So I finally took my son to see the stupid Guardians of the Galaxy movie the other day—and trust me, it is an exceedingly stupid and bad movie for reasons I will explicate shortly—but my son “loved it.” My son is an optimist. He makes the most of everything. If it’s a movie? “AWESOME!” If it’s a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? “AWESOME!”
But even he could feel the vibe as we took our seats.
The stupid movie had opened nearly a month before. We went to a noon showing on a Sunday attended by MAYBE 50-75 people in a theater capable of seating 1,500 and man, those taking their seats were nearly all dads with their kids. No moms. The moms knew what I knew—this film was going to suck. So, call me psychic! I could tell my son was readying himself for a disappointment.
I didn’t want it to go that way. He had already returned to school, but it was Labor Day weekend, he wanted to see the big stupid Marvel Comics Movie, and I was determined he would have a good time.
So I became three things. 1: A liar, 2: The idiot who screams in the movie theater, and 3: The moron who applauds every time something blows up.
Also, I had a card up my sleeve. Drax, man. Drax The Destroyer.
DRAX THE DESTROYER was created by Mike Friedrich and Jim Starlin in the early seventies, and Drax was a pretty bad-ass character for Marvel comics. He dies. Is resurrected. Fashioned into a living weapon of vengeance. It was Drax The Destroyer from whom I drew my chosen surname, NOT Lord Dunsany, NOT Hugo Drax from Moonraker of the James Bond series, NOT the scary-ass power plant in England. Drax The Destroyer. He was green, he was nuts, he was tough as shit.
I thought the pseudonym “Simon Drax” would induce either terror or ridicule. Both reactions suited me fine.
Sitting in the theater watching Guardians of the Galaxy with my son, whenever Drax appeared on screen, I very loudly howled
My son was a bit embarrassed but still highly amused, and nobody in the scant audience cared. As a matter of fact, every time I screamed “DRAAAAAX!” there were titters of laughter in the dark. And screaming at the screen for a single character is not solely the propriety of the obnoxious moviegoer. Example: Rocky Horror. “BORING!” and “WHERE’S YOUR FUCKING NECK?!” And more: I saw Jim Cameron’s ALIENS ten times in the theater in the summer of 1986, and every time this babe showed up—
— all the cool guys in the audience screamed
My voice was the loudest. At least it seemed that way. Vasquez and ALIENS rocked.
Unsurprisingly, Guardians of the Galaxy did not rock.
I made sure my son had a good time. I screamed “Draaaaax,” we applauded when shit blew up, etc. But it was not a good movie. Not even close.
Guardians of the Galaxy is an instantly forgettable assemblage of set pieces and dumb idiotic jokes and “spectacular” effects, and though I kept my son in a good, attentive mood—becoming, in effect, a liar, encouraging my son to applaud for shit—bad dad, bad bad bad dad—mentally, I was in Hell. I kept shaking my head. WHO CARES? Any of it. Who cares? The silver ball? The cameo of Thanos? That the main characters become friends? The Kirby-created villain?
In Alan Moore’s anthemic essay Writing for Comics, Moore uses “Who cares?” as a mantra as he rips apart bad comics, bad storytelling, bad writing. There’s never been a more successful writer than Moore who’s been more adversarial to the film industry in the adaptation of his comics into movies. He’s walked away from thousands, shaken his head at millions of dollars in payment for adaptations of his work. In many ways Alan Moore is Planet Earth’s last honorable man. He just won’t take that fat stack of cash. He has a simple theory: There are good comics, there are good movies, but they are not interchangeable. One can not necessarily be successfully morphed into the other.
I agree with him one hundred percent. Know your form.
The makers of “blockbuster” Hollywood comic book movies would do well to study how intelligent, successful comics actually work as opposed to replicating again and again and again the structure of the cinematic hit based on its opening box-office haul, the demographics, the popular plot points or story arc based on previous movies rather than the source material, or the fact that the movies they make merely contain characters and elements and lines of dialogue and design schematics of the comics they are mauling that they KNOW the fans will flock to. The makers of Guardians should have read more good comics.
I don’t care that the Guardians of the Galaxy movie sucked, actually. I have better things to worry about. As a matter of fact, it was MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: my son had a good time. Even if I had to become a liar, even if I had to become a bad father, even if I encouraged him to applaud for a piece of shit. It was like giving him candy I knew would rot his teeth.
I screamed “Draaaaaax,” to the audience’s semi-hilarity, my son was amused, we appreciated the theater’s AC, we ate all of our popcorn. He had a good time. Mission accomplished.
So what’s my problem?
Glossy pieces of shit that cost millions of dollars while children are dying of hunger and thirst, movies that distort original visions of the creators, and the sad fact that I am a participant in these crimes. I might scream my chosen name in a dark theater for yucks—but I’m just as guilty as the assholes I just spent 1000 words bitching about.