Saturday, April 21, 2012

Defending the Superhero

Although I cover several different aspects of the film and television industries on this site, regular readers know quite well that a special part of my focus from the very beginning has always been the superhero genre, which has really exploded in popularity lately. While Hollywood has pumped out comic book pics with regularity since at least the late '80s and Tim Burton's Batman, they really went into overdrive with the record-breaking opening of 2002's first Spider-Man flick, and gained an extra booster rocket or two thanks to '08's double-fisted success of Iron Man and The Dark Knight.

And while the road to mainstream and critical acceptance has been long, slow, and fraught with landmines like 1997's Batman & Robin or last year's Green Lantern, I've nonetheless felt for awhile now that the genre has come into its own, and is worthy of scholarly analysis acknowledging that fact without all the "Biff-Pam-Pow" brickbats critics feel compelled to couch any praise with (which falls in line with a new project I'm in the midst of pulling together...fingers crossed!). Well, with Marvel's The Avengers less than two weeks away, actor Tom Hiddleston, who reprises the role of trickster god Loki from last year's Thor, obviously had the same idea, and has penned a lengthy, quite passionate defense of superhero movies for the UK's Guardian. Says Hiddleston:
The Hulk is the perfect metaphor for our fear of anger; its destructive consequences, its consuming fire. There's not a soul on this earth who hasn't wanted to "Hulk smash" something in their lives. And when the heat of rage cools, all that we are left with is shame and regret. Bruce Banner, the Hulk's humble alter ego, is as appalled by his anger as we are. That other superhero Bruce – Wayne – is the superhero-Hamlet: a brooding soul, misunderstood, alone, for ever condemned to avenge the unjust murder of his parents. Captain America is a poster boy for martial heroism in military combat: the natural leader, the war hero. Spider-Man is the eternal adolescent – Peter Parker's arachnid counterpart is an embodiment of his best-kept secret – his independent thought and power.
No arguments here! There's a lot more from Hiddleston that's interesting and thought-provoking, and you can read the rest of his piece here. Back tomorrow with this week's Nostalgia Theater!

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