Ant-Man, the Wasp, and Shrinking Seriousness Down to Size...

For some reason, our society equates responsibility with seriousness. Humour and light-heartedness are often seen as marks of irresponsibility or childishness, undesirable in a mature adult. It’s true that too much play and too little work can be harmful, but I’ve found that making time for some fun is essential. I have a hard time giving myself permission to take a break. I enjoy working hard, but I feel like I can’t relax unless all the work is done—and there is always more work that could be done. Once I wake up in the morning, I start planning ways to make my day “productive,” and I end up disappointed at night if I didn’t accomplish everything I planned. Stress, low self-esteem, and anxiety are just a few of the drawbacks that can result if I don’t put on the brakes occasionally. I love that the Ant-Man movie is plain fun, and it doesn’t neglect great action scenes or engaging characters to be that way. Ant-Man and the Wasp continues this tradition, and for those two hours in the theater, I felt like the movie gave me permission to take life a little less seriously. Ant-Man and the Wasp’s jokes are reminders that, while we’re desperately “adulting” through life, humour is not a luxury; it’s vital for creating a healthy balance of work and play. Surviving “One of Those Days” After receiving a new, “work-in-progress” Ant-Man suit, Scott struggles to get the size regulator working properly. When he and Hope sneak into Cassie’s school, the regulator malfunctions and Scott is stuck at the size of a small child. Instead of giving up, Scott grabs a child’s jacket from a Lost and Found box and uses it as a disguise, allowing him and Hope to reach...

Cross-Fandom Characters Who’d be Siblings Jul20

Cross-Fandom Characters Who’d be Siblings...

Although each fandom has its share of brothers and sisters, the dividing lines between franchises have prevented many sibling relationships that should have been. Here are some characters that definitely belong in the same family: Wonder Woman and Lady Sif Not only do Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Jaimie Alexander’s Lady Sif look like sisters, but they share the same skill on the battlefield and the same passion for protecting other people. They even carry the same weapons: a sword and shield. Westley and Jack Sparrow In The Princess Bride, Westley begins as an unassuming farm boy and ends up taking the mantle of the Dread Pirate Roberts with such gusto, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an actual pirate in the family. Although, Jack would be the awkward brother whom Westley doesn’t talk about, but demonstrates an uncanny habit of showing up at the worst times. Elrond and Spock They may be from totally different times, places, and races, but Elrond and Spock share the same pointed ears, black hair, and affinity for calm logic. Plus, they’re also both downright scary in a fight. Mantis and Odin’s children (Hela, Thor, and Loki) Odin’s bombshell in Thor: Ragnarok—that Thor has an older sister, and she’s intent on conquering the universe—is apt to make anyone a bit paranoid. Many fans have joked that Thor should suspect Mantis of being kin, due to her clothing’s green-and-black color scheme and her horn-like antennae (characteristics shared by Thor’s other siblings, Hela and Loki). Add these hints to Thor’s tendency to adopt everyone—even strange rabbits—and it makes total sense for Mantis to join the family. King Thranduil and Lucius Malfoy Same long blond hair, haughty attitudes, and penchant for strutting around carrying a staff. Definitely related. Amy Pond...

Donna Noble and Our Irreplaceable Roles in the Universe Jul04

Donna Noble and Our Irreplaceable Roles in the Universe...

If there’s any Doctor Who companion who’s not shy about reminding humans and aliens alike of her value, it’s Donna Noble. Even in front of the renowned Shadow Proclamation, she states, “I’m a human being. Maybe not the stuff of legend, but every bit as important as Time Lords, thank you.” The paradox of her saying that is, in spite of all her bold statements and sass, Donna doesn’t actually believe her own words. She repeatedly mentions that she’s only “a temp from Chiswick,” as if this is the sum total of her identity. It isn’t until the Season Four finale, “Journey’s End,” that the Doctor realizes how much Donna undervalues herself. The half-human, half-Time Lord version of the Doctor studies Donna in sudden understanding and says, “All that attitude, all that lip, ’cause all this time, you think you’re not worth it… Shouting at the world ’cause no one’s listening.” Like many people, Donna’s life hasn’t gone the way she hoped. She works as a temp instead of having a steady job. She lives with her mother. She discovers that the man who claimed to love her is only using her. Is it any wonder that she feels lost and unimportant? Whether we shout at the world like Donna or stay silent and hope we’re noticed, we all want our lives to matter. Donna’s deepest fear is that, if she doesn’t speak up, she’ll be ignored entirely. By making people acknowledge her, Donna hopes that they’ll believe she’s important and then, maybe, she can believe it too. She’s spent so much time thinking her life is insignificant that she completely misses how valuable she is. Thankfully, the Doctor doesn’t. During her travels with the Doctor, Donna frequently proves to be the deciding factor...

