I have spent more money on comic books and superhero merchandise than I have on my wedding. I used to mow lawns to pay for comic books. Tim Burton’s Batman was the first movie I remember seeing in an American movie theater. I own a M.O.D.O.K. T-shirt, a M.O.D.O.K. action figure, and a M.O.D.O.K. coffee mug. M.O.D.O.K. is not a bandwagon character. M.O.D.O.K. is the equivalent of a teardrop tattoo. You know somebody is hardcore if they’re talking about goddamned M.O.D.O.K.
And despite all that, I still get nervous every time I walk into a comic book shop, like they’re all silently judging me. This is a holdover from when I was a little kid and would walk into comic book stores and the guys behind the counter would instantly start making fun of me if I stupidly asked them any questions, thereby admitting my shameless audacity for not having committed the layout of their store to memory. For some reason, the default setting for comic book nerds is “ridicule.” The secondary setting is “snacks.”
It’s not a groundless fear — comic fans are ruthless. The instant you say something about a character or storyline that they disagree with, they immediately do their very best to exclude you from the community. Girls get it the worst — a girl can’t wear an Aquaman T-shirt to any kind of nerdy gathering without getting accused of not being a true fan (whatever the hell that means) and being grilled with Aquaman trivia questions that no human being should be able to answer. (The correct answer to “If you’re such a big fan, then in what issue of Aquaman did we learn the name of Aquaman’s father?” is “Fuck you — Arthur, Prince of the Sea, belongs to everyone.”)
When I wrote a column a few months back outlining the reasons that Ben Affleck will probably be totally fine as Batman, I was inundated with people accusing me of never having read a comic book before in my life. Many rage-quaking Batman fans wanted my comic book membership card burned in an iron brazier and extinguished with the tears of my friends and family. It was as if I had broken into their bedrooms and shotgunned a violent Batman-shaped dump into their pillowcases (which are likely also decorated with pictures of Batman, making it a hate crime according to current federal legislation).
I think this is because many people in the comic book community are unable to separate themselves from their favorite characters or understand that the specific connection they feel to a particular character or storyline is literally the same personal connection that every single other fan feels. It’s like the feeling you get when listening to a favorite album; it takes you to a specific time and place in your life, and the experience can be almost religious. But the thing is, every other comic fan has that exact same connection. Their fan worship is but one in a sea of millions. So why is any one person’s idea of what is cool for Batman any more or less correct than anyone else’s? (Unless you are Joel Schumacher, in which case your concept of Batman is so incorrect that it stabs straight through the X-axis of every “Batman Correctness” graph like a dagger of spiteful hatred.)
Comics are a business; they depend on fans to survive. And yet the influx of new fans that comes along with every comic book movie is something that the comic community in general greets with elitist derision. Why is it so terrible if a pretty girl who’d never heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy until two months ago suddenly walks into your comic shop and wants to read about them? Nobody erupted from the womb implanted with the knowledge of the mystical origin story of Dr. Stephen Strange — somebody introduced you to that character, and the community grew by extension. Other people should be allowed to join, too, regardless of whether they were introduced by some movie they liked."
Nice article if you click through.