Category Archives: Movies

The Owl and the Raven

“The great destroyers of nations and men are comfort, plenty and security. A coward gets scared and quits. A hero gets scared, but still goes on. ”     – unknown

by Leyla Akdogan

“We make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were villains by necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion.” – William Shakespeare

The Owl

Heroes rarely surprise us.  They do what we expect them to.  What is right, what is just, what is honorable.  They may struggle getting there but there is never any real question as to the outcome of their fight.  They may die trying but it will be a heroic death.  But what makes them heroic?  Is it strength, intelligence, wit, loyalty, perseverance, morality, sheer bull headedness?  Is it the fact that they do what is right, not for any benefit or personal gain but simply because it is the right thing to do?

Heroes are rarely seen as such by their peers.  Their actions are often regarded as too avant guard, consider Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird or Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games.  While a hero’s actions might be altruistic, their motives rarely are.    I personally have always been skeptical of the typical hero.  Why would someone go to such lengths for others with no thought of any gain of any kind?  We all want to be at least recognized for our good deeds if not compensated.

The Raven

Villains rarely surprise us anymore.  They are a necessary evil to thwart the hero.  They are crafty, greed, capricious and cruel.  They seem to appear out of the ether, hate already fully born and festering for revenge on the hero.  They will die before they let the hero succeed.  But what makes them a villain?  Is it strength, intelligence, lack of morality, snark, perseverance, sheer bloody mindedness?  Is it the fact that they do whatever they damn well please just for the hell of it, or at least for some principal gain?

Villains rarely see themselves as such.  They are fully justified within their own minds and see their actions as not only right but necessary.  Darth Vader, Shere Khan of The Jungle Book, Moriarty from any incarnation of Sherlock, Sauron of Lord of the Rings. Shall I go on?  You get the idea.  I personally have always hated the one dimensional evil for the sake of being evil villain.  Everyone has a motive and motive implies will and will implies thought and reason.

The Quandary

So who is the Owl and who is the Raven?  Sometimes it’s surprisingly difficult to determine.  This has given rise to the terms anti-hero and anti-villain.  Theses characters are neither strictly one or the other.  They are the vagabond hero and the dubious ally, the thief with a heart of gold and the benevolent overlord.

To illustrate this point I will be drawing on several characters.  Most I’ve discussed before and a couple will be newcomers.  If you are not familiar with my fandoms then beware of spoilers here on out.

First, Megatron.  Yes that Megatron.  By the time we meet him in the franchise he’s a despotic overlord with the mantra ‘Peace through Tyranny.’  A villain’s villain if you will.  Yet we learn that he and his archrival Optimus Prime were once friends and depending on which backstory you prefer, co-collaborators in the rebellion on their homeworld.  In the most recent iteration their friendship fell apart over method.  Megatron, a former slave and gladiator only knew how to achieve his means through violence.  Optimus saw a more peaceful, albeit slower, method through diplomacy.  Neither was wrong in wanting change in their society.  So what made one the hero and the other the villain?  Motive and execution.

Then we have Loki.  In the original works he is not the scene stealing villain from Marvel, but a crafty, cunning and beloved brother.  He’s as mischievous as he is helpful and often his schemes benefit himself more than anyone.  When they do go awry he still manages to find a way to make the outcome work for him.  Yet he allows his jealousy to get the better of him and resorts to murder and extortion.  This doesn’t stop him from helping when a situation calls for it.  He simple will only do it if it in some way benefits himself.  He’s an opportunist.  Again motive and execution come into play.

Now let’s look at Deadpool.  He’s the ‘Merc with a Mouth’ who fancies himself a hero yet can never quite live up to the hype.  When he’s trying his hardest to be the hero is when he fails the most spectacularly.  Its those moments when he stops trying and just does that the hero emerges.  Yet he’s too bogged down by his own demons to ever fully transcend his penchant for indiscriminate violence. He at times both hinders and helps the other super heroes depending on how the situation strikes him and if he can make money off of it.  Much like Loki, he’s an opportunist and will stab a hero in the back as soon as offer a helping hand.  Motive. Execution.

