Writer's note: So I was in talks with some people to start a tech website some time last year. I kind of wanted to add more to it though besides just discussing technology, being the resident geek in the group I mentioned I knew a few things about comics and science fiction and all that jazz. That said, the person who took charge (who we stupidly let take charge better said), basically asked everyone to submit a "post" for review by him and to determine if we would be writing for the site or whatnot. I came up with a post about The Avengers film, since it was still huge at the time and it was something that people were still gushing over. This is that post. If you all are wondering, the site fell through. Not because of a lack of dedication or anything, but the kid (since he was younger than all of us) who took charge ended up acting kind of tyrannical and megalomaniacal and pretty much treating everyone like crap. "Oh, your grandfather passed away. Condolences." He'd then turn around and say, "They aren't dedicated. Cut them off. No access at all." Things like that. (I actually have an email he sent me saying exactly that.) Anyway, myself and all the other guys and gals involved basically said "fuck this" and we bailed on the guy and left him holding the bag. The site died within a month and the rest of us have remained pretty close friends since. So something good came out of it. So here's what I wrote. Kinda lengthy. No pics, just words. Be gentle. It was my first serious attempt at writing ever. (Not counting having fun here on the Odeck and io9 and all that good stuff. Nor any of the short stories, poems, etc that I write for fun for myself and others.)
The Avengers: A Decade and a Dream in the Making
I was born in 1985. By the age of 3 I was reading anything and everything, I've been doing so ever since. Literally, you will never see me without a book or magazine or my phone or tablet (both of which are filled with books, magazines, comic books and graphic novels).
In addition to that, I grew up loving comic books and was born at just the right time for many excellent stories to be taking place even if I couldn't appreciate them at so young age. Of course, the '90s were right around the corner and my love for comics was fueled even more by literally the vast amounts of titles available from the big leaders in the comic industry (Marvel and DC) to some of the lesser known independent offerings straight from the creators themselves.
The '90s of course were a great time for all who were interested in comics but not necessarily for the same reasons. On the one hand you had the die-hard fans like myself of the issues, stories and characters themselves. On the other hand you had the people who saw comic books as a way to pay (almost) nothing now and get rich later. The latter are the people who nearly destroyed the comic book industry entirely and I despise them for it. (This of course is a topic I will cover at a later date.)
Having said that, there was one magazine anyone interested in comics read during the '90s and it was Wizard. If you had any kind of interest whatsoever, be it the latest rumors and upcoming storylines or just wanted to know the estimated value of any given issue you may have owned, you read Wizard. You just did. There was no better source around at the time as easy to find anywhere. It was literally sold in every single grocery store and Walmart you could walk into, making it easily accessible and instantly purchasable without the potential for shame or ridicule associated with walking into a comic shop. (Something that I always have taken umbrage with. In general too, not just about comics. It is for this reason that a part of me despises all the "geek chic" that has come about in the past few years. I have been a comic book reading and collecting and scifi aficionado ever since I was 3 years old. The ridicule I have had to endure has been massive, all in addition to the ridicule I faced every day for being unusually tall for my age, incredibly (and potentially unhealthily) skinny and wearing glasses. People who were shamed about their interests and hobbies like I was know what I'm talking about. As little as a decade ago we were being made fun of by people who now proudly wear Avengers t-shirts thanks to the movie being a hit or people wearing "I'm a gamer" retro looking shirts displaying Galaga aliens and what have you. But I digress, I'll save my thoughts on that for another post entirely. Likely a rant more than post, but if you went through what I went through as a child and teenager then you'll understand why I feel the way I do.)
As I said, Wizard was THE magazine to read about anything comic book related. It covered a variety of topics that fell under the subject but there was one that I will never forget and which any self-respecting comic book fan at the time will remember most (especially in light of recent events). It was the speculation of an "upcoming Avengers movie". Now, keep in mind that when I say "upcoming Avengers movie" I am talking about that being written in the leading comic related mainstream magazine during the 1990s. Literally at the height of comic collecting mania. Sadly, despite my relatively young age at the time, I and many die-hard comic book geeks knew one thing, it was never going to happen. Now, that isn't the same as saying we didn't want it to happen. Oh god, how we did! We just knew though that a comic book movie based on The Avengers was perhaps the most unlikely and improbable thing ever going to happen. Up until that point, the best comic turned into a movie was Batman (and Batman Returns). That was the pinnacle of a comic book turned into a mainstream Hollywood blockbuster movie. Every single other attempt to make a movie based off a comic up until that point was a huge and spectacular flop. Howard the Duck, The Flash, Captain America, etc etc etc. The list literally goes on. Only Batman resonated with cinema audiences the world ever. So it is with that list in mind that even as a young fan I just knew deep in my heart, as awesome as it would be to see The Avengers on the big screen, it would never happen, if it did it would fail on a level that would just kill my love and hopes for one day seeing a truly great comic book movie adaptation. I knew this even then. (What can I say, I'll always be a pessimist and cynic at heart.)
