I've often joked that the only thing keeping me alive the next movie/book/comic/episode in a series. Under that joke is a morbid realization that maybe I won't make it to the next one, that I'll die without having seen the new Planet of the Apes or The Avengers: Age of Ultron. I know that's a minor thing - there are so many more important things I'll be missing out on if I died today - but it's tangible. It's a small detail that puts mortality into focus.
Stratford Caldecott has that focus. He's the guy dressed as Tony Stark in the picture above, taken at his 60th birthday party, which was superhero-themed. He was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in October of 2011 and the disease has now hit the final stages. He has maybe 12 weeks left. He's been very sick, too sick to go to the movies. Too sick to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. See, Stratford is a comic book nerd, and he's been collecting his whole life. Strat's been there for the entire Marvel age of comics, from the first issue of Fantastic Four to a world where The Avengers is one of the biggest movies ever made. He's seen the whole sweep of this crazy arc of comic book dominance - although he won't see the end.
Strat just wants to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and it doesn't look like he'll make it to the August home video release. His daughter has been trying to get Marvel to send him a copy of the movie, and she's enlisted the Avengers actors to help. They've been taking pictures of themselves supporting Stratford getting a chance to see one last Marvel movie before he dies.
They're still hoping to get Scarlett Johansson
and Jeremy Renner to pitch in. Sebastian Stan and Hayley Atwell have, as have the Agents of SHIELD actors.
I know a story about a guy who was dying back in 2003; he wasn't going to make it to see The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. This was a guy who spoke Elvish, you know? And it worked out and he was able to see, from his hospital bed, an unfinished and rough cut of the movie. I don't know how public that story is, but it really moved me. It's not a big wish, but it's one I can really understand.
We don't deal with death well in this culture. Even Samuel L Jackson's tweet to Stratford says to fight on; Strat's fight is done, and that's okay. We all go. It's nice to think that before he does he'll get this one thing he wants. And having seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I know it's going to make Strat happy.
If you feel like helping out just tweet #capforstrat to @Marvel.
UPDATE: Amazing news. Strat's daughter wrote to HuffPo to say Marvel will show him the movie.
“We've actually achieved what we wanted to achieve in that Marvel have got in touch and are going to arrange for dad to see The Winter Soldier at home, hopefully next week. And the selfies of support for him from the cast are just a wonderful cherry on top that are making him smile. I'm going to get them all printed out and stick them by his bed for when times get tougher.”