Saturday, May 11, 2013

I (almost) Wish I'd Never Read a Comic Book


Having just seen "Iron Man 3" this past weekend, something has been weighing heavily on my mind: how little I am enjoying modern "geek" culture. If you knew me well, you'd think this time would be the highlight of my life; I have always lived the kind of life that is celebrated on shows like "The Big Bang Theory"; I have dreamed of the days when comic book characters like Spider-Man and The Avengers would have movies in theaters that you actually enjoyed seeing. But sometimes I wonder: if I had never read a comic book, would I enjoy these movies more?

Iron Man 3 has, potentially, the largest and also the worst plot twist of any of the comic book based movies I've seen. The Mandarin, a longtime nemesis of Iron Man in the books, is reduced to a pathetic joke, and those of us who grew up reading comics became the "butt" of this joke about 2/3 through the movie. Worse, the advertisements for the movie play up both the Mandarin's role in the movie and Ben Kingsley's performance, knowing fanboys like myself would salivate at the possible scenarios that would play out. In hindsight, I don't recall seeing any Mandarin-related action in the commercials; however, one could argue that the concept was to tease and not to show. Now, I realize that they had nothing to show.

This single reveal in the movie cheapened the entire film for me; my interest in the film waned and I began to nitpick every event in the film from then on. Before that, I was enjoying myself and interested in where the story was going. (I won't spend too much more time nitpicking the film here) After talking to some friends who saw the movie, who are NOT comic book readers, they had an entirely different and positive response to the movie. Which has brought me to that question: if I had never read an Iron Man comic, would I also have enjoyed the movie?

Don't get me wrong. To this point, Marvel could almost do no wrong with their films. Despite making some significant changes (Sam Jackson as Nick Fury leaps to mind) from the source material I grew up with, these films have been tons of fun and really a joy for me to see. I'll always remember fighting back the urge to jump up and shout during the big finale of "The Avengers" as I realized the movie was everything I had dreamt of and hoped for.

I'll admit it: I'm jealous of the folks who can go to the movies and not dwell on whether or not it's "true to the source material." I am a massive Spider-Man fan who couldn't stomach seeing the most recent movie in theaters because the costume had been altered too much to suit me. After finally seeing it on DVD, I'm glad I didn't waste money on it. I called every event and twist that was about to happen, and groused about every incorrect moment. If I had never read a Spider-Man comic, would I have cared?

Perhaps I wouldn't have bothered to see the movie at all then...

...which begs another question: just who are they making these movies for, if not for people like me?

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