So how do you write a convincing non villain?

Keep them consistent.  Know their motivations, even if they don’t. Make sure their actions are supported by their motives, that they execute their plans accordingly.  Loki and Deadpool are both consistent in that you know at some point they are going to betray you sometimes just for the hell of it.

Its a Supernatural World After All

This past week I took my girl friend to see The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.  She’s been reading the books.  I have not. Other than a vague idea that it involved demons and demon hunters I knew nothing about the storyline.    Apparently, this was a good thing since a lot of fans of the books are outraged at the changes made.  Wait, don’t we go through this fan-rage every time a book gets made into a movie?  Harry Potter, Twilight, Eragon (okay that one was really bad) Percy Jackson et cetera and so on.

First off, I enjoyed the movie.  The characters were likable, the acting was well done, the settings were by turns beautiful and gritty, and the action was intense. It was also nice to see that the warlock Magnus Bane was cast as an Asian, specifically Godfrey Gao whom I find hideously attractive.  He scintillated on screen for the few moments we were privileged with his countenance.  Oh, so I have been informed that in the book Magnus is Japanese.  Well good on them casting an Asian at least, even if he is Chinese.

Godfrey Gao as the Magnificent Magnus Bane

Clary’s actress was quite fun to watch and I loved how flippant she was at times.  She didn’t succumb to the standard damsel in distress routine even if she spent the first half of the movie in terrified denial.  She is pretty, but not blonde.  Yay for not blonde pretties! And she’s not afraid to throw a knife at a charging werewolf.  Yay for badassery!

Speaking of blond pretties, Jace’s actor was fun to watch. He’s a smartass but somehow his actor made you feel as though it was his way of protecting himself.  Interesting layering in his performance that I was not expecting from someone so young…and pretty.  I was a little disappointed that he didn’t end up bloodier after the final boss battle. He would be very pretty in red, but that’s my personal er-thing.

The rest of the cast are equally good, no scenes felt contrived or poorly acted.  The plot itself was full of tropes, but without being overly predictable.  I especially liked where and how the special object was hidden.  Having watched it, I am now convinced to go buy the books.

I am rather intrigued by how obsessed we’ve become with the supernatural.  While it seems to be a trend, like superhero movies, it covers every genre from books and graphic novels to television shows and movies.  It seems the more atheistic our society becomes the more these types of shows and books appeal to our fantasies.  That subject might be interesting to explore in another post.

Don’t forget my sci-fi novel Sorrow’s Fall is available on Amazon.  The Kindle edition is only $.99!

Sorrow's Fall Cover

It’s My Fandom, Get Your Money Grubbing Hands Off.

As you know, I am a huge geek.  I love my fandoms.  I especially love fan fiction.

There is something raw and visceral about a lot of fan fiction and I don’t just mean the horrid grammar, atrocious spelling and lack of knowledge of basic english.  No, it’s the willingness to push characters and situations to their very limits.  Yes technically it is copyright infringement and yes I understand the legal implications involved.  Though it’s difficult to remain sanctimonious about it when so many famous authors got started in their careers by writing it.  My shortlist:

Yes, you read those names right.  There are many, many more where they came from.  Fan fiction is like training wheels on a bike.  You read or watch something that you cannot stop thinking about. Soon a story blossoms in the dark reaches of your mind and festers there.  You’ve never written anything before.  Never sat on that bike.  Yet you can’t help but wonder where these characters might take you. So you hop on and crash a burn.  No worries, we all are terrible when we first start.  Therein lies the beauty of fan fiction.  It’s a relatively safe place to learn the mechanics of writing outside academia.  You post your story to or or A03 and pray you get feedback.  You will and a lot of it will consist of; ‘This is great. More please.’ ‘This sucks.  You don’t know the characters.’ and the ubiquitous ‘Nice job.’  What really matters is that you are writing.  Because only by writing will you get better.

