Opinion on the discussion of Hell in the Immortal Hulk?
There are places in the universe made of red rock and flame.
Built for the torment of souls.
But these places are not Hell. They were only places.
Hell is not a place.
Hell is the absence of God.
Not atheism. A thing cannot be absent if it was never there.
To be truly absent, God must have once been present.
God must have a face, in order to turn it away from you.
Is this heresy?
Not heresy at all. Very accurate. Hell is the absence of God. Incredible Hulk is Incredible Catholic. P0g.
Without spoilers, I want to say one thing about Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and the whole Ghostbusters franchise: it was made for the autistic community by an autistic person, aka Dan Aykroyd and it shows. It comes across so beautifully in writing and on screen.
Let me explain: the movie came about as a direct result of Dan Aykroyd's hyperfixation and special interest in the paranormal, he's said so himself many times. Aykroyd wrote Ray Stantz as he would embody himself on screen. He's said that. Ray is an extension of himself. Therefore, and naturally, Ray is autistic.
Unlike other depictions of autistic people in media, Ray comes across as likeable and honest. He reads well as a character without diminishing his autistic traits; he's witty, bubbly and excitable about his hyperfixation in parapsychology.
Ray is slightly clumsy, optimistic and slightly dim sometimes. He's the autistic person that is never depicted in media. He doesn't show the stereotypical traits but he is so evidently still autistic. He lacks eye contact and is quite stiff in his motor movements, and his voice is often monotone. But he expresses his excitement through his movements and facial expressions all the same.
And Egon, by extension of that, is a character that a lot of people on the Autism Spectrum relate to - myself heavily included. He portrays a lot of autistic traits but he, also, doesn't come across as unlikeable. He's grounded, well-versed, understands emotions and is shown to be empathetic - even when he doesn't overly understand social cues (for example, when he's comforting Janine in the first movie).
Egon is shown to have a strong connection and relationship with his colleagues and friends, he's witty and uses playful humour in social situations. He understands sarcasm and he's reserved in his use of it. He's adverse to physical touch but he does use it when needed. He's exactly the same as I am. And that's why I hold him so close to my heart.
The connection between Ray and Egon was always really special; they bounced off of one another and finished one another's thoughts. They were able to communicate with each other in good flow always appeared to be on the same wavelength. This is common in a lot of neurodivergent people; we are able to connect in a way that we can't with neurotypicals.
What Afterlife did was - SPOILERS FOR AFTERLIFE FROM HERE ON IN - give us a fresh outlook on autism through Phoebe. Though it is not stated she is autistic, it is evident that she may be on the spectrum. Phoebe's mum describes her as suffering from "bad co-ordination", and is constantly trying to help her open up and converse with people, which her brother says is "bad advice". This sort of comment is something that auties have heard our entire lives. Seeing Phoebe on screen felt like looking into a mirror into my life and it was so, so important.
Phoebe is shown to be a fantastic scientist, which is depicted as her special interest, and is shown to struggle in other subjects and with other issues. She is shown to be well-versed and straight-forward, just like her Grandfather. Phoebe says that she "exhibits emotions differently" to other people but feels them all the same - which is a common misunderstanding with autistic people.
I think what is also incredible about Afterlife is that everyone is aware of Phoebe's struggles, but she's labeled as a "gifted, intelligent kid" by Paul Rudd's character - even after her mum just listed all the things she struggles with. That's because even now - in 2021 - a female exhibiting all of these traits is unlikely to be diagnosed until later in life. Because autistic traits in women aren't shown to be an issue to people because we know how to mask. Phoebe is still developing into a young person, and her mum dismisses these issues she has because she is intelligent. That's a real issue.
Egon, on the other hand, as a person with the exact same traits, was labeled as a weirdo and outcast. That's a whole other issue.
And it was all so well-written. I love this franchise so much.
Overall, Ghostbusters is the perfect autism representation and I will NEVER shut up about it.
