Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Superhero Backlash

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.


national lottery said...

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joshua said...

Appearantly DC is taking a cue from Marvel and is pretending the 2006 Superman never happened and they're working on a new one (that movie was so long and bad I managed to fall asleep three times during it, way too many scenes of superman just standing around looking heroic and not doing anything).

Also Robert Downey Jr bashed Dark Knight, by saying it was too highbrow and intelectual (pretty funny, huh?).

But to address your point, it's interesting that movie studios have started catering to comic nerds and don't just view them as a niche clientelle. I think Blade helped trailblaze this trend, but I think Spiderman opened the floodgates of the phenomenon by appealing to nerds as well as a mainstream audience (and by showing it can be lucrative endeavor). But now that the gates are open I don't see an end to this new trend anytime soon, if anything movie studios will milk it for all it's worth and pump out movies that should never be made, like Fantastic Four 2, and I assume these new Avengers, JLA projects. It goes back to the point that Hollywood is lazy and looking to make a quick buck these days, and that the masses are clamoring even for an inferior product because the bar is being set so low.

Ariel said...
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