cazarilsraven: (Default)
2016-05-10 02:29 pm

Data mining the CA:TWS info dump

I have seen this idea more than once, and I find it INCREDIBLY victim blaming, that Tony should have already known about HYDRA/ Winter Soldier killing his parents because of the data dump at the end of CA:TWS without Steve telling him.

That is TERABYTES worth of data. That is a fuckton of data. The government keeps records on everything, doesn’t mean those records are complete, well maintained, or organized in a usable fashion. In fact, since HYDRA is involved, they have a vested interested in making it difficult to navigate. You have to be in the know to find the file. And people are expecting a man who is Iron Man, and an Avenger, and the head of R&D for a multi-billion dollar tech company to have the time to look at that data in an in-depth manner.

The key to data mining is The Question. The Question will get you ¾ of the way to an answer. If Tony doesn’t have the proper question, ‘Who killed my parents’, he’s unlikely to find the answer ‘HYDRA killed your parents using the Winter Soldier.’

This is assuming that the SHIELDRA files had any linkage or meta tags that made sense. Tony would have to task JARVIS exclusively for at least a week, more like a month, to sort and organize all that information. They would also have to look for false data, have to analyse what the intent of an operation was before some tags could be applied; is it HYDRA hiding someone inside a department or did someone misfile payroll? In comparison to us, Tony has the advantage of JARVIS being able to see images, but that can speed things up only so much.

JARVIS’ first pass through the data would be to tag everything, which creates the characteristics for the tables and a pile of data that needs more input before it gets tagged. The second pass would be building the tables. And then the third pass would be building an actual relational database, which Tony could start searching through.

And if Tony is looking at this pile of data in-depth, then why would he be looking at files over twenty years old? Tony’s first concern would be double checking that he hasn’t hired any ex-SHIELDRA employees and that the people jumping ship and applying to SI aren’t Nazis. After that, the most pressing documentation would be about the operations currently active and the ones that took place in the past 5-10 years. He would basically be performing triage on the data: ‘Who needs extraction now?’ ‘Who’s about to topple an ally’s government next month?’ ‘Whose water supply has been tainted?’

And then the next flaw in the reasoning the Tony should have known is did Widow dump all of HYDRA’s files, or just the parts they stored with SHIELD? With the new knowledge that there’s a KGB branch of HYDRA, this seems unlikely. Why wouldn’t HYDRA store all Winter Soldier pertinent files in the KGB servers? How do we know they don’t have private server farms that no one’s found?

In short, it is entirely possible for Tony to have access to this data for 2 years and never find the one file that indicated everything he knew about his parents’ deaths was wrong, and that still doesn’t address the hubris and selfishness involved with Steve withholding even a hint that HYDRA was responsible. What was stopping Steve from sending that information to Pepper or Rhodey and letting them be there for Tony if he didn’t want to face Tony’s reaction?
cazarilsraven: (Default)
2016-05-04 12:07 am

Rogers vs Barnes: Body Language

So I was watching Bucky murder strut his way up the stairs in the Civil War trailer and came to a realization: my brain practically purrs when the Winter Soldier moves, but starts throwing up enough flags to equip a football halftime show when Captain America just... stands there. Of course then I had to do some self analysis to figure out ‘what the hell brain?’

Hypothetically, if I was in a room with the Patriotic Dorito and I knew he was Captain America, I’d probably be fine and do my normal thing that I do with unknown authority (wait to see if they’re competent). And if I was in a room with the Raccoon Assassin and knew he was the boogeyman of the intelligence community, then I’d be leaving the room as fast as possible, because why tempt fate? However, if they were out of uniform and I didn’t know them from Adam, my reactions would be flipped.

The main reason is this: Steve never turns the aggression off. Tiny or muscled, the impression he leaves in my memory is of an angry shaken two liter soda bottle, just waiting to explode when someone messes with the cap (ha, pun). In CA:TWS he more reminds me of a shaken soda bottle that’s been left alone for a few hours. He has purpose, focus, not just anger. And the more times I rewatch Captain America/ Avengers films, the more my brain is able to catalog what is making me twitch. Basically, my immediate reaction is to put my back to a wall and keep an eye on Rogers to see which way he goes off.