The Ultimate Avengers’ Playlist Jun22

The Ultimate Avengers’ Playlist...

The Guardians of the Galaxy have their ’70s tunes, but barring the occasional Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin song, the Avengers are a bit short on theme music. There may not be much time for aesthetics while Thanos threatens the galaxy, but each hero on the team deserves a signature song as unique as they are. Here are some potential theme songs worthy of Earth’s mightiest heroes: 1. Captain America: “Hero,” Kutless We first saw the hero in Steve Rogers when he was the little guy, too weak to win a fight but too brave to run from one. During those rough years when Steve was regularly beat up and bullied, I think he would have found encouragement in this song. 2. Iron Man: “Mr. Roboto,” Styx Tony Stark is known for his bravado, but he also deals with a plethora of fears and insecurities that he doesn’t want anyone to see. His Iron Man suits are a way for him to help other people, but also for him to hide from his own fears, and this song captures that dichotomy. 3. Hulk: “Monster,” Skillet Especially during his early days as an Avenger, Bruce Banner fears his Hulk persona and struggles to keep “the other guy” contained. Because he self-labels himself a monster, I think Bruce would identify with the struggle expressed in this song. 4. Thor: “Thunder,” Imagine Dragons Self-described as a “hotheaded fool,” Thor has always been one to charge into a fight and consider a plan afterwards. This song perfectly suits his power and reckless nature, even mentioning his “quick fuse” that has gotten his enemies in trouble on countless occasions. 5. Black Widow: “Fight Song,” Rachel Platten Natasha Romanoff’s bloody and abusive past can rival the hardships of any of...

Avengers: Infinity War Defines Love that Lasts Forever May07

Avengers: Infinity War Defines Love that Lasts Forever...

WARNING: Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War ahead! Avengers: Infinity War contrasts what cannot last with what endures forever. The main issues at stake are, after all, “infinity” stones. It’s intriguing that, despite their names, these stones command forces that are finite in scope within our universe: power, space, time, reality, soul, and mind. The one notable force that has no infinity stone is love—and perhaps, given the paradoxical nature of the other stones, this is intentional. Thanks to the film’s enormous cast, there are an unusually large number of relationships hanging in the balance as Thanos stalks across the universe in search of the stones. And the explored relationships aren’t all on the heroes’ side; I was surprised to discover that part of Thanos’s motivation is his own twisted concept of love. Selfish Love Throughout the film, Thanos’s self-serving “love” is juxtaposed with the legitimate love demonstrated by the Avengers and the Guardians. First, there’s Thanos’s attitude towards the universe: according to Gamora, “he only ever had one goal: to wipe out half the universe.” Thanos believes it’s his job to maintain “balance.” He doesn’t see his actions as the destruction of billions of lives; he believes he’s giving the remaining billions the chance to experience better existences. In the film, just like in life, sometimes we wonder if love is worth it. Infinity War also highlights a much more personal relationship for Thanos: his status as a father to Gamora, whom he adopted after destroying half the population of her planet. Of all his “children,” Gamora is Thanos’s favourite, even though she hates everything about him. In order to obtain the soul stone, Thanos has to sacrifice what he loves most. Gamora taunts him, believing that there is nothing he loves, and therefore...

The Courage to Seek Counseling: Even Heroes Need a Hand Apr04

The Courage to Seek Counseling: Even Heroes Need a Hand...

