Spoiler Alert Monday :: our thoughts on Black Panther

19 Feb

It was a weird weekend and we’re posting this now so deal with it. It can’t wait.

First of all: we are not the people whose opinions about this movie matter at all. Even if we had both hated Black Panther, that wouldn’t have mattered. Black Panther is a superhero movie with a worldwide release by a major studio directed by, written by, starring, and designed by a largely black cast and crew, about a fictional African country that has never been colonized and has the greatest technological achievements of any country in the world. That is groundbreaking. (If you’re reading this and wondering why it’s such a big deal, I really recommend seeking out black writers’ thoughts on the film.)

Of course, the movie is also just really great. If you’re tired of superhero movies about the same old hero’s journey, I think you’ll be pleased with the places this movie goes. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his home country of Wakanda shortly after the events of Captain America: Civil War to be crowned king after the tragic death of his father, T’Chaka. He wants to be a good king, but he is faced with a choice: keep Wakanda’s secrets and remain sequestered from the rest of the world, or use their country’s resources and power to help the oppressed around the world. Things become more complicated when a newcomer appears, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who challenges T’Challa’s leadership

I don’t want to give too much away, but here are some non-spoilery (or the vaguest of spoilers) highlights:

  • Shuri (Letitia Wright) is the smartest person in the world, and she’s a sixteen-year-old princess who loves her brother and gives him lots of shit. She is probably going to be my favorite character of 2018 and if we don’t get a movie about her I will flip a desk. She’s this weird ball of teenage girl energy and the absolute pure essence of the Afrofuturism that this movie is bringing to the forefront (check that out, it’s super interesting), from her clothes to her multitude of inventions to her attitude to her technology.
  • T’Challa himself is a great character, much more dimensional than the (delightful) glimpses of him we got in Civil War as a quiet but skillful warrior trying to avenge the death of his father. His arc in this movie is a bit different from the typical superhero arc, and it’s wonderful to watch.
  • Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) fills the “love interest” role, but oh, thank goodness, there’s a brief glimpse of good het in a Marvel movie again, because she and T’Challa are great. It could be a dangerous setup, the exes who work together (goodness knows Marvel has messed that up before), but they work so well together. They’re still obviously on good terms despite the ambiguous breakup in their past; she can fight alongside him, he can confide in her, she protects him and his with all of her heart. She’s also incredible in her own right, multitalented and fearless and outspoken.
  • Then there’s Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje. They’re Wakanda’s elite all-lady warrior group, but that even seems like an understatement. They’re just fantastic at everything. Okoye is their general and she’s very driven by tradition and justice but also capable of snarking. (Ayo [Florence Kasumba], who had one little moment in Civil War, is still around as well, so that’s nice.)
  • Also on the kickass women front is Ramonda (Angela Bassett), T’Challa’s mother and Wakanda’s queen (mother). She gets to grieve for her husband without it being treated as a weakness, exemplify what it means to behave like royalty, have a great relationship with both of her kids… she’s pretty damn awesome.
  • ALSO M’BAKU (Winston Davis). I don’t want to spoil anything but he has one of the best lines in the movie and I love him.
  • W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) is an interesting character that I wanted to see more of. He went in a different direction than I was expecting, but Kaluuya does incredible things with his face and there’s one particular scene that is iconic.
  • Erik Killmonger is a great villain, one of the best the MCU has had, and Jordan gives an incredible performance. He’s also a terrible person, but at least he’s more interesting and fun to watch than most of the villains have been.

Go see this movie as soon as you can. It’s worth it.

–your fangirl heroines.

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Fashion Friday :: my childhood is a lie.

16 Feb

Vesvescap30

Namely, that the Sailor Moon wiki says Vesves is the youngest of the Amazoness Quartet and I could swear she was the oldest. But she’s apparently in the anime the most so maybe that’s why I thought that. I don’t know. Some weird pretend games I played as a kid just got retconned.

so red

As usual I’m sort of mixing-matching what colors go red, but this has a kind of sixties vibe, which the dresses they wore when they were pretending to be regular people had as well. So Sixties A-Line Dress in Scarlet, ModCloth.

city adventure

I… don’t know. She’s a little athletic, leggings are good? And these are pink velvet, which is pretty much irresistible. She’s kind of dressed like a Valentine, but a really sarcastic one, I guess. City Adventure Velvet Leggings in Cerise, ModCloth.

salt water

Close enough! Leather Sandal in Red, Salt Water Sandals at ModCloth.

geo stampede

And here! She’s the beast trainer, so. Geo Stampede Pendant Necklace, ModCloth.

