Category Archives: Superheroes

Guest Blog Posts

With my monthly column for legendary women and occasional posts on Thought Catalog, I guest blog more than I blog on my own site. The thought occurred that I and others might want to find them all. So here they are:

Legendary Women

Game of Thrones Season Six Wrap Up June 2006

DC Bombshells Rewrite History Mar 2016

“Is it more sexist not to hit you?”- The Women of Deadpool Feb 2016

Comparing Rey Amberle and Wonder Woman Jan 2016

2015 Geek Girl Power Comics Shopping Guide Part 1

2015 Geek Girl Power Comics Shopping Guide Part 2

2015 Geek Girl Power Comics Shopping Guide Part 3

Skye’s Heroine’s Journey 2015

Supergirl Pilot 2015

Joss Whedon’s X-Men 2015

Doctor Who and Missy 2015

CW’s Vixen 2015

The MCU Black Widow 2015

Game of Thrones Season 5 2015


Also article and interview about my Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey:

Thought Catalog

Hot Teen Vampires And Werewolves: How Did They Start, And More Importantly, Who Gets The Girl? 22 Mar 2016

Game Of Thrones Season Five Wrap Up: The Book vs The Show And Where We’re Going

One of the big disappointments for me (and I’m not the only one) were the Sand Snakes.

28 Jul 2015

How Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Is Very Joss Whedon

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has returned, and to no one’s surprise, Skye’s new plot expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe while simultaneously transforming her into a superhero.

8 Apr 2015

The “Strange, Young-Old” Peter Capaldi Will Bring Doctor Who Back To Its Origins

More to the point, this Doctor is on a mission to find the Time Lords and restore the balance, returning the series to, perhaps, its mid-series premise of a “secret-agent-man” Doctor taking orders from the higher-ups and interpreting them to his rebellious liking.

20 Aug 2014

12 Game Of Thrones Mysteries That Are Going To Drive You Crazy

Who will win? Who will finally take the Iron Throne?

11 Jun 2014

“The Day Of The Doctor” And The Hero’s Journey

“The Day of the Doctor” is a perfect Hero’s Journey arc…if “The Night of the Doctor” (the brief online minisode available here) is included.

26 Nov 2013

Game Of Thrones Recap: Thoughts On The Season 3 Finale And Beyond

After last week’s WHAM! of an episode, viewers approached with trepidation. However, this episode was mainly wrap-up. Walder Frey gloated, Joffrey gloated, Tyrion and Tywin debated ethics, Tyrion broke the news to Sansa, Arya took a very small revenge.

10 Jun 2013

Other Websites

Hogwarts Professor: Aug 21, 2013 – Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Alchemy

Denise Derrico’s Key of Dee: Jan 2016  Why Rey Needs a Light-Chakram 


Filed under Books, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Comics, Doctor Who, Films, Game of Thrones, Heroine's Journey, Star Wars, Superheroes, Uncategorized, Young Adult Fantasy

