I did not do much in the gaming front last night as I spent the evening watching Shazam. Firstly this movie is pure joy, and I really wish we had more super hero movies that could tell a good story while also maybe not pushing the envelope quite so far into Warhammer 40k Grim Dark future timeline. I realize this maybe only works for a movie like Shazam where you have childhood wonder mixed with instant super hero powers. Basically I loved it and want more of it, however I am not sure if you can bottle the same sort of lightning twice with a sequel. So far however this is probably my favorite DC movie? For reference the other two that I really love are Aquaman and Wonder Woman… so your mileage may vary if those were not your movies. I never really thought the Heath Ledger Joker was that amazing even though he delivered a pretty great performance… I loved the first movie in that series and they sorta went downhill from there for my personal tastes.
What I find weird is the situation we are in right now where DC is decidedly the more gritty movie series, which seems to be the exact opposite of my experience reading the comics growing up. Marvel was the one that had more “realism” and DC was filled with a large number of what I would consider hapless Pollyannas. Movie wise we have the polar opposites going on, where Marvel gives us movies that deliver both crushing sadness but also moments of pure joy and DC has given us “MAAAAARTHAAAAAAA”. I was never really a follower of Shazam or “DC Captain Marvel” depending on how you choose to refer to the character, and I think in many ways that helps with the joy. I went into Guardians of the Galaxy knowing only the most basic of information about those characters and was super fine with whatever tweaks they took to get them on the screen. For Shazam as far as I am aware they represented the character pretty well, but I also don’t know a ton of information and as a result wouldn’t know if they completely butchered something… or care.
There are definite times where our geek cred gets in the way of our enjoyment of things. I’m sure you have experienced moments where you are watching some pop culture recreation of something you loved growing up… and they completely failed at some small piece of it. Then that small piece works at the back of your brain until it starts to color your opinion of the thing as a whole. You don’t want it to happen but it sort of happens automatically without you meaning to, and the next thing you know you are spitting venom about whatever that thing is. I still personally find it hard to reconcile the Star Wars prequels for example, even though I realize they aren’t as bad as I originally thought they were. Also there are moments like when you listen to the actor who played Jar Jar Binks… and hear what hell he went through all over a bunch of fans galvanizing disappointment into something far more dangerous and militant.
Ultimately us geeks need to reach a point where we are capable of taking our loves not quite as seriously as we do. That is the core problem with a lot of the toxicity that I see online… is when disappointed love turns to hatred. Example… I am trying very hard not to allow myself to become that guy with Anthem even though I have already waded knee deep into those waters on many occasions. It is hard when your hope turns sour and you start lamenting all of the things that could have been… rather than focusing on the things that exist and are good. I think the opposite is also bad where you have a sort of toxic positivity that everything is fine and everything is working as intended. I think we need to reach a point where we can accept the fact that occasionally our heroes will let us down and that a lot of things will never quite live up to our expectations. I am trying to get to that place myself honestly, but the fact that I realize I am being unreasonable is probably the first step. The problem is… it feels good to ruminate on that anger especially when it comes in the form of snarky semi-anonymous posts on some message board or YouTube comment section.
The long story short… I loved Shazam and would love to see more movies like this. Not necessarily more Shazam movies… but more super hero movies that are capable of embracing joy. Weirdly one of the other movies that sorta fits these guidelines is Deadpool, which is a fairly joyous movie… in spite of the body count and ribaldry. I feel like the Guardians of the Galaxy movies also were very much in this same style as was Thor Ragnarok and the Antman movies. I want more movies that make me feel like I can ignite the spark of hope inside of me… rather than simply wallowing in the fact that the world is shit and will always be shit. All I have really seen is some reports that the movie did not live up to expectations… but then again much like with a video game release I am wondering if those expectations are deeply inflated and unrealistic. It is a good movie and if you need something that invokes pure joy in your life… then I highly suggest checking it out… especially if you loved John Hughes movies.