That’s not the only reason to enjoy fan fiction.  Readers love it too.  It can help fandoms live long beyond their end show or last publication.  It keeps interest fresh and new even when there is no longer any new content from the creators.  You have only to look at the Buffy the Vampire fandom to see this miracle of fan creation at work.  Currently airing or recently published works also benefit from fan fiction.  Go to click on TV shows and see which shows are in the top three with the most stories.  Those shows have the most active fandoms across all social networks.  Check Tumblr if you dare. (I am not responsible for any mental and/or emotional trauma that results.)  I promise you the fandoms are massive and they love to spend money, create memes and sail their many ships.

It’s the spending money part that has caught the attention of Amazon.  They posted a press release earlier today.  Here is the opening paragraph:

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–May. 22, 2013– (NASDAQ:AMZN)—Today, Amazon Publishing announces Kindle Worlds, the first commercial publishing platform that will enable any writer to create fan fiction based on a range of original stories and characters and earn royalties for doing so. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment division for its New York Times best-selling book series Gossip Girl, by Cecily von Ziegesar; Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard; and Vampire Diaries, by L.J. Smith; and plans to announce more licenses soon. Through these licenses, Kindle Worlds will allow any writer to publish authorized stories inspired by these popular Worlds and make them available for readers to purchase in the Kindle Store.

So the basic premise is, if you meet their sure to be uber strict criterion you will get your fan fiction published.   Here is the catch taken directly from the Amazon website:

Kindle Worlds for Authors

Kindle Worlds is easy to use. When the Kindle Worlds Self-Service Submission Platform opens, you will be able to upload your story easily—along with a title, editorial description, and other information. Sign up to be notified when we launch the platform.

  • Kindle Worlds will accept novels, novellas, and short stories inspired by the Worlds we have licensed.
  • Using our Cover Creator, you will be able to design a cover for your Kindle Worlds story.
  • World Licensors have provided Content Guidelines for each World, and your work must follow these Content Guidelines. We strongly encourage you to read the Content Guidelines before you commit the time and effort to write.
  • Stories will be available in digital format exclusively on, Kindle devices, iOS, Android, and PC/Mac via our Kindle Free Reading apps. We hope to offer additional formats in the future.
  • You will receive monthly royalty reports and payments for all copies sold.

Start Writing Now

Here are the details that will help you get started:

  • All works accepted for Kindle Worlds will be published by Amazon Publishing.
  • Amazon Publishing will pay royalties to the rights holder for the World (we call them World Licensors) and to you. Your standard royalty rate for works of at least 10,000 words will be 35% of net revenue.
  • In addition, with the launch of Kindle Worlds, Amazon Publishing will pilot an experimental new program for particularly short works (between 5,000 and 10,000 words). For these short stories—typically priced under one dollar—Amazon will pay the royalties for the World Licensor and will pay authors a digital royalty of 20% of net revenue. The lower royalty for these shorter works is due to significantly higher fixed costs per digital copy (for example, credit-card fees) when prices for the entire class of content will likely be under one dollar.
  • As with all titles from Amazon Publishing, Kindle Worlds will base net revenue off of customer sales price—rather than the lower industry standard of wholesale price—and royalties will be paid monthly.
  • Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.
  • Kindle Worlds is a creative community where Worlds grow with each new story. You will own the copyright to the original, copyrightable elements (such as characters, scenes, and events) that you create and include in your work, and the World Licensor will retain the copyright to all the original elements of the World. When you submit your story in a World, you are granting Amazon Publishing an exclusive license to the story and all the original elements you include in that story. This means that your story and all the new elements must stay within the applicable World. We will allow Kindle Worlds authors to build on each other’s ideas and elements. We will also give the World Licensor a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you.
  • Amazon Publishing will set the price for Kindle Worlds stories. Most will be priced from $0.99 through $3.99.

