Q is for Peter Quill

Peter Quill aka Star-Lord is another character who I wouldn’t call one of my favourites. But again, the letter “Q” is always an awkward one and needs must.

Peter Quill is very much a big kid – and not necessarily in an endearing way. He was kidnapped from Earth as a child, grew up living amongst a bunch of space thieves, and became a criminal who just wants to have a good time. Meeting the other members of what will be the Guardians of the Galaxy does make him start thinking about more than himself and try to do some good, but he’s still very hot-headed and immature.

It makes sense that he is immature as he’s grown up in an environment where there was the threat of death almost every day, so while he’s learnt to be smart and resourceful, he never had a childhood and the chance to be a kid. Quill’s very sarcastic and brash, but he’s also proved himself to be a good leader, that can think on his feet.

Quill cares deeply about those he loves so when he’s told that someone he loves is dead, his emotions get the better of him, causing him to lose control and lash out. That scene in Infinity War is tough to watch for a lot of reasons but I don’t hate it, or Quill, like some other people do. That’s because Quill’s actions are very much in character because when he learnt of the true reason his mother died, he acted exactly the same way.

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READ THE WORLD – Morocco: Secret Son by Laila Lalami

Nineteen-year-old Youssef El-Mekki grew up in a one-room home with his mother down the stinking alleys of Casablanca. He’s always dreamed of escape and then one day, when the father he presumed was dead turns out to be very much alive and very wealthy, Youssef is whisked away from the slums to the luxurious life of Casablanca’s elite. But as he leaves the poverty of his childhood behind, he finds some harsh truths and difficulties he must face.

Secret Son is a traditional coming of age story as Youssef grows a lot as a person as he explores who he is and where he’s come from. Once he finds out about his father, Youssef is quick to leave all he’s known to live what he feels is a better life. He leaves his mother and his friends and moves to a new apartment where every one of his whims are catered for as his father promises him many new things. While Youssef can be criticised for dumping those who had card about him for so long, chapters or passages from other characters points of view show how the people surrounding him, including his mother and his friends, have lied to him many times.

Whereas his mother wants Youssef to get a good education and go to university to better himself, he lacks the drive or ambition to do that. especially once he learns who his father is. Once Youssef and his father get to know one another, Youssef doesn’t see the point of studying as his father can just get him a good job on his word alone. Once again proving the phrase, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Youssef is very naïve really. He’s dreamed of a better life for so long that when he gets that opportunity, he never questions what it might cost him.

Secret Son has a good mix of personal and political drama and it takes the time to examine how the two can overlap. Youssef is Muslim and as he grows up in the slums, he becomes aware of a political party that make a lot of promises to the people who live there. At first, they seem to be a force for good but as time goes on corruption is clear on both sides of the political spectrum. When Yousef’s friends begin to work for the party, Youssef gets tangled up in plans bigger than himself.

Another major aspect of Secret Son is the class divide. Youssef might go from the slums to a penthouse, but he never really fits in with the rich life, and when he visits his mother and friends, he no longer fits there either. The sad thing is that Youssef doesn’t seem to notice how after experiencing his father’s wealth, he no longer fits in either class. The novel definitely doesn’t shy away from the realities of Casablanca and how peoples lives are so different to one another even when they live just a few streets apart.

Secret Son is a very engaging and easy to read book. The writing is simple yet never juvenile and Youssef makes a frustrating, complicated and interesting main character. 4/5.

P is for Pepper Potts

Pepper Potts is the best. I love her, and her relationship with Tony, so much and I’m just super invested and hope she gets a happy ending.

Let me count the ways that Pepper Potts is amazing. She was the Personal Assistant to Tony Stark, something that definitely wasn’t an easy job, but she kept him in line, dealt with board members of Stark Industries, networked and could deal with the press like the best of them. No doubt when Tony made her CEO of Stark Industries she received a lot of backlash – I bet some people thought she only got the job because she was sleeping with the boss, which she wasn’t but even if she was, she proved to be a more than capable CEO and has guided to the company to great heights.

As well as being an astute businesswoman she’s also very brave. Along with Happy she drove in the middle of the Grand Prix to get Tony’s suit to him when he was being attacked and she spied on Obadiah Stane when Tony asked her to, putting herself in more danger than she realised, and ended up saving the day. In fact there’s a great tweet where someone worked out that Pepper has killed more of the main villains of the MCU than anyone else. She was also incredibly badass in Iron Man 3 and I loved how they flipped the script and made Tony the damsel in distress at the end there.

Being in love with someone who has PTSD and anxiety can’t be easy and I thought Iron Man 3 did a great job of showing Tony’s issues and how they affected Pepper too. She never stopped believing in Tony though and I’m so pleased they worked through their issues and are now engaged to be married.

Pepper is smart, kind-hearted, loyal and trustworthy. She’s the kind of character who can be underestimated as she’s not a fighting-badass kind of character. Instead she’s quietly badass in her suit and high heels, and one that cares deeply about her friends.

O is for Okoye

Near enough all of the characters in Black Panther are pretty badass but Okoye is perhaps the most badass.

She’s the general of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s elite female bodyguards, and is a trusted advisor to King T’Challa. While she is T’Challa’s friend and will question him when she feels it’s necessary, she is also loyal to the throne of Wakanda, no matter who sits in it. She loves her country and its people and will do just about anything to protect it, even going against the man she loves.