60 Easter Eggs in Avengers: Age of Ultron

    1. Ultron first appeared in Avengers #57 (as did the Vision). He wasn’t created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, but by Hank “Ant-Man” Pym, whose film is coming next, though not in time for him to play inventor here.
    2. The storyline Ultron Unlimited has the villain invading a fictional East European country with an army of robot drone. The title Age of Ultron has no connection with the comic book event of the same name, but was chosen because it sounded cool.
    3. In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “The Dirty Half Dozen”, it is Agent Coulson who breaks in to a Hydra base and locates Loki’s scepter. He then contacts Maria Hill so she can let the Avengers know to go to Sokovia and retrieve it, as they do in the beginning of the film. Dr. List, Strucker’s flunkie, appears on Agents of SHIELD, then joins his boss on the film.
    4. During the opening assault on Baron Strucker’s fortress, Captain America uses a wrist-mounted device to make his shield return. This is designed by Tony in the early Avengers comics.
    5. Baron Strucker has collected Chitauri tech from the Battle of New York.
    6. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch first appeared in X-Men #4 in 1964 as members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (and children of Magneto!), then switched sides and joined the Avengers in 1965’s Avengers #16. The MCU is giving “Gifted” characters several origin stories, from artificial to Inhuman to genuine inexplicable gifts….they don’t say mutant or use Magneto as these rights are tied up with X-Men. Baron Strucker substitutes as evil father though the side-switching remains. The clip of their origin story includes a red burst of apparent Terrigen Mist (now appearing with the Inhumans on Agents of SHIELD).
    7. Pietro and Wanda Maximoff dress like in X-Men: Evolution (2000), where Pietro had on blue jeans and sports shirts, and Wanda had on a black dress and red coat.
    8. Strucker, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, was a returning nemesis in Fury and His Howling Commandos, beginning with #5 in 1964.
    9. Tony’s bumper sticker “Jarvis is my co-pilot” likely nods to the popular sticker “Wash is my co-pilot” from Firefly.
    10. Ultron starts out as as a peacekeeping force. This is a homage to The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (2010), where he had a similar origin.
    11. During Ultron’s birth, movie clips from the MCU and comic book scenes appear.
    12. Ultron’s odd get-up during his first meeting with the twins nods to his first comic-book appearance, as The Crimson Cowl.
    13. War Machine has ditched his Iron Patriot paint after hassling in Iron Man 3.
    14. Pepper Potts & Jane Foster don’t appear, but are mentioned during the party at Avengers tower.
    15. Erik Selvig from the Thor films cameos from England. Maria Hill reappears, but Loki’s scenes were cut in editing.
    16. Not even Captain America can afford a place in Brooklyn these days, though he lives there in the ’70s comics.
    17. All of Steve Rogers’ friends are senior citizen war vets, also seen in Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s The Ultimates.
    18. Stan Lee in his cameo insists he can drink anything, as he’s a World War II veteran who stormed the beaches. Drunk, he shouts “Excelsior!” This last is a famous Stan Lee slogan, the same phrase with which he ended his weekly “Stan’s Soapbox” with, which appeared in every Marvel comic book.
      The World War II mention nods to Cap. Like most men of his generation, Mr. Lee did serve in the military. However, he never saw combat. Jack Kirby did storm the beaches though.
    19. The “whosoever holds this hammer” line is from the inscription on Mjolnir in the comics.
    20. Steve Rogers almost lifts Thor’s hammer – he swings it a few times in the comics, showing off his inner nobility.  Odd that Natasha doesn’t try the hammer — in the comic “What If?” Age of Ultron #3, she succeeds.
    21. The Avengers visit the city that produces all the world’s Vibranium to stop Ultron. Wakanda of course is home to the Black Panther.
    22. Andy Serkis’ character, Ulysses Klaw, is the Wakandan arms dealer who loses his hand. This prepares him to become Klaw, the nemesis of Black Panther with a vibranium-powered soundwave cannon arm. Apparently all the Phase 2 movies have someone lose a hand in a Star Wars reference, though this is a bit faint.
    23. Klaw is seen wearing a necklace with a claw. The comics state he got that from murdering T’Chaka, the king of Wakanda and the current Black Panther (2018) T’Challa’s father.
    24. In the comics, Ulysses Klaw was manipulated into battling the Avengers by the Crimson Cowl, actually Ultron operating under an alias.
    25. Tony refers to his Hulkbuster armor as “Veronica,” likely nodding to the character of Archie Comics. Her counterpart is named like Hulk’s girl, Betty.
    26. The Hulkbuster armor is from the comics and it punches Hulk offscreen as movie one Hulk punched Thor.
    27. Lou Ferrigno, almost every onscreen Hulk voice, contributed to the voice of the Hulk in this film.
    28. The truck marked Crawford in this scene nods to Hulk’s comic book mentor, Dr. Gregory Crawford.
    29. Tony calls Hulk Banner, then admonishes himself over the whole “puny Banner” comment. The Hulk shows hatred for his “puny Banner” side in the comics sometimes.
    30. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) wears a Bruce Lee T-shirt. Downey Jr. has a black belt in Wing-Chun.
    31. The Scarlet Witch blasts all the Avengers with visions, like Uatu the Watcher does to them in “Original Sin”.