In the first Avengers movie, Loki taunts Nick Fury by asking, “How desperate are you? You call on such lost creatures to defend you.” Although he’s trying to demean the fledgling Avengers team, Loki is also not entirely wrong: in some ways, the Avengers are “lost creatures.” Each of them is struggling with one or more major life issues. As the team grows during subsequent films, each new recruit brings their own set of baggage along with their superpowers. Every MCU Avenger faces a struggle worthy of professional help. Tony Stark exhibits signs of PTSD, the result of being held hostage in the desert and falling through a wormhole. Steve Rogers has his own version of PTSD as well as survivor’s guilt and culture shock. Bruce Banner lives in constant fear of becoming the Hulk, afraid his own mind and body will betray him. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. So why doesn’t a single member of the team ever use a counseling resource for help? The first reason, of course, is that the Avengers are characters whose “lives” must be compressed into two-hour films. But I believe it’s more than that. The Avengers’ reluctance to seek support for their struggles reflects the larger attitude of our culture. When life throws a curveball, the tendency is to take the hit and act like it didn’t cause any damage. Getting counseling help has become so stigmatized that people are afraid to do it, on-screen or off. When life throws a curveball, the tendency is to take the hit and act like it didn’t cause any damage. When I speak of “counseling,” I don’t necessarily mean a session with a professional counselor, although they are often best-qualified to provide reliable advice from an...

Feeling Inadequate as a Support Mar21

Feeling Inadequate as a Support...

Receiving the nickname “vomit boy” is not a promising beginning for a would-be hero. Neither is forging school transcripts or succumbing to the demands of a bully. In short, Jaune Arc’s early days at Beacon Academy are anything but an inspiring origin story. From its first episode, RWBY’s main character has always been Ruby Rose. In spite of the show’s large cast, Ruby stands apart from the rest and garners the most screen time. In some ways, Ruby and Jaune are not so different: they enter Beacon together, become team leaders, and go through most of the same adventures. But whereas Ruby was allowed into Beacon two years early because of her fighting prowess, Jaune can barely hold his own on the battlefield. Ruby is everything Jaune wishes he could be: an exceptional fighter with a state-of-the-art-weapon. In other words, hero material. In Volume One, Jaune wrestles with a lot of frustration. Although he knows he’s not a strong fighter, he feels embarrassed when his teammate, Pyrrha, offers to help him train. “I don’t want help!” he tells her. “I don’t want to be the damsel in distress; I want to be the hero!” Because of his pride, Jaune pushes away Pyrrha and his other teammates—just in time for Cardin, Beacon’s resident bully, to learn that Jaune lied his way into Beacon. Cardin blackmails Jaune into all kinds of dirty work, making him less of a hero than ever. Jaune’s always played a supporting role, not because he’s second-best, but because that’s where he belongs. Finally, Cardin threatens Jaune’s teammates. For the first time, we see Jaune’s heroism when he stands up to Cardin in defense of his friends. In the aftermath, Jaune becomes humble enough to ask for Pyrrha’s help. His friends’ need...

Three Super-Heroines Who Understand the Struggle Mar14

Three Super-Heroines Who Understand the Struggle...

Like most people, I have dozens of responsibilities weighing on me every day. It’s hard to juggle them all, but even harder to feel confident in the process. I wonder, did I do well enough? Did I devote my attention to the best places? When I read comics where superheroes struggle with the same ordinary issues that I do, I feel less alone, and three of these role models stick out to me as women who wrestle with finding balance in their lives. Spider-Gwen: Using Responsibility to Avoid Responsibility After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Gwen Stacy dons a mask and becomes the Spider-Woman of Earth-65 (an alternate reality Earth). When she looks back on this decision, she says, “All I wanted was to be happy. To have fun with my powers.” Gwen’s “fun” turns to tragedy when she fights the Lizard, only to discover the monster is actually her friend, Peter Parker. Peter dies after the fight, and a grief-stricken Gwen realizes that being Spider-Woman is more than just a game. Even after she takes her heroic duties seriously, Gwen struggles to manage responsibility in her regular life. She uses her secret identity to escape from life as Gwen Stacy, who is having issues with her father and her friends. Crime-fighting as Spider-Woman gives Gwen something to run toward, so she can lie to herself about the fact that she’s running at all. It’s Spider-Ham, of all characters, who eventually tells her, “being a super hero is way more than facing bad guys…sometimes you gotta face real life.” One day, to keep from being late for work, Gwen swings through the streets as Spider-Woman, only to encounter the police, who are trying to arrest her. As she flees, Gwen calls her dad,...

Choosing Who We Become: Bucky Barnes and Past Trauma Jan22

Choosing Who We Become: Bucky Barnes and Past Trauma...

