Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Captain America is Getting Some (In the Fanfic)

What could be more appropriate for July 4th than Captain America?

If you've seen the movies a lot already, and you're wanting more, there's always the fan fiction. Of which there is a lot. I admit, I read it. And I got a little data curious over the weekend.* WARNING: Look away now if the idea of hot boy-on-boy superhero action makes you queasy, because there's a lot of such hotness in the fiction. (Also hot girl-on-girl, and girl-on-boy, and girl-on-boy-on-girl, and god-on-HULK-on-brother, etc, cuz it's ALL there.)

Surprisingly, the dreamy super-soldier Captain Rogers is not getting quite as much action as Tony Stark is. And there are a few other surprises in there, if you click around on this little chart.

Who's Sleeping With Whom?
Select an Avenger's bar to see who they are getting it on with in the fanfic by story count...
Count of Stories by Pair (Gray With Red)

Yes, that's right, even DEAD people are getting it on in these stories. Try clicking on Phil Coulson. If you were (like me) blind to suits over spandex, he's "Agent Phil" with the tie. His favorite bunk buddy is "Hawkeye" Clint Barton! I wasn't sure they ever even talked to each other until I rewatched Thor last night (Coulson stops Clint from shooting Thor when he #fails with the hammer in the plastic building; they seemed to be on a purely last-name basis, but what do I know!).

Thor and Loki seem to have it hot and heavy too, family issues aside -- hey, they're gods, they both make and break the rules.

I'm personally a little disappointed not to see more girls getting action here, but I am definitely down with the allure of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. All those muscles, all that antagonism to overcome! But there is surprisingly little lesbian romance in the archive. (Hang on, is there a "no two red heads" rule? Aren't they both red heads?)

But back to Tony and Steve... I dug a little further and discovered that their sexy love stories were pouring in well before the movie, as early as 2008. With the release of the movie, some new pairs got steamy, like Tony and Bruce, who really were so adorable playing with radiation together and poking each other (snicker). And there must be something in the comics about Phil Coulson and Clint Barton? It might get expensive to look into it. Perhaps I need to visit Jer Thorp('s comics collection).

But let's go back to Tony (again). He gets all the action, even if he doesn't wear spandex and look like a Norse god. And despite that unfortunate facial hair! Captain America has no serious contender for SO apart from Stark. Tony's a reformed weapons dealer, "genius, playboy, billionaire, philanthropist," who engineered his own superheroness, without any magic, medicine, or lab incidents. It's no surprise to me that men AND women love him, and he gets the bulk of the fan fiction. He's on top of the world, so of course he's on top of Steve Rogers! Tony Stark is a self-made superhero, and that's why he gets laid the most. In one of the best Tony lines ever, scifigrl47 has him saying:

"I somehow managed to get CAPTAIN AMERICA doing the horizontal mambo. Fuck you all, I win. I win everything."

And that's pretty much a real American hero talking.

*PS. I am not telling you where the stories live. The fiction database is suffering greatly from the load of Tony's authors and fans hitting it, and it keeps falling over. All this data was collected fairly manually at weird hours, and I had to squash hard my urge to crawl it properly and verify many hypotheses. Please don't try this yourself.


Linds said...

Interesting stats. The graph depicting the rise and fall of those three pairings in conjunction to the movie was interesting. I would bet that first up kick in feb/march was from the trailers.

I'm 99% sure I know which archive you're talking about and it has been having some issues with influx. That said, it's one of the best on the net content wise. On another note, I've found that m/m trounces f/f in fanfic across many fanbases.

Lynn said...

Hi Linds,

Trailers, but also (I've now been told) that there were tie-in comics between Thor and Avengers movies that set up the Barton/Coulson thing, so now this makes some sense to me.

Yes, you're right about m/m - I didn't even want to get into trying to explain that (and the female base of fanfic readers) in this post. :-) But it's kind of cool how often Pepper/Natasha are showing up as a background couple in stories I'm hitting now. So their numbers might increase.

Thanks for the comment!

Linds said...

There's probably enough material to write a thesis regarding the predominance of m/m and the female fanbase (let alone a blog post). I didn't know that about the tie-in comics, though. I had wondered about why the Barton/Coulson pairing was so strong.

I too have seen a lot of Pepper/Natasha as a side pairing, which is pretty cool. Having a larger breath of fictional female characters in tv and film would probably help. I think part of the reason why m/m is so prevalent is that so many of the strongest relationships with tension/antagonism/or that certain camaraderie (i.e. Sherlock) that make it so easy to ship center around two men.

Off the top of my head, I can only think of one show with two main female leads like that--Rizzoli and Isles (hulu's The Morning After keeps referring to it as a romantic comedy instead of a drama as a bit of a joke). Though I have seen quite a few stories for The Devil Wears Prada pairing Miranda/Andy.

Lynn said...

Hi again,
I think there ARE a lot of PhD dissertations on the m/m popularity, and certainly the gender dynamics of tv/film that lead to fanfic. Early books on it included Camille Bacon-Smith, Henry Jenkins, Constance Penley, and even a famous Joanna Russ Trek article about K/S.

I have seen a shift in the past few years towards more threesomes with women, because (I think) of stronger women characters that the authors didn't feel they could easily "get rid of" in the fic. White Collar is a good example there.