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It's Time to Kick the Superhero Genre in the Ass

By Brian Prisco | Think Pieces | January 13, 2011 |

By Brian Prisco | Think Pieces | January 13, 2011 |

Green Hornet. Green Lantern. Captain America. Spider-man Rebooted. Ghost Rider. The Avengers. Thor. Wolverine. Iron Fist. Nick Fury. Deadpool. Ant-Man. Silver Surfer. Daredevil Rebooted. Aquaman. Teen Titans. Superman. Batman. Adam Strange. Wonder Woman. The Flash. I’m not entirely positive, but I’m pretty sure that between now and 2014, there’s actually a superhero movie coming out every hour until someone’s cape get sucked into a fucking jet engine.

Matthew Vaughn declaimed the end of superhero movies after he made Kick-Ass , but before he did X-Men: First Class (do you see, they’re like cock-a-roaches!) But it looks like every motherfucker who ever slapped on tights and gave hisself an origins story is going to get their chance to shine on the screen. We’ve had a wave of the homemade superhero: Kick-Ass, Special, Defendor, and James Gunn’s upcoming vigilante flick Super. Now we’re going to literally be drowning in masked heroes.

I’ve recently been reading comics like a bastard, mostly things like Chew and Locke & Key, but I refuse to get involved with the cape and cowl crews. Frankly, the histories are too much. Where do you start? Every couple years, someone new comes along and retells the same origins story and then gives them a slightly different take on the same villains. How many fucking times do I need to see Bruce Wayne’s fucking parents die in front of that goddamn movie theater? And the heroes history can change from author to author. So many different people have donned different costumes. Aren’t there like 700 fucking Green Lanterns? How do you keep track? And if I read one origin about Deadpool and Weapon X, is that right, or is the entire origin story going to get turned on its head when some artists comes along and gives their spin.

What bothers me about most of these projects is that we’re not getting a new spin. It’s not like in the next Spider-man movie, he’s not going to get bit by a radioactive spider. In the next Superman movie, Ka-lel’s not gonna come to us from the red sun of Blorgk and have the ability to fire heat out of his fingers. Some folks might compare that to Shakespeare, the classics get retold the same way. But who wouldn’t have wanted to see Donald Glover’s Spider-man?

Now the one project that intrigues me is Garth Ennis’ The Boys. If you haven’t read this comic series, get on it. Superheroes are everywhere, drunk on their own powers, and essentially treating folks as if they were there for their own amusement. These are heroes who get drunk, rape, pillage, murder innocents with no more than a “My bad, bro.” And so the CIA enlists a group of five folks, shoots them up with a serum, and sends them out to deliver a merciless spanking on the heroes who get out of line.

This is what I want to see. I’m sick of the heroes. I want to see the dark side of the cowl. I don’t want to see someone save the world, I want to see people saving the world from them. If you had superpowers and you were in your teens and twenties, you wouldn’t be using invisibility to spy for the government. You’d be sneaking into locker rooms and boosting shit from Best Buy. You’d do whatever the fuck you want. And I want more of that. Perhaps I’m in the minority. Perhaps it’s not an oversaturation, but a final recognition of the genius of the comic books themselves. Perhaps the world has been waiting patiently for their Aquaman epic.

I recall going to one Comic-Con panel to see the footage of DC Universe vs. Mortal Kombat. And I thought, holy shit, two great tastes that taste great together. And they showed footage of the game, and it was beautiful. But then they got to the fatalities. And the spokesman said, “We couldn’t do the blood and guts. Nobody wants to see Superman rip out someone’s spine. Nobody wants to see Batman get beheaded.”

Yes. I. Do. I want to see superheroes getting their asses kicked. I want to see them lose. I want to see The Joker win. And not necessarily against Batman. Why can’t we shake things up? Why can’t we get up to our elbows in the dirty? Why can’t we twist and turn these stories we’ve heard so many times? Why can’t Batman fight Superman? For legal purposes and because of rights, I’ll never ever see The Hulk smash Wonder Woman. But there’s no reason we can’t invent new stories for our same old heroes.

“The Cape” pissed me off because it wasn’t envelope pushing. It wasn’t even interesting. It was Spawn sans the Satanism. Heroes started out with promise, but turned into “Melrose Place.” Then they tried to clean up their mistakes with time travel and alternate realities. That’s like swatting a fly with a bazooka. I’m surprised the series didn’t end as Joss Whedon waking from a nightmare in the bed of Damon Lindelof.

Is this the dawn of the comic book hero, or are we going to die of a thousand paper cuts?

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