'The Avengers' Gives The Fans What They Want
Great action, top notch actors, and a better Hulk make "The Avengers" a must-see for New Jersey comic fans.
Comic Relief, a comics shop in Mercer Mall, has been abuzz since Earth’s Mightiest Heroes descended on movie theaters last Friday, assembling masses of Marvel fans in New Jersey.
Marvel’s The Avengers is a comic book lover’s dream: a feature length sci-fi/action/comedy with A-list actors portraying classic superheroes, directed by a super-capable fan, Joss Whedon.
As of Monday, the film had grossed over $640 million worldwide since its May 4 release. Included in that sum is the $200 million take from its U.S. opening weekend- the biggest opening of all time.
“I knew it would be big, but not Harry Potter big!” said Dale Lutz, manager of Comic Relief, and an employee of the store since 1988.
At Sanctuary Comics on Easton Avenue in New Brunswick, customers can get their comics with a side of ice cream, or a gourmet sandwich prepared by cook Gary Eberle.
Eberle, a comics fan, is grateful to work at Sanctuary where he combines his skills with his hobbies. He saw The Avengers Wednesday night at Loews Theaters in New Brunswick.
“It was everything you’d expect from a movie like that,” Eberle said, “Everyone had equal screen time, and it remained action packed.”
“The casting was perfect, everyone fit their role,” Dale Lutz said, “It was funny without being silly.”
Lutz said practically everyone who has been in the store this week has been talking about the movie, but business hasn’t surged the way it did when the Watchmen, Sin City, and Scott Pilgrim film adaptations came out.
Lutz said while new fans can absorb those stories in a few issues or a graphic novel, appreciating the source material for The Avengers takes years. Eberle also said there was no spike in business at Sanctuary before the movie came out.
Sebastian Santana, a Mercer County Community College student with a tattoo of the Venom symbol from “Spider-Man” on his chest and a stack full of comics at the checkout table, has read “about four thousand comics in the past two years.”
Santana thought The Avengers was “awesome.” He saw it once, and he planned to go again Wednesday night.
A lifelong comics reader, Santana’s love for the film is not without the reservations that only a true fan could hold. “Iron Man was captured perfectly. But Bruce Banner, not so much. Suddenly he can just turn into The Hulk on a whim?”
Critics have called The Hulk one of the film’s strongest characters, and consider Mark Ruffalo and Joss Whedon a better pair to do him justice than the two previous efforts by Edward Norton and Louis Leterrier in 2008, and Eric Bana and Ang Lee in 2003.
Joe Dazzo, a comics fan from Princeton, said Marvel Studios saved The Hulk by buying the rights to the character and including him in the current “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” which started with Iron Man in 2008 and led to The Avengers.
“Bana was awful, but that was before Marvel Studios,” he said, “[Edward] Norton’s story is a part of the continuity, part of the canon.”
“They even showed footage of The Incredible Hulk in The Avengers,” he added.
Gary Eberle enjoyed Norton’s performance in the 2008 film, but appreciated that in The Avengers, The Hulk’s face resembled Ruffalo’s, adding depth to the CGI monster.
Dazzo thought The Avengers was “great for the genre.” He said Marvel’s investment in their superheroes as real people is what makes the most recent movies so good.
Looking past The Avengers, Santana sees Marvel Studios’ future films getting bigger and better. “They have so much they can work with now. They’ve shown they can improve each time.”
Santana said he would love to see a Marvel-produced movie based on Deadpool, the mangled, masked mercenary played briefly by Ryan Reynolds in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Reynolds says Santana may get his wish in 2014.
Dazzo wants a Daredevil movie done in the style of The Dark Knight. As of March of last year, David Slade, director of Twilight: Eclipse, has been hired to bring “The Man Without Fear” back to the big screen for the first time since 2003.
Gary Eberle looks forward to the next Iron Man movie, and thinks The Amazing Spider-Man looks “fantastic,” but he would really like to see a reboot of the comic “Swamp Thing,” which was last adapted for the screen in 1982 by Wes Craven. However, Eberle doubts it will come to pass.
When The Dark Knight Rises storms theaters on June 8, Eberle thinks The Avengers will hold strong and be the big movie this summer.
“The Avengers is more marketable as far as selling toys and other merchandise,” he said, “It’s also a lot more kid-friendly than The Dark Knight was.”
Marvel plans to do Iron Man 3, Captain America 2, Thor 2, and The Avengers 2.
According to Deadline.com, The Avengers played in 4,349 theaters nationwide, including 110 IMAX theaters. There are eight IMAX theaters in New Jersey, one of which is in Loews Theaters in New Brunswick. It was the highest grossing weekend in IMAX history.
The dine-in theaters at Menlo Park Mall and Bridgewater Mall offered multiple midnight showings with full dinner service on Thursday May 3. The film also is showing at the Regal Theaters in North Brunswick, Regal Theaters in East Windsor, the AMC Multiplex in Hamilton and the theater in the Brunswick Square Mall in East Brunswick.
Fans came in droves to midnight showings and continued through the weekend giving The Avengers a per-theater weekend average of $46,063, according to Deadline.com.
At Comic Relief, as Lutz stood in front of a colorful wall of comic book covers and behind a counter stocked with comics, memorabilia, playing cards, and posters, customers lined up to buy new issues of their favorites- Wednesday is new book day. To each customer, he would smile and ask simply, "Did you see it?"
The most repeated word in the exchange from thereon in would be: "awesome."
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