Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb…
Paul Harris writes for The Guardian why Superman is so popular:
“Some have taken the point of the moral teachings of Superman stories further, seeing a powerful philosophical concept behind them. In his book [Professor Benjamin] Saunders devotes a chapter to Superman, in which he suggests that the character’s immense popularity is a result of his embodiment of goodness. ‘In terms of 20th-century popular culture, he captures the notion of a Platonic ideal of the good. When Superman is done well, I am not embarrassed to call him a beautiful idea,’ Saunders said.“
Read the full article here.
I have written at length about my joy of watching Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and, personally, I have no problem in Joseph Gordon-Levitt appearing at the end of Man of Steel to tie-in the two comic book franchises. Whether it happens or not – it is clear that Warner Bros. has turned to The Dark Knight trilogy, primarily, for influence – rather than the Marvel series. In fairness, for all the support and success of Marvel, in comparison, since 2008 – over the course of six films – the series has made nearly $4bn worldwide, estimating each film on average earning roughly $633m each. Chris Nolan’s three films alone took $2.5bn, estimating each film on average earning roughly $818m. To some extent, The Avengers was a lucky gamble that paid off. Christopher Nolan’s series shows a tried and tested, intelligent style of filmmaking that consistently attracts a major audience. Those statistics don’t even include Inception which, for all intents and purposes, was only successful due to The Dark Knight and Nolan’s credibility following its success. Warner Bros. would be wise to look at the money from The Avengers and remain suspicious.
Personally, due to the incredible trailer and Warner Bros.’ attempts at reviving Superman, I am pretty much sold on Man of Steel. I bought a pair of ‘Superman’ Converse shoes, I bought the Blu-ray boxset to watch in advance of the film – including the Richard Donner cut of Superman II. Up until now, I had only ever seen the films in passing – but by the time Man of Steel is released, I’ll be able to wax-lyrical about Lois Lane and the little fella who works at the newspaper with him. I’m not there yet (clearly), but I will be.
Paul Harris directly relates the popularity of Superman to the subtext that the character provides – as opposed to Charlie Brooker’s 2012 Wipe opinion whereby superhero films are as cheap as they come, I believe films that manage to capture the zeitgeist are more than mere entertainment. They manage to reach you personally in a manner that you didn’t expect. Maybe subconsciously, you fantasized about the bankers becoming a direct victim of their crimes in the wake of the crisis in 2008? Indeed, no one has been held accountable for the crimes today – so watching a stock-market become the victim of Bane’s attack on Gotham was something we all wanted to see. Maybe Batman isn’t Bergman, as Brooker suggests, but it reaches for more than merely 2 hours of entertainment.
I only hope Man of Steel aspires to be the same. If Snyder can work closely with Nolan, maybe he can learn a trick or two – because tight, fetishist girls fighting in a fantasy world (Sucker Punch) sounds to me like appealing to the masses by appealing to the lowest-common denominator – as opposed to appealing to the masses through stories that all can relate to – and, deeply, discuss. Ironically, Sucker Punch failed at the box office, so even that cheap tactic doesn’t work every time. Warner Bros. are doing the right thing – and so far, I’ll be first in line to watch, alongside Paul Harris I expect. Charlie Brooker won’t be though – because it’s just fighting and action isn’t it? Nothing more. (More fool him…)