    32. Tony’s Scarlet Witch dream has him in space with Chitauri Leviathans flying overhead, surrounded by dead Avengers. In the comics, Tony often flies into space, and this moment may certainly foretell his future in Infinity War. Stark finds the Avengers killed by Thanos in the Infinty Gauntlet comic series.
    33. Scarlet Witch helps Captain America have a vision of Peggy Carter, from her own show, possibly preparing for a second season. As she tries to convince him his fight is done, this moment echoes her talking down Howard Stark’s plane on her own show. Plus, they finally have their dance date from their first film.
    34. The Roy Thomas Players, the band in Cap’s dream, are named for the comic book writer who created the Vision and Ultron.
    35. Thor’s Scarlet Witch dream sequence takes him to Asgard, where Heimdall, the keeper of Bifrost, tries to choke him. This may foreshadow events of Thor: Ragnarok.
    36. Black Widow’s vision is of her Red Room training, seen (with another Widow) on Agent Carter. She and Dottie from that show cannot have children, emphasized by Dottie’s playacting with a baby carriage. They both have ballet training, something Natasha does in her comics origin story, and a possible nod to River from Firefly as well.
    37. When Scarlet Witch tries to mind control Hawkeye, he neutralizes her. He then quips: “I tried the mind control thing. Not a fan!” This is a reference to  being mind controlled by Loki during most of “The Avengers”.
    38. Banner plays with a cradle in movie one, noting he doesn’t always get what he wants. This time, he also talks about having a child.
    39. “Marvel Ultimates” has a controversial incestuous storyline between Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. According to Elizabeth Olsen, she and Aaron Taylor-Johnson touched each other a lot in a subtle homage.
    40. Vision saves Scarlet Witch and flies off with her in his arms nodding to their future romance.
    41. Black Widow’s outfit is from Fear Itself. Hawkeye’s is more like his classic comics look, with elements of his original Marvel Comic outfit, his Ultimate Marvel outfit, and his Ronin identity.
    42. Actor Aaron Himelstein played the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who wouldn’t launch the ships in Captain America: Winter Soldier and returns as one of the new agents on Fury’s helicarrier.
    43. Grand Central Station, blown up in Avengers, has been rebuilt with an Avengers statue.
    44. Sam Wilson, the Falcon, from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. His “working missing person’s cases” quip is a reference to Bucky. Presumably both characters will star in Captain America: Civil War.
    45. Friday is one of Tony’s AIs in the comics. The other two AI chips were named Jocasta (Ultron’s bride in the comics) and Tadashi (Big Hero 6)
    46. Tony and Steve’s ideologies clash, preparing for Captain America: Civil War.
    47. Someone chokes Tony in every movie he’s in, including this one. Some people are just that irritating…
    48. Cap’s line “This is what SHIELD is supposed to be…” feels like a wave to the Agents of SHIELD TV series, which hasn’t gotten the hype of the films.
    49. Ultron proclaims that everyone creates the thing they dread, including “invaders” creating “avengers.” The Invaders were a comic precursor to the Avengers.
    50. “There are no strings on me” is Disney of course. Also, Ultron’s line “People have looked to the sky and seen hope. I’ll take that from them first” may nod to Joss Whedon’s Firefly credits song: “Burn the land, and boil the sea – you can’t take the sky from me…”
    51. Speaking of, the Hellicarrier, Iron Man, and Thor reuse musical scores from their earlier movie appearances (in Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Thor: The Dark World).
    52. In the comics, Dr. Helen Cho is the mother of Amadeus Cho, a superhero who may appear in later stories.
    53. Clint Barton’s wife Laura is from the Ultimate comics. She names their child Nathaniel Pietro for Quicksilver and Black Widow., though in the comics it’s Nicole for Nick Fury.
    54. When Black Widow snatches Captain America’s shield  and puts it on the front of her motorcycle., this mimics the motorcycle round windshield of the Reb Brown Captain America films.
    55. Loki’s staff contains the “mind stone,” one of the Infinity Gems being collected for Avengers: Infinity War. Stones available in the MacGuffin hunt include the aethyr from Dark World, Orb from Guardians of the Galaxy, the Tesseract, and now (unfortunately for him) the one in the Vision’s head. These are the Tesseract/Space Gem (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers), The Aether/Reality Gem (Thor: The Dark World), Loki’s Scepter/Mind Gem (The Avengers) and The Orb/Power Gem (Guardians of the Galaxy).
    56. At film’s end, Thor goes off to deal with the impending Ragnarok, and Tony Stark drafts legislation to help governments better regulate superhuman activity, kicking off Captain America: Civil War. Hulk heads off alone, as with several Avengers comics.
    57. Tony says he’s ready to tag out — after this film and Avengers 3, Robert Downey Jr. was going to retire from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, he later signed on for Captain America: Civil War (2016).
    58. Cap ends by almost saying “Avengers Assemble.”
    59. At last, Captain America enters the “New Avengers Facility.” Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, the Falcon, War Machine and the Vision, located within, might indeed be called the “New Avengers,” a comic spinoff series.
    60. The end credits scene features Thanos claiming the Infinity Gauntlet (seen in the Asgard treasure room) and adding, “Fine, I’ll do it myself” – likely collect the last gems.

