Why Superhero Movies Matter to Me

RyderFlynn

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This is (hopefully) going to be a short post because I've been busy doing other stuff lately to write articles and will try not to let myself get dragged back into the article-writing game again... at least not yet. This is just a brief thought I have about superhero movies.

While watching Bob Chipman's "Really That Bad" video critique about Zack Snyder's Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, he talked about why superhero movies mean so much to him that he's willing to create a three-part video series (each video more than an hour's length) criticizing a movie about silly adults fighting each other in spandex. And the thing is, much of what he said mirrors my passion for this particular archetype of movies as well. I'm trying not to use "genre" because superhero movies transcend genre - it can be neo-noir, romance, comedy, science fiction, horror, character study drama, political thriller, crime thriller, and many more. That's one of the reasons Bob mentioned for his love of superhero movies, and aside from this fluidity being one of my reasons as well, I think I speak for many superhero fans as well.

And I think the reason I'm compelled to write about this is that, in spite of how popular and ubiquitous superhero movies have become... I still can't help feel lonely at times in terms of being the only one who cares that much about these men in capes, especially around forum communities like this. If anything, superhero movies almost feel like they belong to a younger demographic, and many of the older peers I've acquainted with either have much more serious issues in real life they care about, or they grew up with older movie "genres" like sci-fi of the '50s-'70s or even the westerns of old. I've come across at least one person who has told me that he simply just doesn't care about superheroes enough to be that passionate about a superhero movie I could spend an entire day (or week) raving about.

With that being said, why are superhero movies so important for me? Well, to understand my sentiment, one merely has to look back at what storytelling means to each generation. In the 18th Century, we had Greek Mythologies like Hercules, Prometheus and Homer's Iliad; 19th Century, we had westerns and cowboys; 20th Century, mafia fiction, spy fiction and science fiction; and now, 21st Century, the westerns of the modern world as Steven Spielberg observed, the superhero movies - and that was just the first two decades (yes, I'm trying to channel my best Peter Weyland impression). Aside from having the potential to embodying multiple genres, these stories have always been a gateway to explore ideologies and societal cultures reflected in each century. Just like how Greek myths sought to explain the mystical and inexplicable phenomenon people encountered back then through the use of gods and demigods, superhero stories provided a window of not just escapist fantasy, but beginning from the Silver Age of Comics in the '70s, tackled more grounded societal problems of drug abuse and disfranchised minorities - The X-Men, Spider-Man, Green Lantern, Batman, etc. They all evolved as avatars of fiction to play out real life issues like actors on a grandiose stage. They are the gods now.

And it is for that reason that someone like me who's tired and frustrated by the stress and mundanities of real life problems that I seek out a more fantastical medium to explore those problems in a more engaging manner. Even as a kid growing up watching American blockbusters like Aliens, Terminator 2 and Back to the Future, I've held this belief that movies can be a gateway to discuss real life problems in an entertaining manner. That belief became more than a little extreme at times back then, such that I believed that the best movies combine engaging entertainment with thoughtful didacticism... and any other movie that fails to do this simply isn't entertaining or intelligent enough. My views have mellowed a lot since my youth, but I do still believe that movies have that amazing potential to talk about life in such a bright and vibrant way - Superhero movies all the more so, with their bright-colored costumes and exaggerated personas.

This power of storytelling to grab someone's attention on a global scale while incorporating meaningful life lessons within such entertainment is amazing, and I grew up being impressed by storytelling as a tool. Superhero movies' ability to further improve upon the technique makes me fall in love with it, to see the infinite possibilities this newfound fire granted by the Prometheuses of our time can move us forward as a species, telling stories and shaping our ideologies and perspectives. It all sounds like hyperbole, but reality speaks for itself, how these movies have earned the devotion of billions almost like a newfound religion, a new geek culture zeitgeist that mirrors the Star Wars fandom in the '80s.

And that, long story short, is why superhero movies mean that much to me, and why I continue and will continue to write about them so often, from week to week, month to month, and so on. While countless writers out there devote countless hours into discussing politics and societal issues everyday, I simply find it more interesting to do so via a more fantastical medium. And if you'll indulge me as a reader, I would love to discuss with you all of life's various joys and anxieties as well, albeit through the magical lenses of storytelling.
 

JGaulard

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You really are the best @RyderFlynn. Don't ever doubt that. I'm probably like everyone else. I don't reply to posts very often, as I just like to sit and read good writing, but it's nice to be reminded to do so every so often. You are a great writer and I think my favorite part of how you express yourself has to do with your introspective side. You're not afraid to "say it" and believe me, sometimes some things need to be said. Also, I agree with you. There are so many more suitable mediums and ways to talk about and interpret the drama of every day. I personally get sick of reality very quickly. That's why I try to keep as busy as I can with my work. It seems like everyone else out there is doing a fine job with the everyday BS. Great post!
 

JGaulard

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I've got this friend who is totally into superheros. He games and watches movies and that's all he wants to talk to me about. It's crazy. I am trying to get him to write on this forum and to check out some of your posts, but he's totally not a writer. That's what I'm finding. Some people don't write that well, but they know pretty much everything there is to know about what you're interested in. This guy LOVES Ghostbusters, the movies. I don't know how you feel about those movies, but he's a diehard fan. I think he dresses up like them for Halloween every year. He also loves Star Wars and I'll discuss those movies with him up to a point. I don't like any of the new ones. Episodes 1-6 were good, but I'm ambivalent about the rest. They just didn't sit well with me as the others did. Do you like Star Wars?
 

