Okay, let’s just get it out of the way: Avengers: Age of Ultron is everything a superhero movie should be. You like superhero movies? Go see it. (No spoilers ahead.)
In the last post, I examined Marvel Comics and the refusal of the editors to bring the comic books fully into the 21st century. At the end, I pointed out that the comic book industry is, in reality, a very small one; and that, if it dried up and blew away tomorrow, it wouldn’t exactly be mourned by the world.
That’s because superheroes are too busy working other venues, most notably the big screen and various small screens, and are demonstrating that that’s where the big money is. And as we rapidly approach another blockbuster summer movie season, we’ll see even more examples of the real future of superheroes in the 21st century.
I grew up reading superhero comic books, like many boys my age. I was always partial to Marvel’s comics, but I read some DC heroes too, being drawn to artists and interesting stories as opposed to just being tied to specific characters. My interest hung on longer than some, lasting well into my adulthood; and even though my primary tastes evolved to science-fiction-themed graphic novels and stories, I still occasionally returned to my superhero roots in order to enjoy a good capes-and-spandex yarn.
It had been years since I’d spent much time looking at superhero books, when I discovered something new from Marvel: The Ultimates line was essentially Marvel’s plan to update its familiar characters for the 21st century, to bring some more modern relevance to them. The first books I saw were an updating of the Avengers, now dubbed The Ultimates. We were being given new or slightly modified origins for Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Giant Man and The Wasp, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, the Falcon, and even a new Nick Fury and SHIELD headquarters… all of which had more resonance with a post 9/11, terrorist-infested, nano-developing, metal-fiber-wearing, cyber-hacking and genetically-experimenting world. And I, for one, thought this was a fantastic way to make superheroes more popular with modern kids… and adults like me.
So I was disappointed when it ended up dying.
A recent blog post by Sue Archer flags this popular issue: Thanks to years now of excellent and popular superhero movies, the fan world has been rearing up and calling out the obvious missing piece of the franchise puzzle: Why no female superhero movies yet? Warner Brothers (who owns the DC Comics superheroes) has been held up to the light for producing Superman, Batman and Green Lantern for cinema, and a number of other male heroes for television, but not Wonder Woman. And Marvel, seemingly doing no wrong with its superhero line-up, has so far passed on super-powered female heroes like Captain Marvel.
One begins to suspect a conspiracy… which, of course, is what the web has pounced on. Everyone wants to know what’s going on here.
Naturally, I believe I know what’s happening.
I think they’re scared.