Celebrate Avengers: Age of Ultron and Free Comic Book Day! Free kindle book now-Monday May 4: The Avengers Face Their Dark Sides: Mastering the Myth-Making behind the Marvel Superheroes. Explore the deeper fantasy symbolism of Jung and Joseph Campbell behind the beloved movie heroes plus ALL the Easter Eggs from Daredevil Agent Carter and Agents of SHIELD to ALL the films.

There is also a list of the Agents of SHIELD tie in episode’s easter eggs.

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So Many Goodies Seen on Agents of SHIELD: The Dirty Half Dozen

In the episode before Agents of SHIELD, there are many foreshadowings, nods, and tie-ins:

Baron Von Strucker and his flunky List are experimenting on Gifted people –the SHIELD agents go into one of his secret bases and rescue Deathlok and the Inhuman Lincoln,  but “the twins” are still in custody. List finally escapes to meet up with Baron Strucker  in Sokovia,

Coulson tells Jemma to “suit up” — everyone said this in the Avengers film.

Skye’s mother fears their base will be discovered. With Skye’s return to her friends and Lincoln in their custody, this seems likely. Raina meanwhile, seems to want to lead the Inhumans.  Cal returns to the base, still unstable, still wanting his daughter returned.

Coulson vows to make up his secret-keeping to May but doesn’t actually do it.  She doesn’t completely trust him at this point.

Skye uses her powers, no controlled, in a firefight. She wears her superhero gloves.

Jemma tries to kill Ward, revealing how far she’s gone over to the dark side. Ward meanwhile seems to belive you don’t betray your team and relishes being with them –he seems, like Spike or Angel (or Wesley, Jayne, Willow, and countless others) to want a role among them after betraying them.

Coulson exerts his power — he gives Gonzales the Toolbox but warns him he won’t have it long. He also finds the Staff of Loki for Agent Hill (who cameos), he mentions Fury’s alive (and thus Gonzales wasn’t in the know) and prepares Theta Protocol … and the Avengers.

Bobbi has misgivings about locking up Skye. Mac and Hunter reconcile. The two SHIELD teams are now all stuck in one base, ostensibly working together. Coulson thinks Fury will come soon and settle the chain of command. He also thinks the council is silly.

Raina ends the episode foreseeing men of metal destroying cities and the Staff of Loki playing a part.

All the  &  appear in my book he Face Their Dark Sides  This will be a this Thurs-MOn Happy 

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Comic-Con News and Announcements

Ah, Comic-Con. The weekend when EVERY FRANCHISE shares upcoming news, trailers, first glimpse, and spoilers, in such a way that my own projects go crazy. I don’t just geek out — as those who know me know, I use the new info to write books on Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Doctor Who, and the fans themselves (there’s a big fat list of my books at So as I collect all these juicy announcements on my favorite fandoms, complete with writeups and articles, I thought I’d post them all in one place…then see how many new books I’ll be writing.

The Game of Thrones Comic-Con panel sounded like overpacked fun…jokes, bloopers, and Sand Snakes casting (writeup at With FIVE books on GoT, I think I’m covered.

