Video Superman is Dead
Gritty. Hard-boiled. Tortured and flawed. Ah, the elements of the new prototypical superhero. Audiences no longer crave truth, justice and the American way. They want an icy-cold, psychologically jacked hero that shoots heroin in the women’s restroom after ripping out the spine of a baddie while bemoaning Corporate America. Superman, the embodiment of all that […]
Gritty. Hard-boiled. Tortured and flawed. Ah, the elements of the new prototypical superhero.
Audiences no longer crave truth, justice and the American way. They want an icy-cold, psychologically jacked hero that shoots heroin in the women’s restroom after ripping out the spine of a baddie while bemoaning Corporate America. Superman, the embodiment of all that is good and right, is now merely looked upon with nostalgia — not as a viable Hollywood product.
In an interview just after the release of the megahit Christopher Nolan film “The Dark Knight, ” Michael Caine, who plays Bruce Wayne’s faithful manservant Alfred, said, "Superman is the way America sees itself. Batman is the way the rest of the world sees America."
Mr. Caine may be on to something. The rest of the world sees the United States as a midnight vigilante. One that is so deep in morose emotional anguish that it takes action against evildoers using shadowy, sometimes heinous, methods. (Let’s be honest, that stuff happens. It’s real life.) Methods that split onlookers into two camps: those that support the Batman and his fight against crime — laws be damned — and those that look upon him as a rogue who believes he’s above the law.
But the U.S. today is a land that is suffering from different varieties of kryptonite. Some started by us and some that have been delivered to us via crashing airplanes. Two wars with no clear-cut winner, an economy in the dumps with lay-off announcements every single day and a media that is apparently more concerned about Miss California and "Jon & Kate" than battles between Nancy Pelosi and the CIA.
If only we did look at America like Superman. Right now I’d say it’s more Jimmy Olsen .. .or worse; Mr. Mxyzptlk.
So let’s break this down into superheroes and its current trend in film. “Superman Returns, ” the 2006 Bryan Singer dirge, didn’t fail because audiences no longer resonate with a super being that can fly, shoot heat from his eyes and is immune to bullets. It failed because Superman is the epitome of good morals and justice, which today’s audience find boring and childish.
It’s hard to give that kind of guy an edge unless he’s under some sort of spell. Perhaps if Clark picked up a crack whore and painted her with feces, then he’d be approaching "cool" again. "The Big Blue Boy Scout" as he is called by cynical fanboys and Guy Gardener, only works in a patriotic America. Changing him through some sort of rebranding effort or Warner reboot won’t make things different.