My sister-in-law Stefani told me it was a bad idea to take Morrison to a PG-13 movie. She said he was too young. I disagreed.
“He’s six,” I said. “That’s old enough for The Avengers, especially since there’s not going to be any blood or gore.”
“Sure, but it’s still full of violence,” Stefani countered.
“He’ll be fine,” I said. “It won’t be anything like the clowns movie.”
“We’ll see,” was all she said.
Mo and I arrived at the theatre a little early to make sure we got good seats. I hate having to sit way off to the side or right up front. Takes away from the overall experience. Mo wouldn’t have cared, he was just excited to put on the 3D glasses.
“One adult and one child for The Avengers.”
“That’ll be thirty-two dollars.”
A teenage boy with unsightly acne stared back at me through the glass. He looked annoyed. “It’s eighteen dollars for an adult, fourteen dollars for a child.”
I thought about abandoning the IMAX 3D experience and getting tickets for the regular version, but I knew Morrison would be disappointed so I handed over the money in return for two tickets and two pairs of 3D glasses. Mo smiled when I gave him his pair and asked if he could open them. I told him to wait until we got into the theatre. He held onto the glasses as if they were a wrapped Christmas gift.
“Let’s get some popcorn,” I said.
“But isn’t popcorn bad for you?”
This, of course, was my own doing. I’m always preaching about the ills of empty carbs, trans fats and sugar. Now it was being thrown back in my face. How could I explain that movie popcorn was one of my few guilty pleasures? That it was impossible to go without?
“Yes, it is kind of bad for us. But sometimes it’s okay to eat bad things – like when you eat cake and ice cream at a birthday party.”
“But we’re not at a birthday party,” he said.
I smiled, consumed by love. “It’s a special occasion; your first 3D movie.”
“Then can we get a soda too? I want a Sprite.”
I caught myself launching into a familiar diatribe on soda, the hypocrisy of it all too clear. We walked up to the concession counter and ordered the medium popcorn/soda combo deal. Another thirteen bucks. What a racket! I thought back to when I was kid; when a trip to the movies cost my dad less than twenty dollars for both of us. “You know, when I was your age…” I said, suddenly hit with the realization that I was (at least partly) turning into my father, the man who claimed he used to get a hamburger for ten cents.
Morrison and I took our seats in the middle of the theatre where we talked about dinosaurs and marsupials for almost twenty minutes before the trailers started. By that time the theatre was full. I looked around and saw mostly teenagers and young adults, a few seniors. Morrison got really excited when we were given notice to put on our 3D glasses. He said things like, “Cool!”, “Wow!” and “Dad, look!” over and over. I know it might sound stupid, but it made me feel special seeing him have so much fun.
Everything was going well for the first part of the movie. Morrison continued blurting out random comments, which the young couple next to us found adorable, and I looked on, enjoying the storyline and 3D effects. Unlike a lot of other fantasy movies, I was really impressed by the CGI, especially when it came to the Hulk’s facial expressions and muscle movements. It was really quite spectacular. So spectacular, in fact, that Morrison started to cry, his hands gripping the armrests for dear life, glasses aimed at the floor.
I put my arm around him and whispered in his ear, “What’s the matter, buddy?”
“I don’t like him!” he said.
“Okay. Well, I’ll tell you when he’s gone.”
The Hulk, Iron Man and Thor continued to battle it out. Morrison released his hold on the chair and covered his ears, continuing to cry.
“Let’s go outside,” I said.
We stood up and walked out of the theatre, a few unhappy patrons scoffing as we passed. Outside I asked why he was crying.
“I don’t like the Hulk!” he said. “He’s scary!”
“But the Hulk is a good guy,” I said. “He wouldn’t hurt you.”
“Then why is he fighting with Thor? Thor’s a good guy too, isn’t he?”
“Well, it’s complicated. They’re having a misunderstanding.” I thought about when my father let me watch Conan the Barbarian with him. I kept asking questions, like, “Why is that lady so mad?” and “Did he really kill that man?” After awhile, my father was so annoyed that he turned the movie off and told me to go play in my room.
Mo and I sat on a bench next to the water fountain until he calmed down. At that point the movie didn’t matter. I knew how it ended. The Avengers would somehow work through all of their interpersonal ego issues and foil Loki’s plan to conquer Earth. That’s just my guess, based on the many formulaic comic book movies produced by Hollywood. Having said that, it still would have been nice to see it all play out in 3D.
“Do you want to try going back in there?” I said, hoping for a flash of bravery.
“Is the Hulk gone?”
“I don’t know, buddy, but I’m pretty sure you’re going to have to see him again.”
“Please, dad! I don’t want to see him again!”
“That’s okay. We can leave.” As I said this, I felt defeated, like I had failed.