Five subplots in the Avengers: Infinity War of my dreams

As the only person ever who gets bored during the fighting bits in Marvel movies*, here are the non-combative subplots I’d like to see in Avengers: Infinity War.

*To be fair, I may not be Marvel’s target demographic.

Improved reviewing and reporting

Hey, remember in Ultron when Thor had to ‘report on the Hulk?’ and was then peer-pressured into providing a watered-down, anecdotal account that will prove of almost no value in a debriefing situation? Yeah, me too. Nightly.

Let’s see some best practice in action; maybe Kelsey Grammer, the most procedure-compliant X-Man, commands some kind of administrative Quinjet. Adminjet? That follows everyone around, like an impartial observer, and keeps really immaculate records. Potential scanning intern: Matty, a wisecracking humanoid formed of Black Widow’s many dreadful late-00s wigs.

Groot x Dum-E: Greasin’ The Wheels

Right? One’s a giant teenage tree, the other’s a retro robot arm! Together, they commit low-level crimes that allow the big guys to, uh, war. Infinitely.

They’ll nick a van/Taze your nan/Rewire a suit/I am Groot! *guitar slide*

Possible breakout franchise to capture the difficult over-85 former anarchist market.

More use of the ‘finger refocus’

If you’re not familiar with this technique, then may your eyeballs be ever charmed – basically, looking through a pinhole can provide enough focus for those rendered spectacles-less to check the time on a clock/number on a bus/horizon for warlords.

The moment in [film] when Tony Stark makes the ol’ finger telescope might be my favourite short-sighted shoutout ever, but now I can’t find it in my iTunes library and I’m starting to think it never happened. BACK ME UP HERE, FELLOW FOUR-EYESES.

Darcy

Hey remember all of the funny, quippy ladies in the ol’ MCU? Me neither. Bring back astro-intern Darcy in literally any capacity! Maybe she could pilot the Adminjet or just pop up as a fourth wall- breaking narrator who explains what’s happening for anyone who hasn’t watched all 17 previous films because they have jobs and laundry.

Carbs for everyone

Similar to the Avengers’ shawarma-fest; post-credits, the supes enjoy one enormous bowl of carbonara. All the Spider-Men end up smooching, like in Lady & The Tramp, then Stan Lee wanders out in a dirty apron and separates the timestreams with a mop. Hulk crunches up the Infinity Stones like croutons. Thor flexes.

FIN.

More life coaching with Hugh

Imaginary Hugh Jackman answers the questions that no one but me was asking. At 3am. In my head.

Dear Hugh,

I don’t really understand what Uber is. I thought it was… well, I told my husband what I thought it was, and he laughed at me for ages but then didn’t correct me. I think maybe it’s more of a London thing, but I haven’t lived there since bendy-buses and I’m woefully out of touch. 

Also, all my friends use Air B&B, but I feel this is surely the best way to wake up wrapped in tinfoil while someone lists your pancreas on eBay?

Please advise!

Mate, forget it. You know how I get around? I walk, like a man. Or prowl, like a grizzly. Or jack a motorcycle from a barn, ride it through a wall and bang it down a dirt track, raking the ground with my mighty claws any time I want to execute a parking manoeuvre. And no, none of that was meant to sound dirty, grow up.

What’s Uber? I dunno, Google it, get the app, get over it. But yeah, if someone says you can stay in their outhouse in Vanves for ten Euro and a Twix then they are definitely going to rob you blind, photograph your junk and send your thumbs back to your mother in a fur-lined matchbox. We all know that, come on.

Dear Hugh,

Is it acceptable to send my toddler to her new nursery with a glossary of all the mad shit she keeps repeating? For example, at the moment she walks up to me twice a day and insists “We don’t do magic, we’re elves! HADOO!” But because she’s two, it just sounds like she’s speaking in tongues through a malfunctioning Darth Vader mask. And what if the nursery people aren’t even aware of the complex socio-political themes of Ben & Holly’s Magic Kingdom? Should I propose a weekly vocabulary summit?

Yours helicopteringly,

Jenny

Yeah, go on, have a summit, and why not make it daily? Or better, just follow the kid around wearing an interpreter headset, like at the UN. Or, you know, you could actually take advantage of the wildly qualified daycare professionals and go home and do some work.

I’m gonna tell you what I told my arch-nemesis and noted Dundonian, William Stryker, when I was skewering him in X-Men 2: “How does it feel, Bub?” That might not mean anything to you, but frankly these movies ain’t Shakespeare and it was slim pickings, right? Right.

Hey Hugh,

Several younger friends are all over Instagram with photos of their pregnant bellies cradled in wildflower meadows, plus pristine nurseries, swaddles hand-knitted in musk ox, piles of tasteful paperbacks they’re planning to read and usually some kind of ambitious quilting project for when the baby’s napping. Am I duty-bound to tell them to cover everything in tarps, buy a shitload of frozen pizzas and mentally prepare some brutal late-night insults for their significant other? I feel bad for them.

