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While everyone was going crazy over Avengers: Endgame being the last film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s current phase, others were signing petitions demanding a new ending to Game of Thrones season 8, and then there you were not caring 3000.

Before I am mistaken for someone who is against fandoms, let me clarify that I am not. One of the biggest obstacles that people belonging to this community that follows or likes the same entity of pop culture face is the tag of being “childish” or “mainstream”. These labels, I believe, are extremely unfair and slightly hypocritical. I, for one, am in the This Is Us fandom.

Fandoms arise because a book, movie, tv series or comic had something with which people could connect and relate. Marvel and DC comics or films gave that little 10-year-old hope, that good can defeat the evil or how superheroes exist, maybe inside all of us. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. was able to make many people laugh and happy after they had hit a low. Harry Potter series was more than just Wizardry and Witchcraft, for  it was as much about courage, goodness and friendship. The memes on adults surrounded by children in movie halls for Toy Story 4 is a testament to how these are a connect with our childhood.

The most popular ones suffer because they are always seen as mainstream, people doubting them for only “trying to be cool” and accusing them of following it because “everyone is watching this nowadays”.

But when Hannah Gatsby said, “I identify as tired”, we could all relate.

Not belonging to these fandoms does not make you a bad person or a person with lesser taste, in any way.

Some people simply watch these shows or films for the mere pleasure that comes out of it. Not knowing plot lines or details is not considered to be the biggest sin for us. I will reiterate, we all have our fangirling/ fanboying elements activated by different stimuli, but our passions vary in intensity. While legendary shows went on for many years, non-fandom people tend to find starting such shows daunting. The level of commitment and energy that is involved in watching 14 seasons of Supernatural, the whole Star Wars series, 15 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy among many, many more of “this is amazing, you should watch it”: very intimidating.

On speaking to such people, I realised, these group of people are simply Legen-wait for it-LAZY. On seeing that passionate friend of yours reiterating and trying to express how amazing something is, on the inside non-fandomers feel sorry for the effort wasted. It is not the absence of awareness or even questioning of the abilities of what writers can create. But simply having full insight and realising what does not appeal to you.

Maitreyi Pandey of Kamala Nehru College, who has never watched F.R.I.E.N.D.S. commented, “So, I believe a show or an association with a fandom is a very personal thing. Though, at times, I do feel annoyed when people keep on discussing about the one show over and over again and keep on pushing you to watch it. However, I never have felt the need to join the bandwagon, because if I don’t connect to the show, no matter how good it might be, I will not watch it.”

Whether it is F.R.I.E.N.D.S. versus How I Met Your Mother, Marvel vs DC, Hunger Games vs Divergent—for these people, the debate goes on. Unless someone brings up Brooklyn Nine-Nine, in which case there is no competition.

With the good comes the evil. Similarly, this new idea of “real” fan and “fake” fan has arisen. For those who have never seen or experienced this, you have been very privileged because the level of social bashing one can receive over the smallest of errors is on an all-time high. I remember how someone I know had mistakenly written John Snow, instead of Jon Snow. A wave of social bashing hit her before she even understood where she went wrong. Similarly, despite my really enjoying GoT (Game of Thrones), this statement will always be seen with suspicion till I can name the whole family tree correctly. So, when someone says to me, “You know nothing…”, I am okay with it.

If you binge every show on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Hulu and whichever new platform has come up, or even if you simply are too lazy or uninterested, either path is okay. With these platforms having left television far behind, we can see that the quality of story lines, plot twists, character developments and other tricks up a writer’s sleeve are endless.

I can only reflect on a time when GoT was to me the best show ever made, but This Is Us changed my mind, and frankly tomorrow night Chernobyl might. Each story competing with the others, and writers, creators and directors being challenged, we can learn to appreciate where we have come from only Sciences and STEM being applauded, as now even the artistic capabilities are seen with awe. All is well till we remember that compulsion is an illusion.

So, while some people googled which house the Sorting Hat will put them in, others chose not to, does that not sound like a fandom of its own?

Feature Image Credits: Geeks on Coffee

Shivani Dadhwal

[email protected]

An emotional note dedicated to the nostalgia and memories that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has created for me and many others. Disney and Marvel will come out with future projects to earn more dollars, but the journey that we undertook till Endgame, that will never come back. 

 

In the summer of 2008, my father got a pirated disc of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man. Yes, we both were indirectly criminals for that and I apologise for consuming pirated content, but that was one of the most memorable movies I had ever watched.  AC/DC’s Back in Black plays as the movie opens with Robert Downey Jr. smiling in a military vehicle. I knew no AC/DC and no Robert Downey back then, so it was just a ‘cool rock song’ playing with a ‘cool bearded man’.

