Ultron and Loki Show Us the Importance of Human Connection

Its Josiah again!

Loki, the God of Mischief, is coming back to make trouble, and he’s not alone. Last week,, Tom Hiddleston was announced as a returning cast member for Thor:  Ragnarok, the third installment in the Thor movie series; and he’s not alone. The “threequel” adds some new players wearing the faces of Cate Blanchet of Lord of the Rings fame, Karl Urban beamed down from the U.S.S. Enterprise, Tessa Thompson by way of Philly and Jeff Goldblum at the top of his ‘Resurgence. The movie of course heralds the return of Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, Idris Elba and Sir Anthony Hopkins. Thor: Ragnarok decimates theaters some time in 2017.

But enough about them, let’s talk about Loki!

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Well to be fair, its all of the other characters that got me started thinking about him in the first place. In fact it was Zemo, the villain from Captain America: Civil War that first got me reminiscing on Loki again. My friends were comparing villains from the various Marvel serials so it was only a matter of time until we traced it all back to Thor’s adopted brother. I liked Zemo enough, as understated as he was. Just a normal guy who had a bad day and used his resources in the government to bring the Avengers to their knees. He had a family, he was human – one of us.

The Punisher, Kingpin and Kilgrave from the Netflix corner of Marvel Studios, share similar traits to Loki, all able to draw some sense of sympathy from the audience. In some way shape or form I could mostly find some way to relate to some of the best baddies that Marvel had to offer.

And then I remembered Ultron.

The second Avengers villain, Ultron was an android built by Tony Stark/Iron Man as a means to save the world, a global “suit of armor” as it were, until via the world wide web, Ultron got a whiff of every troll throughout the history that ever plagued mankind. Ultron’s solution?  Rain fire from the sky and cleanse the planet.

Ultron was played by the excellent James Spader, who waxes poetically about God, Noah and the Flood, and allusions to Pinocchio and his refusal to be a puppet.

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There are no strings on me.  (Ultron – The Avengers: Age of Ultron.)

And through it all on the first viewing I felt kind of bored, or rather, underwhelmed. I knew what I was getting into with a robot villain and the buzz excited me. But imagine my surprise when while watching the movie I suddenly felt like I was at a great party that just got crashed by that one nerd who just recently learned some lore about a character and just has to tell everyone how much he knows now.

That’s Ultron, and I just wanted him to go away.

Back to Loki for a second, I have to be honest here, I never liked him all that much. I always felt like I missed something about the character. He was just, already mean, yet everyone swore he was a tragic character deserving of my sympathy. I just didn’t see it. He is childish, power hungry, delusional and a bully who tried to take Asgard and then planet Earth by force:

You take the world I love as recompense for your imagined slights? (Thor – The Avengers)

And for all of that mess of a character, for all of that disconnection I felt… that I connect with Loki so much more than I do Ultron! The robot was just born, “learns” about humanity from of all places, the Internet. He doesn’t even try to reason with the Avengers or give them a chance to work anything out, he’s condescending and behaves as if he’s one of us. One of us? Dude, you just got here (but you don’t even go here), and to top it all off you’re LATE! How are you going to “teach” us about ourselves?

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Don’t get me wrong, his speeches are pretty, but I didn’t connect them with Ultron, I kept waiting for Loki or some thinking AND feeling (no really come on) character to echo such grandiose rhetoric about purpose, evolution and rebirth to step out from behind his monochrome back.

I think its the blessing and curse of Spader. He is so convincing as Ultron that it makes him all the more annoying because you can tell that he believes everything he is saying even though he hasn’t earned anything. Which I still felt on my second only viewing of The Avengers: Age of Ultron tonight. Ultron didn’t grind my gears quite as much this time and I appreciated his ideas about death and change a lot more this time. I think it’s because I connect Ultron to Tony so much more than I did the first time; I think a lot of what Ultron is projecting onto the Avengers belongs to Tony (somehow) and was transferred through faux comic book science mumbo-jumbo. And the father/son ideas are better the second time around too.

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I guess I just want to connect. I feel like the Avengers are fighting an idea more than a person in this movie and that makes it a challenge to believe in Ultron. Plus the movie was rushed. Loki at least had a single movie prior to his invasion in the first Avengers movie, but Ultron’s development would have benefited from a more gradual descent into darkness rather than his immediate villainy; for me anyway. No shade aimed at Marvel or Ultron or any of you that really enjoyed the character and the movie, these are just my observations.

I sometimes feel cold and mechanical like Ultron, we all have our days. Sometimes the world seems all doom and gloom, all hope is lost, like we’ll never achieve our highest potential and get it all done. But we try, we never give up. You know, I think that’s why the Vision, Ultron’s “brother” I guess you could say, makes so much sense (plus Paul Bettany has voiced JARVIS in four movies already). He works very well as a hero at this stage of the game thanks to his relationships with the team and humanity at large. He’s seen us at our highest and lowest points and he’s stuck with us all the while and transformed from a servant into a friend. Without Ultron I don’t think this resolution would have been as poignant.

Wow, You’ve Got A Friend In Me reference, two toy allusions in one post, two Disney (and Pixar) jokes at that, okay time to end this. So movies can teach us about relationships and first impressions as well as yeah, watch a movie more than once!

