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Kyoko’s Favorite Movies of 2016

So. This year has been an enormous, raging, uncontrollable garbage fire, but at least it gave us some good movies. Here’s my shortlist of the best movies for 2016 that have been released.

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Captain America: Civil War: I don’t think anyone’s shocked at this being one of my first picks for the best of 2016. Like the Avengers, this movie gives me a massive rush of fangasm to see so many of our Marvel heroes in one story, and it’s great because not only do we know the core team, but we also get introduced to some new faces. Everyone went into this movie expecting to love the fight scenes—which were incredible—and yet we all came out with the same consensus: bump the main team, we need 1000000% more Black Panther and Spider-Man. I am truly blown away how much I liked those two. They were by far the biggest standout characters introduced into the MCU and I cannot wait for both of their solo films, because they have proven to be incredibly interesting. Still, I of course give the movie credit for being the most heart-wrenching film in the MCU canon. We were hit hard and often in the feels, from losing Peggy Carter to seeing Tony and Steve’s friendship fall apart to seeing poor Bucky being used against his will to murder the innocent. It’s a phenomenal film with all the right elements and it has a massive rewatch quality for that same reason.

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Moana: Again, this is no surprise. I am a huge Disney fan, and I am especially a fan of Disney princess films and how they have evolved over the decades. Moana is exactly that: the natural progression of a Disney princess with modern day writing. Honestly, it’s like the movie had a checklist of “impossibly awesome things” and it just checked them off one by one. Likable, realistic protagonist? Check. Creative, visually-stunning environment? Check. Bechdel Test pass? Check. Hilarious lines? Check. Catchy-as-hell musical numbers? Check. Gripping story with plenty of action and adventure? Check. Open exploration of people of color, also portrayed by people of color? Check, check, check. This film is a dream. It’s just so exciting and wonderful and powerful that I’ve already seen it twice and I’m trying my hardest not to see it a third time before it leaves theaters. So few films understand that there is a difference between seeing a movie and experiencing a movie. Moana is an experience. I found myself tearing up at the oddest moments, at moments that weren’t even sad, because I was just so wrapped up in the adventure and how it made me feel like anything was possible and that I got to be on this journey with these wonderful characters. Call me petty, but I am so damned glad that Moana was the one to take the crown away from Frozen in terms of opening weekend. Every bit of praise this film has gotten is more than well-earned. It’s practically demanded.

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Storks: This one sort of slipped by a lot of people due to when it was released, but Storks was just the quirky kids’ film that I was looking for and I really enjoyed it. Even though I want to say they marketed it as the makers of the Lego Movie, this film smacks a lot of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, in terms of 70% of the jokes being Lampshade Hanging. It could really be argued that it’s more for teens and adults than it is for kids’, and I think the box office and its critical reception reflect that. It’s certainly not a bad thing, either. I was howling. It’s extremely creative, the performances are hilarious, and the humor is spot on. I told my parents to rent it one day so they can crack up at all the great parenting jokes. I consider it a hidden gem among the 2016 films and it’s worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.

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Zootopia: Before Moana blew my mind, Zootopia was the other Disney film that completely made me fall head-over-heels in love with it, and I still am to this day. The last time I’ve watched a Disney film this many times, it was Tangled all the way back in 2010. I love Zootopia so much that I own two versions of it: the DVD and the Amazon streaming digital video, though to be fair, I didn’t know Netflix would add it to their library this fall. Zootopia is life. It’s such a well told story with an amazing examination of all kinds of prejudice, from basic sexism to complicated accidental reinforced stereotypes to obvious bigotry. I haven’t seen an animated film handle these concepts this well since Cats Don’t Dance. It’s so relevant now considering what’s been going on the past several years and yet even without the strongly worded, mature message, it’s just an enjoyable film with delightful characters.

