Happy belated Star Wars Day! (aka May the Fourth Be With You!)
Two days ago Marvel’s The Avengers opened in the United States. I’d been waiting for this movie for some time so when I saw that the local movie chain was taking part in the Marvel Movie Event (a marathon beginning at 2:15 pm with Iron Man and culminating with the 12:01 am Avengers premiere) I knew that was how I’d be spending my Thursday. I started beating the drum on Facebook about two weeks before the event. By the time Thursday afternoon arrived I had quite a group of guys ready to nerd it up.
On a hunch, I brought my pocket notepad with me as I figured the event might inspire some writing. Also, I thought that tweeting between movies might be entertaining. Here it is- enjoy!
The event kicks off for me as I arrive at the theater shortly before 1 pm. I worked all morning with great intensity to clear my desk as I’ve scheduled Thursday afternoon and all day Friday off. This is not an event to take lightly! I find the ticket kiosk, swipe my credit card, and receive the ticket I pre-purchased two weeks ago.
The group slowly begins to assemble. About 7 guys are ready for the 2:15 pm kickoff. A few more will join as the evening progresses. We strategize about the most effective popcorn and soda purchase/replenishment schedule. Some minor dissatisfaction breaks out as I reveal that I have received, with the purchase of the $35 ticket, a free small popcorn and free small soda. Seeds of dissent pop up as my compatriots realize they only received one free item. Just before the group storms the ticket booth, we determine that the theater chain’s loyalty card kicked in the 2nd freebie. Crisis averted.
Everyone upgrades the small freebie to a medium (free refills all day!), purchases the other half of the popcorn/soda combo (except me!), and we walk into the theater a little before 2 pm. Clearly, our socializing outside was foolhardy. We do not have many options for a single contiguous set of seats. We manage to find an open bloc and settle in. We continue our comic/movie discussions until AC/DC’s epic guitar riffs fills the theater at 2:15 pm. I shout my battle cry into the darkness- Nerd It Up!
Iron Man ends. The audience stands, stretches, and begin strategizing about next steps. Here’s my next tweet.
After sprinting to the bathroom and back, I take a moment to collect some observations (and send that tweet). Clearly I was not in the proper frame of mind for a 12 hour movie event. I raced through a medium bag of popcorn and medium soda before the first movie was halfway over. I resolve to approach the rest of the day as a marathon, not a sprint. My bladder agrees that this is a good plan.
As people are socializing before the next movie, I am struck by the sense of community here. I am fairly certain that everyone in attendance either, a) lied about what they were doing between 2 pm and 2 am today, or, b) took a truckload of crap as their friends and family members struggled to understand the appeal in this movie event. This cloak of secrecy/scorn seems to cover us all equally and, in doing so, unites us. Cool. Or cheesy. Take your pick.
A quick count/estimate gives me a crowd of more than 100 or so, with about a third women. This is a surprise. Before the event, I would have estimated that 1-2% of the audience would be female- those being the unhappily obliging girlfriends that agreed to go today. No wives- wives, in my opinion, are not much for the “unhappily obliging” part. Of course, I’ve been married three times so one could make the argument that I am not necessarily the expert on wives’ preferences… 🙂
Shortly, the trailer for G.I. Joe: Retaliation begins. I wonder how many previews we’ll see today. As the trailer continues, I begin to worry that they are showing us trailers too early. What if they run out of all the good ones before we get to Avengers? (I’m not saying that G.I Joe was a good one…) Would they have to scrape the other films for some chick flick trailer to fill time? How would our crowd react if they show a trailer for Water for Elephants 2: The Dry Season? This has me slightly concerned. Iron Man 2 begins and I let it go.
Iron Man 2 ends. There is less cohesion in the audience now. Our group scatters quickly as soon as the post-credits teaser scene ends. Looking at the exit of the theater, that seems to be the case for much of the audience. Josh announces that he is heading to the comic book store downstairs. He was wearing a Syracuse University shirt. I wonder if he is feeling out of place without a comic shirt. Justin has to head home to feed and walk his dog. The real world’s intrusion on our event is noticed and unwelcome. I tweet.
I remain with our seats and stuff while Tim hits the restroom. I strike up a conversation with my as-yet-unknown neighbors on my right. A young man and woman, they appear to be dating. I’m curious as to the woman’s thoughts here. Disproving my earlier assumptions, she is excited to be here. She is tired but left early for the day to attend the event. While the young man (boyfriend?) announces that he can “do this all night” (that’s what she said… thank you Steve Carell) she points out that she has her pillow. When she tells me that she works at Starbucks I point out that she should be hyper-caffeinated. She admits to drinking a “5 shot macchiato”. If I were a Starbucks person the reference would probably make more sense to me.
