Hollywood's love affair with men in tights
By Joe Aumiller / Staff Writer
MONDAY, APRIL 17, 2006
Brandon Routh dons the super-blue leotard and the red speedo this summer in "Superman Returns." With "X-Men: The Last Stand" hitting theaters May 26, "Superman" flying in this summer and a slew of other comic characters already on the big screen, comic book heroes have become a new genre of American films.
"It's a great way to tell a story," EMU junior Adam Teasdale says. "A lot of people grew up on comics and we still love them now." Considering the first "Spiderman" grossed about $100 million in its opening weekend, Teasdale is on to something.
"The longevity of the comic book movies is helped in part to the diversity of comics," Comic artist, author and EMU guest professor Scott McCloud says. "There are a lot of stories and characters to choose from."
But will future comic-inspired films stay true to the form of their print counterparts? "Some do, some don't," McCloud says. "Stories like 'Spiderman' and 'Sin City' have treated their sources respectfully, but it can be possible to follow too close."
McCloud mentions "Daredevil" as a movie that tried to follow the original story too closely, eventually falling short in the minds of many comic faithfuls.
Is there a limit to what producers can do? "It's been said that the comic 'Watchmen' is unfilmable because it's too complex," McCloud says.
"Watchmen," penned by "V for Vendetta" creator Alan Moore, was a twelve issue series that ran in the late '80s. It followed a group of super heroes as they attempted to rid the world of villains, who were in turn trying to eliminate them.
The comic book genre isn't facing the problem other genres are: what hasn't already been done? Coming this February is "Ghost Rider," which stars Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze, a motorcyclist who is forced to make a pact with a dark force in order to save his girlfriend. When the deal turns bad and the damsel dies anyway, Johnny is transformed into the superhero "Ghost Rider," the motorcycle-riding, chain-wielding and fire-skulled avenger.
Opening next year is "Spiderman 3," with all the main characters returning in the latest production depicting "your friendly neighborhood Spiderman." Among the villains slated for this installment is Venom, one of the most popular "Spiderman" enemies of all time according to www.imdb.com.
When movies are at the height of their popularity, someone has to poke fun at them, and comic flicks are no exception. From David Zuker, director of "Airplane!," "BASEketball" and "The Naked Gun" comes "Superhero!" Details of which publications will be parodied in the film are undetermined, but it's rumored to ridicule scenes from "Batman Begins" and "The Fantastic Four."
Comic book characters have become a popular part of the movie industry, and as long as the genre continues raking in millions of bucks, it won't end. "Hollywood has a love affair with heroes' stories right now," McCloud says. "It depends on people being motivated to make the movies, because first and foremost they have to make a good movie."
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