BBC One has confirmed that Sherlock series 4 and a new special will be filming in 2015. I have a book on the canon and pop culture references in seasons 1-3, but I’m sure another Sherlock book is due. Perhaps on relationships and characters.

News and promos for the third Hobbit. Peter Jackson said they hope to have a museum one day of The Hobbit and LOTR (unsurprising — the Harry Potter one does well). My Hobbit parody (on the first movie) is much-liked, but the sales figures aren’t really high enough to push me to write a second, not to mention a third. We’ll see.

Just when we thought Battlestar Galactica was completely over, the movie is on its way…I hope. … And yes, if they make it, I’ll do a BSG analysis book.

Marvel’s AvengersAssemble Season 2 is coming: Age of Ultron approaches as well, after Guardians of the Galaxy. I am writing an essay on Black Widow for an anthology, so I’m keeping an eye out for all her different versions. Also, I have planned (okay for years) to write a book on the heroine’s journey among superheroines. With so many Black Widow adaptations and now a Wonderwoman movie in the works, the time may be right. ish. And I have an Avengers book planned in time for Ultron.

Trailers for Insurgent (I have one book–that should cover it), Mockingjay (two books–again, covered), The Giver (childhood staple) and The Maze Runner (just read book one) all showed. I COULD do a Maze Runner/Giver book on boys’ dystopias having done three on girls’ dystopias.

Buffy season ten (comics), Angel and Faith comics, possible Wastelanders and still no news on our precious Doctor Horrible 2. But I just did a book on pop culture in the Whedonverse and I have more Whedon books coming any minute.

And plenty of beloved authors, costumes and classics, as the con is more packed than ever. Looks like I have some writing to do…

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Filed under Books, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Comics, Convention Reports, Films, Game of Thrones, Pop Culture, Sherlock, Superheroes, The Hunger Games, Tolkien: Hobbit and LotR, Young Adult Fantasy

Elektra, Catwoman, Sue Storm, and Jean Gray: Superheroes on the Heroine’s Journey

Superman, Spiderman, and many others follow the hero’s journey of Joseph Campbell, battling the dark supervillain who represents their own darkest impulses and dying to return stronger than before. But this conflict is not restricted to the male hero. In their various movies, Elektra, Catwoman, Sue Storm, and Jean Gray each follow the quintessential heroine’s journey, sacrificing their lives to save their loved ones and gain enlightenment.

Protecting the innocent is the crux of the heroine’s journey, and female superheroes devote themselves to this cause. In the movies, Elektra and Catwoman battle assassins and abusers to save the single young girl who represents their own vulnerable psyches. Sue Storm and Jean Gray die defending their families, preparing to become the ultimate guardians and lifegivers. For Sue in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, this sacrifice echoes the major life change of her wedding, as she prepares to enter a new stage, rather like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty returning from near death to wed their princes. Jean Grey dies to save her friends in X-Men 2, but is reborn asPhoenix, amoral shadow rather than heroine. At last she surrenders to her darkest impulses, unleashing a strength that can end the world, unless she has the courage to face what she’s become.

This is the heroine’s traditional battle: facing the shadow, dark side of the self. To triumph she must battle the child-killer, the wicked stepmother and destroyer of life. Catwoman fights a woman whose face is as motionless as glass, while Sue Storm faces the force of entropy itself as the Silver Surfer. Elektra battles the deadly Order of the Hand, who control life and death. This is the heroine’s traditional adversary: sterility as she represents life and growth. For Jean Grey, the enemy is far more intimate and destructive: the passion and chaos raging within herself.

When the heroine conquers the dark side of her soul, she revives far stronger than before, with the wisdom needed to gain adulthood. There are many others who follow this quest of strong women everywhere: Wonder Woman, Buffy, Xena, Sarah Jane Smith, Charlie’s Angels, Lara Croft, Witchblade, and all their friends and sidekicks. These strongest of women hallmark a new era, not just of feminine power, but of feminine enlightenment as these superwomen confront the dark side of the self and emerge from the conflict as the ultimate defenders of innocents.

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