I have two bags of Doritos in my basement.

On the first, Gal Gadot stands face front in a medium shot as Wonder Woman, her new golden winged armour resplendent against the traditional red background of the Nacho Cheese flavoured variety. On the second, Gadot wears her Wonder Woman costume. In this medium shot, she is turned slightly to the side. She seems poised and frankly a bit cool against the standard blue of Cool Ranch bag.

There was a third bag at the store. I did not buy it because I do not care for the spicy variety.

The bags are like artefacts that fell into our world from an alternate universe, a summer where WW1984 was released on June 2, 2020 and excited fans of empowered female superhero movies were potentially moved by the Frito-Lay corporation onto a trajectory of increased snack consumption. In reality they are testaments to the relentlessness of the marketing engine. COVID-19 may have been powerful enough to knock an entire season of films out of their resting places, but nothing stops snack chips from shipping out when originally scheduled.

WW1984 was this season’s blockbuster to see. Months earlier, a near perfectly composed trailer set to the beat of New Order’s “Blue Monday” promised me an action-packed sequel that pitted the Amazing Amazon against some of my favourite villains from her comic books and put some of that action in a mall. I am a child of the 1980s and nostalgia works well on me.

Looking back on this empty summer, I am struck once again by how important summer blockbusters have always been to me. I am not sure what the very first movie I ever saw in the theatre was, but I have very distinct memories of being nine-years-old in 1977 and watching Star Wars (nobody called it A New Hope then and I refuse to now). In one of the front rows of the second level of the Circle theatre in downtown Annapolis, Maryland, a Rebel Blockage runner fleeing a massive Imperial Star Destroyer over the planet Tatooine opened my eyes and my ears to the power of film spectacle.

As pretty much everyone else I know has done, I’ve relied on streaming services for my film enjoyment this summer. Even though the rectangle on my wall is the biggest screen with the best sound that I have ever owned, it is not enough for this long time science fiction and superhero fan.

The two bags of Doritos have been unopened for months. I suppose one could argue that consuming them would be an admission of the sorry state of summer. However, I noticed that the bags were actually kept about halfway between our coronavirus stockpile of food and my hoard of popular culture collectibles. There is something about this moment that I seem to want to preserve, some sense of appreciation of the big screen blockbuster that I know will not go away forever.

About The Author

Dr. Michael Robinson is Chair and Professor, Communication Studies Department, Westover Honors Faculty Fellow, and Co-Director, Popular Culture Minor at the University of Lynchburg, Virginia.

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