Friday Face/Off: Superhero Films
Harry (wouldn’t wear a cape even if you bought him one)
Today the latest in a long, tired line of cookie-cutter Superhero films (this time it’s called Captain America: The First Avenger) will fly into every Odeon, Cineworld and Balls-o-Plex in the country, sure to be an onslaught of light, colour, noise and shapes. Is it in 3D too? Probably, why wouldn’t it be? We’ve already had Thor and Green Lantern this summer, and next year there’s the ever-so pointless Spiderman reboot, the probably-will-be-fine The Dark Knight Rises, and the truly ri-shit-ulous looking The Avengers. Dear me, what’s wrong with a nice story about a man who adopts penguins or something?
John (asks for a Wolverine lunchbox every birthday, without fail)
Oh my god, PISS OFF with your pissing penguins. What’s wrong with a good superhero flick? Carefully blending escapism (gosh, I wish I could fly) with a jingoistic burst of West Is Best-ness (Robert Downey Jr blowing up terrorists), we need superhero myths more than ever in this frankly fucked up world that we call the world. If we couldn’t escape into their simple, morally monochrome world once in a while, we’d end up losing our minds – superheroes are the embodiment of all that we wish we could be, AND they always save the world/get the girl/wear a really cool cape. Game, set, match.
But why not just have one superhero film that everyone can watch when they get a bit fed up? What’s the point of putting a bajillion out every year, each one mooted as a franchise, each one in wallet-busting 3D, each one with a tie-in video game and each one with lots of action figures to sell to thick kids. It’s so tiring! And there’s not one that deviates from the pack, they’re all the ruddy same. Alright, so it was kinda cool seeing Downey Jr. be Downey Jr. in Iron Man, but as soon as he puts the suit on, you might as well be watching a small baby playing with toys in his bedroom.
Is there no romance in your soul? Every superhero has his or her own mystique, a unique motif which defines their actions and the world they inhabit. Superman is a revamped Jesus figure who famously represented Truth, Justice and the American Way (and, less popularly, told readers to ‘Slap a Jap’ in the Forties), Batman is a shadowy Plutonian antihero with the courage and resources to stand up and fix his city, the X-Men are the heroes of the civil liberties struggle writ large and furry. There are certainly plenty of doppelgängers, and nobody’s arguing the artistic necessity of action figures and shoddy 3D conversions, but a healthy and varied superhero stable is key to keeping the genre fresh and exciting.
Batman is a super privileged, super rich playboy who decides to use his vast fortune to tackle street-level crime. He is, as Reginald D. Hunter said, a Conservative’s wet dream! Also, with relation to your ‘Slap a Jap’ comment, there are also several Superman comics where he struggles to life up fat people, on account of them being fat. He can lift up a fucking train, but makes a bit of a fuss when someone’s had a few too many cream cakes. What a dickhead. A racist, fattist dickhead. I hope he gets a shard of Kryptonite ploughed up his arse.
It’s true, Batman might embody the Big Society; but we were all about have-a-go heroes before David Cameron smeared his revolting PR glands on everything good and pure and true in the world. And so what if Superman’s a bit choosy about who he rescues? As an alien, he gets his fair share of flak from ignorant Earth-dwellers – it’s hardly surprising that his political correctness antenna is a little wonky. Anyway, if there’s one thing superhero films have taught me it’s that fat people are rubbish at saving the world. Just look at Matter Eater Lad…
See, now you’ve mentioned Matter Eater Lad you’ve inadvertently commissioned him for a trilogy of films, a slew of external endorsements and possibly a graphic novel accompaniment, y’know, just so people can feel like these films have something to do with the art that inspired them (when they don’t really). The worst indictment of the superhero film came when the director of Green Lantern said that one: he hadn’t read the comics, and two: he was approaching the film with the same seriousness as Hamlet. HAMLET! Dear God. How about a five year embargo on superheroes, see how we feel about them when that’s finished?
Yeah, I’m game. You people need to have superheroes withheld from you so you’ll realise what you’re missing – you might think it ain’t no thing now, but give the world a couple of years without regular doses of caped wish fulfilment and there’ll be rioting in the streets. AND Batman won’t be around to kick some arse and restore order – so maybe you’ll have to step up to the plate. Are you ready for that, Mr Popper? Do you really think you can face a world bereft of superheroes? (And if we’re not having any supernatural beings who allow for the sublimation of guilt via the placing of faith in an imaginary Platonic construct, God can fuck off too.)
Must all your rants end with telling God to fuck off?