his death – is what drives the movie. From beginning to end, Big Hero 6 is inherently the story of the relationship between two brothers who are also the best of friends.

In fact, I am not the only one who noticed this. In a bonus feature on the DVD, the Disney animators who brought Big Hero 6 to life all said that it was the brotherly relationship between Tadashi and Hiro that attracted them to the film. When the head animator asked if any of the other animators present had brothers, a good number of hands went up.

Big Hero 6 is probably not much more than a ripple in Hollywood writers’ circles, sadly. I cannot say whether it is the beginning of a trend or not. It would be very nice if it was.

But all the same, it is a hopeful sign. If Disney can do one movie about brothers, why can they not make another? And then another one? There are many possibilities for brother stories out there. The writers at Disney – and in Hollywood – do not have to look too hard to find them. If the animators for Big Hero 6 were attracted to the story because it reminded them of their brothers, then writers need only look to their own brother relationships for story ideas.

That is my two cents on the subject, anyway.


The Mithril Guardian














Spotlight: Avengers – Iron Man/Tony Stark

Pepper and Tony

“I am Iron Man.”

Wow. Tony Stark has come a long way since he spoke those words in his first film. That movie revealed a lot about Iron Man to me. As I have said elsewhere, I once thought this super hero was a robot. Watching Marvel’s Iron Man a few years after it came out, I made the mistake of saying aloud, “Wait. Iron Man is a guy in a metal suit? I thought he was a robot!”

A friend of mine, who was present when I saw the film, confirmed – with great incredulity at my ignorance – that Iron Man had always been the rich, debonair Tony Stark. This compadre had mentioned that fact before, but I had never really been interested in Iron Man and the explanations had not truly stuck, as they should have. This friend watched the movie through with me and, at the end, said there was only one problem with it. What problem was that?

The problem was Tony’s playboy tendency to mock everything and everyone. Minute to minute, he was making fun of someone or something. Sometimes, it was a just and right criticism. Other times…not so much.

The Iron Man my friend grew up with is, in many ways, better than the Iron Man of today. Do not misunderstand – my friend and I both enjoy watching Robert Downey Jr. play Tony Stark. He is wonderful in the role and puts everything he has into it, and in the first Iron Man film, Tony Stark was – apparently – well on his way to becoming a great hero.

But the original Tony Stark of the 1960s was not a rich, “hip” debauchee who belittled and mocked the world and the people around him. Nor did he look at the world through the same dark, broody lenses Batman uses (though Bruce Wayne uses those lenses for understandable reasons), and he could be genuinely funny. But he did not behave like a fool just for the sake of it. The 1960s era Tony Stark was the epitome of the wealthy gentleman. He was charming, well-mannered, kind, generous, respectful, well-spoken – a modern day knight in hi-tech armor. And if that were not enough, he was also a technological genius.

Here it might be worthwhile to remind you all of the ancient axiom: that while money may indeed talk, wealth need only whisper. The Ersatz Stark is rich, but the Real Tony Stark is wealthy. The Ersatz Stark is “filthy rich” with an egotism and narcissism that demands commensurate notice. The Real Tony Stark is wealthy in so many ways that he needs neither fanfare nor self-congratulation.

Stan Lee has admitted that he based Tony Stark on American inventor Howard Hughes (something my friend deduced without any help). This is where the name of Tony Stark’s father – Howard – came from, and is something the FBI would call a clue. Like Howard Stark, Howard Hughes was contracted to work for the American military during World War II. He manufactured airplanes for them. He also made oil-well tools, and was an aerospace manufacturer (he built satellites). He was an accomplished pilot, and he often flew the planes he developed – as well as other planes – himself. Howard Hughes also made and acted in several movies (Hell’s Angels and Scarface, among others). He was a real American Hero who also happened to be a technological genius.

In the comics, Tony was a lot like Howard Hughes. The only difference between Howard Hughes and Tony Stark was that Tony focused on the development of weapons for the military more than on producing other technologies. This changed after a trip to Vietnam left him with a deadly heart injury. Though the story is modified for the first Iron Man film, it is mostly tailored to put it in today’s world. Dr. Ho Yinsen was the man who saved Tony in the comics as well as in the film, and Tony’s heart was injured in the comics when a weapon blew up near him, severely damaging his heart.

