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The Geek Life: Avengers Aftermath
What it all means
By Robert T. Trate
May 10, 2012
The Geek Life is a weekly look at what is going on in the Geek Culture. Movies, Comics, Books, Video Games, and TV Shows encompass more than just release dates and reviews. This week the Geek Life ponders The Avengers Aftermath.
As I sat there and watched the droves of people file into the theater, I took notice of something I rarely see at a midnight premiere. There were children coming in. I don’t mean teenagers, but little kids. Mom and Dad were holding on to their hands while they searched for seats. Immediately I said, "What parent would bring their child to a midnight movie"? The girlfriend gave me the look, “Seriously, Bob”. She was right. I quickly remembered my Dad, Mom, younger brother and I lined up outside the old Eric Twin waiting in line for Return of the Jedi at midnight. I was amazed to how far the line reached and how close we were to the front. I had no idea what time it was. The only thing that mattered was Star Wars was going to happen and happen soon. Jump ahead five years and there I am again with my family and best friend waiting for Batman.
Return of the Jedi had its audience. It was after all the columniation of the Star Wars Saga that started 5 years earlier. Batman, on the other hand, had nothing but a comic and a very old TV show that played occasionally on reruns. Batman ushered in a new wave of fans, sold a ton of comics, spawned sequels, and launched one of the greatest cartoons of all time. Its presence can still be seen as that all too familiar Bat Logo was draped across the chest of many movie goers last week (time for an upgrade, people). It’s that effect that I am most interested in when it comes to The Avengers.
With each new Superhero Comic Book Movie, there are always tons of toys, plus comic book sales go up for a tad and people have a general interest in the characters. This just feels different and it has to do with those little kids. This movie is different. With each new Iron Man and Batman movie, kids eat up the toys and Halloween costumes that accompany them. The toys usually include Iron Man or Batman in a variety of different outfits or armor. There is a main villain figure and perhaps even a henchmen. Yet, Batman and Iron Man stand alone. I envision kids fighting over who is going to be Batman or Iron Man. Sure, they have sidekicks, Robin and War Machine (sorry to reduce you to that Rhodey, but it’s true) and little brothers are subjugated to these characters. Yet, Marvel did something that DC hasn’t done in the real world (that’s outside of cartoons and comics). They created a Universe where kids see these characters together. As of May 4th the game changed not only for DC Comics and Warner Brothers but for the kids, too. Now kids, can assemble their own teams and decide who is going to be Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man after they decide who gets to be the Hulk first.
What’s does this all mean? Kids can now play together as a group of heroes instead of single standing champions for justice? No, it means longevity. I see Warner Brothers’ Batman as the precedent, but Marvel has prepared for this for years. The first two Hulk movies were false starts, we can all agree on that. Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, on the other hand, nailed it. If you can’t agree on that, they have been extremely entertaining. These films have put Marvel’s headliners in the public consciences. They are more than heroes on a paper page. They live and breathe like never before. Already Thor, Cap, and Iron Man have sequels with release dates. The Avengers 2 has gotten the green light and we’ll just sit back and wait until next May to see what happens to Iron Man next.
Again, I think about those kids suiting up as Avengers and attending the midnight show. When I got ahold of something that I really loved, I could never get enough of it. With toys, I could create my own adventures. With The Avengers, kids can do that in spades as Hasbro has been producing figures for years now. Unfortunately, kids today need something fresh on TV to keep them interested and the thrill going. So sad, but it is true. Marvel and Disney already have a weekly Avengers cartoon on Disney XD. The older fan will notice some of the story similarities to the written page. Kids won’t, they’ll just eat it up. There lies the longevity.
The Avengers will bring the kiddies out in droves. It’s a fun movie that technically has six prequels. It has a weekly cartoon featuring almost the same cast of characters. All this leads to the true aftermath of The Avengers. Marvel rebuilt its comic book reading audience for a whole new generation. Those kids who turned out at midnight are the new breed of fans. Fans that will eat up the movies, watch the cartoon, and then, when they are old enough, start reading the adventures of The Avengers on the written page (probably as a digital comic, though).
For us geeks, it means something else. With Batman again as the precedent, I see Joss Whedon getting the recognition he so rightfully deserves. Sure, the fanboys knew who he was much like we knew Burton had done Beetlejuice and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure prior. For the regular person they may be only hearing the name Joss Whedon for the first time. This recognition is going to get Joss’ new projects off the ground and give a few of his older ones new fans. The Joss Whedon age has begun, but it is the next Bruce Timm that I am looking for. Timm spearheaded the launch of Batman: The Animated Series while riding the Burton Batman wave. He went on to become the uber producer of the DC animated universe which, outside of Christopher Nolan’s Batmans, has been the healthiest thing superhero-wise for DC (for movies and TV anyway). So, how long until the next Bruce Timm emerges because of The Avengers? We have seen the first piece of the The Avengers aftermath. Now, The Geek Life looks to see what other creative mind will emerge because of it.
Robert Trate writes three weekly columns for Mania: the DVD Shopping Bag, the Toy Maniac, and The Geek Life. Follow Robert on Twitter for his for Geek ramblings, Cosplay photos and film criticisms.