Comic Culture: Our Own Worst Enemies
We as comic fans have high standards. We invest a lot of time and money into our hobby week in and out, and while it may not be the most expensive way to spend our time, it’s definitely not the cheapest either. Because of this, we subconsciously feel like we somehow have a personal stake in these characters that we cherish so dearly, and with this mentality we as comic fans are almost our own worst enemies. We hold the source material as somehow sacred and untouchable when in reality it is just a jumping off point. So, when we see our characters being portrayed in a different manner than we are used to it can be quite jarring, as well as unnerving. We learn to become comfortable with a certain character and don’t want to see them change, much like our own personal childhood memories. But the fact of the matter remains that these characters do change, and they do evolve, and that statement could not be more true today.
What I am speaking in regards to, specifically, is the translation from comic to other media (most notably film and television). We are in the middle of the resurgence of “geek culture” where many of our favorite creations are being adapted and presented to the masses. In doing so, some liberties are being taken and things are sometimes watered down (for us comic readers at least). But in most cases, these changes are done for a reason (as much as we’d love to think otherwise). It might be hard to not take this personally, but we as the comic reading population, are quite honestly a minority. For these new iterations to be successful they need to appeal to the general public who don’t necessarily have any comic background, or perhaps very little. This doesn’t mean that we are better than them, or that they don’t deserve to love these characters just as much as we do. What it quite simply means is that there’s got to be a middle ground. Why should we be the only ones allowed to love these characters? If a story element needs to be tweaked to relate to more viewers, then so be it, because in the end it’s probably for the greater good. It’s ok to be passionate about comics and superheroes, but let’s make a pact from here on out to NOT be our own worst enemies. Let’s be more open minded and welcoming to others into the community for there is more than one way to become a part of the geek culture, and these mass marketed movies and products can pave the way for some (whether we like it or not). The quality of these projects are always left for debate, and as fans we love to debate.
In the end, it’s definitely easier to be pessimistic about an upcoming comic book movie/project than to be optimistic about it. As fans we have been burned many times, but in this age of the CBM things definitely seem to be different. With the Dark Knight trilogy and the Marvel Cinematic Universe paving the way for great and faithful comic adaptations, we should lighten our judgmental reins and be grateful for everything we are getting. If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I would have thought we’d be where we are now I would have laughed you right in the face. I think it’s great that our childhood characters are being shared around the world on an even larger scale now, and I hope that we can keep on sharing them for years and years to come.
So, in the end, I say loosen up, everyone. Everything doesn’t always have to be to canon, and while I know it may be hard to turn that “scrutinizing” part of our inner comic geek off, by doing so, we can all enjoy our characters for what they truly are: Fantastical beings that fill us with wonderment and joy day in and out.