Friday, April 01, 2016

Killing Superman

Why bother saying that we killed Superman? I understand that the spoiler alert is happening here, after the spoiler, but it's not really a spoiler if there is no way anyone at Time Warner will let that happen. That's how we have come to know too much about show business. A twenty-four hour news cycle means that we know everything that Hollywood movie executives of yesteryear knew when they were running studios. We know about gross ticket sales and star's paychecks and production difficulties. Why would we care? Why would we want to know that there is a man behind that curtain pulling the strings and pushing the buttons. The great and powerful Oz was James Franco and it was a beautiful mess, as are so many things involving James Franco. At least this is what my informed opinion turns out to be. I got to this point pretty early in my life, having grown up with a mother who read every movie magazine that came into her parents' drugstore back in the 1930's. What was happening behind the camera was every bit as dramatic and exciting as what occurred on the other side, you just had to read.
Now you don't even have to read, you just turn on TMZ or click on the link that shows up at the bottom of the last post you read. I didn't read the reviews for "Dawn of Justice" before I went to see Batman try to beat up Superman. I had read and heard about how difficult the process of bringing the big guns of DC comics together on the screen. I had formed my opinions long before I took my seat, but I wanted to see it unfold. I had hoped to be surprised. The surprise was how low the expectations I had set needed to be. A friend's son had told me "It's not that bad." How bad would that have to be? This dark and muddy world of angry revenge brought forth without any of the motivations that previous iterations of the Dark Knight had provided. Ben Affleck and George Clooney are both actors for whom I have a great deal of admiration, but I will be happy if they don't don a cowl and cape anytime soon again. It's not really their fault, after all, since the fun part of super heroes comes in that first part: super.
I have written before about my pre-existing prejudice against DC comics, and my predilection for those made by Marvel. Flawed characters are interesting, even heroes. Watching them rise above those flaws is the trick. Seeing Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent struggle with their collective id doesn't have the same snappy taste as Peter Parker or Tony Stark. This is probably because there is better writing going on, and since the stakes are often very similar, how is it that there can't be a better movie made with all that money being thrown around?
I blame Superman. Invulnerable means "not vulnerable." Those other guys, Bruce Wayne/Batman included, are vulnerable. They are making a conscious choice to be super. Supes wakes up that way. He has to make a conscious choice to be vulnerable. That was Superman II. That's been done. What's left? Killing him. That's as vulnerable as you can get. But you can't have a sequel. There's already a release date for the next one. They aren't going to pay Henry Cavill all that money to lay around in a pine box. He'll be zipping around in that red cape and matching briefs before you can say "Justice League." Will we care? I will still probably stand in line to watch it happen, in that whole train wreck, Rotten Tomatoes kind of way. And that's how really bad movies still make money. Go figure.

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