With Avengers: Endgame here and the first salvo of Marvel films reaching their collective conclusion, the fanticipation (new word, copyrighting it) is humongous.
Ten years of connected movie tissue have brought the world to this point, and as media buzz and ticket sales reflect, the world and their cat will be lining up to see Ant-Man going into Thanos’s rear end, or something.
For long time comic fans (geeks) this should be a cultural zenith. Our beloved comic book events where all the characters smash together in a battle trifle, writ large on screen. Many years ago (after the first Iron Man film came out) I was speaking to a friend who’s married to a comic artist about how great it was. Her response was “we’ve won.” And this sentiment is true. For years comics weren’t cool, and I’ve touched on it before. As a lifelong fan the choice of media (past comics) is vast. There’s cartoons, games, movies and TV series; when before we only had the odd good thing here and there.
When the comic movie renaissance started, geeks (a term I loathe truthfully) were in a funny position. Civilians were getting into their thing, and we were turned into a fountain of all knowledge.
We’d stopped being the comics guy, and we’re now THE COMICS GUY. We could answer questions about backstory, recommend things to read and help explain significance of moments.
When this started, I embraced it. I could finally use the utter useless knowledge I kept in my head that prevented me being of use to the world. Now people would choose to ask for my advice, and not scream when I approached them.
Then the vocal angry comics folk started on their ‘real fan’ bullshit. Calling out new fans for not knowing what size undies Spider-Man wears, or what issue Batman swims through quicksand.
Male sports fan had been doing it for years when women would show an interest in their field. “You like NFL, eh? Who was the assistant quarterback coach to the 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers? AND WHAT WAS HIS FAVOURITE SANDWICH?”
Like most hardcore fans, this protectionist bullshit was just an excuse to keep people out of their world. Women, LGBT, people of colour – even kids. That knowing scoff, which showed their superiority over the uninitiated.
What Marvel Studios have done with their 22-movie epic is, so far, unparalleled. They’ve created a new universe. While there are some touchpoints and some moments that copy the comics directly; but they tread new ground. Where comics aren’t hampered by the same size limitations as two or three hours of film, the length of a movie is their only canvas.
Yes they’ve used a decade’s worth of movies to tell the story, but in a storytelling sense, it’s a fairly big limitation (compared to written media, or TV.)
This means that by going their own way those of us who were geek masters are often in the same boat as the folk who just watch the movies.
Having seen Endgame (no spoilers), I could not have predicted the course of the movie with my almost three decades of comics fandom. The brilliance of this is that geeks won’t hold their sway like before. Their opinion won’t be sacrosanct. Yes they’ll know more, but regular people have gotten to know these characters. As Stan Lee wanted, this universe is for everyone.
Today, my British Gas repair man started excitedly talking to me about Marvel. Instead of feeling outcast or lame, I realised what I love is now accepted. Like my friend said, we won.