Content Guidelines for Kindle Worlds

  • Pornography: We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.
  • Offensive Content: We don’t accept offensive content, including but not limited to racial slurs, excessively graphic or violent material, or excessive use of foul language.
  • Illegal and Infringing Content: We take violations of laws and proprietary rights very seriously. It is the authors’ responsibility to ensure that their content doesn’t violate laws or copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, or other rights.
  • Poor Customer Experience: We don’t accept books that provide a poor customer experience. Examples include poorly formatted books and books with misleading titles, cover art, or product descriptions. We reserve the right to determine whether content provides a poor customer experience.
  • Excessive Use of Brands: We don’t accept the excessive use of brand names or the inclusion of brand names for paid advertising or promotion.
  • Crossover: No crossovers from other Worlds are permitted, meaning your work may not include elements of any copyright-protected book, movie, or other property outside of the elements of this World.


Well the first content guideline rules out about 90% of all fan fiction ever written. The second one rules out another 5-7% and oops there is number four.  Looks like we are down to 100% of fan fiction currently available on any posting platform being unpublishable by their standards.  They want G-rated fan fic?  Are they serious?  Most of those shows are PG-13 at least.

As someone who loves fan fiction I’m a bit frustrated that they want to monetize something that is free for everyone.  Fandoms and fan fiction are the fan’s domain, not the CEO’s.  We already buy the books and the DVDs, go to the conventions, buy the swag and give them free advertising so why are they trying to take away one of the last free things we have?

On the other hand I have read some fan fic authors that should be published. Like, yesterday.  They are that good.*  Do I think they should publish their fan fiction.  No.  I think they are good enough, talented enough to create their own original work and create all new fandoms for us to run after with open wallets.

Do I think Amazon is in the wrong here?  No, they saw a legitimate way to monetize something that millions of people are getting for free at the moment and also bring great writers to the public’s attention.

Do I have reservations?  Absolutely.  There are a myriad problems that could and will crop up once the platform goes live.  I expect it to crash repeatedly and be so backlogged they shut it down.  Then there is the creative side of things to consider.  Who protects the author and their rights?  35% royalties sound nice until you stop to consider that this is on the NET profit of the story. So all Amazon’s bills have to be paid and the author then gets 35% of what is left over.  I can tell you it’s not always very much.  I get maybe $1.00 per book that retails for $8.50.

As an author is it worth it?  That’s up to you the author, but I would be very diligent about reading the fine print.  Just remember what Amazon put in their press release:

Forward-Looking Statements

This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may differ significantly from management’s expectations. (Italics mine.) These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others, risks related to competition, management of growth, new products, services and technologies, potential fluctuations in operating results, international expansion, outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment and data center optimization, seasonality, commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, foreign exchange rates, system interruption, inventory, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. More information about factors that potentially could affect’s financial results is included in’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent filings.


Now, I’m going to go read some Supernatural Destiel smut while it’s still free.

*EL James is on my shit list too, fyi.

It’s Not Always About Love, but Sometimes It Should Be

Why Supernatural Should Take it a Step Further

I’ve recently joined a new fandom (yes another one, what can I say).  I was reluctant at first.  It didn’t seem like it was going to be my thing.  I’m more of a robots and time travel type girl and this is more vampire and holy water stuff.  For the record I hate vampires.  All vampires in every iteration without exception.  Big ass mosquitos.

Anyway, this fandom has been around for something like 8-9 years and it’s constantly on my Tumblr and I see references to it everywhere.  So three weeks ago I broke down and started watching it.  It was like crossing the event horizon of a black hole.  At first there is just a gentle pull but the gravity increases with each episode until you are being ripped limb from limb and hurled into an alternate dimension full of  gunpowder, salt and tears.

It was here that I found an amazing example of a close intimate relationship that reminded me of the dynamic between Kirk and Spock or Sherlock and Jon (BBCs Sherlock).  Those types of relationships cannot be written into a script.  Well they can, but it takes something special between the actors to really make it click.  It’s often referred to as chemistry.  You’ve seen when it works and you’ve seen when it doesn’t work.  Gigli comes to mind.

