Just finished Marvel’s Moon Knight with my son last night. I thought the first half was kind of a snooze, but the second half really picked up the pace and (sort of) lived up to the amazing character in the comics. My son and I read a few of the older trades awhile back, and truly loved the Jeff Lemire run from a maybe two years ago. Going into the Marvel show we had expectations. Hearing that Oscar Isaac was playing the titular character got those expectations soaring, man. Amazing, intense actor and he had history with Marvel playing Apocalypse back in 2015. Sure that one didn’t end up all that well, but it wasn’t Isaac’s fault…
Anyways, overall I liked Moon Knight. And the post-credit scene gave me hope that the show could really improve if Marvel(Disney) chooses to continue on with Marc Spector.
Though looking back at all the past couple years worth of Marvel shows, movies, hype, and whatnot I just haven’t been that engaged with it all. Maybe it’s burnout or disappointment or the fact that I’ve just aged out of that world, but I’m close to being done with it all. I recently had this conversation with one of my best and oldest friends. He’s been pretty bummed with most of what’s come after the great 10-year run Marvel had starting in 2008 with the first Iron Man flick. He’ll occasionally mention “diversity” and “woke” and I kind of tune out. Him and I differ in our opinions when it comes to new movies attempting to be progressive and inclusive, not that he has a problem with a diverse and open-minded world. His biggest issue is that so much of it feels forced and hoisted upon us like we’re all a bunch of furrow-browed primates and that Big Brother is telling us we need to be more open-minded. It’s not coming from an organic and natural place. I don’t care if they’re trying to gear films towards more vast audiences, as long as they’re not alienating long time fans in the interim. Granted, you can’t please everyone and some people will just feel attacked personally when races, genders, and sexual orientations are changed in characters they see as being perfect the way the writers and illustrators created them.
But I digress. Back to my conversation with my friend.
So we were discussing recent film adaptations of comic books and how directors and Disney take liberties with changing things for the sake of the times. I explained it to him like this: I feel like I’ve been at this amazing party with people I know and love for a decade. But now I’m looking around and I don’t see anyone I know. Strange faces mingling and laughing, enjoying their drinks having smart, intellectual conversations that I’m just not a part of. I’m the old curmudgeon in the room and I think it’s time I quietly leave and let them have their fun. I’ve had mine for ten years, my son in tow, enjoying these amazing blockbuster films with these incredible performances, mind-blowing action and visuals, and tons of heart and emotional connection. It’s time I let them have their fun without me hanging around looking disappointed and confused. If they succeed and the movies pick up new fans from groups that didn’t feel they had a place in that world before then great. If the movies fall flat because nobody in those communities really wanted these movies in the first place? Well I guess that presumption of needing to change it up was wrong.
I think I’m just burnt out. Christ, I’m 48-years old and I’ve been watching and enjoying these franchise films since I was 4-years old starting with Star Wars. Between my son getting older, me getting older, and the whole “troll” scene of angry asshole fan bases turning these moments of diversity into a political hotbed I’m just done. Youtube couch warriors speculating a year prior to a film’s release that it’s garbage because they heard a character might be gay in the film, or they hate the lead actor, or they just want to mess with people,…no thanks.
I’ve watched these movies from the beginning because I just loved the escape. I loved being transported to another place and time. Where good fought evil, the dorky guy gets the beautiful girl, and things get blown up. I’m not there to solve the world’s problems or learn about social change. I’m in a galaxy far, far away from all of that. I also don’t go looking for things that aren’t there so I can feel disenfranchised as a long time fan. There have been some amazing shows and movies that were maligned by both trolls and regular folks who were swayed by trolls because of so-called political statements that weren’t there. Key words used and then all of a sudden this show is garbage. A recent adaptation or continuation of a much-loved graphic novel on a certain network was touted as political and deemed garbage by a certain group of online man-babies. I even thought “Hey, well that’s not right” before I even watched it myself. Once I did I couldn’t believe all the uproar. The show was brilliant and one of the best series I’ve seen in years. Hey, you want to close up your mind and not enjoy great art then go right ahead. But stop making things up that aren’t there and ruining it for others.
I guess what I’m saying is that I’m aging out and moving on from these movies. I’ve always divided my time between fun blockbuster films with arthouse stuff. And if I’m being honest, prior to my son getting into comics and the cinematic world of Marvel and DC I was more apt to watch Ingmar Bergman or Paul Thomas Anderson as opposed to George Lucas and Jon Favreau. Now that the boy is 17-years old he’s getting into the headier stuff. Refn, Scorsese, Coppola, as well as the Asters and Eggers and Cronenbergs are stuff we’re finding ourselves watching a lot more these days. I’m good with that.
And really, I’ll always have the books. I’ve got decades of comics and trades I can still enjoy and honestly enjoy more than the movies that often don’t add up to the source material they’re based on. I don’t think Marvel or DC will ever match that beautiful 10-year run between Iron Man and Avengers: Endgame. The right actors, directors, and all the continuity to make each movie fit perfectly with the next like a beautiful and ornate puzzle.
So why get upset when these newer films and shows aren’t hitting like what came before? Instead of being disappointed I’ll just be thankful I had such a special and beautiful experience to enjoy with my kids. Those Friday afternoon matinees watching these characters I’ve known for decades coming to life and seemingly doing these amazing things in the real world. How I imagined it would look growing up in my small, Indiana town. Now my son is seeing it and his mind is being blown much like mine was sitting in a dark movie theater watching Superman II and Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
And now, with characters popping up in new Marvel/DC/Lucasfilms content that mirror a more realistic view of where and who we are today, if those movies blow the mind of some kid or teen that can relate to who is on the screen and they feel represented and not so alone, then who am I(or anyone) to rain on their parade. We had our movies. Let those kids have theirs.