A Hero in Harare

movies

Sterkinekor Lusaka Arcades Centre in Lusaka, Zambia – found at afrotourism.com

“I want to meet this Miles Morales,” twelve-year-old Miriro murmured spontaneously as he and his eleven-year-old sister Anesu did their maths homework at the kitchen table, warm afternoon sunlight streaming in the western window.

“What are you talking about,” she replied in irritation. “He doesn’t even exist. He’s a cartoon.”

“Uncle Tongai took me and my mates to see Spider-Verse over the weekend. The movie said anyone could wear the mask and be Spider-Man.” He was grinning, his mind completely diverted from his textbook.

“You’re daft. This isn’t Brooklyn, America. It’s Harare, Zimbabwe. Just because black Americans look like us doesn’t mean we’re all the same. Our lives are different.”

“Anybody can be a hero, Anesu.”

“Be a hero and finish your studies before Mama comes back from the market and we both get in trouble.”

But it was too late. Miriro was already thinking about his new costume.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps location/image as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Harare, Zimbabwe.

Yesterday, I saw the film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) with my son and my nine-year-old grandson. I subsequently published my review online and obviously still have the movie on my mind.

One of the things I’ve been considering, both with this movie, and especially with the Marvel Studios film Black Panther (2018) is that in the African nations, culturally, black people have widely varying cultures compared to African-American audiences, so the differing populations may not have as much in common with each other as people in the U.S. might imagine.

Having said that, the central message of “Spider-Verse” is that anybody can wear the mask. It was meant as a commentary about how historically, superheroes have been white, but it doesn’t automatically have to be that way. Any kid, no matter who they are, can be a hero.

I decided to put a spin on the message and say that any kid anywhere in the world also can aspire to be more than who they are, mask or no mask, even a twelve-year-old boy living in Harare.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

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DVD Film Review: Black Panther

black panther

Promotional poster for the 2018 film “Black Panther”

Okay, so last night, I watched Black Panther (2018) and loved it. Actually, for me, picking up the main themes wasn’t difficult at all, and yes it is more than just another superhero story. It’s both the epic tale of a new King who is struggling to determine the direction of his nation, and a spiritual journey for personal truth, especially between father and son.

I’m not being frivolous or unkind when I say that the latter reminded me of the 1994 Disney film The Lion King. After all, Simba (voiced by Matthew Broderick) has to come to terms with his guilt over his father Mufasa’s (voiced by James Earl Jones) death and his worthiness to become a King. He is also challenged by his rival Scar (voiced by Jeremy Irons) and must risk death fighting for the right to ascend the throne.

Oh, by the way, spoiler alert. I’ll be dropping plenty of them, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, stop reading here.

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Movie Review of “Thor: Ragnarok”

thor-ragnarok

Promotional image for “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017)

I watched Thor: Ragnarok (2017) last week and loved it. It wasn’t the perfect film, but of the three “Thor” movies, it was clearly the best.

Things I Liked

I really liked the dynamic, both between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and between Thor and Banner (although, in a way, it’s the same thing). I’m glad that Thor not only was able to hold his own against the Hulk, but actually beat him, that is until the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) cheated by triggering Thor’s pain-inducing device.

They ended up being “odd couple” buddies, which brings up another point.

The two previous Thor films and just about any solo movie version of the Hulk have all been pretty blah. These are characters who have successfully carried their own comic book titles for decades. Why don’t they translate well to film?

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Pre-Review Jitters

overt and covert racism

Found on social media

I’ll have to keep this relatively short since I promised my wife I’d help her in the yard this afternoon.

I tend to “catch up” on movies after they’ve left the theater by renting the DVDs from the public library. Even if the film is a stinker, I’m not out a dime, though I’ll never get those two hours back.

Last night, I watched the 2017 film Thor: Ragnarok and completely enjoyed it. I’ll write a more comprehensive review later. Relative to this blog, I’ve also watched and should review Wonder Woman (another winner), Spider-Man: Homecoming (ditto), and Lucy (uh…).

Tonight’s feature is Avengers: Infinity War.

I’ve put a library hold on the Black Panther, and thereby hangs a tale, or at least trepidation.

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Brothers

flagon

Found at “The Flagon” twitter account

“One for sorrow, two for mirth.” Tom raised his flagon of ale at the bar, smiling at his brother.

“Aye, brother. Here’s to mirth.” Chris raised his as well and clumsily pressed the two together. Then they both drained their drinks by half and slammed them down on the counter before them.

Tom leaned over and hugged his elder sibling. I’ve missed you, Chris. You don’t know how boring things are when you’re not around.”

