My Late 2015 Review

Welcome to the first blog of 2016!

2015 was the year of wonderfully crafted narratives, flawed characters and binge watching. These wonderful television series were on my radar:

  • Breaking Bad
  • Game of Thrones
  • Daredevil
  • Jessica Jones

I have already written at length about how incredible the characters, storyline and the depth of analysis possible on Breaking Bad in a previous blog. What made it even more mind-blowing was how Walter White seemed like a logical continuation of the character Hal from Malcolm in the Middle.

All these series questioned the idea of morality, especially Game of Thrones with ‘good’ characters that do morally questionable actions for the ‘right’ reasons. Surprisingly physical and mental disability was represented in all shows maturely without falling back on the typical disability tropes. (Disability representation will be discussed in more detail in the next blog)

Marvel with the help of Netflix have filled in the gap of mature, thought-provoking superhero shows with Daredevil and Jessica Jones even though the recent saturation of superhero shows/movies. Personally, both series are a metaphor for the different coping mechanisms people have when dealing with disabilities like blindness or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

In Daredevil Matt Murdock (played by Charlie Cox), uses being taught by his master stick how to defend himself as a way to cope with losing his sight without ending up bitter. Even though the show has some violent fight scenes where Matt gets beaten up badly, there are positive undercurrents that present different of ways of coping with adversity and seeing it as a way to achieve something greater. Both Matt and his enemy Wilson Fisk (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) display matching coping mechanisms that have made them stronger but cleverly the writers went further with this idea by bringing morality into the equation and asking but at what cost?

Jessica Jones started fairly slow but ended on a high. The character herself (played by Krysten Ritter) had a destructive way of coping with PTSD inflicted by Kilgrave (played by David Tennant) with alcohol and a thorny personality. Kilgrave seems like a physical manifestation of a lack of acceptance or letting your mind grow bitter over a bad situation. His power is mind control, during my younger days depression seemed like my mind was being controlled without any way to stop it. The ending of season 1 was a brilliant way of illustrating Jessica finally ending the vicious circle of bitterness or depression, showing brilliant growth in her character arc.

For Christmas, I got the graphic novel The Planetary Omnibus all 27 issues of writer Warren Ellis and artist John Cassaday’s epic deconstruction of the superhero genre and storytelling techniques. It has made me aware to look deeper into everything I read, watch or play. The written word is powerful and has the amazing ability to blur the line drawn between stories and reality. Reality is a creation in our minds just as stories are; maybe we get these ideas by accessing a parallel universe? Existentialism is such a difficult concept to communicate visually but Warren Ellis does a wonderful job of making it entertaining.

These video games of 2015 have left a mark for 2 very different reasons:

  • The Witcher 3 has amazing immersive world-building, brilliantly constructed characters, beautiful graphics and interesting storyline/side-quests.
  • Batman Arkham Knight. Batman is my favourite superhero so I was excited about this game, it was a great game but also disappointing. There was so much wasted potential in the use of the Batman universe by the uninspiring disability representation of Barbara Gordon/Oracle, too much emphasis on the Batmobile, boring boss battles and no built-in story sections where you could control Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, Spoiler, red robin, Oracle, Azrael or red hood. Such a shame as the previous games was faultless. My main issue is with how the character Barbara Gordon/Oracle was handled; It would have been better if she had more of an active role and maybe in parts of the story you could have controlled her wheelchair as so her role was not just a damsel in distress.

I will explore disability representation in comic books in my next post using characters such as Barbara Gordon/Oracle, Professor X and Daredevil

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