Questions about The Avengers from a Science Fiction Fan

Are all superheroes as durable and immortal as Wile E. Coyote?  My wife and I went to see The Avengers the other day.  Normally we don’t go to movies about comic book characters, but The Avengers was getting such great reviews we thought we’d give it a try.  I went through a brief comic book reading phase in 1963, and I’ve seen the first Christopher Reeves Superman and the first Michael Keaton Batman, and that’s about it for my comic book experience.  As a child I loved the George Reeves Adventures of Superman TV show and the Mighty Mouse cartoons.  One of my  first blogs was about memories of all us neighborhood kids wanting to fly, “Super Men and Mighty Mice.”

I am a lifelong science fiction fan and computer geek, so I’ve been around a lot of people who love comics.  By all accounts, I should love comics too, but for some reason I don’t.  I’ve read books and watched documentaries about the history of comics and their fans, so I’m not completely ignorant of the genre.  But watching The Avengers was probably what it would be like for me to attend the opera, I was way out of my element.   It made me want to ask a lot of questions.

the-avengers

This isn’t a review of The Avengers.  I’m quite confident it’s a great movie for its intended audience.  I’m not the intended audience, and it left me wondering about many things, and I obviously don’t have the right mindset.  Maybe if I knew how the game was played I could have enjoyed the movie more.

Why people love comic books and superhero movies totally baffles me.  Now I don’t want to be a Grinch about comics, or be a old man fuddy-duddy pooh-pooh other people’s fun, but I do have some questions about comic books and superheroes.

My first question is:  Are you expected to check your mind in at the theater door when going to see a superhero movie?  Is the fun of such a show returning to the state of mind you had before starting 1st grade?  Is part of the thrill forgetting all logic and science?  Is the fun of watching The Avengers pretending to be five years old again?

Many people call superhero movies science fiction, but I really hate that because it suggests that science fiction can be completely ignorant about science.  I’d go so far as to say that superhero movies are anti-science by ignoring the laws of physics and coming up with really insane concepts and suggesting they are science based.  For instance, in The Avengers the whole story is built around a power source called a tesseract.  A tesseract is a geometrical concept, a 4D cube.  The film also has a flying aircraft carrier, space aliens, Norse gods, mutated humans and flying metal suits with no apparent fuel supply.  Plus characters can pound on each other like Warner Brother cartoon characters and behave like the Three Stooges and no one ever gets hurts, much less bruised and bleeding.

I have to ask:  Do superhero movies exist in a reality similar to the reality where Bugs Bunny and Moe, Larry and Curly exist?  That’s okay if that’s how to play the game, but to me fictional realities with no rules ruins the fun of make-believe.

And, why are superheroes like Greek and Roman gods?  They have all kinds of powers, they fly, they are petty and egotistical, and they fight with each other.  Also, we’re asked to believe that the fate of humanity depends on these beings saving us time and again.  Doesn’t that seem like some kind of transference from religion?  Are fans of superheroes worshippers?

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying people shouldn’t watch superhero movies.  These movies are loved by millions, and the movie industry makes huge profits, a big US export, so they are great for the economy.  All I’m asking is if other people don’t question the fictional reality of the comic book superhero world.  I love science fiction, and even some fantasy, but the world of superheroes seems way out there, way beyond any possible believability.  Or is that their appeal?  Are comic books a genre about an alternate reality with no scientific laws and magic works?

I mean, we’re talking the age of myths.  It’s like reverting our minds back to a Paleolithic mindset.  Talk about your old time religion, this kind of magical thinking would put us back in the time of Genesis and Exodus, when the world was full of powerful beings, magic and great catastrophes.    Why are superhero movies so appealing?  Do people actual crave a time when the laws of physics were totally unknown and seeing is believing?  Of course this state of mind was how the whole world existed before science.  Maybe comics should be called pre-science fiction.

