Essays, Poetry, Observations, Etc.

Archive for 2015|Yearly archive page

What a Marvel-ous Age!

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2015 at 12:32 am

This is the age of the comic book movie. This is the age when the 2-D heroes of 50 years ago become the 3-D superheroes of today.

In the 1960s, Stan Lee and Marvel comics set out to deliberately create superheroes that fit specific markets. Specifically, the comic book buying male audience between the ages of 11 and college. It was almost counterintuitive. Comic books were like Westerns. You made them with likable stars and hoped the audience liked them. If not, you made another. But to actually design a hero and build in flaws that connected to the reader, that was different.

In 1964 I was 11. Up till then I comic book tastes were the usual DC fare. I could quote you Superman, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Batman, Flash, etc. chapter and verse. DC comics published 25ยข collections of previously published comics in the 50s.

Then along came The Fantastic Four. The first four issues were, how can I put this, meh. Then came issue five, the introduction of Dr. Doom. And then it seemed to take flight.

Spiderman. ‘Nuff said. It was as if it spoke to nerdy junior, now middle school, boys who were smart enough to be wondering what high school, life and love, oh, let’s get real, sex, were going to be like when we became “men”. In the fifth and sixth grade, both of which were in elementary school back then, I became very adept at drawing profiles and depictions of the female anatomy, particularly the mammary aspects, ahem, if you’ll pardon my gradeschool bluntness. It may not be politically correct, but your average pubescent male is not the least concerned with politically correct behavior, if they even understood the concept as applying to them!

Marvel comics became the comic book of choice right as the peak of the baby boom past o’er these hallowed shores. They did quite well for themselves. And they kept trying to replicate the development structure throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. And it worked. X-Men and many others kept the enterprise profitable.

Pushing the 2-D format into the 3-D world, or at least the simulated 3-D world of movies, was always problematic. Special effects are the killer and comic books are, if nothing else, about the special effects, the boldness of the form. They tried. Nick Fury, Hulk, Fantastic Four, Spidy, never were quite belivable beyond animated form. Just moving comics, but still unreal.

And then came Columbia/Sony who showed the way with the best special effects they could afford for Spiderman and the X-Men series. Marvel took notice and set about establishing their own corner of the universe.

First they needed money and backing. As long as the original investors in creators only increase their income they were fine with Disney buying them out, as long as they retained creative control. It worked.

Marvel/Disney have created an entertainment juggernaut. And, just as in the past, the fans, the new generations of fans, both young and old, create the backbone of this forms profitability.

Every age has its Jules Verne, its Sherlock Holmes, its popular fiction that grabs the attention of people starved for excitement and adventure. The Marvel series, the MCU, is this age’s answer to that.

At 61, if I have properly understood their plan in creating their movie series, I should be able to enjoy the completion of this particularly enjoyable entertainment cycle.

Excelsior!