So lately, I’ve been getting caught up on Marvel superhero movies. Now, I admit, I’ve never been much of a comic book fan. I would occasionally steal my older brother’s X-Men comics when I was a kid and I have nothing against comic books, but somehow I just never got around to reading them.
But I do love action movies, especially action movies with a little bit of cheesiness to them. Thanks to my older brother’s influence, I watched the live action X-Men movies when they came out. And like everyone else, I saw Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. But somehow I almost completely missed the Marvel movies and I only started to realize or care when The Avengers came out (though it still took me ages to do something about it).
But for the last couple of months, I’ve been getting caught up. I have movie night with friends almost every Sunday, and we’ve worked our way through Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Avengers. And I’ve loved it. There’s something different about these movies from what I loved (or hated) in the X-Men and Batman movies. It’s not that the Marvel movies are just fluff. There’s plenty of serious character development, some truly intense action content, and sacrifices. But there is a joy and lightheartedness to them that was certainly lacking from the Batman movies, and never quite felt as real in the X-Men movies. For all the excitement and tension, I find myself smiling watching these movies. It’s some perfect combination of straight-up humor (just try and argue that The Avengers wasn’t hilarious), really exciting action sequences, likable (almost to the point of being unrealistic) heroes who I care about enough to be engaged in the movie and the comforting assurance that everything will turn out pretty okay in the end, even if it takes a heroic sacrifice to get there.
I guess you could argue that these movies are too predictable, too cheery (especially given some of the darker subject matter) or too cheesy to be good. Certainly they are a different breed of superhero movie from the recent Batman trilogy’s dark grittiness. But I love them. I cheered, clapped my hands and laughed watching these movies. I found myself talking excitedly over them to my friends. I’ve been watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and discovering that I love a lot of the same things in the show that I loved in the movies (plus, Melinda May is so awesome I can’t even stand it.) I’m sorry it took me so long to come to the Marvel universe, but now that I’m here, I think I’ll be staying a while.