A to Z in April 2021

Q is for Q

Yes, that title amuses me. There are very few characters I could think of with names beginning with Q, I suppose I could’ve gone with Quicksilver, but I thought I’d go for the head of Q Branch in MI6.

I didn’t realise how long ago it was that I watched and reviewed all the James Bond films aka my Bondathon but that was in 2015. I still have fond memories of Desmond Llewelyn’s portrayal of Q. I especially liked his dynamic with the various Bond’s but the Timothy Dalton one especially stands out.

While there have been a few different actors as Q and I like the core elements of the character a lot no matter who plays him, my favourite is the newest incarnation. I think it was clever to have a young, nerdy-looking guy as the head of Q Branch and the one inventing and organising all the engineers making these fancy cars, guns and gadgets. It makes him stand out from the previous iterations of the character, and it offers a new dynamic between Q and the other characters – especially Bond.

I love the respect James Bond and Q have for one another, even if they bicker and Bond doesn’t return the equipment in one piece – if he returns it at all. Q is obviously extremely smart but he’s also a little arrogant which can be his downfall. Q is loyal and resourceful and a brilliant hacker. While there’s only small hints of it in Skyfall and Spectre, I do like the nods of his working relationship with both Tanner and Eve Moneypenny. It helps flesh out the world of MI6 outside of James Bond.

P is for John Proudstar

I’m still watching the second (and last) series of The Gifted but John Proudstar aka Thunderbird was pretty much instantly my favourite character in the show – and this show has a lot of interesting and layered characters.

The word “nice” is often used when you can’t think of anything else to say to describe someone, but John is just so nice and decent in the best way. He is kind and caring and the way he’s so tactile with people just works and is never too much. He seems like the kind of guy who would give great hugs.

John is a mutant. His powers include super strength, invulnerability, and heightened senses and foresight, meaning he can track people and see a short time into the future. The fact that he’s this big, strong guy just makes his caring nature even more pronounced. John frequently uses his own body as a shield to protect others from bullets or debris without a second thought.

His background in the military along with his abilities help make John an incredibly capable and natural leader. Though sometimes John doubts his abilities due to having so many people relying on him and he’d do anything to keep them safe. In my opinion, this insecurity over his leadership makes him a better leader. He knows his strengths and weaknesses and the way he can turn to his best friend and co-leader Marcos for support.

John is a fighter in every sense. He is great in combat and he’s emotionally and mentally resilient. I love how in tune he is with others, especially those he cares about, and he always tries to do the right thing even if that means making difficult choices.

O is for Sally Owens

I watched Practical Magic for the first-time last October and loved it – it’s definitely going to be a film I watch on the run up to Halloween each year going forward. I loves everything about it, the story, the clothes, the music, that amazing house, and all the characters but my favourite (as the title suggests) was Sally.

Sally is a witch and she and her sister Gillian (like all the Owens women) are cursed so that any man who they fall in love with will die. Sally is determined not to fall in love and have children because her father died when she was young, and her mum left her and her sister with their aunts due to her grief and she doesn’t want to go through that. Life doesn’t always work out that way though.

While her sister is a bit of a wild child, Sally is the sensible, responsible one who likes to keep things pretty ordinary. She has her little shop, she has her daughters, and she is quite content with all that. Naturally things don’t stay that way, but she impresses herself with how resourceful she can be and the lengths she’ll go to, to protect her sister and the rest of her family.

Sally is a very talented witch and she’s quick-thinking when it comes to magic and potions. I just love how Sally deals with things. Sometimes she bottles up her emotions and pushes people aware because she thinks it’s safer for her, but she has such a big kind heart. She and Gillian are the best sisters I’ve seen on screen for a while and just generally Sally’s relationship with the different members of her family are so strong and important.

N is for Nancy Wheeler

Generally speaking, the teens in Stranger Things are my favourites – though really the kids are getting so old now they could also be teens now. Anyway! While I could wax lyrically about Steve Harrington, Jonathan Byres and Robin Buckley (and they may make an appearance later on this month), today is all about Nancy Wheeler.

I love how much confidence she gets over the course of the series and how she keeps a level-head when dealing with monsters. She’s always questioning things and running her own investigations and it’s clear she’d be a great reporter when she’s older – and if she wasn’t dealing with the sexist attitudes of her bosses.

It’s kind of a small thing but I love how she’s the one who’s naturally good with a gun. She practices a bit and then in any situation where monsters are attacking and there’s a gun lying around, whether it’s a handgun or a shotgun, she’ll just pick it up and start shooting, and hitting, the target.

I often feel like Nancy gets an unreasonable amount of hate and that makes me want to defend her even more. I think some of it is from season one where she wanted to spend time with her boyfriend Steve and her best friend Barb was kinda being a bit clinging/they were growing a part a bit and a lot of people related to Barb and therefore where on her side. Personally, I never saw the fuss about Barb, she was nice but I easily liked Nancy more. Then there’s how she treated Steve during season two which I do agree was not great and she should’ve at least properly apologised because he wasn’t a terrible boyfriend, she just wasn’t great at telling him what she was feeling.

