Only watching a certain superhero’s vibranium shield in action could give Marvel fans a case of whiplash similar to the roller coaster ride they’ve had this week. Fans started this week riding the high of the #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend Campain.
Sam Wilson, come on down https://t.co/rf2zbgDav6
— old lady yells at ☁ (@zviltv) May 24, 2016
Shortly after Idina Menzel gave her endorsement of the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend movement, fans of Marvel, another Disney property, wasted no time in expressing their opinion that a certain Avenger should cozy up to a fella. BBCThree and SkyMovies even weighed in on the discussion, choosing Bucky and Tony as Steve’s potential partner, respectively.
— BBC Three (@bbcthree) May 24, 2016
But instead of a boyfriend, Cap fans were given the news that the “Star Spangled Man with the Plan” was a covert Hydra agent all along in the release of “Steve Rogers #1.” In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, writer Nick Spencer stated,
He’s an inspiring figure, somebody who brings people together. Everybody here obviously gets that. What you hope is that this story, in its own very different way, highlights those things and only continues to elevate the character in importance, and only serves to illustrate how powerful that symbol is.
(Warning: Spoilers at all these links.) Which is why so many fans see this retcon as lazy storytelling for shock value at best, and a dangerous distortion of the Captain America legacy at worst. While Hydra is now a globally evil organization, it does have Nazi roots, and many feel that this is a slap in the face to the Jewish creators of Captain America as an anti-Nazi hero.
Chris Evans seems just as displeased by the development as many fans.
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) May 26, 2016
Clark Gregg, who plays Agent Phil Coulson, also tweeted his disbelief before putting his trading card away to wait and see how the story plays out.
I'm sorry, Steve Rogers said what?! #cantbelieveitdontbelieveitwontbelieveit
— Clark Gregg (@clarkgregg) May 27, 2016
When canon has twists like this, many fans turn to fanworks like fanfiction in order to keep enjoying the stories and characters they love, and, in doing so, they discover a sense of community. The New Paper Online posted an article about how, inn Singapore, young women have found friendship, community, and confidence through writing fanfiction.
“I had few friends when I was younger and turned to stories to escape,” said the student who declined to be named. “The characters became like friends to me… I felt a strong emotional connection to them. These stories are deeply personal. I write them for myself.”
The three women featured in the article began writing in their tween-to-early-teen years, and found that having the power of telling stories for themselves in a supportive interactive environment helped them to develop their voices. “Many of my stories stem from some feature of the world I want to talk about, whether it’s accountability or politics or gender relations… It made my readers think… That’s good enough for me.”
Lastly, when fanwork moves beyond fan spaces, they can often be used to mock fandoms, so it’s refreshing that a new batch of comedy shows and podcasts are celebrating fic instead of poking fun. Toronto-based “Fan Fiction the Show” has built a cult following of 80-150 people (80% of which are women) for its monthly showcase of fanworks. Fandom Musicals is following in the StarKid tradition of creating comedic musical adaptations. In Ottawa, Paul J. Piekoszewski hosts a monthly fan fiction event that embraces some of the stranger corners of the fan fiction world, but insists that it’s all in celebration, not mockery.
“I didn’t want people to come into the show and think we are ripping people’s fan fiction apart because that is not exactly the spirit of the show,” Ward says. “The spirit of the show is embracing the weird, embracing how creative something can be.”
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