COMIC-CON EPISODE IV: A FAN’S HOPE is a funny foray into the biggest science fiction convention in the world: COMIC-CON in San Diego. Each July, more than 100,000 people gather in San Diego to celebrate science fiction, fantasy stories, movies, and comic books. Every year, Hollywood sends its top filmmakers and stars to hype the next year’s blockbuster science fiction and fantasy movies, from LORD OF THE RINGS to CAPTAIN AMERICA. Of course, some of the comic book enthusiasts who started the convention resent this, but what can they do? A cultural phenomenon of gigantic proportions has occurred.
Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, this time working effectively behind the camera rather than in front of it, follows several people who attended the convention a couple years ago. Among them are two artists, Eric and Skip, trying to break into the comic book profession; a costume designer, Holly, anxious to reveal her latest wonderful creations at the staged masquerade event that happens every Saturday night at one of these weekend conventions; a young man fan, James, who wants to propose publicly to his girlfriend at one of the movie panel discussions; and, Chuck, a longtime comic book dealer trying to make some big sales at the convention to pay off his debts. Interlaced with these four stories are comments about Comic-Con from filmmakers, successful comic book artists, the major creator behind SPIDER-MAN and many other Marvel comic book superheroes, actors, and fans.
COMIC-CON EPISODE IV is very funny and surprisingly touching. The biggest emotions are elicited from the stories concerning the two would-be comic book artists and the man who wants to propose to his girlfriend.
The biggest flaw in the movie, and it’s a big one, is iconoclastic filmmaker Kevin Smith (RED STATE and CLERKS). Though Smith only dabbles at the edges of science fiction and fantasy, for some reason the young man who wants to propose wants to do it at the panel featuring Smith. So, there are a lot of general clips of Smith talking about what Comic-Con means to him and other fans. Regrettably, his comments contain, like his unimpressive awful movies, foul language and lewd jokes. The “f” words are bleeped out so the movie can retain a PG-13 rating, but there’s no reason to include so much of this despicable human being in this movie. Especially since the guy only refers to comic books and science fiction in his movies. He’s never actually made a bonafide science fiction movie. Furthermore, last time MOVIEGUIDE® checked, Kevin Smith is not a major figure in the comic book industry.
This mystery aside, COMIC-CON EPISODE IV is a very entertaining documentary. Caution, however, is advised for some crude language. Also, the world of Comic-Con and other science fiction, fantasy conventions is generally a pagan, antinomian world. There are a few Christian groups on the fringes of the convention scene, mostly because of the work of Christians like C.S. Lewis, author of the NARNIA fantasy series and the OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET science fiction trilogy, and J.R.R. Tolkien, author of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Some of them even hold Sunday services at the conventions. However, these small Christian groups are usually not the leaders at these conventions. They aren’t even in the vanguard of the movement, despite the Christian underpinning of stories like LORD OF THE RINGS and the Christian, redemptive content in recent MOVIEGUIDE® Award-winning blockbuster movies like the SPIDER-MAN movies, I AM LEGEND starring Will Smith, and last year’s CAPTAIN AMERICA. Christians should get more involved in these kinds of stories, however, because they’ve been the biggest trend in the world of artistic creation and entertainment ever since STAR WARS burst upon the cultural scene in the 1970s. These stories are changing the world and shaping the hearts and minds of future generations. Christians can’t afford to ignore them.