In the story I want to tell, it is raining. A little girl sits curled up with her pillows. She is watching Avengers. “I have an army,” she mouths. “We have a Hulk.” She falls on to the bed, laughing, completely thrilled by the movie. In the story I want to tell, she does not blink once during the movie.
In the true story, she is sleeping.
Her brother watches the movie from start to finish. She sleeps through it.
In the story I want to tell, she watches Captain America, and wishes she could be like him – noble, loyal, powerful.
In the true story, she looks at the television screen, turns up her nose and falls asleep.
The stories I want to tell are much more real to me than the real story. In these stories, she was born a fan of the Avengers. She was born reading a marvel comic book and the doctors were amazed. The Marvel who read Marvel – the Headlines splashed across the newspapers. In the true story, she slept through the Marvel craze. Then one day, she woke up, washed her face and stared at the television. Her Harry Potter scar smiled as a friend joined it – a tiny scar of the letter M, tattooed itself across her wrist.
I watched Iron Man 3 in theatres. It was the first Marvel movie I did not sleep through.
I wanted to love it. It was cool to love it. And so I told everyone I loved it. Honestly, though, I remembered very little of it.
I liked Spiderman a little. Yes, yes. The old Spiderman movies. But it’s so embarrassing to tell people your favourite superhero is Spiderman. They’ll laugh and turn up their noses. Then I watched the third Spiderman movie and groaned. What. Was. Happening. Maybe Superhero movies were not meant for me. Maybe superheroes were not for me.
“Marvel or DC?”
How could I tell them I liked neither?
“Spiderpig, spiderpig,” R and I sing in the car.
“Does whatever a Spiderpig does. Can he swing from a web? No, he can’t cause he’s a pig.”
I decide that Spiderpig is my favourite superhero.
When we watch Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, R grabs my hand. “Spiderpig!” he says.
“Oh!” I scream and then look around embarrassed.
When I find out Tom Holland is playing Spiderman, I am skeptical.
Sure, I knew nothing about him. I was skeptical anyway. After all, he wasn’t a pig.
Then I watch Spiderman Homecoming and then I watch it again.
Spiderman is once again my favourite superhero.
In the story, I want to tell, the girl turns up her nose slightly. She likes the other Avengers movies better. In the story I am telling, I am absolutely in love with the movie. It is this movie, more than anything else, that makes me try Marvel again.
This time round I do not fall asleep. This time the two stories merge and I stare at the television screen again and again and again. I was not born reading a Marvel comic book but I was slowly falling in love. Slowly. Gently. Love at first sight is overrated.
I watch all the Marvel movies except for Iron Man 2. When Infinity War comes out I am ready. R is more excited than I am. I watch the movie twice in the theatre.
Endgame comes out and my heart beats fast.
Then it ends and I go home in a daze. I can’t watch Iron Man 2 now. It hurts. I love it. But it hurts and I want to cry but I can’t.
“Spiderpig spiderpig,” I say instead.
Even now, there are times when I wonder whether I really like Marvel. Do I really love the movies or do I just want to be a part of the wonderful fandom that has developed around it? I’m still not sure. I’d like to think I love the movies. But what if I’m just pretending? What if this is just another story I am making up in my head?
Today we went to watch Far From Home and I think I may be in shock.
My Spiderman keychain looks at me and I look back at it.
M and I had a conversation once. “I don’t know what I would have done if Spiderman or Groot had died,” one of us had said. The other agreed.
This movie has left me slightly terrified.
“Be alright,” I take my Spiderman keychain in my hand.
It’s still somewhat embarrassing to tell people that my favourite Marvel characters are Peter Parker and Groot.
I don’t know why that’s embarrassing but it is.
But I will say it now and I will say it proudly. It is Spiderman who made me give The Avengers a chance again. It is Peter Parker who gave me the key to yet another world.
I listen to the Avengers theme song as I write this and I can’t help smiling.
Spiderman. Spiderpig. I have three things to tell you. First, thank you. Second, I believe in superheroes once more.
I love you, 3000.