by Shane “Clark Bent” Hnetka
The Man of Steel celebrated his 75th anniversary this year. His royally screwed-over creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, never imagined their superhero — who first appeared in 1938’s Action Comics #1 — would become the phenomenon and icon that’s still going strong today.
YOU’LL BELIEVE A MOVIE CAN FLY
Thirty-five years ago this month Superman (a.k.a. Superman: The Movie) hit theatres. Its tagline was “You’ll believe a man can fly” and on Dec. 15, 1978 Christopher Reeve took to the air in the role that would overshadow his career.
(Random side note: Superman opened in Regina at the Metropolitan, in Saskatoon at the Paramount, in Winnipeg at the Metropolitan Theatre, in Calgary at Calgary Place 1 and 2, and in Edmonton at the Paramount. Every single one of those theatres has been demolished, except for the Met in Winnipeg. It’s now a classy restaurant.)
Superman was a huge hit — the second highest grossing movie of 1978 (behind Grease) and Warner Bros’ biggest success ever at the time.
Earlier this year a new Superman movie, Man of Steel, hit theatres. Instead of the hopeful, awe-inspiring superhero film of 35 years ago we got a gloomy, violent epic — the final battle alone would surely have killed, at minimum, tens of thousands* — set in a world that hates and fears Superman. Despite all the spectacle, to date Man of Steel has only made it to number four in the 2013 box office behind Iron Man 3, Despicable Me 2 and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Superman is 75 years old and his current corporate masters don’t seem to know how to make him relevant to society. And yet a film that’s more than three decades old still strikes a chord with people. Somebody is doing something wrong.
IF A BUCK CAN BE MADE
Speaking of wrong… ah, Harvey Weinstein, is there anything you won’t try to make a buck? It has just been announced that The Weinstein Company, along with Harvey’s old movie company, Miramax, are going to turn several Weinstein-produced films into TV series. This is nothing new. Studios have been trying to turn movies into massive multimedia properties forever (and sometimes it works: look at M*A*S*H).
But some of these choices are… odd.
Miramax had been trying to make shows out of Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, James Mangold’s Copland and Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. Now, with Harvey Weinstein’s help, they’re trying for series based on Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting and David O. Russell’s Flirting with Disaster.
Huh? How on Earth does the idea of a TV show based on Flirting with Disaster even happen?
For those who don’t know it, Flirting with Disaster was a 1996 Ben Stiller flick about a man searching for his birth parents (uncomfortable comedy ensues). Not exactly weekly sitcom material. Well maybe they’ll figure something out, but even then, it isn’t actually going to attract any hypothetical fans of the movie.
Really, none of these movies will make good TV shows. Heck, From Dusk ‘Til Dawn didn’t even make a good movie. What franchise spin-offs are coming next? Reservoir Dogs? Pulp Fiction? Scream? Shakespeare in Love? The English Patient?
I shudder to think what Harvey Weinstein has up his evil sleeves.
*In Superman II, the Man of Steel realizes a battle in Metropolis will hurt civilians so he takes the fight out of the city. Because he cares about innocent people. Unlike New Superman apparently.
Shane Hnetka is a Regina film and comic book nerd. He also writes Dog Blog’s weekly “Sunday Matinee” column at prairiedogmag.com.