After Bucky Barnes falls from the train in Captain America: The First Avenger, he loses a limb, along with so much more. Captured by the evil HYDRA, he is turned into a living weapon and brainwashed into forgetting who he really is. All he can do is follow orders, without any concept of his old identity. Then, decades later, Bucky is sent to kill his former best friend, Steve Rogers. Steve recognizes Bucky and tries to remind him who he is, but Bucky’s identity has been reduced to vague memories. Bucky senses that he’s missing a part of himself, but after all the trauma he’s endured, he doesn’t know how to restore his old identity. Bucky eventually disobeys his orders and saves Steve, then disappears and researches his past life. He ends up living undercover in Bucharest, trying to regain his memories so he can return to the man he used to be. Bucky realizes he can’t be the man he was, but he can choose who he becomes. The sad events of Captain America: Civil War make it clear that Bucky can’t fully escape the trauma of his past. Although he wants to be a decent person again, the “programming” that the enemy built into his brain enables Zemo to unleash Bucky—as the Winter Soldier—on the Avengers, sparking the rift that tears the team apart. Grief and trauma can make us feel like we’ve lost ourselves. A few months ago, my dog passed away due to cancer, and I felt like I’d been robbed of a limb. My dog provided so much joy and stability that, without her, I didn’t feel like myself. As time went on and the sorrow gradually receded, I realized I would never return to my old “normal.” The...

Facing Anxiety in a Wide World Dec26

Facing Anxiety in a Wide World...

I love stories of brave, powerful heroes and dream of being like them. But in reality, I’m shy and struggle with anxiety. I think I’m too weak to be a hero, but characters like Bilbo Baggins remind me that it’s possible to be both anxious and heroic. If anyone understands what it’s like to feel overwhelmed, it’s Bilbo. In the opening of The Hobbit, Bilbo is very comfortable in Bag End and doesn’t like anything disrupting his quiet life. Then Gandalf appears and embroils the hobbit in an adventure—without taking Bilbo’s opinion into consideration. When the dwarves unexpectedly arrive at Bag End, Bilbo is pushed to higher and higher levels of stress, which also describes my own experience. Gandalf sent the dwarves to Bag End without giving Bilbo any notice or explanation, and my life has a similar way of introducing one “dwarf” after another at the most inconvenient times. Eventually, it feels like too much to deal with. I end up wanting to react the same way Bilbo does: “The poor little hobbit sat down in the hall and put his head in his hands, and wondered what had happened, and what was going to happen, and whether they would all stay to supper.” That is, essentially, a description of anxiety: feeling overwhelmed by what is happening, what might happen, and what may be expected of you. Courage isn’t about what you feel; it’s about the choices you make regardless of your feelings. To make matters harder for Bilbo, the situation that stresses him feels normal to the dwarves and Gandalf. While the dwarves calmly discuss an adventure that might cost their lives, Bilbo has a panic attack at the thought: “Poor Bilbo couldn’t bear it any longer. At may never return he...

All Hela Breaks Loose: The Goddess of Death’s Obsession Nov13

All Hela Breaks Loose: The Goddess of Death’s Obsession...

To be Asgardian royalty is to have daddy issues. Thor and Loki’s struggles with their father form the crux of past films in the series, but in Thor: Ragnarok, the brothers’ anger is vastly overshadowed by the rage of Hela, the older sister they never knew existed. As Odin’s firstborn, Hela once held her father’s favor, ruling and fighting by his side—only to be banished when Odin had a change of heart. Under normal circumstances, Hela’s anger over Odin’s rejection would be understandable—except that Odin’s repentance was entirely justified. According to Hela, they had rebuilt an Asgardian empire by violently conquering other lands and peoples. Hela not only played a vital role in the battles, but served as Odin’s executioner—and she loved every minute of it. But Odin eventually realized his actions were unjust and decided to become a wiser, kinder king. Hela didn’t agree with the decision. Suddenly, Odin’s most powerful asset became his strongest opposition. Unable to cope with Hela’s power and unwilling to let her continue her bloodthirsty rampage, Odin banished Hela from Asgard and imprisoned her. Hela doesn’t just toy with the deaths of others; she revels in them. When Odin dies, his power can no longer keep Hela contained. Mere minutes after being freed, Hela breaks Thor’s hammer, strands him and Loki on Sakaar, and heads to Asgard to reclaim the throne. Hela doesn’t just toy with the deaths of others; she revels in them. Upon her return to Asgard, she is challenged by a group of soldiers and slaughters them all. While walking among their broken bodies, Hela exclaims, “Oh, I’ve missed this.” Death is a weakness that every mortal being shares, and Hela loves exploiting that weakness. She eagerly inflicts death on anyone who opposes her, and...