I really like how Nancy’s relationship with her mum and younger brother develop. There’s a really nice scene where she tells her mum about all the stuff she has to put up with at work and they commiserate together. With her brother Mike, they are typically siblings who always argue and annoy one another but they also work together really well, and she does her best to protect him when they’re dealing with monsters.

Nancy is smart and studious and kind and brave. She’s incredibly loyal and determined, and she’ll always do what she can to seek out justice and reveal the truth of what’s going on in this town. I love both her relationship with Steve and Jonathan and if there was any justice the three of them would’ve ended up in a polyamorous relationship as they all balance each other out really well.

M is for Mark Watney

The Martian is one of my go to comfort films. I love how it’s a story about people working together and the good in people plus it’s also very funny and has a great soundtrack. I also think it’s one of the best adaptations and I love the book a lot too.

Mark Watney is the greatest botanist on the planet Mars after he accidentally gets left there by his crew when they think he’s dead. I love him in both the film and the book. He has such a wry and sarcastic sense of humour as he just has to get on with things to survive.

Obviously, Mark has to be smart to be on a mission to Mars but seeing how he copes with no one with him and no support from NASA for the longest time actually shows how capable and resourceful he is. Though he did blow himself up once after he miscalculated how much oxygen was in the air.

I think Mark just works as a character because he feels really human and real in an extraordinary situation. He has moments where he gets angry, sad and frustrated at the situation he’s in and he is a realist in the sense that he is well aware of the fact he is stuck on a planet with limited resources so there is a good chance he’ll die before he’s rescued. He knows all the ways things could go wrong for him but he continues to work through the problems as he can’t see himself giving up.

I think what really shines through, even though they don’t have a lot of screen time actually together, is the banter and camaraderie Mark has with the rest of the crew. He’s a likable person even if he makes jokes about other people’s jobs and says they’re less important than his. Mark has a bit of an ego, but for a guy who survives Mars I think that’s allowed.

L is for Leïto

Banlieue 13 and its sequel Banlieue 13: Ultimatum are some of my favourite films. They’re action-packed, fun and have interesting characters dynamics but Leïto is my favourite.

He’s one of my favourite type of characters. He’s a low-level criminal but he does bad thigs for good reasons. Like in the opening scene you realise he’s stolen a load of drugs from a gang in order to destroy them and he keeps the area around his apartment block free of drugs and gangs.

Leïto is a realist or perhaps even a cynic. He’s grown up in an area that’s been forgotten about by the government and everyone’s had to fend for themselves. There’s no schools, no parks, no police, it’s a lawless area but Leïto has a code that he sticks to. I also like the fact that while he’s not strictly affiliated with any gang, the gang leaders all respect him and are willing to listen to him. He’s the one that brings them all together in the final showdown in B13: Ultimatum. Plus, even random teenagers in the neighbourhood know that Leïto is someone they can go to for help when they’re in trouble.

Leïto is street smart and resourceful and is quick at thinking on his feet. While he always sets boobytraps around his apartment building and has different ways to get in and out the place quickly, sometimes it does seem he has luck on his side as he’s not one to make thorough plans.

His relationship with Damien, an undercover cop, is great. They compliment each other a lot in terms of fighting style and personality though it takes time for Leïto to trust or even like him. But that’s the thing about Leïto, once he does like someone, he’s loyal and protective. Leïto and his sister Lola have one of my favourite sibling relationships on films because it’s clear they know each other so well.

How can I not share the opening sequence of Banlieue 13?! It’s a perfect example of Leïto’s parkour skills as he uses his environment and other people’s momentum against them.

K is for Kaz Brekker

I’m currently reading Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, the sequel to Six of Crows, and it’s just affirming the fact that Kaz Brekker is a great character.

Kaz isn’t a nice person. No, honestly, this isn’t one of those loveable rogue kind of characters, he is actually ruthless, cold-hearted, and conniving. He values money and power and is known for doing any job no matter how dangerous if it gets him either of those two things. Kaz is great at figuring people out and exploiting both their weaknesses and their talents in order to achieve his aims. He is a master manipulator.

Kaz is a part of The Dregs, one of the gangs in in the city of Ketterdam, and he quickly rose through the ranks to be an influential figure. He inspires loyalty through fear but also through his honesty. For a thief and a liar Kaz and does tell the truth but really only when it’ll get him something. I love Kaz’s intelligence. He’s had to learn the hard way how to survive in this seedy city and he’s learnt how to make shrewd investments in both people and property. He makes plans within plans and often only tells people the bare minimum of what they need to know to get the job done. Kaz does not trust easily and he’s always considering his and any opponents moves three steps ahead.