Robert Downey Jr., in the first half of that film, was uber cool (excuse me for my overdoing of the word ‘cool’; it’s just that I am getting reminded of my years as a pre-teen when my vocabulary was limited), and he gave the signs of classic and toxic cool-guy nature we all kids were impressed with. Millionaire, playboy, genius. We all wanted to be that (not everyone would desire to be a genius though). But by the time, he realises his powers in the second half, you realise Downey’s Tony Stark is a man with responsibility too. He goes on to manage his friends, family, company and humanity in general, wearing that suit. That suit just didn’t give him powers; it makes this superhero more human, and of course, it helped to create a whole universe in the process!

A chain of events was set for me and many other Indian children to get awed by the spectacles for Marvel movies. I watched and re-watched this comic-book inspired film saga in movie halls, DVDs dubbed in Hindi, Star Movies and HBO. As this franchise grew, I grew with it, too.

My music playlist didn’t just have AC/DC now; some vintage soul and new age hip-hop got added in it too, courtesy of Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther. I cheered on a new actor being chosen for the role of Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). I lamented on a new actor being chosen to play Spiderman (Tom Holland). I got bored with some heroes being introduced in films like Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor. I got excited with some heroes being reintroduced in films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor: Ragnarok.

And most importantly, out of sheer coincidence, I became like Tony Stark just like pre-adolescent me had wished back in ’08. Nah, I am no millionaire, playboy and genius now but at least, my post-adolescent facial hair makes me look like ‘discount Tony Stark’!

All of this seemed like a perpetual fun ride but then any cliched prophet will tell you, “All good things must come to an end”.

Last year, many fans shed many a tear when they saw Thanos (aka Purple Shrek) snapping his fingers and half of the population on the planet just fading out of existence. “We’re in the end game now,” Doctor Strange proclaimed. The world was stunned as this was the first time, a villain had emerged victorious. And no PG-13 comic book film does this. So, we waited for a happy ending (if there was one).

We waited for a year, and then, Avengers: Endgame released and people created an online ruckus booking tickets, filling theatres till their maximum capacity. With great difficulty, my family and I got our tickets to the nearest PVR.

I remember in 2012, I had watched the first Avengers movie with my parents and sisters. I was probably in eighth grade and people had spread the rumour that the planet will be removed from existence that year. I must confess at one point I did feel that ‘2012’ could be a true phenomenon. I thought aliens would come or natural disasters would ‘avenge’ human abuse on Mother Nature with fire and fury, with Marvel Cinematic Universe style destruction. I was still glad that before I and this planet die, I had watched The Avengers which seemed like the most majestic movie I had ever seen.

The title of ‘the most majestic’ movie soon got replaced with Infinity War with me and now Endgame is wearing that throne for me. Of course, I will not spoil the movie for you here but all I can say is (stating the obvious) that you might shed tears.

I cried a lot, not because of what goes on in the movie, but also because a part of my childhood died last Saturday. A journey that had started in 2008, had finally ended for me, 11 years and 48 hours 1 minute later.

I am glad to be a part of this globalised world where this Indian middle-class boy witnessed a multi-billion-dollar franchise of the West (made with the help of thousands of VFX and sound editors from India and other Asian countries). I felt a wide range of emotions together while travelling back home. I felt mellow had finished a chapter of my life but at the same time, I felt happy that I got the best closure.

Even in the movie hall, I stayed during the credits scene like any Marvel loyalist would, waiting for a post-credits scene. The usher, however, told us that there’s no such scene this time. And at this moment, I realised this ‘phase’ of Marvel and my growing up had really ended.

 

Featured Image Credits- Marvel Cinematic Universe

 

Shaurya Singh Thapa

[email protected]

With all the hype regarding Avenger’s Endgame, Marvel teases us with Captain Marvel a prelude for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It’s been long since the Titan Thanos snapped his fingers and wiped off half the population of the universe with the ultimate power of the six infinity stones in the MCU. Since then all the fans have been speculating and fabricating all sorts of theories about how Avengers are going to undo the disastrous snap.

Marvel released Captain Marvel on 8th of March that was also the International Women’s day. The first film in the MCU based on a female character the film has been doing quite good at the Box Office. We watched the film and found it above average as far as super hero film goes.

