Monday, January 31, 2011

Why So Panicky?

By now, anyone who gives a rat's arse knows that British actor Henry Cavill has been cast in the role of Clark Kent/Superman in the upcoming film Superman: Man of Steel (2012). Yesterday morning, I woke up to twitter ablaze with this news and many of the Superman and Smallville fans were more than alarmed...they were enraged.


Well, first off, a significant number of the fan base, at least those I'm aware of via twitter, are either Tom Welling or Brandon Routh supporters and would rather have seen one of those gentlemen wearing the big red cape. The Smallville fans (at least the rabid ones) are having a very difficult time letting go of the series, which ends this coming May, as well as the vision that Tom Welling is the "only" Superman (and Erica Durance as the "only" Lois Lane).

History lesson.

The very first Superman ever to grace the silver screen was a former ballet dancer named Kirk Alyn in the 1940s. Even then, he didn't star in a single full-length motion picture. Back in the day, when you went to see a movie, there were things called cartoons, news reels, and those wonderful serials. A serial was sort of like a television series ...a set of short episodes describing a continuing story that cycled once per week. If you wanted to keep up with the story, you had to go to the theater every week to see what happened next. Often, each serial episode ended in what's called a "cliffhanger", which could be literal but otherwise meant that the hero or the "damsel in distress" was caught in some sort of trap or situation that looked like certain death. It was part of the hook to keep the fans coming back for more and to see how the hero or the damsel escaped (which they always did).

For those into trivia, Noel Neill, who later played Lois in the 1950's Superman series opposite George Reeves (I'm getting to that) also played Lois to Alyn's Clark Kent/Superman. If you want to think of the "first Superman" in motion pictures, it was Kirk Alyn.

Television's first Superman was George Reeves. For people in their 50s and 60s today, Reeves is Superman, or at least the nostalgic Superman of their childhood. Like the Kirk Alyn serials before it, the Adventures of Superman was filmed on a very tight budget with the characters often wearing the same outfits over and over, episode after episode, and making liberal use of stock film footage and repeated scenes (for instance, the same scene was used in most episodes showing Clark dashing into the Daily Planet's storage room while taking off this glasses and then leaping out the window as Superman).

The next time we see Superman, he is portrayed by Christopher Reeve (no relation to Reeves) in Superman: The Movie (1978). Even for younger audiences today, Reeve is their Superman. Nostalgia makes this, and the three film sequels seem better than they were, but Reeve remains a favorite among the fans and has a warm place in many hearts. Even in real life, his memory remains that of a true hero.

Dean Cain was the next television Man of Steel in the 1990s in the program Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. I rented the first season on DVD, but it was so horrible, I returned it without watching all of the episodes.

2001, the beginning of the 21st century, saw the rise of an intriguing reboot of the Superman legend. Tom Welling became the new Clark in Smallville. Smallville departed significantly from the accepted canon and, for the most part, did a good job at reinventing the legend before Clark becomes a legend. Unfortunately, a show that probably should have lasted only seven seasons, tried to stretch its life expectancy to ten with disappointing results. Nevertheless, Tom Welling is the (pre) Superman for many people in their 20s and 30s today. Hence the angst at Welling not being cast as Superman in the upcoming Man of Steel film.

Superman Returns (2006) is the most recent film version of the Last Son of Krypton, as played in a rather lackluster manner by Brandon Routh. I've seen this film exactly once and, when I tried to watch it again, I just couldn't get past all of the scenes where Superman is stalking Lois and her lover Richard White (James Marsten). It was just so amazingly boring (though I liked the Superman saves the plane sequence in at the start of the film).

So here we are. How many Supermen have there been? Did you count?

  1. Kirk Alyn (1940s)

  2. George Reeves (1950s)

  3. Christopher Reeve (1970s)

  4. Dean Cain (1990s)

  5. Tom Welling (2000s)

  6. Brandon Routh (2006)

Six Supermen, and each and every one of them was beloved by the fans of their generation.