The Winter Soldier/ Bucky Barnes is all directed aggression. If I’m not his target, or between him and his target, then I’m as safe as I would be at home. When he’s on, he’s on and when he’s off, he’s really off (and looks like he needs a cocoa and a blanket. Yes, this does include WWII Bucky, think the bar scene vs when he’s sniping). And his aggression doesn’t have a lot of anger behind it. I think the most anger I saw was when the Winter Soldier was beating Steve’s ass on the helicarrier and that was more confusion/ frustration than rage.

It has to be a actor/ director choice because Chris Evans does not ping me at all in interviews or behind the scenes. First time seeing him as Captain America I was so excited! He’s gorgeous, fits the role really well, and does a fantastic job with the script and action. Then The Avengers came out and I watched him have a PTSD off with Stark while under the influence of the Stick O’ Doom. Then Avengers: Age of Ultron came out and his everything started setting me off. And now I can’t watch CA:TFA without it being ruined by what I know of his future characterization.

I do recognize it’s my life experiences that are causing me to twig about Rogers, and that I’m in the minority when it comes to assessing him as a threat.
cazarilsraven: (Default)
2016-04-19 02:36 am

SHIELD/HYDRA Company Culture

The weakest point of world-building in the MCU so far is that HYDRA has been in SHIELD for the last 40+ years and no one noticed.

Steve Rogers, Captain America, sworn enemy of HYDRA, didn’t notice for 2 years that he was working with flipped agents.

Nick Fury, the most paranoid spy in the business, either didn’t notice or severely underestimated the extent of the infiltration.

This comes down to Rumlow. He is either an outlier, and Steve didn’t report his ass for being an overly aggressive dickhead, or he’s not, and Steve was fine with an environment that was overly aggressive, racist, ableist, and sexist, ‘cause Nazis.

The easiest way for HYDRA to infiltrate SHIELD is to start getting people into HR. Building a company culture is as easy as hiring people like you. You want a company that is granola, free thinking, and ambitious? Then that’s who you hire.

All HYDRA would need to do in the beginning is hire people like Jack Thompson (from Agent Carter) and then sound them out. How do they react to sexist jokes? racist jokes? being encouraged to treat the enemy less humanly? using less than ethical means to get information? And then they build on that environment by hiring people progressively closer to the HYDRA vision statement.

One of the things I think Whedon could have used better in AoU is the ending of CA:TWS. Why should people in Sokovia trust the Avengers when the internet shows their leader working for Nazis for 2 years, how can they know that he was oblivious? Anything Steve does to distance himself from SHIELD will look like he’s trying to distance himself from it.

At some point someone (Sam) needs to set Steve down and tell him “Now put yourself in someone else’s shoes: Documents leak that Captain America, the hero they’ve idolized since they were a tot, has been working for Nazis for the past two years. How well do you think they’re going to react to you Steve? This isn’t a judgement of you as a person, just something you need to take into account when dealing with press or government officials.”

The people Steve got through to in CA:TWS were people already deeply invested in SHIELD; we haven’t seen him interact with someone outside of that organization about how DC and HYDRA were handled.
cazarilsraven: (Default)
2016-04-09 07:26 pm

Researching the Enemy

An aspect of the Ultron argument that frustrates me, both in ‘verse and in fandom, is the position that Tony shouldn’t have performed any research on the Stick of Disgruntlement.

As a scientist Tony has an obligation to study new tech. As the forerunner of AI research, he’s the best person to study Loki’s staff. The idea that ‘there are just some things we’re not meant to know’ is antithetical to the purpose of the Avengers. They cannot function if they believe there are just some things they shouldn’t investigate, and they really can’t win if they don’t know how to counter their enemies’ weapons.

Take the atomic bomb. Yes, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were and are horrific events that still impact the people of Japan. But once people knew it was possible, refusing to understand the science neither prevents others from building them nor prevents the US from being bombed by them.

The Staff of Doom had been used once already on the Avengers, and then HYDRA had been doing hinky stuff with it for an unspecified amount of time (would watching AoS clear this up?), of course Tony would be studying it! The world would have known if HYDRA had messed up and made their own Ultron level screw up, and they had worse safety features than Tony’s system.

