Tenspeed & Brownshoe

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Why the World Needs Superman...or at least people who care about adapting him correctly.

So, this post is really about ADAPTATIONS. More specifically, adapting comic books to the screen. This is a subject that's close to my heart since I'm a well known superhero geek. And it pains me to sit through these horrible and unnecessary adaptations.

One of the most common complaints about these comics to screen adaptations is the loss of faithfulness to its graphic paper counterpart. Now for the record, it's almost impossible to be 100% faithful to the comic book. Some of the more popular characters were created 40 years ago and much of the fantasized world around them just wouldn't play on screen. A good example of this and a great adaptation is SPIDERMAN. One of the most important aspects of Spiderman are his webs. I mean, how else is he going to swing from rooftop to rooftop? In the comic book, after Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider, he creates not only a man-made web fluid but also a state of the art web fluid delivery system he dubs "web shooters".


Filming something like that just wouldn't work. Sure, we're talking about a kid who becomes a wall crawling superhero but to make a decent film you just can't film that. It's too ridiculous and it would break that thin wall between reality and fantasy. And it really wouldn't be entertaining for the audience. Because then you would slip into that realm where the bad guy has invented the Super Techno Insane Gun that's making people go crazy and then good guy hightails it to his lab and invents the Super Techno Sane Gun to counteract the bad guys affects. It's too much.

I can't really go into all the superhero adaptations because that would take forever. I would, however, like to discuss Superman Returns and explain what truly drove me crazy when I saw it. Careful now...There are SPOILERS BELOW:

When it was announced that Bryan Singer would take over the helm of Superman I was less than excited. Not because I think he's a bad director. In fact, I think he's a very good director and I can watch The Usual Suspects every day. But when it comes to his casting choices for his superhero movies, I always cringe. Singer commits a HUGE crime when he unnecessarily and incorrectly makes the main characters a decade younger than they should be. If you've seen X-Men, most people wondered why he made Rogue and Iceman into teenagers and basically told the story of Kitty Pryde and Colossus, when he simply could've just told that story. Please, don't tell me about recognizability because Iceman really ain't burnin' up the popularity charts. It was just an unnecessary adaptation.

Man, I'm a geek.

But I had hope for Superman Returns because all I kept hearing about was how faithful Singer was going to be. All I kept hearing about was how faithful the writers Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty were going to be. Every interview regarding Superman Returns had the word faithful in it. Faithful, faithful, faithful. For a second I thought that Bill Clinton was going to direct the film. And then came the first boom when 24 year old Brandon Routh was cast. Believe it or not, Routh is actually younger than Tom Welling of Smallville.


Actually Christopher Reeve was probably around the same age since he was only 26 when the original Superman came out. But truthfully Routh just doesn't look like the 30 year old Superman that he's supposed to be. Reeve looked like a man. Routh looks like a boy playing a man. There's a difference.

Next came the suit. The Latex Suit. Superman has a latex suit? Weird but pretty easy to get over. But seriously, a latex suit?

Here's the most ridiculous and outlandish aspect of Superman Returns that almost made me scream in the theatre:

Superman is a daddy. Superman--excuse me--knocked up Lois Lane. Um...what? WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING? Do you know what the best part about that was? After the film, all I could hear in the lobby was parents trying to explain to their kids what and why and where and...fucking how that was possible. That's when I knew the film probably wouldn't be as big as I originally thought.

Their unfaithfulness to the comic was a huge flaw. And it was entirely unnecessary. There are literally hundreds of stories that you could've done for Superman Returns. Hundreds. Why nobody ever consults with Bruce Timm, producer of the Superman/Justice League animated series is beyond me. If you've never seen the series, watch it. It's perfect for adults and kids. Entertaining and poignant at the same time.

Thank God for movies like Batman Begins and Spiderman. These are comic book movies done right. That goes for Blade and Blade II as well.

I absolutely can't wait until Spiderman 3. And before Singer starts Superman 2: Father's Day, I hope he consults with one of those directors and or screenwriters.

P.S. Go see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. I already saw it once and I'm gonna see it again today. Best Movie of The Year By Far.