And now comes Henry Cavill as Superman number seven; the Superman of 2012 and beyond. Each actor who's played the role has had their day in the sun and each one has eventually passed the torch to the next generation. For 70 years, Superman has appeared in one form or the other in motion pictures and television. He also had a radio show in the 1940s and has appeared in various animated cartoons, stage plays, and musicals. The comic book version of Superman has changed a number of times since his inception in 1938 (and if you've ever had the chance to read any golden age Superman comics, the comparision to the current version is rather striking).

Do not panic. Bitch and whine if you will because your idea of Superman isn't presupposed by Henry Cavill, but try to hang onto the fact that this has all happened before...many times. Cavill is simply the latest in a line of "Supermen" that stretches back seven decades. If you don't think you can let go of Reeve, Welling, or Routh, don't worry. If Henry Cavill isn't going to be "your" Superman, he'll be the Superman of the generation that's coming up after you.

Up, up and away.

Now, who should be cast in the film as Lois Lane?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lois and Lana to the Death!

I've been trying to figure out if the Smallville writers are going to try and bring Lana (Kristin Kreuk) Lang back for the final season. It would be a bit challenging, since being "Kryptonite Girl" makes her an automatic threat to Clark's life. In fact, it would have made more sense for her to show up toward the end of Season 9 when Zod and his Kandoran crew were being such a pain in the ass. She'd have made short work of the lot of them, just by hanging around.

But enough of logic.

I have a vision. It's a crazy vision (most of them are), but it's compelling and I thing it would be pleasing to the fans, even the "Clois contingent".

Remember, young Lex-clone is growing up fast. With or without Michael Rosenbaum, Lex is bound to make a comeback before the final curtain falls on Season 10. We also know that Lex has a strong tendency for little known, sneaky contingency plans.

And remember, for all intents and purposes, Lex "made" Kryptonite Girl.

What if some implant or biochemical process or something enables Lex, at the right time, to take control of Lana? Lex originally created the process to make himself both superpowerful and kryptonite laden, so he could defeat Clark. Controlling Lana would be the next best thing.

If Clark were to get a message from Lana saying she was in trouble and needed to see him, devotion to Lois aside, Mr. Super-loyal boy scout would run to her side in a "flash", just for old time's sake.

Except it's a trap (Clark always falls for traps when a little peek ahead with X-ray vision and a little advanced listening with superhearing would have saved him a world of hurt). Lana catches him in a room and gives him a big bear hug before he can escape. She's more or less as fast and as strong as Clark, so she could hold on to him long enough for his powers...and his life, to drain away.

Whatever could save our boy so he could live long enough to don the big, red cape?

Why, Lois of course.

She'd have to find some advanced Army Exo-skeleton or Tess would have to turn her on to some other secret Luthor powered armor project, but whatever it was and where ever it came from, Lois puts it on and speeds to Clark's rescue.

From here, a battle royal ensues between two super powerful females, both of whom, Clark as "known Biblically". This is a fact that Lana could bring to Lois's attention, just to make her feel insecure, and hoping a moment's hesitation would turn the tide of the fight.

While the episode was airing, CW could conduct a thumbs up poll between Clois and Clana fans, with each group cheering for their favorite super-femme. Smallville could shoot two different endings, one where Lana wins by creaming Lois and finishing off Clark, and one where Lois polishes off Lana, then goes off and cleans Lex's cloned clock.

Who would win? The suspense would be terrible. The show's ending would be totally up to the fans!

OK, that won't work. If the Clana fans won, the show would be over before Season 10 ended and, after all, we all know Clark is supposed to end up being Superman by the final reel.

A more "realistic" (and I can't believe I'm using that word and "Smallville" in the same breath) ending for the episode is that Lois really smacks Lana a good one and disengages whatever control Lex-clone has over her.

Realizing the horrible thing she was about to do, Lana runs off to find and kill Lex, but naturally, he'll have planned an escape just for such a circumstance.

Just imagine though, how the Clois vs. Clana fans would love seeing the two of them duke it out, going toe to toe, nail to nail, dominatrix whip to dominatrix whip...but I digress.

