I grew up a fan of comic books. Not all comics, mind you – I was specifically into Spider-Man, the X-Men, and Batman. Now, each of those characters had at least two or three titles running monthly, so that meant I accumulated quite a few comics, all assiduously kept in see-through mylar bags, taped just so to prevent any kind of damage from occurring – not because I viewed the books as investments, but because the books were my escape into another world.
My friends and I spent endless hours talking about the books, re-imagining the characters’ exploits, thinking of which ones would be best suited to a movie. Then Tim Burton came along and dropped Batman on us, and the possibilities seemed not only endless, but suddenly achievable.
The imagination of a child is a powerful tool, one that can shape and destroy whole worlds in less time than it takes the average adult to formulate a shopping list for a quick trip to Kroger. I know I often watch my daughter scribble endless doodles on a piece of paper and when I ask her about them, she’s capable of telling me the singular story behind each sketch, each random line. For me, those little lines are a small person trying to grab onto a medium of communication; for her, those same lines are a link to a world far bigger and brighter and more real than the one we inhabit.
It’s that truth, the limitless potential of the unbridled imagination, that makes me such a fan of the recent Marvel Studios releases. I’ve finally caught up on all of them and I have to say: great work, Marvel. I didn’t care about half of these characters when I was a kid (I knew all of them, and mostly knew their origin stories, but I didn’t collect or read them monthly), but as an adult I find that I really like Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America. Each character is different (though honestly, Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark is easily the most interesting of all them) and the movies have been, in their own ways, both an homage to the fanboys and an entree for the newcomers alike.
That’s why, when I saw this today, I got giddy. Stupid, giggly, out-of-control giddy. I even went so far as to post the link on my Facebook page. And now I’m writing a blog about it.
Because Marvel has distilled the best part of my childhood – the imagination – into a movie that promises to be both smart and silly, fun and intense. In short, for all of the discussions that Pete and I had on the rocks behind his house, or Ashton and I had while riding around in his Grand Am, we now as adults get to behold the fulfillment of some of our most passionate childhood dreams.
And that, my friends, doesn’t happen very often. When it does, you just have to embrace it and enjoy the ride.
So here’s to The Avengers. And to Joss Whedon. And to not screwing up the hopes and dreams of countless children trapped in adult bodies everywhere. Thanks for making at least one or two dreams come true.