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The Legend of Tarzan: Oh, quit gaping at me. This movie was also pretty much panned by most people, but no one really disliked it moreso than they were just indifferent to it. Of the movies on my list, this is definitely at the bottom, but regardless, I actually really enjoyed this movie. To be clear, I didn’t expect to. The trailers were pretty generic and I really adore Disney’s take on Tarzan, so I wasn’t really in the market for a new interpretation, but once I saw that it wasn’t Disney remaking itself like it’s been doing in recent years, I decided to give it a try. (And half naked Alexander Skarsgaard is hard to say no to.) I discovered a surprisingly thoughtful film that paid respect to both sides of the fence in terms of nature and man. It doesn’t browbeat and it doesn’t have the same white savior problem that a lot of films similar to it tend to have. I really loved the flashback scenes of Tarzan’s early life. They were gripping and deeply emotional, and the performances were excellent, as was the cinematography and the soundtrack. I would argue it’s worth a watch or a rental for that same reason. I do admit that Margot Robbie is extremely damsel-y and useless, and Christoph Waltz is completely wasted on this script, but everything else about the film was good.

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Deadpool: This needs no explanation. It was perfection. You know and I know it. Boom.

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Kubo and the Two Strings: Like Storks, Kubo was sort of a niche marketed film, really only made for those who are really passionate about animated fairytales. Well, I am one of those people. I adore Laika productions, and Kubo is no exception. It’s a masterfully told, utterly moving, impressively beautiful film. It’s mature, but it still is palatable for children and young adults. If nothing else, Kubo needs to be seen for how rich and vibrant and detailed its cinematography is, and considering everything is stop-motion, it demands to be appreciated. The only downside is that unfortunately, the cast is not as diverse as it should have been. Don’t get me wrong: the voices chosen totally fit the characters and each actor did one hell of a job, but I still find myself disappointed that a movie set in feudal Japan has so few Japanese actors in it. The biggest casualty is George Takei, who had about three lines as a minor character. What the hell, Hollywood. It’s friggin’ George Takei and you didn’t give him a main role? Shame on you! Despite that shortcoming, Kubo is phenomenal and should not be missed.

I’ve got two more films on the docket for 2016: Rogue One and Passengers, so stay tuned for a possible update to this list in a couple of weeks. Have a happy!

New Orleans Comic Con 2016

 

Me and Chris Evans aka Captain America

Your friendly neighborhood fantasy author just had an excursion to the land of awesome jazz, rich heritage, and the best damn Southern cuisine imaginable. It was basically Treat Yourself 2016 for me, and when I treat myself, I treat myself. Hence, Captain America snuggling and languishing in my arms.

New Orleans Comic Con is a younger con, but they apparently worked out something pretty incredible to snag not only Captain America himself, Chris Evans, but half of the cast of Civil War, including Frank Grillo (Rumlo aka Crossbones), Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon), Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), Jeremy Renner (aka Clint Barton/Hawkeye) and the Russo brothers who are directing the film. I had been on Wizard World’s mailing list for some reason and as soon as they sent word that Chris Evans would be in the South (seriously, look it up, A list celebrities avoid the South like the freaking plague, man, and I’d know) I scrambled for a ticket and a photo op. It was the opportunity of a life time to meet an actual superhero (my second one, actually, as I met Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman, in 2013) in the flesh. Plus, I’d never been to New Orleans and I was dying to get a chance to soak in some of the great things I’ve heard about Crescent City.

I flew down Thursday afternoon and stayed with a friend of mine. On Friday, we got up and had breakfast here, at The Ruby Slipper.

I had cheesecake-stuffed French toast with fresh blueberry compote and it was so delicious I’m drooling as I think about it all over again. Heavenly stuff, man.

And here’s my first street car ride!

We headed to the con to grab our badges and check out the dealer’s room, which was huge and awesome. Here are the goodies I managed to swipe for myself:

This fancy lithograph came with the hilariously expensive Chris Evans silver VIP pass. It’s basically just a glossy 11×17 photo of Captain Hotness, but hey, why not? Who doesn’t love a little smolder?

This awesomeness is a fake movie poster made by one of the artists in the dealer’s room. His concept was taking nerd culture things and turning them into the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s style movie posters, and this one is so gorgeous that I had to snag it to decorate my room. It’s just plain lovely.

Below is another one by the same artist, except it’s from Fallout 3 & 4.

Saturday morning at 10am, I attended the Civil War panel, which includes all the guests I mentioned above. Because I’m a huge nerd and this was a lifetime opportunity, I sat by one of the mics and was lucky enough to ask a question. Yes. I spoke to half the cast of Captain America: Civil War. That high-pitched sound you’re hearing is me screaming internally for hours.

Unfortunately, the audio is a bit janky, but here’s the whole panel. I got to ask a question at around the 26 minute mark, and their answers were priceless. I really encourage you to watch the entire video, and if one with better quality pops up, I’ll add it. It was a phenomenal panel, even with some fans asking weird questions, and the cast was beyond entertaining to experience live.

