Summer of the Superhero

July 15, 2008
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There was Iron Man. There was the Hulk. There was Hell Boy. Now, Batman is back.

Summer has long been the time of blockbuster special effects movies, but this year seems disproportionately super hero focused.

What does it say that so many films--not to mention, so many acclaimed films--focus on characters with special powers?

Is it, as some have theorized, the continuation of a long dramatic chain linking all the way back to the Greeks (whose gods seem strikingly like our cape-and-cowled friends)? Or is there something about our times that cry out for these larger than life characters?

Your thoughts on these weighty philosophical matters? And your thoughts on the best and worst super hero movies?

And, while your at it, your prediction for the success or failure of the upcoming Spiderman stage musical?
  • As a comics book fan, I usually look forward to these movies when they're done well with great stories and great actors. I think Spiderman really kicked off the craze and re-ignited the superhero movies. The last good ones were the first two Batman's from the 90's, but eventually those descended into stupity. Movies for many people at different times in their lives are an escape from reality. What better escape than to image super heroes are there to save us?

    Movies I liked:

    Spiderman 1, 2, 3
    X-Men 1, 2
    Superman1, 2, 3 (Christopher Reeves version)
    Iron Man
    Batman Begins
    Batman (the first two from 89-90's)
    V for Vendetta (based on a comic anyway..)

    Movies I didn't like:

    X-Men 3
    new Superman (that chick was no Lois Lane!)
    Ghost Rider is probably the worst one I've seen - ridiculous dialogue and bad acting, poor script
    later Batman movies from the 90's I don't even remember how many they made...
    The Fantastic Four are just plain awful...
    The Hulk (Ang Lee) I love Lee's other movies and think he's a great director who can do just about any genre, but the Hulk really got weird at the end. I liked some of his visual touches though.

    Spiderman the musical? I can't help but think it will end up on the Worst Musicals of all Time list.
  • You know, there was a Suparman musical in the late '60s . . . Oh, you don't know? Well, that's not too surprising; it seems to have faded away rather quickly. It was done around the same time as the ultra-campy '60s Batman, and apparently had the same general ethos. And like everything else, there appears to be a brief clip from that production online, from a TV adaptation aired in 1975:

    If you're interested in cheesy music and some of the most spectacularly awful fight choreography this side of a Blaxploitation film, give it a look. If not, well . . . go get a ticket for THE DARK KNIGHT. I know I will be.

    That Spidey musical, though, seems like it could be weirder yet. Directed by Julie Taymor, music by Bono, and a Geek Chorus? This could be fascinating either as an unlikely success or a spectacular failure . . . but then there's still a chance it could never see the light of day. Remember the brief hoopla about a Batman musical from a few years ago, penned by David Ives and directed by Tim Burton? Gone, and probably best forgotten.
  • Whoops. Suparman? I should proofread.
  • Brian,
    Of course, that would be It's a Bird, It's a Plane...It's Superman.
    Jack Cassidy and Linda Lavin were in it (Not sure if she was on the TV broadcast version, but I remember him in it).
    Hal Prince directed. Charles Strauss (of Annie fame) composed.
    Oddest credit is that it was written by Robert Benton, who went on write Bonnie and Clyde (thankfully not yet turned into a musical)to Kramer vs. Kramer (ditto).
  • Actually, according to my quick sweep of the various online info sources (the Internet knows all) on It's a Bird . . .etc., the roles of the reporter and Lois Lane were actually played by Kenneth Mars and Lesley Ann Warren, respectively, in the TV version. Curiouser and curiouser.
  • Memory can be fuzzy--especially from here in New Jersey (where I am for the week). Looks like I was blurring the Origional Cast Album and my memory of the TV special.
    Kenneth Mars (he of The Producers) it is.

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