by Beau Smith
I was in grade school in the 1960s when Marvel Comics unleashed the first issue of The Avengers. If you would’ve told me then that in my lifetime I would see The Avengers not only on the movie screen, but as the biggest opening box office movie ever, my pointy little head would’ve exploded.
It’s taken the technology of film making over 40 years to catch up with what comic books have been able to do since the 1930s, but after seeing The Avengers movie, it was well worth the wait. Not only has the technology advanced to where it can pull off the action and super heroics and make it look realistic, but more importantly, the respect for comic books and comic book characters has come to where it needed to be.
Hats are tipped to writer/director Joss Whedon, Christopher Nolan, and Jon Favreau because they worked hard, very hard, to capture and enhance the characters that have been printed in comic books for decades. Their respect is what makes films like Iron Man, Batman, and now The Avengers truly shine. The saying is true, “Anybody can eat a pie, but it takes a cook to make it.” There has to be a true caring for a director/writer to be able to translate something perfect in its own form and bring it to another level of entertainment. As a comic book writer and reader, I am so very proud of these above mentioned men for the care they have taken to not only make the best movie they could, but to also respect an art form that has not always been given the credit it so richly deserves.
There have been others in the film industry who have merely manufactured comic book films, almost tossed them out and let them lie. You can see and feel the lack of respect and interest, that’s always been a shame. Don’t get me wrong, comic books have done their share of tossing stuff out there as well, especially in these days of 24/7 internet celebrity status. When a creator and a publisher really believe in a character, a series, and story, it shows just like it does with films. When that happens, we all win.
As a writer and a reader, my hope is that film success stories like The Avengers, Batman, and Iron Man will spark even more comic book based movies from all points of the range, from the well known titles of Marvel and DC Comics, to the smaller publishers where so many great characters and stories dwell. The landscape in comic books is really wide, from mainstream superheroes to edgier, quirky stories whose print runs are as large as those of Captain America or Superman. The film making system has a vast field of properties to investigate and possibly choose from. I think this is a great opportunity not only for movie goers, but comic books as well. It gives comic books a way to finally branch out to a wider reading audience and young readers who will grow into lifetime readers and hand that reading pleasure down to their kids. (Did I mention that it also gives writers like me a chance to option their characters to the silver screen?)
I was getting what little hair I have cut the other day and the lady that cuts my hair commented on how she went with her son to see The Avengers movie. She let me know that she had NEVER read a comic book in her life. She had no idea who any of these characters were and yet….she LOVED the movie and saw it twice. Her son gave her a couple of Avengers comic books and she read them…and LOVED them. She told me it was like someone opened up her eyes to something that had been in front of her face forever, yet she never saw. She was stoked and even peppered me with all kinds of questions about what it’s like to write and create comic books. Not only did comic books now have her respect, but even I rode off the fumes and had a little more respect. (And a great haircut I might add.)
This is a small story, but if multiplied over and over you can see the massive growth it could have for comic books. It’s simple and can happen. I’m not saying it will happen overnight, but it’s been gradually happening and there is a difference being made. All we can do on the comic book end is keep making compelling stories and characters, keep telling other people about comic books, and increase the respect that our art form deserves. We make printed joy and entertainment in comic books, share it with someone you care about or someone you don’t even know. Avenge comic books!
The Flying Fist Ranch