“Research has shown that attunement between two people can accurately and reliably be recognized by others. This awareness often results in spontaneous, descriptive expressions such as “chemistry,” “on the same wavelength,” “soul-mates,” “in the flow,” and “in the moment together”.” –Measuring and Contextualizing “Chemistry” in Movies Tracy Sutton and Gregory Fouts, Ph.D. (

Something amazing seems to happen when fans recognise the chemistry between two characters.  They become invested in the relationship.  This is where much (if not all) fan fiction is born.   Fans pick up on even the subtext between characters.  Sometimes even when the writers don’t.

The recent blog post by tiptoe39 Fans & Fantasy: Shipping as… Activism(?) made this point:

And part of being organic is showing the natural diversity that occurs in the world, to pick up on existing chemistry between characters and to explore the very real possibility that it could lead to romantic or sexual relationships. And if, for example, the only women a male character knows are brought in as love interests, as opposed to characters with their own stories, why shouldn’t we believe he’s more likely to fall in love with a character he knows well and has been through hell with, even though that character may also be male? You don’t fall in love with a sex, you fall in love with a person, and usually, by the time you’re in love with them, you already know them well.

This is where my new fandom has excelled.  Right from the first moment the two meet each other there is an intense dynamic, not just between the characters, but between the actors.  There were literally sparks.  The fans noticed within moments of the scene airing if the message boards and forums are anything to go by.  So what made this duo different?  If you have not watched Supernatural through season 3 the video below is a spoiler.  Proceed with caution, though I still recommend watching it.

Right from the start there is tension and an unspoken connection between the two.  The writers for the show initially only planned on the character of Castiel being in 6 episodes.  Then the fan mail hit their inboxes.  The new character had brought in a completely different dynamic beyond the brothers-in-arms that the show previously featured.  Their relationship has only grown from there.

Now in their fourth season together they’ve faced horrible odds, fought with each other, saved each other, admitted their reliance on and need for each other.  Their level of intimacy is pretty much as close as you can get without having a sexual relationship.

To illustrate:

  • They have repeatedly taken care of each other when they were sick or injured.
  • Dean has adjusted Cas’ clothes for him
  • Cas has finished Deans food
  • They have shared secrets only with each other
  • They have provided each other moral support during major events/crises
  • Dean has cried in front of Cas
  • Repeated sustained eye contact
  • They have comforted each other
  • Cas often watches Dean sleep or sits/stands closer than is customary
  • They have put each other to bed on several occasions
  • Cas has woke Dean from his nightmares
  • They have been on long trips together
  • Dean allowed Cas to take his necklace
  • They often share the same hotel room
  • They have saved each other’s lives multiple times
  • They have each risked their lives for the other on numerous occasions
  • They have made medical decisions for each other
  • They have watched each other die

This video also illustrates other points in their relationship.  Again major spoilers.

This is how you develop an intimate non-familial relationship.  It’s happened slowly, organically with all the missteps and confusion of a real-life relationship.  Both have made mistakes and taken the other for granted yet they cannot seem to help but come back together.  It’s no wonder the fans (myself included) would like to see their relationship develop further.

It would be very refreshing to see to non-stereotypical gay men in a romantic relationship.  Too often shows make one of them (or both) too effeminate to be realistic.  They are not a man and a man pretending to be a woman, (though I understand and appreciate that works very well for some couples, more power to them) they are two men who love each other and would do anything for each other.

However, I do not think the network as the balls to allow the show to take what to many of us is a very obvious direction. If they surprise me and do then they will be setting a benchmark, a new paradigm for not just television but societal perception of relationships.  Much like James Roberts has brought a new level of awareness to the Transformers fandom with the More Than Meets the Eye series, it would be nice to see Supernatural shake off the chains of outmoded societal dictates.

