Opining on the Superhero Genre

A friend was telling me about a new comic he thought I would like. His opening line for me was that “there are no superheroes. There are scientists!” I smiled gleefully at how well he knew me–better than I knew myself, because it wasn’t until that moment that my mind opened up and went full “nope!” on superheroes. My partner and most of my friends still find enjoyment in all flavors of superheroes, from DC to Marvel to indie comic artists. You could say I tolerated the genre over the last 15 years. I saw all three Iron Mans (Iron Men?) in the cinema, as well as both Thors, a Captain America, every Batman, every Superman, every Spiderman, every Xmen, the first Avengers, and I will likely seek out Ant-Man purely for the lolz (c’mon, it’s Paul Rudd! I have to!)

Yet when I look back, I very much enjoyed superheroes as a child. They were, to be redundant and obvious, my personal heroes–especially Superman and Batman. I was never a Marvel girl with the exception of X-men, which I had access to because of the Saturday morning cartoon and video games. My parents weren’t comic book buyers, so I watched media that the whole family enjoyed and played whatever games they picked out at Christmas. I would dream of Clark Kent in his glasses, of Christopher Reeves rescuing me from Niagara Falls, of Professor X accepting me into Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, and of Michael Keaton awkwardly trying to mouth to me “I’m Batman!”. While I didn’t have strong Wonder Women media to draw from (the ridiculously sexualized costume always disinterested me), I still admired the idea of her and would make up my own Wonder Woman stories and costumes in my head. And you know what? Judge away, you trolling denizens of the webz, but I liked George Clooney’s Batman too. He did just fine. In fact, George Clooney’s off-camera personality, though not immediately clear that he’s troubled and self-loathing, emits that fearlessness and low-key chill factor that I think goes well with a Batman interpretation (aside from the obvious playboy millionaire crossover). And lets not forget about the beautiful, soulful calm that Val Kilmer brought to his Batman! He and Nicole Kidman were on fire, a fire that no one but Seal could have made more sultry.

I could try to take some time for deep introspection and come up with a hundred little things during my development that ruined this genre for me, but it’s not necessary, and might even be false. No Freudian analysis necessary. I didn’t grow up and grow “out of” superheroes. That’s not a thing! We all know that it’s really quite simple: We’ve been saturated. I mean, fucking saturated, like dropped in a vat of molasses, and my inescapable exasperation with this fucking genre is the sticky molasses that never comes off because vats keep getting dumped on me every blockbuster season, and I can’t shower quickly enough between dumps. 15 years of non-stop dead horse beating. Thor is the only franchise I actively seek out anymore, and it’s because I never had access to it as a kid, and I also love the mythology aspect to it. *Ahem* Hormones may also play a role. Everything else I begrudgingly attend because others take me along. I roll my eyes at superhero cosplayers at cons. Superhero anime is all but ruined for me. I haven’t re-watched my beloved early Batmans or Supermans in nearly a decade. Any franchise that my partner doesn’t love, I actively try to avoid. I still have not seen half the new Spidermen, no Hulks whatsoever, no Fantastic Fours, no animated attempts to cash in, no Kick-Ass, no Green Lantern or Hornet, no Hellboy, and HELL NO to a Punisher movie. I don’t even care for the Blades, despite my dark movie philia. I’m just….done; so beyond done that the word doesn’t cut it anymore. I need a new word for “done” that encapsulates the well-roundedness of my lethargy.

And that’s my diatribe from the shower today.


About Marpoo

Purveyor of sass and unsubstantiated rhetoric. View all posts by Marpoo

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