K is for Harley Keener

I love Harley and I think he was just the sort of person Tony needed to run into. I love Tony Stark’s sort of paternal/mentor relationship with Peter Parker, but before he met Peter Tony had already met one smart kid and had gifted him a bunch new equipment and robotics.

Harley is a great character because while he’s a kid that can sometimes be annoying and insensitive, he’s also smart enough to be able to bounce ideas around with Tony Stark. Plus, Tony walks that fine line of knowing Harley’s a kid but also not treating him like an idiot making their conversations and relationship a lot of fun.

Harley may have accidentally triggered an anxiety attack in Tony after mentioning New York, but later on he’d learnt from his mistakes and the next time Tony had an anxiety attack, he managed to snap Tony out of it. He did this by saying that Tony was a mechanic and can therefore simply build something to fix his problems. It’s great because Harley has a childlike understanding of anxiety and Tony’s issues but that childlike bluntness, or simple yet logical way at looking at something, is what really helps Tony out.

Harley works as a character because the script treats him as a child. He’s about ten years old and he never seems too mature for his age, instead he’s very much a child that’s discovered something amazing and wants to help though will probably not help as much as he’d like to. Harley can be annoying and maybe even obnoxious but he’s still sweet and loveable and the kind of kid you wouldn’t mind being around. I mean, Harley’s not afraid to try some emotional manipulation even if it doesn’t work out for him.

I’d really like Harley to make an appearance in the MCU again. He’d probably be around the same age as Peter Parker so I can just imagine the two of them becoming buddies and working with Tony in his lab, and no doubt the three of them would cause chaos together.

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READ THE WORLD – Jamaica: Augustown by Kei Miller

11 April 1982 in Augustown, Jamaica. Ma Taffy may be blind, but she sees everything. So, when her great-nephew Kaia comes home from school in tears, what she senses sends a deep fear running through her. While they wait for his mama to come home from work, Ma Taffy recalls the story of the flying preacherman and a great thing that did not happen.

Augustown is a story within a story. There’s what’s happening in the present with Ma Taffy and Kaia, her story of the flying preacherman, and an almost omnipresent narrator that’s looking down on the events that are unfolding and can see the past and future. There are also other characters who live in Augstown that come in and out of the story at different times, and it’s as the story progresses that you can see all these connections between them.

Augustown is a story all about the divide in Jamaican society and how people may try and fail to bridge that divide and perhaps better themselves. There’s rich vs poor, white vs black, Babylon vs Rasta. All these differences and divisions come to a head when Kaia comes home crying after his teacher cuts off his dreadlocks. It’s a shocking thing for the young boy and the community as a whole, and soon the people start to get involved.

The writing style is almost poetic at times as it paints a vivid picture of life in Jamaica in the twentieth century. The stark differences between what the poor Augstown looks like and the rich areas of Jamaica that are in the hills and look down upon Augustown look like are clear. Also, the attitudes between the people who live in the two different areas is realised through the few times when people from each of these worlds interact. There’s talk of code-switching, how someone changes their dialect or use of slang depending on who they’re talking to, and of what opportunities are available to different people.

Augustown is a quick read with engaging themes but unfortunately while I did feel sympathy towards many of the characters, I was never fully drawn into their story. How Augustown shows the divisions of class in Jamaica is eye-opening and it shows how one person’s actions can have ramifications they couldn’t have expected.

J is for Jim Paxton

OK so why did I choose Jim Paxton for the letter J when there’s characters like JARVIS, James “Rhodey” Rhodes and Jane Foster? They’re all great but I find Jim Paxton just really interesting and a character that subverts the usual sterotypes.

He’s set up kind of like an antagonist in Ant-Man but he’s never downright horrible to Scott. He’s Scott’s ex-wife’s fiancé but there’s no competition between the two men over Maggie’s affections. Instead, Paxton is rightly wary as he doesn’t want Maggie or Cassie to get hurt if Scott goes back to his criminal ways. He’s a detective so he has to do his job when Scott gets caught burgling Pym’s house, but he’s still disappointed in him. Over the course of the film though, Paxton see’s that Scott can be a hero too and he directly puts himself in harms way to protect Cassie from Yellowjacket.

Then in Ant-Man and the Wasp it takes it a step further and Paxton now cares about Scott just as much as Maggie and Cassie do. And he, Scott and Maggie are a team who are together raising Cassie and again, there’s no competitiveness or nastiness to be found. I think having this kind of family on screen is so important.

Paxton is a great minor character. He’s charming, caring, a good cop and a good stepdad. He looks out for his family and he will speak his mind. I just love the whole Lang-Paxton family and think they’re one of the most functional and well-adjusted families in the entire MCU.

If I’m being honest, there could’ve been way more characters from the Ant-Man films featured in this A-Z of My Favourite Characters in the MCU because there really are some great, fun and interesting characters in those two films. After this post there will be one more Ant-Man character featured, can you guess who it’ll be?

I is for Ivan Vanko

OK I’ll be honest, Ivan Vanko isn’t a favourite character of mine (though I find him quite a fun character) I just literally couldn’t think of another character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe whose first, last or code name began with the letter “I”. I googled it and everything.

I do think Ivan Vako makes one of the best villain introductions in the MCU. How he invades the racetrack at the Monaco Grand Prix, cutting up cars and causing multiple explosions with his arc reactor-powered electric whips definitely makes an impression.

I also like how Vanko takes none of Justin Hammer’s nonsense. When Hammer breaks him out of prison and plans to use his knowledge of arc reactor technology to make him rich, Vanko appears to go along with it when in actual fact he’s got his own plans. I love it when he just rips apart Hammer’s robots as he thinks they’re useless and totally ignores Hammer’s freak-outs and then just demands that he get him his pet bird.