In the original comics, however, what kept Tony’s heart functioning was a magnetic chest plate that could be hidden beneath a business suit as well as his armor. The arc reactor is a creation of the films (Tony’s magnetic chest plate needed recharging every now and again, something the “self-sustaining” arc reactor does not require). Dr. Yinsen’s car battery-powered magnet is a nod to Tony’s original magnetic “pacemaker” device.

While Stan Lee held control of the helm of Marvel Comics, Tony did all right. And for some years after he left, the other Marvel writers respected Iron Man and left him largely unchanged – though they gave him a drinking problem to make a commentary on how getting drunk is bad for people. (This story arc was called “Demon in a Bottle.” How clever – and yes, I am rolling my eyes right now.) This policy of leaving Tony Stark’s personality intact was reversed in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

But for once, the reversal did not come directly through the “mainstream” comics. It came through the Ultimate Marvel Comics.

And the “mainstream” comics, as usual,were far too quick to capitulate to this character assassination from a separate universe.

This transformation introduced the world to the Tony Stark Robert Downey Jr. plays to perfection in the Avengers’ themed films. Instead of encapsulating the ideal of the wealthy gentleman, Tony Stark was made the representative of the hyped, hipster, spectator, wannabees, never-will-be types that are with us today.

It is a sad fact, but a good number of rich people today are no better than badly behaved children. When Marvel decided to “update” their characters in the Ultimate Marvel Comics, they determined that the Tony Stark we had known since the 1960s was staid, boring, and would no longer capture readers’ interest. After all, as the curator of the New York City Natural History Museum in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, told Larry Daley, “People want what’s next.” That is, they want the next attraction, party, fad, etc.

My friend is not one of those people. Neither am I.

That, however, has no bearing whatsoever on the writers/editors/managers at Marvel Comics. Therefore, in Marvel’s Ultimate comics, “mainstream” comics, and films, Tony became the typical rich brat raised with a silver spoon in his mouth who partied all night, was almost always drunk, and had twenty women all over him the minute he walked into a room.

The only thing he retained from his introduction in the 1960s was his genius intellect – which, if nothing else, has been increased.   According to Dr. Yinsen in the first Iron Man movie, Tony can give a coherent, fascinating speech on technology even when he is so thoroughly drunk it is a miracle he can stand up. Despite the effects of his drinking and partying, he still retains the capacity to speak about scientific facts without making a mistake.

However, this particular “good” alteration does not do Tony very many favors among the fans that prefer his previous depiction. His ability to fire off wonderful zingers notwithstanding, no one likes to see Tony Stark picking on Captain America – unless, of course, they are Cap-haters. No one likes to see him insulting Thor, telling Bruce off, or otherwise trying to cut down his teammates with words. That is, unless these particular people hate most of the other Avengers anyway.

The Tony Stark of the 1960s willingly deferred to Cap because of his experience and outstanding record on the battlefield. Likewise, Cap was quite agreeable to the idea of stepping back and letting Iron Man take care of anything that was scientifically out of his league. The two never jockeyed for command of the Avengers. They respected each other equally and were more than prepared to back each other up whenever they needed to do so. They were friends of the best and highest order, like Aragorn and Legolas in The Lord of the Rings.

As everyone (including me) who is expecting/dreading Captain America: Civil War knows, however, things did not stay this way between Cap and Tony. I am not sure, but it may be that Marvel is taking the same route as DC Comics. Originally – as far as I understand things – Batman and Superman were fairly good friends. They had their differences, their differing views shaped by different life experiences, but they agreed on the principles which were at the heart of their work as superheroes.

Some time ago – perhaps it was also in the ‘90s – this friendship between Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne completely tanked. Batman and Superman have fought each other nearly to the death in several dozen stories over the last few years. This rivalry, if that is indeed what it is, is the focus of DC’s next big film: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Since they wrote the Civil War comic book story, Marvel has been playing up the same idea with Captain America and Tony Stark.

Does this mean that I think that Captain America: Civil War will be a terrible story? I will not know that until I see the film. It is entirely possible, as it is with any movie.

On the whole, though, I am looking forward to Captain America: Civil War. But one of the things in the movie that I am not looking forward to at all is the fighting between Tony Stark and Captain America. I am not looking forward to this anymore than anyone in the actual War Between the States enjoyed watching brothers on the Union and Confederate sides trying to kill each other. I do not enjoy this because Tony and Cap are, after a fashion, brothers.

They are not only brothers-in-arms (or brothers-in-Avenging) but they are brothers in that they each represent great aspects of the United States. Captain America represents the military prowess, patriotism, hope, and home and hearth values the United States was founded on and still stands on. For that reason, he will always be our best and most beloved super hero.

