About DBreitenbeck

David Breitenbeck is a professional freelance writer currently living in Southeast Michigan.

“Tonight, I Am Nemesis”

Revenge stories never grow old. Though as Christians we know that wrath is a sin and vengeance belongs to the Lord, yet we still get a visceral satisfaction from a well-told tale of revenge. Don’t believe me? Go read The Count of Monte Christo. We may deplore it morally, but…well, it feel rights.

This isn’t actually a bad thing, by the way. At least, not as long as it stays in fiction. It actually points to a very healthy and wholesome instinct.

The same instinct can be found, in a much more palatable form, in detective stories. It’s what led Miss Marple, in one book, to declare “Tonight, I am Nemesis.”

Nemesis, in Classical mythology, was the goddess of vengeance, the one who punished those who were guilty of hubris, who challenged the gods.

That is the satisfaction of both a good revenge story and a good detective story. It is the satisfaction of seeing the Truth asserted. Someone has flaunted it. Someone has set himself up to do something evil and get away with it. And someone else has come along and visited his evil back upon him.

Sooner or later, we all sense that the wicked ought to be made to feel their own wickedness, to condemn that in their lives which ought to be condemned. That is why the agent of vengeance in a story can’t simply quietly assassinate his target. Edmund Dantes can’t stick a dagger in his enemies while they sleep. No, they must be made to feel and understand their own crimes, must understand that the thing they destroyed his life to acquire will now become the source of their ruin.

Likewise, it would be no good for the detective to play the Punisher and destroy the criminal himself. He must expose the truth, let the man know that he hasn’t escaped, that his crime is known and that it will be the ruin of him.

Again, vengeance is not something for us to engage in in real life. But in story form it can be a reminder of the fact that sooner or later, the Truth will have its day, and none will be able to evade the reality of what they have done.

Flotsam: Of Kings, Clothes, and Inspiration

1. Yesterday was the anniversary of the martyrdom of King Louis XVI, so I made sure to go to Mass to ask his intercession, and that of all the royal saints, that we might have good leaders in Church and State. Or, failing that, at least leaders who aren’t brain-dead swine.

Appropriately enough, the first reading was the incident of King David sparing Saul in the cave, cutting off a piece of his cloak to show him that he had no intention of “harming the Lord’s anointed”. This even though Saul was actively seeking to kill him. An image of true nobility and proto-chivalry from the origin point of Christian Monarchy.

2. By the way, some of you might wonder why I’m asking King Louis for good leaders when he himself was, well, not a very good king (from all I can tell, he was undoubtedly a good man and cared for his people, but was weak, indecisive, and let himself be influenced into some very poor decisions). No, but one, I’ll take a weak, vacillating fool who understands his duty to his people over cunning, opportunistic sociopaths who see their role as a chance to glorify themselves any day.

More importantly, of course, he’s now beyond the point where second-rate abilities really matter. And anyway, as Americans, the poor man lost both his throne and his life largely because he made the mistake of helping us, so the least we can do is pay homage to him now.

3. Speaking of leadership, Larry Correia gives his typically moderate and gentle take on the first year of the phony President of the United States (Language warning).

Biden has accomplished exactly one thing. And that’s demonstrating beyond a shadow of a doubt to all reasonable, thinking Americans that democrats are total shit at governing. They talk a big game, but it’s all just platitudes, wishful thinking, and magic unicorns farting free shit. Their claimed philosophy is childlike and disintegrates when it touches reality, exposing their actual philosophy, which is draconian control freaks who are compelled to meddle in everything. And the less they understand something, the more they feel the need to fuck with it.

Even with big tech and the media doing everything in their power to cover for Biden’s multitude of failures, it’s so bad that the most technologically advanced propaganda engine in human history simply can’t keep up.

Okay, actually to be fair, Biden has accomplished two things. He’s been so shitty that he’s also forced the media to shoot their wad, and destroy the tiny bit of credibility they had left with the most gullible Americans. Everybody else wrote the media off previously, but even the low information mushy moderates know they’re getting lied to when the media says things are great, but they go to their empty stores to pay outrageous prices for basic essentials.

Read the rest here and enjoy

4. One thing that a lot of people miss is that the experience of viewing a photograph is actually very different from seeing a thing, or a person, in real life (and this includes moving pictures). The photo or film is flat, while the real object is in three dimensions. This means that things or people that look good in photographs do not necessarily look good in reality and vice versa.