The fascinating thing about Kaz is that slowly he does start to care for other people – or maybe just one person in particular. Actually, care about them, not just what they can do for him. To what extent this may change him as a person I’ve yet to find out.

I’m really looking forward to the Shadow and Bone Netflix show which is released next week. Kaz and his fellow Crows are going to be in it so I’m looking forward to seeing how they bring this character to screen – because Kaz Brekker can be a nasty piece of work at times.

J is for Johnny Lawrence

I have not fallen so hard and fast for a character as I did with Johnny Lawrence for a long, long time.

I never watched the Karate Kid films growing up. In fact, I watched the Jackie Chan/Jaden Smith remake long before seeing any of the originals. Because I’m a completist, when there was a lot of talk on my Twitter feed about Cobra Kai after it arrived on Netflix last autumn, I went and watched all the films (even the Hilary Swank one), before starting the series – a series that immediately became one of my favourites and a lot of that was to do with one Johnny Lawrence.

Johnny Lawrence is not typically a character I’d love due to his drinking and often self-destructive behaviour but because of the writing and William Zabka’s performance I couldn’t help but root for him. He’s a disaster but he tries. He’s caught up in his past a lot – his teenage glory days – and doesn’t know how to be a father to his son, but what he does find is that he can be a good sensei.

I love his relationship with Miguel and how it’s so unfortunate that he can be such an unusual but good father figure to him but not to his own son as there’s no history between them or expectations.

I love how Johnny appears to be an insensitive caveman when it comes to things like equality but with the help of Miguel and Aisha, he soon realises that in his dojo it doesn’t matter if you’re small, nerdy, a loser, or even *gasp* a girl – as long as you’re badass. He’s a surprisingly great teacher. He has to unlearn some of the bad things he was taught as a teen but as he does that, he becomes a better person and a better teacher. He wants his kids to be strong and capable, but he also wants them to fight with honour and not become bullies like he used to be.

Johnny is such a complex character and one that definitely needs a lot of therapy because there’s definitely a load of trauma tied to his father figures there. He’s blunt and tough and is useless with modern technology, but he’s also caring and he becomes so soft around his old school friends like Bobby. Sure, he has a bit of a short temper whenever he’s around Daniel LaRusso (they sure know how to push each other’s buttons and they’re both as bad as each other) but Johnny tries to do better. He often makes a load of mistakes or goes about it completely the wrong way, but most of the time his heart is in the right place.

I just love Johnny Lawrence a lot and will always be rotting for him – even when I want to smack him over the head for how he forgets about his son.

I is for Isabelle “Izzy” Lightwood

I’ve already talked about one Lightwood sibling in this A-Z in April Challenge and now it’s time for another one!

Izzy is a character that I always liked but as the show progressed and you got to see different sides to her, she became one of my favourites. She’s comfortable in her own skin and is more than happy to wear tight and revealing clothes (in part to annoy her parents) and to use her looks to get what she wants – whether that’s acting as bait for a demon or charming someone for information.

Like her brother, Izzy is very loyal to her friends and will fight for what she believes in. she’s not afraid to stand up to authority, even if it’ll get her in trouble. That being said, she’s often the more level-headed one out of her friends and siblings. She works through a problem and keeps calm under pressure.

I love how compassionate and caring Izzy is. She has a big heart and is always ready to make new friends. She doesn’t differentiate between Shadowhunters and Downworlders and she can see both friends and foes in all of them. She’s supportive and protective of her friends too, and always encourages her brothers to go after what will make them happy. That protectiveness can get a little much for her baby brother Max as she worries about whether he’s ready to fight, even though she was the one to train him.

Izzy balances out her friends and family so well. She’s smart, a brilliant fighter and teacher, and she’s a great person to go to for advice. She goes through a lot over the course of the show but even though she may falter at times, Izzy shows everyone, and herself, how strong she truly is.

H is for Holland March

The Nice Guys is one of my favourite action/comedies – it is just so good! That is mostly down to the trio of main characters, Holland March, his daughter Holly, and his unlikely co-worker Jackson Healy. My favourite of the three is Holland.

Holland March is a disaster and I love that about him. He drinks too much, is self-destructive, self-loathing, and isn’t always a great dad though it’s clear he loves his daughter a lot. He’s also incredibly clumsy and, for all intents and purposes, a classic screw up.

All that doesn’t sound like a pretty likeable or great protagonist but there’s something endearing about Holland and how useless he is. Maybe it’s because he and everyone around him expects him to fail that when he doesn’t it’s such a surprise – to him and everyone else! Holland’s a private detective and it’s not always clear whether he’s a good one. But sometimes his ability to think outside the box (whether due to his intelligence or the copious amount of alcohol in his system) means he sees things other people don’t.

Holland March is easily agitated and is not one to keep calm in a crisis but somehow he still manages to make things turn out OK for himself. How he doesn’t die over the course of the film is truly a miracle. Also, just how he/Ryan Gosling screams in this film always makes me laugh.