Watching The Avengers, it bothered me that normal humans were like ants scurrying around waiting for the superheroes to save them.  You could call superhero movies salvation films, because their plots often reflect evil wanting to destroy mankind and superheroes saving us.  Of course, we could just let Joseph Campbell explain the whole hero with a thousand faces again.

I grew up on the science fiction of Robert A. Heinlein, and he liked to believe that humans were the most dangerous critters in the universe.  He thought normal people could take on all challengers in the galaxy, and only ordinary human heroes were needed.  I thought Heinlein was overly aggressive in wanting to kick alien ass, but I do like his idea that we should live and die by our own abilities.  I don’t want to babysat by gods, mutants and aliens.

Watching The Avengers made me wonder if superhero movies are like porn movies, but instead of making you want sex, they make you lust for power.  That each of the Avengers represents powerful abilities movie goers would love to have themselves.  But if you really think about the Avengers, do you really envy them?  Who would want to be The Hulk?  Or Thor?  I bet most people envy the billionaire playboy, but does being a super-asshole have to come with the power suit?  Captain America seems like a nice guy, but that outfit!  Really?  How important are those awful clothes?  Can Superman fly just in jeans and a t-shirt?  I wouldn’t mind being able to fly like that if I didn’t have to wear a leotard and cape.  And Batman looks like a pimped out S&M freak.

What kind of inner fantasies do superheroes appeal to?  Has anybody asked their therapist?

Movie fans flocked to The Avengers and loved it.  I’m just curious as to why.  Asking me to believe in flying aircraft carriers is insulting to me.  I guess my imagination has limits.  I can accept angels and monotheistic robots in Battlestar Galactica, but I can’t accept flying aircraft carriers.  Why.  Did it do anything up in the air that it couldn’t do floating on the ocean?  Where was it going, and where did it come from?  As far as we knew it was just flying around in a holding pattern.  How was a flying aircraft carrier important to the plot?

Also, why are all the superheroes equal in durability.   Shouldn’t their be some kind of hierarchy of power?  Shouldn’t their be a chain of command?  They should be like rock, paper, scissors. Thor can hammer Loki, Loki can outwit The Hulk, The Hulk can forge Iron Man, Iron Man will bend Captain America, Captain America can romance Black Widow, and Black Widow can seduce Thor.  Why do they squabble and punch each other like Moe, Larry and Curly?  In the movie our heroes spent more time fighting each other than the enemy.  My wife barely liked the movie, and thought it was okay as a comedy.

I was bored.  I’m 60, so I’ve seen a lot of movies with explosions and cities blowing up.  I didn’t see anything new in special effects, or any new action sequences that I didn’t see in 1996 watching Independence Day.  In terms of creating an alternative reality, The Matrix (1999) had just as much comic book action as The Avengers, and it was believable within its own context.  Of course, that leads me to ask:  Am I suppose to assume all superhero movies exist in the same alternate reality and it’s an assumption I should come to the theater believing, or do each of them create a new reality to explore?

I’m used to science fiction where every story invents a new reality for the reader to judge.  So I’m asking:  Are superhero stories all set in a shared comic book reality.  Or is it two realities, Marvel and DC?  Dune isn’t the world of Foundation, and Foundation is not the world of Blade Runner, or Starship Troopers.  To me it seems like superhero reality is one shared by all comic book writers and it would believable that Superman could fly along side Ironman.

Like I said, I really don’t mean to pick on superhero movies.  I love westerns and old movies from the 1930s, and most of my friends don’t.  So I can understand my taste for comic book movies is just not suited for the genre.  My not liking comic book movies is no different from me not getting into opera or basketball.  It’s not a criticism.  I just wondered into the wrong movie theater and went WTF?