At my work place, a number of women seem to be putting on an object demonstration of this fact by wearing leather pants. It should be said; these do not work in real life nearly as well as they do in pictures. Though just look uncomfortable, tacky, and odd, more like bits of costume than real clothing. In fact, they have the exact same flimsy, out-of-place appearance as most costumes do, rather like wearing a cape about.

I mean, I can conceive actually, substantial leather pants looking good, the kind you’d wear on your motorcycle, but not mixed in with otherwise ordinary clothes.

5. Clothes, remember, are part of language. What you wear expresses, in part, your personality and your place in society. Most of us, it seems to me, convey an “I don’t know what my place is and I don’t care” message, while many women convey a message of “my place in society is ‘sex appeal’.” (And no, unfortunately, I’m not an exception in this)

Though to be fair, I have met one or two people who knew how to dress really well; not ‘look at how sexy I am!’ but actually wearing clothes that were vibrant, interesting to look at, and complemented them well. Alas, it’s a rare skill. We today are mostly clothing illiterate.

6. Inspirational message from my company message board:

“A closed curtain doesn’t mean the show is over. The next scene of your life is getting prepared! Don’t Quit!”

I really, really wanted to comment:

“A closed casket, on the other hand….”

7. Though really, sometimes a closed curtain does mean the show is over. In any case, how am I supposed to know whether this particular set back in my life is only a closed curtain or the chandelier falling and crushing the whole cast and half the orchestra pit, while a theater critic is scribbling ‘highlight of the performance’ in his notebook?

I don’t think I’m the target audience for inspirational messages.

RIP Prof. Alice Von Hildebrand

I just learned that Prof. Alice Von Hildebrand, the Catholic philosopher and speaker and the second wife of the great Prof. Dietrich Von Hildebrand (who is one of my intellectual touchstones) has passed away at the age of 98.

I actually had no idea she was still alive: I would have sworn that I’d heard she’d died several years ago, before I even became aware of her and her late husband. In honor of her, I offer her lecture on Reverence (sorry for the poor audio quality).

Also recommend you pick up her and her husband’s works.

Memoirs of a Happy Failure

My Battle Against Hitler

The Art of Living

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.
Requiescat in pace. Amen.
Anima eius et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum per Dei misericordiam requiescant in pace. Amen.

The Final Performance

“Ladies and gentleman, I give you…the Great Santini!”

Applause as the magician popped onto the stage in a burst of smoke. His tailed coat was of the finest quality, but his face was long, pale, with a foolish chin not quite covered by an attempted Mephistophelian goatee. He wave with an affected air to the audience, then turned to his assistant.

“Thank you, Sandra, for that lovely introduction. But, if you’ll forgive me, I don’t think you are quite dressed for the occasion.”

Sandra looked down at her own tailed coat and tie.

“What is wrong with it?”

“It is not quite…what is the word? Chic. If you will…”

He raised his cape before her, hiding her from view of the audience. With the deftness of long practice, she stripped off her fake formal wear and gave the knot at the back of her head a quick tug. The whole thing took less than five seconds, and as Santini swept away the cape, she stood in the exact same pose, but now dressed in the sleek, form-fitting silvery costume, her dark hair flowing free.

More applause. Sandra gave her required smile.

At least this is the last time, she thought.

Sandra – that was not her given name, but she had been going under it for a while now and she rather liked it – was thoroughly fed up with the ‘Great Santini’. At times she wondered whether the man was quite in his wits; he seemed to think of nothing but his act, of which he was ridiculously proud. Off stage, he went about as though in a perpetual daze, his eyes lifted to the ceiling, humming to himself. He was a little like a child that way. Except, of course, when they were together. She’d been obliged to put on a somewhat different performance then.

I really am a talented actress, she reflected as she assisted him with the tired ‘dove’ trick. The idiot actually thinks I like him.

“My sweet dove,” he always called her. When he remember her existence at all.

The bird flapped limpidly in his hands as he held it up to the applause of the audience.

She’d not taken up with him out of choice, or not exactly. She’d gotten herself into a bit of trouble with her previous boyfriend and had needed a new job – and a new name – quickly. No one would look for someone like her with someone like Santini, and for good reason.

But that was a long time ago now, and the hunt had died down. Besides, they’d cycled back to that very same town, which appealed to her artistic tastes. Back where it’d begun, and now it was time to move on. She meant to get out of the magic trade and back into more lucrative business.