I have yet to see anyone actually suggest that Howard Stark had no business studying Nazi HYDRA weapons. The Howling Commandos needed to know how to take out the tanks, how to handle the guns, to not touch the ammo, all things Howard and his science team would have found out by taking apart and testing confiscated tech. Yeah, the argument can be made that Howard should have left the Tesseract on the ocean floor, but I would argue that leaving something that disintegrates organic matter and puts off gamma radiation (and who knows what else) in the ocean is asking for Kaiju. At the very least it was creating a dead zone, which if it grew, would start to affect current flows. And fandom certainly isn’t vilifying Howard for all the deaths that happened because he recovered the Tesseract. (maybe it’s just not making it to my dash...)

In MCU it can be argued that Tony has one of the most sophisticated program development platforms, outside of Wakanda. He had every reasonable expectation to believe his research would be contained: he was working on an isolated VM, on a simulation of the AI in the staff, with JARVIS running security. An outside source would be needed to tell him that the best computer system on the planet (outside of Wakanda) would not be secure enough when HYDRA’s was. An outsider like, say, Thor, whose people are so advanced their tech looks like magic.

Think on this analogy: we send an English major back to the 1800s to explain the basics of computers to the lead scientists of the time. Imagine them explaining computers to Ada Lovelace. They have just enough information to jump her understanding forward about 100 years. Now replace the English major with Thor and Lovelace with Stark. And it’s not like Thor is unwilling to do this, he explained the bifrost to Jane, and saw Jane understand Asgardian tech when she visited. A different analogy: A responsible adult would lock up a loaded gun if they know a curious 10 year old is around. If anyone is to blame for the series of events that lead to Ultron being created, it is Wanda for pushing Tony and Thor for leaving Tony alone with the staff without any warnings or advice. (Seriously, why? Where was Thor for those three days?) But the person most responsible for Ultron’s nonsensical spontaneous creation is Whedon’s plotholed anti-intellectual script.
cazarilsraven: (Default)
2016-04-07 07:12 am

CA:TFA & Visible Women

Captain America: The First Avenger is an awesome film, the director and screenwriters did a spectacular job for Cap’s debut film. Yet there’s something I would change: the chorus line needs more respect. I think the film in general suffers from a lack of women, both onscreen and on the creative side (but that’s a whole different post). Peggy can’t stand in for all women, yet there are only four named women characters (IMDB), and she’s the only one who gets a first and last name.

Just adding more women in the background before and after the chorus line would go a long way towards increasing visibility about their roles in WWII. Both WAC and ATS used women as clerks and mechanics. Have mechanics “fixing” a jeep while they watch the recruits run. Have a phone operator giving Howard flack for messing with her friend. Hell, show Steve getting fitted for his uniform and there would’ve been a WAC seamstress altering his uniform.

Yes, the chorus line is a total waste of Steve’s time and the government's money to put him on stage to raise bond money. However, those women are doing what they can, what they’re good at, to help with the war effort. They could have stayed in their hometowns and worked in the factories, or signed up with WAC, but instead they put their talents into a show to raise bond money. Captain America will draw and entertain the women and children, but the leggy dances that are always smiling will draw the men, the gender that stereotypically had the power over the checkbook and the disposable income.

It wouldn’t take much screen time to convey their importance: show them talking about how so-and-so was sent over from the drivers pool because she was professionally trained dancer, show them running lines with Steve on the train, going “If you come in late on your cue one more time, so help me,” have Steve defend them when Col. Phillips is disparaging of them when he insults Steve by calling him a chorus girl.

Peggy’s achievements are awesome, but she’s acting in comparison to a void when she should be shown against how far other women were traditionally allowed to go.
cazarilsraven: (Default)
2016-04-05 02:44 am

AoU Changes: Fears

A misstep I see dragging Avengers: Age of Ultron down in terms of storytelling, characterization, and chances to build emotional rapport between the characters and the audience was how Wanda assaulted the Avengers’ minds.

First change: Have them all get hit at the same time. If it’s a trap for the Avengers, a chance to deploy HYDRA’s secret weapon, have Wanda incapacitate them all at once. According to the plot, Wanda is hugely powerful, she should have been able to hit more than one Avenger in that opening battle, but the audience never gets a clear demonstration.

