Why America Needs The Superhero Movie
The other day, Ty Burr posted an article for the Boston Globe called “Why Superhero Movies Leave Me Cold”. You can find it here:
I should note, that while I am a sci fi elitist, a purist and a bit of a jerk when it comes to my genre of choice, I am also a fan. It is because I am a fan that I come down so hard on comic book companies and movie production teams to do it right. And, while I will almost surely find things wrong with every movie to come out, and while I know that I have to sit in a theater with mouth breathing idiots who think they know who Thor is just because they saw the movie, I know that in order for the genre to survive, we have to get Joe Windowlicker and his bratty kids who can’t shut up in the crowd to come see this movie or my genre will die.
I’m not just thinking for myself here, this is for the public good. America NEEDS the superhero now more than ever. Superheroes on the big screen are not a new phenomenon. They go back as far as the 1940s with old Superman and Batman serials before main features would start. And it is important to note this because almost every decade, the world has faced a situation that has threatened the US globally and forces us to think about what we need to do. We need to focus on the “good guys” because more often than not, we can easily find ourselves playing the villain role. Movies have taken on a life of their own since their inception. They are modes of escape for some, a canvas for indie film makers to make art, but also our current way of storytelling. Yes, before movies, they told stories by books and oral tales. Now in our days of facebooks and twitter, nooks and ipads, we have replaced that interaction with movies. It is then safe to say, that the superhero genre has now become our modern fairytale. It is the fantastic, it is the strange, and there is almost always a point to it.
I am sorry if Burr thinks that all superheros are dumb. I am sorry he thinks that grown ups don’t go to these movies anymore. Indeed, that is probably why I can never become a “film critic” and will just settle to be a critic of people, because I happen to like these movies. (Even if they are done bad). Burr does a good job of name dropping comic book characters and indie books in his article throughout the evolution of the comic, but I don’t think he knows what he talks about when he tries to put it together. Yes, Indie books have their place in comics. Yes superhero books do too. Yes the writing has gotten more complex over the years, so has our situations over the years. But a hero is more than just someone in a pajama suit (ugh I get tired of hearing people who want to make light of comic books as referring to heroes wearing “pajamas”). I tire of people saying that being a real hero is much more boring. We all know that, that’s why there are not a lot of heroes in the first place. The series must constantly change and evolve. Toby Maguire could not be the new Spider-man again. Sam Raimi was done with his trilogy. Now… it is time for someone else to take over. Why does the series need to reboot? Because the first Maguire Spiderman movie came out 10 years ago that’s why… let’s let someone else have a crack at one of the greatest iconic heroes of all time. If we didn’t keep rebooting hero movies, Ang Lee’s Hulk would have stayed as the current example of my favorite Marvel characters movie, and I’ll be damned if that happens.
Burr asks that if we know evil can’t be rid of the world by having Superman spinning the planet backward, then why waste time thinking about it. He states that an industry built on daydreams and wish fulfillment can be the motor of a billion dollar industry, then what are we NOT thinking about. And I say, the world does have problems, this is true, I address them in this blog all the time. I also address that in order for America to be great again. We need great examples. If we can teach our kids fundamentally good examples of doing the right thing, even if it is a guy in a costume, what is wrong with that? The world is tough. Our heroes need to be tougher than it.
Let me tell you a little bit about this kid. He grew up in a rural setting. There wasn’t much for him to do in the land of dirt. One day, his parents took him to see a little flick called “Empire Strikes Back”. He knew that no matter what happened in the coming months, like Luke Skywalker, when he was old enough, he was going to get the hell out of Karnes County and go out in the great big galaxy and make something of himself. As he got older, he got into comic books. The Avengers were his first book and he read it faithfully. One of his favorite characters, was Captain America, who always went with the motto that “One man can make a difference.” Another was The Incredible Hulk, which taught him that he wasn’t alone in his dual personalities against the world. He kept looking to the stars for the fantastic and the strange because the world around him was so dark, untrustworthy and cold. It stank with other people’s contentment of their situation, and he could not wait to prove he could do more. As time went on, this kid became a man. Spurred by the motto of Captain America believing one man can make a difference, he created his own zine. That zine grew into other zines, then he started to freelance write, that grew to a few other gigs, and now, that kid who became a man is an old man, he co owns this nationally recognized podcast, he interviews cool and interesting new people all the time, and he has truly become a self doer, small business owner, and loves what he does on his own terms. That’s the American success story right? Being your own boss and loving what you do?
Guess what? Captain America taught me that.