Live by the Sword

Himura Kenshin

Himura Kenshin (Photo credit: bibliomom)

I watched a movie today.  One I had wanted to see back in September, but alas I do not live in Japan and it was not released outside the country.  Mores the pity.  Its an excellent movie with an engaging cast and a powerful story line.  And it happens to be based on one of my favorite anime.

It follows the story of a wandering samurai, known as a ruroni, ten years after the war that ushered in the Meiji era.  Japan is showing many signs of becoming westernized from the dress to the guns and a very pervasive opium trade with the west.  Into this new era comes Kenshin Himura, a ruroni in a time when swords are outlawed and samurai are nothing more than thugs or beggars.  He meets a young woman, Kaoru who lives at a dojo as she tries to keep alive her father’s sword style.  Unknown to Kenshin there have been recent killings in the area attributed to a wartime specter called Hittokiri Battosai after his sword technique.   He soon finds himself embroiled in a plot that involves the local police, an opium magnate and Kaoru’s dojo.  Along the way his vow never to kill again is put to a severe and near fatal test.

The movie and the casting was very faithful to the anime.

Takeru Sato as Kenshin Himura

While the movie has its share of violence it never feels gratuitous.  Its a violent time and the depiction of the war is heart wrenching instead of stomach turning.

What I found most fascinating about the end, even though I knew from the anime how it ended, was how un-Hollywood-esque it was.  I won’t spoil it for you, I’d rather you watch it for yourself.  What makes it even more poignant was that things like this actually happened, the war, the opium trade, the oppression of a former elite class.  All in the name of progress.

If you would like to watch this show it is available for free at along with a host of other amazing dramas and movies we will never see aired here in the States other than on special satellite channels, if then.  We are severely deprived.

Tomorrow I will discuss this imbalance in access further.  Now go watch the movie. Just click here.

Kill Me Softly

This is how I remember first meeting Boba Fett.  He was mysterious, dangerous and didn’t back down from one of the meanest villains in any genre.  It was love at first sight.  Then came the prequels.  The utter horror and dismay on my part as one of my all time favorite characters was reduced to a mere clone has stuck with me for years now.  I used to collect anything and everything Fett.  No longer.  His image and his very essence had been tainted.  By the  man who created him.  And why?  To satisfy fans.

I’m a fan and I did not ask for this travesty.  Yet over and over I see characters get slaughtered by their own writers.   The comic book industry is rife with examples.  (Deadpool being one of the foremost, more on that in a few.) Literature doesn’t escape it either.  I recently finished the Hunger Games series.  I was severely disappointed by how Katniss changed over the three books.  She went from being a total badass to basically reinstating the very regime she’d fought to take down.  How is that character progression?  Is it meant to be an ironic statement by the author?

Then there is the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  I loved the first book.  Anita was a total kick ass woman who knew who she was and who she didn’t want to be.  I was appalled and disgusted by the end of the series.   Anita was no longer kick ass and amazing, she was a whore.  She had gone from untouchable to just another bimbo sleeping with vampires.  Is it no wonder I rarely read books with a female protagonist?

So what happened?  Fans.  Fans happened.  Fans are awesome.  I wish I had fans.  But just like the electric kind they can be refreshing or they can blow shit all over the place.  Letting your character get caught by fans reduces them to a bloody splatter on the wall, unrecognizable as the person you brought into existence.  I’m a fan myself.  I’m a huge fan of certain series and characters as you’ve probably noticed.  I’m also a writer.  (Another fact that I hope hasn’t escaped your notice.)  As a writer watching another writer as they let fans dictate how a character evolves puzzles me.

I’m all for fan input, commentary, discussion and whathaveyou, but when it starts to affect how I view my own character it’s time to step back.  I know my characters more intimately than I probably know myself.  Does that mean I need to let you, my dear, dear reader know all those facts?  No.  Does that mean I don’t listen when people remark on certain attributes of my characters?  No.  Does that mean I write to please my readers?  No.  I write to please myself.  If you like it awesome, great, fantastic we’ve got something in common.  If not, no big.

