Superhero films are all the rage these days, aren’t they? Ben Afleck is now Batman, Ryan Reynolds is now Deadpool, and the movies staring these two gentlemen? Batman vs. Superman took home $181 million opening weekend, Deadpool took home $300 million worldwide.
Hollywood is in the middle of a superhero craze, it’s been this way since 2002. Every good Marvel and DC fan knows when their movies are due out in theaters all the way to 2020. For three hours, we can escape the world, and let our friends dole their brand of justice. We seem to enjoy the justice they bring, and just like the westerns of the 50’s and 60’s, we’re at least comforted to know the fictional town was saved from some apocalyptic warrior.
This is why these kinds of movies became popular after 9/11. Sure, superhero movies have been around forever. Hell, I was raised on Micheal Keaton as Batman, and Christopher Reeves as Superman. Yet, if you live in the “west,” your world changed on that warm, clear September day in 2001.
Our sense of justice changed. We were a nation at war, and the country had to rally again. We had been attacked, we needed Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, hell, the entire Justice League.
I remember working in a movie theater at the time of September 11th. Even in the small town I’m from, you still had jitters about being in public, for about the next few weeks. I remember it well, because Spiderman was about to be rebooted, with Toby McGwire. We had just got the movie poster, not two weeks before. It was Spiderman hanging between the Twin Towers, with that look of “go to sleep, New York. You are safe.” Of course, after 9/11, the movie studio demanded we take it down and return it. If you can find it on eBay, they are worth a lot of money.
It also has much to do with the fact that we are now the third, and some of us, fourth generation of comic book readers. It’s not uncommon to walk through grandpa’s attic, and see his Amazing Spiderman Collection, or through dad’s room, and see his Superman collection. We grew up on this, now, we’re the adults. Today, we celebrate everything that is comic books, with ComicCon’s all over the world. Cosplayers can make good money, just by dressing up and going to conventions.
Yet, every party needs a pooper. The Telegraph provides us one, with Rhymer Rigby. In his column, he points out that comic book movies are too dark for children, but too “dumb” for adults. This is where I point out, that I was reading about how European Labor Laws create terrorism, and how Millennials abandon “big government,” as they get older. However, I digress.
Mr. Rigby asks, “Can we all please grow up? Can we acknowledge that Marvel and DC have scraped right though the bottom of the barrel? Can we call time on superhero films? Films which are too dark for kids the comics were originally written for, yet too dumb for any thinking adult.”
He is partly correct. The original comics were for kids, but I think the only comics this guy ever read was the “Archie” comics. Don’t worry, the adventures of Archie and Jughead are not coming to a silver screen near you, any time soon.
Mr. Rigby goes on: “I know that the stock response to this is that there’s no reason you can’t use superheroes to examine dark, adult themes. No there is isn’t, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” To this, I argue, why shouldn’t we?
After all, was Captain America not basic war propaganda? Wasn’t his SOLE job to rally the kids behind the troops in World War Two? The very first issue of Captain America featured a front cover of our patriot punching Hitler.
When you read Captain America, you really wanted to cream those Nazi (and later Commie) bastards. Hell, even Superman went to fight the Nazis. Hell, Marvel began business as a propaganda arm during World War Two, known as “Timely Comics.” What is darker than war, Mr. Rigby?
Comics have always been used for social commentary, Mr. Rigby. Batman fought Ayatollah Khomeini, when The Joker was given an ambassadorship to the United Nations. What about “Ex Machina,” an alternate universe where a superhero prevents the second World Trade Center building from falling, or when Lex Luther became President of the United States?
Hell, Superman even tackled drug use, when he had to get one of his best friends sober. The Green Arrow ‘s sidekick used heroin for the longest time. Not to mention, how Batman comics always showed the gritter side of Gotham, to talk about poverty.
Mr. Rigby, I am a grown adult. I love my comic books. I love my superhero movies. I love my video games. Hell, on a Friday night, I will spend five to six hours becoming lost in the world of Fallout 4, or Borderlands 2. I know you don’t think that’s grown up, but look at what I’m NOT doing.
I’m not at a bar, being borderline rapey to a woman. I’m not getting blitzed out of my mind, oh which reminds me, you wrote an article on “How to Deal With a Killer Hangover at Work.” Yet, you didn’t ONCE tell those people, who are doing harm to themselves and others, to “grow up.” I suffer from depression, yet I’m not on every pill from A-Z, to deal with it. I’m not drinking and driving. I’m at home. Not harming a soul.
It’s great Mr. Rigby that you read books “that put pictures in your head,” and not on the page. I applaud you. I do the same thing. As a matter of fact, I just finished Elon Musk’s second biography by Ashlee Vance, and HIGHLY recommend it. However, I think it’s high time that people like you should re-examine that high horse you’re on. Maybe, it’s time to leave people alone, and let them spend their time enjoying what they want to do, instead of trying to decide for us.