(All images taken from Google)

The Person You Really Need to Marry

Tracy McMillan is a television writer (Mad Men, United States of Tara) and relationship author who wrote the book Why You’re Not Married…Yet, based on her viral 2011 Huffington Post blog. She also appeared as a dating coach on the NBC reality show Ready For Love. She lives in Los Angeles and is the mother of a 16-year-old guy.

In her TEDxOlympicBlvdWomen talk, McMillan answers the question: “Who is the one person you need to marry in order to have a successful relationship? (Yourself)”

“The places where you have the biggest challenges in your life become the places where you have the most to give.”

Happy Friday everyone!, and always stay true to yourself!

Yours,

JOSIAH!

Be the Wave

April, 1993 - July 4 2014. God rest the young man Waverly "WAVE" Roberts. He impacted people in so many innovative and positive ways that I'm only just beginning to understand. #TowsonTiger for life. Rest in perfect peace and power buddy. Glad I got to know you if only for a little while.

April, 1993 – July 4 2014. God rest the young man Waverly “WAVE” Roberts. He impacted people in so many innovative and positive ways that I’m only just beginning to understand. #TowsonTiger for life. Rest in perfect peace and power buddy. Glad I got to know you if only for a little while.

Its taken me a month to write this and now I am finally sharing it. Rest assured my Dad and I have talked about it and to my friends who have been affected my thoughts aren’t new. On July 4th of this year, a college friend of mine passed away. I believe that he was 22 years old and a senior at Towson University. His name was Waverly “WAVE” Roberts. I don’t know the causes. I did want to know when the news broke; we’re usually like that initially. But as the days wore on and after I had the privilege of sharing touching moments at his open funeral service, i realized I don’t want to know how he died. Its way more important to know how he lived.

I only knew Wave for 4 or 5 months last year. We took the same directed study class maintaining film equipment in the lab. He was a very laid back guy but very focused. Great smile too! His concentration was in Audio and he wanted to be a music producer. He could always been seen carrying his laptop or a keyboard and ever present Beats headphones.

He also had a walk, a gate about him that was cool but slow and methodical too; like he was at his own pace and nothing would interrupt it or even rush him, if he didn’t want to be. Like the pop song he would “go his own way”.

That’s kind of along the lines of what the pastor at his service said, summing up Wave’s life. Wave happened to you; and you couldn’t control him; just like a real wave. He had an energy certification of some kind in his community and was a serious academic according to his friends and cousins. And that inspired a lot of the people that Wave surrounded himself with.

In fact it hit home for me seeing as over 200 people came out to support his family at the funeral service! he touched a lot of people.

When I got the news it freaked me out but not in an explosive way but in a confusing way. He was the youngest person to die that I knew. It didn’t seem right that someone with so much promise didn’t even get to graduate college. It was even weirder because though I wasn’t his close friend, I felt that we could have been and even maybe collaborators in the far flung future

Maybe we will be – in heaven one day.

Wave has inspired me to be the best that I can be, as cliche as it sounds. but really what other response is there when someone dies? The guy was remarkable in ways I am only beginning to understand, and so much of it blew me away at that service, how proud his loved ones were despite the pain.

You could feel the love.

I still think about him and the little bit that his life impressed on me. i hope I never forget him and what I know he stood for. I hope I can impact the world in my own positive way, and ride the wave. if I can’t ride the wave, I hope to be surrounded by loving people just like Waverly was who can help me.

Thanks for the brief yet powerful ripples in my life, Wave, and rest in perfect peace my brother.

Yours,

JOSIAH

Why Are You So Quiet, Josiah?

Introvert

I recently Shared that meme on my Facebook and then it got me thinking. We as people need to become more sensitive to the personality types of others; and their feelings.

The message is correct, introverts are none of those negative things listed in the picture. The title of this post is a question plenty of introverts get all the time. And most of the time we feel that when asked that question that who we are is suddenly an affront to the rest of the world. Sometimes others like extroverts or ambiverts are being insensitive by asking “Hey why so quiet?”. It can come off as if its all about someone else and who we are isn’t enough; as if you (whoever you are) have the right to control us or the tempo of the social exchange like lunch, hangouts, parties, etc.

But then I tried to put myself in the extrovert’s shoes, the cool ones. Maybe I need to be more open to what other people are really asking me when they pose that #1 question that puts me on the defensive. Maybe it’s their way of wanting to know, genuinely, what do I have or want to contribute vocally for a minute?

Because the truth is, if I’m as observant and and subtle as legend states introverts are, then maybe I should try to listen past the words I hear and try to find the emotion behind the question. Listen past the obvious. Maybe there is something there and maybe not, and it might be tiresome at first, but I’m going to try to do this more often. I mean, its not like I wake up looking for ways to take offense to simple questions like that one. If an extrovert or even fellow introvert (and yes we are more than our personality type) wants to know why I’m so quiet at a given moment, maybe we are both being given a chance to be authentic.

So if I’m not a snob, perhaps I should keep my eyes from rolling and try to be real.

“Oh I’m always quiet when I watch TV!”

“Oh, we’re as entertaining as TV?”

“Yeah, in fact have you watched…?”

It might not go that way exactly, but maybe we introverts can afford to loosen up.

Yours,

JOSIAH