A funny thing happened the other night.
I was helping out on a shoot for Hapstance Films while I was in Portland, and throughout most of the evening I found myself watching X-Men 2 with a little boy that was also involved in the production.
All night long he excitedly ran up to me to show me his robot collection, as well as to exhibit his best Spider-Man and Wolverine impressions.
Me being me, I took a moment to show him how to properly do the web shooting pose with his fingers.
While I certainly didn’t mean to, I’m pretty sure I inadvertently fucked up his understanding of the Marvel universe.
From what I could tell, everything he knew of the X-Men and Marvel’s other characters was taken from the movies.
I’d imagine this is quite typical among the youth of today, as the comic industry has been dragging it’s shattered bones along from quarter to quarter, while Marvel Entertainment *cough!* DISNEY *cough!* has been whore-ing their products through Hollywood for over decade now.
Forgive me, I love comic book movies as much as the next man, I just can’t help but feel a little tired of saying to myself “It was good, but the comics were better,” every single goddamn time a new one comes out.
Back to the topic at hand.
Perhaps out of boredom, or simply because he kept asking me, quite excitedly, to tell him about every character that appeared in the X-Men films, during the movie I started feeding him factoids about the X-Men ripped straight from the comics.
I told him that “Fire Guy” was named Pyro.
I told him that “Girl Wolverine” was called Lady Deathstrike.
I told him that Wolverine’s real name was James Howlett or Logan, depending on who you ask.
I told him that Cyclops was a lot cooler than he thought, not just because he was badass, but because he wore glasses like me.
At some point though, I stopped playing Yoda/Comic Book Guy and asked the kid if he liked any villains, in the Marvel universe or otherwise.
I was curious because I happened to notice earlier in the evening that whenever he played with robots, the “good” one would always win the fight.
To my surprise, the kid responded by saying:
“No, I don’t like the bad guys.”
So I asked:
To which he responded quite plainly:
“Because they’re bad!”
I know it shouldn’t have, but this surprised me.
As I type this article, I hold in my hand a recently purchased collected edition of the early 90’s miniseries Venom: Lethal Protector.
While Lethal Protector is kind a bad example, given that I was much older than the kid in question upon it’s original publication, this does not change the fact that, even in my extreme youth, I always had an appreciation for some of the “bad guys.”
Soundwave was one of my favorite Transformers.
Gigan was one of my favorite Godzilla characters.
It might have been a sign of the times, but in my mind, villains and anti-heroes were very much “in” back in the late-80’s and early-90’s.
While I’m some would disagree, I’ve always thought of the villains as traditionally the more flamboyant and “cooler” characters when compared to their heroic counterparts.
Something about the villain’s ability to bend the rules, especially in regards to superhero stories, just seems to lend them a flexibility of character that makes them feel more three dimensional.
I don’t know if it’s a generational difference or what, but I found it interesting that this kid had his good guys and bad guys so cleanly divided.
I mean think about that, if you were able to look upon things in such black and white terms, things like war movies and professional wrestling would be infinitely more entertaining!
Being able to point at something and know, in your heart, that it’s “bad,” that it’s the enemy; is a luxury of fiction (or in this case, childhood) that I think a lot of people wish would cross over into reality.
When a threat is universal and tangible, it becomes far easier to deal with than the shades of gray bullshit of real life.
Anyway, I don’t really know where I’m going with this, as I’ve got some pretty bad writer’s block and a headache to boot, but I really this interesting.
Sorry for rambling.