A fine, sophisticated gent across the pond has declared that “No Self Respecting Adult Should Buy Comic Books or Watch Superhero Movies“.
Yes, that’s a clickbaity as fuck title, and it is his opinion, but I’ll take the bait and share MY opinion on HIS opinion.
And his opinion can go into the fucking sea. And stay there.
A little background: I’m a geek. I like RPGs, in video games and pen and paper. I go to conventions. I’ve been even known to cosplay…a little.
While I’m anxious in theatre spaces and don’t get out much, I do like the superhero movies I have seen (and frankly, I’m waiting for Deadpool to be available on streaming). And I really fucking LOVED The Force Awakens. I’m 35 years old.
My partner is in his 50s and currently playing the remaster of Final Fantasy X, has a bunch of TFA figures (including two different Reys, much to my delight), and a crapton of Disney Infinity figures. And that’s only the tip of the geeky iceberg that is him.
So yeah, Mr. Sophisticated would find us childish. Which is weird, because said partner has a mortgage and works 40 hours a week and all that “grown up” shit so he can afford all this geeky stuff (and helps me afford that damned fabric for that fucking cosplay). When I could work, I paid rent and had bills and all that shit – and purchased games.
This article is filled with delightful snobbishness and so much “getting it wrong” that I can’t even get mad. I just laugh at the odd analogies like this:
Let’s use a food analogy. It’s like making hamburger out of Wagu beef mixed with foie gras and then serving it in a toasted brioche bun and topping it with artisan cheddar, oak-cured bacon and hand-brined pickles. Sure, the end result will be good but it will be kind of “stupid-good,” the ultimate expression of something quite dumb. A cassoulet made with far cheaper ingredients would be a better, more sophisticated and more satisfying dish by almost any yardstick.
First of all, I would fight a motherfucker for that burger. I have no idea why he would call it “stupid-good” and compare it to what amounts to fancy French pork and beans (which also sounds damn delicious, but I can be a condescending food snob too).
Secondly, maybe I just can’t achieve the level of smart this guy has, but I don’t get the point of this analogy. The burger sounds good, the cassoulet sounds good. Hell, the burger sounds like something you’d find in one of those white tablecloth, nothing under $30 except for teensy appetizers, too rich for my blood restaurants. Maybe, just maybe, different strokes for different strokes and all that?
Got it? Good. Now back to mocking this bullshit.
Way back in 1989, I quite liked the first modern Batman film – and yet now I curse it. When it was released, it was genuinely interesting and different. A superhero film with highbrow-ish director, a dark feel and adult themes. It was a huge success and I don’t begrudge it that. The trouble is it spawned the superhero-filled-multiplex-hell we currently live in.
You are talking about Tim Burton, who did Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and Bettlejuice before this, right? I’m not saying he’s not a good director (pre-“let’s throw Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in everything” stage). Those were great films, but let’s face it, they’re not exactly deep and ‘sophisticated’.
Does this really matter? The answer is that it doesn’t if your dumbed-up burger is just another dish on the menu. But it does matter if your local French and Italian joints have been shut down and replaced by an entire street of huge dumbed-up burger restaurants. It matters if you live in a town where the only dish on the menu is dumbed-up burgers. Now, ask yourself how many superhero films your local cinema is currently playing.
Um, here’s the listing at the theatre I enjoy going to (it has a VIP section with booze and no kids!):
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
- The Divergent Series: Allegiant
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
- Miracles from Heaven
- 10 Cloverfield Lane
- London Has Fallen
- Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
- The Perfect Match
- In Their Own Words: The Tuskegee Airmen
So that’s two superhero movies, one children’s movie, one based on a book movie, one Christian drama, one psychological thriller, one action thriller, two comedies, one romantic film, and one documentary.
Not exactly a deluge of superheroes. Hell, there’s even a documentary for the “highbrow” types. (And seriously, just because BvS tanked doesn’t mean we’ve reached the bottom of the barrel. It just means DC really REALLY need to do fucking better).
Of course, I know there’s a business case for it. I understand that big franchise films come with built in branding. I get that, if you went to see Iron Man, you may well go and see Iron Man 2 all the way through to Iron Man 47. I know these films do well in increasingly important markets like China because they’re easy to dub (a total lack of nuance helps).
Iron Man? The series that includes Iron Man 3, which deals with the aftermath and trauma of a near death experience? That has a ‘total lack of nuance’? Whut, I say, whut?
There’s more misunderstanding of these movies and their source material that pretty much screams “Either I have never read a comic book in my life” or “I may have read a few, but I’ve not bothered to think of them too much”.
See, these movies are popcorn summer (most of the time) blockbusters. Most have made mad bank. But they also deal with some pretty serious themes. Alienation, bigotry, “with great power comes great responsibility”, the aforementioned PSTD, betrayal, I could go on. He mentions two “better” movies whose plots and themes aren’t all that different from at least two of these “dumbed up” movies.
Sicario – Fish out of water must join a big ol’ conflict
Captain America: Winter Solider – Fish out of water must join a big’ conflict. And if we’re talking about Bucky, it’s fish out of water brainwashed into BEING the big conflict.
A Most Wanted Man – An outsider forced to join or finds themselves in a big conflict
X-Men – An outsider finds themselves in a huge ass conflict (that would be Wolverine, for those who’d forgotten that plot)
Just because there’s tight costumes and action sequences (and I’m assuming both of those mentioned movies have them in there too) and CGI and are big and loud, doesn’t mean there’s a lack of meaning in them.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some big and loud movies that are just big and loud, the Expendables series and Pacific Rim immediately come to mind, but they have something else that draws fans.
Dude, don’t you remember fun? Yeah, comic books stopped doing it for you when you were a teenager, but don’t you remember enjoying them? Why do we have to give up that same sense of ‘fun’ when we’re adults? Why shrug off hobbies that we enjoy? Because that’s what “grown ups” do?
And yes, I know Persepolis started as a graphic novel – and very good it is too. But it’s an exception to the general rule that if you need to shave, you should be reading books where you have to make the pictures in your own head.
General rule, since when? Who made this rule, other than your dad? Because I and far too many other adults have been flipping the bird to that and other “rules” adults must follow be considered an adult for ages. So I should just delete my games, close my Steam and GOG accounts and crack open a thick book (spoiler: I somehow manage to do both in this reality) just because I’m in my 30s and some “intellectual snob” says so?
And then he mentions Netflix, because you can read all the time haha. You want superhero shows with meaning and themes and artistic whatevers? Jessica Jones and Daredevil will knock your socks off if you bother to get past the ‘superhero’ part.
You don’t have to, of course, but damn, quit trying to harsh our squee.
(oh and by the way, you include South Park in the grouping of acceptable forms of entertainment. South Park. Fucking SOUTH PARK. Have you seen the movie? If you happen to find a show that involves a black kid named Token, a pot smoking towel, and a fucking talking bit of poop proper entertainment for ‘self-respecting’ adults, then you really have no business telling anyone else to grow up. Honey, please)