Sunday, August 5, 2012

Why Are There No New Popular Superheroes?

Why aren't there any newer superheroes to reach the same level of popularity as Batman, Spider-Man, etc.?  The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises are undoubtedly the two most popular movies of this summer despite having to compete against movies featuring Rihanna on a Battleship and magic rapist teddy bears.  There was also The Amazing Spider-Man, which everybody kind of forgot about because it rebooted a franchise that only finished it's trilogy yesterday (source needed).  All of these superhero movies feature superheroes created decades ago and whose ages can only be accurately described in Geologic time.

An era when wearing your underwear on the outside seemed like a good idea.

If they aged in real time, these superheroes would be spending most of their time fighting the kids on their lawns.  The Avengers (1963) and Spider-man (1962) could have stopped Jonestown from happening while freaking Batman (1939) may have been drafted to fight in the Korean War.  Sure, the people at Jonestown may have still been killed by The Hulk getting really angry over a bee sting rather than poisoned Kool-Aid, and sure, North Korea may have tried to create a superhero named Ratman due to a poor translation to counter Batman and the conflict could have still ended in a stalemate, but you know what I mean.  It just seems odd that older superheroes are still popular and newer, hipper superheroes have failed to take the spotlight.  That only happens in every other form of media ever created.

There would be a lot more statues of Batman hugging Koreans I can tell you that.  Via Flickr.

It's not that people don't like newer superheroes, it's just that they are not nearly as popular.  Spawn (1992) had a movie in 1997 but that was worse than sitting on a railroad spike and featured Spawn doing a lot of things that didn't include killing demons.  (And it featured some of the worst CGI outside of Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus).  Spawn also had a dull as drywall cartoon on HBO that also didn't feature Spawn killing demons.  Huh, It's like these producers didn't know anything about Spawn.  That's weird.

Hey.  Remember The Phantom movie in 1996 starring Billy Zane?  Of course you don't.  Nobody does. The only thing anybody remembers about that movie is the skin tight purple leotard Zane wore that somehow created a crotch bulge with it's own zip code.  Oh and he had like a Green Lantern ring that I don't think did anything. The Phantom is mostly just a Batman rip-off anyway since he's like a ghost and stuff and fear and okay....I don't really know much about him.  But I do know that purple is probably not the best choice for a superhero to look dark and scary.  It's a much better color to make him look like a clown or a Teletubby.

"Slam Evil"?  Was this movie written by a WWE producer?

Not every newer superhero has shitty movies though.  Hellboy (1993) has two good movies, and supposedly a third in development, but it admittedly feels like a fluke or Ron Pearlman owing somebody a lot of money.  Guillermo Del Toro can make anything look good though and anybody who has seen Pan's Labryinth knows that.  (Seriously go see that movie if you haven't.  It's awesome.  Cheek knifing!).   I guess Watchmen sort of counts, the comic being created in the 80's, and that movie is arguably good despite being confusing as Maj Jong.  That movie seems to be hurt more by it not reaching it's impossible expectations more than anything else.  "What do you mean it's not the greatest movie of all time?  The best comic of all time requires it!  Alan Moore is a god!  A...crazy god who just does porn comics now but a god nonetheless!"*

*Though he is not nearly as crazy or outright idiotic as Frank Miller is now.  I swear Miller spent the last 10 years drinking paint thinner and eating lead based Chinese knockoff Legos.  But who am I to complain about Miller?  I mean, am I dense?  Am I retarded or something?  Who the hell do I think he is?  He's the goddamn, Frank Miller.  He's the goddamn Frank Miller.

Is...Is that a mummy with a bowie knife?

The most likely explanation for the lack of new superheroes getting popular is the decline of comic books as a major media form.  Actually reading comics is a lot more niche now and can really only brag about being more popular than ham radio enthusiasts.  Think Comic-Con is too crowded?  Just go to the comic book section, the least important part of Comic-Con.  You might actually see the ghost of Frank Miller's sanity hiding in one of those booths.

1930's Batman had to compete mostly with books, newspapers, radio, and costumed lunatics on the street claiming to be actual bat men.  There were movies then too of course, talkies were less than a decade old, but they required a trip to the theater.  Today, comics have to compete with seemingly 15,000 forms of entertainment, all of which are on the Internet and a lot of it is free.  Why pay for a real Batman comic when you can read some weirdo's web comic featuring a guy who looks suspiciously like Batman sodomizing a clearly underage Japanese Supergirl?   No wonder comics have to resort to publicity stunts like making the Green Lantern gay.  Well, not THE Green Lantern, which would be newsworthy and noble, but one of the dozen alternate reality Green Lanterns because DC is ran by cowards.

Not sure which Green Lantern this is.  I assume it's the turtleneck existentialist version.  Via Smugmug.

I doubt a new comic book superhero will ever get as popular as Batman, Spider-Man, and The Avengers, but what about a new superhero from TV or an original film?  Maybe they tried that with Hancock, but he was just a drunk, asshole Superman.  So, basically the angsty Earth One Superman.  The TV show Heroes also tried that until they had so many alternate time lines from their moronic time travel plot device that even a 1.21 gigawatt defibrillator couldn't keep it alive.  Also, the show created a hero whose power is ALL THE POWERS.  He's essentially God, but he doesn't know if he wants to help anybody because he has emotions and stuff.  So, basically the angsty Earth One Superman again.

[An aside - I guess you could make the argument that the Jedi's from Star Wars are basically superheroes and supervillains since they have super powers, but it's too removed from the real world.  You know, with it literally taking place on fake worlds.  And what kind of superhero name is Luke Skywalker?  I never once saw him walking on the sky!  I did see Darth Vader vade some darths though.]

As older movies, music, and TV are slowly forgotten to make room for new properties, old superheroes just keep plugging along with new adaptations.  They are practically the benchmark for the reboot and remake trend in pop culture.  And I like these old superheroes, but I wouldn't mind seeing a new one get a big budget movie.  Where the superhero is going to come from, I have no clue.  Maybe my idea for Dr. Laser JumpKick-Man will take off......

Disclaimer:  I don't know how to end blog posts.

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