Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Family Guy vs. Superman


Family Guy, which is now about the only thing I watch (and which may or may not still be the subject of a neat paintings exhibit at New York’s Paley Center for Media — can’t tell from their damn website), had a bit with Superman spying on Lois with his X-ray vision, realizing he’d accidentally gotten her pregnant, and thus announcing that he has to return to Krypton for a protracted special mission, so they’d better “see other people.”

What’s really disturbing, though, is that this is almost exactly the plot of Superman Returns.

Now the studio is considering a reboot of Superman that would ignore that film, which may be just as well. Mark Millar, the man behind the dark and stupid movie Wanted, is pitching one version of the Superman story. I think the wisest thing from a marketing perspective might simply be to make the movie feel like a natural sequel to Smallville, which presumably has to end with Clark going to Metropolis at some point.

In keeping with this blog’s Month of Sex theme, though: is it fair to ask whether director/co-writer Bryan Singer being gay may have contributed to the temporary derailing of the franchise? I do not mean for a moment that gay people shouldn’t be telling superhero stories (they certainly do) but rather that a big reason for the misfire of Superman Returns is that the plot, involving things like Lois having an out-of-wedlock child and a duped boyfriend, and Superman spying on her at home, was, as Kevin Smith (himself gay-friendly but frank as well) put it, “supercreepy.”

Might a straight director — simply for aesthetic/instinctual reasons that I’m not labeling morally superior — have been more likely to recognize in the planning stages that Superman was being taken into strange familial territory by this plot? Americans are increasingly tolerant of odd family configurations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we enjoy seeing our heroes in such predicaments.

Add that to over two hours of quiet, near-humorless, punching-free film, and you get a lot of people leaving the theatre feeling like something vaguely unsettling instead of fun just happened, though I thought it was OK.

(As Smith said in the same live appearance in Red Bank, NJ where I saw him call the film “supercreepy,” he almost wishes now that the 1990s Nic Cage/Tim Burton/Kevin Smith Superman Lives film had come to fruition, even with the producers placing absurd restrictions on the plot such as no flying, no costume, and a climactic fight with a giant spider, because if he’d fought a giant spider, “at least he would’ve thrown a punch.”)

This is by no means an argument against gay directors as a general rule (not even after Batman and Robin), just an interesting and unusual case in which that one attribute among countless others may have made a small difference. (If it were a film with Prince and David Bowie portraying space aliens, by contrast, I might want the director to be gay — and rest assured I would see that film.)


--Brad said...

“Superman Returns” was a bad copy of the original Superman movie. It was disappointing on many levels. Yet I still own the DVD.

Aren’t those restrictions the same ones currently on “Smallville” (which I will be reviewing soon for TVSquad.com. Plug. Plug)?

Jacob T. Levy said...

“I think the wisest thing from a marketing perspective might simply be to make the movie feel like a natural sequel to Smallville, which presumably has to end with Clark going to Metropolis at some point.”


The Superman Returns continuity has to be junked– it’s unworkable– and the Smallville-sequel route may well be what happens, since at EIGHT FREAKING SEASONS it’s gone longer than the iconic Reeves series and is closing in on the length of the Reeves show and Lois & Clark combined. It’s now one of the most widely-seen-ever versions of the Superman story. But it’s not a happy thought.

John Pizzo said...

Hi Todd,

I came across you post on Family Guy and noticed you are a fan. My name is John and I work at M80, a social media company in Los Angeles. Currently we are working with 20th Century Fox to gear up for the release of the Family Guy Vol. 6 on DVD, which will be available in stores October 21st.

I would love it if you were willing to share our Family Guy clips with your audience. Let me know if you are interested and I can send along a copy of Family Guy Vol. 6. Feel free to keep it for yourself or you could run a giveaway on your site.

Background information on Family Guy Vol.6:

Stewie will “Damn you all!” if fans don’t catch the latest collection of uproariously irreverent “Family Guy” adventures, as Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment presents the “Family Guy” Volume Six DVD collection on October 21. A pop culture phenomenon the collection features the show’s 100th episode and a total of 12 edgy episodes from Seasons Five and Six. Catch the Griffin clan’s ridiculously hilarious antics such as Stewie’s not-so-successful attempt to kill Lois, Brian’s discovery that he is a father and patriarch Peter’s frequent visits to the Drunken Clam.

Family Guy videos & images: http://m80im.com/newsroom/tag/family-guy/

YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/foxabulous


John Pizzo

M80 | 2894 Rowena Ave. | Los Angeles, CA 90039

e: pizzo@m80im.com

*M80 encourages full transparency; please feel free to disclose that M80 contacted you on behalf of 20th Century Fox.