The rumors surrounding the film were minimal and vague. Nothing really beyond "Hollywood is going to make an Avengers movie, we will write more as this develops". Not much to get your hopes up or even fuel speculation, much less passing interest, but it was the bait on the hook for one day believing that we would see Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and all the rest on the big screen. If you'd told my young self that this was one day going to be a reality I'd have likely kicked you in the testicles for even daring to get my hopes up and for being a goddamn liar. I'd not have believed a word of it and you would most assuredly have regretted even looking in my direction, much less stating those words.
Fast forward to now and we have had some of the greatest comic movie adaptations ever made. The Avengers being the crown jewel on a long path Marvel has been working on and laying the groundwork over for going on nearly a decade now. It was the movie my young self always hoped for and never dare dreamt or even imagined he would one day see. It literally blew my mind and I felt like I was a ten year old all over again. (Roughly the age when I first read about the "upcoming" Avengers movie in Wizard.) It had all the characters we expected and a few we didn't. (An African American Nick Fury? Played by Samuel L. Jackson? The thought had never crossed our minds that Nick Fury would ever be anything but a grizzled Caucasian in a position of authority and with a level of respect not found for many in the Marvel Universe who weren't genuine superheroes.) I FUCKING LOVED IT!!!
I won't get to into discussing the movie itself, because I don't need to. We've all seen it. Literally. The movie was a hit the world over and it brought beloved and decades old comic book characters into the mainstream and made them accessible to a large number of people who would have died before ever bothering to pick up a comic book and read about the marvelous and wonderful and amazing deeds of these characters. I have a number of friends who've known me for years now who had no clue just how big a comic book fan I was and who've asked me my thoughts on the movies we've seen released in the past decade, which I gladly share with them. My best friend in particular questions me and routinely ask about characters and comics and anything and everything, knowing that of all the people he knows I'm the reigning expert and person to ask about anything and everything comic book related. He somehow had not seen The Avengers, despite my going on and on about it and telling him to every single time we'd hung out (which is literally every single day), until this week. When he picked me up to go for a drive and get some food it came up out of nowhere. "I finally saw The Avengers movie. It fucking kicked ass!" He then proceeded to tell me about all of his favorite scenes from the movie and of course they all happened to be the same exact scenes which are my favorites too. There are way too many to list, because the movie itself is one giant scene for me insofar as how much I love it completely, but the two he most enjoyed was Loki raising his voice at the Hulk and proudly and smugly trying to defuse the situation and the Hulk laying into him and treating him like a literal rag doll. Along with the scene in Germany, where Loki has everyone kneeling before him and the one old man, proudly and defiantly rising up from his knees and and telling Loki, "There are always men like you." At which point Loki sets about to make an example of him, "Look to your elder," he tells the people cowering before him. Leveling his staff in the man's direction and firing an energy burst, which erupts on the shield of none other than Captain fucking America himself who has literally dropped from the sky to shield this man from Loki's blast, who then points out that he's been in town before and the last time he was he met a man just like Loki, who he also didn't agree with. This scene defines everything makes Captain America perhaps the greatest hero in all of comic book history and most definitely in the Marvel Universe. (But this too is a topic I will save for a later date and expound upon greatly.) This scene resonated with my best friend, a person who wouldn't spare a thought or passing interest for any comic book or graphic novel. Until now.
It is for this reason and this reason alone that The Avengers is perhaps the single best and most important comic movie adaptation ever made. It has done what none before it have done, not even the Iron Man films (which did a wonderful job of making superhero movies relatable to average theater audiences and made superhero films genuinely fun to watch), it has made comic book films huge and easily understandable and appealing to even non comic fans. And to think, nearly a decade ago such a film would have been largely a flop at the box office and genuinely not possible to have been made. It boggles the mind for someone who grew up reading about these characters and longing (but not daring to hope) to see these same characters on the big screen. If there is anything that nearly brings a tear to my eye it's the simple fact that The Avengers is everything my ten year old self could have ever hoped for and then some. If I could build a time machine and go back and meet my young self and bring him with me just to see it in on the big screen the day it premiered then I most certainly would. I know he'd love it! But then again, of course I do, I am him.