I saw The Avengers over the holiday weekend. The film was well done- especially the script. Screen play writer/director Joss Whedon had a nice blend of action, character development, humor and dialog. Most importantly, the story appealed to die hard comic book fans and non-fans alike.
Discussing the film over holiday burgers, my friends and I realized several things about “super” hero movies:
- movies about the “cape crowd” are sprouting like mushrooms, e.g. Avengers, Dark Knight Returns, Spider Man and so forth
- most of the popular films are about characters created in the 1960s (pick a Marvel Character, any Marvel Character) or the 1930s/40s (Batman, Captain America)
- audiences are turning out to see these films; the Avengers has grossed $543 million in the US
One might conclude that the country is full of people who never quite grew up and will revert to kid hood at the drop of a hat. Maybe, maybe not. The reality is we need heroes. Some part of our collective psyches wants to believe there are people out there who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way to defend those who can’t defend themselves. People like soldiers, police and firefighters, to name a few.
So why, then, are the cape crowd story lines so successful? They’re fun! All the story elements- the costumes, the one liners, the fight scenes- are just plain fun and enjoyable. Just for fun, compare the cape film of your choice to a classic hero tale like The Red Badge of Courage or The Iliad. All the hero plot elements are there, but the cape movie will have an element of fun present. That’s okay; after all, why do we go to the movies?
To have fun!
Heroism like you see in comic books is impossible to see or even think of in a world that’s increasingly becoming jaded and cynical; therefore, high-spirited stories like The Avengers are a breath of fresh air. And I think I rather like that. It’s almost as if that movie is reminding people it’s okay to have fun and be excited at the movies.
You’re right about the cynicism; it tends to make stories somewhat dark. It’s nice to see a film that lets in some light.