‘Late’ Fans

I was a late-arriving fan for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The history of my chat thread with my sisters tells me that it was in November of 2018 when I pinged them looking for a fun movie on Netflix to watch on a rare day off. One recommended Black Panther, if I liked Marvel movies, and the second chimed in with Thor: Ragnarok, at which point the first changed her recommendation to Ragnarok as well.

I watched Ragnarok.

I liked it so much that by the time Endgame was released the following April I’d worked my through all twenty-one previous movies, including heading to the theatre (by myself) to watch Captain Marvel. And then I watched Endgame in the theatre four times, which at the time seemed both ridiculously frivolous and utterly necessary (I was in a bad space with work and needed the outlet for crying), but now seems more like a dream (an enclosed space with lots of other people – what was I thinking?!).

I recognize that Ragnarok as the gateway drug for the MCU is a cliché, but I think it came at just the right time in my life when I was a) ready to embrace a big new universe and b) old enough to no longer care about going to the movies by myself. Having easy access to most of the films via Netflix and/or the public library also helped.

I realized as I worked my way through all the movies that I had seen a couple of them before. I think Q. and I saw the first Iron Man in theatres in 2008, but Q. is not into superhero movies, which possibly was only made clear on that occasion, so we didn’t make the effort to see more (especially after E. came along). I maybe have memories of watching the first Avengers film on a plane (or possibly it was Age of Ultron). I hadn’t quite realized just how many Marvel movies had been made, until I devoured Ragnarok and turned my attention to the backlist.

And it was GLORIOUS.

So many films to track down and watch, in order, with a recurring (ever-expanding) cast of characters. So many great moments. I devoted myself to the MCU with the same fervor that resulted in me being able to identify every ST:TNG episode within the first forty-five seconds as a teenager. When I decide to love something, I am ALL IN.

I get that some people don’t believe that you can be a ‘real’ fan if you discover something late, and want to make it a thing about how superior their perspective is because they loved it earlier. I recognize that there is a difference between discovering something right at the outset and coming to it later, when it’s already complete (or nearly so). But both are equally valid, fabulous ways to love something. The people who watched Endgame who had been travelling with those characters since 2008 would have had a different experience than I did, the newly-minted fan. But their experience would have been different again from those people who had read the comics. Not better, not worse. Different.

It didn’t matter how we got to that theatre, just that we were there. And I, the newbie, cried just as shockingly hard as a seasoned fan might have (or perhaps harder, let’s face it – I’m a weeper). My opinions (*cough* should have been Hawkeye *cough*) might not have been grounded in years of speculation or decades of comic book narratives, but they were still valid.

I think we don’t celebrate this enough – how glorious it is to find something you love only after it’s been around for a while and there’s heaps of it to discover. I see the difference in E’s experience of the How to Train Your Dragon series (the books), which had all been published by the time he was old enough to read them and his experience waiting (and waiting) for the fourteenth book of the Wings of Fire series to appear. Burning through a dozen novels in the space of a few weeks (and then reading and rereading them, often out of order, for months to follow)? Fabulous. Awaiting that magical moment when the library shows how many copies of the book they have (and your position in the holds queue) rather than just “copies on order”? Also fabulous.

I’m now entirely caught up on the MCU content. I am a WandaVision super fan. I watch the new episode every Friday and then I go on Twitter to see what everyone else thought. I am thoroughly unaccustomed to having to wait for a new episode. On Netflix, I binge my way through anything good (unless I’m watching with Q. who has more restraint). Every week it feels weird (and somewhat uncomfortable) to reach an endpoint without actually reaching an end.

I don’t know how the MCU and I will get along in the future. Their universe is getting bigger and more complicated in Phase Four. Will I care about these new characters? Will it all get to be too much for someone like me, with minimal comic book knowledge and limited time? When will I feel safe in a theatre again?

Whatever the future holds, it’s been a glorious romp over the past couple of years, and I’m positive I’ve enjoyed the movies more than I would have if I had been watching them as they were released. They really reward a binge. And yet, I also think WandaVision works better on a drip feed, as if I had been able to binge the entire season, I know I wouldn’t have appreciated some of the moments which have stuck with me over the past few weeks.

Do you like to get in at the ground floor with new things or discover them once they’re already completed, so you don’t have to wait for the end? Are you also watching WandaVision?

5 Comments

Filed under Choose Happiness, Daily Life

5 responses to “‘Late’ Fans

  1. Mary

    This is fascinating. I’ve never really thought about this, but I don’t think I really qualify as a fan of anything in that there’s nothing that I really want to consume all in one gulp the way you describe your (and E’s) experience.

    Parenthetical: I guess I’m slow, but, while, of course, I’ve heard the other phrase before, it never really struck me that “binge watch” means literally watch a bunch of episodes in a row. I mean, it’s right there in the word, but, since I wouldn’t do that myself, it didn’t occur to me that someone else would want to do.

  2. Turia

    Gosh, I would never want someone to think they’re not a fan just because they don’t binge on things they love! I bet you have lots of things you like reading/watching.

    I’ve always had an all-in personality, which is why I never allowed myself to start playing fantasy video games like World of Warcraft. I know if I started, I’d never stop.

  3. Ana

    Love this! I ended up getting sucked into MCU when my kids got into it. Wanda Vision is freaking amazing and I’m sad it’ll be over. I also have never thought about the “early” vs “late” fan thing—but I’m with you, two different, but equally great experiences. Honestly, at this stage in life, ANYTHING that can bring a little excitement and joy is much much welcome, I’m certainly not going to be all snobby about whether one got in at the ground floor or not!

  4. Turia

    Ooh yes, I’m excited to share the MCU with E. He’s going to be 10 in May, so I think he’ll be old enough to start watching the movies (and it sounds like the kids at school have already spoiled the end of Infinity War). Mostly I’m excited for a future theatre buddy!

    I’m SO SAD WandaVision ends tomorrow. I’ll watch Falcon and the Winter Soldier too, but I’m not as excited about it (super pumped for Loki though).

  5. My philosophy is “better late than never,” lol, on MCU or anything else. I have done it both ways — come to certain series late (“Downton Abbey” for one example) and been in on the ground floor with others — which is great in some ways, but then you have to wait impatiently for the next installment of the story. (I’m thinking of the Flavia de Luce novels by Alan Bradley, for one example…!)

    I’m nowhere near a comic book geek, but I’ve enjoyed all the Avengers/associated movies. I think the first one we saw was “The Avengers” or maybe “Iron Man”? and we haven’t seen every single movie in the series — but we’ve seen most of them, and mostly in the theatre when they first came out. “Ragnarok” was one of my favourites. 🙂 I agree, should have been Hawkeye. 😉 (I think I posted a rant on my blog at the time — sure, let’s let the childless woman nobly sacrifice herself…) We’re not watching WandaVision, but we only have Netflix as a streaming service and we don’t make nearly enough use of that as it is. I find I still tend to be kind of an “appointment” TV kind of person 😉 — although when I get bingeing, I can do it with the best of them…!

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