Her last boyfriend had combined the two. The Amazing Mantoli (funny how so many of them went for Italian names). That had been fun, not to mention profitable. She wondered whatever became of him; probably still in jail, unless he’d managed an escape trick. He might even be in the audience tonight. The thought gave a genuine tone to her smile as she assisted in the disappearing box trick. It would do him good to see that she’d gotten the better end of the deal after all.

Sandra had been making her plans quietly for a while now. There wasn’t much she needed to take with her, and it all fit in a purse. As soon as the performance was over, she would hurry back to her dressing room, change, take the money out of the safe – Santini had actually been stupid enough to give her the combination – and she could be at the train station in ten minutes. After that, well, she had contacts in other cities. It wouldn’t be hard to find her way into another, more interesting job.

It wasn’t as though anyone could find her either. She doubted whether Santini even knew her real name, and she’d been living outside the law for so long and changed her own appearance so often that there wouldn’t be even a trace of her for him to follow. That fact had probably saved her life more than once when she came to think of it.

Again, her thoughts went to Mantoli – his actual name was Greg – possibly in the audience, or else sitting in jail. He probably wouldn’t be very happy with her either.

The Great Santini selected a volunteer from the audience for his ‘teapot’ trick. Sandra led the blushing youth up onto the stage, smiling at him as though she thought him an enticing specimen. Really, she was laughing at the thought of Santini’s stupid face when he came back to the trailer tonight after his usual meet and greet with the audience, only to find his little dove had gone and flown. She could just picture him, like a lost child, bewildered and alone.

Santini finished the teapot trick, to the wonder of the young man and the applause of the audience. He beamed proudly on them.

To her own surprise, Sandra felt a slight pang. Her smile even flickered a little. All of a sudden it wasn’t so funny. Was she really so mean as that, to take joy in the mere thought of hurting a silly little idiot like that?

I guess I am, she thought.

Maybe she wouldn’t take all his money after all. Just enough. After all, he couldn’t help being a fool.

The sword-box trick was next, with her laying inside a box, her smiling face showing out of one end while he stuck blades in it. It was a simple matter of being flexible enough to slide into the correct position so that they passed her by (and it helped that they weren’t as sharp as they appeared). Momentarily, she wondered whether he suspected anything. Surely not. She’d been careful in making her arrangements, and anyway he wasn’t the noticing type.

Still, she reflected, some people might wonder whether it was really wise to come up and perform these kinds of tricks with a man she was planning to jilt and rob. But Sandra knew there was no danger. Even if Santini knew all that she was planning and all she thought of him, there could hardly be a safer place for her to be than here on stage. Because a magician could survive being robbed and humiliated, but a trick gone wrong would be the final disaster. It would ruin him completely. The only way he’d do something like would be if he knew for a fact that she meant to kill him. And probably not even then.

No, there was no danger here on stage. She almost wished there were. That might be a bit of a rush. The danger, if there was any, would be afterwards.

But, alas, there really wouldn’t be any. Santini wasn’t the violent type. That was one of the reasons she found him so boring. And with that thought her heart hardened again and she forgot her momentary regrets.

The performance wore on, as dull as ever, and Sandra did her part all the way to the grand finale. This was the water trap illusion. It was a pretty simple trick, but it went down well with audiences. First a huge glass water tank – about the size of a small swimming pool – was wheeled on stage. Then she would be shackled hand and foot, gagged, and sealed inside a steel drum, which was set on ta trap door over the top of the tank. It was played as an escape act, where she had only one minute to escape from the drum before being dropped into the water. Only, she never did escape, and the barrel would drop into the water. Whereupon Santini would say something about having to use magic to rescue her, and he would wave his cape in front of the tank and hey presto! Sandra would appear high, dry, and unbound right in front of the tank.

The trick was, of course, that the barrel was not as solid as it appeared. There was a small entryway concealed between two ridges on the back end, facing away from the audience. It was a simple matter for Sandra to slip her manacles – she had a key hidden in her costume – and slide out and behind the tank, ready to pop out again at the climax of the trick. The door was, of course, very narrow, and only someone like her, slender, flexible, and extremely skilled, could manage to slip through.

