But It Wasn't Always Like That
I graduated high school in 1992. The first blockbuster Batman movie came out in 1989. Before that, for my entire time in grade school, superhero movies were direct-to-video bullshit. That same year Batman came out, a Punisher movie starring Dolph Lundgren went direct to VHS, and as late as 1994 the Fantastic Four was the subject of a zero-budget knockoff by Roger Corman. There was a reason studios didn't want to invest; it's hard to overstate the stigma that was attached to it. Comics fans were the equivalent of guys who obsess over anime porn today.
"No, I got that part. What do I type in to see her blow a sperm whale?"
I vividly remember a time when, if you showed your love of a superhero by wearing a T-shirt with their logo on it, or you carried around comic books ... hell, even having an open discussion in public about who had the best superpowers, you were instantly cast into social purgatory. "You're a teenager now, damn it! You're supposed to be talking about real-life cheerleaders' asses behind their backs, not comparing Dr. Jean Grey's fluctuating boob size from artist to artist! Grow up, man!"
So sticking by the hobby actually meant something back then -- the world didn't make it easy. Since there were so few people who got into comic books on any serious level -- or who would openly admit it, at least -- you were excluded from most conversations, whether it was intentional or not. It wasn't like now, where even the anime porn lovers can find a hundred thousand like-minded fans on 4chan. There was no Internet, and the odds of running into another comic book lover was nil (especially in a small town like mine, where there was no comic book shop within hours).