With great power comes great responsibility. I recall that sentiment is important in Spider-Man, so hopefully my plea to Hollywood studio honchos will resonate. It’s simply this: please, no more movies about comic book heroes. Thor needs to bring his hammer of the gods down hard on whoever keeps greenlighting these pictures. I know what some of you are thinking. Why should I listen to this guy? He talked me into that money-losing varicose vein tattoo venture. I realize now that nobody wants that look inked on their calves, not even Tampa Bay Goths. But let’s not forget that I also talked you out of Stars & Sights Forever. American flag-emblazoned hot-air balloon rides across the Middle East? You’d have lost more than your equity on that one, my friend. So hear me out.
First, a little context. I have nothing against comic books. I never read them as a child, but I can see why others did. Sort of. Let me put it differently. Finding joy in comic books is not as hard for me to fathom as finding joy in assembling model airplanes. Here my position has not changed materially since I was ten: what Swiss-watchmaking SOB thought this was a good idea? There was nothing worse than opening a birthday present and finding yourself on the receiving end of the dreaded Model F-16 Kit. Instead of something that, you know, the toy company went ahead and finished assembling for you. Some consultant certainly earned his fee in that engagement:
Toy Company CEO: Labor costs are killing our margins in the toy-jet division. Any bright ideas, whiz-kids?
Consultant: Actually, yes. Have the kids build the planes themselves.
Toy Company CEO: We tried that a few years ago, at a factory in Manila. 60 Minutes had a field day with us.
Consultant: No, I mean sell them on the experience of building the airplanes themselves. Consumers will pay you to build your planes.
Toy Company CEO: I must admit, that’s a heck of a model. Wait, that’s it – Model Airplanes! I could kiss you, Wingnut.
Consultant: Wingate, sir.
I’m not exactly sure what the FTC was doing during all of this, but it wasn’t their job. If they couldn’t stop model airplanes, then at least they could have required an appropriate warning label on the box. Something like For Ages 8 and Up; provided your kid has the manual dexterity of a safecracker and the patience of Job. But back to comic books.
There are two kinds of men in the world. Those of us who after lights-out at Camp Sausage canoed across the lake to the girls’ camp, and those who stayed behind and read comic books by flashlight. Everyone knew the trade: the future belonged to the comic book readers, so no sense feeling sorry for them. That’s why it was so important for us to see Ginny, Jocelyn, Shana and the rest of the adventurous girls from Camp Aloe: this was our time.
Sure enough, those gratification-delaying cats call the cultural shots now. They drive Teslas, live in Pacific Palisades, confidently use words like zeitgeist and know when Steely Dan will tour even before Steely Dan does. And so I humbly ask, you Titans of Tinseltown, might the Green Lantern, the Incredible Hulk and the rest of the boys sit this one out? If you really can’t accommodate, at least can you change the story lines? There is no shortage of malefactors in this world – why always must you do battle with global capitalism? I’d personally love to see the Silver Surfer open up a can on an actual rogue state. Perhaps a prequel that traces the “powers” of The Thing to a Subic Bay bachelor party he attended back in ‘68.
At the very least, dispel the rumors that have diminished your most valuable brands. Did The Human Torch really get his fiery attributes from unchecked athlete’s foot? Did Dr. Doom turn to villainy only after his psychiatry practice failed? Your writers’ rooms are teeming with Harvard comparative literature degrees – they can take it from here.
Whatever you ultimately decide, let’s get one thing straight. I’m not intimidated by the Oscars on your mantel. You think you’re the only ones who’ve won individual achievement awards? Do you know who holds the national record for most hours spent in a massage chair at Brookstone without purchasing? Not you, fellas, not you. Speaking for red-blooded American cinephiles, men and women alike, there’s no need to keep sticking it to us. You’ve won. So throw us working stiffs a bone, and greenlight a classic film like “Field of Dreams” already.
Shana and I would be most grateful.