September 2019~ The MCU saved my life

Have you ever had anyone say to you “*blank* tv show/film saved my life”? I’ve heard it a couple of times and never quite understood it, until now.

I strongly believe we all need to be more open about mental health. It is the only sure fire way to end the stigma of it.

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I’ve suffered with Depression and Anxiety of various levels of severity for most of my life. Like most people who battle  it I’ve learned to mask it very well. I’m going through a particularly severe patch at the moment and I’ve also been diagnosed with C-PTSD. I’ve also been told that I am an empath but that I don’t just feel other people’s emotions, I actually take them on board as if they were my own. It is very exhausting. I’m currently seeing a Psychotherapist weekly but it’s a long hard road.

I’ve always been an emotional person but at the moment I am hyper-emotional. One thing about Depression is that you no longer find joy in the things you like. In my case it’s not because I no longer like them, but I have such an emotional attachment to these things that I find them hard to watch at the moment. I’ve not been able to listen to the Les Mis soundtrack without completely breaking down and its the same with Star Trek, Star Wars etc. I just about managed to watch Season 2 of Discovery and the final season of Game of Thrones, but by now I would have re-watched them at least twice over but I’ve found it impossible.

When my current bad period began I was extremely bad. I was unable to take my mind off things in the usual way by watching something or listening to Les Mis. This made me frustrated and in turn made the Depression even worse. I had a couple of moments when I was at my wits end and tried something stupid. Luckily my Dad was a big help.

I struggled to find something to help me out. I tried reading as I have hundreds of novels- didn’t work. At the time Mindfulness and Meditation were not helping either and everything seemed pointless. No matter what I tried, jigsaws, puzzles, crosswords, none of it helped.

Growing up in the 70s I used to read comics like any other kid. My preference was Marvel, though I read the odd Batman or Superman comic. Marvel-wise it was normally Iron Man, Captains America and Marvel, Hulk and Spider-Man. As I got older it was something that drifted away from me. That is until now.

I’ve always been a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I never really got into the Netflix shows like Daredevil and Jessica Jones or Runaways. My main ones were the movies and the two TV shows Agent Carter and Agents of SHIELD.

One day I was flicking through the TV channels and Avengers: Infinity War came on Now I had already seen it numerous times in the cinema but I left it on in the background anyway. The next thing I know the film is over and its just over two hours later. My anxiety level had dropped and the depression had lifted slightly. The problem is that mental health issues are not really curable, you just learn how to manage them better- this is something I am working on but back them it was impossible. Of course, once the film had ended everything slowly rose again.

I decided to try something out. My dad and I began a complete re-watch beginning with Iron Man and ending with Infinity War. I thought I would struggle but found myself surprised. We also did the same with Agents of SHIELD and I’m leaving Agent Carter as a backup as that is my favourite. Once we had finished the re-watch I left it for a while, tried some other films but nothing worked quite the same way.

Over the past couple of years I had dialed back my collecting, however with Captain Marvel, Avengers:Endgame and SpiderMan Far From Home due out I began collecting again. Comics, funko pops, lego mini figs, press collectables and more. The number of Marvel shirts shot up, replacing some that I got rid of. This really helped to take my mind off of things. I also began using my 3D printer to print Marvel related models which I would then paint. I found this VERY therapeutic.

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Since December last year I have only left my flat about 6 times, not counting my visits to my therapist. Two of those times were to see Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame. I went late at night so it was very quiet, and once very early for the same reason. I haven’t really been out since except for a couple of hours at LFCC which was a huge mistake as I didn’t handle it well.

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So I went back to the one thing I knew worked. It is what is now known as ‘The Infinity Saga’. I’ve re-watched the whole lot multiple times over the past few months. It may seem obsessive but it has helped. After my incident in February I am quite convinced that if I did not have the MCU to help me keep calm, I would not be here now. I would have ended it all. Many people believe that that is the cowards way out- this could not be any further from the truth. Its a sign of struggling for so long, not being able to deal with it any more, not wanting to be a burden on other and most importantly wanting it all, the mental and physical pain to end. I never realised the physical pain that goes with severe Depression until now.

