Congratulations to the Avengers for setting back-to-back weekend records! I have to admit this is really, really cool. Growing up, there were two types of nerd, DC Comic and Marvel Fans (or Star Trek vs. Star Wars). I was a Marvel fan (with the exception of Batman, who is universally loved.) The old Marvel G.I. Joes written by Larry Hama were the first comic books I ever got into and it wasn’t before long that it spiraled into X-Men, Wolverine and other random assortment of Marvel properties.
Not only that, I loved watching the Marvel themed TV shows. I loved the old 1960’s Spiderman cartoon with the hit song, “spiderman, spiderman, does whatever a spider can…”, the old Incredible Hulk TV show with Lou Ferrigno, and of course, Spiderman and His Amazing Friends, with Iceman and Firestar. Spiderman and his Amazing Friends was one of the more popular 80’s cartoons and for its time featured good animation and decent plots. We used to play like we were these characters all of the time.
But there was one Marvel property I wanted desperately to like, but just couldn’t do it because they were well, just too cheesy (even by my 80’s elementary school standards) and that would be the Avengers. You can’t deny their place and history in the comic book world, but by the time I was a kid they were pretty second rate. I wanted to like them, I wanted them to be good, but they just weren’t. That is, until now.
It really started with the Ultimate series, where Marvel reworked them into a tougher, grittier and more realistic series of characters. Then the movies starting coming out, and the characters became popular again.
There has never been a movie like the Avengers. They have been building up to this movie with a series of FIVE other movies for years now. The stakes for Marvel, Disney, and director Joss Whedon were huge and many questions were raised as to whether or not they could pull it off, and they did, with amazing results.
Think of it this way, Iron Man 1 & 2, Thor, Captain America, and The Incredible Hulk were all on some level, decent movies that did well. Sure Iron Man 2 wasn’t nearly as good as the first one, and Hulk wasn’t as good as Captain America, but for all intents and purposes, all of those movies were decent, if not great, on one level of another. If you are a movie production company, say DC, wouldn’t you take those results any day? Look at Superman, Catwoman and the Green Lantern. (Dark Knight is all they have had.)
It’s great to see these old, classic characters be given a chance to shine. Did you ever think the Avengers would outsell X-Men comics? As a Joss Whedon fan I am thrilled to see him finally cement his place as one of the new talented directors. More importantly, as a Stan Lee fan I am thrilled to see the Avengers do so well.
I have to think the ole’ Generalismo has got to have a grin on his face. These last few years have seen the smash success of his greatest creations, from Spiderman, to the X-Men and now the Avengers. I hate to say it, but he is getting up there in age, and we don’t know how much longer he will be with us.
I have to think that as a writer and creator these films and comics will go down as a lasting tribute to his legacy. That when his time does finally come, he can rest in peace knowing he will always be remembered. Not just by comic fans and nerds, but by the greater population of movie going America, and the millions he inspired. And of course, by a young, red headed kid with whom it all started by staying up late at night and reading G.I. Joes. Here’s to you Stan, Excelsior! And we salute you.