marvel comics

Why Being a Grown Man and Excited About Men in Tights is Okay

My wife has no use whatsoever for superheroes. Despite that, she’s agreed to attend the Marvel Movie Marathon with me and a couple of our friends on May 3rd. Six movies. Fourteen hours. The last movie we’ll be seeing? The Avengers, at midnight. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Nick Fury, all in one movie. With my wife. I wish I could go back in time and tell 8-year-old me that this was actually happening.

Or 16-year-old me.

Or 20-year-old me.

Or 28-year-old me.

Or me from last fall.

Once I got into the comic book buying habit, I never really grew out of it. Sure, there have been hard financial times when I’ve had to set the habit aside for a bit, or times, like now, when the price of a single comic book is not justified by the amount and quality of content inside (I prefer to purchase collected editions or “graphic novels”), but I’m always reading comics. And, yeah, I’m usually reading about superheroes.

I am not an overgrown child trapped in a child’s body. The stereotype of the 30-year-old arrested adolescent living in his mother’s basement, picking Cheetos out of the beard he thinks makes him look older and playing video games while debating disembodied mouth breathers over a headset during online Halo games about whether or not Batman’s 1950’s adventures with their sci-fi trappings can be squared with the persona of the “Dark Knight” is, unfortunately, based on some all-too-real individuals. But they’re not as numerous as most people think.

Most geeks or superhero fans have a steady job, a spouse and kids. Or they at least aspire to some combination of the three. Many are college-educated and can hold real conversations. You may be tempted to stare at their chests and wonder at the magnificent shield of Captain America screenprinted upon it, but–hey now–their eyes are up here.

A grown man with a love for men in primary-colored tights is ridiculous on its face, but only if you reductively describe the passion as such. What it’s really all about, at least for me, is the simple power of great imagination in the service of telling a story of good triumphing over evil.

My worldview is reinforced and stuff gets smashed. That is never not going to be entertaining.

So, in a couple of weeks, I’ll put my love to the test and plant my butt in a seat for 14 hours and see just how much awesome I can take. I’ll also put my other love to the test. I hope she likes Thor as much as I do.*

Like superheroes? Hate ’em? Love to hear your reasons why or why not.

 

*I seem to be the only person on Earth who understands that Thor is the best of the Marvel movies. So far, anyway.

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How to Make Things Valuable

A writerly pose. Notice the all-black attire, the awkward framing, the fingers brought to the temple, and the archaic writing tool. Yes, this man has deep, deep thoughts.

When I was younger I had this dream about accomplishing something amazing at a young age. Get hired by Marvel or DC Comics. Write a book. Serve in City Council. Invent a new Oreo. Whatever. I thought that doing something great at a young age would make me and that thing more extraordinary.

Didn’t happen. The things I did as a young adult were pretty typical. I graduated college. Married. Had kids. Got a job and a house. All good things and great accomplishments for me personally, but nothing the world was gonna stand up and take notice of.

Fast forward to now and, on the eve of my 35th birthday (still a week away), I actually have done something pretty great. I’ve written a book that could find a wide audience and change my life and the life of my family forever. That’s terribly exciting, but it’s nothing people younger than me haven’t already done hundreds of times over. Granted, my story is my own and unique and amazing, but I’ve read and heard about kids and young adults still in college getting these amazing book deals. Real prodigies. People who have accomplished so much and are so talented  and so young. That was supposed to me.

I’m so, so glad it wasn’t.

There is value in the wait. With hard, laborious, extended periods of work and pounds of sweat comes a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. I can appreciate what I have now because of where I’ve been and what it took to get here. My book has been through the wringer–multiple readers and people giving their opinion on what I’ve done and what does and does work for them. The “does not” is the hard part. Pouring your heart and talents into something for years and then being told it’s not quite right is tough and it shapes you. Thank goodness.

Now, I have a literary agent. I’ve written a book. Do you know how exciting that is? I do, now. If this had happened to younger me (and no friggin’ way he had the talent or the skills), he wouldn’t have appreciated it. There would have a been a sense of inevitability about it. A sense of entitlement that would have made the accomplishment less thrilling and less deserved. I’m glad that punk didn’t get this then. What I have now is more valuable because that guy was disappointed and had to wait and reconfigure who he thought he was and work harder than he ever thought he could.

I realize I haven’t really “done it” yet. In fact, I’m at the biggest crossroads of this whole process right now. The book is about to go out to publishers and then we’ll really see what the future holds. But everything that’s happened so far? Pretty big deal. More than most ever get.

I’m so glad I can see that fully.