JWH – 3/20/12

15 thoughts on “Questions about The Avengers from a Science Fiction Fan”

  1. Really good post. I saw the movie – and enjoyed it – but like you, left with a lot of questions in my mind about why these movies are so popular. It does seem there is something inside many of us that craves a ‘savior’ to fix all of our problems; that way we can just keep scurrying around buying iPads and Prada, and not have to do much thinking for ourselves. It seems to fit right in with the mainstream idea that some supernatural guy will make sure things don’t go too seriously wrong.

    And I didn’t like the flying aircraft carrier much either – what about the gaping plot hole of how advanced this thing was supposed to be, but a bunch of pirates in a cargo plane were nearly able to take it down? I mean, no radar to see an approaching plane? Almost ruined the entire movie for me.

  2. LOL. Great post Jim — I enjoyed Avengers because I know to suspend my disbelief on the coat hook outside, before walking in. I would say that the superhero milieu is very much a descendent of mythology. Each character has their origin in a particular socio-economic-political climate — and the Avengers, as a group, are a US-centric statement. Joss Whedon is a genius at multi-layered storytelling; we can enjoy it (or not) for its ridiculous, noisy effects or for the subtextual commentary inherent in bringing characters such as Captain America and Ironman together. This movie was waiting for someone like Whedon to pull it off. The floating aircraft carrier, like Thor, is there because it’s cool, because having a big-ass destroyer hidden in the clouds ready to rain destruction on the lands below is a power statement, and because it allowed for the group to fall to earth in various different ways that revealed their strengths and weaknesses. They are all Gods, in their own way. My only gripe is that it cost me SO MUCH MONEY to take my family to see this movie. I had fun, but I don’t think I’ll ever go to the big screen again unless it’s a fringe theatre that doesn’t cost my month’s food budget for a couple of hours entertainment.

  3. I have been an avid comic reader for a long time. Being as such I can see where your coming from. I saw The Avengers movie and pretty much thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. The thing about superheros is that they are a model. They are portrayed to have character flaws but the means to over come them. But all in all it is just an escape. Comics have been that since the Golden Age to let people escape for a little while and enjoy something so out there that you can’t help but love it. Everyone knows that you get sick if you get bit by a radio active spider, you dont get super powers. People know there are no super soldier syrums in the world. People know there is nothing like the Hulk that can exist. But people love it because its out there. I think it has less to do with mythology (minus Thor and Hercules) and just more to do with that escape you can get.

    As for the Hellicarrier itself, it is S.H.I.E.L.D.S. base of opperations. It’s sole purpose is to fly to where it needs drop off agents or The Avengers (which ever lineup it may be as there are multiple ones) and fly away. That air ship was one of S.H.I.E.L.D.S. so it didn’t raise a red flag immediately.

    For the people that just didn’t get the movie read too much into it. Comics like comic book movies and table top games like D&D or Pathfinder is just entertainment. No hidden meanings, no egendas. No reason for explaining the “particular socio-economic-political climate” besides going into a bit of detail to give you some back story. It’s just fun to read an out there story from time to time.

    Follow my comic reviews at: nerdcorecomicsandmore.wordpress.com

    1. Your reply tells me a number of things. First it helps to have read the Avenger comics and know the background. Second, every art form requires a certain amount of education to appreciate it. Third, I think it helps to grow up with comics to really enjoy them – I’m probably too old to start now. I think it’s easy for you to love this movie because of your upbringing, but I’m not sure you understand how strange your genre is to an outsider. I think there are aspects to the comic book world that make it uniquely appealing to its fans. I was hoping to be funny in a passive-aggressive way and zero in on those aspects in my review. I think it’s more than just escapism. But maybe it’s not, if you literally mean to escape this world. Are comics appealing because they criticize our reality?

      I embraced science fiction as a kid because I wanted to travel into space. Why I wanted to travel into space is complicated, but lets just say parts of my childhood sucked.