The hype that some Multi-Starrer Marvel films have created was obviously not matched but as far as solo films go, Captain Marvel is okay. The film has a light, comedic undertone and scenes and the concept look a bit derived from earlier Marvel films. The Space scenes for example and the soundtrack is somewhat on similar themes as Thor: Raganarok and Guardians of the Galaxy 2.0. Even a little bit of her journey seems derived from what we have witnessed in Iron Man earlier. The speculation right now going around is whether or not she is the strongest Avenger, for this we have to wait a month till Avengers Endgame hits the theatres.

Talking about the women empowerment in the film, it is set in an era where women were not allowed to become Air force Pilots and how the only chance Captain Marvel gets is flying test planes. The movie also portrays a stark difference how only Earth has this kind of between male and females and the higher developed civilizations don’t really differentiate between any species.

There are two end credits in the movie which don’t give any more detail about the upcoming Avengers. Carol Denvers or Captain Marvel is going to become an integral part of the MCU now though.

Featured Image Credits- Marvel

Aman Gupta
[email protected]

The Hollywood box-office is most familiar to two types of films: the comic book films and the non-comic book ones. Starting with a few superheroes in metropolitan cities, this cinematic genre covers just about everything now, from fictional countries and Titan villains to miniscule heroes, and alien symbiotes, the list just goes on.

As the celebrated critic Rajeev Masand says, “Remember how the end credits sequence in the first Iron Man movie, all the way back in 2008, hinted at the idea of an Avengers Initiative? Who would have thought at the time that this is what it was leading up to!” Even out here in India, youngsters might not be aware of who won the Oscar for Best Actor or Actress but they would for sure know that Chris Evans plays Captain America and Jason Momoa plays Aquaman.
“2018 for me like other comic book junkies has been the best year. My friends and I dropped everything in the middle of our entrance exams to watch Avengers: Infinity War,” Ayaan Paul, a first-year English Honors student recalls. He added, “I didn’t speak to anyone for the next 12 hours after exiting the hall.” That’s the massive impact
comic book films have on viewers. 2018 has been an explosive and quite a diverse year for the comic book adaptation
pantheon, with three releases by Marvel Studios, two from Sony (again in association with Marvel) and one each from DC and 20th Century Fox.
Rise of Diversity
‘Wakanda Forever’ is the battle cry that ushered in the emergence of Marvel, representing Black Panther. The film
went on to win critics’ and fans’ approval, and became the highest grossing motion picture with a majorly black cast. This surely was a strong move on Marvel and Disney’s (its parent owner) side as, of late, cinema has been marred with demands for more representation of minorities (or in basic terms, all non-whites). Even Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, the movie that closed 2018, has a black teenager, Miles Morales, as its lead web-slinging superhero. This showcases the possibility of Mexicans and/or Asians leading a superhero film on their shoulders in the near future.
Rise of the Women
Other than the representation of blacks, the representation that all critics complain about is an equal, and unbiased
representation of women. Thankfully, we are no more living in times of sexualised superheroines or damsels in distress. DC’s sole venture, Aquaman had Amber Heard (portraying Mera, the queen of the underwater realm of Atlantis) had almost as much screen time as the lead Jason Momoa. “I was not merely portraying a glamorous princess; the script required me to be a glamorous princess who kicks ass,” Heard remarked in an interview in early
November.
The July release, Ant Man and The Wasp, had the superheroine’s name in its title, and focused on not one, but on three major costume donning, power-wielding ladies. While 2017’s Wonder Woman, showcased female militias, a similar force was represented by Dora Milaje in Black Panther.
While actress Angela Bassett, as the Queen of Wakanda, was nothing more than a caricature in the film, brain and brawn were still represented by Shuri, the protagonist’s teen sister who is like a female Tony Stark, inventing all sorts of gadgets and gizmos. The Dora Milaje, a special forces team of bald and bold woman warriors, was responsible for serving the nation of Wakanda.
Rise of the Villains
If this year was about the women, it was also the year of villains. Superhero movies (especially the Marvel offerings) were known to have some well-developed heroes, which is not the case for the enemy characters. The beloved Loki, the God of mischief (who met a sad end at last year’s Avengers: Infinity War) is one of the exceptions.

However, this year, Marvel offered two strong characters, those of Erik Killmonger and Thanos. Killmonger is the son of a Wakandan slain by T’Challa’s (the heroic Black Panther) who considers himself the rightful heir to the throne of Wakanda. Killmonger is a smooth talking, physically powerful soldier, who has some practical plans to advance this fictional African nation but these conflict with plans of domination and massacre which ultimately make us root for the hero. Despite this, after watching the movie, he makes you question the means adopted to bring balance in the society, something which is further intensified with Thanos, the villain in Avengers: Infinity War
(Hollywood’s equivalent of the ‘Dewaangi Deewangi’ song from Om Shanti Om).

