Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Super Strategies For Supermen

The box-office success of Man of Steel makes it easier for me to proceed with this, so ...

I'm flipping a coin to decide...

The thing is...I've seen, read, glanced at and coagulated enough internet ephemera to have pre-concieved notions about Man of Steel, the new Superman film that's now playing...would you like me to share them with you?

Christopher Nolan is in this as "Executive Producer" - that could mean as much as it did when they credited Batman Forever "A Tim Burton Production...of A Joel Schumacher Film", but I've gleamed from what we know about it that this new film is, from a storytelling perspective, borrowing the same themeatic structure/character relationships he used in his Batman trilogy. Here's helpful chart of what I think we're seeing now and could be seeing in the years ahead:

Ra's Al Ghul = General Zod
Rachel Dawes = Lois Lane
James Gordon = Perry White
Alfred Pennyworth = Jonathan Kent
Jor-El = Thomas Wayne
The Joker = Lex Luthor
Bane = Brainiac/Metallo (I'm Sure we'd rather see one over the other)
The Scarecrow = The Parasite

Oops! Did I just give something away, there? Nah.

I flipped the coin. It says "Forget It!"  It's a novelty coin from Nickelodeon that was sold in the late-80s - the other side says "Go For It!"... I'll wait to rent it on DVD and watch it. If it does result in a Justice League movie (which is what Warner Brothers DESPERATELY wants - these things are SO calculated these days) then that's good for them, though I wonder if all this fast-tracking-strategy approach to adapting superhero movies for the big screen only results in more unsold DVDs in the five dollar bins at Best Buy and not truly great movies. Is anyone watching Thor and The Avengers with the same awe that they had watching the first Batman or Spider-Man movies? My guess is that we're all just watching these new films thinking like executives, looking for links to this n' that and checking the end credits for hints about the sequel.

Meanwhile, I bought a copy of Superman Unchained #1, Scott Snyder and Jim Lee's premiere...It's for people who have not read Superman comics in the last decade. Honest. It's fairly well-written (at this early stage, I think Scott has a better handle on who Clark Kent is than who Superman is, as well as Lex Luthor and Jimmy Olsen, but not Lois Lane - and I really don't like General Sam Lane, her father, who always seemed like a ripoff of General Ross from Marvel's Hulk comics). He's dipicted as running a top secret millitary installation that's integrated within a pastoral underground environment - vaguely reminescient of the bases-carved-into-mountains that were shown in the last episodes of  Superman: The Aniamted Series. As for the storyline, It sounds a lot like the "For Tomorrow" storyline the Lee did with Brian Azzarello, what with the army's secret super-soldier (who looks like a revamp of Captain Atom) and Luthor's "Big Tree" scheme reminds me of Rick Veitch's The Question mini-series a few years back, which, incidentally, has the best take on Lois Lane I've ever read in comics. And Superman's deep space rescue reminds me of that Eisner-winning issue of Hitman in which he guest-starred. Then there's that poster page - Jim Lee tried that before with the Bat-cave gatefold page in All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder - it didn't really work there, either. Comic books were always capeable of inspiring awe and wonder in the past by doing less; every time the publishers try to offer something new by tinkering with the format, it only accomplishes justifying a mark-up on the price tag. It's pretty, but never super.


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