Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Super Hero Movies: Comic Books for a New Age

When I was a little kid, I didn't have that much exposure to comic books. I did have a few of my dad's old books, and I remember a Comic Shop on Division where Dad and I would go before Scout Meetings. But needless to say I did not really get in to comics.

I don't know if it is a result of my lack of exposure, or if everyone likes them, but I love super hero movies. I love the notion that a simple person can be imbued with great power. I love the moral struggles. I love the predictable love story. I love the action, the suspense. It is all great. This enjoyment, I think, is rooted in the old notion of a 'hero.' We love them, everything about them. These re-hashing of old stories, and use of characters who have been around for 60+ years, is bringing the romantic vision of the 'Super Hero' to the modern age, for people like me. Those of us who knew who Wolverine and Batman were, but only because they were pop culture icons. We might have seen them on Saturday morning cartoons, but really were not steeped in the medium at a young age. Now we get to see their story, we get to experience the genesis and we get to watch them battle their nemesis.

In my family, it has often been noted that my source of love for cinematic adventure was not from my parents. They both enjoy a movie every once in a while, but rarely will they ever watch a movie twice (something I started early on as a kid, watching every rented movie at least twice before we returned it). I think this points to the above idea of a shift in narrative medium. My father had models of Nazi tanks he would blow up, I had video games where I would blow up Nazi tanks (well, I guess my father had... well still has games like this). My father would watch variety shows on the one station they got, I surf around on YouTube. He had comic books, I have Super Hero Movies.

You may be wondering why I am writing about this. I saw Captain America: The First Avenger last night. First off: it was great. I highly suggest it. I think that going in to the show, I knew more about why Captain America existed, than actually anything about Captain America. The idea of the quintessential American Hero, the benign propaganda against Axis forces, the do-gooder. I was expecting that. And they captured it perfectly. It is a part time-period piece, part super hero science fiction, part war movie and part super hero narrative. The general feeling of the film was that of an old black and white mixed with a comic, similar to that of Watchmen and 300. With a number of parts reminding me of Band of Brothers. The science fiction aspect of the story was a little absurd looking back, but it reminded me of the alternate history in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and more recently Sucker Punch, a wildly romanticized technological steam-punk-esque world where you can have lasers and jet propulsion in the 1940's. Other than one particular spot (the lame romantic kiss right before Cap. Amer. saves the entire world) I thought the acting was spot on. Again, great movie.

I think one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was because it reminded me of my Dad (man, I am talking a lot about you in this post ;). The general setting, the style, it just reminded me of all of the war movies that I have watched with him.

And now I find myself super excited about the up coming Avengers film. Marvel studios have done a great job in introducing us to the main characters. They have set the scene, and given 'creation accounts.' And now they are free to do what Stan Lee did, just have fun with the Characters. I am stoked. I don't care what people say about the movie industry, and their lack of original material, I am looking forward to this ride.

Oh, and a side note: I can't be too great full to the movie industry. I found out today, reading through the IMDB page for Captain America that they wanted to have a cameo of Wolverine and Magneto (as they were around in the late 40s), and they would have been in the 'Marvel Universe.' But turns out there were 'Rights Issues.' LAME. Really guys? You are not going to play along with each other?

1 comment:

  1. Let's watch "Guns of Navarone" and and the "Dirty Dozen" again. I like your thinking in this post.