Reading Grimm: Don’t Follow the (Blue) Light Nov10

Reading Grimm: Don’t Follow the (Blue) Light...

Making a deal with darkness never seems like a good idea, but in Grimm’s “The Blue Light,” the action is rewarded and even considered praiseworthy. “The Blue Light” is a fairy tale about a soldier whose king releases him from service due to his “many wounds.” Unable to earn a living, the soldier requests lodging at the home of a witch. She agrees—if the soldier does as she wishes, giving the story a deal-with-the-devil spin reminiscent of Esau in the Bible, who sold his birthright for a meal. The witch sends the soldier down a well to retrieve a magical blue light, intending to trap him there once he hands her the lantern. The soldier guesses her scheme, however, so the witch releases the rope and drops him into the well, light and all. The soldier, assuming his end has come, sulks for a while before deciding to smoke his pipe. He uses the witch’s lantern to light the pipe, again demonstrating his folly by using the resources of a witch. In a strange twist of fate, his smoking summons a magical dwarf, much like a genie in a lamp. The dwarf tells him, “‘I must do everything you bid me,’” and the soldier doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of the situation. Not only does he use the dwarf to escape from the well, but he also steals the witch’s gold and has the witch hung. Apparently, the Brothers Grimm didn’t consider theft, forced servitude, and revenge to be wicked. Fairy tale tradition might justify theft and revenge aimed at an evil person, but the soldier doesn’t stop there. Blaming the king for his problems, the soldier has the dwarf kidnap the king’s daughter while she’s asleep and makes her clean for him, thinking...

6 Times Fandoms Respected Christianity Oct11

6 Times Fandoms Respected Christianity...

While Christianity does not figure prominently in many fandoms, here are six occasions when faith is alluded to with surprising accuracy. “There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t dress like that.” – Captain America, The Avengers When Natasha Romanoff describes Thor and Loki as “basically gods,” Cap responds with this famous statement. Odin himself echoes the sentiment in Thor: The Dark World when he tells Loki, “We are not gods. We live, we die, just as humans do.” Both Cap and Odin realize that power doesn’t equal divinity. The Avengers may be able to save lives, but only God can save souls. “Mankind has no need for gods. We find the One quite adequate.” – Captain Kirk, Star Trek (S2E2, “Who Mourns for Adonais?”) The crew of the Enterprise is faced with a dilemma similar to Cap’s when they meet a superior being called Apollo, who interacted with the human race thousands of years ago and was considered a god. Apollo demands that the humans of the Enterprise worship him, but Captain Kirk and the others refuse. “It’s easy to do nothing, but it’s hard to forgive.” – Aang, Avatar: The Last Airbender (S3E16, “The Southern Raiders”) In this episode, Katara wants to take revenge on the man who killed her mother, but Aang urges her to forgive him instead. While Aang doesn’t mention God directly, his words are reminiscent of Jesus’s command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44, ESV). “‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” – Mr. Beaver, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis Generations of readers have found truths about God hidden in Aslan, C.S. Lewis’s metaphor for Jesus Christ. Mr. Beaver’s explanation of...

College Classes Taught by Your Heroes Sep15

College Classes Taught by Your Heroes

If you’re not looking forward to going back to school, here are some classes you may want to add to your timetables. 1. Steve Rogers – American History Not only is Steve passionate about his homeland, but living through much of its history is one of the perks of being 95. 2. The Tenth Doctor – Physics “Physicsphysicsphysicsphysics physics! I hope one of you is getting all this down.” 3. Galadriel – Astronomy She’s so good, she can put starlight in a bottle. 4. Yoda – Communication Difficult, it can be. 5. Hermione Granger – Literature The type of literature is irrelevant. Hermione knows it all—or if she doesn’t, she’ll stay in the library until she does. 6. Spock – Statistics Nothing illogical will be tolerated in this classroom. 7. Sherlock Holmes – Criminal Justice It’s elementary, my dear students. 8. Rumpelstiltskin – Legal Studies No one’s better at making a deal than the Dark One—just make sure your homework doesn’t include signing one of his contracts. 9. J.A.R.V.I.S. – Computer Science He knows computers inside and out. 10. Wonder Woman – Classical Studies She’s straight outta Greek...

