The Hulkbuster just hit New York City. At this year’s New York Comic Con, one of the main attractions was the nine and a half foot, 95 pound costume of the now famous “Hulkbuster” armor featured in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
You probably heard about it. It was trending on Facebook for a few days.
It’s a testament to how fandom has changed in the last 10 or 20 years.
It’s a new era for the geek, the nerd, where our interests are not only socially acceptable—they’re the norm.
It’s a vast change from 30 or 40 years ago, when fans of comics and fantasy were scorned, mocked, even persecuted at times. From Seduction of the Innocent to Dark Dungeons, a now infamous comic amongst players of Dungeons & Dragons, geeks and nerds have dealt with a strange stigma.
Considered childish at best and dangerously delusional at worst, now comics and gaming have entered the mainstream to an incredible extent.
The Big Bang Theory is one of the most successful sitcoms at the moment, and the 2005 revival of Doctor Who is a runaway success.
And it continues ever onward. With Marvel’s cinematic wing exploding into a billion dollar industry, and with DC Comic’s titles such as The Flash, Green Arrow and Hellblazer hitting mainstream, primetime television, it seems that it’s here to stay.
I see this as a good thing. The days where someone must fear accusations of Satanism for rolling dice and playing a game of D&D with their friends seem mostly behind us.
Now the fan who dedicates 1,600 work hours to building an elaborate, nine foot tall copy of his favorite hero’s costume so that he can step into that role, is praised and admired for his effort.
In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t seem like a very big deal. It’s just a game, just a comic, just a show, just a book. But for some of us, it can be everything; an escape, a diversion, a way to get away. Some people watch football, some people build model planes. We build worlds, and we try to live in them for a time.
It seems that these groups, these fandoms, are slowly becoming just another niche in society. It’s just another hobby, whether reading or collecting comics, dressing up in costume, discussing your favorite plot hooks and twists. Sometimes, if you’re dedicated and skilled enough, it’s even a career.
It’s a strange world now, to be so accepted that it’s almost trendy to declare yourself a geek, a nerd, or an outsider. But this is not about accusations against those who might be “bearing false witness.”
It’s about having a good time, and being free to enjoy what you love. A story, a song, a comic, a game, aren’t really everything, but they’re still important. And the freedom to embrace and practice what you love is perhaps the most important bit of all.