All weekend, my Twitter feed has been flush with people so excited about this new Avengers movie. The hashtag trends; it even has its own little icon. People seem gripped by the storyline, as they were tantalised when the trailer came out. People have been dressing up and going to see it late at night.
If you knew me at age 13, you’d think I’d be one of those people. I read comics – loads of them. I remember appropriating the habit age 10 with an issue of Avengers West Coast, thinking how cool it was that there was a guy dressed in purple who used a bow and arrow. My personal discovery, starting with Issue #1 and carrying on… well, I can’t tell you how long I carried on, but the answer is in a cardboard box in the closet of the spare room in my parents’ house – I digress: my personal discovery was The New Warriors, which had delightful invented circumstances bringing new superheroes and spare casts from other titles together as some teenage world-saving enterprise. (It’s coolness was all but certified when writer Fabian Nicieza quoted lines from the urgent coda of Pearl Jam’s “Rearviewmirror” in a kind of dream sequence about teen physical romance and fear/alienation regarding the parents in the house.)
Yes, if you knew me then, you’d say to yourself, “If the big studios ever get behind this thing – I mean really behind it, not like those Batman films – and they start filming X-Men and the Avengers, it’s gonna make this kid so happy.”
So how is it that at nigh 40, I’m taking a pass, as I have done on the previous Avengers films (and let me tell you, I remember Thanos from the comic books), and Captain America, and the Spider-Man reboot, and the whole bloody Marvel universe? I watched Iron Man and Iron Man 2 on the plane eight and a half years ago. I liked it because I enjoy watching Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow on the screen, for different reasons. I didn’t like it because of the thrill of seeing my old comic books brought to life and receiving applause from a wider public.
It has a lot to do with guitars. Me and my two friends from high school decided about the age of 15 to start a band, and once we’d purchased our instruments, the guys at the Nanaimo Music Store told us in knowing tones how this would now suck all our money away. On picks. Pedals. Strings. A better amp. Another guitar. We laughed. We told each other we’d still collect comic books.
(Narrator: They stopped collecting comic books.)
The worlds can still come close. My favourite local has temporarily swapped its thriving open mic night from Mondays to Wednesdays so it can put up the giant screen and show every episode of the final season of Game of Thrones – something else 13 year old me would ostensibly love but for which I’ve mustered the enthusiasm to watch precisely one episode. That first Wednesday, I decided to play Weezer’s “In the Garage” as a tribute to our displacement. I think Weezer more or less bypassed the good people of Britain, and this one holds them even further at bay by reducing “garage” to a delightfully North American two syllables. But its opening lines were my rallying cry:
I’ve got a Dungeon Master’s Guide.
I’ve got a twelve-sided die.
I’ve got Kitty Pride,
And Nightcrawler, too
Waiting there for me, yes, I do
That was me, just like Rivers Cuomo. Those were my trappings. But he knows, and I know, that they weren’t everyone’s.
In the garage, I feel safe.
No one cares about my ways.
In the garage, where I belong,
No one hears me sing this song.
No one cared. No one understood. We were misfits, marginal. I was the nerd. At 13, I was tackled by my own teammates during rugby in P.E. class. I mean, that’s what made comic books so awesome. Peter Parker was a scrappy little nerd, but no one knew that he could lift a car or swing from one tall building to another. There was power – the world just didn’t recognise it.
So now that everyone’s so jazzed about Avengers: Endgame, I have just one question for you.
Where the hell were you during my alienated, tormented, picked-on and made-to-feel-lousy teen years, you bastards?