Wednesday, August 27, 2008
It's no secret that our current popular culture deals pretty much primarily in the realm of superheroes. Three of the top ten grossing films of this year tell the stories of traditional comic-book heroes (that Bat-man film which, apparently, did quite well; Robert Downey, Jr.'s second best role this year [Tropic Thunder, by far, was his best]; and, somehow, that Hulk movie which, to my amusement, just pretended that the one from 2003--five years ago!--never happened).
But I think the more important movie money-making development rests at number four on that list, Hancock. Yes, that movie was awful. But it's important because people are ready to see new variations on the superhero theme. Hancock--marketed as drunken, bad-boy superman--started stretching the limits a bit on what our movie superheroes were expected to do. And the superhero spoof genre reached its current zenith with Dr. Horrible. I bring up these examples not because I like linking to previous posts on this here blog, although that is fun, but because of a manuscript I've been reading, titled Captain Freedom. It's being published in February of next year, but I managed to snag an advance copy from one of my lecturers from publishing camp. It's written by blogger/humor writer, G. Xavier Robillard, and it follows the exploits of this professional superhero who saves the world in order to boost his comic book sales, and whose proudest professional accomplishment is setting the all-time record for most foiled bank robberies. The book is cute, but nothing special. (I always have a hard time making the transition from reading books by professional authors to books by other guys: there's a far cry between DFW and McEwan, who I'm currently reading, and pretty much everyone else, including Robillard.)
But here are three distinct products that seem to capitalize on our possible collective superhero fatigue. Have we reached the limit of traditional superheroes? Michael Chabon might cry.