A few personal words about why Marvel films matter, and the power they have to bring people, and families, together.
As a child I remember going to see three films with my family. Star Wars at the Odeon Gants Hill, Superman 3 at the ABC in Ilford (Mum fell asleep) and Ghostbusters 2 at the Odeon Barking.
I’m sure I went to the cinema more often and have memories of other trips with uncles and cousins, but these three are the ones that I’ve never forgotten. There are many reasons why we didn’t go more often, one of which would’ve been the cost involved, but there also weren’t many films around to capture the imagination of both my parents and myself.
Fast forward to 2012 and I now have two children of my own, they were aged five and seven at the time. Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was a regular on Disney TV in our household (along with Mickey Mouse, but I don’t think my son wants me to tell you that bit). At this point I’d seen the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films on home release and I was pleasantly surprised.
I only watched Iron Man because I was bored at the time, and had very low expectations. Now my son asks to see The Avengers. I decided, as any good parent does, that I would have to see it first to make sure it was suitable. So we packed the kids off to school and my wife and I went off to the cinema to watch the movie. Much fun was had, still love that film. So we take the kids to see it and that was that.
2013 comes along with Iron Man 3. By now the kids have caught up with all the previous films and Tony Stark is my son’s hero. Not Iron Man, just Tony Stark. Make of that what you will. The release coincides with a family birthday, so we make an event out of it, dinner out and the cinema. Marvel did seem to have a knack of releasing these films around our birthdays, but I’m sure it wasn’t deliberate.
Thor: The Dark World came along, with TV series Agents Of Shield in between. By now we were hooked as a family. Agents Of Shield was regular viewing, as were the trailers for the upcoming movies. These were dissected and discussed at great length. Release dates were highlighted and dates booked for when we would go – never easy when both parents are shift workers – but we made sure we could all go. Dinner out was usually part of the package.
I consider this to be the golden age of the MCU, up to the release of Avengers: Endgame, and there’s more to come on that one.
Guardians Of The Galaxy was great fun and I was excited by Spider-man: Homecoming. Spidey had always been a favourite of mine as a youngster, so I was delighted to see the character done well. Then we start getting the build up to Infinity War. By now the kids are 11 and 13 and at senior school – but they still used to rush home if a trailer was out and they knew I wasn’t at work, so we could watch and discuss it. The joy on their faces as we watched and talked about the trailers together was wonderful to see.
And so, we come to Endgame. I will try not to give away any spoilers, although if you’re this far into this article then I’m guessing you’ve seen it. To say it was emotional for us is an understatement! Once it was clear to me what was happening, I dared not look across to the children.
As the films are continually released and we repeat the cycle of trailers, discussion, dinner and film I start to realise that it’s not the films I start looking forward to, as much as the discussions and family dinners. We all had something in common to talk about and take us away from the stresses and strains of everyday life. I’m sure my kids never appreciated this at the time, but I think they do now.
As the kids have got older it’s harder and harder to spend time as a family, but Marvel gives us that. There’s been some misfires along the way for sure, we didn’t bother with Eternals or Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings at the cinema but made an event out of them at home when on streaming.
I remember the excitement caused by the Thor: Love And Thunder trailer, so that film was pencilled in for the cinema. Yes, it was a little disappointing, but it still brought us together. So it gets a better review from me for that. I would say it gets better on a second viewing, though.
Now the kids are almost gone. They’re out with friends and seeing other films at the cinema. My eldest will soon be going away to university, but they still get excited by trailers for Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania and they’re starting to check rotas to see when we’ll be able to go. I’ll have to start saving for the restaurant bill (kids menus don’t cut it anymore).
So thank you Marvel, you have been a constant throughout my children’s lives as they have grown up and I know at least three times a year I get to spend an evening with them and just talk – no mobile phones, no distractions, just family.
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