      1. Your three points are spot on good sir. It hasn’t been until the past year that I’ve gotten into comics. When I was about 10 or so the comic shop closed down and there went my hobby. Finally one came down this way a little over a year ago and since then it was like going home. The culture is really close knit since it is holding onto it’s last fortifications because of things like e-readers and amazon. But you go to the comic shop for the conversation, the people and paying good money to someone who shares the same passion as you.

        The comic book subculture is very self sustaining. And like the Heavy Metal and Goth Culture is strange for outsiders to look in and see the appeal. To really get it you more or less have to emmerse yourself into it. Pick up a couple of comics for the sake of picking them up. For instance you like Science Fiction. Try the Flash Gordon or some Detective comics like The Shadow or Dick Tracey, they might be up your alley.

        But even with science fiction books, they still take you to an alternate universe where not all of the laws of science and physics apply. The comic book world takes the laws and does the same. Then again some others take the laws, laugh at them and throw them out the window. In some form they do criticize our reality. It challenges our perception of whats real and what could be real. For instance take a look at communicators from Star Trek. Now were walking around with blu tooths. I don’t think some ancient norse god of thunder is going to be breaking through to earth using a Bifrost bridge any time soon though it would be pretty neat to see on the 9 oclock news.

        For alot of people including myself it’s an escape. Ther are some people who just like giant robots or guys with healing factors and metal claws that call people bub all the time. It boils down to the unique comic collector and reader. So my veiw is just as valid as the guy who just likes to see explosions on the big screen or someone who loves an indepth story with lots of twists and turns and likes to try and guess where the story goes. But in the end its all preference. You also have to admit watching the big green guy tossing around that guy on the floor like a rag doll was pretty funny and thank Marvel studios for leaving out the other two avengers Ant man and The Wasp from the movie.

        one last thing about comics: You’re never too old. Just look at Stan Lee from Marvel.

      2. But Stan Lee grew up with comics. I was asking people around work who had seen The Avengers and what they thought, and it seemed the younger the person the more they loved the pictured. Some of the younger people said it was perfect and flawless. They really gushed about the show.

  4. wow – I think the real super hero here is you for admitting this lack of understanding and appreciation publicly! You must have some crazy mix of super powers.

    I grew up liking a few comic books – mostly the Eerie horror type, but I had a few faves amongst the super hero books – Ironman, Magnus, Robot Fighter, The Metal Men, Batman, Spiderman. I think the major thread running through my ‘likes’ was/is that these are the super heroes whose abilities are closest to ‘reality’. No, not the ‘born out of real physics’ kind but the ‘could happen, somewhere, sometime’; Stark built powered armor – we’ll ignore the power source issue cause that’s too tough to figure out and powered armor can make ANYONE s super hero. (Like the Rocketeer. It is possible that Howard Hughes could have invented such a thing. Barely. In some alternate universe where the laws of physics are tweaked just a tad…); Batman is all about the tech. Anyone could conceivably be Batman. Spiderman – well, forget the radioactive bite (too tough to explain logically) so we’ll stick to the things he invented – like the web sprayer. Barely plausible.

    Now we move on to the Avengers, a film I liked far better than John Carter (I’ll come back to that in a second) but one that left me feeling the following: 1. Too MANY all in one place (begging the question – what does anyone need SHIELD for? 2. Why waste time on mere mortals at all? (Cut Nick, Hawk & whats-her-name: quick aside; your rock-paper-scissors analogy is at risk of drawing some pro-feminist ire as the ‘ability’ you gave to the sole female protagonist is very stereotypical). Now we can get rid of the cool-yet-very-stupid-and-extremely-vulnerable-way-too-expensive-to-justify flying aircraft carrier. Thor we need for the ‘he’s adopted’ joke line but not much else. Captain America does not have super powers so much as he has NAZI fighting cred. If the story had involved an invasion by Nazi’s from the dark side of the Moon….leaving us with the Hulk and Ironman – who, as we see from the film action itself, would have been more than enough to handle the ET invasion. (Why do movie aliens always invade through a single door/portal/gate?)

