The superhero movie has become as bad as the biopic. I think that it is a totally reactionary genre. I also think that it has no relationship to what I cared about in comic books at all. It’s a very bitter pill for me because I grew up enshrining and taking the superhero comic book very much to heart. I’m always being asked to do this triumphalist dance with people now that it’s taken over the world. It’s supposed to be a good thing. But I hate the films and I don’t think they have any relationship to the energies that activated me so deeply when I was reading those comic books. I could go into that even more extensively but it’s really tendentious. The simplest thing to say is that films happen to you. In that sense, they are the ultimate opposite of a comic book, which is actually one of the most intricate, and conscious and deliberate reading acts you could ever do. Compared even to reading a novel, in which you can become steadily absorbed because the sentences flow at you from the same footing, in a comic book you have to do this endless task of switching and reorienting your attention between the visual and the verbal, between the text in the word balloons, the text in the footings and headings. You have to decide when to leap across panels and you have to decide what happened in between the panels. Actually, it’s one of the most advanced reading protocols ever invented. The people who did it as children don’t really understand how hard it is for people who didn’t, which is why when comic book fans hand their friends something that they think is the great persuader, they might as well be handing a 5 year old a copy of Ulysses. To give someone who has never read a comic book at all a copy of a Daniel Clowes graphic novel or Watchmen is more than useless. They don’t know how to read it. They never learned. It’s a really active, complicated, constantly modulated procedure, which the people who know how to do it take for granted now. But it’s in that difference that the horrible valley between the really baroque reading protocols of the comic book and the effortless, dreamlike subsuming of your attention in a theatrical movie theater exist. Into that horrible valley between those two things falls the superhero comic book, which seems to me just dreadfully literal. The better you render it—the more slick and perfect the motion—the more useless it is. Because a silent film, a silent Spider‑Man made in 1919, let’s say, if that could’ve been possible, that might’ve been a bit like a comic book. You had to engage. You had to make these leaps across incomplete-nesses. But the slicker and more fulsome the realization of a superhero, the more awful the result. The more totally the idea of the superhero is exposed is something you don’t want imagined for you. You want to imagine it. That’s the key.
Another amazing quote from the Jonathan Lethem interview