Sunday, July 02, 2006

I Believe A Man Can Fly

Last night, GLS and I saw "Superman Returns" at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on South Lamar, which is the best place on earth to see a movie. Among other things, they offer dining service during the film. I had shrimp quesadillas and buttered popcorn, and we split a bottle of Woop Woop Shiraz.

We arrived an hour early, so we had decent seats in the middle of the theater (as opposed to neck-craning in row one, like last time).

"Superman Returns" was framed as a sequel to "Superman II," which was the Christopher Reeve 1980 film production.

To be honest, I didn't have really high hopes for "Superman Returns," though there was no way I wasn't going on opening weekend. It's because I knew that it was drawn from the above mentioned foundation, and I've always disliked the depiction of Clark Kent as over-the-top "bumbling" or "mild-manned." It's hard to believe that Clark could succeed as a front-page, investigative reporter on "a great metropolitan newspaper" like The Daily Planet.

I much preferred Dean Cain as Clark in "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman." He was charming in the role, indicating that it was Superman, not Clark who was the disguise (which made sense) and also made it far more plausible that Lois, if she's a woman of substance, would fall for the real man rather than the icon. This is the route that the comics ultimately took.

But in "Superman Returns,'" Clark is more awkward than bumbling. It works a lot better. The film also advances the cannon in interesting ways. I won't give away what happens, but both the internal and external stakes are fresh and sky high. Kate Bosworth is now my favorite Lois Lane.

Brandon Routh isn't bad at all, but so far, none of the Superman actors seem to really own the role (the way that Hugh Jackman did as Wolverine, for example, or Jack Nicholson as The Joker).

With the traditional nod to Gene Hackman as Luthor, I'd call Michael Rosenbaum of "Smallville" the hands-down best Lex. That said, I think Lex as a character, though classic, is overdone. We need to move on to a new adversary. And not Zod.

Maybe because I was largely raised in Kansas (where I graduated with a news/ed degree from journalism school), I've always felt a connection to Superman, especially his Clark Kent side. Though I love my anti-heroes as much as the next person, there's something optimistic and heartening about Superman. The heartland kid who's the "ultimate immigrant." Being on the inside and the outside. Really, who doesn't feel like that sometimes?

For those who might be wondering, I've been reading superhero comics since I was about five years old. Once a week, on Sunday afternoons, my dad would take me with him to the nearest convenience store where he'd buy gun magazines (his only targets were paper on account of my mama and "Bambi") and I'd pick up comics.

Back then, comic book shops were strictly guy territory, and in some places that's still true, though I've always felt perfectly at home in Austin at Dragon's Lair. I find it odd that graphic novels are now trendy, especially because if my high school queen bees had known about my related reading habit, it would have been my social undoing (not that I was Miss Popularity anyway). But in any case, my fave of the new stuff for younger kids is JH and MH's Babymouse series--cute and funny!

As a side note, the "Spider-Man 3" trailer looked fantastic. I'm jazzed about Venom.

Comic of the Week: Batman#654; runner up: Blue Beetle #4. What I loved most about Batman #654 was the closing scene between Bruce/Batman and Tim/Robin III. It's beautifully underscored by Alfred's traditional role as the mirror of Bruce's humanity.