    You walked out of The Avengers saying something like “I don’t get it” and asked for enlightenment. I walked out of John Carter into a wall of ‘sequel please’ and said “I don’t get it”

    In some respects, all of the characters up on the screen in The Avengers are descendants of John Carter. Why did T.A. have some marginal appeal to me, while JC left me cold?

    I know part of the answer is that my love for and intimacy with JC/ERB/Barsoom is far deeper and more detailed than it is for any comic book character. I’m not bothered nearly as much by ‘changes’ to character/motivation/plot/history with super heroes as I am for (some/most) literary characters. I view the comic world as being entirely mutable (especially after reading Niven’s ‘Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex’ – the ought to make a movie out of that one!) – and I suppose that the comic book writers/designers are at least partially responsible for that since they are always introducing new universes, new back stories, crossovers & etc.

    In that respect, I think a partial answer to your question is yes and no; yes, you’ve got to suspend disbelief, but not in a “I’m reading realistic space opera now” way, so much as for mash-up play: forget rules, let’s throw a bunch of neat ideas together and let them create their own internal logic.

    Which is also a clue as to why I had such a different reaction to JC than most: the story there already had its logic system laid down and the film monkeyied with it to a non-allowable degree. Comic book heroes are descendants of JC – they’re not the originals and therefore we can cut them some slack. The progenitor? None.

    1. Good call Steve on me stereotyping Black Widow, but I was actually using a different stereotype. In myths women overpowered gods with their wiles. And in my rock-scissors-paper chain I had Black Widow going up against Thor, thus the stereotype. Poor Black Widow is last in line in the movie too. In a reality whose main virtue is the ability to pound other beings Three Stooges style, Black Widows martial arts abilities looks weak. Why doesn’t she have a super-power? Or a power suit?

      I haven’t seen John Carter yet – none of my friends wanted to go, so I’m waiting for the Blu-ray. But I did grow up reading ERB and all the John Carter books, so I should be properly educated to enjoy that movie. Maybe John Carter was a flop because there’s not enough ERB trained movie goers. By the way, I wondered if Disney had substitute ERB’s other main character for John Carter, and had Tarzan on Mars, would the movie had been a bigger hit.

      In reading your line “Comic book heroes are descendants of JC” that you mean John Carter, but I thought Jesus Christ – another superhero savior.

      I read science fiction for escapism, but I saw science fiction as a realistic blueprint for getting to Mars. That’s why I demand more from my favorite genre than comic book fans. I believe comic book readers may actually be more realistic than I was, they want escapism and know comic book stories can only give them imaginary fun.

  5. Just for the record I got to see the movie last night and I loved it. Seeing Iron man and Thor duke it out and later Thor and the Hulk was worth the price of admission. There were flaws with the movie. Hawkeye was so undeveloped as one of my friends said he was basically just a block of wood. And the alien villains just showed up at the end of the movie, it would have been better if we knew more about them so they weren’t just moving targets for the heroes. But I definitely looked past the flaws and just enjoyed the movie.

    1. From some of my replies I get the feeling the movie would have been a lot more meaningful if I had been reading the comics all along. I never really caught the name Hawkeye or knew who he was. But why was it so great that Thor, Iron Man and Hulk fought each other? That seems counter productive.

      But I’ve been talking to young people at work and some of them say the movie is perfect and flawless and they are completely in love with it.

  6. It’s one of the things comic fans enjoy. You’d argue about it in the school yard. Is Thor stronger than Superman? Could Batman outsmart Captain America? It’s like how sports fans might speculate as to whether the the 69 Mets could beat X year of the Yankees. Or could Mohammad Ali beat X modern boxer. Or how science fiction literature fans might speculate about who might have won the Hugo award in X year that the award wasn’t given.

    And Marvel and DC have always understood that fans love to see heroes duking it out a little but, it seems there is always some sort of misunderstanding that causes heroes to fight each other when they first meet, or one hero is being mind controlled by a super villain or something.