They’d done it a thousand times, and Sandra went through the motions of climbing to the top of the tank, flashing a brave smile to the audience, then letting herself be shackled and gagged almost without thinking, still contemplating the real moment of escape that would follow.

Santini lifted her up, cried his familiar line of “Good luck, and Godspeed!”, and set her carefully inside the barrel. She waved cheekily to the audience as she dropped into the narrow space.

That’s all, folks! She thought. And good riddance….

Then, as Santini was lowering the lid over her head, Sandra happened to glance over the rim into the wings. And there she saw something. Something the meaning of which didn’t fully register until the lid had snapped shut over her head.

It was a girl. A girl waiting out of sight of both the other stage hands and the audience. A girl who had been dressed and made up to look just like her.

How I Would Have Written ‘Captain Marvel’

So, if you read my Marvel recap, you remember that I had certain issues with ‘Captain Marvel‘. Said issues largely amount to ‘It’s an incredibly stupid film with a hateful protagonist’.

Naturally, as with Black Panther, I thought about how I might have tackled the character, and the results are presented below (fair warning, this one’s a lot more lore-heavy than my BP take, so if you’re not familiar with the Marvel universe – cinematic or otherwise – you might get a little lost).

Summary:
Carol Danvers is a newly-formed captain the US Air Force joining her first active-duty squadron at a Florida base. She’s always dreamt of flying in the Air Force, following the military footsteps of her father and brothers and following a life-long love of aviation.

The squad, however, is cold to her, especially after a preliminary exercise where she makes a crucial mistake and nearly causes a crash. However, her wingman gets blamed for it instead of her.

At a bar that night, the rest of the squad keeps their distance from her, and when she tries to get friendly with the only other female pilot – Monica Rambeau – the woman lays it out for her. Carol had been used in a lot of promotional material during training, and they’ve all heard rumors that she was given special treatment and lowered standards to make her look good for the papers. Basically, as far as they’re concerned she’s a publicity stunt designed to get girls interested in the military, not a real pilot.

Stung by this, Carol reviews her training records and realizes that she ought to have failed at several points, or at least received far greater pushback than she received. She goes to the base commander to request to be returned to training, and he responds by publicly rebuking the team for failing to ‘make her feel welcome.’ Monica fesses up and takes the heat to spare the rest of the squad from being punished, and Carol becomes even less popular as a result.

Taking out her frustrations by swimming laps (wearing a black bathing suit very like her classic costume), she meets Phil Lawson, a scientific liaison attached to the base. He has a gallant, old-world charm and they strike up a friendship, helped by the fact that he’s the only one who isn’t either hostile or patronizing toward her. He advises her that, if she wasn’t given the right preparation then, she’ll just have to make up for it now and try twice as hard. “That’s the way of the warrior.”

Not long after, the squad is assigned to a training exercise with an experimental jet that Lawson developed. Carol is assigned to pilot the jet, against her protests that any one of the others would be better qualified.

They fly out over the Bermuda Triangle, with Lawson riding in the cockpit behind Carol to study the plane’s performance. Suddenly, they lose contact with the base and a UFO appears. Lawson gasps in surprise on seeing it – “No…not here…” – and the UFO shoots down the squad commander. It then targets the others in the squad, specifically Monica, but Carol fires on it, then drives the jet across its path to draws its attention (“Let’s hope this damn thing is as good as you say it is”). She tells the others to retreat while she tries to lead the UFO off. It pursues her, but instead of shooting them down it catches the plane in a tractor beam, drawing them inside itself before departing for space.

The blue-skinned aliens – the Kree – capture Carol and Lawson and put them through a very painful scanning process. Carol is put in first, over Lawson’s protest that it might kill her. It causes intense pain, and she’s unable to stand at the end of it. Then when Lawson goes through, it strips him of his human disguise and reveals the blue skin beneath. Carol lasts just long enough to see this before passing out.

She wakes up in a cell, with Lawson waiting outside of it. He expresses relief that she’s alive, she, however, doesn’t trust him anymore, accusing him of setting the whole thing up. He assures her that he had nothing to do with it, but says the truth is a long story, and he doesn’t have time. But he is going to try to get her released.

Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Yon-Rogg, the ship’s commander. He says that he’s given Lawson – or Mar-Vel as he calls him – enough time to worry over his “pet” and now they need to talk. Also on board is Quin-Ra, a servant of Mar-Vel’s family.

