Heroes have come a long ways since the aptly-named Superfriends took on the Legion of Doom while my brothers and I kept Kellogg’s going strong by scarfing bowls of cereal during our Saturday morning cartoon ritual. Good times.
In the ‘70s watching the residents of the Hall of Justice match wits and muscle with a bevy of evil-doers was about as good as it got. Hanna-Barbera (which created Space Ghost, the Herculoids, Touché Turtle and my personal favorite Hong Kong Phooey along with an endless list of others) got it right. Time and time again.
The beauty of the two-sided Friends/Doom relationship was almost ying-yang with every silly super hero facing off with an equally equipped and stupendous super villain.
And so Black Manta would try to net Auqaman, Captain Cold would blast his freeze ray at the Flash, Sinestro and Green Lantern would point their power rings at each other, the undead, gigantic country bumpkin Solomon Grundy — who grunted such gems as “Solomon Grundy smash Superfriends!” and “Solomon Grundy crush Superfriends!” and “Solomon Grundy think Rosie O’Donnell beautiful person — on inside!” — would throw rocks at Batman and Robin, and Bizarro and Superman would do battle in the skies, wondering, perhaps, if they were really that different after all.
Boy, after that jaunt down memory lane, maybe seeing my childhood memories splashed on the silver screen like a Jackson Pollock original isn’t all it should be.
That said, like a kid whose toy collection includes only good guy action figures, I’m forced to pit them against each other for entertainment. That’s right, Movie Geek’s “Battle of the Super Heroes 2 — The Quest for the Perfect Metaphor” continues. Up. Up. And Away! And so on…
• The Hulk (2003) vs. Spider-Man (2002) While the “real” Hulk would likely pummel a puny Spidey like Sylvester Stallone thrashing a side of beef in a meat locker, the roles are reversed in the Hollywood movies. As a result, Spider-Man kicks sand in Hulk’s face and steals his bikini clad girl.
The Hulk. I mean, how unique is this guy anyways? Aside from turning green and huge, he’s basically like a spoiled frat boy after the fifth and final keg has gone dry. You know, more than slightly perturbed.
Eric Bana’s Bruce Banner is as bland as plain yogurt served on a piece of cardboard and director Ang Lee’s annoying overuse of comic windows sliding on and off the screen almost distracted me from the lovely Jennifer Connelly. Almost. Meanwhile, seeing a CGI Hulk tromping around town, fighting CGI mutts and the like had me longing for a shaggy haired Lou Ferrigno. Lou was more believable than CGI Hulk simply based on the fact that there is no way, no way a man can grow six times his normal size and not have his pants tear clean off.
Superband waistband, indeed.
Tobey Maguire did a stellar job playing the young Peter Parker, but I honestly had a hard time cheering him on during his various attempts to save the clueless Kirsten Dunst whose skills in front of the lens may have peaked when she portrayed Sara Weaver in the 1996 made for TV movie “The Siege at Ruby Ridge.” And while Maguire shines taking on the likes of Willem Dafoe and former pro wrestler Randy “Macho Man” Savage (in a steel cage match, no less), watching Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson is like getting a mouthful of fillings and chewing on a wad of tinfoil. The hilarious and unintended twist in Spider-Man is that Mary Jane is a professional stage actor and Dunst’s real life attempts at such a career are about as laughable as a Three Stooges marathon. Hey Moe! Why I oughta! Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck. And so forth…
• X-Men (2000) vs. Fantastic 4 (2005) Given, the X-Men franchise started out like a phoenix and ended up in ashes. But with an all star cast including Patrick “No. 1” Stewart, Hugh Jackman and Ian “You … shall … not … pass!” McKellen, Halle Berry and Rebecca Romijn (formerly “Full House”-Stamos) it blows past F4 like a fat kid chasing an ice cream truck. The plot is unique and the action pops as Professor X, Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm and co. spar with Magneto and Mystique and, well, Toad — who looks like Seth Green on steroids but is actually a green Darth Maul. Strange.
But I digress… The only thing fantastic about the Fantastic 4 (2005) was the makeup on The Thing. There was makeup, right? Because I gotta tell you Michael “The Commish” Chiklis, is one ugly dude. Whether or not he’s made of rock and wearing giant blue Pampers, he is just repugnant. Meanwhile, Ioan Gruffudd (Reed Richards) looks like a stretchy, and might I add (yes, I believe I will), unfunny version of Jon Stewart. This movie’s so lame that even Jessica Alba’s Fantastic 2 — as the joke goes — can’t save it from “flaming on” like a bag of doodoo placed on a hated teacher’s doorstep. Fear not, the Fantastico Quatro combat the Silver Surfer later this year. I can barely contain my excite…. zzzzzz.