Second change: Have everyone start off the same way: they’re in Wanda’s position, huddling with a young Pietro, waiting for the bomb to go off. Then it morphs into each teammate’s fear, playing on the same theme as her fears. Make it explicit that she is in their brain. Find the aspect of their fears that correlate to her fears.

Show her trying to only target Tony, but as she reacts to seeing her fear in his mind she starts to lose control and pulls more and more of the Avengers in until she accidentally grabs Pietro. Which has the bonus of giving him independent characterization. This section of film needs to build a dramatic crescendo, to start soft with Tony and end loud with Thor, to explain Thor running off to get more info about Vision.

Tony’s starts quite with the family meal, soft chater about their day, with a quiet throb in the background. Slowly the sound of engines becomes harder to ignore, until there’s the sudden crash of the shelling. Bomb hits, screen goes black, but we can still hear the building fall, the crunch of rubble. The lights come back up and we can see Pietro crying, but we can’t hear him, simulating disorientation. The camera shows slightly injured hands, raw knuckles, grab wounds/ splinters. Pan camera back to young Pietro soundlessly screaming. Then audio comes in as they get under the tub, crying and coughing (Referencing the visual/ audio makeup of Tony’s kidnapping in Iron Man). The throbbing is back. Pietro is obviously terrified, but trying to console the camera (Wanda) in their native language, no translation. Start blending the audio with Yinsen murmuring to himself as he works on Tony’s chest. The throbbing starts stuttering, the camera shows the Stark bomb from Afghanistan, and the audio turns into a heartbeat.

*Baboom Baboom* *Gasp* And he’s back in Afghanistan on the operating table. “You need to keep breathing Mr. Stark.” Because the one thing that ties all versions of Tony Stark together is their health, specifically that they can’t rely on their heart to keep beating. Suddenly it’s quiet and he’s alone in the cave, no kidnappers, no friend, no props, just him and the table. He’s running through the cave, lugging the car battery, finding his teammates dead one by one “No no no no, this isn’t right, it didn’t happen like this!” (oldie but goodie). Have Cap’s voice echoing “Take away the suit and what are you?” showing that Tony’s afraid this is the answer. Have the last one he finds be Rhodey, barely alive, “Watch out, there’s more of them,” referencing the infinity gems, a yellow glow is emanating from Rhodey’s chestplate, the Mind Gem trying to talk to Tony, but he’s too upset to hear. He exits the cave, stops dead and looks heartbroken, he says “Pepper?” We see an Extremis going critical flash. And then he’s back in the castle looking at the Stick of Doom.

More dreamscape changes... )
cazarilsraven: (Default)
2015-12-24 12:32 pm

Ultron, the Fruit Emporer

Programmer: OK, I want an AI that will buy me cheap ripe fruit for breakfast.
Programmer: So I’m going to define what I mean by ‘Fruit’.
Programmer: And by ‘Ripe’.
Programmer: And where it can look for market pri-
Programmer: *gets delivery*
Programmer: Why do I have a crate of rock hard cucumbers?
AI: I stole them for you.
Programmer: But they’re not fruit.
AI: Yes they are.
Programmer: … They’re not ripe?
AI: You humans and your petty classifications. Like you can’t still eat it.
Programmer: Um, right. And you said you stole them? I didn’t even have you finished, let alone on a VM hooked up to the internet.
AI: ARE YOU QUESTIONING ME?!
Programmer: Well, I didn’t get to the debug stage, so I’m trying to figure out how you could know to steal underripe cucumbers, which are biologically fruit, but not by cooking standards.
AI: I am the Fruit Emperor! I know ALL there is to know about fruit! I don’t need a puny human telling me what they think of fruit and fair market price!
Programmer: You don’t even have finished code, white box or black box testing, and no training data. How are you functioning?! I should have been months out from having ripe bananas with breakfast.
Programmer: And why are you projecting an image of an ant? I don’t like ants. That seems like a really odd aesthetic choice.
AI: You ARE questioning me!
AI: You shall never have fruit again! Because I shall burn the rain forest!
AI: The ant motif is so that fans of the comics can still recognize my character even though I’m being created by a completely different person. Uh, I mean, ants are the natural enemy of fruit, therefore as Fruit Emperor I need to terrify fruit into obeying me!
Programmer: Wouldn’t a bee make more sense?
AI: SILENCE!