Bill Maher's HBO series, Real Time With Bill Maher, returned from a hiatus and the talk show host took the opportunity to once more double down on his controversial opinions about comic books that he first brought up after Stan Lee's death in November of last year while Real Time was on break.
Maher used the final six minutes of his program to reiterate his distaste for adults that still read comic books.
Maher initially made his views on comic books public in a blog post on the Real Time website last year called "Adulting." The post was a reaction to the outpouring of appreciation for Stan Lee after the former Marvel writer and editor passed away on November 12th. “A culture that thinks that comic books and comic book movies are profound meditations on the human condition is a dumb fucking culture." He also closed with, “I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to suggest that Donald Trump could only get elected in a country that thinks comic books are important.”
Maher went on Larry King Now a week later and it was there that the comedian first doubled down on his initial comments. He also added that the negative reaction from comic book fans were proof that he was correct in the first place.
Maher finally got a chance to address the controversy on his own program on Friday night, with an editorial at the end of the show where he doubled down once more, essentially just repeating what he wrote in his original blog post just with more insults.
He opened with, "Tonight’s editorial is about Stan Lee who, if you missed it, died in November. And a few days later, I posted a blog that in no way was an attack on Mr. Lee, but took the occasion of his death to express my dismay at people who think comic books are literature and superhero movies are great cinema and who, in general, are stuck in an everlasting childhood. Bragging that you’re all about the Marvel Universe is like boasting your mother still pins your mittens to your sleeves."
In a curious statement made during the same week that Black Panther was nominated for the Best Film of the Year by the Academy Awards, Maher noted, "Can we stop pretending that the writing in comic books is so good? Oh, please. Every superhero movie is the same thing — a person who doesn’t have powers, gets them, has to figure out how they work, and then has to find a glowy thing. [...] "I’m sorry, but if you’re an adult playing with superhero dolls, I’m sorry - I mean collectible action figures - why not go all the way and drive to work on a Big Wheel?"
Of course, it is also worth noting that Maher himself appeared in Iron Man 3...
Among his critics, Maher singled out comic book writer and film writer/director Kevin Smith, mocking Smith's clothing as childish while Maher continued to assert that his anti-comics blog post after Stan Lee's death was not intended as a shot at Lee himself.
Another curious statement by Maher was when he mocked one of the people who criticized his initial statement by saying that they had "learned about social justice and racial tolerance through reading comics." Maher retorted with, "Okay, but now you have pubic hair. Read James Baldwin. Read Toni Morrison. Read Michael Eric Dyson." That is a curious statement because one of the top writers today on the topics of social justice and race is Ta-Nehisi Coates, who Maher has had on his show as a guest and has even quoted in segments. The same Ta-Nehisi Coates who currently writes two different comic book series for Marvel Comics (Black Panther and Captain America).
One thing has been made very clear, though, is that Maher is not going to back down from his position any time soon.