ariad: (btvs // go hand in hand)
[personal profile] ariad
Today I started reading The Ultimates, Marvel's reimagining of the Avengers launched in 2002. I'd tried reading it back in December, before I'd started on Earth-616 or Marvel Adventures, but I was put off by the giant Hank Pym prancing around everywhere, and I think it was hard to get into something so serious when I didn't know any of the characters. This time around, I both know and care about a majority of them, so I'm enjoying it a lot more.

Darbles will be aghast, though. She despises Ults and spends a lot of her time trying to convince people to avoid it, myself included. I hope she realizes, though, that Bruce Banner having a Buffy the Vampire Slayer poster in his quarters means that I have no choice but to continue.

I'm four issues into the series so far. I've yet to encounter any of the craziness Darbles used to try to deter me from reading, but tbh I was sort of intrigued by a lot of it, and I love grittiness, so I suspect I'll actually enjoy Ults quite a bit.

Spoiler warning for The Avengers for this next part

I've realized that I have a problem with fix-it fic. A better-start-watching-for-and-avoiding-this-tag sort of problem.

Clint and Coulson are two of my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe characters, and since the movie came out, their tags on AO3 have been filled with virtually identical Clint/Coulson fics in which Clint grieves and shoots arrows until his fingers bleed and is generally not okay, and then, at the end, Coulson is revealed to be alive. Sometimes, these fics deal with Clint's grief in a pretty interesting way. One had Clint in denial the whole time, certain that Coulson was alive and that everyone else was playing to a joke, only to learn that—Coulson was alive, hiding out in his apartment.

This never fails to ruin a fic for me.

I guess the idea of two characters not being able to function without each other is romantic to some people, but I've always been far more attracted to the story of somebody learning to live without a loved one. And maybe it's because my most formative fandoms were Final Fantasy and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which deal so intimately with loss, that bringing a deceased or departed character back at the end also feels cheap. The fic also seems kind of pointless if it turns out the character left behind need not have grieved after all.

But more than that, there's something Twilight-esque about that ~romantic~ notion. Really? You're going to tell the story of a person who is unable to function until his lover comes back from the dead? What if Coulson doesn't come back? Is Clint just unable to function forever? Given that all these writers can (or want to) write about grief is how awful it is and how Coulson needs to come back to make everything okay, I get the sense that it's a yes. But how am I supposed to respect a character who is Bella Swan can't continue to live in the wake of tragedy? And how am I supposed to respect these writers who, after watching the movie, are compelled to write this obsessively dependent relationship and to portray it in a positive light?

I get that these are short, indulgent, thematically-unconscious fics, and there's nothing wrong with that. But there is something wrong with the idealization of that sort of dependence.

Sigh~ I was so looking forward to Clint/Coulson writers' offerings after seeing the film because I thought it would be a great opportunity for people to take Clint on a serious journey in which he grieves and shoots arrows until his fingers bleed and is generally not okay—and then he heals, until finally he can think of Coulson without it hurting anymore. Or, alternatively, he doesn't heal all the way, and he's never quite the same after Coulson's death, but life goes on and he has to go with it.* Or even one where Natasha assures him that it will get better but Clint, in his grief, goes on a suicide mission and is gunned down before he gets the chance to heal. There were infinitely many scenarios that I was eager to read, all of them scenarios in which Coulson remains dead. Fix-it never even occurred to me, and having tasted it, I am sorely disappointed.

* Having predicted early on that Coulson would die in this movie, I had all these feelings before seeing it and started plotting post-apocalyptic horror fic in which Coulson died, Clint changed from cheerfully grumpy sniper to deadly serious hunter more reliant on close combat, Natasha had to reign him in from going on suicide missions to kill the monsters that tore Coulson's throat out, and he displaced his grief onto Tony (who was dealing with the fact that Steve had become a very cruel and manipulative vampire). There was a lot of screaming and jaw twitching. But I was too lazy to plot the whole thing, so. Maybe one day. Because there is an upsetting lack of horror fic in this fandom.
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September 2016

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