So on a recent insomnia fueled binge of Law and Order: SVU in the wee hours of the morning, the USA Network seemed to be pushing three things –
1. Liam Neeson’s newest turn as a geriatric action hero minus wolves.
2. Some sort of hair removal device that looks like a dollar store knock-off of an iPod Nano circa 2007.
3. The network’s own comedy series featuring “everyday” Joe type paramedics spewing one-liners at a speed and cleverness far greater than nature intended.
Seeing these commercials on a loop interspersed with Ice-T’s befuddled pout, I came to the conclusion that Liam Neeson is far more capable and virile a man at his age than I ever could be or have been. Despite that depressing realization I took solace in one of the quips on the paramedic show preview that I saw about three dozen times. A manly-but-accessibly handsome paramedic is complaining about things he is worried about, ending this supposedly comedic monologue with – “Will Affleck be a good Batman?” to which his similarly attractive-but-nonthreatening cohort responds enthusiastically that, as the new Batman, Ben Affleck will “crush it.”
Whether or not Holden McNeil will be a quality Dark Knight Detective in the sequel to last summer’s Superman reboot, Man of Steel, is not the issue. It’s the fact that people beyond the superhero fanboys actually care about the quality of a celluloid representation of Batman.
It’s not surprising really. The Avengers earned $623 billion dollars worldwide two years ago and it’s not just acne riddled 38 year-old virgins wearing worn out tee shirts non-ironically who eagerly await news and trailers and casting announcements about the spandex and laser beams genre. Comic books and superheroes have escaped the longboxes and the possessive clutches of Simpsons’ style archetypes and entered the world’s pop culture consciousness.
As a comic book fan for most of my life, it’s incredible to see Empire Magazine publish 25 different covers of the same issue featuring various super-powered characters from the upcoming X-Men movie sequel and Perez Hilton drawing dicks on the faces of the newly announced cast of the Fantastic Four reboot. So, yeah, I’m a grown man who likes super heroes. I enjoy reading the soap opera melodrama in their serialized adventures every month or so. But here’s the thing, I’m just one of you. The New York Times has a best-selling graphic novel section. There are literally (in the genuine sense, not the new definition) six super hero movies coming out before the end of 2014 and even more in the pipeline. Target and Old Navy sell super hero t-shirts and judging by the numbers, everyone on earth saw The Avengers twice. Sure there are still comic-book nerds perpetuating a sad trimethylaminuria stereotype trolling the internet like digital Uruk-hai trying desperately to reclaim that which once only they laid claim to. But, every kid loves superheroes. Superheros with their admittedly silly costumes and capes were created as pre-pubescent male escapist fantasies by creators not much older than the original target demographic. It’s only puberty and the inherent whimsy of the genre that pushed audiences away for years. But now? Not so much. Superheroes are the newest trend in sci-fi escapist entertainment and I gladly line up to see my garish icons do battle in CGI crafted landscapes along with millions of others.
At least we’re not Trekkies. Those guys are fucking strange.