Tim returns and we discuss our food plans as, true to my tweet, I recognize that popcorn will not sustain me through the coming hours. After reviewing and rejecting our choices at the concession stand, we determine that we will make a break for the food court one floor below. This is risky- we have no proof from any of the folks around us that we’ll be able to get food back into the theater. Being men that thrive on danger, we risk it.
Our mission is a success. We return, Tim bearing a Subway sandwich and I with a white styrofoam container of Chinese food- General Tso’s chicken, teriyaki chicken, and white rice. In the hallway we encounter Josh, who has switched out his civilian t-shirt for Old Navy’s last Avengers t-shirt in his size. As we enter the theater, we are accosted by an aggressive fanboy that begins loudly declaiming Captain America to be a poor movie. Perhaps I have unintentionally antagonized him by walking too close while wearing my t-shirt with Cap’s shield on it. Having found wisdom and the ability to suffer fools in my 41 years, I move past him chuckling.
“It has no story arc!” he thunders. I continue chuckling. “It lacks any sort of narrative!” At peace in my world, I take my seat. Unfortunately, he and his much-quieter friend have taken the seats at one end of group (opposite me). Unfortunately for Josh, Fanboy is right next to him and has not yet shut up. I open my food as the lights dim. No preview- maybe the theater staff have had the same revelation I did earlier.
I learn a new lesson as Thor opens. Don’t eat Chinese food in the dark if you are a picky eater. I nearly choke on a whole dried red chili pepper hiding in the General Tso’s chicken. This would have been a tragedy! I would have missed the showing of Captain America, one of Marvel’s finest movies. It’s an amazing film about the self-actualization of this noble character and has a wonderful narrative arc. (Suck it, Fanboy!)
Thor is over. Bathroom run then time for another tweet.
Trouble- I didn’t think of this. My phone’s battery is at 29%. I’m doubtful that it will make it through two more movies. Although I had been exchanging texts with my wife between movies, I make the bold decision to go radio-dark to conserve battery life. I shut off the phone until after the next movie.
There is another shift in the ambiance within the theater. We are almost there. The bulk of our work is behind us. The audience seems charged. “Two more!” someone shouts after the teaser scene. (He might have been drunk. At that point, it was one more until Avengers. Unless he was counting until after Avengers was over. Toe-may-toe, Toe-mah-toe…) People are anxious to get to the prize at midnight.
In our row, our group quickly whispers plans down and back. Fanboy and friend are the world’s worst movie neighbors and talked throughout the entire last movie. Taking pity on Josh, I coordinate with Starbucks girl our use of a open seat down at my end- opposite Fanboy. Justin moves there allowing Josh to put a one-seat buffer between him and the chatterbox. Roger, who has moved a couple of rows back to join one of the later-comers in our group, heckles the Fanboy by tossing provocative statements down the theater. We are primed and ready.
We’re standing in the row waiting for the next film. Looking around, I realize and announce what the theater is missing. Hacky sacks and devil sticks. One of our group chimes in that he has devil sticks at home. We are the perfect group.
Shh- Captain America is starting. No previews.
I am aware of the fact that I am a little ridiculous at this point. My excitement is growing. After having sat through nine hours of movies, I don’t know how I can wait another 30 minutes to see Avengers. My tweet acknowledges that.
The comic book-related theorizing and discussion is heavy; I think I’m not the only person energized right now. Our group, which consists of both straight and gay men, realizes that we have found yet another place of common ground (besides being crazy enough to attend this marathon!): we all agree that Scarlet Johansson, à la Black Widow in Iron Man 2, has a phenomenal ass.
Honestly, the 30 minutes passed very quickly. My notebook has only a few scratched notes. The previews- all the ones they were saving- start to roll. Battleship (Roger dryly announces that Chutes and Ladders is coming next summer), Expendables 2, The Dark Knight Rises- all pass before us. We’re told to put on our 3D glasses as the previews for Frankenweenie, Brave, Prometheus, and, finally, The Amazing Spider-Man are up. Another day (or about nine fewer hours of movies) I’d be interested. Right now, I want Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!
The film opens… don’t worry- no spoilers here…
I get my wish. I realize that Joss Whedon is every comic fan’s champion. He rocked it. Whatever his price tag is to do the next one, Marvel (meaning Disney!) needs to write the check right now. Hell, I’m sure we can fund it through Kickstarter if we need to. If crowd funding had been in existence 10 years ago, would we have had more of the magic of Firefly? Let the discussion begin. Can anyone share this with Mssrs. Whedon, Fillion, Tudyk et al? 🙂
I get home and send my last tweet of the night (morning?)…
It is Saturday evening as I finish this post that I started yesterday. I have now seen Avengers three times, having taken my wife on Friday for a quick date and my father, two oldest sons, and two nieces earlier today. This movie stands up. It could very well be the best comic book movie ever. In the immortal words of Stan the Man,
[My thanks to Tim, Josh, Roger, Justin and others for sharing the marathon with me. I had a blast! Thanks guys! -T]