Thanos wants to decimate the populations of planets to half, to keep society in equilibrium, a way which some college Sociology students might call ‘Malthusian’. If you think practically (with no ounce of emotion towards fellow humans or cute dogs), it does seem like a realistic idea to control issues like overpopulation, global warming, and high cutoffs in the University of Delhi (DU). Here villains weren’t just insane baddies, but also individuals driven
by a purpose.
Rise of the Genre
The diverse nature of the genre was further exemplified with diverse emotions. While Infinity War was a tear-jerker with so many comic book sweethearts literally ‘fading off’, we had Deadpool 2 and Venom with their own brand of bizarre humour. Aquaman took itself lightly, while Spiderverse offered an exquisite blend of drama and comedy.
We got some good music (Kendrick Lamar’s raps from Black Panther), and some bad music (Pitbull’s horrendous verse from a cover of ‘Africa’ in Aquaman); diversity seeped in everywhere.
With no more sky beams shooting out of New York towers, we had underwater technology, a whole colourful nation
sheltered from civilisation, and an even more colourful parallel suburban landscape, with a couple of different Spidermen. Most importantly, the fanboys and fangirls who themselves come from diverse worlds, got the entertainment they asked for.
Whether you call it Western hegemony or comic book fantasies dominating over realities, these movies are one of the few things that can unite people from all over this planet, and truly save them.

Feature Image Credits: Amazon, Calender Club Co, Vox, ABPosters

Shaurya Thapa
[email protected]

The release of Black Panther has unleashed a swarm of new definitions of the “new superhero”. Decidedly different from other Marvel ventures, the movie has been one of the highest grossing movies this year.

From ‘to infinity and beyond’ to ‘Flame on!’, everything has evolved. No longer do we have Buzz Lightyear coming to our rescue. We no longer search for “Hulk Smash!” collectibles – we have grown up and so have our superheroes.  Yet, once in a while we live to see Captain America swing his shield and Iron Man be just, pure plain genius. And of course nurse our dream of hanging on to Spider-Man’s suit someday. Yet, somehow, the tide has changed.

2018 has already proven to be a good year for superheroes. The Black Panther has broken boundaries everywhere, from stereotypes about typically white superheroes to big-budget films with an Afro-centric cast to being one of the highest grossing films this year, beating Deadpool last year by a huge margin. Lauding the film’s extraordinary box office success, host Jimmy Fallon mentioned how the film “crushed” the other films at the Oscars. Such movies herald the beginning of greater diversity in our films and hence a redefinition of our notion of “the man (or woman) who saved the day”.  Supported by an excellent cast (Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyongo, Michael B. Jordan) the film weaves together a richly vivid story of doubt, drive, and determination. What’s more, the fans have embraced the movie hungrily, precisely because it is shaking off the dusty old tapestry of white men in red capes.

Harshita Sethia, Miranda House student by day and Marvel ambassador by night, firmly says, “You don’t have to be a Marvel fan to watch Black Panther. You’ll love it anyway.” And therein lies the true value of the movie. While drawing upon a familiar cosmos of characters and technology, it moves away from the oh-so familiar over-the-top CGI and frenzied, power-hungry villains. It moves away from a black-and-white ending and from heroes that feel too good to be true. Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) are wonderfully complex, conflicted characters. We are thus confronted with a new superhero: one that is not so sure of himself but who is nevertheless aware and able to perform his duty. A star that doesn’t feel so unreachable. Ironically, we see the creation of a superhero who is not just visually ‘unconventional’, but one who is more human.

Wakanda is also a delicious backdrop to the movie, it’s tribes breathing in colour to the scenes. Tridisha Thakuria, confirmed Shuri fan, claims that she loved the film because the existence of strong, female characters in the film helped break stereotypes. Moreover, the extensive work on the setting, the location, the costumes made Wakanda and it’s people into living, breathing humans rather than mere two-dimensional illusions. There is no doubt that there is greater need for such movies that shatter the glass ceiling.

There is more to come for the fans this year. Deadpool 2 will bring the sarcastic, gore-hungry, and yet adorable hero back to the screens on May 18th as well as the classic ensemble of Avengers: Infinity War on the same day. Other movies lined up for this year includes Ant-man and the Wasp (16th July), Venom (8th October), X-men: Dark Phoenix (2nd November), Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse (14th December), Aquaman (21st December) and The Incredibles (15th June).

Feature Image Credits: Marvel

 

Sara Sohail

[email protected]