Yon-Rogg takes Mar-Vel to his chambers, where they share drinks. Y comments that he was difficult to find: the Nova Corps couldn’t say where he’d gone. Mar-Vel mutters something evasive about continuing his research. Yon-Rogg then drops the information that Mar-Vel’s father and his entire family is dead, which is why he was sent to find him, since he is now the sole remaining member of that line.

Shocked and pained, Mar-Vel asks who killed his family, and Yon-Rogg is oddly evasive. M suggests Thanos, but Y scornfully comments that, thanks to the Nova Corps, the Kree are already ‘balanced’ enough for the Mad Titan’s tastes (this prompts an angry retort from M about “forgetting politics for once”). He then asks Mar-Vel why he supposes he put them through the scan when they were brought on board.

Putting the pieces together, Mar-Vel nearly drops his glass. He protests in horror that “they’re extinct.” Yon-Rogg shakes his head. Mar-Vel asks how ‘they’ could be so strong, since surely people would know if there were many of them. To which Yon-Rogg answers “Would they?”

Mar-Vel asks what the other major powers in the galaxy – the Nova Corps, Asgard – are doing about it. Yon-Rogg answers that, as far as the Kree are aware, the other civilizations don’t know about it yet. The Kree are content to let ‘them’ weaken the others if possible while they take steps to protect their own Empire.

Realizing the danger, Mar-Vel understands that he has to come back to Hala to help protect his people. But he insists on letting Carol go first. Yon-Rogg refuses, revealing that he means to take her back as a scientific specimen, since they’ve had so little opportunity to study Terran physiognomy.

Following this conversation, Mar-Vel manages to trick the guards and get Carol out of her cell, and the two make their way to an escape pod. During the escape, some guards fire at Carol, but Mar-Vel places himself between them and her, taking the shots and then returning them from his hand, revealing his power to absorb and re-direct energy. He sends a message to Yon-Rogg as they fly away, telling him to inform the Supreme Intelligence that he’ll return as soon as he can.

The damaged pod crashes back on Earth and Carol emerges mortally wounded. With no other choice, Mar-Vel gives her a blood transfusion. She then directs him to her father’s house before collapsing. When she wakes up, she finds he’s been anxiously watching over her. After expressing relief at her recovery, he begs her to explain to her father that he hadn’t abducted her.

M: “He keeps threatening to shoot me and sell my body to the tabloids.”
C: “Cut it out, Dad! At least tell him it’ll be the National Geographic!”

Upon rising, she discovers that the blood transfusion has given her similar powers to his, only more volatile.

They recuperate with her father, and Mar-Vel explains his history. He is the son of a noble Kree family, but preferred scholarship to warfare, marking him out as an anomaly among his people. Following Ronan’s attack, he was sent as an ambassador to Xandar to try to repair relations (and, he suspects, because he was something of an embarrassment at home). There he gained enough respect from Nova Prime that he was permitted to study the Power Stone.

In his studies, he realized that it was the core of an ancient Kree artifact that their first Emperor used to unite Hala, back when their civilization was more peaceful and cultured and less pre-occupied with war. It was said that the first Emperor had god-like powers. Unable to resist, he made an attempt to replicate it with the stone and found himself able to absorb and generate energy.

Realizing that if it were discovered what he’d done than the Kree would never rest until they could exploit it, he decided to leave Xandar and hide out on Earth while he studied his new abilities. Now Carol has the same powers he does. Feeling responsible, he says he can’t leave until he teaches her to safely control them.

C: “Wait. Does that mean I can fly?”
M: “Ah…it might. Eventually. It took me a while to learn, but…”
C: “But I can fly? Really fly?”
M: “Yes.”
C: “Then what are we waiting for?”

At the same time, the squad have returned to the base and been debriefed. This incident is being put down as a training accident, since, as the commander explains, after so many recent disasters the government doesn’t want to worry people unnecessarily. Monica, who feels guilty about how she treated Carol, requests to be the one to take the news to her family, noting that Carol saved her life.

She goes to Col. Danvers’s house to inform him of his daughter’s ‘death’. She admits that they weren’t very close, and confesses that she had underestimated her. While she’s speaking, Carol comes in behind her.

R: “She was…more than any of us expected.”
C: “Would you say she was a real pilot?”

Monica is stunned that she’s alive, and Carol says that it’s a ‘long story’ and indicates Mar-Vel, fully revealed in his blue-skinned form.