After the panel, I had the two most awesome experiences as a fangirl ever. First, was meeting Hayley Atwell, Agent Carter herself, for an autograph. I managed to hold it together and I told her that I was so grateful for her portrayal of Peggy as this powerful, amazing three dimensional female character and how it’s so important to have this awesome woman on a major network television show. I also told her that I truly hope she enjoys all the wonderful things that have happened and will happen for her as a result of portraying this character, and Ms. Atwell told me she was so humbled by my words. We shook hands and I was able to take this precious piece of personal history home with me to be framed on my wall.

After that, the main event happened. I waited in line in a freezing cold auditorium for around an hour, dressed to the nines and in full makeup, and then it happened. I walked up to Captain America, Chris Evans, for a photograph.

Now, the funny thing is…I’ve met celebrities before. Not any A-list celebrities, mind you, but celebrities like Maggie Q, Shane West, Bill Corbett, James Urbaniak, who are mostly nerd icons. Each time, I’ve managed to hold in the fangirl squeeing and ask them questions, even hold entire conversations.

But not with Chris Evans.

He was the first celebrity to ever make me 100% starstruck and tongue-tied.

Before the hug, I walked over and said hi and asked him if it would be alright for me to give him a hug for the photo. Mr. Evans smiled and said it wasn’t a problem at all, and then he wrapped his arms around me and I basically lost all mental faculties. I actually had a comment prepared–something about how proud I was of what he’s done with the character of Steve Rogers–but after that hug…yep, I was mush. I just mumbled thank you and tottered away on my heels, blinded by how utterly handsome he was. The hug was that good, but then there’s also the fact that before he let me go, he rubbed the small of my back and that’s what precipitated me turning into a pile of goo. My God. What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man.

Oh, and here’s his autograph as well (sadly not personalized, because you had to pay an extra $200 for that and as much as I ADORE Chris Evans, paying over $600 for a photo op and personalized autograph was outside of my comfort zone.)

The rest of the trip wound down after I met Cap. I swung past the famous Cafe Du Monde for beignets and coffee, which were yummy. We had dinner at this cool seafood place called Mr. Ed’s Seafood Bar and then on Sunday we just walked around town to sight-see and eat at Deannie’s before I headed home. Honestly, the city was beautiful and stuffed with all kinds of feasts for the eyes (and stomach). I’m so happy that Treat Yo-self 2016 went as smoothly as it did, and I will never forget meeting my favorite Avenger in the flesh. It was Item Number Four on my Bucket List, and I’m so giddy I managed it before I turned 30. It was unforgettable.

And for your viewing pleasure, here’s my informal account of meeting Chris Evans, for poops and giggles.

On Altruism

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Altruism: (noun) the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.

So Captain America: The Winter Soldier was frickin’ awesome.

I’ve already seen it twice and I plan to see it plenty more times. I’m so endlessly pleased with everything from the cinematography, to the fight choreography, to the chemistry between Steve and pretty much every single person in his life, and everything in between. I just adored it from start to finish.

However, sometime this week, my part-time mentor had a heated conversation on Facebook about why The Winter Soldier succeeded where Man of Steel (2013) failed. I didn’t participate and only saw it in passing, but it definitely got me thinking in terms of the writing.

First off, a disclaimer: I am one of the few people on the planet who doesn’t hate Man of Steel. That being said, I am also not quite a fan. I straddle the fence. Gun to my head, I’d give the movie 3 out of 5 stars—passable, mediocre, decent. The reason why is that Man of Steel did something that the other Superman films had not done yet: it took risks. Now, did those risks pay off? Ehhhhhh, kind of? In certain respects, the risks Man of Steel took paid off, like deciding to have Lois know Clark’s identity or showing Clark’s alienation and struggle to use his powers in non-selfish ways. The other risks, like Papa Kent being a selfish douche and dying for absolutely no reason or making Superman kill his first villain, no, I don’t think it pulled those dramatic changes off properly.

That’s what I want to chat about today: the differences between the attempted altruism in Man of Steel and the altruism that actually carried through in The Winter Soldier.

Mind you, it’s not my intent to compare the movies as a whole because they are two different entities—a reboot and a sequel with vastly different tones. Instead, let’s just focus on the super fellas themselves.