So why do some writers get caught up in trying to please fans?  Maybe they are afraid of what people will say if they don’t.  Maybe they think that appealing to the lowest common denominator will gain them more sales.  Which, while sometimes true, I think betrays the core reason for writing.  Writers write to entertain, to educate and illuminate.  Few single works do all three.  Some can barely manage one.

It is my firm belief that writers have a duty to their story and their characters first, readers second.  If the story and characters are sound, well crafted and compelling the readers will come.  Being consistent when writing a character is paramount.  And that point brings me to Deadpool.

Sure there are other comic book characters who have been rewritten by various writers.  Each writer for a run has their own take on the character and the universe.  A lot like fanfiction really.  Look at Batman or Spider-Man.  Though they essentially stay the same type of character, their core personalities don’t change.  Deadpool aka Wade Wilson has no such luck.  In his first appearance nothing is known about him, his actions and his verbage speak for themselves.  We didn’t need to know his background at that point.  We got it.  He was a killer who enjoyed his job very much and also loved to talk.  He was quite menacing and very obviously a bad guy.

Deadpool’s first appearance in New Mutants #98 published Feb 1991.

After his first appearance he cropped up a few months later in X-Force #1 but only as a character profile.  Slowly but surely he built a fandom and starting getting more appearances.   Finally in 1993 he got to be a headliner in his own one-shot series Deadpool: The Circle Chase.   That series ended and he was back to making short appearances until 1997 when he got his own title.  This started off the Joe Kelly era of Deadpool which is considered by most fans to be the definitive version of the character.  Then we come down to 2008 and a new writer by the name of Daniel Way.  He’d worked on Wolverine: Origins and Ghost Rider, he’s legit.  So why has his take on Deadpool has seen the most virulent derision from the loyal fans who have followed Deadpool from the early 90’s?

Deadpool began as a wise cracking mercenary who shot first and never thought to ask questions and acted as if the fourth wall was merely a suggestion.  By the end of the Secret Invasion arc things are very clearly leaning in a different direction.   Then came Dark Reign and Monkey Business.  The wise cracking is still there but the wise is slipping.  Instead of real humor there are inane refrences to (then) current entertainment news/gossip.  And Deadpool has lost a whole bucket full of IQ points.  He seems to have traded in his quirky talent for being painfully obvious yet obscure for being painfully dimwitted and trite.  He’s still mouthy, but instead of being funny it comes across more as though a fourteen year old sat in his room dreaming up one liners and who then creates situations in which to use them.

The progression of Wade as a character has stalled.  There is no internal conflict that was present in the earlier series and all the external conflict feels contrived.  There is a fixation on being  a ‘hero,’ but no real motive for this fixation other than wanting to be liked and this isn’t even explored or exploited as well as it could be.  He tries to join the X-Men, of course that fails miserably, he’s not a ‘true’ mutant.  So he tries to follow Spider-Man around to learn how to be a hero.  He’s been a hero, multiple times in earlier incarnations, albeit never acknowledged by the Mavel Universe as one.  Current issues are episodic and have more of a sitcom feel to them with little or no character development.

Sure some issues are funny, most are juvenile and not suited to the more mature audience that Deadpool has garnered over the years.  While I am not a Way-nah-sayer, I do find his run to have been more puerile and much less fun than anticipated.

My main issue with him as the writer of Deadpool is that while he did introduce some interesting elements they were not used to their full advantage.  He chose flash over bang.  It looks like something happened but when the smoke clears, its just that.  Smoke.  Nothing really happened.

So what can we take from this example?  When writing a character, any character you have to fully understand where they come from and their motivations.  Once the action really gets going it can be easy to lose those motivations.  That’s why it helps to step back every now and then and look objectively at what you’ve written.  Is it really working?  Is your character staying true to themselves or are you dictating things to make the story work?  Author intrusion is going to be noticed by the reader and even those fans who have been begging for something to happen will know that you faked it.  Don’t be afraid to write your character as they truly are and definitely don’t listen to fans who blow shit.

