Itís easy to get lost in our own interests, and to forget that the things we know and love are not necessarily popular with everybody else. Fans of anything
can take this to a whole new level with their frustrations toward anybody lacking their own detailed knowledge, and exasperation at people who donít recognize references and jokes and names from the fansí object of obsession.
With comic book fans, this often translates into fanboys forgetting that readership of comic books is extremely low compared to the overall size of the population around them, and that the publicís familiarity is pretty limited to only those superheroes who are so iconic that people whoíve never even picked up a comic book in their lives have still heard of them. Fans will insist that the mainstream public is perfectly familiar with the comic books and who does what in the stories, even asserting that characters that would be lesser known or even obscure to other comic book fans are recognizable to the average public viewer. This argument tends to coincide with a belief that most of the public watches animated superhero shows, too.
An example of this is when fans insist that the mainstream public are generally familiar with the makeup of the DC Comics superhero team the Justice League, and that a film adaptation should be based on the assumption the public has seen either the comics or the cartoons, if not both. No amount of pointing to the sales figures for monthly comics and the average viewership of animated series will dispel the certainty of fans who adhere to these beliefs about popular familiarity with the fansí interests.
The underlying cause of this fan perception is not merely the obvious fact people tend to assume others are interested in the same things, but also the deeper (and subconscious) desire of fans to consider their otherwise uncommon interests as being "popular."
What I mean is, most of the general public, quite frankly, perceives comic books as stuff for kids, and donít treat them as serious art or literature. The perception of comic book fans is summed up pretty clearly on shows like ďThe Big Bang TheoryĒ -- fans of comics and comic book-based films are nerds with poor social skills, thatís how the mainstream portrays and thinks of comic book fans. Sure, itís treated as kind of ďhipĒ to be part of geek culture, but itís more a pop culture interest to observe geek culture rather than a desire to truly join geek culture.
Some fans see this but donít want to admit it, while others fail to see the distinctions at all. Either way, there is a segment of fans that react by insisting their interests are commonly understood and embraced by the mainstream public. Thatís a lot easier than acknowledging their interests are still outside of the mainstream and considered a sort of geeky caricature. So this is something fans believe that isnít true, but for most of those fans itís to some extent perhaps a case of subconscious denial more than a true belief. - Mark Hughes