Beren, Lúthien, and Overcoming Prejudice Aug21

Beren, Lúthien, and Overcoming Prejudice...

Ages before the romance of Aragorn and Arwen, Middle-earth was home to a Man named Beren and an Elf maiden named Lúthien Tinúviel. The story of their romance became one of the pillars for J.R.R. Tolkien’s history of Middle-earth, as well as a foreshadowing of the love between Aragorn and Arwen. The most well-known version of the Beren and Lúthien story exists in The Silmarillion, but Tolkien wrote several versions of the tale—not all of them complete—and this past June, these versions were released in a single compilation, edited by Tolkien’s son, Christopher. In the earliest version of the Beren and Lúthien story—entitled “The Tale of Tinúviel”—Beren is not a Man, but an Elf of the Noldor race. Like Aragorn and Arwen, much of the tension in the Beren and Lúthien story we know comes from the fact that he is mortal, while she is immortal. You would think that, in a version where Beren is immortal, Lúthien’s father wouldn’t mind Beren courting his daughter. Think again. As it turns out, being immortal doesn’t help Beren’s case at all. Long before his time, the Noldor Elves made the journey from Middle-earth to Valinor, but later betrayed the Teleri (another Elven clan) in order to steal ships and return to Middle-earth. Luthien’s people, the Sindar, are related to the Teleri. By the time “The Tale of Tinúviel” takes place, solid prejudice exists between the Noldor and the Sindar. Lúthien’s people thought the Noldor were “treacherous creatures, cruel and faithless.” In turn, “the lies of [Morgoth the Dark Lord] ran among Beren’s folk so that they believed evil things” of Lúthien’s people. These two clans should have been allies, but instead, they mistrusted each other, hardly better than enemies. In my own life, I’ve seen prejudice...

RWBY Chibi and Escaping into Fiction Jul24

RWBY Chibi and Escaping into Fiction...

When I became a fan of the show RWBY, I couldn’t get enough of the characters, their hilarious one-liners, and their epic fight sequences. So, like other RWBY fans, I was delighted last year when a spin-off series, RWBY Chibi, hit the web. Full of goofy scenarios, lots of laughs, and more screen time for the characters I love, RWBY Chibi became a favourite of mine and I eagerly awaited its new season this summer. One of the best parts of the spin-off is that it reverses some of the heartbreak that occurs in the original show. In Chibi, the characters are still attending school at Beacon (which remains standing), the few enemies that appear are easily and comically thwarted, and even characters that perished in RWBY reappear in Chibi. The episode “The Vacuum” includes my favourite example of “character resurrection.” The JNPR team reintroduces Pyrrha, their fallen comrade, whose tragic end in Volume Three of RWBY caused a lot of trauma for fans. When Pyrrha walks onto the scene in this episode, the members of Team RWBY are shocked and start to question her presence. But Nora, a member of JNPR, shouts down any insinuations about Pyrrha’s death, emphatically stating, “NOPE! Never happened! . . . Everything’s fine. Pyrrha is fine. Nothing bad ever happened. EVER.” If I allow myself to become addicted to escapism, I miss all the beauty and adventure that real life has to offer. While the reappearance of Pyrrha and other departed characters is a wonderful element of Chibi, I find myself wishing these unrealistic resolutions occurred in the regular RWBY show, too. Although good stories can’t occur without conflict, I’m the type of fan who wants everything to turn out perfectly at the end. I want the rosy, Disney-princess...

Losing Your Self-Worth to a Suit Jul17

Losing Your Self-Worth to a Suit...

