“What are you watching, dad?”
He abruptly paused, leaving the bright green banner leading into the preview across his screen. “Just a movie preview,” he answered. “It’s for The Avengers.”
The rebellion against his geekiness had begun over the past year. Action figures his sons once begged to remove from his shelf and play with had been deemed lame. The string of Marvel films he had insisted they attend on opening day left his boys whining and hoping for the end to arrive. He left comic books out purposely to find them untouched several days later.
Thus, when his boys appeared behind his desk chair while his eyes had been riveted to the screen, all he could think was that he didn’t want to hear it. He waited for them to shrug their shoulders and leave the room. He braced himself to hear the critical comments as they walked away, something like, “I hope he doesn’t make us go see that,” or, “Captain America doesn’t even have any powers,” though hopefully not, “They totally should have put Ghost Rider in the Avengers.”
Instead, they stood there in silence, staring at him. “Are you gonna play it?”
Now it was his turn to stare for a minute. “Um…I guess so. You guys want to see it?”
He slowly turned back to his computer screen. He didn’t want to make his excitement too obvious. In a last second effort to seem cool and disinterested in their interest, he said, “Whatever,” and clicked the play icon.
For the next two minutes and twenty-nine seconds, he became unaware of the eyes watching from behind him, the judging adolescent eyes. He was remotely aware of hearing things like, “Whoooooa,” and, “Awesome,” from somewhere off in the distance. When it ended and the room was quiet again, he realized the words had come from his own mouth.
After taking a second to gather himself and let the goose bumps disappear from his flesh, he resisted the urge to turn around and face them and instead, closed the browser window.
“Dad, what was that thing chasing Iron Man at the end?” asked his youngest son.
He choked off the happiness in his throat before responding, “I’m not sure.”
Then, he was about to say, “The movies seem to be loosely following Marvel’s Ultimates series, which was basically an alternate universe version of the Avengers. You can see a lot of similarities throughout the films thus far. For instance, instead of being turned into the Hulk by gamma radiation, in The Ultimates, Bruce Banner was working on the super soldier serum to try and recreate Captain America. He was so convinced that he had found the right concoction that he injected himself and was turned into the Hulk. Now, you might not have noticed that in the newest Hulk movie starring Edward Norton, but during the opening credits, if you paid attention, they made it clear that Banner was working on the serum for S.H.I.E.L.D. Furthermore, in the comics, The Avengers assembled independently and happened to discover Captain America frozen in the ice. In the movies, just like in The Ultimates series, S.H.I.E.L.D. actively seeks out super powered individuals and they lead a mission to find Captain America in the ice. So, if this is to be used as a reference, they might be fighting the shaped-shifting alien species known as the Chitauri who appeared in the series. However, I’m a little confused about the appearance of Loki. Maybe he’s working with the Chitauri or maybe it’s some other threat entirely.”
Instead, he added nothing.
“It looks pretty cool,” his oldest son said.
“I think I want to go see that,” added his youngest.
“Well, it’s not out until May 4th so you’ll have to be patient,” he said and lifted himself from his chair. He avoided eye contact as he walked from the room so they wouldn’t see the tears in his eyes and calmly walked down the hall into his bedroom and closed the door.
“Can we watch it again,” one of his boys called after him.
“Of course,” he smiled and said.
Alone in his room, he could hear the trailer start again. He pumped his fists and tried to make as little noise as possible while victoriously kung fu kicking the air around him as he whispered, “Yeah! Yeah! Oh, hell yeah!”
Eventually, he ran out of steam. He stood next to his bed and panted when he noticed something on his nightstand.
When the trailer stopped playing a second time, his sons realized that their father had walked back into the room while their eyes were riveted to the screen and was now standing behind them. He held a small stack of what appeared to be magazines over the trash bin.
“What are those,” they asked.
“These,” he asked back casually. “Oh, these are some old comics I was about to get rid of.” He motioned downward as if to set them in the bin, watching their eyes follow the path the comics took, then he stopped suddenly. “Unless,” he said, then dramatically paused, “you guys would be interested in reading them.”
“Yeah,” both boys responded, snatched them from his hands and ran to their room where they flipped through the pages for the next few hours.
When his wife walked in he was leaning back in his chair, hands behind his head. “Do you have that smug look because you helped the boys finish their homework like I asked?”