Okay, remember I told you that during Memorial Day weekend, the AMC theater on Forty-second Street was going to be showing Pixar movies all day? Fortunately, it's far enough west that it wasn't damaged in the alien attack, so that Sunday, I’m there for the afternoon screening of Wall-E. It’s not sold out, but there’s a good-sized audience. Lots of kids, of course, including this one adorable little girl dressed up as Boo from Monsters, Inc., but also a lot of grown-ups who are obviously not playing chaperone but are just there to see the cartoons, which is why I don’t pay any particular attention to these two dark-haired guys sitting a couple rows back, except to wonder where I’ve seen them before because they both look familiar.
Anyway, the movie starts, and like five minutes in, this idiot two seats to my right starts texting. Now I am not expecting perfect movie-watching etiquette on this occasion, because, you know, little kids, but this was an alleged adult. Plus, he had one of those smartphones with a really big, bright display, which made it super distracting, so after a while I lean over and ask him -- quietly and politely -- if he would please either stop texting or step outside. The guy heaves this huge sigh, rolling his eyes, and then glares at me, like I’m the schmuck, but he does put the phone away.
For about ten minutes. Then he starts texting again.
The whole movie goes by like this. I’m doing my best to ignore this jerk and mostly succeeding, but then, during the bit when Wall-E and EVE are in the trash compactor, his phone rings, and he answers it and proceeds to have a conversation that escalates into a loud argument with someone I hope was his ex-girlfriend, given how many times he addressed her as “Stupid bitch.” I am about thirty seconds away from strangling this asshole, when suddenly there’s this noise, like a BANG and a CRUNCH at the same time, and then this huge shape comes looming out of the dark.
I swear to God, this actually happened. It was the Hulk. He leans toward the guy, puts one massive hand to the back of his head and lifts him right out of his seat. I’m thinking, omigod, he’s going to squash this guy’s skull like a grape, and I’m pretty sure the jackass has literally crapped himself. But then, the Hulk brings up his other hand … and extends his index finger … and goes, “Shhhh.”
Then he drops the guy in his chair and returns to where his seat was before it was demolished. Which is when I realize he’s one of the two dark-haired men I noticed before the lights went down, and that the other guy is Tony Stark, who looks like he’s about to either crack up laughing or have a heart attack. Meanwhile, I can still hear a voice coming from the phone, which has landed by my feet, so I pick it up, say, “He’ll call you back later,” turn it off, and lob it into the guy’s lap. He doesn’t react at all.
At this point, aside from the movie, the room is completely silent. I think everyone is trying so hard to be quiet that they are actually absorbing sound -- except, there’s this rustle, and then a kid stage-whispers, “Would you like some popcorn?” I turn around, very slowly, just in time to see the Hulk take a single kernel of popcorn from a bag being held out by the Boo cosplay girl, while Tony Stark performs this it’s okay, just stay cool semaphore for her parents, who are one row away and clearly terrified. Luckily, once the Hulk says “Thank you,” she goes straight back to them.
After that, everyone stayed put through the happy ending, and the credits, and the really unsettling noises the Hulk made when he shrank back into his alter ego. It was kind of a crackling sound, and some groaning. When the lights came up there was a very polite but brisk mass exodus, with Phone Guy the first one out, walking funny. I had to make a pit stop myself, and when I came out of the ladies’ room I spotted Stark and his friend -- who’s now wearing a T-shirt and board shorts -- in the lobby, talking with the manager. From what I heard, he was trying to persuade them to tape one of those “Silence Is Golden” public service announcements in lieu of paying for the damaged chair.