When Tony Stark gives Peter Parker an upgraded suit and recruits him for the Avengers’ Civil War, Peter is ecstatic, thinking he’s about to become a member of the team. But Tony has other plans. Although he lets Peter keep the suit, Tony sends Peter back to his old, ordinary life in Queens, telling the super-teen that he’ll call him when there’s a new mission. That call never comes, and Peter grows increasingly frustrated. Isn’t the guy who snatched Captain America’s shield ready for more challenging tasks than giving directions to old ladies? “Can’t you just be a friendly, neighbourhood Spider-Man?” Tony suggests when Peter seeks out more dangerous adventures. But in the course of protecting his neighbourhood, Peter finds a gang of arms dealers selling weapons enhanced with remnant Chitauri parts, leftover Ultron tech, and other exotic wreckage. Although he tells Tony about the threat, Peter is not content to sit on the sidelines and decides to investigate for himself. Peter is everything you’d expect from a teenaged superhero—he’s gifted, but also clumsy, inexperienced, and still learning that actions have consequences. On top of that, he’s enthralled with his new suit. Thinking the suit holds the key to being a better superhero, Peter disables the “Training Wheels Protocol” Tony added to the software, and suddenly he’s got a mind-blowing amount of tech at his disposal (though he has no idea how to use it). Wanting to be worthy of the Avengers, Peter relied on his suit to make him a hero and ended up losing confidence in himself. When I thought about Peter’s attachment to his suit, I realized that most people rely on some kind of “super-suit” to create a “better” version of themselves, to function in areas where they feel deficient....

Why Severus Snape Would Make a Great Therapist Jul07

Why Severus Snape Would Make a Great Therapist...

Ol’ Severus gets a bit of a bad rap in the Harry Potter books. Maybe it’s the way he bullies any student who’s not in Slytherin, or his former status as a Death Eater, or just his scathingly sarcastic personality. However, there’s far more to Severus Snape than first appears. While Snape may not have the sensitive bedside manner of most professional counselors, he does have many other qualities that suit him for such a role. Here are 10 reasons why Sev would make a fantastic therapist: 1. He’s not afraid to tell you the hard truths: “It may have escaped your notice, but life isn’t fair.” —Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) 2. As an accomplished Potions master, he’s sure to have something helpful. Need a little Veritaserum to fix compulsory lying? Maybe Draught of Living Death to cure some insomnia? Snape’s got you covered. 3. Snape sympathizes with your problems, even if he can’t fix them. “Unless you wish to poison him—and I assure you, I would have the greatest sympathy if you did—I cannot help you.” —Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) 4. His speeches, especially to first-year students, have been known to inspire greatness. “Hermione Granger was on the edge of her seat and looked desperate to start proving that she wasn’t a dunderhead.” —Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (book) 5. Snape gets what it’s like to have a rough past. Former Death Eater? Lost the love of your life? Sev knows the struggle. 6. Sev will push you until you get it right, even if he has to use Legilimens a million times. “Control your emotions. Discipline your mind.” —Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) 7. He’s uncannily good...

True Villainy in Once Upon a Time: Captain Hook vs. Rumpelstiltskin May17

True Villainy in Once Upon a Time: Captain Hook vs. Rumpelstiltskin...

Of all the fights, feuds, and fisticuffs in ABC’s hit show Once Upon a Time, the private war between Captain Hook and Rumpelstiltskin is the stuff of vengeance legend—and just as remarkable as their quest to destroy one another is the blame-game they play while doing it. Their troubles begin in the Enchanted Forest, when Rumpelstiltskin is no more than the crippled village coward. When the dashing pirate, Killian Jones—later known as Captain Hook—passes through town, he takes Rumple’s wife, Milah, away to his ship. Desperate to retrieve Milah for their son’s sake, Rumple limps his way to Killian’s ship to beg for her return. Killian agrees—if Rumple can best him in a duel. Rumple, unable to handle a sword or even walk unaided, is forced to return home without his wife. Years later, Rumple gets the chance to face his enemy again, this time with the deck stacked in his favour. During those years, Rumpelstiltskin became the Dark One, an incredibly powerful sorcerer. He originally sought the dark magic to protect his son, but over time he became obsessed with his own power. After all those years of being called a weakling, he loves feeling unstoppable. I have been blessed with plenty of my own talents, but physical strength is not one of them. The thought of being able to defend myself when I feel wronged is alluring. Rumple thought his dark power would defend him and his son, but it became a disguise for his cowardice, a mask that made him a worse monster than those he fought. Sometimes, I let pain turn me into a villain, and I hurt the people around me. Had Rumple been truly brave, he would have let Killian go when he encountered him again. Instead, he...