I’m going to shock you with a piece of news and I do hope you’ll recover quickly and forgive me when I tell you: A few days ago, I was actually on the internet. I know, it seems so crazy, but there I was plodding along the highways and byways of this great big web of ours, dodging/engaging armies of memes, garrisons of political posts, and swarms of selfies. I had just finished negotiating a truce with a couple of cat videos when something quite delightful and unexpected came my way...
I have not seen the show "Supergirl" and, to be quite honest, I was one of many who balked at the first trailer for it because it didn’t look like they were taking the character seriously. And as far as "The Flash" is concerned, I only started watching the show the very day I saw this GIF, and I gotta tell you, it was a fine decision on my part.
So what made me decide to attach such importance to an innocent little GIF with two heroes hugging? Well, I should also mention that, before stumbling upon this costumed love-fest, I had just recently watched Batman v Superman, and prior to that, I had finished Season 2 of "Daredevil" as well. And while "Daredevil" and BvS are two horses of a different color, they each share a penchant for going to some pretty dark places. Batman v Superman, in particular, is a film so mired in doom and gloom that it’s message of hope (signified by tinkling piano music) often gets lost.
Now, before I auger this baby in and land on anything resembling a point, let me first declare that I do not believe that there is any one true and specific way that comic-book movies and shows should be done... except, of course, competently. Light and dark, gritty or pleasant, and day versus night, is all fine and dandy in my book. You can even make a superhero movie in which our main character cutely staples a picture of Hugh Jackman to their face and I will be the first to applaud it as long as there’s rhyme or reason (or a purposeful lack thereof) and the existence of that silly competency thing that I mentioned before. But after seeing several episodes of "Daredevil" in which people are repeatedly stabbed in the face with Sais, and then watching Batman v Superman, which contains the ultimate cinematic brooding contest, I was undoubtedly a little worn out with the grit and grime. So when the above GIF came along, it was just the shot in the arm I needed to shake off my gloom, and one that reminded me about what I’d like to think is the true purpose of comic books and their big screen adaptations. Prepare yourself for I aim to knock back a few glasses of innocence and naivety and talk some more at ya...
These are stories of hope. These are stories of people (many of them human or previously so) who find themselves with extraordinary abilities in extraordinary circumstances, and while it’s cool as a youth (or even as an adult, if we can be honest with ourselves) to witness these tales and to take enjoyment from imagining ourselves being able to fly through the air and lift heavy objects without having to worry about throwing out your back, the truth is that there is deeper meaning. It’s never been about the powers themselves (I’d be Magneto, by the way), but instead it’s about the fact they’ve have chosen to use those powers for good. The conscious decision to use your abilities, whatever they may be, for a greater good is the single most important thing to take away. It’s about helping to make the world a better place. And while it is good and necessary for these worlds to sometimes reflect our current reality and all the problems within, the powerful folks that inhabit them should aspire to transcend and lead by example. Captain America: The Winter Soldier may just be the greatest example of this.
Some of these super slices of fiction (Batman, Daredevil, Jessica Jones) started out as victims and have chosen to ensure that others are kept safe from the horrors that were inflicted upon them. Other characters, like Iron Man, Thor, and Doctor Strange, have to battle their own egos in order to see a larger world that extends further than their selfish desires. And then you have youngsters, like Spider-Man and CW’s version of The Flash, that are forced to grow up rather quickly after choosing to use their abilities to keep their loved ones and other innocents safe. Variety is the spice of life, and these stories tned to bounce all over the map, from dark and horrifying to fun and innocent. It’s the innocence that I’m choosing to remind myself of now.
Getting back to "Daredevil", S2 is ultimately an improvement over S1 in terms of pace and freshness of story, and ultimately its message manages to come out clean despite the gallons of blood tossed in your face. I came away from "Daredevil" unscathed but was not so lucky after seeing Batman v Superman, a film that can be applauded for featuring some epic superhero email exchanges. The doom and gloom billows behind this film like the many dust clouds created from the umpteenth buildings destroyed during its running time. I understood what the film was attempting to communicate but was unable to really take it to heart due to the overdose of scowling and disregard. So when I came across a picture of two heroes smiling and hugging it out, it was... nice. It was a pleasant reminder as to what I really like about these stories.
Now, you may be a well-adjusted person who needed no such reminder, and to that I say congratulations and here’s a coupon for Cold Stone Creamery. It just sometimes feels as if too many folks use darkness as validation for liking the fantastical stories that they do. It’s okay if I like a movie where a guy dresses up like a bat because it’s dark and realistic. It’s okay that I bought a ticket to see a film wherein a man flies around in red and blue tights because he’s brooding and parts of the film look like they’re shot by Terrence Malick. Daredevil has a funny costume? It doesn’t matter, because Wilson Fisk just ripped a man’s head off and The Punisher just killed 15 people with his bare hands. Again, if it serves the story (and the story is a quality one), then there is nothing wrong with any of this. Hell, the darkest Batman storyline of all time (The Killing Joke) has been made into an animated film, and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s just nice to know that, when you’ve had your share of the ultra-serious and the ultra-violence, there are brighter corners of this genre to retreat to that do not require for me to fumble for excuses. Now let’s hug it out.