This weekend was Indiana Comic Con, where none other than Jason Momoa was signing autographs for his new role as Aquaman in [Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice](movie:711870). It's always wonderful to see stars taking time to attend cons, to chat to fans, and to really get to the heart of the fandom.
However, Momoa signed an Aquaman poster with some pretty strong words, and frankly, I'm less than impressed with him right now.
As you can see, the poster was signed "F**k [Marvel](channel:932254)" - fighting words if ever I heard them! A further image from the fan's facebook reveals how this unique signature came to happen, when the DC lover asked Momoa to sign his poster with a reason why DC haters should join the DC fandom.
I'm going to be perfectly honest, there is very little about this that I like. In fact, both the question and the answer sum up for me something that is very wrong with nerd-dom today, and while I have no doubt that Momoa was joking around, I still think that this should never have happened. (And for the record, I do fully believe that he was being lighthearted, and harbors no deep hatred for the other comic book giant.) Still. Sigh.
For one thing, I think that the initial question was somewhat out of line. It focuses not only on the idea that there are "haters" (a word I absolutely abhor), but that if one person likes something that another doesn't, they should create some kind of rivalry and try to force the other to agree with their point of view. To that, I say no on every single level. There are plenty of people who prefer the more lighthearted and colorful comic book adaptations that Marvel is putting out, and that's completely ok. There are people that love DC, that enjoy the grittier superheros currently on the big screen, and that's fine too. There is absolutely no need to try and find reasons for "DC haters" to "join our DC universe".
However, if you were to try and find a way to show people that DC can be fantastic, that way is to focus on why DC is awesome, not to take up arms against Marvel. Why couldn't Momoa have written something about why he loves DC, why he is proud to be taking on the iconic role of Aquaman? It would make sense to talk about his character, or the big three (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman), or just to say "Because DC is AWESOME". Even if you believe that Marvel is a terrible company, creating boring characters and bad movies, that in itself isn't a reason to love DC. In fact, it's possibly a hint that you aren't a fan of superheros in general, in which case you wouldn't like DC either. This fan didn't even ask why DC was better than Marvel, he just asked Momoa to write something about why DC is fantastic.
To me, there is something very self-defeating about basing a love for one thing on a hatred of its competitor. There are so many reasons to love DC - and while I am a Marvel fangirl through and through, I can enjoy DC at the same time. It can be fun to draw comparisons, to discuss the things that one does better - after all, there can be no denying that they have their own strengths and weaknesses. However, there is a big difference between a little friendly discussion of Marvel and DC (which enjoy), and simply stating outright that "x is better". It's just not that simple, and this kind of statement doesn't create discussion, it just sounds petty. And overly simplistic. And ill thought out. And just.....dumb.
After all, isn't part of being a nerd about being accepting? About celebrating the things that we are all passionate about? If a person isn't a Marvel fan, that's no reason for them to go around badmouthing them, or setting themselves against those who are. Comic cons are supposed to be about people celebrating how much they love comic books - it's something that everyone in attendance theoretically has in common (although more and more attendees are fans of just the movies or tv shows, rather than the source material, and that's fine too!).
A star like Momoa writing "F**k Marvel", even as a joke, doesn't foster the kind of happy, inclusive environment that we should be striving for. Instead, it validates the kind of people who feel the need to prove that their fandom is the best fandom, to differentiate between "real nerds" and "fake geeks", to participate in the kind of exclusion that many comic book fans suffered enough of throughout their school days.
Luckily, there are some really fantastic examples of how to shout your pride in your fandom to the rooftops, and celebrities who really get what being a nerd is about, how friendly competition can be just that.
Who could forget the recent twitter betting between Chris Evans and Chris Pratt over the Superbowl? (In case you missed it, the two Marvel actors are supporters of the teams duking it out, and spent the run-up to the game ribbing each other on the social media network. A bet was made that the "losing" side would visit a children's hospital, in costume, for the "winning" side. Of course, when it comes to superhero charity work, I really don't think anyone loses!) Or Stephen Amell wearing a Flash logo to comic-con? How many times have actors been filmed laughingly talking about why "their" studio is the best? How many times have geek icons spoken about being accepting, being welcoming?
This is how you do it, Momoa. This is how you make a statement at a con that will have everyone cheering, and leave no doubt in anyone's mind that you support nerdiness as a whole, not just for those who support the studio paying your bills. So many incredible actors in geekdom have spoken out about the need to be inclusive, the desire to have fandoms open to everyone, and where all nerds can be welcome. It's a shame that in one of his first public appearances since the Aquaman casting was revealed, that Momoa didn't follow this lead.
I'm still really excited to see Momoa as Aquaman, of course. A bad joke made at a con signing isn't going to change the fact that I think he's an incredible actor and is absolutely perfect to show Aquaman as the badass he should be. The fan was clearly thrilled with the signing, and there is no doubt in my mind that this was done with the best intentions of being fun. I just hope that next time Momoa is asked to talk about DC, he can come up with something that doesn't make him sound like a petulant fanboy in the comments section...
Source: Comic Book Movie.