My favourite line of Vanko’s is “If you can make God bleed, the people will cease to believe in him.” It’s from when he’s talking to Tony Stark and how he plans to show the world that the Great Tony Stark isn’t infallible. I think it’s a great line that has even more meaning now as in Infinity War Tony did manage to make Thanos bleed (in fact he was the only one except Thor to do so) so there’s the idea that Thanos isn’t undefeatable either.

Iron Man 2 gets some hate, but I think it’s a fun film with a fun villain that has a larger than life personality as he’s out for revenge.

H is for Happy Hogan

I shan’t beat around the bush; the Iron Man films are some of my favourite in the MCU and I adore the core four/the original Team Iron Man/the Iron Man fam meaning Tony Stark, Pepper Potts, James “Rhodey” Rhodes and Happy Hogan. Spoiler alert for the rest of the month – there’s a good chance that all four of those characters will be featured as a part of my favourite MCU characters theme.

But today is Happy Hogan’s day! Now why do I like Happy so much? Well generally speaking I tend to have a soft spot for secondary characters which he falls into, but I also think he’s great because he’s one of the few people that gets to see who the real Tony Stark is and that’s because Tony trusts him.

Happy starts out as Tony’s bodyguard/chauffeur but as Tony becomes Iron Man and doesn’t really need either of those things, Happy becomes Pepper’s bodyguard and the Head of Security at Stark Industries. Along the way he also becomes a friend to Tony and someone who helps Tony out, putting himself at risk to do so. I mean he drove a Rolls-Royce the wrong way down a Grand Prix racetrack to get Tony’s suitcase armour to him, and he was nearly blown up trying to find information for Tony in Iron Man 3.

Happy is always eager to help his boss/friend and he’s very loyal to not only Tony but Tony’s best interests which can mean leaving Tony to help look after Pepper and Stark Industries. Happy is trusted enough to be Tony’s liaison to Peter Parker, even though he finds Peter more annoying than anything else, and when he makes mistakes or misjudges someone, he’ll admit it and apologise.

I am very excited about Avengers: Endgame and I’m doing my best to avoid all spoilers, trailers and clips but I did see all the character posters and was really surprised yet happy (heh) that it looks like the original Team Iron Man are all going to be alive and be able to reunite!

REVIEW: Unicorn Store (2017)

Kit (Brie Larson) is trying, and in her eyes failing, to be an adult. Her passion for art and glitter is almost snuffed out as she gets a temp job and feels her parents are constantly comparing her to more successful people her age. But then she receives a mysterious invitation to The Store, where she meets The Salesman (Samuel L. Jackson) who gives her the chance to fulfil her childhood dreams.

Brie Larson’s directorial debut is assured, colourful and magical. From the very first scene, the way characters faces are framed give you no choice but to experience with them what they’re feeling. The use of colour and glitter throughout is wonderful and Kit’s wardrobe is just the right blend of childish and mature.

Because that’s where Kit is stuck. She’s an artist with dreams of magic and colour but the “real world” doesn’t see the value in such things. She’s a twenty-something that’s now having her coming-of-age story as she goes through that dilemma a lot of young people have – should she try and be a “proper grown up” or should she still try and follow her dreams, even if they seem out there.

The script is funny and genuine and it’s due to both the script and Larson’s performance that Kit never becomes unlikeable. She’s strong-willed and sometimes selfish, but she also apologies when she has a temper-tantrum and is friendly and kind. Kit can come across very naïve, firstly because of the promises the Salesman makes are truly fantastical, but also due to her low self-esteem and the fact she’s never been in the workplace before she can’t figure out if her boss is harassing her or not. A simple yet brilliant moment was when Virgil (Mamoudou Athie), a hardware store worker who Kit pays to help her achieve her dream, states that what her boss is doing is wrong. Virgil and Kit’s friendship is so sweet, and their conflict comes from Kit being obsessed with the seemingly impossible, and not appreciating what she has in her family and friends.

Kit is a messy human who’s trying to figure out what she wants from life, and when life gets hard, she reverts to chasing the dreams of her childhood. But it’s seeing how she starts to understand who she is and what she wants that’s truly touching.

The basis of Unicorn Store’s story is weird but the themes it has, figuring out who you are, learning to love oneself and let yourself be loved, keeping the sense of wonder in the world, are universal. Unicorn Store is whimsical and heartfelt and just delightful. It’s a proper laugh-out-loud funny film but then it will also make you cry a lot too. It’s sweet and touching without ever being cringey and Larson really captures all the different sides of someone who is trying to figure themselves out and to be OK with who they are. 5/5.

G is for Goose

*Vague spoilers for Captain Marvel*

I’m more of a dog person than a cat person but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a cat – or in this case should it be flerken?

Goose is a cute cat and is a pretty friendly and loyal one too. Though it has been known that Goose can change their opinion on someone quickly and seems to have mood swings now and then.

I think having an alien cat be a main character in a superhero movie is a bold but ingenious move. They’re unpredictable and can lead to many cute and/or comedic moments and the cat actors did a great job of giving Goose such a big personality.

I like Goose’s attitude a lot. He’s a pretty chill cat but he’s also kind of an unexpected badass and will totally save the day – if he feels like it that is. I also liked how he was with Fury, how Fury was clearly besotted but Goose only put up with so much before he got annoyed. I also really like the idea of an alien cat just wandering around SHIELD and eating people who annoy him/hurt the few humans it likes.

I want there to be more animals in the MCU. Give me Lucky the Labrador living with the Barton clan please!