Movie superheroes not evolving: Slotek

By Jim Slotek, Special to Postmedia Network



I have a friend who nurtures a continuing hate for J.J. Abrams' Star Trek for one simple reason -- they destroyed the planet Vulcan.

In doing so Abrams freed himself of the tyranny of every fanboy's religion, "the canon." For Star Trek writers, introducing a new timeline meant never again having to worry if a plot twist they'd concocted is contradicted by something that happened in Season 2, episode 12 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

To my friend, I offer an anecdote usually attributed to the author Graham Greene. Upon being told a movie version of his book "ruined it," he pointed to his bookshelf and said, "No it didn't. Look, there it sits, perfectly fine."

In other words, if you miss Vulcan that much, get a copy of Amok Time (classic Trek, season two, episode one. Enjoy the Pon farr).

Comic book movie-makers have not been as adventurous.

If anything, this summer's The Amazing Spider-Man, the Spidey reboot with Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker was reviewed by critics as being too much like the Sam Raimi trilogy. No matter how we envision him, Peter Parker has to be bitten by a spider to acquire his powers. Uncle Ben must die as a consequence of Peter's failure to apprehend a petty criminal. The bully Flash Thompson must get his come-uppance. Aunt May must worry.

Still, the most minor transgressions do not go unnoticed on fan blogs and the comments sections of sites like Rotten Tomatoes. Among nitpicks: Peter was bitten by a genetically-enhanced spider in TASM, not a radioactive one. Peter didn't end up at the Daily Bugle (hence, no J. Jonah Jameson). There are reasons for this. We now know that intense exposure to radioactivity will probably kill you as opposed to giving you superpowers, the Hulk and The Fantastic Four notwithstanding.

As for newspapers, to quote any high school kid these days, "What are they?"

Someone noted, "The only thing the film lacked was the classic saying 'With great power comes great responsibility.' A great burst of sadness struck me as I left the theatre not hearing it."

Which brings us to The Dark Knight Rises, the sequel to a movie inspired by a graphic novel (koff -- comic book -- koff) which was itself a reboot.

Good thing, too. Because it's hard to imagine any Hollywood producer taking as many liberties with a 70-year-old icon as Frank Miller did in 1986, with Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the story of a fifty-something Batman coming out of retirement after the death of his second Robin.

Fact is, comic book superheroes never changed much for about three decades after Superman was introduced in Action Comics 1. No one ever died, and if they did it was an "imaginary tale" (the kind where Superman married Lois Lane). But from the '70s onwards, characters were routinely reinvented as the storylines became more adult and tragedy became commonplace.

Unlike the movies.

Case in point? In the comics, Bane, the villain of The Dark Knight Rises, broke Batman's back and paralyzed him. If you've seen the movie, you know the canon is still as powerful a force as gravity.



Do you think writers should stick to ‘The Canon’ when it comes to superhero movies?

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