M: “Captain Rambeau. You’re looking well.”

Carol explains what happened and why she needs to stay ‘dead’, at least for the time being. Now that she has powers, she’d be subject to the Sokovia Accords and considering how volatile her abilities currently are, it would be dangerous for Secretary Ross to know about her.

Monica apologizes for what she said in the bar, but Carol says that it was only too true and not to worry about it.

Mar-Vel then gives her her first lesson and Monica watches.

M: “Thanks to the Power Stone, you body now generates enough energy to power New York City. It absorbs impacts, reinforces your muscles, and speeds up your perception. Effectively, you’re stronger, faster, and more durable than just about anyone on your planet or mine.”
C: “Even the Hulk?”
M: “Eh, let’s make an exception for the Avengers for now. You can push your body to generate more energy and you can absorb it from your environment. The sun, cosmic rays in space, plasma fire, kinetic energy, and so on. But it’s not unlimited. Try to absorb too much, you’ll risk overloading.”
C: “What happens then?”
M: “I’ve never tried it, and I wouldn’t recommend doing so. Also, remember it takes time for your body to generate energy. It’s not an infinite supply. If you try to channel too much, you could deplete yourself, and then you’ll be just an ordinary human…Kree…beautiful woman.”

Carol gives him a bemused look at the description.

C: “We wouldn’t want that, would we?”

The lesson does not go well. Carol has a very hard time controlling her powers, uses too much at once, and generally struggles to keep it under control. But though frustrated, she keeps working hard. When Mar-Vel tries to sugar-coat how badly she did, she angrily insist that he not coddle her, but give it to her straight.

This leads into a montage of her training and slowly mastering her abilities. All the while she’s borne up by the idea that, if she learns to control it, she’ll be able to fly.

During this time, they begin to fall deeply in love, though Mar-Vel knows that he’ll soon have to leave. At one point there is a discussion about the human practice of taking your husband’s name.

Carol: “It’s an old-fashioned custom.”
Mar-Vel: “Sometimes the old ways are best. Would that we Kree had continued our traditions instead of hungering for more and more power.”

(They also comment on how ‘Marvel’ in English means ‘great wonder’).

She asks why he has to go back, and he says that his people need him. They are facing a deadly enemy and he must do what he can to stop them. She asks who the enemy is.

Mar-Vel: “They are called the Skrulls.”

He explains that the Skrulls can change their appearance and even their DNA structure to imitate anyone. They’ve developed techniques for stealing memories. They are like a virus: when they target a planet, the quietly copy and replace its most important people and their families, or else integrate themselves among the population and seek out key positions of power. They then use a combination of chemicals and mass hypnosis to discourage breeding and slowly phase the original population out while they themselves continue to reproduce until they are the majority of the population. The are cunning and deadly patient. Only when they are exposed do they break out their weaponry, which is at least on a par with that of the Kree. Now it seems that, from being thought extinct, they’ve been quietly building an empire for over a thousand years and are at last ready to begin declaring themselves openly.

Meanwhile, back on the ship, Yon-Rogg has seen Mar-Vel’s power and realizes what it means. He’s determined to take it for himself, and so sends a message to the Supreme Intelligence saying that they’ve discovered that Mar-Vel was killed by the Earth natives. He then seeks permission to seize the planet as a strategic point. The Supreme Intelligence takes time to consider his arguments, then gives permission. Quin-Ra observes all this and, the first chance he gets, slips away in a smaller ship.

Carol final masters her powers enough to fly. Mar-Vel teaches her by carrying her into the sky and ‘casting her off’. He’s done this several times in the montage and had to catch her each time. But this time she really “let’s herself go” and flies for real. It’s a joyous, almost dream-like sequence as she zooms through the air, testing her abilities, reveling the sheer ecstasy of flight. Mar-Vel flies alongside her, and the scene soon turns romantic, ending in a mid-air kiss in front of the moon.

When they land, however, Mar-Vel tells her that, now she’s learned to control her powers, he has to go. He promises to return some day if he can.

As he is about to leave, however, Quin-Ra flies down in his ship, having finally tracked them down. Mar-Vel says that he’s ready to return, but Quin-Ra reveals that Yon-Rogg has already reported his death and intends to steal his powers, and that he has received permission to seize the Earth.

Yon-Rogg arrives shortly after and Mar-Vel confronts him.

