Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Five Marvel Characters Who Are Either Abysmally Incompetant at Their Jobs or Possibly Even Secretly Villains

My last three posts were summaries of major events that happened to me back in 2017, and now that that's out of the way, we can get back to my regularly scheduled list-style posts that revolve madly around Marvel.

Marvel does a fantastic job of world-building and justifying character motivations, which means that there are rarely instances when I find myself criticizing the movies.  It's easy for me to suspend disbelief and let the plot carry me through the arc.

However, there's a couple of times I looked at characters and was like, wait, what?  Why the hell would they do that?  This entry highlights those rare moments by examining characters who suck at their jobs in a way that's necessary to advance the plot but would be unlikely to fly in real life.

1) Aunt May

More like Aunt Bae, am I right?

Aunt May is the beloved guardian of Peter Parker, aka Spiderman.  In the most recent Spiderman movie, Homecoming, she is played by Marisa Tomei and gets hit on by Tony Stark.  Presumably, the reason they did this was because they felt audiences would be uncomfortable if they showed Tony Stark hitting on a GMILF.

 Which is weird since Tony makes no apologies for his eccentric and varied taste in women.

So Aunt May has one job, which is to keep her nephew safe.  She is easily the most inept guardian I have ever seen.

Scenario: a billionaire bachelor known for his sexual exploits shows up to tell you that your nephew, a pubescent boy without a father figure in his life, has won some sort of scholarship.  Let's assume it's normal for billionaires to inform scholarship recipients personally about their awards, and also in person, at their homes.  There is still no reason for Aunt May to allow Tony to take Peter to his room, privately, and close the door.

Tony Stark: Can I have 5 minutes with him?
May Parker: Sure.

The moment they get into the room together, Tony closes and locks the door. 

By the way, canonically, Peter has already been molested once before.  

Later, after Tony whisks Peter off to a fight in Germany, they made an "alibi" video.

Now, I'm going to just ignore the fact that everyone knows Tony Stark is Iron Man and that the airport fight would have been publicized on television.  Aunt May would have seen, in the news, Tony Stark fighting Captain America.  But let's assume Aunt May lives under a rock with her eyes closed and her fingers in her ears, and also doesn't think it's weird that Tony Stark, superhero billionaire, personally picks up and drops off Peter at his house for a "conference."

The alibi video is more like the thing they would need an alibi for.  It features Tony and Peter side-by-side in the back of a limo, talking about how much fun they had at some sort of conference.  There's no other videos of the supposed conference, no fake ID badge or conference memorabilia.  Just a video filmed in a car of Tony and Peter going, "Whew, what a conference!  Sure wasn't some weird billionaire sex thing!"

 This is from the limo scene.  

Aunt May readily admits she doesn't like Tony, which makes her willingness to allow Peter to hang out with him even more baffling.  Tony is two and a half decades older than Peter.  That's weird, Aunt May.

Throughout Homecoming, Peter becomes increasingly withdrawn from Aunt May, and he also quits band and starts skipping school.  Red flags, all over the place.  When Aunt May finally asks him what's up, he starts crying and says he "lost" the "Stark scholarship" which he was investing so much time in.

Aunt May.  Connect the dots, sweetheart.

There's also a scene where she walks in on Peter mostly naked with his best friend (he has just changed out of his Spiderman suit), and she closes the door, stopping just short of saying "carry on, boys," and handing them a condom.  Gee, isn't it weird that, from Aunt May's perspective, Peter's sudden discovery of his sexuality and increasing demands for privacy are directly correlated to his personal relationship with an older man?

Aunt May.  CONNECT.  THE.  DOTS.

2) The Guy Who Texts Steve About Peggy's Death

Stone cold.

This guy.  This guy doesn't even have a name but he, or she, is probably one of the most evil not-villains in the MCU.

Let's break this down.

First of all, you NEVER TEXT SOMEONE about the death of a loved one.

Second of all, it's CAPTAIN AMERICA, the guy least capable of  even getting text messages.

Why didn't you call him?  What the hell was going on that you couldn't just call?  Do you not realize that Steve Rogers has almost no living friends yet and he's lost in a terrifying future he doesn't understand and that Peggy is one of the last remaining links to his old life? 

3) Laura Barton

Hawkeye's wife cheerfully readily admits that her husband is in way over his head but makes no move to dissuade him.  In fact, she encourages it.  Here's an exchange they have during Age of Ultron:

Laura Barton: And that someone be you. You know I totally support your Avenging, I couldn't be prouder. But I see those guys, those "gods"...

Clint Barton: You don't think they need me.

Laura Barton: I think they do. They're gods, and they need someone to keep them down to Earth.

