A Brit as Superman? It could be a little karmic retribution
Superman, the ideal representation of truth, justice and the American way, is now being portrayed by Henry Cavill, a Brit. While I don't think it's xenophobic to have a problem with that, I do think that if it's a punishment, it's one we deserve.
An American icon, Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, two sons of Jewish immigrants, as an example of the American dream their family experienced -- Superman is the ultimate immigrant that made it to small-town America against impossible odds and succeeded beyond measure, not only personally, but altruistically -- for the greater American good. He wears a red and blue outfit that Ma Kent made him while he was still living on their Kansas farm, before he moved to the big city and became a successful investigative reporter for a powerful newspaper. He's wholly American. Just like the following heroes, wholly British, that we messed up. Really, really bad.
Judge Dredd: Dredd was created in 1977 and is iconic British magazine 2000 AD's longest running strip of all time. He was named the 7th Greatest comic book character in history by Empire Magazine and has been written by a series of legendary British comic writers, including Garth Ennis, Mark Millar, Grant Morrison, and Alan Grant.
Dredd is a Street Judge in dystopian city Mega-City One, acting as police officer, judge, jury and executioner. He's a genetically engineered clone, made to be the best in his occupation, which mostly consists of killing lots of people. He's quiet and faceless (he never removes his helmet). The comic is mean, violent and harshly satirical. So we made it into an expensive summer blockbuster starring Sylvester Stallone.
Not really the same.
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Where We Went Wrong: It's not so bad that we used an American actor -- Dredd himself is American, and Mega-City One is located somewhere around where Boston used to be -- but it's pretty bad that we used Sylvester Stallone in a really bad pair of contact lenses. It's bad that he speaks so often and falls in love with a fellow judge, and it's really bad that he removes his helmet consistently. We took out the satire and irony, we took out the violence, and worst of all? We gave him a Rob Schneider sidekick. Rob. Schneider. Sidekick.
The movie was a critical and box office failure. Even Stallone dislikes it. No word from Rob Schneider, but he's probably makin' copies somewhere. There's a new project in the works, Dredd, starring Karl Urban.
Tank Girl: Created by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin in 1988, Tank Girl is a feminist and punk rock icon that started as a one-sheet pinup with the caption "She'll break your back and your balls." The comic ran in Deadline Magazine for 7 years and has been re-published in every country with a McDonald's. She became a symbol of the counterculture movement in Britain during the Thatcher years and her stories continue today.
Tank Girl lives in her tank in a post-apocalyptic Australia with her boyfriend Booga, a mutated kangaroo and three talking stuffed animals. She's a big fan of sex, violence, drinking to excess and anything rude. While she was once a bounty hunter, her inclinations toward deviant sex and substance abuse led to her becoming a outlaw with a multi-million dollar price on her head. The comic is wholly absurd, using a variety of surrealist and post-modern techniques, including cut-up writing and artwork, metafiction, and collage.
Where We Went Wrong: Lori Petty, a inexperienced writer and director, and lots and lots of studio meddling. They had to animate action sequences. Because they forgot to film them.
A critical and box office failure (though now a cult classic), Tank Girl was so bad, it actually caused the collapse of Deadline Magazine. The mutated kangaroos became super-soldiers fused with kangaroo DNA called Rippers, Tank Girl stopped cursing up a storm (or being Australian) and drinkin' like a sailor, and the whole thing was linear and easy to follow and, well, boring (so boring that the only thing they got right was Jet Girl - she's the boring character).
Hewlett and Martin have all but disowned the movie, calling it a "bit of a sore point," and it all but ended Lori Petty's career. Rachel Talalay would go on to direct no more feature films. Martin took a few (more than ten) years off before returning to Tank Girl in 2007, while Hewlett would go on to create the visual style for the animated band The Gorillaz. So they're okay.
Hellblazer: John Constantine was born in the pages of Swamp Thing, written by Alan Moore, and was given his own series in January 1988. He's been written by the likes of Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman, Andy Diggle and Grant Morrison, and drawn by John Ridgway, Simon Bisley and Steve Dillon. Hellblazer is the longest running title on DC's Vertigo Imprint, and John Constantine remains a powerful and active character in the DC Universe.
Not much of a hero, John Constantine (who's drawn to look like musician Sting) is a cynical, adrenaline addicted, vindictive, profane, chain smoking con-man, who is generally driven to heroism by his guilt-riddled personality (people that have died in the crossfire of his actions literally haunt him), or as part of long-term scam to advance his own ends.
Where We Went Wrong: We made him into a hard-boiled detective, we cast Keanu Reeves and we softened him up like crazy (Disclaimer: I like this movie. Like, a lot). Keanu's Constantine is damned after a botched suicide attempt caused by his supernatural ability to see hidden demons -- making him a cynical and reluctant hero trying to good deed his way outta hell through exorcisms and supernatural private detective work. A Chandler-esque white knight, Constantine wears his selfishness, cynicism and sarcasm as a facade that hides a deeply rooted sense of altruism. In Ennis' Hellblazer run, "Dangerous Habits," which the movie is loosely based on, Constantine plays three demons against each other in a long-con to cure himself of terminal cancer. In the movie, he achieves this end accidentally after sacrificing his soul so a suicide-victim can go to Heaven. Man, they shoulda just cast Sting.
The real question is: Haven't we paid enough? Batman is Welsh, John Connor is Welsh, The Punisher is Irish, Spider-Man is British, Daredevil is Ben Affleck (not related to this story but also horrible). No one would ever cast Bond American. So why Superman? I guess it's some crap about him being "the right actor for the part." Ah, well, if all else fails, at least we have Chris Evans.
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