–your fangirl heroine.

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Fashion Friday :: the genderfluid one counts for this series.

9 Feb

fish eye

I’m talking about Fish Eye, who, as you know, is genderfluid. Unless it’s in the DIC dub when they’re just a girl. But for realsies they are both!

that seventies

These stripes are vertical, not horizontal, and they’re a pattern on the fabric, not weird Michelin man puffiness. That Seventies Swank Jumpsuit in Stripes, ModCloth.

simple is

Eh, sure. This is there. Simple Is In Keyhole Top in Navy, ModCloth.

bedecked

Fish Eye’s shoes are actually pastel pink pumps. Since I changed from light blue to navy for this, here are red pumps. Bedecked with Bows Heel, ModCloth.

fab final

There is a pink fish on Fish Eye’s jumpsuit, so here’s a red belt to update. Fab Final Touch Belt in Ruby, Banned at ModCloth.

outfit

These are actually a really similar shape to Fish Eye’s actual earrings, although blue instead of orange and green. Outfit Uplifting Earrings, ModCloth.

–your fangirl heroine.

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Fashion Friday :: evil alternates, part 2.

2 Feb

Powerful_Mistress_9

The internet does not disappoint: plenty of people do art of Black Lady (evil Chibiusa) and Mistress 9 (evil Hotaru) together even though they’ve never met. Some of it is not great, Bob, so don’t google probably, but it’s satisfying that multiple someones reached that obvious conclusion.

truly

Nice and easy. Truly Trusty Sleeveless Top, ModCloth.

lacy

The maxi skirt collection is really not populous right now, so here. This flounces at least. Lacy Lady A-Line Mini Skirt, ModCloth.

those shimmer

Get it? Because this whole crew had the black stars motif going, but also space is sparkly. Those Shimmer Nights Tights, ModCloth.

victoria

These are just… I like the vibe on these. Victorian de Force Leather Boot, ModCloth.

gotta have

And you need the beads, that’s part of the vibe. Gotta-Have Glam Beaded Necklace in Ivory, ModCloth.

–your fangirl heroine.

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Music Monday :: on First Aid Kit Live (and Ruins)

29 Jan

I just received the album this week, and therefore figured that since we were going to see them live I’d just wait and talk about everything all at once. This means no song-by-song play-by-play, but there is still much adoration to be had.

Their opening act was a fellow called Van William, who was not really someone I’d have sought out on my own but honestly that’s mostly because I’m a musical misandrist, probably. He’s apparently besties with Klara and Johanna Söderberg, so he must be a good person.

They did play most of the new album (I’m looking at the tracklisting and only doubting if I heard a couple of them, and even then I might have done, I just don’t know them that well yet) and I was thrilled to hear. My goodness, I am addicted to these harmonies. We were seated very, very high up so I don’t think we got all of the benefits of the light show (there were projections on the back wall, but we only saw approximately the bottom fourth of them) but it was still very pretty and electric.

As for the songs I already knew, it was a good mix of things from The Lion’s Roar and Stay Gold, including both title tracks. There were no Big Black and the Blue deep tracks, unfortunately (I was really hoping for maybe “Josefin” but I knew that was the longest shot ever since it’s such a random favorite to have), but they did also definitely do “Wolf,” which I mention because in addition to “The Lion’s Roar” it’s the big one from the Game of Thrones fanmixes obviously, and also it’s noteworthy that they performed it because it’s actually just a bonus track on the album even. I feel like they might well know what’s up.

They also did a song that is unrecorded as yet, I’m pretty sure, called “You Are the Problem Here.” This is basically a punk rock feminist anthem about how abusive men can fuck off and women don’t owe them shit. It’s brill and kickass and watching men in the audience be uncomfortable when Johanna explained what it was about and why (because #timesup, y’know) was pretty funny too.

And also of note was their cover of Heart’s “Crazy On you,” which was also pretty damn punk rock. It’s fun watching these sweet girls do punk. It’s fun watching these sweet girls do everything.

–your fangirl heroine.

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Fashion Friday :: nonsense twins

26 Jan

cyprine ptilol

Speaking of bad names, Cyprine and… Ptilol. I’m honestly not sure what they were thinking when they decided to name someone Ptilol. That’s a freakety keysmash. They’re twins, so I’m going to try to do complementary outfits.

overall

See, we start with the same skirt-dress. Overall Winner Jumper in Black, ModCloth.

chiffon brick

chiffon teal

Then we do tops underneath that are the same but in different colors! That’s how twins. Chiffon Button-Up Blouse with Scallops in Brick and Teal, ModCloth.

accent candy

accent peacock

Different colored tights. Accent Your Ensemble Tights in Candy Apple and Peacock, ModCloth.

knot

Matching shoes! Knot Without You Flat in Black Velvet, ModCloth.

just what warm

just what cool

And necklaces in different colors! Just What I Beaded Necklace in Warm and Cool, ModCloth.

