Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett looks at why comic book movies are more popular than comics.

Now usually I’m not interested watching anyone on YouTube reacting to anything, but I had enjoyed Captain Marvel so much when I saw there were Avengers Endgame trailer reactions on my YouTube page I clicked on one.  Something about it triggered my ADHD and over the course of the next 24 hours I watched nearly two dozen more and in the process, learned a few things.

Like, I had assumed the majority of the videos would feature white male twentysomethings, but a substantial number were done by women, Asians, people of color, couples, parents, even whole families.  Always interested in seeing how things look from the other side of our bubble, those were the ones I watched.  One of the things this very diverse group of people who loved Marvel movies had in common; they didn't read the comics.  Which, according to hardcore Marvel fans, makes them "fake" fans, which is something I had honestly hoped was no longer a thing.  Until I Googled "Fake Marvel Fans Meme" then found an online piece dated August 2018 titled This Quiz Will Separate The True Marvel Fans From The Fake.  Name The Superheroes!

But the main thing I learned from watching all those YouTube videos is that in those few minutes these supposedly "fake" Marvel fans showed more enthusiasm and emotional investment for the Marvel characters than I had seen from "true" Marvel fans in years.  The thing that made me want to watch all those videos?  I loved seeing these people enjoying something that means so much to them.  Watching them tear up, laugh and cheer when their favorite characters came on screen, and it wasn't just the ones played by "hot" big-name actors.  From the audible gasps I heard, a lot of MCU fans seem to have a special place in their hearts for Rocket and Nebula.

They were excited and emotional, totally engaged in the experience and eager to see Avengers: Endgame in theaters.  By comparison, Marvel Comics fans very often act as if comics were to be endured and complained about rather than appreciated.  Which is about when it occurred to me that perhaps the reason so many MCU fans don't read Marvel Comics has less to do with their cost and availability and more to do with the comics themselves.  And that just maybe the reason MCU fans seem so happy and comics fans so dismal is because very often the movies are a lot better than the comics they're based on.

That's certainly the case with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.  By some weird coincidence on the same day that I finally saw it (obviously, I'm way behind on my pop culture consumption) ScreenRant posted Brian Bendis: Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse Interview.  It provides the perspective on the movie of the man who, with artist Sara Pichelli, created Miles Morales, which is certainly more pertinent than anything I might have to say about it.  Which doesn't mean that I'm going to keep schtum* on the subject.

I have to confess that one of the reasons I avoided seeing Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse for so long was I didn't care for the comics it was based on. In truth, it was ideas like Spider-Verse which kept me from enjoying most Spider-Man comics these last few years.  Things like multiple Spider-People, Peter Parker temporarily becoming a tech billionaire or everyone in Manhattan suddenly gaining Spider-Man's powers (I still contend Spider-Island sounds like a new Universal Studios theme park attraction).  They might be great for shaking things up or providing a lynchpin for a big event, but they're pretty far afield from the Spider-Man created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.  Frankly, they're more like the things that used to happen to Superman, fifty years ago (though to be fair, Peter briefly turning into the next Jeff Bezos is more the sort of thing that used to happen to Jimmy Olson).

So I couldn't believe the movie was as good as everyone was said it was, and they were saying things like it was the best Spider-Man movie ever.  But after seeing it I can definitely see that.  It was whip-smart, utterly modern and totally meta (as well as metal).  I reveled in the high stakes, raw emotion, and honest laughs, and especially the way it stayed true to the spirit of the comics without bringing on board a load of useless baggage from them.  And mostly, I loved it for not being what so many of the actual comics have become; sour, dour, dismal and dull.

And there were so many things in it that I wish would be incorporated into the comics.  Some were little things, like the way the female Dr. Octopus' translucent tentacles were soft but still deadly robots, but mostly it was the way it made me care about characters I usually couldn't care less about.  Like Lily Tomlin's flinty supportive tech support Aunt May or Hailee Steinfeld's Spider-Woman (a.k.a. Spider-Gwen a.k.a. Ghost Spider).  And especially the way the voice of comedian John Mulaney turned a one-joke concept like Spider-Ham into a delightful treat. All of the ancillary Spider-People (yes, even 'Spider-Noir') deserve movie spin-offs of their own, especially Peri Parker, the young Japanese girl who along with her telepathic radioactive spider best friend pilots the biochemical battle suit SP//dr.  She needs her own comic right this very minute, and I have a feeling they're going to sell a lot of those SP//dr action figures.

And finally, on Monday during an appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Black Panther actor Winston Duke talked about how growing up he was a fan of Marvel and DC comics, and being an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago comics were his "inlet into American culture."  He also said that "there was a comic book store in my neighborhood that would give me comic books until I could pay them later."

* Keep Schtum is British slang for "keep quiet," "schtum" being most likely derived from "stumm," the German word for silence.  No one can say you didn't learn something today.)

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of