  7. As a comics AND sf fan I thought I’d give it a shot to answer your
    questions, even the rethorical ones.

    > Are all superheroes as durable and immortal as Wile E. Coyote?

    Pretty much, yeah. Only thing that can kill them is bad writing and
    not selling enough books. Even if a character gets forgotten for some
    decades, a new writer may come along who had this character as a
    favorite and “revamp”them and have a new success. But that’s a
    meta-analysis. Story-wise, yeah, these characters get almost killed
    every month and bounce back in no time.

    > I am a lifelong science fiction fan and computer geek, so I’ve been around
    > a lot of people who love comics. By all accounts, I should love comics too,
    > but for some reason I don’t. I’ve read books and watched documentaries
    > about the history of comics and their fans, so I’m not completely ignorant
    > of the genre.

    It seems that you try really hard to “get it” but you don’t. Probably
    it’s too late for that, and has been since you were 13 or so. That’s
    ok, nothing wrong with you. Maybe there’s something wrong with us
    comic book fans 🙂

    > Why people love comic books and superhero movies totally baffles me.

    Well, there are a few things to love. Some great art, some great
    writing, adventure, plot twists, soap opera, the heroes pulling
    through adversity again and again, at ever higher stakes and against
    bigger odds. There’s also attachment to the characters, the joy of
    collecting, and the thrill of having the “insider knowledge” and
    knowing who’s that obscure character and why what he’s doing kind of
    makes sense.
    There is the power of storytelling, more on that a bit later.

    > Now
    > I don’t want to be a Grinch about comics, or be a old man fuddy-duddy
    > pooh-pooh other people’s fun, but I do have some questions about comic books
    > and superheroes.

    There are enough of those already but they cannot take away my
    enjoyment of the genre.

    > My first question is: Are you expected to check your mind in at the
    > theater door when going to see a superhero movie?

    You can, but also you can enjoy it as a clever puzzle within the
    rules, the genre constraints and how to tell new, exciting stores
    within it.

    > Is the fun of such a show returning to the state of mind you had before starting 1st grade?

    It’s part of it, but not all. The second time I saw this movie I went with my five-year old son, and I could sort of see it through his eyes as well.

    > Is part of the thrill forgetting all logic and science?

    There’s some internal logic, but no, I can’t defend it much. Physics
    work pretty much as for Willy Coyote.

    > Many people call superhero movies science fiction, but I really hate that
    > because it suggests that science fiction can be completely ignorant about
    > science.

    I agree it’s not sf. It’s a different genre. As a defense, I’ll say all the comic book lovers I know know their phisics pretty well and can tell the difference, and
    still enjoy the funny pictures.

    > I have to ask: Do superhero movies exist in a reality similar to the
    > reality where Bugs Bunny and Moe, Larry and Curly exist?

    In a sense. It’s all about storytelling. There are hundreds of writers
    who have worked with these characters over the past 50 years for
    Marvel, and more for DC. There are very different styles in which the
    reality of the same universe is depicted, just as different artists
    render their looks differently. Ultimately the stories stand on their
    own. Some are loved and remembered, and bring lasting changes to the
    characters, some are quickly forgotten.

    > And, why are superheroes like Greek and Roman gods? They have all kinds
    > of powers, they fly, they are petty and egotistical, and they fight with
    > each other.

    Because humans are like that? The same reason greeks and romans wrote
    them that way. Would superhumans behave much differently?

    Also, we’re asked to believe that the fate of humanity depends
    > on these beings saving us time and again. Doesn’t that seem like some kind
    > of transference from religion? Are fans of superheroes worshippers?
    >
    Ah, maybe yes, in a sense. I used to be an agnostic, now turned full
    atheist. But I still believe in the power of storytelling. How a good
    story can show you moral right and wrong, can help you put yourself in
    another one’s shoes. (A great example of that was the terrorism and
    Battlestar Galactica, but that’s another topic). I sometimes ask
    myself “what would spider-man do?”He’s a role model to me!

    > Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying people shouldn’t watch superhero
    > movies. These movies are loved by millions, and the movie industry makes
    > huge profits, a big US export, so they are great for the economy. All I’m
    > asking is if other people don’t question the fictional reality of the comic
    > book superhero world.

    Fans do, all the time. If a new writer writes a character wrongly, he
    will never hear the end of it. But it’s more about character than
    about logic or physics. Still, things could cross a limit. When a few
    years ago, in DC, Superman , in anger, punched the universe and ripped
    the “wall”between alternate realities, many readers were angered and
    turned away.

    I love science fiction, and even some fantasy, but
    > the world of superheroes seems way out there, way beyond any possible
    > believability. Or is that their appeal? Are comic books a genre about an
    > alternate reality with no scientific laws and magic works?

    Again, I think the point is storytelling. Magic works, but is usually
    kept away from more science based Sf characters, like Iron man. I’m
    not so much into the fantasy/ horror titles. So there are subgenres
    withing the genre of superheroic comic books. It’s in the skill of
    each writer to work within the boundaries of the genre, and still make
    the reader care about the characters if everything is possible.

    > I mean, we’re talking the age of myths. It’s like reverting our minds
    > back to a Paleolithic mindset. Talk about your old time religion, this kind
    > of magical thinking would put us back in the time of Genesis and Exodus,
    > when the world was full of powerful beings, magic and great catastrophes.

    Heroic myths target our subconscious,as they should. I think they have
    a more direct communication line to some of our inner feelings and
    truths.

    > I grew up on the science fiction of Robert A. Heinlein, and he liked to
    > believe that humans were the most dangerous critters in the universe. He
    > thought normal people could take on all challengers in the galaxy, and only
    > ordinary human heroes were needed. I thought Heinlein was overly aggressive
    > in wanting to kick alien ass, but I do like his idea that we should live and
    > die by our own abilities. I don’t want to babysat by gods, mutants and
    > aliens.

    There’s still Iron man, Hawkeye, Nick Fury and the Black Widow there,
    being fully human and still standing up to them gods. Lots of heroic
    stories to be told in that canflic between humans and forces bigger
    than them…

    > Watching The Avengers made me wonder if superhero movies are like porn
    > movies, but instead of making you want sex, they make you lust for power.
    > That each of the Avengers represents powerful abilities movie goers would
    > love to have themselves. But if you really think about the Avengers, do you
    > really envy them? Who would want to be The Hulk? Or Thor? I bet most
    > people envy the billionaire playboy, but does being a super-asshole have to
    > come with the power suit? Captain America seems like a nice guy, but that
    > outfit! Really? How important are those awful clothes?

    They each have their flaws, following the theme that they are still
    human. Cap America’s outfit makes more sense if you see his own movie
    (short story: he’s used for WW II american propaganda).

    > Can Superman fly just in jeans and a t-shirt?
    yes.http://fortressofnerditude.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Superman_Boots_Banner.jpg

    > I wouldn’t mind being able to fly like that if
    > I didn’t have to wear a leotard and cape. And Batman looks like a pimped
    > out S&M freak.

    I’m with you on that. Don’t like the Batman much. Then again, he stars
    in some excellent stories.

    > What kind of inner fantasies do superheroes appeal to? Has anybody asked
    > their therapist?