—your fangirl heroine.

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Marvel Monday :: our thoughts on Runaways’ season 1

22 Jan

So we are slightly behind in writing about this (oops) but it’s very important. You guys got tastes of a lot of my general feelings about the girls in the year-end reviews, but this was a beautiful season of television that deserves a more comprehensive discussion now that it’s over.

I (drift partner) have been a fan of the Runaways characters since I was literally the same age as the characters, about sixteen. The basic storyline of the comics is as follows: a group of teens who grew up together and then drifted apart are brought back together by their parents, accidentally discover that said parents are supervillains when they witness them murder a teenager, and promptly decide they need to get the hell out of Dodge and, well, run away. Along the way they discover that one of them is a mutant with super-strength, one of them has a genetically modified dinosaur that obeys their every mental command, one of them is an alien who lights up and flies, one of them is a witch, and one of them has awesome gauntlets that shoot fire. It’s a weird book, and some of the narrative choices are a little suspect (and everything after Vaughan’s run is hot garbage), but I love it.

The show is… different, although from what I (the original) can tell anyway still true to a lot of the best things. The characters are all exactly as lovable as I expected from what I’d heard. Gert (Ariela Barer) still has a dinosaur that obeys her every mental command. Karolina (Virginia Gardner) still lights up and flies, and is probably at least half alien although that hasn’t been particularly explained yet. Nico (Lyrica Okano) is still a witch. Chase (Gregg Sulkin) still has awesome gauntlets. Molly (Allegra Acosta) still has super-strength but considering the MCU isn’t allowed to have mutants proper because of the split rights between studios she might be an Inhuman or she might be something else and we don’t really know. And then there’s Alex (Rhenzy Feliz), who doesn’t really have any special tricks but is still important and good.

The parents, meanwhile, aren’t quite supervillains, though they definitely veer toward that. The parents are basically stock villains in the comics – they’re on-page for maybe 5% of the total run, and their main roles are to chase after the Runaways and like, commit murder and do crimes. I don’t even remember what ends up happening to them, that should tell you how little they matter. In the show, they’ve given them a significant amount of screentime and more personality. I can see why they did this, especially since TV demands more emotional grey areas now than simply “parents are evil.” However, I still find them to be a bunch of insufferable bastards. Tumblr did pretty much universally declare Robert (James Yaegashi), Nico’s dad, to be “the hot dad,” which I completely agree with, but not in the way that anyone I’ve seen has more sympathy for him because of it. Just in the way of, well, if you had to choose one. He hasn’t really been in a lot of things of significance, which is a shame, so I will say that I hope to see him in things where he isn’t playing an asshole.

The biggest names among the parents (biggest being debatable) are James Marsters as Victor Stein, Chase’s dad, and Kip Pardue as Frank Dean, Karolina’s dad. Victor is without fail the absolute worst of the parents, which is saying something, and objectively Frank is a little less bad than the rest of them, at least for most of it, which is interesting. And all of the other parents (played, respectively, by Angel Parker, Ryan Sands, Annie Wersching, Ever Carradine, Brigid Branagh, Kevin Weisman, and Brittany Ishibashi) do good jobs of acting, too, but damn. They’re all still a variety of kinds of loathable.

The strength of the show is, of course, the kids. There’s the balance of their regrowing friendship with their high school drama (since they don’t actually, well, run away until the end of the season) with their powers with the situation with their parents with their own interpersonal relationship drama with everything else, and all of the actors handle this very impressively.

