The landscape of geek culture shifted over a decade ago as a billionaire in a red iron suit took to theatres with a snarky attitude and mad science skills. It wasn’t cinema’s first foray into the world of supersuits and villains, but it was the first in what was to become a series that continually managed to sweep in audiences of all age groups and, somehow, everyone managed to have a good time in the process. Now in 2019, we’re faced with what could be the last we see of some of our heroes. Over the next two weeks, a few of our LTN writers will take turns reflecting on what Marvel has given us over the last eleven years. Stories of opening nights, toy aisles and comic shops. Stories of shared joy, excitement and tears. These are our love letters.
Bringing Nerd Culture To the Masses
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has shaped a part of who I am these last ten years. Growing up, I was into things that weren’t always popular with other kids my age. I played with Barbies until I was 13, read comic books, and played video games with my brother. Nowadays, these things seem to be pretty commonplace. I didn’t really embrace my inner nerd until the first Iron Man movie came out. I was 16, and I was blown away by how good this movie was about a hero I had never heard of. I grew up watching X-Men and Spider-Man cartoons and the live-action movies. But as the MCU grew, so did my love for superheros and all-things nerdy.
The MCU’s success and the respect it has gained from the industry has ushered in nerd culture to the masses and has made the masses into nerds. These movies made me feel powerful, accepted and understood, and now millions of people understand those feelings. They gave me the strength to be who God created me to be. And they continue to establish strong female role models to girls and women out there who long to see themselves up on the screen in superhero form. Thank you, Marvel, for the last ten years. It has been a gift to me, and Endgame is the perfect sign-off to this first phase. The future of the MCU is as bright as Captain Marvel, and I can’t wait to see what’s next on the horizon. — Brittany LoflandI saw my first person in cosplay at a midnight premiere. I forged stronger friendships and discovered that some of my friends were a lot nerdier than I first realized.
Owning Your Nerdiness
The Infinity Saga came to an end for me on April 25, 2019, at 6:05 pm CT. I got to the theater at 6:00 pm and had a distinct moment of reflection as we walked into the theater. Had this been Iron Man back in May 2008, I would’ve been lucky to get a seat in the theater if I showed up 5 min before the showing. I remember arriving at movie theaters 5-6 hours in advance to the premiere (normally at midnight) and spending the time in line with other nerds. We would talk to one another about different movies; someone probably brought a DS/3DS while someone else was playing the latest game on their phone. I saw my first person in cosplay at a midnight premiere. I forged stronger friendships and discovered that some of my friends were a lot nerdier than I first realized.
This was the beauty of the MCU for me. Over the last decade, nerd culture has crept out of the shadows and into mainstream society’s consciousness. Superheroes found themselves on the silver screen, and their stories were captivating and comic-like. Comic books became cultural text. The more you knew about certain characters from their different story arcs, the more you were able to speculate on the plot for the next movie. Comic book knowledge became acceptable and then desired for average, pop-culture conversations. Plus, with each movie, nerds could find each other in line at the theater. We advertised our nerdiness with shirts bought not at a convention but at a nationwide retailer. I found my nerdiness and owned it, in part, because of how the MCU brought nerd culture front and center. For that, I am extremely thankful. — Jonathan Campoverde
Leading By Example
While I may not be able to build a suit that lets me fly or swing a magical hammer that only I can wield, there are many things to relate to in the stories told by the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the past 11 years. My favorite and the one that has left the biggest impact on me is Captain America. Prior to the movies, I had the impression that he was lame and overly patriotic. I’m still not entirely familiar with the characters’ many years of comics, but the portrayal in the movies is clever, a ferocious comrade and friend, and someone who fights for his beliefs. He’s inspirational and leads by example, and has been shown to better those who fight beside him.
The action may be bombastic and outrageous, but without the foundations of the relationships and the challenges that our heroes have gone through, the MCU would be all sizzle and no substance. Those struggles, challenges and relationships have been what’s kept me invested in these interconnected movies. —Ryan EighmeyI will either ironically chide her, “You’re such a geek!” or she will say, with knowing affection in her eyes, “You’ve turned me into such a geek.”
From the Toy Aisle To the Big Screen
The Avengers (2012) was my wife’s gateway experience into nerd culture. Sure, she had reluctantly seen Iron Man with me years before and enjoyed it, but that was a very mainstream-friendly film that required little suspension of disbelief from its audience. We had been married for under three years, in which I endured the occasional eye roll whenever I would bring home a comic book or excuse myself to go down the street to a gaming center. She just didn’t share my passion for geeky things. She didn’t get it.
But on opening weekend, we drove down from Western North Carolina (where at the time there were very few, if any big, modern movie theaters) to Greenville, SC on a date to buy teacher supplies and see the film. Before the trailers started there was a commercial: 10-year-old boys in the toy aisles of either Target or ToysRUs playing with plastic action figures of Avengers characters, including Loki in his helmeted costume. “Oh no! Loki is getting away with the Tesseract! Stop him, Thor!” I cringed in my seat. My wife asked me incredulously, “Is this the movie we’re watching!?” I thought my wife’s impression had been ruined before the film even began by a cheesy toy commercial for little kids.
But it turned out that Joss Whedon pulled it off. My wife laughed. She jumped. She felt things. A giant green monster jumping off buildings and ripping flying alien whales apart did not turn her off. She was in. To this day, whenever she makes a Captain America reference, a Star Trek reference, etc., one of two things will happen. I will either ironically chide her, “You’re such a geek!” or she will say, with knowing affection in her eyes, “You’ve turned me into such a geek.” — Justin Gabriel