How about an email campaign to the Smallville writers making this a "strong suggestion"?

No? Oh well. Still time enough to make it into a Smallville feature motion picture then.

Oh, and I couldn't find any really appropriate "super-powered" Lois and Lana images on the web, so I settled for a couple of other "interesting" poses by Kristin Kreuk and Erica Durance. Enjoy

Monday, January 3, 2011

Success is Temporary, Failure is Temporary, Leave Me Alone!

It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, "Always do what you are afraid to do."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.
-George S. Patton

If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.
-St. Clement of Alexandra

We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

That's a small sampling from a motivational quotes website. Gee. Charming.

We're in a new year. 2011 is supposed to be better and brighter and more wonderful than 2010.


Oh, I can't say that it won't be in absolute terms. I don't have a crystal ball or any other way to see into the future. But just because it's early January doesn't mean that the New Year is full of promise only because most of the year hasn't happened yet. I mean, with each new year, everyone thinks it's going to be great. But is that how the year turns out?

Just look at last year. Try to remember the beginning of 2010. Obama was President (still is). Pelosi was the Speaker of the House (now she's not). The "progressives" were in charge of everything and we all know that means everything that changes, changes for the better (as defined by a bunch of politicians and myopic optimists). How many people died in Afghanistan and Iraq? How many suicide bombings were there in the Middle East? How many people died in car accidents? How many little kids were diagnosed with cancer? How many people are out of work? Homeless? Sick? Dying?

Yes, I'm grumpy. I'm grumpy because, like Christmas, everyone expects you to feel a certain way, as if it's the only way to feel, just because of a date on a calendar. Also, all these motivational people, sites, and sayings make just tons and tons of assumptions about people. If you aren't actually motivated by their popular drivel, then you're bad or evil or something. After all, these people make money by being motivational, so how dare you fail to be motivated by them. What they really want is to motivate you to give them your money.

How about an example of motivational drivel. Let's take a look at one popular motivational phrase:

Success isn't permanent, and failure isn't fatal.
-Mike Ditka US football player & coach

I'll totally buy the first part. No matter how well you do at something, it doesn't last. Just look at actors and politicians. No matter how good your last movie was, the next one could suck. No matter how many promises you made on the campaign trail that got you elected, your actions once you get in office will not always be popular (look how far Obama has fallen in the "popularity polls").

Failure isn't fatal. Well, that depends. If we're talking about skydiving or bungie cord jumping, then failure can damn well be fatal. If you're Superman, Batman, or Green Lantern and some series of bad guys are always trying to kill you, failure can almost assuredly be fatal.

But most of us don't have life threatening hobbies or happen to be superheroes, so no, failing won't really kill us.

It will just make us feel like we want to be dead.

Your boss always wants you to be successful at work (productive, whatever). Your boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, lover, spouse, mutant parasite wants you to always be successful in attending to their wants, needs, and desires. The credit card company wants you to be successful in paying your bills on time. Everybody wants you to be universally successful and will punish you in varying ways and in varying degrees if you fail.

No, it won't kill you, but you'll wish you were dead.

I've noticed that motivational phrases, websites, and people rarely provide practical advice, they just ramble off pie-in-the-sky platitudes. They're like comic book characters. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman all have perfect bodies. Except for Batman, you never see them dieting or working out to achieve and maintain those bodies. They just have them. Success and failure are fictional illustions that happen on pages of paper covered with ink. While they can be inspirations, they also can point out that, by comparision, our little lives are pretty dull, boring, and our problems, though not on a magnificent scale most of the time, aren't very easy to solve (nor as dramatically solved).

So next time those of you who produce your motivational books and websites get the bright idea to give some advice to the rest of us, come down to earth first. Learn what it feels like to live with chronic depression or some sort of physical disability. Find out what it's like to have few friends, to live on a budget (a small one), to struggle to pay bills, to disappoint your spouse, to be called "a failure".

Success isn't permanent but failure is a label that, once stuck to your back with super glue, hangs on in your reputation and in your emotions for a long, long time.

Bite me, motivational people.