Sure, if you want to send them into a goddamn meltdown. You want me to tell you that you’ve got perimenopause and Type 2 diabetes in your near-future? Or that one day you’re finally gonna grind your molars into dust and you’ll have to eat creamed corn for the rest of your life? No.

If someone had warned me, back in 1886, that I’d soon have terrifying retractable bone claws, become a fugitive murderer, fight in all of the 20th Century’s most attractively-uniformed wars, kill or maim pretty much every woman I’ve ever loved, be forcibly weaponised by a shady military organisation then press-ganged into a team of mutant do-gooders, you know what I’d’ve done? EXACTLY ALL OF THAT.

So shut your mouth and send them a sack of organic cashews or whatever in three months when the pictures get all blurry and insane.

Back from the brink with an iPhone and debit card autofill

September

I have had a baby, it is not going well; sadly because she is sleeping through the night at a freakish 5 weeks old, no one takes any of my problems seriously. 

The baby is knackered but only naps if I rock her on my lap in a dark, silent room. I take to devouring eBooks on my iPhone, the first one I read is Room.

Room is incredible and, for a book set almost entirely in one room, unexpectedly thrilling. I read it during the hours and hours I am (at least voluntarily) trapped in a dark room with my child, not noticing the irony until it’s over and I start wondering if I could roll myself up in a rug and ask Chris to pop me outside on bin day.

December

I have been diagnosed with a post-natal hormone disorder and severe anxiety. Much of my hair has fallen out, I have awful skin and I sweat all the time. I am sent to a therapist who makes me download an app called iWorry Lite; I have to upgrade to the paid version after 24 hours because I have too many worries. Chris finds this darkly hilarious. The baby gets her first cold.

I watch a bit of Australia on my phone each night, then fall asleep listening to David Mitchell’s Back Story and Bill Bryson’s The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid on repeat.

I like memoir audiobooks, mainly because you don’t lose the plot when you fall asleep (although I have, arguably, lost the plot). These two are my favourites; I listen to them over and over, Chris eventually buying me fancy low-profile Bluetooth headphones so that the baby doesn’t develop some kind of Pavlovian narcolepsy every time she hears David Mitchell on a panel show.

March

I am a little better. The baby sits up. I resign from my job and become oddly unmoored. I do an online writing class and read Sarah Crossan’s amazing One, all on my phone. Jim recommends I listen to Hamilton and I buy that too, so the whole month is spent in verse, with weird couplets running around my head. 

I manage to make Hamilton’s massive political and ideological themes all about my ridiculous little life; I do need to rise up! I’m not stupid! I do think these pants look hot!

I fail to convince anyone else to get into Hamilton, so I rap Scottishly at the baby. My inner life has become strange but vast as my outer life has shrunk to mashing pears and inspecting poop.

May

We have moved to the motherland! On our first afternoon in our new town I run into an aunt, and the following day my dad visits and plays blocks with Ada. We put a tent in the garden and she laughs at the wind and pulls up fistfuls of grass. For the first time, I am parenting solo for most of the week; it’s not as bad as I expect. I get some writing work; Chris builds me a desk but I still do most of it one-thumbed on my phone.

I buy the new Star Wars film. I’ve been holding out for a quiet night to watch it on the big screen TV, but I’ve decided to watch it in snatches on my phone as the poorly baby clings to me in her sleep. It’s fine. It’s fun! Life is easier now I’ve accepted that Me Time comes in minutes and seconds rather than days and hours.

Now I’m watching Lady Dynamite, a hilarious Netflix show about Maria Bamford’s descent into and recovery from mental illness. I recognise her flashbacks like they are mine; the raggedy clothes, the exhaustion, the social awkwardness, the confused friends, the keen attempts to use therapy strategy in real life situations, the staring, the blue winter light. You must watch it! Except you, mum, it’s very rude.

I get a lot of flak, usually from older people, for always having my phone in my pocket or on the counter or in the baby’s drooling maw, but it has honestly saved my sanity many times over during this hardest of hard years. Get a good smartphone, pregnant ladies, you won’t regret it.

Life coaching with Hugh

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During the Very Bad Times, I watched a lot of Hugh Jackman films. Nothing bad can happen to you when you watch a Hugh Jackman film, except The Prestige, which may cause your brain to unravel and is a massive outlier on the Jackmanograph.

Anyway, I always wanted to send a postcard to Hugh’s management company to see if I could get some Real World Motivational Words direct from the very man, but never got round to it due to lack of appropriate postcards. So now I just use Imaginary Hugh as my agony-aunt-slash-life-coach. He’s very good, you should try him.

Dear Hugh,

Since the birth of my infant, I’ve become a legit sugar-addict, and spend most weekdays gnawing on oversized bars of Dairy Milk or double-fisting Kellogg’s Krave straight from the box. What can I do?

Jenny

Imaginary Hugh says:

Mate, look at me. Look at my hulking frame and lustrous but manly hair. D’you think I eat Dairy Milk or Kellogg’s Krave or that new kind of KitKat with a double layer of chocolate on the outside? No way; and if you want to be awesome like me, you need to ditch the sugar and PROTEIN UP.

