It’s not like someone running into a burning house to save a child — a super hero is relatively invulnerable, so it’s no skin off her nose to do it. And if there is no chancing personal pain, how to be heroic? Wait up! Let’s rewind that.
We ignored Luke Buckmaster‘s warning about The Avengers in Crikey (“nothing new”), instead taking up my yoga instructor’s recommendation: “It’s fantastic, you’ll love it.” (How many comics did you have, T? — Two thousand when I was a kid.) And because I was surprised to enjoy Spiderman and Batman: The Dark Knight and Toy Story 3 — oops sorry wrong kind of cartoon. And mostly because I’m a big fan of director Joss Whedon, whose Buffy the Vampire Slayer was seminal in my appreciation of the popculture uses of fantasy-horror.
A good reason to boycott
Of course, if I had read James Sturm’s witty, heartfelt and totally righteous protest letter, Why I’m Boycotting the Avengers, we would have stayed home for another gripping episode of Treme. Sturm is a cartoonist and lifelong comic fan who sadly decided to boycott The Avengers for the reason that the original Marvel artist, Jack Kirby, had been disavowed, as it were, and never properly recompensed.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Kirby described Marvel in a 1986 interview with The Comics Journal, ‘[T]hey’re grabbers. They’ll grab a copyright, they’ll grab a drawing, they’ll grab a script. They’re grabbers—that’s their policy. They can be as dignified as they like…They can act like businessmen. But to me, they’re acting like thugs.’
As Sturm puts it: ‘What makes this situation especially hard to stomach is that Marvel’s media empire was built on the backs of characters whose defining trait as superheroes is the willingness to fight for what is right. It takes a lot of corporate moxie to put Thor and Captain America on the big screen and have them battle for honor and justice when behind the scenes the parent company acts like a cold-blooded supervillain.
‘Hulk — smash!‘
So we went on a 60percent-price Tuesday and irritatedly tolerated the 30something fella next to me who appreciated every whack or shot or punch with a particularly idiotic wha-ha-ha-ha-ha bray. Welcome to comic world. And then the trailers ended and the movie began.
*SOCK* *POW* HUMPH* *KRUNCH!* Captain! America! *URGH* “It is the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation.” *CSHOOOMSH* David Edelstein, the New York magazine critic: ‘The movie would be all over the place if not for Whedon’s centrifugal seriousness. And it would be overbearingly pompous if not for his nifty ability to spoof his subjects without devaluing them.’ So, there you go.
Superheores fright… cos it’s fun
The wha-ha-ha-ha-ha next to me punctuated the entire 2+ hours, until it finally penetrated, yes, it’s a joke. Centrifugal seriousness, huh. Superheroes can’t get hurt, so it’s all good fun. It’s not good works, saving the earth, it’s not work at all. They’re our wish fulfillment for all the hours of childhood powerlessness.
Whack, wha-ha-ha-ha, ka-wa-bam die, wha-ha-ha-ha. We left the cinema rather numbed. The final battle scene is a pile on, and on, and on. I did LOL when Hulk did what he did to Loki. Wha-ha-ha-ha. Afterwards, the ancient father-in-law called it the stupidest movie he had seen. And he couldn’t tell who was fighting who. Well, I say, it’s the good guys in the primary colours and the bad guys in silver and grey. Constant Gardener declined to offer a comment.
+ + +
Maurice Sendak 1928-2012
Farewell to the great children’s book illustrator.
(Listen to an interview by Terry Gross, and a little video on the Guardian: ‘Herman Melville says that artists have to take a dive and either you hit your head on a rock and split your skull and you die, or, that blow to the head is so inspiring that you come back up and do the best work you ever did. But, you have to take the dive. And, you do not know what the results will be.’)
The ones I always loved are the obvious choices, the stellar inventions: Where The Wild Things Are and In The Night Kitchen. The sheer finesse of the drawings and muted palette, so elegant and sophisticated, was a door to a refreshed, unfashionable aesthetic — calm, controlled, classic (it descends from wonderful Little Nemo). Reading the books we find the calm and control mashed up against the wild anarchy of night’s dreamtime. Freedom, nakedness, adults who are monsters or the fat half of Laurel and Hardie. Forever young, where the wild things are.