All three of these characters are so well loved, even by neurotypical people, and it's because they're a very raw and very real depiction of an autistic person written by an autistic person. Autism was less understood in the 1980's, so it's no surprise that it wasn't explicitly stated, but I think that adds to the magic. I think it's wonderful that autistic people like me are able to connect with these characters in a way that allistic people never could. That's what makes Ghostbusters such a beautiful franchise for people on the Spectrum.
And we owe it all to Dan Aykroyd and his hyperfixation all those years ago.
"It's gonna kill them when they realize we're not dead."
It takes a lot to startle Natasha, but Tony Stark has been nothing but persistent since the day they met. "What are you talking about?"
"We're not dead," Tony repeats easily, though he isn't making eye contact. He gazes out into the fields where the sun is sitting on the horizon.
"Hear me out. What is this? Where are we? Is this the afterlife?"
"What else would it be?"
"I've been led to believe someone was supposed to, I don't know, greet us? Guide us somewhere?"
"Maybe this is it."
"Pretty sure the afterlife is supposed to be white and glowy, not orange."
"It's very serene."
"Okay, then. Where is everyone? What happened to meeting my loved ones? Mom?" he calls out towards the fields as if he's looking for someone. "Mom! Are you out here? You'll never guess what I just did! Saved the universe. Way more impressive than the blue ribbon on that potato battery.”
Natasha punches him in the arm.
“Yes, fine. I’ve never made a potato battery. Wanted to, though. Briefly,” he insists. “Don't tell me you haven't lost anyone.”
"What do you want me to say?" If she were being honest, she was more worried about the people she had left behind. Tony seems to read her mind.
"And I was promised omnipotence, too. How's it going in the land of the living? It's killing me."
Natasha didn't reply. She had been disappointed by this, too.
"There's no one I'd rather be here with, Nat. You know that's the truth. But why us? Why are we here together?"
"There's no reason. We're just dead, Tony."
"We're different. For some reason, we are different."
"Lots of people died."
"It’s only you and me here. Only you and I died directly for the stones."
"I died falling from a cliff."
"You died for a magic orange stone."
Natasha can’t believe he’s pushing this.
"Grimace explicitly wanted to off half of the universe with the stones, and whatever he, they did―even he couldn't make it keep. No matter how bad he wanted it, we wanted it more. We canceled it, we brought them back.”
"Control-Z. No, wait: control-alt-delete.”
"Maybe the stones can't actually kill, Natasha! Maybe they just,” he makes wiggly hand gestures, “Shift. Transfer energy.”
“Sounds like you’ve got this all figured out. Based on—what, the t that there aren’t any pearly gates and fluffy white clouds like a cheesy 80s movie?”
“Very rich coming from someone who asked me to invent time travel citing Back to the Future.”
“If I had known Lang was going to do that, I’d have left him in the car.” Natasha sighs, but her lips threaten to twitch at one side. She cannot believe they’d done that. “There are… so many holes in this logic.”
He leans back on his hands, stroking the grass. “Try me.”
They go back and forth for a while. Could be hours, but could be longer; they don’t have much of a concept of time anymore, with the sun perpetually setting (or rising?) on the horizon, lighting the world orange as far as they can see.
“Our deaths were different, Tony, from everyone else’s,” Natasha insists exhaustedly, even though she wants so badly to believe him. She really does. “We weren’t snapped, we were broken. Physically. For all we know, Thanos just worded his request wrong enough for us to stumble on a loophole. But we both intended to die. For all we know, it’s impossible! How can we…” Natasha searches deep into Tony’s eyes, and he meets her back just as intensely. “We don’t even have the stones. How would we even try?”
Before the time heist, she hadn’t seen Tony in years. She forgot how intense, how enrapturing his eyes were. How—infuriatingly stubborn. “Same way we invented time travel and that batshit plan to bring everyone else back: think about family and get the fuck to work.”
Well. When you put it that way.