RyderFlynn

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I've got this friend who is totally into superheros. He games and watches movies and that's all he wants to talk to me about. It's crazy. I am trying to get him to write on this forum and to check out some of your posts, but he's totally not a writer. That's what I'm finding. Some people don't write that well, but they know pretty much everything there is to know about what you're interested in.
I think that if you're involved with an interest long enough, you'd be sufficiently knowledgeable to write a thesis on it, or several. It's proof that experience is far more important than textbook knowledge. Someone might earn some bachelor's degree from a top-level university, but the other guy who has spent 10 years reading comic books and watching superhero movies will always be more knowledgeable about superhero storytelling than the degree holder who has maybe read about literature structures and film theory in some textbook.

Hell, I've never even read any work of Homer before, including Iliad, but I could still discern the similarities between Greek myths and superhero myths, along with how the latter has this unrecognized potential to become the new cinema that Martin Scorsese so casually dismissed (along with a whole bunch of blind sheep who used his statement as an excuse to decry superhero movies once and for all).

The thing is, our times are changing. Actually, it has started to change since the release of Star Wars in 1977, or perhaps even earlier when Star Trek first aired in 1966. But I think the Internet really changed the game because it has given us unlimited information with the click of a mouse, such that geek culture has become this powerful force filled with niched knowledge of genre fiction and each respective franchise's history. Now anyone with Internet access could learn about Spider-Man entire life in a day. Anyone with the Internet could learn about Batman, Superman and the entire Justice League line-up in a week, or the entire comic book history in a month (or two). We're dealing with something new here in this new age of information, so it makes sense why it can be daunting for certain people like yourself or Martin Scorsese.

I hope I don't sound too condescending when I say all of this though, so don't take this the wrong way. I don't know anything about website management any more than you do, I'd say, just like the way you probably don't really understand the kind of joy and respect I have for superhero fiction even if I explain it to you because you probably didn't live through that kind of escapist childhood that I did. I'm not trying to be condescending here or even implying that I'm somehow more superior than you (which would be ridiculous), but rather, I'm trying to explain why it's so simple for someone ordinary like myself or even your friend to be that well-versed in an area of interest like that, and why you would find similar debates and arguments carried out in YouTube comments discussing something that's probably very obscure even to mainstream superhero movie watchers.

Long story short, you don't necessarily need to be a writer or scholar to know that much about anything, really. Just Google a documentary and you could get yourself learned in two hours. lol And don't even get me started on Skill Share, which provides all that possible knowledge you'll ever need.

This guy LOVES Ghostbusters, the movies. I don't know how you feel about those movies, but he's a diehard fan. I think he dresses up like them for Halloween every year. He also loves Star Wars and I'll discuss those movies with him up to a point. I don't like any of the new ones. Episodes 1-6 were good, but I'm ambivalent about the rest. They just didn't sit well with me as the others did. Do you like Star Wars?
I enjoy the original Ghostbusters, the first one. I also enjoy the original Star Wars trilogy to some degree, but I didn't really bother much with the other movies nor was I ever that passionate about it. I'm more of a diehard Spider-Man fan. Ask me just about anything from the Spidey mythios (before the Dan Slott era because I stopped reading Spidey at the midpoint of his takeover), and I'll most likely be able to answer you with a great level of clarity. Or Pixar movies even, the classic ones like the Toy Story trilogy, Ratatouille and The Incredibles. Or better yet, anime, and I'll definitely be able to talk at lengths with you.

Other than those topics, I'm afraid I'm not that savvy about anything else. lol

But I don't mind meeting your friend or having him hear what I have to say. I actually wanted to talk more about Scorsese's statement and why I'm still unsatisfied with it and all those who blindly agreed without context. I know I defended him in my last article, saying that he's merely misinformed even though he has a point about the filmmaking business, but the more I read those YouTube comments and watched those video reactions to his statement and how misinformed everyone else was about the quality of superhero storytelling, I just want to get up and prove everyone wrong. I have nothing to lose, so I'm not afraid to get up on the soapbox. I actually wanted to write several more articles disproving his point (and that of Ricky Gervais who also blindly agreed with him at Golden Globes 2020) by exploring deeper those several productions that clearly have the kind of emotional resonance high-art cinema possesses (like the Wachowskis' V For Vendetta or Drew Goddard's Daredevil on Netflix). But then I realized how little people actually care about these things when Scorsese is some all-powerful and all-respected filmmaker (for good reasons, no doubt) and I'm just a nobody people would dismiss as a salty troll who doesn't know what he's talking about (even though I spent the better half of my life reading comics and watching movies), and I lost much of my motivation.

But sure, I wouldn't mind an audience, even if it's just one.

As a little teaser for what I would say if I ever do write those articles in the future, let me just throw out one name that would alone disprove Scorsese's entire statement: Logan.

Boom. Mic drop. Spandex that, Ricky Gervais.

Also, if you or anyone else think that I'm rude or that I'm being too harsh on Scorsese and his legion of anti-cape naysayers, look up what the comments and reactions are in superhero journalism sites like comicbook.com or Superhero Hype - their comments are ten times worse than anything I have to say, calling him derogatory ageist names I won't repeat here. At least I bothered to see his point of view and try to defend my point of view through reasoning. If that's childish fanboyism, if trying to explain why I think something is wrong is blinded fanaticism, then I'd rather be a fanatic.
 
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JGaulard

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I just realized that I messed up this line:

Some people don't write that well, but they know pretty much everything there is to know about what you're interested in.

I meant to write:

Some people don't write that well, but they know pretty much everything there is to know about what they're interested in.

Whoops. I don't know if you caught that. Anyway, yeah, this guy is a super comic book junky. I honestly don't even know how deep his interest goes, but I do know it goes pretty deep. But I really don't think it goes as deep as yours does. I don't really know anything. I'll keep searching around for people though. Keep going man.
 
Why Superhero Movies Matter to Me was posted on 12-03-2020 by RyderFlynn in the Entertainment Forum forum.

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