Comments Off on Fanboys

Usually films about characters who belong to the cult-like fanbase of some film property speak to me in some subtle, very personal way. Even when I know the movie isn’t good I find something to connect to as either a Trekkie, a cinephile, or as an avid comic book geek. Fanboys (2009) was a film I totally expected to relate to when it came out. It’s about comic nerds and features William Shatner in a cameo after all. But I didn’t like Fanboys then, and I really hated it now.

I think the thing that’s so unappealing about the film is that the central ensemble of characters are all die-hard Star Wars fans. In 2009 the cult around Star Wars gave the impression of being obnoxious, icky, and generally just a mob of bros in “geek” attire. Today, Star Wars fans give the impression of being flat out toxic in every way. The one thing that hasn’t changed is that Star Wars fans are legion and make up the most vocal demographic of American nerd culture. It also doesn’t help that Fanboys blatantly despises my beloved Star Trek.

The war of the IPs which was relatively new in 2009 has now been so played out that there’s nothing compelling about the quest to see a rough cut of Star Wars: Episode I (1999) in Fanboys. In a way Fanboys exemplified the attitudes that fans have towards their beloved IPs and predicted the cultural fallout of the Star Wars and Marvel movies that Disney has produced over the last fifteen years. The leads in Fanboys are the kind of fans who, some years later, would be petitioning for the Snyder cut of Justice League.

No number of cameos (Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Ray Park, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes and Shatner) or comic guest appearances (Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, and Danny Trejo) can elevate the mood of Fanboys from toxic obsession to sentimental nostalgia. Fanboys thinks it is emoting in the same way as 5-25-77 (2022) but the single mindedness and rage of its main characters cast the tone of the movie firmly in the camp of the intentionally satirical Comic Book Villains (2002). Comic Book Villains intentionally critiques fandom run amok while Fanboys glorifies it.

What is impressive about Fanboys is the degree to which it mines the entire filmography of George Lucas for comic references and allusions. Fanboys was co-written by Ernest Cline who wrote the novel Ready Player One so this comes as no surprise. Cline’s knowledge of male geek culture rivals that of Mark A. Altman and Robert Burnett. These are first generation Star Wars nuts and it shows.

I suppose that a film about obsessive Star Wars fans isn’t a film for those with a critical eye or a healthy dose of self-awareness. Fanboys was made for Star Wars fans not for people like me. I was disturbed by the behavior and attitudes of these characters towards Star Wars and other major IPs. These are people that seem like they’d be at home with the insurrectionists who seized our Capitol on January 6th, 2021.