M: “Traitor!”
Y: “That’s rich, coming from you!”

Yon-Rogg says that the power of the Kree hero does not belong in one who would betray the Empire.

Y also makes a crack about “studying the local wildlife.”

Mar-Vel counters that Y is involving the Empire in a disastrous course, saying that attacking Earth will mean war with Asgard just when they’re also fighting the Skrulls. Yon-Rogg counters that Asgard will not intervene. The Dark Elves’ attack showed that they had become weak, and now Odin is dying and his sons bicker over the throne. They will not have the capacity or attention to interfere. He also cites Ronan’s attack on Xandar as showing what the Kree can still accomplish if someone is only wiling to act.

Carol sneers that the Chitauri already tried to take the Earth, but the Avengers stopped them.

C: “You don’t know what you’re getting into.”

Yon-Rogg answers that he knows all about the Avengers, which is why he doesn’t intend to invade the Earth. He’s going to bombard the planet from orbit until nothing survives.

Y: “We only want it as a strategic outpost. If, in the future, we decide to set up a permanent settlement here, we can always re-terraform it.”

Mar-Vel declares that he will not allow Yon-Rogg to stain their people with more innocent blood, and a battle breaks out, first on the ground (Carol’s Dad joins in with a rifle) then in the skies as Yon-Rogg scrambles his fighters to try to capture Mar-Vel. Carol and Mar-Vel fight back, and soon the rest of her squad join in, having been scrambled in response to reports of explosions. During this, Carol ends up flying alongside Monica’s jet and snaps a salute at her.

Monica: (whistling) “Well, shazam!”

Yon-Rogg finally orders a retreat and, abandoning the idea of taking Mar-Vel’s body, resolves to start the bombardment right away. He charges up a massive beam, and Mar-Vel, over Carol’s pleas, flies up to block it. He succeeds, but the effort overloads his body. There’s a massive explosion that damages the ship and he falls back to earth.

Carol catches his body as it falls and lands in the field where they practiced. He says good-bye, then calls Quin-Ra to witness that she is now the heir to his family line and Qui-Ra’s rightful mistress, effectively claiming her as his wife.

M: “The Vel blood flows in her veins.”

He begs her to help save the Kree, both from the Skrulls and from themselves. She says she’ll do her best, and he dies in her arms.

Meanwhile, Yon-Rogg starts to prepare another shot, the explosion having damaged his ship, but not disabled it. Carol flies up to space to continue the fight, but her blasts can’t penetrate the shields of the huge capital ship. In a final gambit, she summons all her stored energy and unleashes it in a single powerful beam that overwhelms the shields and blasts right through the middle of the ship. On the bridge, Yon-Rogg can only futilely deny that this is happening before he’s consumed in the explosion.

Completely spent, Carol falls back to Earth and passes out on the way down.

She wakes up at home, learning that Quin-Ra caught her with his ship’s tractor beam. We also learn that Monica Rambeau and her squadron are getting most of the credit, and Carol’s existence remains a secret for now, though the government will soon be looking for her.

They bury Mar-Vel in the field, not wanting his body to fall into the hands of the government. Carol then says that she has to go soon to try to carry on his work. She means to go to Xandar first to warn them of the Skrull threat.

Carol’s preparing to leave when her father says she has another visitor. Natasha Romanov walks in.

Carol is amazed to see the Black Widow in her house.

C: “I thought you were on the run.”
N: “I am. This is me running, so I’ll get to the point. We know what you did and what you can do. Since most people can’t tell you this, let me say that we’re grateful. And frankly, we could use someone like you on the team.”
C: “You…you want me to be an Avenger?”
N: “I’ll be honest, it would mean going on the run, but since you’re already dead that shouldn’t be too much of a problem for you. And you could do some real good.”

Carol considers it, but then shakes her head.

C: “I’m sorry. I appreciate the offer, I really do. Serving under Captain America, that…that’d be another dream come true! But I’ve got a promise to keep.”

Natasha nods.

N: “I’ll level with you, we think that something big is coming. Something that might take everything we’ve got and more. So, I hope you hurry back.”

Carol thinks a moment, then takes a communication device from the table.

C: “Here. I’m told this works even across interstellar distances. Something about wormholes, my new butler isn’t really sure, but supposedly it works. If you really need me, give me a call and I’ll be here as soon as I can.”
N: “Thanks. Good luck, Captain Danvers.”
C: “Actually, it’s not Danvers anymore. I’m a bit old fashioned that way. It’s Captain Marvel.”