Iron Man/Tony Stark represents the collective ingenuity of the United States. Although the Marvel writers have long plagued him with the question, “Does the suit make the man, or does the man make the suit?” the fact is that this ‘question’ is stuff and nonsense. As I have said elsewhere, there would be no Iron Man suit without Tony Stark.

To return to the point, the original Tony Stark is the modern day knight. He comes from ‘old money’ (nobility), he works hard, and he is inventive. He does not need to go on knightly adventures and do knightly things. But he does these things because they are right and just.

Tony has enough money that he could comfortably sit at home and remote-fly his armor(s) across the battlefield. He does not need to fly into a fray with Kang the Conqueror, Galactus, Loki, Ronan the Accuser, or even low-budget villains like Batroc the Leaper. He could easily sit at home all day, making armors and fantastic machines, all the while whining about the fact that his heart has been damaged and he will never be “normal” again.

But Tony Stark has more Iron in him than that. He does not have to physically enter the battle but he still chooses to do so. He puts himself in harm’s way to protect people, to stand with his friends, to stand up for what is right and true and good. He may not stand as rock steadily as Cap, but let us remember that Tony’s suit can fly. Cap stays grounded so that he never loses focus. Tony, just like the American ingenuity he represents, is so nimble he can fly into space, fix a satellite, swing by a collapsing oil rig and rescue its workers, all before heading back to Avengers’ Tower to have breakfast.

Tony’s inventiveness is something he carries with him, the same way Hawkeye always has his skills, no matter if he has a bow or a gun on him or not. As Obadiah Stane pointed out in the first Iron Man movie, Tony built his first arc reactor in a cave, using nothing but scrap metal and the ramshackle machinery the Ten Rings terrorists had to hand. And they had not been kind to this machinery, either!

So no one can tell me with a straight face that the Iron Man suit made Tony Stark. If he can, in the dim, dank recesses of a cave, cobble together a suit of armor that would make Sir Lancelot Hulk-green with envy, then he is Iron Man – not the suit!

So why has Marvel pitted Tony Stark against his brother Avenger Steve Rogers? The surface reason – which is never more than skin-deep – is that civil wars always pit brother against brother.

Okay. Fine. If Marvel’s Civil War story arc was that simple, I might buy that explanation.

But it is not that simple. Civil wars start because of a divide within a country. In Marvel’s Civil War, however, the divide is something much deeper and of their own creation. Marvel’s “mainstream” writers did not simply turn Tony into a rich snob with a whiplash tongue and “No respect,” to quote Drax, after they followed in the Ultimate writers’ footsteps. They set him up as the fall-guy for the faux war between the “intellectuals” and those who believe in hope, patriotism, home and hearth. Then they went a step too far and had Cap, who believes in all those values, beat him. On top of that, they made Tony feel bad about Cap’s “death” (which was reversed, naturally, when Marvel learned they could not last more than three years without Steve Rogers as Captain America).

Now why did I call the ‘war’ between “the intellectuals” and the rest of us who cherish the principles of home and hearth a ‘faux war?’ I call it this because it is a manufactured war, a smoke screen designed to be used by a few proud snobs to ruin the link between the ideals of home and hearth and the nimble quick-thinking of the geniuses. Real intellectuals, real geniuses, are what the original Tony Stark once was; they are versatile knights with courtly manners who fight for truth and justice. Tony happens to wear a fancy suit of hi-tech armor when he goes out to do battle. The principles, of course, remain unchanged for those real people who are like Tony Stark.

I would, I think, enjoy Civil War and other recent story lines maiming Tony Stark more than I currently do if the writers had done one thing differently: Marvel should have made someone else their intellectual fall-guy and left Tony where he belonged, on the side of the Avengers, shoulder to shoulder with Captain America.

I will be watching Captain America: Civil War. And I do not doubt I will enjoy every minute of what Cap and his team say and do. But at the same time I will be mourning the decision of those who choose to follow Tony Stark in the film. Most of all, I think I will grieve greatly that the Invincible Iron Man – Tony Stark – has been laid low by the real people who “have no respect” for him.

No, Tony is not my favorite Marvel hero. But he was a hero, and dragging a hero into the mud is never a cause for celebration. It is, instead, a sign of a great lack of respect for what is good, true, and wonderful in this world – and in humanity.

Until next time.

The Mithril Guardian

Iron Man

Fili and Kili

Picture 006

Hey, DiNozzo!