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In short (coz everthing above is soooo short) I love the intricate story that has been woven. Lots of individual narratives but all connected- some very subtle, others not so.It is a real feat of cinematic engineering, to have 20 movies all culminate in two awesome movies. The cast choices are second to none and I hope to meet many of them some day to say thank you. I find everything pleasing, from the CGI to the soundtracks. I know the internet is full of people picking flaws in the films, but lets face it, every film has flaws. I would challenge anyone to create 22 movies and have them all link up in the way The Infinity Saga does and be absolutely flawless.

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Talking of flawless, my passion for Captain Marvel has been reignited- I have lost count how many times I have seen the film now especially since the blu ray was released. This currently takes up the bulk of my collection. Brie Larson’s performance is nothing short of spectacular and I adore her and her sense of humour, her drive and her performance of Carol and seeing the character develop. She is truly awesome and a great role model to all the young girls out there- Its something I really wish for for my niece and my nephews too but obviously there are already tons of male role models out there!

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Yes, I know Brie isn’t the first, but she is the first (to my knowledge) to really be outspoken about such matters and that is the important thing. She is pushing the boundaries and putting women/girls where they belong….on an equal footing with men. I know this fact scares some people. Get over it! People are constantly attacking her on Twitter and although she does not need it as she is very capable herself, I will back her all the way even though she has nothing to prove to me…..or anyone!

Thank you Brie! Higher, further, faster baby!

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Also, a big shout out to Lashana Lynch. Your performance in Captain Marvel was awesome and it’s great to see a West 12 girl do good.

Mr Mark Ruffalo and his constant work on raising awareness on a number of issues especially climate change and the environment is also another true hero. Mr RDJ and his work with sick children (along with Messrs Hemsworth and Evans) is another shining example. He really is the epitome of Tony Stark. I believe he has also set up a foundation to help solve the worlds problems using technology. Awesome!
In fact, in their own way all of the MCU actors stand for something good and they are all heroes in my eyes. Nothing that can be said or done will change that…ever.

This has been one of the most emotional posts I have ever written.

THANK YOU to the cast of all the Infinity Saga films. THANK YOU to the crew that made them, especially Kevin Feige and the Russo Brothers.

I honestly believe that without these films I would either not be alive any more or I would be deathly ill in hospital. I really hope to get the chance to tell you this in person someday, somehow, somewhere (sorry for the West Side Story interlude). You are all an inspiration and a calm port in the storm of my mind.

I am hoping that this blog post somehow finds its way to the cast. Brie, Mark, RDJ, Chris x3, ScarJo, Mr Feige and the Russo Bros just so they know the impact their work has on people.

Seriously, from my heart, THANK YOU!

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(Here are a few photos of some of the MCU actors I have already met)

 

 

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September 2019~ Film Reviews

What follows is a very quick overview of 5 movies I have seen over the past few months.

Shazam- Ah Shazam, AKA DCs Captain Marvel before they lost the rights. This, along with Aquaman are much needed additions to the struggling DCEU. Zachary Levi pulls of the role of newbie superhero Shazam and teenage Billy, his alter-ego, well. There is enough comedy in this to appease most non-superhero fans as well. Mark Strong is excellent as always.

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Aquaman– This is the other much needed addition to the DCEU. To be honest I didn’t like Jason Momoa’s portrayal in Justice League but he has much improved in this film and the plot wasn’t bad for a DC movie.

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters- Hmm…a follow up to the previous Godzilla movie. Honestly, wait for the DVD or Blu-Ray release. A weak story with poor camera work left me feeling sick. Milly Bobby Brown from Stranger Things was OK at best. I’m beginning to find her a bit overrated myself.

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Dark Phoenix This is supposed to be the final part of the latest X-Men series. It was fairly mediocre with the best part of the movie being Sophie Turner’s performance as Jean Grey. It’s not the worst superhero film I’ve seen but it’s fairly low on my list.

