When I was younger, I loved superheroes, namely Batman. Before nerds come for my throat, I’m aware Batman isn’t Marvel — holster your angry thumbs. I loved Batman and continue to do so. I’ve even got the Joker and Harley Quinn tattooed in the art style of the Batman cartoon from my youth. So, to an extent, I bought into the superhero world. I kept up with the movies which came out with no particular frequency. I was a kid, even the dumb movies were good to me. That was before Marvel started churning out movies as though they were trying to occupy cinemas.
I stopped keeping up with these movies a long time ago, making an exception for the Guardians of the Galaxy movies — I’m a sucker for space. But other than that, I ran out of time to watch every movie — movies that now each feature every Marvel character. The movies seemed to have success without my seeing them, go figure. I stopped keeping up with them because of the sheer volume and frequency, yes, but more so because the films treaded firmly into the territory of “who cares,” and worse still, “I’m a goddamned adult.”
I realize how popular these movies are, but their ubiquity doesn’t say anything of their quality. Every time a Marvel movie is even remotely solid and well-reviewed, there’s nonsense talk of Oscar nominations which never materialize. Why? Because a good superhero movie isn’t a good movie, it’s a serviceable action film. Years back, I was hearing that the first Avengers movie was great — I saw that it was streaming on Netflix, and so I gave it a shot. After 15-minutes of unexplained explosions, I turned it off, still never having revisited it to this day. The action was boring, if that even makes sense. I felt like I was becoming dumber as each explosion took the place of what could’ve been words, or better still, meaning .
I even waited years before seeing Black Panther, which came out to rave reviews and calls for Oscar nominations. It was a monumental and beautiful achievement, albeit a long time coming, that a superhero movie finally had an all-Black cast. But when I finally watched it, I was thoroughly underwhelmed. It was a solid superhero movie, but not what I would consider to be a good movie. It’s still an action movie, and no matter how it’s dressed up, a superhero movie isn’t all that special.
But I fear we’re being dumbed down by this. Superhero movies are the biggest events in cinema. I used to think that in America, superheroes and comics were our folklore — but now I’m worried that they’re everything. These mediocre childhood fantasies have fully grown adults in their thrall, lining up at midnight to see a three-hour slog through more action nonsense.
I’m cranky, I know. But this has been a concern of mine for quite some time. We’re losing our grip on actual art, and good writing. I can’t even tell you how many new, critically acclaimed movies have left me feeling like ad-executives penned the script.
So, what’s the point here, baldy?
What’s your damned problem, and what then is the solution?
I don’t think there is a solution. With Disney and Marvel digging their claws into so many of us, it’s hard to see a return to more meaningful art culture — especially with a near-religious devotion from the fans.
We’ve glorified pulp, and now we’re doomed to sub-par art until we can shift the balance.