If you’re a nerd like me, you inevitably run into someone who overhears you talking about how much you love something nerdy ( for me it’s superheroes), and they will look at you with their snide, condescending look and ask “isn’t that stuff just meant for kids?”.
NO! No it is not just meant for kids. In the beginning perhaps back in the 1930’s, but overtime the comics medium has evolved. No longer is the comic medium meant for children who are just interested in the capes and heroes, but the medium itself has transcended to gift us with meaningful story with gravidas of depth and analysis of the human condition. Comics are written to tell us more about ourselves and our world through hyperbole, symbolism and allegory.
Watchmen, for example, is dripping with the fear page by page of nuclear apocalypse and the weight of the Cold War. X-Men was created as a commentary on racial tension and the civil rights movement, but in the 2000’s, post M Day, was transformed into an allegory for the fear of extinction by the outside factors of the world around us with talk of the terror of Global Warming and its possible effects. Secret Invasion capitalizes on the fear of terrorism springing up inside our own borders and the lack of trust we have for each other post 9/11. There are other great examples of stories written for mature audiences like Frank Miller’s Daredevil run or Scott Snyder’s Batman. You can find volumes of stories for any age.
Or that rape scene in Watchmen.
Or anything Joker does in Scott Snyder’s Batman including cutting off his own face and wearing it as a mask.
It’s not just for young boys either. Wolverine and Thor are now women who have taken to the forefront of Marvel’s Universe alongside Captain Marvel. Spider-Man is half black/half latino. Captain America is black. The age of the white male dominating comics is coming to a close as Marvel is opening the doors to a new age with something for everyone.
Perhaps the best capitalization on this is the modern Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. There are two distinctly different versions of those characters unfolding in two different mediums. The new tv show on Nickelodeon is more lighthearted and takes inspiration from the ‘87 show with a fun, jokey, playful tone. They fight robots and aliens and they eat pizza and Mikey always drops a joke. In the new comics, the Turtles take to their comic roots of having a dark gritty approach with the focus of the ninjutsu and their war with the Shredder. One of the turtles turns evil for a time and swears allegiance to the shredder and another turtle even dies. It’s an amazing dark approach to the same characters that works for its medium while the tv show is completely different yet still amazingly successful and a great watch.
Which brings me to the other day while I sat front row to Marvel Universe Live. It’s a touring event which sets up in stadiums across the country and presents a multitude of heroes battling foes for the sake of the Cosmic Cube. It’s a stunt show with motorcycles and fights and special effects. If you haven’t seen a commercial for it, a quick youtube search will give you an idea of it.
So after viewing it, I’ll just ahead and tell you…
IT SUCKS BAD!!!
As in, it’s painfully unwatchable. First off, let me just say the costumes look TERRIBLE! I literally know a cosplayer for each character that has a better costume than these “professionals”. You can see the fake felt muscles on Wolverine from far away. I’ve held better shields that looked more real at Comic Con’s than the painfully plastic one that Captain America wore. The only decent one was Hawkeye, which was film inspired. Also the villains of the Sinister Six, which only 5 of them appear by the way, look horrendously stupid and laughably hilarious. Maybe people who don’t go to comic conventions won’t care as much, but seriously I know people who have made better uniforms for these characters in their basements than this professional team who obviously spent a lot of money on this production.
Marvel Live Vs Cosplay
Again, random cosplayer is better.
The action is just as bad. I likened it to a marriage between the overacting of power rangers with the worst professional wrestling imaginable. THey would punch and kick with a span of three feet of complete visible space between attacker and victim and the actor would throw themselves to the wind as if it was the most powerful punch or kick imaginable. The longer the scenes go the worse it got. Of course the random henchmen bad guys would just get up two minutes later to be served another punch or kick or who cares.
Who cares because the story is a bare bones line up of dialogue just barely coherent enough to string together these scenes. The Cosmic Cube was broken up, so Loki cloned it… He actually cloned an inanimate object. So they fight it with… the broken cosmic cube? I can’t remember because I stopped caring by that point of the “story.” Oh did you know that the Red Skull, historically a genocidal militant dictator was a big time motocross fan and loves to ride and jump a motorcycle? Cause that’s just what that character needed! Oh wow! Bruce Banner, big time nuclear physicist and leading expert in gamma radiation is also a part time professional motocross rider. Please just make it stop. Also apparently Tony Stark is worried about how to play Angry Birds on his newest technological invention. Somehow I just don’t see Tony Stark worried about phone games that hold the barest minimal amount of attention for a length of time. Also Wolverine’s fantastic growth of a character over the years has been reduced to just grunting and stabbing. Goodbye to forty years of character development.
If you thought it couldn’t get worse, it does. The action battles are completely filled with the worst puns since Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman and Robin. So…many… puns. The rest of the dialogue is just as terrible.
I hated this whole experience, and I know what you are thinking, “Isn’t this for kids?” In this case you’re right but it shouldn’t be. Marvel and Disney have time and time again been able to provide experiences for the whole family to enjoy. There were characters enough in this for everyone to have someone to relate to. There could have been a plot instead of a linchpin of story points that serve as a barebones outline for these godawful action pieces. Marvel and Disney are capable of providing wonderfully engaging experiences with something for everyone. However here it was clear as day. All they cared about was charging you at the door, and putting on a fun enough show for your 4 year old that they’ll want you to buy exclusive merch after the show. Cause what better way to remember the burning of your hard earned money than buying a light up sword, that no character ever uses, that your kid will play with for 10 minutes before putting it away and never touching again.
Maybe alcohol will help, but they weren’t serving. In short, if you go to this, your kid will love it and be bouncing off the walls with jump spin kicks for the rest of the week, but you will hate every second of watching it and regret every second after while your kid runs around bouncing off walls doing spin kicks. Then next time someone asks you if superheroes are “just for kids”, think about this experience and remember that Marvel just made it a little bit harder for you to defend them. Thanks Marvel.