For those of you who have frequented this blog over the last eight years, you may have realized that 1) You are dumber because of it and 2) I used to get real excited for comic book movies. Not only would I review new films that were coming out, but I’d revisit old ones to see if they held up! I even wrote speculative articles as responses to goddamn TRAILERS because I got so fired up about them. During a recent revisit of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, partially due to having gone to see Black Panther and partially because I saw Chris Evans’ sweet-ass beard in the Avengers: Infinity War trailer, and I came to a conclusion: I am a now certified hater. The things that bring others joy, which used to bring me joy, I can’t bring myself to even feign interest in. What the hell happened, Wolfman?! Well, I think I may have cracked the case, so please join me on this journey of hatred.
The early months of 2014 were action-packed: I was reviewing things fairly regularly, I had gone to Sundance and SXSW, and I was kicking total ass. The weekend that Winter Soldier came out was life-changing, which I don’t actually think I’m exaggerating about. One of the fateful events of the weekend was seeing the latest Captain America, a character who had become my favorite in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which I walked out of feeling like my experience was the dreaded “pretty good;” I neither loved nor hated the film, despite having been looking forward to it for months. The other event was that wheels were set in motion that would result in me working for Marvel and moving to L.A. See?! That’s a big change! I wasn’t blowing shit out of proportion!
The job proved to be a double-edged sword because, on the one hand, I had access to all things Marvel, an opportunity I had only ever dreamed of having. On the other hand, I grew detached from the thing I had once loved because now I could see how the sausage was made. Guardians of the Galaxy, a film I wasn’t particularly excited for, was the first film I had promoted online and also attended its world premiere. Months later, I was able to watch Marvel’s Daredevil long before it ever aired, even though it didn’t have finished special effects. Can you believe it?! Little old Wolfman! Being a big deal! Sadly, this is was the beginning of the descent into becoming a hater.
The longer I was with the company, the less I connected with its TV shows and films, and the more I witnessed fans losing their goddamn minds with excitement and genuine passion. Who the fuck were these people?! Don’t you see these things for their flaws?! Well, apparently not. Making matters worse, DC’s terrible universe of films were just complete dogshit, so I frowned upon all superhero shenanigans. That’s right, me! The guy who would post about TRAILERS! We already covered this! I was no longer the person who would go to see Captain America: The First Avenger on opening day, I was the guy seeing Ant-Man in the middle of the afternoon while at work, and I COMPLAINED ABOUT IT. It was truly a dark time, my friends, the likes of which I hadn’t entirely escaped.
After leaving Marvel, the first MCU film I saw was Doctor Strange, a film which I wasn’t entirely excited for, but was thrilled to be far enough detached from to enjoy as a fan and not as someone who could only ever say positive things about Marvel anywhere on the internet. I walked out of the movie thinking, “That was fine.” And it was! A solid C+. Then I checked the reviews…people loved it! What’s wrong with people!? You know what else people loved? Marvel’s Luke Cage! There’s literally a scene where Luke is submerged in acid to remove a bullet, and a science man is instructed that the acid MUST BE BOILING. Yet, somehow, it became one of Marvel’s best-reviewed shows.
Thinking this was a fluke, I was excited for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and, ya know what? It was…fine. Months later, I saw Thor: Ragnarok, and guess what? Fine. It was fine. It was this experience, however, that made me reach my breaking point. Ragnarok, was preceded by a trailer for Justice League and a trailer for Black Panther, resulting in having seen two-and-a-half-hours of CGI shit smashing into other CGI shit. It was all a big fat, “Who cares?!” Sadly, these feelings continued with Justice League (doi) and Black Panther, despite seeing my peers having deep connections and profound revelations over something I viewed as merely, “That was fine.”
So what the hell does Winter Soldier have to do with any of this? Well, a few months ago, Wolfgirl and I stayed in a cabin and only had access to a small TV with cable, which was airing The Winter Soldier. While watching it, I was reminded of a time when I was excited for this movie and, when comparing this movie to a variety of other MCU films I had seen prior to this one, I thought about how much more I preferred it. Not only did I find subjectively stronger elements in it than other films, but I remembered that feeling of excitement and anticipation for an escape from the real world, just to believe for two hours that there really are heroes out there.
It’s okay to want nothing more from a movie than to two hours of escapism. I’m not some pretentious douchebag who thinks superhero films lowers the artform of “cinema,” yet I can’t help but feel remorseful about that excitement and enthusiasm that has disappeared. While I should be as excited as anyone for Infinity War, the “culmination of all 82 MCU movies,” all I can musters is, “Who cares?”
I can’t help but wonder if I’m bringing this all on myself in a way to create an outsider mentality. Comic books haven’t always been looked at in as positive a light as they are now, so being a fan of comics created a connection to everyone else who pursued the hobby. Now that there is nothing bigger than superhero movies, could I be subconsciously rejecting these films as a way of feeling cooler than other people because I go against the grain? I don’t think so, because, in this case, my lack of interest is sparking feelings of isolation as opposed to the pride of being a fan of something even if no one else shares that interest.
Heightening that isolation is the sheer volume of narcissism that has dominated all forms of social media, making the human experience all the more awful. I can’t help but get on the ‘net, see folks championing a film that made me feel nothing, and have that emptiness amplified because I just didn’t get it.
I should also point out that these opinions aren’t specifically linked to superhero movies, as I’ve had similar reactions to the horror world, which I also love a lot! But people keep saying some movies are great and I think they are dogshit!
Alright, this post is already about a thousand words too long and I don’t think I ever meant to have a point, other than wanting to explain that if you follow me on Twitter (@TheWolfman) and see me being a cantankerous asshole, you’re not crazy: I have become a certified hater.