Okoye is a fierce and skilled fighter. I loved watching her fight whether it was when she’s undercover in a casino, or when it’s on the plains of Wakanda. She’s elegant yet lethal and with her fighting style being a combination of martial arts and spear mastery.

I love Okoye’s sense of humour. She’s seemingly very stoic and serious, but she can also have a wicked sense of humour. It’s just that she knows when she needs to be professional and be the face of the Dora Milaje, but when she’s with friends or not in a serious meeting, she can be funny and approachable.

Okoye’s incredible and I’m sure she, along with M’Baku, are keeping Wakanda together and I can’t wait to see her again in Endgame.

N is for Nebula

Nebula is one of those characters that has grown on me over time. As you’ve learnt more of her backstory, seen more of her personality, and her relationship with her sister Gamora is fleshed out, she becomes more and more interesting to me.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t think much of Nebula when we first meet her in Guardians of the Galaxy. She was a cool looking character, and a skilled fighter, but you didn’t get to see much of her personality as she was like a secondary antagonist. I liked her more in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as you got to see more of her relationship with Gamora and, as she was more like an antihero, she had a bigger role and her personality shined through more. I really like her sort of wry sense of humour that makes a brief appearance every now and then.

I think Nebula is incredibly brave and resilient. Every time she lost a fight as a child, Thanos replaced a part of her body with machinery. It’s truly barbaric and it’s clear at time that her mechanical parts hurt her.

I’m not one to make predictions about Endgame (mainly because my severe fear of spoilers and I have no real idea how everything’s going to go) but one thing I hope happens is that during their space road trip of misery, Nebula and Tony have become best buds. I think their dynamic would be super interesting and compelling. They have things in common, terrible dads, and neither of them have any prior knowledge of the other so they would only judge one another on how they act in the moment. I think they’d be great, and deadly, friends. Plus, I think it’d be great if Nebula trusted Tony enough for him to fix a part of her body. That would mean a lot to both of them.

REVIEW: Hellboy (2019)

Hellboy (David Harbour) works for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence a secret agency whose aim is to keep the human world safe from the supernatural. When ancient sorceress Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) plans to rise from the dead and wreak her revenge, Hellboy and his reluctant allies must do everything to stop her.

Hellboy is reboot/reimagining of the comic books and has nothing to do with the Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy films in the early-mid 2000s. This film focusses more on the horror elements that come with Hellboy and there’s more bloody violence and swearing too. There are many different creatures, some have pretty interesting character designs, but unfortunately some of them suffer from bad CGI. Now bad CGI doesn’t make a movie bad, but when it’s there and the rest of the film in terms of story and characters aren’t so great, it’s definitely more noticeable.

There’s a lot going on in Hellboy and as it keeps jumping between characters and locations, it’s clear that the overall plot is far too convoluted. Characters seemed to get to different locations too quickly to be possible, and one way they get there is by having a character become unconscious and then wake up somewhere else. The editing is very messy as well. In action sequences and fight scenes it’s sometimes hard to follow and the editing is so quick that when there’s scenes of characters just standing and talking, you don’t get proper reaction shots to a joke (which means they don’t often land) or some big important piece of information.

As I mentioned there’s a lot of different things happening in Hellboy, with lots of different characters doing different things. Unfortunately, just because there’s a lot happening, it doesn’t mean it’s entertaining. It became rather boring watching these different fights because there’s not enough to make you care about the central characters. The dialogue is often at it’s most generic, and many scenes aren’t there to develop any of the characters personal arcs.

David Harbour made a good Hellboy, but the script he had to work with didn’t really give enough emotional depth to his fight to be good. Psychic Alice (Sasha Lane) and special forces agent Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim) are both fun characters and they and Hellboy bounce off one another really well when the script allows it.

Hellboy is messy and unfortunately rather dull. There were sparks of fun and interesting things with some of the characters but it’s not enough to make this film enjoyable or worth watching again. 2/5.

M is for Maria Rambeau

*Vague Captain Marvel spoilers*

I won’t lie, when I was planning out what character I’d have for each day of this A-Z in April Challenge, M was going to be all about Maria Hill. But then I saw Captain Marvel and a different Maria just had to be the one I talked about.

Maria Rambeau is pretty darn great. She’s an Air Force pilot and a single mother and to be honest, if she wasn’t around, the heroes wouldn’t have done nearly so well. I think that’s one of the reasons Maria is such a well-written and interesting character. She’s not just Carol’s best friend who helps Carol figure out who she is, but she’s her own person who is important to the plot.

Maria is a fantastic pilot but because she’s a woman has had to sit on the sidelines a lot of the time. However, when she gets the chance to fly, she’s amazing and can even out fly alien ships. I also love Maria’s relationship with her daughter Monica. They’re like a little partnership whilst never losing the mother/daughter boundaries. Maria is definitely a great movie mum.

I really liked Maria’s attitude as well. Her best friend who she presumed was dead turns up with superpowers and there’s aliens in her kitchen, but she takes it all in her stride. She’s strong-willed, smart and caring but that doesn’t mean she won’t tell people what she thinks and gives some home truths if needed.

I’m sad that with the likely time difference between Captain Marvel and any future films featuring Carol Danvers, that if she and Monica do meet again it’s likely that a different actor will play Monica. It’s a shame because I thought Lashana Lynch was great and she had a lot of chemistry with Brie Larson.