Continuing with my post of yesterday, today I'm gonna talk about the deconstruction of superheroes as we knew them back in the 50's and 60's, and how they evolved into what we are familiar with today.
In the 1970's, DC started pairing off some superheroes - most notably the Green Arrow and Green Lantern. (Maybe they liked GREEN???) Green Arrow was portrayed as street-smart and angry, whereas Green Lantern came across as more of a "good guy". thus began the classification of superheroes into two groups: the "classic superhero" and the "brazen anti-hero".
The next superhero to undergo serious makeover was Batman, as DC changed playboy millionaire Bruce Wayne into a darker figure and brought the Caped Crusader back to his original vigilante roots. Marvel also jumped on the antihero bandwagon, introducing dark heroes such as Wolverine, and Daredevil. Possibly the most popular of these was Batman: The Dark Knight REturns, which ran from 1985-1986 and which featured him returning from a alternate future emerging from retirement. Batman became an obsessed vigilante (cue the new movies starring Christian Bale) and appears to be more at odds with authority figures, including Commissiner Gordon. Batman's new look continued in Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Strikes Again, wherein Batman battles a corrupt government, led by Lex LUthor! and, oddly, Superman (whose submission to Luthor's power structure is in the name of saving lives). superman also underwent a makeover: he was killed and reborn, (The popular "Death of Superman" series, that went on for over a year), and eventually married Lois Lane.
Superheros hit their stride in films with Alexander Salkind's 1978 version of SUPERMAN, wherein the late Christopher Reeve delivered his most memorable performance as Kal-El, the visitor from another planet who becomes Earth's guardian angel, at the expense of his own personal life. Reeve was (still is) the embodiment of the Man of Steel, the fantasy hero that Lois Lane soared high above the clouds with. This went on for four movies, the first two masterpieces, the last two forgettable. In the interim, Tim Burton introduced us to a new improved Batman in 1989. Michael Keaton took on the cape, with Jack NIcholson delivering a memorable perfomrance as the Joker. the sequel Batman Returns, did not fare as well (despite Michelle Pfeiffer, looking VERRY tasty as Catwoman, Selina Kyle). Keaton shed the cape, only to have it donned by Val Kilmer and then George Clooney. Many said Clooney's performance killed the franchise and Batman disappered...but only for awhile.
Batman Begins in 2005 marked Christian Bale's donning of the cape. Minus Robin but with Michael Caine as trusty Alfred, BB marked a new page in superheroes. Bale's performance as a troubled millionaire who turns into a caped vigilante was an instant success at the box office, and spawned a sequel which won the late Heath Ledger an Oscar for his turn as the Joker. 2006 also saw Superman Returns, but critics panned the film for not having enough action - and for at the end, alluding that Lois' son was also Supe's. (In comic book canon, even though Lois and Clark married, they never had a child). The Superman series is now undergoing major changes, with a new movie due out in 2012.
Television has had its share of superheroes too: Buffy and Angel could be considered dark heroes, and the series Lois and Clark in the late 80's explored the relationship between Lois and Clark more than it dwelt on Superman's activities. IN 2001, the series Smallville debuted on the WB, retooling Superman's origins in a teen weekly soap. (I myself never warmed to this - c'mon, all those episodes obsessing over Lana? YOU KNOW HE ENDS UP WITH LOIS). Smallville, now in its tenth and possibly final season, now also focuses on the relationship between Clark and Lois as reporters for the Daily Planet.
So, superheroes have come a long way, and ther journey is far from over. My master's book, MY SUPERHERO SISTER, is more of a homage to the comics of old....a sweet, coming of age story about a mortal girl with a super-sister! Hear her talk about it (and other things) on SciFiSaturday night tomorrow night, 8-9 p.m.
Yawn! typing all this has made me hungry! Guess I'll wander out and see what my piggo sisters have left me in the dry food bowl. Dont' forget: more posts next week, and our interview with author HEATHER MASSEY!
Have a great weekend,