So in The Winter Soldier, Steve has begun to adjust to his surroundings. He is a great deal more cheerful than we saw him in the Avengers, where he was still in a bit of mourning for what he lost during his frozen slumber. He immediately bonds with Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie for President! Whoo hoo!) and has oodles of chemistry—both friendly and sexual, you ask me—with Natasha, all the while still having major issues with SHIELD. It’s for good reason, too, since the Battle of New York caused infinite amounts of fear and paranoia with the world powers.

What I think TWS did correctly was the internal struggle of Steve’s orders versus Steve’s gut feeling. Especially with the opening sequence where they told him to save the hostages, and it turns out it was Nick Fury manipulating him. Steve’s anger was completely justified. Nick Fury tends to be the ultimate “big picture” kind of leader, so he could sacrifice a few lives if it saved billions, but that’s the problem. Alexander Pierce had the same idea, but in horrendously huger numbers. Steve had a choice to make, and it was by far one of the most important of his life. What’s more is that this idea carried through with Bucky as well. Once he learned the Winter Soldier’s true identity, Cap had to make a choice. He could have believed what Sam said, that the Winter Soldier was beyond saving, but he didn’t. He chose to have faith in his past friendship, a decision that could have cost him his life, but he still did it. I think that is definitely “the belief or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.”

Now let’s take a look at the Man of Steel. Clark grew up confused and angry after learning that he had powers beyond anyone’s imagination to comprehend. He was bullied, and wanted badly, like any normal kid, to get some payback, but he restrained himself. He also ran into cosmic a-holes as an adult—seriously, Clark is an angel for not killing that guy in the bar, I’d have shoved that mug of beer right up his ass Hancock-style—and managed not to act on his anger there either. However, one of my many issues with this version of Clark is that they never directly address what the comic books bring up: the idea that Clark is against capital punishment. I might have cited it before, but the story “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?” by Joe Kelly, and later adapted into an awesome DC animated original film “Superman vs. the Elite” deals with the idea that Clark has the ability to stop a threat permanently, but chooses not to, and there are dire consequences for that decision.

If the film had perhaps started with Clark stopping small crimes here and there and resisting the urge to kill, then maybe Zod’s fate would have been easier to swallow, or perhaps more meaningful to the narrative. The film tried to give us an altruistic Superman, but because of Pa Kent’s negative behavior, the way he died, the way Clark constantly brooded over whether to trust the human race or not, it ended up shriveling up instead of flourishing. I could see the seeds trying to grow, but the joyless tone that Zack Snyder and David Goyer enforced on the movie prevented our Boy in Blue from his true Boy Scout nature.

I think Marvel has a better understanding of what makes our heroes the kind of people everyone can root for. They have darkness in their lives, and secrets, and flaws, but Marvel doesn’t let it swallow up their characters. There were plenty of hilarious lines (especially Nat and Steve and Steve and Sam) and heartwrenching dramatic scenes (I’m still crying about Steve and Peggy, hand me a tissue), but the overall effect is surprisingly hopeful. Even with SHIELD branded as terrorists and the world on the hunt for Nick Fury, the fact that Cap did the right thing in the end—choosing to try to save Bucky and trying to root out the Hydra from the good guys at the SHIELD HQ—is what made him an altruistic hero. We never really got that moment in the Man of Steel where Clark chose to believe in humanity. Sure, he protected it, but I didn’t feel his love and sacrifice for the people living alongside him. The only person he truly bonded with was Lois and you certainly felt his devotion to her, but not the human race.

Writing makes the difference between these two men, these two heroes. It’s perfectly possible to make a hero who has darkness in his life, but doesn’t let it define him. DC seems to not understand why The Dark Knight saga was successful and why Man of Steel couldn’t follow in its footsteps. Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne are opposites in every way: one from humble beginnings, one from privilege; one with an optimistic view, one with a pessimistic view; one who operates using the fantastic, one who operates using the practical. The Dark Knight seemed like it had a dark view of the world, and it did, but oddly enough, Bruce had a better grasp of altruism than Clark did, and that is why the Man of Steel couldn’t reach its potential. Bruce believed in his city without flinching. He believed that the people in Gotham were not beyond saving and that if he gave them an ideal and a symbol to believe in, they could get better and rise to the occasion. Captain America did that too. But Clark never did that.

