When I was a kid, the Toys R Us theme song was my motto. I refused to grow up. Unlike the stereotype, I was not a child that wished to grow up any faster than normal. Yeah, I sometimes thought it would be cool not to have to answer to parents but I didn’t necessarily want to be an adult either. If there was a way a 12 year old could rent an apartment, fill the refrigerator full of New York Seltzer and ice cream sandwiches, I would have been just fine. Besides being too young to get a job and no way to pay for my life style, I think it would have been rad.
I was the kid that had anxiety for the next school year. That meant I was growing and getting older. Although there was some anticipation for new Star War movies, new G.I. Joe figures and new episodes of He-Man, I enjoyed just living in the moment. Another year could mean change and not always for the good. I was traumatized when the cable company removed my favorite channel for afternoon cartoons. I refused to leave my room when I learned Knight Rider was cancelled.
My friends made fun of me because I still played with my G.I.Joe action figures in the 8th Grade. I continued to buy toys through High School. Kenner Batman figures, Micro Machines and the occasional G.I. Joe. By then, I “collected” them instead of “played” with them. This “collecting” would continue into adulthood. I can’t even fathom how much money was spent on toys in the 90s and early 2000s. I had a compulsion. I didn’t need them but I “had” to have them. My kids hated me because I had better toys than they did. I used my children to get the Wal-mart guy to take pity on us and go into the back and pull cases of new stuff. My wife became addicted to collecting too.
Then, one day, I realized I couldn’t buy it all. Heck, I was having trouble buying any of it. Toys had put me into debt. I had to make some hard decisions. The entire garage and spare bedroom was full of boxes of my collection. I decided I would sell some of it off. Over the years, I sold more and more. Eventually, I didn’t have much left. I actually got burnt out. The new stuff at the store just didn’t excite me. I got tired of buying something just to put it in a box and not enjoy it. This year will see nearly all of those toys sold off. I’ve decided to keep the Star Wars figures and G.I. Joe figures I had as a kid (the old 80s stuff). But everything else, gone. And you know what? It feels good.
I guess I have grown up. It just took me an additional 20 years….
I’ve been on the internet since the mid-90s. I remember when there were providers like AOL, Compuserv and Prodigy. It took 5 minutes just to log on (Dial number – type password – wait for beep – tolerate the screeching and boops and bleeps) to the internet. And since I was an AOL user, “you’ve got mail!”
Those days were so exciting and cool. The country – world – was connected for the first time ever. And it only cost $6.95 plus how many hours you used. Yeah, remember those days. The internet was like a 1-900 number. You could log on but you were smart with your time. You checked email. You maybe went into a chat room to talk to girls (or boys). You checked a bulletin board or a posting forum. And we used egg timers and log off. Like early cellphones, you used them but only for really important things. We weren’t so consumed by them. Well, until AOL did this: they offered “unlimited” internet for only $19.95!! At the incredible fast speed of 28.8 kbps!
Websites were very simple. The more photos and sparkles the longer it took to download. Internet video was nearly unavailable. I remember spending 3 hours in 1998 to down load the 2 minute The Phantom Menance trailer. And that was at a tiny QuickTime movie that was only about 3×4 inches on my screen. We are completely spoiled today because I can down load an entire movie in 1080p high definition in less than 2 minutes – 3 minutes if the internet is slow!
Things would come through your email that made you smile. Correspondence from old friends. Sometimes, you could talk your grandmother into using the computer at the library to send you an email instead of the old handwritten letters. For the first time, you could get on mailing lists from fan clubs, your favorite websites and stores – like Toys R Us and Kenner toys. (I was really into Star Wars in the 90s). And then there was the: “Congratulations you won Somalia lottery!” It would read: “hello sir, You won our Somalia lottery. i have been instructed to reach to you to get some important information.” Then, they would want your SSN, a bank account number – you know to send the money to – and your mothers maiden name and date of birth. Seems legit, right? Even back then I would ask myself how did I enter a lottery in a country I have never been? Or a country I didn’t even know where it is? So, I never fell for it. But I know many did. I always felt sorry for those gullible folks.
It’s been over 20 years since those days. That’s a lot of time to learn the scams and the tricks. I’ve seen some strange stuff out there. I’m pretty sure that some of the girls I talked to in chat rooms (when I was still a very young man) were really just hairy dudes in their basement trying mess with me or they were just sick and demented. So, why is it in 2019, I’m still getting emails that try and convince me I’ve won some lottery? Or had some money willed to me by some dying king and queen? Or that a trunk was found at the airport loaded with cash and gold? Really? Why don’t this people just keep the gold themselves? Do these scams still work? I mean I didn’t fall of the internet truck yesterday…..
So, let’s pretend that history was slightly different.
It’s 1990. The world has just experienced Batman as a big budget (and dark) movie masterpiece. Fans are rejoicing and dancing in the streets. We’ve not been this excited since …. well, I don’t know…. but its BIG!
The intelligent minds and businessmen at Warner Brothers green light a sequel. Duh. Who wouldn’t, right? So work begins immediately on the next chapter. They call it Batman Returns. (Not sure why this was the title since its not like he went anywhere. Maybe they could have called it Batman Strikes Back. Nah, what’s he striking back at? It’s not like he lost at the end of the first movie. Maybe, Batman Again! Yeah, we get Batman AGAIN! That’s kinda dumb. It’s the title that doesn’t so much refer to the movie itself but to the audience to tell us, “hey! Batman RETURNS!!! Go buy tickets!”) [back on topic] The movie starts production but there’s one tiny difference….
Batman saves Gotham again. Bruce Wayne finds a stray black cat and he thinks of Catwoman with one life left. We pan up to see the Bat Signal and Catwoman pop her head up. Then the clouds of the signal are broken by something zooming through them. We cut to the credits. After a couple minutes the credits are interrupted – fade in to Wayne Manner. The Batmobile blasts out of the Batcave. A blur of red and blue flies into the frame and block the Batmobile – which slams on the bat brakes! We cut back to the thing blocking Batman’s path – It’s SUPERMAN! Christopher Reeve’s Superman. His blue eyes look down at the Batmobile as the roof slides open to see Batman poking his head out. Wide shot of Superman and Batman. Superman speaks, “Batman – or should I say Bruce Wayne (x-ray vision folks) – I need your help in Metropolis. I’ve got a problem right up your alley. See, there’s this little problem with an old Kryptonian computer….” Cut back to the credits. Fade out.
The style is beyond its time. But don’t discard it. Let’s also move forward on the assumption Superman III never happened in 1983 (or the bad Superman IV: Quest for Peace in 1987). Because the original story plot for Superman III was meant to be a story about Brainiac but due to budget constraints and a studio that demanded Richard Pryor be in a Superman film, we got what we…got. Warner Bros. begins production on the next block buster super-hero movie for release in 1995. The title: WORLD’S FINEST: Superman & Batman. Today, you could have just stuck to World’s Finest, but in the 80/90s you had to put the characters in the title or no one would know it was a Superman and Batman movie.
1995. World’s Finest opens starring Christopher Reeve and Michael Keaton in a double bill, and the fans go crazy. The movie breaks records. It destroys the 1993 record for Jurassic Park. Revolutionary special effects from Industiral Light & Magic creates a marvoulous Brainaic. Batman works to hack into the system and manipulate the ex-Kyptonian computer program. And Superman flies in just at the right moment to fling Brainaic and his ship toward the Sun! It sets up for a new status quo for super-hero films. And the world rejoices!
Oh I wish that were the way things went. Fanboys have always dreamt of a Reeve/Keaton team-up. It would have been stunning….it would have been legendary!