That has made it hard the past few years. Dad’s tremendous sadness after Mom’s passing, caregiver guilt and the natural pain over the ending of 43 years of marriage, weighed heavily on him. The Holiday Hell became a somber affair, sad rather than dreaded. But this year I’ve been thinking of Mom quite a bit, and originally I thought it was because of Mother’s Day and so on. But I was wrong.
It’s because of The Avengers.
My Mom was a geek before all y’all. She was Hardcore OG (Original Geek). Mom was OG enough to be super excited when that Star Trek TV series came out the same year as her second son was born. Mom was OG enough to introduce that boy to Isaac Asimov, Robert A Heinlein and Andre Norton. Mom was OG to the point of loving Star Wars. And Space:1999. And UFO. She’d keep me up so I could watch the Universal horror pictures with her; Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolfman. And she was OG enough to read comic books; the classic great Silver Age Marvel comics of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. OG enough to be a Marvel zombie and shake her head if she ever saw me with a Justice League comic. The Avengers — that was the family book.
Mom used to say she was reading The Avengers when she went into labor with me (my brother contests this memory though). We had tons of Avengers comics. I remember reading them with her. Staging issue reenactments with friends. Captain America was a real hero. Scarlet Witch was hot. The Vision is my favorite super-hero (of the time, anyway; Marvel has no fucking clue what to do with him now). The Avengers was a team where the very best got together to solve problems, help others. Simply because they were the best. Not because they were mutants. Or family. Or children. Just the Best.
Iron Man came out the year after Mom died. That hurt a bit because she would’ve loved that movie. She LOVED Robert Downey Jr. (Ridicu-loved. She had a VHS tape of Chaplin that she wore out before she died. It could’ve been called the Ghost of Chaplin it was so worn.) And Thor? Holy mackerel Mom loved Anthony Hopkins. Directed by Kenneth Branagh? Heaven. (I think she would’ve had good things to say about those Hemsworth and Hiddleston guys as well). Captain America, well Chris Evans made The Fantastic Four for her. She RE-WATCHED that movie just for his performance. She would have LOVED The Avengers. Possibly more than I do, and I fucking love that movie.
The last time I saw The Avengers (number five) I went thinking about Mom. Thinking about how cool it would’ve been to share that movie with her. Watching her take joy in Downey’s energy, talking to her about Downey and Ruffalo’s beautiful exchanges on the Helicarrier, Marveling (not apologizing for that) at the BEST HULK DEPICTION EVER, discussing the rise of that Renner fella, remembering discovering Jackson in Pulp Fiction, wondering for the umpteenth time what the fuck did Bill Murray whisper in Scarlett’s ear; sharing all that, and recapturing that hazy, golden-glowy time when your parents were THE COOLEST PEOPLE YOU WILL EVER KNOW.
That’s why it hurt a bit when Iron Man came out. But it’s also why I feel awesome watching The Avengers