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Bumblebee- Wow! I was expecting something along the lines of the previous Transformers films- in other words, not very good. I was pleasently surprised by the plot, SFX and the acting. Hailee Steinfeld, who I have not seen since the True Grit remake of 2010 was pretty much amazing. It was great to see the story through her eyes and to see her develop as a character. Definitely worth a repeat viewing!

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April 2019~ Avengers: Endgame

I haven’t been out a great deal this year. Only about 15 days overall not counting therapy sessions.

Avengers: Endgame was the second movie I managed to catch a midnight screening of. Unfortunately, Odeon were not doing a double-bill with Infinity War so I had to slum it at the Cineworld IMAX in Leicester Square. one thing I must remember next time I visit is not to book a seat too close to the huge screen!

I’m not going to post spoilers about the film, just in case there are some folks who haven’t seen it yet. What I will say is that I absolutely loved it! It was a great climax to the Infinity Saga. Yes, I have heard complaints, but to bring together the plot of 20 movies into one finale and have it all link in is a huge job and there were bound to be a few slip-ups. Either way the Russo brothers did an amazing job!

There were some outstanding performances all around- special nods from me go to Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo. I really enjoyed their storylines even if two of them were sad.

It was great to see my new favourite Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel kicking Thanos’ butt as well!

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The folks at Cineworld did a marvellous job at keeping 4 screens of people entertained. Some staff members cosplayed Avengers and there were posters and giveaways taking place. I myself won an Avengers Endgame water bottle which I use regularly.

I also managed to catch the film one more time at the Odeon Leicester Square the following Saturday as the artist that creates all of the Marvel posters was doing a free signing. I also won a Marvel Legends action figure there as well. Captain Marvel no less!

Oh, one final thought. There was a scene near the end that I enjoyed. I showed all the female Avengers backing up Captain Marvel. I could hear men moaning about it in the cinema and later on Twitter. Get over yourself, or is your masculinity underthreat? Personally I hope it paves the way for an A-Force movie!

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Some photos below!

March 2019~ Captain Marvel

She’s here…….! The one I have been waiting for!

I remember reading Captain Marvel comics in the 70s. I think it was the original Mar-Vell and then the Monica Rambeau incarnation. I was happy when I heard there was to be a Captain Marvel film.

I admit I had to play catch-up, and I still am, with the Carol Danvers story. I like it a lot and its getting me back into comics and collecting again. Something I have found hard of late.

Anyway, I managed to psych myself up to leave the house and saw a midnight screening at the Odeon Leicester Square. I absolutely loved the film and adore Brie Larson (even though she pisses off lots of manbabies). Brie has now joined my top 5 list of actresses (list includes Emilia Clark, Sonequa Martin-Green, Scarlett Johansson and now Brie…which means I have 1 space vacant)

The backstory of how Nick Fury lost his eye was a bone of contention for many but I thought it was great. Something so silly caused it but in true Fury fashion he makes it out to be something much worse.

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Newcomer Lashana Lynch did a great job as Maria Rambeau and Ben Mendelsohn (of Rogue One and Ready Player One) was awesome as Talos, the Skrull. It was good to see Clark Gregg reprising his role as a young Phil Coulson.

The fight scenes were great. My favourite being the one where Carol escapes the Skrull ship. The train scene was equally as good, though for me it was the reactions of the background actors that made the scene what it was. It wouldn’t have been the same with just Carol and the Skrull.

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Seeing Stan Lee in his penultimate cameo was very moving and Brie’s nod to him left me a bit teary-eyed!

I picked up some nice posters from the cinema, even getting two signed by the artist. I did have trouble deciding which cap/tee shirt combo to wear for the film though. Photos below!

I can’t wait to see Brie in action in Avengers Endgame and hopefully Captain Marvel 2!

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Higher, Further, Faster Baby!

August 2018~ Ant-Man & The Wasp

BEWARE- THIS POST WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR BOTH ANT-MAN AND THE WASP & AVENGERS INFINITY WAR!

