Can you feel it? Welcome to spring. Spring makes me think of summer, and summer makes me think of summer movies. While experts across the land may disagree over the details, most would agree that the summer movie season will get under way with the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or maybe even Divergent this past weekend. The summer movie season has become a peculiar season of festivity. The sun is finally out, so why not spend our time inside watching movies? The summer movie season is one big party, and it’s the only party in town that courts 14-year-old boys.
This summer lacks the heavyweights of The Avengers: Age of Ultron set for summer 2015 and the Superman-Batman team-up set for summer 2016 (who’s counting anyway), but it still features plenty of superheroes and desecrated cities.
The party kicked off with the newest teen adventure movie, based off best-selling series Divergent. It did well-not Harry Potter/Twilight/Hunger Games well-but well enough to merit a sequel. Yay. And the festivities continue with Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic Noahstarring Russell Crowe. Noah might take things in a direction many won’t want to follow, a project of exceeding ambition and funding. Emma Watson will make an appearance somewhere in there. I really hope she makes it on the boat.
We fall back to familiar territory in early April with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, being reminded that winter is just seven months away and that superhero season has officially begun. The party hasn’t hit its stride yet, but at least the National Anthem is out of the way. Patriotism carries the festivities through a lull in April, but on May 2 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 premieres as thousands of 13 and 14-year-old boys and a few 30-year-old men dressed in costume burst through the gates. This rager is officially underway. Godzilla storms in to wide eyes and applause. X-Men: Days of Future Past shows the old guys can kick it with the young ones. Adam Sandler teams up with old pal Drew Barrymore in Blended in an attempt to recapture whatever once made Adam Sandler funny. Angelina Jolie plays the wicked queen many believe she may actually be in Snow White-retelling Maleficent.
June and July roll through much the same with another Tom Cruise sci-fi in The Edge of Tomorrow,22 Jump Street, and another Transformers movie, this time starring Mark Wahlberg. This July may not have a Batman or Superman film to carry it through, but Jupiter Ascending from the Wachowski brothers (The Matrix) fills the “think man’s blockbuster” role, or alternatively what the raving stoners are talking about in the corner over there. It stars Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum in a futuristic world fighting against the Queen of the Universe.
In August, Marvel’s team of underdogs Guardians of the Galaxy brings some late night flair and fun, before things start to get a bit of uncomfortable with 50 Shades of Grey. But things more or less go back to normal when four talking turtles roll in with Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They brought pizza, so it’s all good. The festivities begin to die down a bit. Gone are the bright lights and thumping music. The boys are loitering outside the theater, waiting for Michael’s mom to pick them up. The Giver premieres in mid-August, reminding all of us school is just around the corner.
Many will claim in the next few months that summer movies are trash, abominations, and-my favorite-the product of creative inbreeding. They have a point. The invasion of sequel after sequel has gotten a bit out of hand. But I remember seeing Pirates of the Caribbean in theaters. I remember seeing Transformers. I remember seeing The Dark Knight two weekends in a row. Fourteen-year-old boys can’t get into bars, whether their IDs say they’re a 23-year-old native of Montana or not. So, they go to movies. Maybe they bring a date, or maybe they’re the dependable third wheel on a date. It doesn’t really matter what’s on the screen, only that it’s easy to follow and funny, because you’re already having fun. You’re with friends.
I’ve seen my fair share of summer blockbusters. I know that not because I remember most of them, but because I’m a weirdo who’s saved every ticket stub he’s ever bought. As I’ve gotten older I’ve shied away from the louder, more congested parts of the party in search of the quieter film. We also realized there’s more to do on a Friday night than going to the movies, believe it or not. But summer movies still have value. Fourteen-year-old boys don’t make up their entire revenue. We keep coming back, because what we love about a good summer movie isn’t its merit as a film, but its ability to make us feel 14 again for just a couple hours, to let us into the party one more time.