Wednesday, November 18

If I Ever Wrote A Superhero

Has anybody ever thought about what kind of superhero they would like to be? More than likely, the answer from a poll of this question would tally a resounding yes. I know of friends of mine who dream of becoming Wolverine, other stranger friends who I am sure would like to be able to transform into Jem or whatever those barbie-esque lady heroes were called. On my own part I've always tried to consider what kind of superhero I could come up with.

Hollywood is going through a phase, at present, where it's chasing after comic-book heroes in an era where real-life heroes are non- existent or else blighted by the recession with all the doom and gloom surrounding it. Escapism is rife and has been for the better part of this blossoming century, as people delve back into the simple happinesses of their childhoods. As a result, superhero movies are bigger, better and ever present, fine-tuned to cater to an ever- expanding audience that has grown to encompass not only the original geeky fanboys but also discerning cinemagoers seeking a means to avoid the drudgery of eeryday life. Directors have now exhausted the marquee characters with Spiderman, Superman, Batman and the X-Men getting recent makeovers for a generation that likes its heroes brooding, existential and conflicted. So it has become necessary to plunder comic lore for more niche titles to keep the bandwagon playing along, albeit without much merriment (cue Joker hiss: 'Why SO Serious-uh?'). The ultra-violent noirish take on Watchmen last year came after the successes of films like Sin City and 300, which was ultimately a comic book (okay, okay, graphic novel sheesh) adaptation regardless of what the swords-and-sandals epic lobby might want to tell you.

In the coming year, as has been heavily reported, we will see the advent of Green Lantern to herald the upgrade of other comic book characters running the gauntlet from the camp Captain America through the cult favourite Afro Samurai and on to a proposed Justice League super- blockbuster. The genre has never been in ruder health. Needless to mention, there have been pros and cons, winners and duds, good elements and pure radioactive fallout from this boom in animated heroes. Sometimes ardent cinema fans and diehard comic book devotees alike have had to suffer through the sort of lullaby that Frank Miller's debut solo effort The Spirit turned out to be. At other times, a director has pulled out of the hat a reworking of a familiar protagonist so protagonist as to be considered to have broken the mould. Step forth Christopher Nolan and The Dark Knight which unlocked the full mesmeric potential of Heath Ledger, now of blessed memory, and an ensemble cast who are the only superhero collective to have outperformed the splendid work of the X-Men trilogy.

What remains to be seen is if a superhero can be created specifically for the screen. Of course there are pitfalls to this notion. Such an attempt, heroic as it may be (pun intended) will have to be so thoroughly unique to even pass muster with the Hollywood bigwigs who decide if to shell out for a script. In the past we have had Hancock, an iconoclastic sort with a drinking habit and a foul temper. This achieved some box-office success but not the sort of accession to the pantheon of cinema greatness it desired. I also remember Damon Wayans' madcap attempt with Blankman, a nerd who discovers a way to make a super bulletprof suit, back when he was still big news on the Hollywood grapevine. That movie fell short in many ways (even though I have fond childhood recollections of Blankman's spasmodic reaction when the hot girl tries to kiss him) but mostly because it failed to engage properly with the scale of the escapist's need- superheroes have to be larger, much larger than life.

Anyway, coming finally to the thrust of this piece, my idea for a superhero is not SuperPoet as some who know me might suggest: The Man who bores villains to death by reading Shakespeare and tossing sharpened ball points with poisoned ink (even though that suddenly seems a great idea; think Byron and the Literati including Faust, the undead master negotiator and Eliot, who plots wastelands for antagonists to fall into). No, I have this idea for Canis aka The Lone Wolf, a Nigerian senator desperate to fight corruption tooth and nail. He falls out of favour with his party for his single-mindedness and unwillingness to accept bribe. Thus the powers-that-be orchestrate an assassination attempt which fails, and Canis slumbers into a coma. In his vivid 3D dreams he becomes Canis, a leather-clad man with wolf-like abilities (not a werewolf so no howling please) of speed, strength and stealth working as a secret agent in the corridors of power, uncovering secrets and providing assistance to politicians everywhere who want to rise above the murk but cannot beat the system. These dreams will take place in locations all over the world from Austria to Australia.

The twist is that Canis meets and falls in love with Eva aka The Bridge, a being that holds the key to him waking up in real life and who doesn't tell him that his 'dreams' are actually happening in real time in the real world because she is desperate to keep him as her weapon. Canis must now learn to fight with the Pack, four other characters who can help him overthrow Eva's deceptions while assisting him with his missions. Being the Lone Wolf, of course Canis is unwilling to make the leap to team player. This accounts for the tension and conflict in the story. For the moralists, this story will aim to teach the values of working wih people and living above the natural tendency of society to malfunction. It also provides a true escape for the world-weary.

I wonder what people think about this messy idea. I was quite proud of it when I thought about it, mostly because I am completely enamoured with wolves, especially since that totally ridiculous scene in Fantastic Mr. Fox. Did anyone know that a wolf can clear 16ft in a single bound, or that it can run at twenty miles an hour for hours on end without getting tired? For those who have original ideas for comic books or superheroes, please feel free to append your thoughts. Otherwise I implore you to give feedback on my idea for this superhero. Too much, too little? Email me if you want a full synopsis.

So, Who are your favourite superheroes then?

No comments: