Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.

2008-06-11

Wednesday Night Lights: Bad Superhero, Bad!

The unfortunately named Topless Robot recently posted a list of the worst superheroes to ever appear on television. Like my previous posts, here is the list:

10. Birds of Prey (a Batman spin-off)
9. Once a Hero
8. Exo Man
7. KISS meets Phantom of the Park (we LOVED this in grade school)
6. Thor (my best friend and I were so excited that Thor was getting his own show, even at that age we knew it stunk)
5. My Secret Identity
4. Captain America
3. Legends of the Superheroes
2. Wonder Woman (pre-Linda Carter pilot)
1. Justice League

The great thing is when you click-through to the site, they have clips of these shows so you can see how truly awful they were.

I'm surprised M.A.N.T.I.S. didn't make the cut. I guess it wasn't awful through and through; it had an interesting premise and was pretty well-written (about what you'd expect from Sam Hamm) but the effects were...let's say less than stellar. Wow, I just noticed, M.A.N.T.I.S. is from 1994? Sheesh, that makes me feel old.

I have to say, while I cut my teeth on superhero comic books and television as a child, my love affair with the genre died quickly in the 1990s. I do not look forward to superhero television or movies. While most everyone I knew was thrilled to death about the Spider-man movie a half-dozen years ago, I could not have cared less about seeing the film. There was an initial thrill about the idea of the movie--probably some leftover emotions of my comic-book youth--but as the opening drew nearer, my interest waned. I think partly this was due to the innundation of coverage about the film.

This trend continues to today. EVery time a superhero movie is announced, I feel a little thrill about it. I see some stills and I think, that could be great. And then comes the commercials, the interviews, the magazine articles, the online advertising, and on and on and on. I am so sick of the movie by the time it comes out.

Take Iron Man for example. It's filled with actors I enjoy. I recently watched A Scanner Darkly with Robert Downey, Jr.. Man I thought he was great in that movie. I really enjoyed that film and its sense of frowing paranoia and confusion. So when I saw him as Tony Stark I thought, that might work. And then Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges . . . this was a quality cast (all four have been nominated for acting Oscars, and Gwyneth has won one if you've been under a rock). I was getting excited about this movie. The trailers looked great. The initials reviews were positive. But, by the time the film came out in theaters, I was over it.

It's in my Netflix queue. I'm sure I'll see it some day. And I'm sure I should see it on the big screen to get the full experience, but that won't happen. The last superhero movie I watched was Batman Begins, IMO one of the most awful pieces of dreck I've watched in recent history. It had the misfortune of getting incredible hype from people whose opinion I trust*, so I think the movie had an unreal set of expectations going in. On top of that, I think I'm beginning to learn that I don't care for Christian Bale as an actor*. I thought his performance was terrible, and all the build up of creating/showing the story of how Batman gained his abilities bored me to tears. I didn't even finish watching the film.

And of course, despite everything, I find myself excited about The Dark Knight; it being one of Heath Ledger's (another actor I'm not sure that I like as much as I think I do) final performances owing more than its fair share of blame. For now, I just love the look of Ledger's Joker. In the end, it'll be another superhero film, and I won't like it.

And I'm terrified about The Watchmen. I hope it never gets finished****.
_________________________
* In the past this happened with The Predator, and Speed, two films that are ok, but if you listened to my friends, you would think you'd be getting ready to see one of the BEST. MOVIES. EVER. I try to not listen to people talking about films these days. Another film that I hated that my friends that was the bee's knees was Donnie Darko. Worst film ever? Discuss.

** I actually enjoyed the ridiculous Reign of Fire*** which featured Bale and Matthew McConaughey trying to out-cheese each other. This was I think the opposite effect of the note above. It was panned so badly by my friends that no movie could possibly be that bad.

*** This is part of a weird collection of films I enjoyed watching late at night on movie channels with the sound off so I didn't wake my wife. These films are: Reign of Fire, Ghosts of Mars, Resident Evil, The Transporter, and Dawn of the Dead (the remake). With the sound off, they're fun action movies. I've tried watching them with the sound on, and I can't make it two minutes.

**** If they ever wanted to make a Marshal Law movie, I'd totally be in line for that. To quote from the Wikipedia article: "The series is characterised by its extreme graphic violence and nudity, and Mills' merciless savaging of superhero conventions and US government policy and society."

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7 Comments:

  • At 7:37 PM, OpenID librarianwoes said…

    How about The Greatest American Hero? Then again he lost the owner's manual...

     
  • At 8:29 AM, Blogger Sophie Brookover said…

    I am one of those people who loves superhero movies (almost all action movies, really -- I saw both Transporter movies in the theater!), but cannot be bothered to read superhero comics. We balance each other out! Ironman was really good -- better than I was expecting, even. And of course, I am really looking forward to The Dark Knight.

     
  • At 2:19 PM, Blogger John Klima said…

    There was a point in my life when I wanted nothing more than the new Jean Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal movie . . .

    At about that point in my life, the first Batman movie came out in theaters. I loved it (I haven't watched it since, and I'm not sure that I would still enjoy it) although that's tempered with the fact that Metallica was playing nearby on their tour and were at the same theater as I was so I got to meet a few members of the band before the movie. What a great night for a high school kid, eh?

    And I have to admit, I haven't read much for comic books in more than ten years. When I first moved out east, I sold dozens of boxes of comics since we just didn't have space for them. And even then a lot of what I read was not the popular stuff. I was reading Grendel, Grim Jack, Stray Toasters, etc. Not many superheroes in my collection. :)

     
  • At 1:14 AM, OpenID jlassen said…

    "Stray Toasters..."

    Damn John. You and me and three other people are the only ones who know about that one. I knew there was a reason I liked you.

    -jl

     
  • At 1:15 AM, OpenID jlassen said…

    "Stray Toasters"

    Damn John. You me and four other people are the only ones who have ever heard of that one. I knew I liked you for a reason.

    -jl

     
  • At 11:23 AM, Blogger John Klima said…

    And Mr. Teppo is another one. For those who don't know (which should be most of you) "Stray Toasters" was a mini series by Bill Sienciewicz (Shen-kev-itch) about...well, this A.V. Club review probably puts it most succinctly:

    http://www.avclub.com/content/node/21094

     
  • At 11:57 AM, Blogger Jen Boggs said…

    librarianwoes, you took the "believe it or not" right out of my mouth!

     

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