Yes, Laura.  They're gods.  And Clint is in way over his head.  Even Clint knows it.

Laura.  There's being supportive and then there's being an enabler.  You are not doing Clint any favors by telling him the team needs him.  Didn't he, like, get mind-raped by an alien one or two years ago?

My guess is that she's got some sort of killer life insurance policy on him.  This is the only explanation.

 The REAL Black Widow.

Well, joke's on you, Laura.  Clint Barton is clearly uninsurable.  His job is "bow and arrow guy" on a team of genetically enhanced supersoldiers, gods, and invincible laser-shooting robots.

4) Sam Wilson 

He's a PTSD therapist.  The first time we see him, he's meeting Steve Rogers for the first time and they have a friendly, 2-minute chat.  The second time we see him, he's at the VA, and this is literally how the scene starts:

Female War Veteran: The thing is I think it's getting worse. A cop pulled me over last week, he thought I was drunk. I swerved to miss a plastic bag. I thought it was an IED. 

Sam Wilson: Some stuff you leave there, other stuff you bring back. It's our job to figure out how to carry it. Is it gonna be in a big suitcase or in a little man-purse? It's up to you.

When do we next see Sam?

Steve and Natasha show up at his house saying they "need a place to lay low" because "everyone we know is trying to kill us."  And Sam accepts that at face value and agrees to join them.

Sam, you fucking fuck, shouldn't you assume Steve is having a PTSD freak-out?!  Doesn't it seem likely that Steve, WWII veteran and Battle of New York guy, is having paranoid delusions and is in desperate need of help?  Doesn't that make ENTIRELY more sense?  You barely know Steve; why do you believe everything he tells you?!  If the bag lady from the VA scene showed up and told you she saw another IED bag, would you believe her, too?

As if this weren't enough, I'd like to address this scene:

Okay, so, it's supposed to be funny, but here's the thing.  Bucky just spent 70 years as HYDRA's mind-slave.  This is, if I recall correctly, the only time in the movie he actually makes known a preference.  Bucky, as the Winter Soldier, is not used to having opinions or engaging in self-care.  He does not ask for things.  He does not care for himself.

Imagine what was running through his head moments before he asked this.

Boy my legs are sore.  Should I say something?  No.  No, I can wait. I don't need to be comfortable.  ...what's the worst that can happen?  But they've already done so much for me.  I'm such a burden.  I don't deserve to be comfortable.  But Steve wants me to recover.  Okay, Barnes, go ahead and ask.  You're your own person, gosh darn it, and if you need more leg room, it's okay to ask.  You're allowed to have feelings again.  No big deal.  Sam is Steve's friend, he'll understand.

In a single, aggressive syllable, Sam Wilson totally shuts down Bucky's first attempt in 70 years to care for himself.  He probably set him back months in this scene.

Way to go, PTSD counselor.

5)  Literally all of Thor's friends

Okay, look.  We all agree that Thor is... not very smart.

Thor's deal is that he's strong.  He's strong and he has a hammer.  Thor is not on Stark or Banner's level.  He's not even on Steve's level.  Thor is a great Avenger but he's not a tactician or a detective or anything.  Really, the Avengers can be divided into two categories: people you ask to smash things (Hulk and Thor) and people who can solve problems (Hawkeye, Black Widow, Iron Man, and Captain America).  Most Avengers are capable of basic problem-solving and strategy and planning, but not Thor.  No, Thor is a lovable moron.

Bless his heart.

But he's a really good Avenger.

Here's the thing, though.  Thor has four friends who should be helping the bumbling asshole with his quests and don't.  He has four friends who pledge their unwavering loyalty to him and then never show up ever again.  Thor 1?  They show up late.  Thor 2?  They don't show up at all.

Why did they even pledge loyalty to him if they're never around?

Thor: Ragnorok opens with Thor trapped by a monster.  Where the fuck are the Warriors Three?  Where the fuck is Sif?  Thor later reveals he's spent the last 2 years searching for the Infinity Stones, apparently alone.  Unsurprisingly, he has not found any despite literally encountering two that he fails to identify.

His brother had a stone in his scepter which was later embedded into his team member's head. 
Come on, Thor, you're not even trying.

(Also, he never explains his fucking plans once he finds them.  Remember, he got control of the aether, which he sent to the Collector in an utterly bone-headed move to protect it.  What are his plans for the other stones?  Does he have more buyers or what?)

Thor couldn't find his way out of a wet paper bag.  Thor has no fucking clue where he is or what's going on at any given time and he literally has a guy whose job it is to locate shit for him.

As easy as it would be to say Thor is the incompetent one here, I would argue that Thor's doing his best and that he's doing it alone is baffling.  He's nobility on Asgard.  Why the hell is he operating alone on a massive task that no one, even a smart person, couldn't possibly be expected to complete?

To be completely fair, in Thor: 2, we see Thor and the Warriors fighting on Vanaheim, Hogun's homeworld, and Thor tells Hogun he should spend some time with his people.  So Hogun's at least doing something.  But Sif, Volstagg, and Fandral have no excuse for not helping Thor in his quest.

"Yo, Thor, we're bored, we're gonna go home now, good luck with your hunt for the stone thingies."

Honorable Mention: Darcy Lewis

She's a political science major who is interning under Jane Foster, astrophysicist.  Her motivation for applying for the internship was 6 college credits.  She spends most of her time slouching around Jane, not knowing how to work equipment and getting coffee orders wrong, interrupting Jane's dates and in one especially hilarious instance, hitting Thor with a taser after Jane Foster hits him with a car. 

Reason It's Okay: She's a dumb college kid who isn't getting paid and who clearly doesn't give a shit.  Darcy's incompetence is understood to be purposeful.  At times, it reaches Tony Stark-eqsue levels of snarkiness that's more artful than anything.  Darcy's disrespectful ineptitude is a front she's putting on and honestly, it's working for her.  Darcy is like a poor, young, female version of Tony Stark.  If she ever really wanted to, she could probably pick up all the slack.  She just doesn't want to.

Honorable Mention: Pepper Potts

Pepper Potts is Tony's personal assistance in Iron Man 1 and becomes CEO of Stark Industries in Iron Man 2.  You go, girl!  

But things take a turn for the worst in Iron Man 3, when Pepper forgets her lofty career goals and starts dating Tony and walking around Stark Tower barefoot and in jean shorts.

What the fuck.

 Okay to be fair this was how Pepper was introduced so maybe we sort of all saw this coming.
Still, #NotMyPepper

My issue isn't really with the relationship itself, although it seems unrealistic that a high-powered career woman who wants to be taken seriously would end up dating her unstable playboy boss.  My issue is that they're now engaged in the MCU and the idea of Tony Stark settling down is so bafflingly out of character that it makes me want to puke.  Their marriage is gonna last about two months, tops; Tony is incapable of going longer without having himself a breakdown that involves building a new Iron Man suit, destabilizing a third-world country, and then celebrating with a coke-fueled orgy.

"Whelp, Ghana's on fire.  Who wants a ride on the TONE BONE?"

Reason It's Okay: Let's be real, we all know that the real reason for Pepper being Tony's love interest is pure, shameless fan service.  Tony is an unstable, selfish piece of work and Pepper is a confident, empowered, career-oriented woman who disapproves of his Iron Man-ing.  They're fundamentally incompatible.  But hundreds of thousands of dumb fangirls LOVE #Pepperony because Pepper is basically their analog and allows them to fantasize about Tony.  Because who wouldn't want a whirlwind romance with an emotionally stunted alcoholic man-child with daddy issues who gets himself attacked by aliens or robots at least once a year?

 Maybe Pepper is taking relationship advice from Laura Barton, and has decided to start enabling Tony's awful lifestyle so she can claim some of the sweet Stark inheritance when he succumbs to syphilis / liver cirrhosis / terrorist attacks.

People are dumb and they love happy ending.  Tony Stark isn't a character who gets happy endings but I understand that Marvel doesn't want to go too dark and that for writing purposes, the Tony/Pepper romantic subplot is a thing.

Also Tony probably needs to get married.  Pepper is the beard that allows him to carry on with Peter.

Tony has a special nerd shirt he gives to his "friends."

Honorable Mention: Every single one of Stan Lee's cameos

Reason It's Okay: It's a running gag that Stan Lee shows up in every Marvel film, usually as a background character with a single speaking line.

However, in the instances where his character has a job, he always sucks at the job.

 Here's a Smithsoian guard who is on patrol when Captain America's uniform gets stolen.

 Here's a FedEx delivery guy who misreads Tony Stark's name, which is especially baffling considering everyone in the world knows who Tony Stark is.

 Here's an intergalactic barber who mangles Thor's hair.

Reason It's Okay: It's Stan Lee, yo.  We love Stan Lee.

Here's a guy cosplaying Stan Lee while meeting Stan Lee.

1 comment:

  1. "Because who wouldn't want a whirlwind romance with an emotionally stunted alcoholic man-child with daddy issues who gets himself attacked by aliens or robots at least once a year?"

    Blame the victim! Just because someone dresses as a robot doesn't mean that they're asking to be attacked by robots! We should put the blame where it belongs; On the people who created Ultron. ... okay, fuckit. I got nothing.