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Ant-Man and The Wasp begins back in 1987 and the mission to stop Soviet missiles- the same mission in which Hope’s mother, Janet Van Dyne, sacrifices herself by going sub-atomic to destroy the missiles. For many years Hope believed her mother to be dead whilst Hank secretly believed she was stuck in the Quantum Realm.

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The makers of the film did an amazing job at de-aging both Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer for this first part.

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We then skip a few years and the film picks up two years after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Scott Lang is under house-arrest for his part in breaking The Sokovia Accords. Hank and Hope are on the run as it was Hank’s tech that helped him.

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Both Hank and Hope have designed a quantum tunnel in the hopes of rescuing Janet. The first time the tunnel opens, Scott unknowingly receives a message from Janet. Thinking it was just a dream, he leaves Hank a message and is quickly “removed” from house arrest using Pym’s shrinking tech.

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What follows is the usual fun you can expect from an Ant-Man film. Much more family-friendly and light-hearted that the other MCU films but with its own storyline- rescuing Janet whilst stopping the shrinking tech falling into the wrong hands. Namely Sonny- a low-level criminal who wants to sell the tech and Ava (Ghost) an ex-SHIELD assassin who wants the tech to fix herself.

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There is comedy aplenty. From Luis and his outlandish stories to visual gags involving everyday items being shrunk or enlarged, including the ant from the end of the previous Ant-Man film.

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Evading the FBI and keeping Scott under house-arrest is another ongoing joke that is successfully woven into the main plot.

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However, like many others, I believe that characters from Ant-Man may play a pivotal role in defeating Thanos and undoing everything that happened at the end of Infinity War.

FINAL WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!

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We know that the snap killed-off half the population of the universe, including many current Avengers. We also know from pictures that have been released that the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4 film will revisit the Battle of New York with Ant-Man and two versions of Tony Stark, so some Time Travel must be involved. The cast are also seen sporting some kind of device on their wrists. It has been surmised by many that these are some sort of time-travel device.

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I believe that after Janet Van Dyne’s comment in the first post-credit scene (there are two by the way) that the time travel is linked to the Quantum Realm. I also believe that Hope will play a part after she criticised Scott over the mission to Germany (Civil War) saying that “If she had been with him none of it would have happened.”

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Of course, the rest of the first post-credit scene threw a spanner into my theory. I’m still speculating that Hope, with the help of Hank and Janet will stop certain events happening and figure out the time-travel aspect, whilst the newly-added Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson) will be the one to actually defeat Thanos.

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Will have to wait and see!

 

 

May 2017~ Heroes & Villains Fan Fest

Heroes & Villains Fan Fest is run by the same company that run the awesome Walker Stalker Cons that also take place at Olympia in February/March. I planned to go to this event from the day it was announced and it would also be the first event my brother would attend with me in 4 years, so I was hoping it was going to be good.

I knew how Fanfest ran their Walking Dead events, and after this year’s WSC I was a bit anxious.

Looking back at the guests they normally get for their US based events, it seemed to be a good mixture of people from DC and Marvel Superhero TV shows and Films plus guest from other popular shows thrown in for good measure.

The final line-up was announced over a series of months, with Stephen Amell from Arrow and Melissa Benoist from Supergirl headlining the event. My brother was interested in meeting both, whilst I wanted to meet Melissa, plus a few other of the other guests. 31 guests were announced in total. Unfortunately, 5 had to cancel for various reasons, including Melissa Benoist.

About 3 weeks before the event, someone introduced me to a new show. Designated Survivor. It stars Kiefer Sutherland (from 24) and also Italia Ricci who was attending the event as she had appeared in Supergirl as Siobhan Smythe/Silver Banshee. Now I don’t normally like political dramas but this was like The West Wing meets 24. I was hooked and polished off the whole series in about 5 days. I then made the choice to add Italia to my ‘to meet’ list and, as you will read, it was a good choice!