Yes, my boy.  You are good.

Lost Souls

So, this past week I have rekindled an old flame . . .-er fandom.  I don’t know how many of you ever watched the original Tron (1982) but as a teen in the 90s I fell in love with the Grid and everything associated with it.  Jeff Bridges,  Bruce Boxleitner and Tron himself.  I was stoked when Tron: Legacy came out in 2010.  Loved it too.  Tron is still my favorite, though I’ve discovered a new attraction as well.  Rinzler.

Rinzler from Tron: Legacy

Rinzler, the deadly and silent enforcer of the Grid.

Yes, yes I know what you are thinking.  He’s the bad guy.  Again.   I can hear you rolling your eyes, stop it.  I’m sorry, well no I’m not, but I like antagonists okay.  And Rinzler is everything a really good bad guy should be.  Powerful, deadly, mysterious, intimidating yet with sparks of humanity glimmering through at times, oh and sexy as hell.  Yes I know you cannot see his face but my dear sweet Loki look at that body.

I’m getting distracted.  Just so you know it’s not all ‘dat ass with Rinzler.  Nope.  Ahem, so on to what I was originally going to talk about.  Also if you have not seen Legacy please read no further for here there be spoilers.


Rinzler first appears in the movie not too long after Sam enters the Grid and is sentenced to the Disc Games for being a stray program.

It was during this that I noticed something odd with Rinzler.  First he recognizes Sam as a user because of the blood and second there is a disturbingly familiar ‘t’ shape on his chest.  My fears are confirmed later when Flynn Sr. recognizes the security program.

Tron wasn’t killed by Clu he was  reprogrammed.

Oh the implications.  Tron would never have willingly followed Clu.  Reprogramming a complex and powerful security program would have been difficult.  And violent.  Stripping away core protocols, changing logic engines, replacing nearly everything that had made Tron what he was; a hero, a champion for programs and users alike.  This is what draws me to Rinzler, this inherent juxtaposition.  The hero is now the villain.  All his skill and beautifully designed functions have been twisted to meet Clu’s needs and wants.

Why do I find this so fascinating?  I’m not entirely sure.  A lot of it has to do with wanting to see the broken restored and the powerful broken.  Rinzler is powerful and broken.  Yet he is able to overcome at the very end and remain true to his core programming.  “I fight for the users.”  This is what we really want out of our heroes.  For them to remain true to their core beliefs no matter what happens to them.  I think it’s something we all hope we would do if so challenged, remain true to ourselves and our beliefs.

Something else I find fascinating is that Rinzler is able to overcome centuries of being  under Clu’s control once he’s given the chance.  Confronted with his first real challenge since being rectified he rejects what he’s held for so long.   He rejects Clu’s teachings of their previous enslavement by the users and realizes that it wasn’t the users who enslaved the programs, but Clu.    Clu himself is exactly what Kevin Flynn created.  A program to keep the operating system at peak function.  However Kevin didn’t realize that perfection is not sameness.  Perfection is doing one’s function at the highest possible capacity.  This oversight on his part lead to Clu’s rebellion, Tron’s ‘death’ and subsequent purge of the isomorphic algorithms.

We have all made mistakes, though hopefully none with such grave consequences.  That’s also what I love about this movie.  There are consequences to the character’s actions, real ones.  I dislike it when everything is all wrapped up in a tidy little bow at the end of a movie.  Bows can unravel with just the right tug but some people seem to forget this.  That is why I’m not a fan of the so-called happy ending either.  It’s unrealistic.  Yes, I know what you are thinking, we are discussing an alternate reality set inside a computer and I’m talking about realistic life scenarios.  But the setting is not the issue, the content is.

So, what do you want see out of a character?  Especially ones like Rinzler or Loki?  Defeat or redemption?