In the end, I think the positive reactions to Captain America: The Winter Soldier are directly a result of Marvel and the movie writers understanding of what makes our heroes true heroes. It’s not that they are perfect and powerful, it’s that they are just as screwed up as we are, but they put their own needs aside to help us. They fight for our freedom and they make it personal. Cap didn’t have to give that speech asking the members of SHIELD to disobey direct orders. He could have been cynical and just tried to stop everything on his own, but he didn’t. He trusted us. And that’s why we love him.

*salutes* Here’s to you, Cap’n. Now get in my bed.

Things The Marvel Universe Taught Me About Writing

Face front, True Believers! Thor: The Dark World is premiering early in my current town of residence tonight and I could not be more excited. I know some people are a bit lukewarm about the God of Thunder, but I am just not one of them. Still, Thor is just one of Marvel’s greater successes, at least in my humble opinion. In honor of our big blond teddy bear god hitting the silver screen tonight, I’d like to take a quick look at some of the things that the Marvel Movie Universe has taught me over the years. I’m also taking a bit of freedom here with the term ‘Marvel Universe.’ I’m not simply talking about the continuity they created starting with Iron Man. I’d also like to take a look at their previous franchises like Spider-Man and X-Men because they are huge parts of my childhood as well as great teaching tools.

Know thy fanbase. This is one thing that Marvel has nailed repeatedly in recent years. They have an unparalleled ability to listen to their fans and figure out where to go from there. They didn’t always have this talent, mind you. A perfect example would be the horrific abomination that is Spider-Man 3. It’s common knowledge that one of the movie’s biggest reasons for sucking was due to executive meddling, where the studio poked their big nose into Sam Raimi’s script and told him to do stuff. It resulted in an overstuffed, over-the-top farce of a film that laid waste to the film’s previously excellent reputation. Here’s where knowing the fanbase kicked in.

Disclaimer: I didn’t like the Amazing Spider-Man. I’m sorry. Hate me if you wish. I just couldn’t help myself because Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 are without a doubt two of my all-time favorite superhero/comic book movies. I grew up on them. I watched them hundreds of times, and I still have to stop every time one of them comes on. They have so much heart and depth and wonder to them. However, it turns out that while those two films broke box office records and definitively proved that superheroes are worth the general movie audience’s time, a lot of fanboys and girls were unhappy with certain aspects of them. The most vocal complaint was Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, which I understand completely. I liked Mary Jane well enough in the first film, but by the second and third films, I kind of wanted her to get the Gwen Stacy treatment. She was weak and nagging and got stuck firmly in the “damsel in distress” role whereas in the comic books, she often kicked ass and sassed people like no one’s business.

Marvel gathered up these comments and then made the brilliant move of picking everyone’s favorite redhead (ironically to play a blonde; double ironically because she’s a natural blonde) Emma Stone to be Gwen Stacy. My dislike of Amazing Spider-Man notwithstanding, I fully admit this decision was a God-send. Emma Stone is funny, sexy, snarky, and an absolute joy to watch. While I still would have liked her as the new MJ, she did everything that I hoped she would do. Marvel understood that the best way to win over their fans was to listen to them and learn from their past mistakes.

In terms of writing, Marvel’s method is something I think all writers should enforce. I would never try to pander to my fanbase (if I had one), but I would take a serious look at the criticisms that arise for my work. Writing is subjective. So is the act of reading. No one reads a book the same way, and fans will inevitably find something in my writing that I didn’t know was there, or that I never considered could come across. If it’s a universal problem, it would be wise to address it either in a blog post, or more likely, subsequent works of mine. There are very few drawbacks to accepting detailed, intelligent arguments against your own work. Even if it pisses you off to your very core, you can only go up from there.

Give a damn about your own work. Strap in, folks. Mama’s about to lay the smackdown on some things here. To me, it is always easy to tell when Marvel gives a shit about their work. The quality of the filmmaking is the most telling of all. Stuff like Daredevil (bite me, nerds, it’s a shit film and you know it), Elektra, The Punisher (which I admit still has a corny charm to it), X-Men: The Last Stand (and that’s coming from someone who kinda likes it), Ghost Rider, and Fantastic Four have clear evidence that they weren’t invested in their products. I argue that each of the listed films lack charisma, effort, and heart, and was pushed out more to make a profit than to actually be considered worthy of the Marvel name.