The week of the con arrived. An event occurred that could potentially cause problems. A terrorist set off a bomb at a music concert in Manchester, killing 22 (including children) and injuring many others. The UK threat level was increased to its highest level-critical. Would HVFF back down, or show these people that in the face of terror you never give in and let them win. Rather than cancel, HVFF beefed up security, and whilst it would mean things might be a bit slower, it would hopefully keep us all safe. It was the right thing to do. Show these people that no matter what, you can’t keep us down.

The day of the con arrived. I arrived with my brother at around 10.30am and he was finally able to meet my mate Fudge as she was there to satisfy her Stephen Amell addiction (which she did). I had a few photoshoots (as you will see below) and then my brother and I spent the day browsing the vendors, watching some panels, including the cosplay contest and meeting guests. My brother met Emily Bett Rickards from Arrow and Shantel VanSanten from The Flash. I think he preferred the latter! I spent some time chatting to Richard Brake who plays the Night King in Game of Thrones and was fascinated to hear how his costume and makeup (which takes 6 hours to put on) actually causes him to bleed when he wears it and, if not careful when using the toilet, he could lose an important body part!

We left at about 4pm after an OK day. I was happy that my brother had a good time.

At this point I would like to give a big shoutout to the HVFF disability team. My brother is disabled and uses a mobility scooter, and at the moment am unable to stand in one place for extended periods. The whole setup for disabled people was awesome. From line access to guest booths, to queuing for photo shoots and the quiet room. It was all awesome. I made sure on Sunday to take some cupcakes to the ladies (Steph & Anne) running the quiet room as they did an awesome job.

Day 2 came and I had a couple of photo ops left plus I wanted to watch the Captain America panel with Stanley Tucci (Dr Erskine) and Hayley Atwell (SSR Agent Peggy Carter). The panel was great! Both guests bounced off each other very well and the host did a good enough job not to be too intrusive and get in the way.

Apart from my final photo ops and autographs, my final task was to meet the awesome and very lovely Italia Ricci (and her husband Robbie Amell, who wanted my tee-shirt). I’d had some pins made in the style of a Presidential Election Campaign and had put her character from Designated Survivor (Emily Rhodes, White House Chief of Staff) on as you can see below.

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I also had a matching shirt made, which Italia first saw in the photo-op (see below) which she thought was awesome.

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Italia liked the pin and said she would have liked one for the director and for Kiefer Sutherland. Luckily I had more. I then had a quick chat, grabbed a selfie and off I went! Both Italia and Robbie are awesome and make a lovely couple. Plus, Italia loves pizza so HAS to be awesome!

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I had a final wander around the stalls, managed to avoided buying a very expensive Captain America shield and left at around 4pm.

Overall, it was an ok event. The disability team were the best part.

My final guest list was:-

Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy/The Walking Dead)

Brandon Routh (Chuck/Legends of Tomorrow)

Sean Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy)

Stanley Tucci (Captain America/The Hunger Games)

Richard Brake (Game of Thrones)

Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Legends of Tomorrow/Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Italia Ricci (Designated Survivor/Supergirl)

March 2016~ Marvel Superhero Challenge

With the upcoming release of Captain America: Civil War, the latest chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney are putting on events for kids at their flagship branch, The Disney Store Oxford Street. Through a colleague I managed to secure a couple of spots for my niece Jessica and nephew Charlie (Little Lewis was too young) to a preview event which would allow the staff at the store to test everything out before going live.

We arrived early enough to take part in the opening ceremony and the first 10 children were given a special Disney key. We wandered around the store for a while before heading down to the theatre where the event would take place.

There were 10 children in total. The children were split into two teams: Team Cap and Team Iron Man (just like the movie). There were ten characters, five per team. Each child had to select a character from a bag and that would be their character for the duration. Charlie and Jess ended up on opposing teams with Charlie as The Winter Soldier and Jess as Iron Man. After that there were a series of tasks to complete, each tasks earning a piece of a puzzle upon completion. The final task needed both teams to work together to complete the final puzzle.

At the end each child was given a nice set of stickers!

Shortly afterwards my wallet was bled dry as the kids went on a shopping spree in the store!