Chris broke from the clinch and patted Tom on both shoulders. “I must admit the same. Life just isn’t as much fun when you’re not with me. Whoa.” The large blond had to grab the edge of the bar to keep from teetering off his stool.

“Had one ale too many, eh, brother?” Tom took another drink, but just a sip.

“Not at all, Tom. The stool must be faulty. Here. Another toast. To family.” He again lifted his flagon.

“Yes, dear brother. Family.” Tapping their containers together, they both took another long swallow. Then setting his drink down, Tom said, “Of course, there isn’t much family left. Our father…”

“Yes, the dear departed. I miss him a great deal.”

“In spite of the lies he told?”

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Comic Books Have Gone Crazy

FF3

The cover of The Fantastic Four issue 3 from 1961

“I’ve kept a limited number of comic books from my youth, ranging from the 1960s to the 1980s, and occasionally take a few out and read them. I’m not really into comic books anymore, especially the current titles, and for a lot of reasons.

Originally, I started collecting them in the late 1960s when I was in Junior High, and I’d been reading them since I was old enough to read because they were so much fun. In the ’60s and ’70s, I was mainly into Marvel comics (Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men and so on), but I rediscovered DC in the late 80s when they did the first reboot of their titles.

More recently, I used my local public library system and checked out Vertigo DC graphic novels such as V for Vendetta and The Watchmen as well as the Sandman (the Wesley Dodd costumed hero, not the other guy) because they were more edgy and I was an adult. In the case of the first two titles, I wanted to understand the basis for the films they became, and in the Sandman’s case, I just enjoy the character and the 1930s vibe.

I’ve kept in touch with how comic books have been morphing in more recent years, and generally give them a wide berth. The superheroes I once admired and who taught me about courage, innovation, and adventure, had become unrecognizable as well as unoriginal. Numerous reboots later, all of the old villains and storylines had been rehashed ad nauseam, just like what we see in both the film and television industries, and I don’t intend to pay for the privilege of being bored.

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Counter Invasion

wight

© Google, March 2016 – The Needles Headland and Tennyson Down – Isle of Wight

“Do you think you and your commandos can pull it off, Nick?”

The Army Sergeant chewed on his cigar filling the air with what he thought of as a “sweet-smelling aroma,” and his C.O. and good friend Captain Sam Sawyer didn’t mind the breach of protocol in his office at Allied Command.

“Why the hell not. It’s what we joined this man’s Army for, ain’t it?

germans in guernsey

Germans in Guernsey – Found at the “On the Wight” blog

“Great. You and your men will board the sub for the Isle of Wight at 23:30 hours.”

“You’re sure he’ll be there, Sam.”

“Our best intel says he’s personally inspecting the Nazi installation at Carisbrooke Castle. Your mission is to invade the castle and assassinate Adolf Hitler.”

“Just one more thing, Sam. We’ll need the Captain.”

“Me? I’m not…”

“No, not you. I mean the Captain.”

“He’ll be there with your commandos, Nick. Don’t think he’d miss this one for the world.”

fury commandos cap

Sgt. Nick Fury and His Howling Commandos with Captain America

I wrote this story for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image and location as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 148.

Today the Pegman takes us to the Isle of Wight and specifically to Carisbrooke Castle.

Yesterday, I wrote an alternate history story about the origin of Captain America after reading something suggesting that actor Will Smith was initially considered to play the title role in the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger.

Last night, with that still on my mind, I re-watched the 2014 movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The previous film depicted a version of Fury’s “Howling Commandos” but without Nick of course, and the sequel mentioned them in a display at the Smithsonian.

This morning when I saw the Pegman’s location, I did what I always do, open up a couple of Wikipedia pages. I was curious about the involvement of the Isle of Wight during World War Two and I found something interesting.

There initially had been plans for the Germans to invade and occupy the Isle of Wight and use it as a staging ground for the air blitz of London and southern England. However fears of Britain’s sea superiority resulted in Hitler rejecting the plot.

Then I read the article called How the Isle of Wight could have helped Hitler win the war: Nazi leader was talked out of his plans to invade the tiny island and, having recently written a few “alternate history” tales, decided to craft my wee story around the premise of the Nazis successfully invading and holding the Isle of Wight.

Throwing caution to the winds, I included Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos or at least Nick and his C.O. Captain “Happy Sam” Sawyer with an “honorable mention” of Cap himself. How would the war in Europe been different if Fury’s team were successful and they killed Adolf Hitler sometime in 1941?

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.