As any good geek would know, playing Dungeons & Dragons as a kid and collecting comic books are just part of the backdrop. While I delved into the former as a youth, the latter was my younger brother David’s realm of expertise. But if he thought the plastic sleeves stayed on his precious collection, he is sorely mistaken. Sorely.
So, he’d leave for a few hours, and I’d sneak into his room to find out the latest on everyone from the Punisher to the X-Men, no doubt smearing pizza cheese and the like throughout the pages and, in essence, killing their resale value.
But c’mon now, who’s really interested in the original June 1938 Action Comics No. 1 anyway?
Since then super hero movies have been more prevalent than flicks that rip off TV shows and remakes of remakes are all the rage, but which ones save the day?
Stand aside citizens! This looks like a job for Movie Geek! Now where are my neon green spandex biking shorts?
What? I can’t find my wallet.
“Superman” (1978) vs. “Superman Returns” (2006) The late Christopher Reeve had more charisma and charm as a stumbling, bumbling Clark Kent than pretty boy Brandon Routh had as a pseudo Superman. That said, the ‘78 version wins by a tall building, and, might I add, in a single bound. The plots of both are fairly saccharine but there is very little spark in Routh that makes you want to cheer him on. He teams up with a Lois Lame Kate Bosworth, who at times seems so skinny — in the right lighting — you can actually see through her. Margot Kidder was much more believable as a hardened news hound in that she looks like she just woke up on the wrong side of the world, downed a cup of cold coffee and chain-smoked five cigarettes to start the day. Both Kevin Spacey and Gene Hackman play a fine, follicly-challenged Lex Luthor but the fact that the latter has Ned “Pig Boy” Beatty as a sidekick gives the the ‘78 movie another nod. Mmmm. Bacon. Neither version, however, raises the question as to just what caliber of journalists are employed at the Daily Planet. I mean, the only difference between Clark Kent and Superman (aside from the blue tights, cape, and a gigantic “S” — so we all don’t forget he’s super) is a slightly different hairstyle and glasses. Where the hell are Woodward and Bernstein when you need them?
“Batman” (1989) vs. “Batman Begins” (2005) The battle of the titans, great actors, great scripts and excellent direction. Folks were shocked when Michael “Mr. Mom” Keaton was announced to play the Caped Crusader. And despite the hype to the contrary, he was fairly flat in the role, especially when faced with the genius of Jack Nicholson’s Joker. Director Tim Burton, who likely picked a drunken Keaton up off the 1988 set of “Beetle Juice” and shoe-horned him into a pair of black tights, succeeded in creating a vision of Gotham that made the Seattle skyline about as interesting as an Iowa cornfield. Unfortunately, the original genius soon became shrouded by a string of sequels so ridiculous they will likely have Batman creator Bob Kane turning in his grave for the foreseeable future. And possibly the unforeseeable future. Possibly even longer.
In 2005, the curse of the bat was lifted as director Christopher Nolan pit Christian Bale against evil doer Liam Neeson. Nolan filled in the plot holes and problems left in the “franchise’s” wake to create a superior, darker version which pushes aside the Adam West/Burt Ward-style glitz that was reanimated in ‘89, and embraces the shadows of this complex tale.
One thing is for certain, when Nolan’s “Dark Knight” hits the screen next year he’s going to need one heck of a fine Joker. Wonder what Cesar Romero’s up to? Dead too? Boy, that’s a blow. Because any guy who refuses to shave his mustache whilst taking the role of a killer clown is surely a force to be reckoned with. How Adam West bested the “Latin from Manhattan” time and time again, I’ll never know.
Speaking of the 1966 “Batman: The Movie,” it’s a brilliant mix of bad acting, tilted camera angles and plenty of “Bops,” “Bams,” and “Kabooms” for fans of the TV series.
There’s a great promo shot for the tour de force in which Burgess Meredith (Penguin), Romero, Frank Gorshin (Riddler), and Lee Meriwether (Catwoman) are all wearing burglar masks.
Brilliant. I mean, imagine a grown man dressed like a garish green and purple clown, a man in green tights with pink accents and question marks all over it, a guy in a tux who talks and waddles like an umbrella toting bird from Antarctica and a woman in a form-fitting black outfit with cat ears rob the Gotham bank, kidnap an heiress and hijack a train …
The Boy Wonder to hapless cop: “Holy crime sprees, who did these dastardly deeds?”
Cop: “I dunno, I think it was the Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin and Catwoman, but with those masks, I can’t confirm it.”
Batman: “Diabolical. There’s only one place to find the answers to the questions we have. One place only to uncover the hidden identities of these fiendish fellons. To the Batlab!”
And that’s all the time we have for this week…
Does Batman smell?! Will Robin lay an egg?! Will the Batmobile lose its wheel?! Will the Joker get away?! Tune in next week, when Movie Geek tackles this with a (yes, yes, no, yes answer) in addition to battles of Spider-Man vs. The Hulk and X-Men vs. The Fantastic Four, and any other super movies that pop into mind from now until then.