On the flipside, films like The Avengers, X-Men and X-2, Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor have evidence that Marvel gave a crap and wanted to make great movies for its audience. They chose great directors, writers, and actors—people we love and trust to bring our favorite comic characters to life. Do you remember the day they announced Robert Downey Jr. to play Tony Stark? We all flipped our shit in celebration of such perfect casting. Same with Joss Whedon getting to direct The Avengers, which is arguably the best Marvel film to date, or Edward Norton getting to play Bruce Banner. These movies all went on to do incredibly well at the box office because Marvel put their foot down and opted for quality over profit. They knew that profit is a result of quality. They recognized that if they took their time to make a fantastic film franchise, they’ll make bucketloads of cash and keep us happy for decades to come.

It seems like common sense to give a crap about your own writing, but sadly, these days it is not. Anyone can be a writer. We live in a world where a faux masochistic relationship that was ripped off from a creepy codependent relationship between an emo teenage girl and a vampire both out-grossed the intricate, beautifully written world about a boy wizard. We live in a world where the crappiest of films can get sequels. We live in a world where actual effort is an afterthought. The easiest thing in the world is to not try.

Don’t be that writer. Sure, E.L. James and Stephanie Meyer are literally swimming in cash, but that doesn’t have to be you. The happiest authors in the world are the ones who stay true to themselves and write honestly. They write from within. They strive to make the best for us readers because they care and they want to create a wondrous world for us to dive into. They want to leave behind a legacy they can be proud of. Authors like Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, and John Green are all down-to-earth, humble, and full of life because they give a shit about what they put out there.

It’s unwise to compare oneself to bestselling authors, but they can also simply be a north star for young authors. Yes, it’s daunting that crappy novels make money, and crappy movies make even more money, but for every turd there’s a gem. Shoot for that instead.

Have faith in your own product. There’s a line from the movie Hitch that I always think about when it comes to certain aspects of writing.

Albert: You’re selling the stuff, but you don’t believe in your own product.

Hitch: Love is my life.

Albert: No! Love is your job.

Marvel is by no means perfect. I’ve already listed the films I consider to be travesties. But that’s also something I think they have learned well in the past decade. One of the main reasons why I favor Marvel over DC in the film department is the overwhelming amount of faith that they appear to have in the characters as well as their audience. They seem to recognize that there is a reason these films do so well. These characters and stories helped many of us grow up. We read them dozens of times as kids and we still follow them as adults because heroes inspire us. Heroes make us believe in the impossible. They make us want to be better than who we are. The Marvel films that tend to be better in quality are those where you can tell that the writers, directors, and actors actually care about the subject matter and want to do it justice. Tony Stark is by far the most popular of the Marvel universe, and guess what? He’s an asshole with a drinking problem. We can totally relate to that. Sure, he’s a billionaire, but most of us know someone like that—an insanely talented friend who has a good heart, but lacks focus and belief.

Marvel is out there kicking the box office’s ass every year because they believe in our heroes. They don’t always get it right (I’m still angry about Barakapool from X-Men Origins and whatever the hell they did to Beast in X-Men: First Class) but it is clear that they realize if they make a good film, we’ll watch it. We’ll stand outside in a line to San Diego Comic Con for hours just to catch a glimpse of the next one. We’ll waste hours online crying over Tom Hiddleston’s perfection. We’ll buy tickets early and dress up in costumes even when it’s nowhere near Halloween. It’s love, plain and simple.

Maybe you’re not Jim Butcher or Stephen King. So what? Do you have something to say in your writing? Do you want it go be good? Bam. There you go. That’s it. That’s your secret. No one said you had to be Shakespeare. The best way to become a great writer is to invest in your product the same way you invest in the TV shows and books and movies and video games you love. Pour your soul into your writing, even if your soul is twisted and scary and broken. Authenticity is key. No one will believe in your work if you don’t believe in it.

With that in mind, I hope that Thor: The Dark World uses the positive examples I discussed above. We have a lot of exciting films coming our way in the not-too-distant future and I can’t wait to see more as long as they adhere to their better works. Here’s to you, Marvel. Excelsior!

-Kyoko

P.S. While I’ve got you here, did you know that the giveaway for a free copy of my novel, The Black Parade, is still going on? Why not pop by and enter to win? It only takes a second. It ends Monday, November 11, 2013. Don’t miss out!