The Heart of A Fan
By Brandon Alvarado
It was a late Sunday morning. My wife and I decided to go out for brunch and after debating whether or not we wanted to try something new or go to a great, yet familiar destination, we decided on one our favorite spots . We saw the exterior and the name from the car as we started looking for a parking spot close enough to the location. It was busy and full of patrons; yet no familiar faces or staff were found. Instead of waiting for a table inside, we decided to sit outside at one of the available tables and began to look at the menu. We were surprised at what we saw. A menu that once was filled with over 15 plus, particularly named items had been reduced to less than half. The quality of the paper was laminated plain white paper. The interesting color scheme and themed logo that the original menu possessed was nowhere to be found. The menu items also looked like knockoffs when compared to their filling ancestors. Even though on the outside it still looked like our place, we couldn’t find out place on the inside it anymore.
I looked at my wife and asked if she wanted to leave and go elsewhere, because I could see in her face that she wasn’t happy. This wasn’t just a diner. It was one of her favorite diners. I brought her once while exploring new places and she instantly fell in love. She introduced it to her close friends and they fell in love with it too; which worried me because I knew she wasn’t upset merely because she was hangry. No, she was heartbroken. Her spot was no more. In the end, we stayed. The food was uninspired. It didn’t have the taste- dare I say- the “touch” it once had that kept bringing us back. We got through it, paid the bill and vowed to never return. It was a sad morning.
One might say: “What’s the big deal? Just go to IHOP or something? Food is food.” And yet another might add: “Don’t worry about it. There are plenty of other places to have brunch” (unless you’re Barry Allen in Justice League, in which case you avoid brunch altogether!) To those people I say: “You don’t understand. It wasn’t just the food or the location. It was everything. We weren’t just visitors of that eatery; We were fans. Devoted, scream-at-the-top-of-our-lungs fans and, by losing that special spot, we lost a little bit of ourselves too.”
But, aren’t all fans like that? I’m not talking about the person that says he’s a Marvel fan, but doesn’t even know that all the movies are connected. I’m talking about the fan that goes to all Marvel movies and looks for the Easter eggs; The fan that looks for the Stan Lee Cameo. The fan who watched Justice League, even though he’d heard it was going to be pretty bad, because he/she knew they had to see for themselves. This “FAN” has a connection to what he admires that goes beyond the merchandise, beyond the books, the movie or TV shows. It is sentimental, ideological and intellectual. It part of who they are.
Why is it important for us to understand this? Because our passion and commitment to that which is the object of our fandom, can keep it alive and evolving or it could bring it to an end. Fans have a power and responsibility to that which we hold dear, but many times we are not aware of it. And why do we have this responsibility? Because we understand these characters. We know their stories. We know what makes them special to us and we know what we want to see (and what we don’t want to see). We are very picky people, you and I. This why when we saw Superman (Henry Cavill) snap General Zod’s (Michael Shannon) neck in Man of Steel some of us went, “WHAT?! Superman doesn’t kill. He has a code!”
One of the big problems that I had with Barry Allen’s portrayal in JL, despite being a big Ezra Miller fan, was that he was too socially awkward and anxious, and he had that scene with Batman where he seems apprehensive about fighting. In my mind I was: “What!?? The Flash isn’t a wimp and if he’s scared he doesn’t show it like that. He runs towards those who need saving without thinking twice. He saves people in a Flash.” It just felt wrong to me.
Fans, Revengers like us, know the spirit of these characters like if it were our own and this is why our voices are important. A real fan can appreciate the different iterations of a character or the evolution of character, because we can still see the elements that makes them great, but they draw the line when they see things that betray the very nature of a character’s essence. That is why we take to our tumbler or twitter when something either looks really bad or really good. This is why it’s a daunting to task to see these superhero movies sometimes, because we dread the possibility of these elements not being captured correctly.
What can we say about content creators though? What about producers like Kevin Feige, writers like Geoff Johns and Scott Snyder or directors like Joe, Anthony Russo, Chris Nolan and James Gunn? These are creators that have understood the heart of the fans and have shown us this with their content. If they have shown us anything, it’s that they are fans themselves and that there are new and fresh ways to introduce and evolve our beloved characters in ways that are satisfying to all fans, old and new. Because what does the Heart of A Fan want more than to be able to continue to enjoy stories that capture the essence of what makes these characters their favorites while also introducing something fresh and unique? Nothing.
This is the Heart of A Fan and content creators that are applauded above all others, not only understand it; They actually have it. My wife sadly got her heartbroken at that diner, and many fans have been through this in more ways than one, but even if a creator got it wrong; a true fan does not let these stories end. A true Fan continues sharing the stories that made these heroes great and continues to campaign to see more great content produced. I encourage all Revengers, old and new, to be the fan that supports great content, that is open to the possibility of something new and that is hopeful for the future of these stories.
I think about people who have become so disenchanted with the DCU films that they can hardly tolerate the idea of a course-correction. They’d rather a hard reboot that throws baby Kal-El out with the bath water, and that’s really sad. I’ve been letdown by these films too, and yet my wife and I will still leave a chair open for Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen the next time we go to brunch (once we find our new spot). Because even though some of our heroes and heroines have suffered along the way, the future looks bright, true believers! All we need are storytellers who understand- and share- the Heart of A Fan, and our heroes will join us in the sun.