We Sit Through A Comic Book Movie Marathon So You Don't Have To.
All day yesterday and leading up to last night's midnight showing of The Avengers, various theaters across the country were showing every Marvel Comics movie featuring a character that is also in The Avengers.
About a week and a half ago, I bought my ticket. There was some hesitation on my part. I was, after all, making a 16-hour commitment.
Thankfully, though, I knew this much heading in: We were being spared the Ang Lee version of The Hulk, leaving us with two Iron Man movies, plus the latest films versions of Thor, The Hulk and Captain America.
Still, that's six movies in total. That's a lot. And make no mistake, as you'll see in my running diary from the day-long effort, it wasn't always easy to just sit there and be entertained.
9:45 a.m.: I arrive at NorthPark, ticket in hand, expecting to be able to hit Starbucks and sit down for a minute and maybe grab something to eat. I swing past the theater first, though, just to check things out. I'm greeted by a huge line. Already. So much for relaxing with a coffee first. I get into line and they slowly admit everyone. I talk to the ticket guy. Apparently they have sold out three whole theaters for this marathon. Three.
9:57 a.m.: So many people with pillows and blankets. I hope they use them to make forts.
9:59 a.m.:So who was in line with me? Well, who do you think was waiting in line over an hour ahead of time for a comic book movie marathon? Nerds. Lots and lots of nerds. The guy toting around a homemade Captain America shield was regaling his neighbors in line about how he usually dresses up as Bane for conventions. Makes sense, considering he looks like a shut in. Just in case you were curious: He doesn't approve of the Christopher Nolan version of Bane. He looks like Reptile, he says. Not Bane. I don't even know what that means, but I think it might be someone from Mortal Kombat. As usual with these types, he would much rather they get Triple H or some other wrestler to play Bane. If there is one thing I've learned from being a part of nerd culture for the past 30 years, it is that they will do pretty much anything to combine their favorite things together. This is especially true with comic book movies and professional wrestlers.
10:02 a.m.: Is wearing a superhero T-shirt to the movie is the dork equivalent of wearing the bands T-shirt to their show?
10:05 a.m.: They just gave us a promo comic book, sponsored by “Wyndham Rewards,” plus a lanyard celebrating the fact that we were seeing “Six Movies. One Epic Day.” and our choice of superhero glasses. I chose Thor. They are beyond hideous. They give those Pizza Hut Back to the Future sunglasses a run for their money.
10:17 a.m.: Will anyone have to sit next to someone they don't know and make a love connection? Yeah. I didn't think so either.
10:45 a.m.: Why didn't I bring a book? I have like 45 minutes before this even starts, and there is no WIFI. C'mon.
10:48 a.m.: Hey, it's the inaugural playing of the brand new Soundgarden song from soundtrack. I am hoping that I don't hear it again until after midnight. I don't have high hopes though.
11:20 a.m.: We were just shown a promo for the marathon we are about to sit through with minimal Avengers trailer footage. The whole theater begins to titter like little girls. I'm also already sick of typing the word Avengers.
10:57 a.m.: I have high hopes of surviving this ordeal, but the one thing I am worried about is the piped in AMC music between movies. Not sure I can stand much more of this awful new Lionel Richie album.
1:30 p.m.: Hey, the first movie, Iron Man, is over. My lips feel weird from all the salt; I just consumed almost an entire bucket of popcorn. A literal bucket. I will likely survive seeing this many epic summer movies in a day, but I don't know if my body can cope with all the sugar and salt intake.
1:31 p.m.: Rewatching Iron Man, you pick up on all these little things that you missed the first time (unless you are an obsessive fan boy). Lots of tiny little Mandarin references, building up to his appearance that'll happen in a movie that won't come out till next year. Lots of objects barely within frame — relics of history sitting on tables. These movies are all built within the same frameworks as the comics. A highly connected universe just waiting to be cataloged, explained, with backstories filled in. Obsessive wiki's are created. Comic book fans love nothing more than the curation, collection, dissection and discussion of endless minutiae. It fills their lives and gives them this sense of purpose. It barely matters how good these movies are. Someone will pay to see them. Someone will immediately rush home to annotate all the obscure references.
1:36 p.m.: They are not playing music in the 20 during the breaks between films. That should help my sanity. Not helping my sanity? The dorks in front of me. One is skipping school to be here! He lied to his father! I want to tell on him.
1:40 p.m.: I informally polled people around me to see what 3D glasses they chose. The Hulk 3D glasses are the worst.
1:44 p.m.: I will henceforth refer to all stretching being done between showings as “cosmic dork yoga.”
1:49 p.m.: An AMC rep from the “home office” in Kansas City just came in to thank us for being here. I've been forgetting to use the hashtag #MarvelMarathon. Now the trivia begins. You know what comic book fanboys love? Trivia.
1:52 p.m.: I predict that all “limited edition, exclusive” prizes given out for this trivia will end up sealed in bags and never leave whatever garage or basement they end up in.
1:57 p.m.: Just kidding, you guys. The AMC hold music is back. There is a song called “Ray Charles” by some rappers named Chitty Bang. Or something.
2:05 p.m.: First beer purchased. Bartender says he expects the entire 15 screens show The Avengers a midnight to sell out. Whaaaat?
3:11 p.m.: The Hulk as Beauty and The Beast. Why have I never noticed this before? This movie is only OK because of the actors in it.
3:30 p.m.: Holy shit. Was that a Michael K. Williams cameo in The Hulk? Best bit part ever. He was the most convincing frightened pedestrian at The Apollo.
3:45 p.m.: Best part of The Hulk? It's an hour and a half. Also, congratulations go out to Hulk and Abomination for finding the only Greek ruins in Harlem to fight in.
