I Will Never Understand Why People Clap During Comic Book Movies

Nerds love to showcase the fact that they are, in fact, giant nerds. For years we have loved to work pastimes into our overall identities, whether it be films, television, games, hobbies, or whatever else you love doing in your spare time alone or with friends. We don’t just show this with our words, we show it with Funko Pops, fan castings, and paying to see Morbius twenty times like giving all of our money to a fictional vampire makes us better people.

That’s awesome, and people shouldn’t be ashamed to show happiness for the things they enjoy, but it feels like with the growing monopolization of corporations like Disney we are beginning to put too much of ourselves into fictional universes. The MCU is a perfect example of this, usurping the cringe capacity of Disney adults to become one of the most obnoxious subcultures both on the internet and throughout the real world.

Kevin Fiege and company have worked tirelessly to bring the comic book universe to life on the silver screen, beginning with a relative gamble in Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man before growing into the most dominant cinematic force we’ve ever seen. Characters that once only existed in legendary comics and forgotten video games became household names, be it Captain America, Thor, or Hawkeye. Everybody knows them now, and none of this would have been possible without the delicate artistry that went into crafting the MCU.

But with this success came millions of fans, and a fervent section who hold Marvel films up alongside prestige cinema and believe they are worthy of greater value purely because they’re popular and everybody happens to like them. I love a good comic book film and those which centre on absurd action and larger than life characters above all else, which is probably why Pacific Rim is one of my favourite movies ever made. But I never reached the point where I found myself overthinking every single small development or place Marvel films on a pedestal above other – and let’s be honest with ourselves here – better things.

Hardcore fans have evolved into those who clap, scream, and cheer at cinema screens whenever their favourite characters show up, or a fairly obvious twist or reveal that was talked about in countless trailer reaction and analysis videos months before it was proven to be true. I refuse to believe that anyone was really surprised at the appearance of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield in Spider-Man: No Way Home. It was an open secret, and one the filmmakers actively leaned into as a central part of the film’s marketing. This pandering is why the film rubbed me the wrong way so aggressively, it treated us like fools.

We fell into the hype and got ourselves wound up about a ‘will they or won’t they?’ narrative when reality was staring us in the face the entire time. But due to equal parts nostalgia and fanboyism we still turned up and clapped like seals when all three of them appeared on-screen. Marvel and Disney likely expect this level of loyalty from its fans by now, having leaned into it with merchandise, spin-offs, and goodness knows what else to capitalise on our growing interest. So long as we keep turning up, the MCU keeps on evolving. I’m excited to see where it goes, but I also die a little inside whenever a grainy video of people cheering at obvious reveals shows up on my TikTok. Is it all genuine, because it’s so hard to tell.

It’s a common reaction now, and has been since the release of Avengers Endgame when Captain America picked up Thor’s hammer and finally won the day for the good guys. It’s become a meme, with people editing in clips from Shrek, Morbius, The Bee Movie, or Alvin and the Chipmunks while keeping the exuberant fan vocals intact. Part of me is curious if it’s a cultural thing and more common in the United States than other parts of the world, but I’ve been in screenings when important story moments are ruined by people cheering at the obvious. The actors aren’t there, they can’t hear you, just silently punch the air or smile to yourself instead of ruining the experience for other people. God I sound like such a boomer, but it’s the same type of people who clap when a plane lands because they aren’t dead.

Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness launched this past weekend, and I’ve had the biggest moments spoiled for me on social media platforms with videos containing reactions just like this. I could have just gone on lockdown but I shouldn’t have to. Over analyzing and delving into every end credits scene and obscure detail is something that fans almost see as an obligation now, and failing to do so means you’re going to be left behind and don’t care enough about this universe’s development enough to hang with the cool kids. Either that or they’re all just having fun, but if that’s the case please do it in the comfort of your own home.

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