Positive Cynicism – Fanboys aren’t happy unless they’re hating

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

Last week, Warner Bros. released a picture of Henry Cavill as Superman, complete with action pose, dramatic lighting and for some reason, 80s hair.

The fanboy reaction was predictable. No, wait — not predictable. To call it predictable would be to say that it was worth predicting. Fanboy rage over nothing is more … inevitable? No … Let’s say, usual. As usual, fanboys were angry.

Guys, it’s really getting old.

Well, it’s gotten old. It’s SOP. It’s the usual. It’s what you do. Because, really, you’re not happy unless you can chirp about how your childhood memories are being raped for cash or you can throw up a blog post of righteous indignation to add to the usual cacophony of weirdly-entitled fan angst that makes up most of the Internet.

And I’m not talking about people who didn’t like Superman’s hair or who didn’t like the way the costume looked. You didn’t like it, you didn’t like it. Maybe it’ll look better on camera, in motion. Who knows? I can’t attempt a guess. When the first publicity photo of Brandon Routh in Superman Returns hit the web, I didn’t care for what looked like faded colors, but in the actual film — a film I truly, deeply despised — it looked much better than it had in the still.

From the griping I’ve read all over the net, it seems like the problem most people have is with the textured costume. Meh. That seems par for the course; it’s just what’s happening in costume right now. Spider-Man’s costume looked the same in the Sam Raimi movies, and it looks the same in the upcoming Marc Webb movie. Even the uniforms in Star Trek had that weird texturing, and that didn’t bug me. What I’m much, much more interested in is seeing a good movie that holds my attention and entertains me. I’m just weird that way. I was too distracted by Star Trek being cool for a change.

But okay: you don’t like the costume, or the hair or even the casting? Well, that’s one thing. I get that. There’s always going to be that. Hell, I didn’t like Batman’s costume back in 1989, but I got over it. I think just about every comic book costume is going to look pretty silly onscreen, and I honestly think fanboys are never going to accept it. If Superman was wearing tights, it would be deemed too silly. Now he’s wearing a post-Matrix textured suit and fanboys don’t like that, either. The thing to keep in mind when making a movie like The Man of Steel is this: fanboys don’t or won’t like anything unless it makes them feel awesome for liking it.

Anyways, not liking the picture is one thing. That’s why they put this shit out in the first place.

The bigger issue I have is with a surprisingly large segment of the fanboy plague who seem to have been able to extrapolate from one image the entire plot and tone of the movie. And those people are just … not smart.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention, you know I love Superman. He’s one of my favorite characters, and I think anyone who doesn’t understand the character and what he goes through has mostly seen the character written very poorly. (Which is, sadly, the only way to see the character in comic books right now.) I’ve written about what the character and his mythology represents to me both here and elsewhere. I believe in the inviolate goodness of Superman.

And I, apparently unlike a lot of other people, don’t feel like that goodness is going to be violated by a darker-tinted costume and a photo with a lot of shadows in it. Especially since the only context I have to put that in is “This is a publicity photo for a movie about Superman.”

But there it is, all over the geek sites, all over Facebook, all over Tumblr: people who take the photo and assume it’s going to be darker and edgier and completely miss the point of Superman and blah blah blah anger and incoherent rage.

Over a photo.

From a movie that doesn’t even come out until 2013.

Based on one image, apparently hundreds of fanboys have decided that this movie is an affront to the basic concept of Superman — a character they love so much that they don’t even buy his comics — and are falling back on their all-time favorite overdramatic act: my childhood has been raped. Victimization has gone way past the point of fetish with these people. Now it’s just a sick sort of obsession.

And honestly, I think deep down these people really are delighted to have something else to bitch about. And they probably think their bitching has some kind of force of the fan market behind it, when it really doesn’t. As I’ve also pointed out repeatedly, the fan market is only being listened to right now because it’s a market. These people will go see this movie no matter what. How many times has a fanboy told you “I’m going to go see how badly they screw it up”? And then, when they’ve greedily sucked the marrow from their self-fulfilling prophecy, they actually think a studio like Warner Bros. cares if anyone liked it or not. Dude, they got your money, and that’s all that’s important. That’s it. Bottom line.

Honestly, I don’t even know what fanboys want out of movies anymore. With everyone creaming their jeans over the action-packed unintelligible murmuring of the wheezy Dark Knight Rises trailer, and thousands of kids who can’t wait to see The Amazing Spider-Man turned into a superhero version of Twilight, and the entire Internet douching it up over any hint of The Avengers, all I can do is stand on the sidelines and wonder what it is that I’m not getting. What is it that I’m asking for from movies that seems so out of step with what everyone else wants?

I don’t know. I’m going to give The Man of Steel the benefit of the doubt for now. I didn’t care for the picture or the costume — except for the fact that Superman looks like SuperMAN and not Super Boyish Good Looks — but I’m not prepared to assume the entire tone of a movie that’s not even coming out for two years. I love Superman, and I even like director Zack Snyder, who has yet to make a movie I didn’t enjoy (yes, even Sucker Punch). Hell, I’ll give the other superhero movies a chance, too, as bad as they look, and with creators I don’t at all care for; because I want to enjoy movies based on comic book characters I’ve grown up reading. And if I don’t like them, I’ll say I don’t like them, I’ll even say I hated them, but I won’t say that Christopher Nolan raped my childhood because I don’t like his version of Batman.

That’s just fucking stupid.

Just entertain me, already. I’m not asking to be proved wrong. I’m not asking to be proved anything. I just want to stay open to being entertained instead of looking for a reason to be unhappy because Hollywood is giving me what I asked for.

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com

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