The Avengers opens in theaters Friday launching a bombastic assault on the box office
Is it a bird?
Nope. It's a bunch of dudes and one bad-ass woman saving the world in capes and bodysuits.
We all love supergroups.
Remember when Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder teamed up to form Temple of the Dog?
It was musical bliss.
This weekend, the superhero equivalent of the musical supergroup — featuring the iconic Marvel muscle of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow — lands in theaters and fans are salivating.
The Avengers kicks off a summer soaked with super hero movies, including the final chapter in the Batman trilogy, The Dark Night Rises, out in theaters July 20, and The Amazing Spider-Man out July 3.
But critics anticipate The Avengers is sure to blow the competition out of the water.
Howl in Lowell caught up with a local superman of sorts, comic book guru Larry Doherty of Larry's Comics, to chat about this summer's super films, why pop-culture is mad about superheroes and why Doherty prefers supervillain over superhero.
Q: The Avengers is the ultimate powerhouse line-up as comic book icons join forces. But who is the stand out Marvel superhero in this group and why?
A: Tony Stark (Iron Man). He's not only powerful but a superhero with the brains and the brawn. That's a double threat.
Q. The Dark Knight was one of the highest grossing films of all time. Do you think the final chapter in the Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, can top that record?
A: I think it can beat the record of the first movie, but i think The Avengers is going to set the high water mark for the superhero film because it's a movie for adults that you can take kids to. The Dark Knight Rises is so dark, it's not as kid friendly. The previous two Batman movies weren't kid friendly either. The material goes to scary places. Because The Avengers is more suitable for all audiences, I predict it will be bigger. Then there's the buzz surrounding The Avengers. People already love this movie and it's not even out yet. I haven't seen excitement of this magnitude surrounding a superhero movie before. It's huge.
Q: How do you think the new Spider-Man movie will fit into the mix?
A: I think the new spiderman is going to suffer because of the time it's coming out — after The Avengers and before The Dark Knight Rises. It's competing with two hugely anticipated movies and I don't think people are done yet with Toby Maguire as Spider-Man. That's going to be confusing to a lot of people.
Q: What is the best selling superhero comic at your store?
A: The best selling is Batman. Everybody could be Batman. He has no super powers. Just an ordinary guy driven to succeed.
Q: There was a time when superheroes were seen strictly as kid stuff. What is it about superheroes that Americans connect with now on such a deep level?
A: All the best superheroes are underdogs.They get the audience rooting for them and the underdog overcomes (sounds like Boston's sports teams). Everybody loves that jump. But the stories have also become way more sophisticated. DC Comics relaunched their entire line last September. They did it because they felt their characters weren't that accessible. There was 50 years of continuity people had to learn to grasp the stories. So DC grabbed up some of the best writers they could find to appeal to a new age group. That's changing everything. Kids tend to be reading comics at a later age these days because there's so much other stuff going on; 24/7 cartoon networks, iPods, iPads. Comics don't even enter the picture now until the late teen years and into college. That has really changed comics in general. The companies that produce them are catching up to this and creating for an older age group that demands a more sophisticated product.
Q: Who was your favorite superhero growing up?
A: Always Batman, because he was just a regular guy. He didn't get bitten by a radio active spider or caught in an atomic bomb blast. He had a really bad day once and set his mind to being better. I used to love it when he could go toe-to-toe with Superman, an omnipotent alien from another planet. Then you've got Batman, this good guy in a jeep. Great stuff.
Q: Who's your favorite super villain?
A: Always Victor Von Doom from the Fantastic Four. He's a tragic charcter. His mother died when he was very young and he had a scared face that always caused him to be misunderstood.
Q. If you could choose to be one, what would you be, superhero or supervillain?
A: Supervillan. No rules. Just take it all.
Q. What super power would you most want to possess and why?
A: Probably eye beams so I can kill everybody (laughs). No, flight. You can go anywhere you want. It makes the commute easier.
ABOUT LARRY'S COMICS
Larry Doherty grew up in Lowell, and as a kid, had to venture outside the city to get his hands on new comics.
He studied graphic design at the Massachusetts College of Art.
"After five years, I discovered I couldn't draw very well," he says.
While living at a big house in Brighton with a ton of people, Doherty saw everybody going off to work and coming home miserable.
"They were doing great, but weren't happy at what they were doing," he says. "I wanted to do something for work that made me excited about getting up in the morning."
When he told family and friends he was opening a comic book store in Lowell, they said he was "crazy."
Just like a good comic book ending, Doherty conquered the evil naysayers. Even better, in the real-world, he changed their minds.
Larry's Wonderful World of Comics, at 66 Lakeview Ave., opened Feb. 1, 1990.
The store is now the fifth largest comic shop in New England.
"Kids who get into comics tend to be creative types with a lot of imagination and ingenuity," he says. "We have a very loyal customer base that we've grown with over the years. I like to think of my store as a haven that provides escapism for people. We sell a product that puts people in a good mood. You can say we're dispensing happiness."
Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. is Free Comic Book Day at Larry's Comics, where you can score free comics, free hotdogs and meet David Peterson, creator of Mouse Guard, and Tradd Moore and Justin Jordan, creators of Luther Strode.
Learn more at larryscomics.net.
ABOUT THE AVENGERS MOVIE
Who they are: The Superhero team up features Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).
Plot: When an unexpected enemy emerges threatening global safety and security, Nick Fury, director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D, finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.