    There are whole books on that, but there not many more answers than
    what you just outlined. Power fantasies. To me is more about
    conquering adversity, (through punching your enemies in the face!) 😉

    > Movie fans flocked to The Avengers and loved it. I’m just curious as to
    > why. Asking me to believe in flying aircraft carriers is insulting to me.
    > I guess my imagination has limits. I can accept angels and monotheistic
    > robots in Battlestar Galactica, but I can’t accept flying aircraft
    > carriers. Why. Did it do anything up in the air that it couldn’t do
    > floating on the ocean? Where was it going, and where did it come from? As
    > far as we knew it was just flying around in a holding pattern. How was a
    > flying aircraft carrier important to the plot?
    >
    Lyn said it: ” The floating aircraft carrier, like Thor, is there
    because it’s cool, because having a big-ass destroyer hidden in the
    clouds ready to rain destruction on the lands below is a power
    statement,”

    > Also, why are all the superheroes equal in durability. Shouldn’t their
    > be some kind of hierarchy of power? Shouldn’t their be a chain of command?
    > They should be like rock, paper, scissors. Thor can hammer Loki, Loki can
    > outwit The Hulk, The Hulk can forge Iron Man, Iron Man will bend Captain
    > America, Captain America can romance Black Widow, and Black Widow can seduce
    > Thor. Why do they squabble and punch each other like Moe, Larry and Curly?

    In 50 years of comics, all of the above have been tried, I could go on
    and bore you telling about some storylines. There’s room for all that
    you mentioned in their universe. And they squabble because it’s comedy
    as well. There’s a lof of self-awareness and the genre doesn’t take
    itself too seriously.

    > In the movie our heroes spent more time fighting each other than the enemy.
    > My wife barely liked the movie, and thought it was okay as a comedy.
    >
    > I was bored. I’m 60, so I’ve seen a lot of movies with explosions and
    > cities blowing up. I didn’t see anything new in special effects, or any new
    > action sequences that I didn’t see in 1996 watching Independence Day. In
    > terms of creating an alternative reality, The Matrix (1999) had just as much
    > comic book action as The Avengers, and it was believable within its own
    > context. Of course, that leads me to ask: Am I suppose to assume all
    > superhero movies exist in the same alternate reality and it’s an assumption
    > I should come to the theater believing, or do each of them create a new
    > reality to explore?

    Each movie used to create their own universe, until in the last few
    years, stariong with Iron Man, Marvel tried to put them together as
    they have been doing in comics for decades.

    > I’m used to science fiction where every story invents a new reality for
    > the reader to judge. So I’m asking: Are superhero stories all set in a
    > shared comic book reality.

    NO.

    Or is it two realities, Marvel and DC?

    Way more than 2. Marvel, for example, has a “main” reality, the 616
    universe as they call it. But there are infinitely many other
    alternate realities for authors to play with and tell stories that
    don’t adjust to the established facts in the main universe.DC has
    something similar. Then there are the movie universes, etc. Marvel
    sold the movie rights of spiderman to Sony and the fantastic four and
    x-men to fox, so they won’t be appearing in the same movies anytime
    soon, although in the comics they do.

    > To me it seems like superhero reality is one
    > shared by all comic book writers and it would believable that Superman could
    > fly along side Ironman.

    Of course, they can “cross over” realities and have done so in the
    past… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC_vs._Marvel

    Finally, it’s been very rewarding for comics fans to see their beloved characters so well portrayed in these movies. It’s like seeing an old friend, or finding out Santa was real after all, a mixture of those feelings.

  8. I think just about everything you say is spot on. My son used to stay awake nights till about 13 wishing he could have some superpower or other. They are like the old gods, aren’t they! And sometimes even include the old gods, as in Thor and Loki. I guess the other thing they are is a sort of framework, on which you can hang lots of special effects, laughs and unlikely scenarios – so pure entertainment.

  9. All this hype that movies have now, you feel you have to see them just to be part of the water cooler conversation….just wait for the $3 dvd to rent. God I’d hate to think what it cost for a family to see the latest blockbuster along with $20 worth of candy and popcorn…A little off the subject, if you want to see a more adult superhero story check out “Watchmen”, it has very interesting characters with a lot of back story and an alternate history timeline….Jim in soggy Miami

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