In the latter days of Jaclyn’s pregnancy, I was increasingly stressed about Miles’s due date. Not because it was going to mark a earth-shattering shift in my life, upending the status quo and seeing to it I never had a moment of peace ever again; no, I was concerned because his due date was February 16, 2018 — the day Marvel Studios’ Black Panther was releasing in theaters.
Mercifully, Miles followed the advice I whispered to him while he was in Jaclyn’s belly — “Don’t come out before I get to see Black Panther.” In fact, he followed that advice a little too well, because we didn’t meet him for another ten days.
My point in all of this is that I take movies very seriously. As such, I’ve long pondered certain questions common to the cinephile parent: In what order should I show my son the Star Wars movies? Is he old enough to watch The Godfather yet? And, perhaps most importantly, what should be his first cinema experience?
My earliest recollection of being inside a movie theater was E.T. in 1982, and to say it was a touchstone cultural moment in my life is an understatement. I can still vividly remember seeing the film projected onto that huge screen in the dark auditorium (even though we were sitting pretty far back). After all the talking I’ve done about “going to the movies,” I wanted to make sure Miles’s first experience was equally memorable.
I thought it might be a little poetic for his first movie to be the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but it’s still a ways off and I’m not sure a loud, PG-13 movie would make for a great experience for either of us. The sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which stars Miles’s namesake, is also on its way, but that’s even farther off, and Miles has let me know he’s ready to visit the movie theater now.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 it is then!
Miles could not have been more pumped about going to the theater to see one of his favorite heroes who is mostly blue and can run really fast. Perhaps even more than that, the novelty of being at a cinema to watch it was not lost on him.
“WOW,” he said as we pulled up outside. “The movie theater is SO BIG!”
After stopping at the concession stand (I wanted to make sure he got the full experience, after all, complete with popcorn and a drink), I let him find auditorium 4, where the movie would be playing shortly.
He was initially rendered speechless by the large screen, not really knowing what to say or how to respond. Once he turned his head and noticed the rest of the (currently) empty auditorium, he knew exactly what he wanted to do.
I eventually convinced him to take a seat and enjoy some popcorn. In fact, he quickly claimed all the popcorn as his own and implied that I could only partake of it when it suited him. He sat there munching away, objecting whenever I reached for a morsel and eating nearly three-quarters of the container before for the movie even started, at which point he had the absolute audacity to tell me to stop eating all of it because “we need some for when the movie starts.”
“Now Miles,” I said about ten minutes before the previews were scheduled to begin, “I want you to try going potty again before the movie starts.”
“No,” he replied. “I want to go after the movie starts.” Yet another characteristic he has inherited from his mother.
Sure enough, Miles asked to go to the bathroom 10 minutes into the movie. Other than that, things proceeded free of interruption. Miles gave the film his full attention, save for a scene where he got a little freaked out (the introduction of Knuckles, who he ultimately warmed up to in the worst possible ways, and I have the bruises on my legs to prove it).
And what did he think of the movie? “Good,” was his monosyllabic review. When I asked him what his favorite part was, he predictably said, “The fighting.”