Monday, May 9

Rise of the Superheroes

A.O. Scott looks into the rising rivalry between Superheroes and Movie Stars. It looks like Hollywood is all about men in tights now, and it's Errol Flynn.
While the number of movie stars is dwindling - are there 8 now, or still 10? Does Brad Pitt count? - the ranks of big-screen costumed crime fighters is growing.

Movie stars are glamorous creatures we dream of meeting someday, while superheroes are the people we secretly believe we really are...Unlike movie stars, superheroes do not have agents, weight or drug problems, controversial political beliefs or outrageous salary demands, and their box-office power has yet to find its deadly kryptonite.

Comic books are the foundation of a fan culture once derided and now celebrated as the province of nerds, misfits and losers - young men, like their idols' alter egos, who could compensate for their social marginality by coming to the rescue of the society that had spurned and mocked them. Their origin stories are tales of shame, victimization and abandonment overcome by lonely discipline and endless self-sacrifice. (Batman, the orphaned heir to the Wayne fortune, and Spider-Man, a working-class orphan from Queens, share not only secret identities but also a penchant for solitude and melancholy.) Stars, on the other hand, are the society's most cherished winners, congratulated for being themselves, drawing attention in the way that the masked, disguised and anxious supermen never do.
Movie stars are, at best, something we can aspire to be. But superheroes do not have that gloss and glamor we associate with Hollywood; superheroes are all about the pain. So I think the superhero movies resonate more with the geeks and nerds and your regular loser Joes and Janes. No matter how many hours of yoga you practice everyday, you just know that you'll never get that perfect set of abs and those shiny white teeth. You just want the cape and learn how to fly.

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