I know, I know. I’m profaning sacred ground here. Once upon a time, and a very long time ago it was, the teenage boys (and occasional girls) who grew into adults and kept on reading superhero comics were viewed as oddballs or outcasts. When Hollywood began to rediscover the pioneering DC and Marvel superheroes of the 20th century, it was refreshing and delightful at first, and for a while: the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, Tim Burton’s “Batman,” Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, the X-Men series. All were lots of fun, all descended into fatal decadence — as exemplified by Joel Schumacher’s “Batman & Robin,” quite possibly the worst film ever made in any language or tradition — all have since been zombified and ripped from the grave for another go-round, with emphatically mixed results. There’s nothing new about any of that, arguably. One of the defining characteristics of Batman and Superman and all their kind is their malleability, their immortality, their apparently endless recyclability.
But for the love of Christ, at what point is the triumph of comic-book culture sufficient? Those one-time comic-book pariahs are now the dominant force in pop-culture entertainment, and their works are deemed to be not just big but also relevant and important, much the way that Cecil B. DeMille’s crap-history spectacles were in another day.And this from Freddie DeBoer:
I look forward with interest to the Avengers, but Andrew O'Hehir is perfectly right about the continued pretense that comic book fans are somehow an oppressed minority. You can't have the biggest movie of all times made for you and continue to complain that you're marginalized.Years ago (literally 20 years ago) when I read comic books daily, I was obsessed with the X-Men. Like so many of my peers, I role-played (usually I was Wolverine, occasionally Gambit). Here's some fun tidbits for you: Wolverine actually had bone claws all along, and they were coated with adamantium when he got his adamantium skeleton. He had a wife, but when she died, his healing factor was so powerful that it "healed" the nerves in his brain and made him forget he was ever married. At one point Magneto literally ripped the adamanium out of Wolverine. It then turned out that Wolvie's healing factor was way stronger, but the constant biocompatibility battle his body had been in against the adamantium had weakened it. After the adamantium was gone, he was essentially indestructible. For a time he becomes one of Apocalypse' Four Horseman, mutates into a feral monster, and eventually rejoins the X-Men.
Did you read all the way through that? Do you want to have sex with me now? Knowing that stuff in 1992 made me an outcast. Since then, there have been 3 X-Men movies and a Wolverine "origins" movie (which resembled nothing of Wolverine's comic book origin). So four movies have come and gone which allowed mainstream America to accept nerd-lore. Do you really think that if I were sitting at a bar with some friends and started babbling excitedly about the Extremis Virus and its potential to be in Iron Man 3 that people would care? Can I now pick up chicks with my exhaustive knowledge of Tony Stark's background? If I told a girl she was "prettier than Bethany Cabe" would she take it as a compliment or wonder what the hell I was talking about?
They'd care, only if they were nerds too. Most people would politely stay quiet until I was done and promptly not care. What Andrew and Freddie aren't admitting is that the genre of the nerds is being hopelessly prostituted by Hollywood. We comic-book nerds go along with it because we literally spent years of our life daydreaming about an impossible fantasy where The Avengers became a movie. But when America's May Avengers Bender is over, and everyone goes back home and waits for Prometheus or Dark Knight Rises or Dark Shadows or Brave or Ice Age 9 or Madagascar 5 or whatever else goes through this summer's pipeline, those of us who still buy Invincible Iron Man and Avengers vs. Xmen on Tuesdays will be left alone again, like we were before CGI advanced to the point that mainstream America could stomach Marvel/DC movies.
Look, we nerds are really happy society has turned to our beloved genre for entertainment. We always found it entertaining. Welcome aboard. But O'Hehir is kidding himself if he thinks society has welcomed us in as well. Did you know that "Jarvis" the A.I. construct in the films Iron Man and Iron Man 2 wasn't in the comics, but was a bastardization of Tony Stark's butler, Edwin Jarvis? Do you really care? If I tried to start a discussion with you about how the origin story of Iron Man was based on a battery powered suit, not an arc reactor powered one...how long could I keep your attention?
"Hey nerd! I was gonna kick your ass when I saw you reading Daredevil comic books, but now that Daredevil the movie has come out, instead I'm going to acknowledge you as my equal." - said no one ever.