Believe it or not, the Avengers Universe can help explain why I love the outdoors.
As the newest entry into the Marvel cinematic universe, "Avengers: Endgame" is smashing box office records right now. This three-hour Hollywood blockbuster is supposed to be the last in the on-going series of comics crossing over to films, although I doubt that based on the money it's raking in for Disney.
Superhero movies might seem like they don't have much in common with the outdoors. After all, Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark spends most of the day inside, surrounded by technology. That is, when he isn't playing hero while donning the Iron Man suit.
But you can draw more parallels between this sci-fi universe and the outdoors than you might think. You'll figure it out just as fast as Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner can turn into the Hulk.
Appreciating time spent with friends
In "Avengers: Infinity War," Josh Brolin's Thanos uses the infinity stones to complete the infinity gauntlet. As soon as it is completed, he destroyed half of all life in the universe. This included several major characters, like Nick Fury, whom audiences had come to know and love over the course of the other movies.
I know it sounds silly when we're talking about Marvel movies, but Captain Marvel, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Ant-Man, Black Panther, and the other remaining Avengers struggled to make the loss of their friends mean something. That makes me appreciate those little moments out fishing, hunting, or camping with friends that much more. We don't truly realize how important the people in our lives are until they are gone from this earth. I've got to enjoy the time I have with friends and family, and that usually means heading outdoors with them.
Why I don't want to live in a big, populated city
With the exception of "Guardians of the Galaxy," it really doesn't matter which of these movies you watch: the big city is a bad place to live in the Marvel Comics Universe.
It doesn't matter if it's "Captain America: The First Avenger," "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Spider-Man: Homecoming," or "Captain America: Civil War." In almost every one of these movies, without fail, there are major cities and or other world famous landmarks getting completely decimated or destroyed. In the first Avengers movie, they even had experts assess the damage done to New York City by our "heroes." They estimated the cost of the destruction at over $160 billion.
The lesson here? All the bad stuff happens in the major cities. It was in a movie, therefore it must be true!
I don't mind visiting a large metropolis, but I'll stick with the country where I can watch the deer frolic in my backyard and be at the creek fishing in a manner of minutes. I don't have to worry about Loki or Thanos out here. My biggest problem right now is raccoons in the garbage at night, and that's easily solved with a pellet gun or my Marlin .22. That's right, take that Rocket!
Although Steve Rogers is welcome to come join us out to the target range anytime. Because you know, America!
Outdoor accomplishments are best when shared
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo have done a good job the last few Avengers movies in making us care about the characters of this universe. They feel like real people who feed off each other, and their accomplishments together inspire them to greatness. Why? Because most of these characters are friends.
That is also the great thing about the outdoors. Some of my fondest hunting memories weren't just the times I downed a big buck. They were the times I did it in the company of my family or friends. Some of my best fishing memories aren't the big fish I caught the times I was fishing alone. They are ones when I was with my dad or other family members.
The Russo brothers and screenwriters Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus did a good job of making this weird group of diverse characters, some of which aren't even human, feel real.
Finding more balance
Don't get me wrong, I love movies. I spend tons of time watching them myself. But I also try to dedicate just as much time to the outdoors where I can.
But as I write this, news is breaking that "Avengers: Endgame" has crossed the $2 billion mark for ticket sales and is the second-highest grossing movie of all time. Right now, it's looking like it may quickly become the highest-grossing film of all-time.
Sadly, most of the audience who sees these movies will never go visit a National Park or throw a fishing line out at their local lake. They're much more likely to go visit the Star Wars Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland or some other pop-culture themed attraction.
Again, I don't think it's wrong to like this stuff. I enjoy a lot of geeky things myself, including tech gadgets and video games. But I also think you need a healthy balance of activities to do in your downtime, and that includes enjoying the outdoors and nature in whatever capacity you can. It's not just good for the health, it's good for the soul.
I've written in the past about how I feel like hunting and fishing are likely on borrowed time already. I don't think we'll see huge changes in our lifetimes, but unless something major happens to shift the current course of things, hunting and fishing as we know them will cease to be practiced eventually unless something major happens to change that.
I really wish that the $2 billion people have spent on this movie was going into the National Park System instead of Disney's already bloated wallet, but there's not much I can do about that by myself. It does, however, make me want to do more.
I'm not saying you can't enjoy pop culture things. But let's try to make the outdoors as popular as the movies. I'd love to see that much money go into conservation that quickly. We can do that by introducing the outdoors to as many people as we can. Even if it's just taking a friend on hike through the park. If we all work together, with a little hard work and determination, we can make it happen.