Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ultimate Superhero Previews

I love the beautiful artwork done by Bryan Hitch on the cover of EMPIRE November 2006 issue. I am looking forward to the coming years' offerings of Spiderman 3, Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider, Iron Man (finally) and Captain America. Who could play Captain America. EMPIRE offers Martin Henderson, Aaron Eckhart and Will Smith (huh!). I will love to see the Mighty Thor on the big screen.

Marvel seems to have bounced back from being a bankrupt comic book firm to become Hollywood's hottest money spinners. In 8 years, Marvel has produced 13 movies which grossed them more than four billion dollars!

Blade (1998) $131 million
X-Men (2000) $ 296 million
Blade II (2002) $155 million
Spider-man (2002) $822 million
Daredevil (2003) $179 million
X-Men II (2003) $408 million
Hulk (2003) $245 million
The Punisher (2004) $55 million
Spider-man II (2004) $784 million
Blade: Trinity (2004) $129 million
Elektra (2005) $57 million
Fantastic Four (2005) $330 million
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) $446 million

This does not include the DC comics superheroes such as the Batman (begins, begun, begone) and Superman (returns, returning, and still returning). While it translate to a lot of money for these franchises, it also meant that many people are watching these movies at the cinemia (not to mention even more watching them on VCD and DVDs). The question is why are so many people watching these superheroes movies?

While we cannot exclude that the special effects are spectacular, that may not be the only reason. I would suggest that these movies are popular because of our inherent need for heroes.

Since 9/11, the world have proved to be a darker and more dangerous place. And many of us have felt betrayed by our own leaders and governments. Presidents have lied through their teeth. One country invaded another on the flimsiest of pretence. So we looked for heroes; those whom we can trust, who will not betray us for their own agendas. We looked at sports persons, supermodels, actors/actresses and even talentime winners (American/Malaysia/Singapore idols). Yet one by one, our heroes displayed their clay feet and fell.

So we turn back to our proven heroes from the comic books. These guys are dependable. They will sacrifice everything for the good of others. Their motto is "with great power, comes great responsibilies". What if they are a conflicted adolescent (Peter Parker/Spiderman), a man who needs anger management (Bruce Banner/Hulk), a psychiatrist's nighmare (Bruce Wayne/Batman), a die-hard idealist (Steve Rogers/Captain America), a fallen Catholic (Matt Murdock/Daredevil) or have problem with pride (Banner/Thor). Flawed in their own ways, we knew they will come through in the end. We knew that they will give up everything, put aside their problems and save us. In failing to find heroes in the real world, we escape for a few hours at least, to a world where Good always triumph in the end-a bit bruised, of course.

And coming back to the real world, we find that we still need superheroes. Chesterton said that the extraordinary people are the ordinary people living ordinary lives. These are our superheroes.



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