Fancy a biscuit? Grab a handful of cashews. Feel like sugary cereal? Cook some damn eggs and hoover them right up outta the pan. And if you need a snack on the go? Charge into the nearest leafy undergrowth, stalk and kill a small deer or other woodland mammal, then rip it in half and chow down as the scent of blood and raw fear soaks into your clothes and skin. Nice one.

Dear Hugh,

I thought I was pretty cool going along to the local baby and toddler group and mingling with unknown posh Bath ladies and their scary children. But when I got home I realised that my uncombed hair looked mad, I was sweating weirdly and the baby was in footie pyjamas at midday. Do you think I’ve made a poor first impression? Can I go back?

Jenny

Imaginary Hugh says:

Hey, get over yourself, lady. D’you think anyone cares what your kid is wearing? Or if they’d notice if your hair was combed or shaved off or straight-up on fire? Nah, those women have got their own troubles, not least their crazy-named kids. No one with their shit together is hanging out in a church basement on a Monday afternoon.

I’m an X-Man and a song ‘n’ dance man with a foxy older wife,  persistent boring rumours about my sexuality and my own line of ethical coffee. Do I give a crap what anyone thinks? Do I hell. Now shut up and have a skinless chicken breast. Yeah, I said ‘breast’, get over it.

Dear Hugh,

Sometimes, through lack of sleep, hormonal maelstrom and excessive Krave consumption, I find myself uncontrollably enraged by everyday life. I am often infuriated by dirty dishes, random cold callers, and Radio 4’s afternoon play.

Do you have any tips to help me manage my fury?

Imaginary Hugh says:

Sure, we all see the red mist now and then, I personally have been known to run naked through a secret military compound, impaling terrified soldiers with my mighty claws before slashing a hole in the wall and escaping with a roar, teeth ablaze and veins popping in the night air. You know how it is.

Have you tried riding a motorcycle dangerously yet sexily? Or cutting down a tree? Or cavorting in the surf as a paparazzo takes your photo from behind a koala? Or clutching an injured mutant and shouting ‘NOOOOOOO’ as your chest hair escapes your shirt? You just need to find your thing.

Good luck!

Thanks Hugh! You’ve been very helpful.

The imagined summaries of films I’ve missed at the cinema

I love the cinema but now have one loud, squirmy reason not to go any more. (The idea of those Big Scream screenings for baby parents are odd – does anyone really have a baby that’ll sit on their lap in a cinema for two hours? Mine would be chewing the seats and yelling to be put down on the sticky floor within five seconds.)

These are the films I’d probably have gone to see if I hadn’t procreated, plus how I imagine the experience would’ve been…

August 

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Tom Cruise is BACK as Ethan Hunt, in a film that is essentially a series of elaborate stunts strung together with drone footage of fancy cars screaming round mountains and braless women in improbable frocks. Everyone wears sunglasses and looks serious, except Simon Pegg, who wears sunglasses and looks like he’s been cast in a feature-length reboot of the Del Monte adverts. I love Simon Pegg and would totally watch that.

September

Inside Out

Inside Out happy meals! Inside Out cornflakes! Inside Out broadband adverts! You’ve been bombarded with the commercial tie-ins, now see the movie! Adorable characters with voices you can’t quite place have an adventure that you expect to be lighthearted but actually makes you question the very nature of your existence, like Toy Story 3. Too upsetting for the recently-pregnant.

October

The Martian

Matt Damon needs rescuing again. Will he be saved? Almost certainly! Now sit back and stick it to The Man by enjoying Flumps, the most lightweight and therefore budget-friendly Pic ‘n’ Mix item.

November

Spectre

Big chase on some unexpected form of transport, like a hovercraft or self-driving car or pogo stick. Gunfire. Explosion. Fade to… amazing title sequence, these days sadly nipple-free. Meeting in a dark room. Expensive watch. Perfunctory sex encounter. Brandscaping. Bad guy is more likeable than Bond but terrifying in some spooky unexpected way. Funny bit with Q. Bond gets kidnapped! But he escapes. Unexpected twist ending. Aerial shot of a European city. Bosh.

December

The Force Awakens

Han, Chewy, Leia, hairdresser, pedal bin; the gang’s all here, plus some other people you might care about later. Deeply glossy and lovely, although it’ll be hard to tell through your tears of nerdy joy.

January

In The Heart of the Sea

Do you like whales and hate boats? Then have I got the film for you! Possible game spinoff – Angry Whales.
Have you seen any of these movies? Or perhaps you’ve just imagined them? Let me know what you thought…

Heavens, know your Misérables now

Comprehensive spoilers for Les Misérables. Obviously.

I bloody love a bit of Les Misérables. Here’s a quick character review for those reluctant cinema-goers complaining that the film was hard to follow.*

*I’ve got nothing for those of you complaining that it was too long and melodramatic – LOL, welcome to musicals, n00bs!

Continue reading “Heavens, know your Misérables now”