If any doubt exists that Morgan Spurlock does not deserve the title of master documentary filmmaker, A Fan’s Hope erases all those uncertainties. Spurlock does not appear at all in Hope as he did in his previous works; instead, he steps aside to allow the subject matter to take full attention it deserves.
Where the first five minutes feels like a voyeuristic perspective on the once bullied but now mainstream comic book culture, the remaining run time the film becomes something totally unexpected. This is an excellent documentation of a substratum of culture where those participants in the community do so with their whole passion and being. Sure, there are plenty of examples of movies that follow someone trying to break into dance or professional sports. What separates the people in Hope is that they just don’t try and move on. Comic book fans devote their entire lives to their passion.
Spurlock records key members in the comic book community and its periphery who make pilgrimage to the most notable of all the conferences: San Diego Comic-Con. Included in this group are a comic book retailer, two artists, a toy collector, a fan on a mission to propose to his clingy girlfriend, and a costumer who creates elaborate pieces for the conference’s show. Interspersed amidst their stories are celebrities from the film and comic book industry who revel in their experiences at the conference.
For once, the celebrities are the boring ones and the average people become the stars.
Spurlock keeps the pace moving as the stories play out. And never does the documentary come off as being condescending or exploitative. Actually, the whole presentation respectfully records the passion of the participants as they put pride aside in the name of the most genuine love for comic books, video games, and film. The subjects of Hope abscond ‘the normal life’. Even if you don’t enjoy the comic book culture, you will appreciate the all-out dedication to be a productive member of the comic book community.
Yes, the subject matter of the film isn’t as compelling as some documentaries. But this film does what all documentaries should do: objective record a subject as it is a product of its time and place. And Hope effectively chronicles the culture of the biggest con and the loyal followers who make it so interesting an event.
As you enjoy this documentary, ask yourself if you ever truly loved something as much as these people love the comic book culture.