On Campus Avengers at Disneyland Kinda Weirds Me Out
This week has it’s been a big hit for movie fans. For one, back to the past tense box demonstrated that there is, in fact, hope that the cinemas will survive the Covid-19 pandemic. For another, AMC is looking to invest in new theaters. (It is also offers free popcorn to meme stock investors, who aren’t even going to start trying to explain it here.) And finally, Rachel Weisz he continued Jimmy Kimmel Live to talk about how his new Marvel movie, Black Widow, will beat the James Bond film of her husband Daniel Craig, No Time to Die, to multiplexes. All in all, it was a time to be very tired to go to the movies again. Huzzah!
Then, Disney doubled it.
Late Wednesday, live, the Mouse House announced the opening of the Avengers Campus at Disneyland. I like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, is a theme park in southern California park full of rides, specialty foods, and costume characters (they are called “cast members”) all centered around the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man hosts a web-slinging race; there is a restaurant with food of various sizes inspired by the work of Hank Pym; Black Panther walks around reminding people that Wakanda is forever. Based on the Disney promotional coil split to coincide with the opening, it looks pretty like hell. It’s also a little weird to me.
Not bad, necessarily. And not just because walks in amusement parks look like a bowl of Covid soup these days – even watching a promotional video where the faces of park visitors are covered in masks is a little disconcerting. It is strange only that, at this writing, the vultures of the culture emerge slowly from a quarantine during which most of their artistic consumption is made at home. During that time, the MCU was relegated to nine episodes of WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney +. People are just now starting to see movies in current theaters as well. Black Widow doesn’t come until July 9th, yet here’s Marvel honcho Kevin Feige on YouTube talking about how “with every story we’ve told we know it could be a real-world translation – and finally the beginning of it starts with Campus Avengers “. Maybe it’s the isolation that speaks, but it feels too much. Make the jump to watch Captain Marvel on my laptop at seeing Captain Marvel passing what was before The Twilight Zone The Tower of Terror feels somehow like a moon in the Uncanny valley. They are not too true numerical versions of man; they are very real humans who pose as people who have only been digital for a long time.
Yeah, that’s what Disney has been doing in its theme parks for years — and it looks very nice. There is an Ancient Sanctuary where the Strange Doctor lives! “In-story” stores full of merch tie-ins! And the Bavarian pretzels (allegedly) enlarged by Pym Particles! (I think that’s how they work? Anyway, they come with beer cheese!) Like Galaxy’s Edge, this new Disneyland realm sounds like a paradise of blackness, a place where anyone can walk between heroes and scoundrels. It looks clean! But again, the idea of going there feels strange after 15 months of avoiding almost everyone in the world.
In the end, though, what feels a little disconcerting about a Marvel world at Disneyland is that it’s now two steps away from where it started. Unlike a Star Wars attraction, the places to stay on the Avengers Campus are based on comic-based movies. They look the way they did on screen in Disney movies, not the way in common they were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The opening ceremony for the Avengers Campus was, as Vulture said, a test of “Walt-ify the Marvel Cinematic Universe.” In practice, this meant intercepting John Slattery films such as Howard Stark with quotes from Walt Disney himself on how his theme park will never be completed “as long as there is imagination in the world”. But overall it means that Marvel is now part of an old Disney tradition: Take existing IPs – like, say, Grimm’s Faces – and then turn them into movies and then turn those movies into theme park attractions. It’s the world’s construction of the highest respect, and at the end of a period when everyone’s world has become a little smaller, it feels a little too real.
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