Confession: I’m not a comic book fan. I’ll start this whole article by stating that point blank. I’m very up front and honest about that no matter what sort of geekery I am spewing at the moment. I need to underscore that right now though because the geekery I’m planning to discuss is Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) related.
See, about five years ago, I never ever would have imagined even going to a comic book themed film in the theaters. I grew up with DC heroes front and center for me. Superman and Batman were all over my television and in movie theaters and when I became a teenager/young adult, Lois and Clark captured my attention. So right there it sounds like I should be a comic book geek but I wasn’t. My enjoyment went no further than what happened to be on the screen in front of me. I never wanted to dive further.
So when I grew up and had a family, this wasn’t some deep love or affection that I carried with me and planned to transfer to my kids. (Like Star Wars for example. I devoured Star Wars completely and subsequently, so do my children.) The new films of Superman and Batman didn’t appeal to me. They were all darker than what I’d consider entertainment and really, I wasn’t engaged in any of the stories. Until this one comic book film that sucked me completely in.
Captain America: The First Avenger.
Now I’ll admit that I have friends who laugh at me about my enjoyment of this character, the stories, and the films. From what I can gather, most of them are in that place where I used to be. They grew up with Batman and Superman but would never imagine following it. Captain America changed all of that for me. The film was something I could share with my kids. It had a riveting story, but it wasn’t so dark or desperate that it was off putting. It was about hope. And a character that loved our country enough to put his life on the line. This was big stuff. And my kids don’t see that often enough in Hollywood. Their father was a career Air Force man, but more often than not, on film, those men are seen as the bad guys. Government baddies only following orders from bad leaders. This was a film that showed the same ideals my husband espoused every day. And the actor wasn’t someone in the headlines for being stupid. Key points for a mom.
This made me think that maybe I should give Thor a try and low and behold – same thing. Great principles. A character they can follow. An actor that understands he’s a role model. This, to me, is the ultimate equation for success. Families can enjoy the films together. The stories are moving enough for adults to love them and easy enough for kids (mine are 10-16) to follow. Now we haven’t been able to do that with the Iron Man movies. Tony’s stories have just remained a little too heavy for the kids. But they love him in Avengers and understand that one’s out of their reach.
So recently a friend has been telling me how disappointed in DC she has been. She grew up at the same time I did, but those characters were her Star Wars. She loved them and adored them and devoured everything to do with them. And now it feels like DC is destroying them. From my perspective, I can step back without emotion and agree. It looks like they’re going dark just to be edgy and dangerous. They’re destroying any part of that equation that would allow me to share their stories with my kids. And every day, they underscore that fact with a new trailer or tidbit that shows them going deeper and darker into some weird abyss of evil with their characters. Example? Check this.
The reality is that I don’t want that in my mind, let alone in my kids’ minds.
That’s why, in our house, we’re going to go see Avengers: Age of Ultron tonight. It’s the first time I’ve EVER bought tickets for a PG-13 film without having watched it first. You see, we’ve become a Marvel household. Our loyalty lies with Marvel and right now, it’s not up to them to earn it. It’s theirs to lose right now. They just need to stay on track with what they’re doing and they’ll easily keep it. And hopefully that way my children will be able to grow up with fun, engaging super hero stories that they can love and share with their kids.