3:58 p.m.: Second listen of the new Soundgarden song. “15 years in the making,” they say. It's no Chinese Democracy.
4:02 p.m.: I just won trivia. I was the first to answer with what year The Avengers was published. 1963. They gave me a throwaway poster from the studio and they put a post it note on it calling it a lithograph. I wish it was a giclee.
4:04 p.m.: People around me are already talking about cast speculation for the second Avengers movie. Prevailing interest lies with Spider Man and Wolverine.
4:10 p.m.: Some people near me are carrying on a conversation about Young Justice. I have never seen this TV show. It took me a minute to figure out we were talking about a TV show.
4:20 p.m.: Mickey Rourke looks like a dude with the most STDs.
5:30 p.m.: I may have entered an alternate dimension. A woman just said that the Tom Cruise's Rock of Ages movie looks “awesome.” Will anyone remember me when I leave this theater?
6:28 p.m.: Halfway through my second tub of popcorn. Just got a refill on my soda. My stomach officially feels awful. This makes me want to see how much awful food I can actually consume. I used some gummi bears to counteract all the salt. It helped a little.
6:30 p.m.: If you are relatively close in age to me, you can't call me sir. Boss, chief, captain and dude are all perfectly acceptable substitutes.
6:32 p.m.: After having seen both back to back, I decided that The Hulk is, overall, a better movie than Iron Man 2. There's considerably less character bloat, a more focused storyline, It's 30 minutes shorter, too, and you come away with it having some sort of identifiable moral tale. Lots of people in Iron Man 2 are great, but, man, I wish it was a bit more cohesive. It feels like they had a couple solid stories for half a movie and just mashed it all together and couldn't decide what to cut. All the SHIELD stuff felt really tacked on, just to tie it down in the universe. That's generally the biggest problem with comics. All the stories are forever ham-stringed by this forced synergy with everything else going on. In fact, you could argue that a solid majority of the best stories written in comics shirk that connection to tell a good story. Someone always tries to tie them back in on the back-end, and it is always awful.
6:42 p.m.: Why is it so enticing for overweight, unattractive people to dress in spandex superhero costumes? We see it. ALL of it.
6:48 p.m.: Dream meal right now: Roasted curry cauliflower, asparagus with lemon and olive oil, and a cornish game hen roasted, topped with sage/thyme butter.
6:58 p.m.: Did you know they make Doctor Who hockey jersey's that look like the TARDIS? They do. They even come with your favorite Doctor's name on the back. This guy just walked by wearing a Baker jersey. How do things like this happen? How lazy does culture get when someone goes, “Let's mix these two things together that have nothing at all in common. Let's do that just because we can and some guy will buy it because he wants people to know he loves Doctor Who that much.” Which brings up a good point. Yeah, we all love stuff a lot, but you wear the T-shirt because you want to make a statement to people around you. Sometimes people even wear “clever” T-shirts because they want others to know that they, too, are clever. That said, I wear my Big Johnson T-shirts for myself and a deep unending love of modern art.
7:03 p.m.: Phone is at 33 percent battery. It will not survive the night. Once people's phones and iPads start dying, it will get ugly. Will anarchy break out? I will not eat anyone. I solemnly swear that to you.
7:11 p.m.: Wait. Loudest applause so far is for Thor? Maybe we are all losing it.
9:02 p.m.: Just kidding. Thor is actually pretty damn good the second time around.
9:06 p.m.: Just two movies left. I feel like I drank a gallon of syrup. My lips are chapped. I just want to eat a salad. This is my third time hearing an Andrew Bird promo/song. How did that dude go from being Andrew Bird to Andrew Bird, guy who gets played in an AMC between movies? This song they keep playing off his new album sucks, too. He does whistle in it, though. Nice fan service.
9:14 p.m.: I'm starting to identify people in the theater that will be weak when everything goes horribly wrong. Pretty much anyone in a costume or dumb hat isn't going to survive.
11:18 p.m.: It might be the Marvel propaganda marathon I'm sitting through, but the Captain America movie is the best comic book movie ever. Sorry, Batman fans.
11:21 p.m.: Remember that thing where you get goggle marks on your face from high school chemistry class? I might have these 3D glasses marks forever.
11:48 p.m.: Don't type on a laptop between showings. I just had the most incredibly awkward conversation with this girl asking if I was covering this for work. It was so weird in the middle of a conversation. She could barely make sentences, and she couldn't remember the name of a website she wanted to tell me about. Then she just like drifted off, which I am not complaining about, but I just really wanted to give her a hug and tell her that it would all be OK.
11:52 p.m.: I think my favorite Avengers team is probably the '70s-era ones with Wonder Man, Beast, Cap, Hercules, Scarlet Witch and Vision.
11:56 p.m.: Soundgarden song again. They keep saying something about how we are like the sun, living to rise? Don't forget that someday we will all die and the planet will be engulfed by the sun. Our rotten decomposing bodies will be redistributed through the cosmos. You can't escape your eventual cremation.
12:09 a.m.: So, Battleship is just a collection of unused scenes from Transformers, right? Fantastic.
2:35 a.m.: Random: Jenny Agutter from Logan's Run was in The Avengers? I feel like the only person within a few hundred miles to notice and or care.
2:57 a.m.: I've used my whole ride home to think about The Avengers. Truth is, I'm still not sure how to feel about it. I mean, it seemed good. It was fairly entertaining. It was cool seeing all those characters in one film. But, honestly, watching all those other movies before the big one kind of sucked the life out of it for me.
3:11 a.m. I'm still not sure how I feel about the move. But I just decided to go see The Avengers again at some point this weekend. So, y'know, take my uncertainty as you will.