With the Supanova Pop Culture Expo on in Sydney this weekend, and in Perth next weekend, Cream turns its eye to comic books – deconstructing the classic superhero and deciding that a shiny cape and good morale don’t quite cut it in these rough-and-troubled times.
Text and art by Antonino Tati
Earlier this year, Superman returned to the big screen to battle it out with Batman – both caped crusaders greeted with divided opinion by public and critics alike.
While conservative media gave Superman v Batman a general thumbs-up, the public came across as comparatively non-plussed toward the film.
So why did the folks who actually paid for their popcorn – these being the fans and consumers whose opinions really count – consider the flick a feeble affair?
Even with all the might of mass media exposure and merchandising aplenty, general film-goers and diehard followers alike were generally disappointed: FX were too much, plots were too thin, not enough Wonder Woman, too much reference to the Justice League… it seems nobody was fully content.
Some argued that both our lead superheros were ‘too often in pain’ and ‘too tortured’. Ultimately, it could be said that the figures of Superman and Batman, which persist in most people’s minds as figments of constant benevolence existing only on the straight and narrow, are images that can’t be bought in an age of terrorist conflict. There’s just too much real shit going down for any of us to feel good about giving two-and-a-half hours of our time to a couple of tough guys in tight jocks playing boy scout.
Also influential in the demise of the superhero is the rise in popularity of the villain. These days it seems half the audience is going to the cinema to cheer on the traditional hero, while the other half is rooting for the bad-guy. I know when I first watched The Dark Knight I sensed an affinity more with the Joker than with Batman; the former telling it like it is; the latter coming across as wishy-washy. Sure, Heath Ledger’s Joker was evil to the core but at least he didn’t pussyfoot about and got the job done. Meanwhile Batman uhms and uhs on what to do while the rest of humanity gets destroyed. Just kill the bad fucker already…
But I digress. Now that Superman v Batman: Dawn Of Justice is soon to hit Blu-ray shelves and online stores, it might be fair to give the film a second chance; to see if some of those sub-plots and all that artistic hype measure up on the Plasma at home better than on the big screen.
If you do intend to watch it again at home, keep in mind English novelist Graham Greene’s advice that “a movie is not a book; if the source material is a book, you cannot be too respectful of the book; all you owe to the book is the spirit.”
Same goes for comic books, I suppose. Antonino Tati
Supanova is on in Sydney, June 17-19, at Sydney Showgrounds, Olympic Park, and then in Perth, June 24-26, at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. For more information, visit supanova.com.au.