Mid-Credits Scene:
We see pieces of the destroyed Kree ships being loaded up into a warehouse somewhere not far from the Air Force Base. The base commander is overseeing it.

Then Secretary Ross walks in. He says something about how this is a potential gold mine of information, with the chance to ‘give then an edge’.

The commander asks if he’s going to bring Stark in on it.

Ross: “Stark? Stark’s old news. I’ve got someone better. Someone more reliable.”

He indicates a thirty-something year old man who hasn’t been paying the slightest attention to them, instead studying the machinery with avidity, exclaiming over its composition.

Ross: “Doctor?”

The man comes out of his reverie and greets the commander. Ross: “Meet the future, commander.”

Man: “Sorry to be rude. Ah, it’s all rather exciting. Do you realize that the circuitry in these crafts already confirms the theory of…Oh, sorry, there I go again. How do you do? My name is Reed Richards.”

End Credits Scene:
We see a man in a darkened room talking into a small communication device. A shadowy figure is visible on the other end.

“War is coming and much is changing. We must study these developments and see how to turn them to our advantage. In the meantime, you will hold your positions and take no further actions for the time being.”

Man: “Understood. Long live the Skrull Empire!”

He ends the communication. A moment later, there is a knock at the door.

“Sir? They’re ready for you.”

The Skrull gets up and leaves the room. In the Oval Office, Monica Rambeau is waiting to be decorated. The Skrull is the President of the United States.

President: “Captain Rambeau. Our people owe you a great debt.”

Kaiju Appreciations: Iris (Updated)

My latest appreciation video is now up. This one’s a remake of the very first one, a tribute to Gamera’s most vile and sinister opponent, Iris.

Iris is a very interesting figure among the kaiju. He’s pretty clearly based on Viras from the Showa Gamera films – an alien squid monster – but they took him in such a different direction that he became a distinct character in his own right (the same thing happened with Legion in the previous film, who was based on Zigra). The story of Gamera III centers on Ayana, a teenage girl whose parents were killed during the climax of the first of the trilogy, partly, if I remember correctly, because a medical condition that she had prevented them from evacuating sooner. Ayana blames Gamera for their deaths, and when she discovers a cute, squid-like creature in an ancient cave, she decides that it will be able to enact revenge for her.

Except that the creature, which she names Iris after her dead family cat (symbolically incorporating it into the family she lost), has its own agenda; to use the psychic link it forms with the girl to become ever more powerful, and eventually consume her entirely.

(At times there’s almost a twisted sexual undertone to their relationship, especially in the scene in the woods. Yikes).

So, yeah, this is a really good movie (the whole Gamera trilogy is great: a shining example of making the most of unpromising material), and Iris is probably one of the best and certainly most vile kaiju villains out there. Remember what I was saying about how Lovecraftian influence is everywhere? Iris is a textbook example (no, not just because he has tentacles, but because he’s an ancient, eldritch being of uncertain origins and purposes brought into the present to corrupt and destroy the very mind and soul of the people he encounters).

He also shows off the then-increasing use of CGI to supplement the suitimation, and it holds up surprisingly well, largely due to the fantastic art direction on his design.

I made the original video over a decade ago (which is depressing to think about), and then I could only record with demo software, so the quality is awful and there’s a distracting ‘Unregistered Hypercam 2’ notice in the top left corner. I always meant to go back and re-do it in better quality (literally said I would in the introduction). Looking back, the editing choices are kind of odd and out-of-step with the rest of the series, focusing as much on Ayana as on Iris himself. She of course needs to be present in the video, but looking at the old one it feels like half the video is about her. So for the new one I used more footage of Iris wherever possible, in the process finding a lot of really impressive shots that I somehow missed the first time (or didn’t think I could use with the rotten film quality).

Original

“Poor Unfortunate Souls” as rendered by the Jonas Brothers is a lighter and, well, cheesier fare that I would have liked, but at the end of the day I decided that I didn’t want to open up the rabbit hole of swapping out songs on these ‘remakes’, as that would kind of mean they were simply completely different videos, whereas I think of them as just updates or remasterings (there may be one exception down the line, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it).

(Also, I had to try to recreate the title animation by hand, since that particular ‘style’ doesn’t exist on Final Cut).