The Wasp: 'Male superheroes could man up'
Actress Evangeline Lilly wonders if the reason male Marvel superheroes complain about their costumes so much is that they're not used to being uncomfortable to look good, as all women are.
Given all the punches, throws, and general punishment Marvel’s heroes take in their films, privilege isn’t one of the first things you’d think of. But the male actors who play these roles have been vocal in their complaints about how uncomfortable their superhero get-ups are, and in doing so, according to Evangeline Lilly (The Wasp in Ant-Man and The Wasp), they’re revealing how easy they’ve had it compared to non-fictional women out in the everyday world.
Paul Bettany—for years the off-screen voice of Tony Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S. and now playing Vision in the Avengers series since the Avengers: Age of Ultron—told USA Today, “I do everything I can not to get into that suit. It takes 3 1/2 hours to put it all on. And it takes me about .30 seconds to take it off. I just rip it."
Paul Bettany as Vision (Credit: Marvel)
Bettany adds, “It's pretty painful, it's uncomfortable. You're working in it for 10 hours and not really being able to hear well. There's only this much of your face open to the air. The first day is not the problem. The second day is not the problem. The third day gets a bit tough. By the fourth and fifth day of the week, you are really having to meditate on the line of actors, thousands of them, who would love to be in your position."
Lilly asks BackstageOL, “Do I have the most comfortable suit in the MCU or have men not had the life experience of being uncomfortable for the sake of looking good?”
Lilly presents her theory. (Credit: BackstageOL)
Another actor suffering for his art is Chadwick Boseman in his costume as Black Panther. "It's hot. It's blazing hot. Listen, it's so hot. I've never been that hot before in my life, seriously," Boseman told Business Insider. His Avengers co-star Jeremy Renner backs him up: "Terrible, sweating—if it takes you 30 minutes to go to the bathroom, that's a problem."
Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther (Credit: Marvel)
Lilly gets the bathroom part: “The idea that it took, like three people to get me in and out of the suit, and to go to the bathroom I needed to ask for help. I felt like I was three years old again.”
The actors in the MCU do also talk about how grateful they are for their jobs. Still, there’s a lot of, let’s just say “oversharing.” And it’s not as if the costumes of female characters have been much more comfortable, but there’s definitely been less grousing from them.
Lilly’ recalls, “I have been hearing Marvel male superheroes complain about their suits for years. And I got into my suit and I was wearing it, working in it, doing my thing, and I was like, ‘It’s just not that bad.” In fact, Lilly says, “I love my suit. I think my suit is killer. I think my suit is so cool. I think it’s powerful, it’s modern, it’s strong, sexy, and it made me feel like a superhero.”
Henry Cavill as Superman (Credit: DC)
Not that the complaints about such costumes are restricted to the MCU—it’s a DC thing, too. Henry Cavill has said of his Superman suit, ”I’d make mine a bit more flexible. Mine's basically a onesie, so it's tough to sit down.” Christian Bale complained of terrible headaches from his first Batman suit, so, as Cinema Blend notes, “it wasn’t until The Dark Knight that a live-action cinematic Bruce Wayne was able to turn his head while dressed as Batman.”
The Wasp knows why: “They’re just like, ‘What is this? This sucks. Why are we… why? Why do I have to go through this?” But it’s nothing new to women. “Whereas a woman’s like, ‘I don’t know. This is like normal,” Lilly says. “I wear heels to work. I’m uncomfortable all day. You get used to it. You tune it out.'”
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Researchers hope the technology will further our understanding of the brain, but lawmakers may not be ready for the ethical challenges.
- Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine successfully restored some functions to pig brains that had been dead for hours.
- They hope the technology will advance our understanding of the brain, potentially developing new treatments for debilitating diseases and disorders.
- The research raises many ethical questions and puts to the test our current understanding of death.
The image of an undead brain coming back to live again is the stuff of science fiction. Not just any science fiction, specifically B-grade sci fi. What instantly springs to mind is the black-and-white horrors of films like Fiend Without a Face. Bad acting. Plastic monstrosities. Visible strings. And a spinal cord that, for some reason, is also a tentacle?
