Saturday, May 16, 2009

Superheroes, Ayn Rand on "The Simpsons," and Madness


•Thursday, the night of the Smallville season finale, Channel 11 News described “men and women who have pledged to do good and fight evil,” who “take to the streets of Gotham” as “part of a movement gaining momentum” around the world — so-called Real Life Superheroes who are just that, costumed folk acting as neighborhood crime watches and outreach to the homeless, with the New York contingent using names like Dark Guardian, Phantom Zero (perhaps influenced by the Phantom Stranger, about whom more tomorrow), and (the Green Hornet-inspired) Life.

•They actually looked more badass than some stuff coming out of Marvel Comics, such as an upcoming miniseries featuring the Pet Avengers, a team composed of previously-depicted animal adventurers such as the teleporting dog from the moon named Lockjaw (pictured above, looking a bit mopey), the X-Men’s pet dragon Lockheed, druggily-name superhero Speedball’s cat Hairball, the Falcon’s falcon Redwing, and of course a frog who wields the mystical thunder-hammer of the Norse god Thor.

•Speaking of weird ancient gods, it sounded at one point as if Guillermo del Toro (the right man for the job) might direct Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness (creepiness under Antarctica, inspiring many imitators), but now it’s sounding more likely that Ron frickin’ Howard will do a Beautiful Mind-style biopic about Lovecraft that juxtaposes his life, his insane family, and his nightmarish imaginings.  It probably won’t suck, but I’d rather just see them tell one of his stories (as has been done a few times but not quite right yet).  It had better be at least as disturbing as this image.

•On a related note, if you’ve ever been alarmed by the fact that every year it seems as though some mediocre new film is declared the biggest box office success of all time, you might be reassured to know that those declarations usually don’t involve adjusting the box office results for inflation, whereas this list, which does adjust all-time box office champions’ results for inflation, seems to include the movies you’d truly expect to see on an all-time-biggest list, mostly nerd/genre films, sweeping historical epics, and Disney.  The one movie on the list that, to my mind, does not fit any of those big, obvious categories is — ta-da — The Graduate.  Make of that what you will.  Good writing is one way to avoid needing an immense budget, as Hollywood must be dimly aware.

The Fountainhead, with Gary Cooper, is not on that list, but The Simpsons did a fairly respectful parody of it recently (my thanks to Diana Fleischman for pointing it out), and those who regard that book as defining heroism will not to be too disappointed with the depiction of “Maggie Roark.”

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