The Monday Muse: Anticipation

(Feel free to sing the title, if you’d like.)

So, readers, it’s time for another day of musings. Apologies for being a bit late today, but the weather that has wreaked havoc over so much of the nation decided to take its toll upon the electricity today, so…there’s been a bit of a scramble. BUT I HAVE PREVAILED! (Was that maniacal laughter?)

Today I want to talk to you about one thing, and it’s in the title: anticipation. Specifically, I want to warn you about letting it get in the way of actual enjoyment.

As most of the world is well aware, the latest Avengers movie is out this Friday (here in the States, anyway). This is one of my most anticipated movies of the year (along with Star Wars and the Minions movie, because I’m actually a small child in a grown woman’s body), and I have whetted my appetite by being exceptionally picky about what I view vis a vis the ridiculous levels of advertisement available. It started so long ago…the careful doling out of images and information to get the nerds of the world salivating in delight. And we have.

Until the internet got its hands on the movie. And the nerds freaked the *beep* out! This movie is at once a sign that Marvel is done and that Joss Whedon is a hack who phoned it in (though knowing what I know about Mr. Whedon, that is just objectively IMPOSSIBLE and I will defend that man’s honor most vociferously). The final fight scenes are Michael Bay-esque (which…is bad, apparently, though my problem with Bay movies is *never* the action and always the fact that the action is ALL THERE IS), and Ultron is a series of “weird one-liners” without menace at all. Um, guys…you do realize that James Spader is kind of…weird, right? You were never going to get a hulking (pun intended) leviathan with a voice actor like that.

So basically…we’ve got a lot of angry nerds. And if you look at pretty much any movie of its kind (remember the rage when The Dark Knight Returns came out, and…oh…all of the Harry Potter films, the Hobbit films, and the list goes on), there is always an almost visceral backlash against them. And it’s not just movies, either. Remember the last Harry Potter book? You’d think that one epilogue had just destroyed seven books’ worth of satisfying payoffs, well-constructed plots and characters, and heartbreak (which is NOT BAD). Now…I will never forgive JK Rowling for killing Fred, but that’s mostly because his death was just there to shock us. And, from what I can tell, the disappointment is real for both Mockingjay and whatever the last book in the Divergent series is.

What do all of these things have in common? That’s right! ANTICIPATION. We build these things up in our heads to the point that they simply cannot live up to our hopes. It’s too much pressure for a movie or a book to live up to. Not that we shouldn’t expect a good product; some of the outrage is well-deserved (those Star Wars prequels were genuinely bad and, as much as I love Middle Earth, the Hobbit movies were done a disservice by the overuse of CGI), though the internet could certainly learn a lesson in constructive criticism and the mature expression of one’s bad opinion. But I thought the Harry Potter movies were fine as an adaptation of the novels, and I feel the same about Game of Thrones, with the additional positive feelings of knowing it’ll end eventually and I’ll get some payoff (PLEASE, GEORGE, I NEED ANOTHER BOOK!!!!!!). Also…Kit Harington. But I digress…

Anticipation is more than just looking forward to something. It is built upon expectations, and those expectations are invariably personal. Millions of people will see Avengers: Age of Ultron, and there is simply no way it will please everyone. It has a harder job than, say, Guardians of the Galaxy, which was so delightful in part because that delight was unexpected. People had no preconceptions, and no hype built up. A lot of people expected it to fail. Captain America: Winter Soldier benefited from being essentially a spy thriller with some metal accessories (this is not to downplay the movie as it is my favorite so far from the MCU and Cap is special to me), which allowed it to focus on a tight, character-driven story peppered with fantastic fight sequences and explosions. Age of Ultron benefits from neither of those things, so it absolutely cannot live up to everyone’s expectations. It is so highly anticipated that it is bound to, on some level, fail. Look at Rotten Tomatoes: Avengers is currently rated lower than Furious 7! How much of that is because American audiences haven’t gotten their hands on it yet is yet to be determined, of course.

And Marvel is also somewhat to blame. How can we possibly NOT anticipate something that’s been teased, trailered, hyped, and Hulkbustered for the last year? But keep in mind, people…we’re all anticipating Star Wars, too. And if you can’t bring your expectations to bear, and your anticipation spirals out of control…Han Solo will come home to a lynch mob of angry nerds.

So…that’s it for the musing today! Apologies for the late hour and if you’re in the states affected by this horrendous series of storms…please stay safe! Same for anyone dealing with the drought and fire out west! I don’t care what my governor says…CLIMATE CHANGE. There…I wrote it. What are you going to do about it, Mr. Scott?

See you Friday!

-C

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