They also the characters’ ups and downs impressively. Nobody here is perfect, but they’re all still ultimately people you like and want to root for. Alex is the most “normal” of all of them, the one who naturally tries to step into the leader position and the one who most wants them to remain friends. I always thought he got a bit of a raw deal in the comics because [SPOILER] so I’m glad that the show went to the effort to make sure you care about him. He just wants to play video games, you guys. Gert has been updated a little, but mostly only in the ways that she’s anti-establishment and outspoken – she starts a feminist club on campus and uses words like “heteronormative.” She can come across as a little “old person trying to sound like a hip young thing,” but I knew what they were going for and I think the actress does a lot to make her charming. Molly is the youngest of the bunch, aged up from her comics self (twelve) to fifteen, and just wants to be on the dance team and hang out in her rainbow-colored room wearing as many bright colors as possible. She’s adorable. (In the comics she insists on being called Princess Powerful and I’m waiting for them to make that reference.) They also raceswapped her for the show to be Latina, which I think was a good decision, and they do let her speak Spanish at points, so it’s not for naught. Chase is the hardest sell, as the bonehead jock who you slowly warm up to once he proves that he’s not just a meathead. But he’s kind and brave and loves his friends, and they also managed to work in his daddy issues without making it maudlin, which is what I was afraid of. He’s a good boy. Nico can best be summed up as this sentence from the comics: “Mom, why did you throw out my black nail polish? Now I’ll have to mix all the other colors to try and make black!” She is a baby goth witch who mostly hates everyone and I love her. They did change stuff around with her powers, which is probably fine – in the comics the Staff of One requires bloodshed to work, and I can see why they’d want to avoid cutting imagery in a teen show, but it means they lose my favorite joke in the comics which involves a menstruation reference. Alas. (This is also one of a handful of comics that idly mentions menstruation more than once! It’s very exciting, especially since it was written by a cis man.) Karolina’s gone in an interesting direction, as they’ve changed her parents from mid-level actors to “church” (read: cult) leaders, and that naturally changes her from bubbly Hollywood girl to still fairly bubbly devout follower of her mother’s cult. That does mean that her personal revelation partway through the season has more layers to it, though it’s not really addressed how the church deals with sexuality at all. Anyway, they made her a little sadder and darker initially than she was in the comics for a bit, but I think it works.

And the relationships between characters are some of the nicest I’ve seen in a new property in a while. You get the six of them being friends (often the kind of friends that bicker, but they always ultimately make it up), you get Gert and Molly as devoted adopted sisters, and you get a love-shape that involves all five of the older kids. Gert likes Chase who likes Karolina who likes Nico who is also liked by Alex and entertains the possibility of him for a while, and also Chase eventually realizes Karolina’s not into him and sees Gert for the awesome person she is for him and when Nico says nope to Alex (for different reasons than the comics, and they’re still able to coexist at least on a basic level) she (unlike in the comics, given the differing reasons) actually responds to Karolina’s advances and they kiss more than once. Happily. With the implication that now they’re going to be A Thing.

I don’t think we should need to explain to you why this is so damn important. Not only does it mean we ultimately get to avoid the Sad Lesbian (™), which is always good on principle and also because Karolina deserves happiness, but it means that we have our first non-fucked-up Sapphic relationship in the MCU, and it’s interracial to boot! It’s also great because Karolina is very, very gay but Nico is (although she hasn’t used the word yet) bisexual so you get both kinds of rep. And plus that, they hit all the cutest relationship tropes: Karolina is a tol while Nico is a smol, Karolina is very much a Little Miss Sunshine sort while Nico is as mentioned a little gothic darling, they’re both apprehensive but willing to be affectionate, they protect each other, they’re just everything you want in a relationship, especially one between two girls on television.

Those two aren’t comics canon, but Gert and Chase are, and I was a little worried about how they were going to write them in the show. In the comics, Chase basically acts like a doofus because he doesn’t know how to feel about how he feels about Gert for awhile, and then finally they get together and everything is fine. He gets over his little crush on Karolina a lot quicker too. Then in the comics they become one of the longest-lasting relationships between comics people who aren’t like, longstanding Marvel characters. They have such a strong bond that when Gert dies, she passes her psychic bond with Old Lace (the dinosaur) to Chase. Anyway, so this show had a lot to live up to in that regard, and I was really pleased with how they handled it. It could have come across as really cheesy (Gert is, especially in the comics, overweight and not supposed to be particularly conventionally attractive, and Chase is a hot jock boy I guess) but it’s just kind of slow burn and sweet. Basically, Chase comes to realize that even if Karolina isn’t into him, he’s definitely into Gert, and Gert has a giant crush on him that she tries to pretend isn’t there. Then they end up making out at a school dance in front of a bunch of bat mitzvah decorations, which is cute because they’re both Jewish. They’re very cute and if the show fucks them up someone at Hulu will die.

Of course, there are some imperfect things about this show, but it’s ultimately very enjoyable, very sweet when it needs to be, appropriately serious when it needs to be, and a solid addition to MCU canon as well as a solid standalone project. You don’t really need the context of the greater Marvel universe for it, it’s pretty much Teens With Superpowers And Magic, but I also like realizing that these stories still do exist in the greater scheme of the MCU even when it’s dark and confusing in so many other places.

–your fangirl heroines.

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