Long time no write.  Sorry about that, but when I get in a groove; I have a hard time getting out of it.  So, on to this letter’s topic and its focus on the Dwarf brothers in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Yeah they’re brothers.  Didn’t you notice?  It was mentioned in the book, and i thought they did a good job of leading viewers to understand that the two were brothers.

Oh, that’s it.  I’m not telling Gibbs about that one.  You will have to deal with Ziva for that untoward crack about books, Tony!

You cannot possibly change my mind – unless….

How willing are you to buy me a Klondike bar whenever I drop by the squad room?

Well, in that case, I’ll just have to see Ziva and ….

Good.  Then we have a deal.  Now be quiet and listen about Thorin’s nephews.

How were you supposed to know that they were related to him when it was never mentioned in the movie?  At least not in the cut we saw in theaters; the extended edition may have some mention of it.  We’ll have to wait and see.

So, to get back to Fili and Kili: the blonde Dwarf is Fili and the dark-haired Dwarf is Kili.  Of all the Dwarves, Kili alone is shown as being an archer.

Throughout the movie, both dwarves are seen as having a sense of humor far outshining their elders and young Ori.  They both enjoy teasing Bilbo Baggins more than anyone else, and are also hot to begin fighting in certain situations.  In this, Kili is the more reckless of the two, such as when he tells the trolls to drop Bilbo the first time and ends up getting a face full of Hobbit for his bravado.  This after sending the same poor Hobbit to spy on them in the first place…!

Fili seems to be the kinder of the two.  When he enters Bag End first, he asks Bilbo to put away his sword and dagger, telling him to “be careful.  I’ve just had these sharpened.”  While he’s doing this, Kili has been poking around the Hole and then proceeds to wipe his boots on Bilbo’s furniture.  Later, when the two tease Bilbo about Orc attacks, Fili is the first to crack up at Bilbo’s expression, showing that they were joshing him.  Also, it would appear that he went to get Thorin and company while Kili stayed behind to help in case Bilbo got caught by the trolls (which he did).

Despite their differing personalities, the two are shown to be close.  One is never far from the other.  When they end up separated in the pass, Kili shows fear for his brother when he can’t reach him to pull him to safety.  Near the end of the movie, when Thorin states that Bilbo has gone home to the Shire after the company has escaped the Orcs with Gandalf’s help, the two stand apart from the rest of the company but are practically crowding each other in the same patch of ground.  Later still, the two ride the same eagle to safety on the Carrock!

Although they tease Bilbo somewhat mercilessly, the two young dwarves appear to be fond of him.  Kili is furious when the trolls grab Bilbo and threaten to tear him to pieces, and would have attacked them if Thorin hadn’t wisely held him back.

Also, during Thorin’s declaration that Bilbo has gone home, both stare at the ground in a disgruntled manner, as if they want to disagree vehemently with their uncle but will not talk back to him.  Immediately after Bilbo reveals himself, Fili and Kili are thrilled to find their ‘burglar’ has safely escaped the Orcs in the Misty Mountains and rejoined the company for the rest of their adventure.

Oh, come on, Tony, of course they aren’t going to say anything to Thorin about badmouthing Bilbo the way he did!  First, he’s their king.  Second, he’s their uncle and their elder, so presumably he’s smarter than they are and deserves their respect, even when he tells them unpleasant things.  Third, he could whip them both in a fight before you could blink.

I would too bet money on that, DiNozzo, and the promised Klondike bars to boot!

So of the thirteen (who can be extremely hard to keep track of through the events in the film) Fili and Kili are two of the dwarves who are given some of the greatest personality development.  In fact, Jackson may have done this as a way of tying in the Hobbit films with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  After all, who did we see in those films who were always getting into mischief?  Kili is pretty close in character to Pippin, and while we haven’t seen enough of Fili, he’s not that bad as a predecessor to Merry.

On that note, all I have to say is, “Let’s have some more of that mischief then, eh, boys?”

Well, time for me to split.  Catch ya later, DiNozzo!  Yes, I am still mad at you for saying that about books.  Therefore my next note is going to be about a movie you probably did not even know was coming out!

Hah-ha!  The power of hearing you moan!



Author’s Note:  The suggestion that Fili and Kili may be twins is an error.  Fili is five years older than Kili; the allusions to these Dwarf brothers being twins was an error.  I apologize for the confusion this has caused, and have removed from this post any mention of their being twins.