I don’t know anything about the upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, but I’m hoping it can smooth over a long-standing rift between my daughter and I before it tears our family apart once and for all.
“We’re superheroes!” she said to me the other night, imploring me to tie Fuzzy Blankie around my neck.
“What are superheroes?” I asked her, intrigued even as I obliged, knowing how important Fuzzy Blankie was in the cosmology of the household and not wanting to offend anyone.
She thought hard for a few seconds. “Superheroes… fly around and help the people. They save people in trouble… like Spider-Man!’
I swear to God Almighty Above Us, I did not put her up to any of this.
For you readers who have somehow not been following all of our iFanbiographies since the day each of us was hired: I have a four-year-old daughter, a one-year-old son, and a wife who after all these years regards all of us more or less equally. She lets my daughter decide what we’re all going to watch on TV each night; she reminds me to go potty before long car trips. I’ve made my peace with it.
I love these other three good people who are kind enough to live with me, and I pride myself on not force-feeding any of them comic books. I’m not going to cram my interests down these people’s throats… which is a good thing, because my wife would need a super-scientist to expand her brain mass in order to find a physical way to be less interested. She is the first person in line for a comic book movie—our second date was a screening of X-Men 2, by her request, and she was the one dragging me to First Class and Green Lantern this summer—but it just doesn’t translate to paper. If you, say, took that X-Men source material and piled it on her living room coffee table until it resembled the remains of Pompeii, it could take months. It could take all year. She would never, ever so much as ask, “Hey: what is all this bullshit ruining the living room?” She wouldn’t even acknowledge it was there. It’s like she’s trying to win an indifference contest.
It’s nothing personal. She’s just got a life to lead.
And thank the Lord. Otherwise, I’d have to keep up with my stack, just to get it out of the poor woman’s sight.
Mind you, it’s still a comic book household somehow. My son happens to have a Captain America t-shirt that happens to have spontaneously started appearing on his torso during the last three weeks, but I assure you I had nothing to do with it. This is all just the boy’s mother trying to curry favor with me. I appreciate it! If I could get my hands on some True Blood jammies to reciprocate for her, I would. (“My Mommy is a Fang-Banger”? Seems inappropriate, but who am I to judge? She likes what she likes.)
The question I have now is: given that my daughter spontaneously loves Spider-Man, what do I do about it?
Because—and here’s your Shyamalan twist for the day—I was talking to her about it the other night when she informed me that, judging by his mask, she has decided that Spider-Man is a bad guy.
And who can blame her? Look at him. Look at those pointy eyes. He’s a creep. Right?
Still, knowing better, I try to tell her she’s got Spidey all wrong.
“Spider-Man is a bad, bad guy!”
“No, sweetie! Spidey is a good guy. You shouldn’t be scared of him at all. I’ll show you. Remember how he saved the people? We just need to fire up the ol’ Netflix and watch… well…. Hmmm. The ’68 series is a little too trippy-dippy for a four year old in 2011. Spider-Man Unlimited is, well, the worst possible introduction to the character, and let’s leave it at that. Spectacular Spider-Man is great, if you know anything about high school and care at all about ooohhhkay, your attention has already drifted to the ceiling tiles. Maybe we should talk about the series from the nineties, which to Daddy always looked like drying paint. Which, now that I think about it, I guess it technically is. What does that leave? The unavailable eighties? How do you feel about The Avengers?…”
You can see why I can’t help but await Ultimate Spider-Man. He’ll be younger, and she’ll be older.
Marvel says they want new readers, but what they mean by “new” is a tricky question indeed. When I was at SDCC in 2009, there was a Super Hero Squad signing at the Marvel booth. I saw Spongebob at that booth. I said, “Whatty what?” and never gave it another moment’s thought. Super Hero Squad seemed great but has always been problematic to me because, among other things, it featured Kiddy Wolverine.
For those of you scoring at home, Wolverine’s super power is stabbing people to death. For kids! As tough sells go, it’s right up there with Lucky Strikes.
I can say this much about my girl: as a kid who has no idea what’s under that mask, she does not give a good goddamn what color he is. She has been obsessed for a year by Disney’s The Princess and the Frog and has never once turned to me and said, “The princess doesn’t look like me at all. What do I care about this?”
Jim Mroczkowski would love to take your political B.S. and shove it in wherever seems appropriate. Or Twitter.