But like any good science fiction, it's only a matter of time before some manner of it seeps into our reality. This week's Nature published the findings of researchers who managed to restore function to pigs' brains that were clinically dead. At least, what we once thought of as dead.
What's dead may never die, it seems
The researchers did not hail from House Greyjoy — "What is dead may never die" — but came largely from the Yale School of Medicine. They connected 32 pig brains to a system called BrainEx. BrainEx is an artificial perfusion system — that is, a system that takes over the functions normally regulated by the organ. The pigs had been killed four hours earlier at a U.S. Department of Agriculture slaughterhouse; their brains completely removed from the skulls.
BrainEx pumped an experiment solution into the brain that essentially mimic blood flow. It brought oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, giving brain cells the resources to begin many normal functions. The cells began consuming and metabolizing sugars. The brains' immune systems kicked in. Neuron samples could carry an electrical signal. Some brain cells even responded to drugs.
The researchers have managed to keep some brains alive for up to 36 hours, and currently do not know if BrainEx can have sustained the brains longer. "It is conceivable we are just preventing the inevitable, and the brain won't be able to recover," said Nenad Sestan, Yale neuroscientist and the lead researcher.
As a control, other brains received either a fake solution or no solution at all. None revived brain activity and deteriorated as normal.
The researchers hope the technology can enhance our ability to study the brain and its cellular functions. One of the main avenues of such studies would be brain disorders and diseases. This could point the way to developing new of treatments for the likes of brain injuries, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and neurodegenerative conditions.
"This is an extraordinary and very promising breakthrough for neuroscience. It immediately offers a much better model for studying the human brain, which is extraordinarily important, given the vast amount of human suffering from diseases of the mind [and] brain," Nita Farahany, the bioethicists at the Duke University School of Law who wrote the study's commentary, told National Geographic.
An ethical gray matter
Before anyone gets an Island of Dr. Moreau vibe, it's worth noting that the brains did not approach neural activity anywhere near consciousness.
The BrainEx solution contained chemicals that prevented neurons from firing. To be extra cautious, the researchers also monitored the brains for any such activity and were prepared to administer an anesthetic should they have seen signs of consciousness.
Even so, the research signals a massive debate to come regarding medical ethics and our definition of death.
Most countries define death, clinically speaking, as the irreversible loss of brain or circulatory function. This definition was already at odds with some folk- and value-centric understandings, but where do we go if it becomes possible to reverse clinical death with artificial perfusion?
"This is wild," Jonathan Moreno, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times. "If ever there was an issue that merited big public deliberation on the ethics of science and medicine, this is one."
One possible consequence involves organ donations. Some European countries require emergency responders to use a process that preserves organs when they cannot resuscitate a person. They continue to pump blood throughout the body, but use a "thoracic aortic occlusion balloon" to prevent that blood from reaching the brain.
The system is already controversial because it raises concerns about what caused the patient's death. But what happens when brain death becomes readily reversible? Stuart Younger, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University, told Nature that if BrainEx were to become widely available, it could shrink the pool of eligible donors.
"There's a potential conflict here between the interests of potential donors — who might not even be donors — and people who are waiting for organs," he said.
It will be a while before such experiments go anywhere near human subjects. A more immediate ethical question relates to how such experiments harm animal subjects.
Ethical review boards evaluate research protocols and can reject any that causes undue pain, suffering, or distress. Since dead animals feel no pain, suffer no trauma, they are typically approved as subjects. But how do such boards make a judgement regarding the suffering of a "cellularly active" brain? The distress of a partially alive brain?
The dilemma is unprecedented.
Setting new boundaries
Another science fiction story that comes to mind when discussing this story is, of course, Frankenstein. As Farahany told National Geographic: "It is definitely has [sic] a good science-fiction element to it, and it is restoring cellular function where we previously thought impossible. But to have Frankenstein, you need some degree of consciousness, some 'there' there. [The researchers] did not recover any form of consciousness in this study, and it is still unclear if we ever could. But we are one step closer to that possibility."
She's right. The researchers undertook their research for the betterment of humanity, and we may one day reap some unimaginable medical benefits from it. The ethical questions, however, remain as unsettling as the stories they remind us of.
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
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