Marvel had the Glob, Skywald had the Heap, Warren Publications had Marvin the Dead-Thing. There was the Bog Beast at Atlas Comics and the Monster in the Muck at Charlton, while Gold Key Comics offered the Lurker in the Swamp, and the Beast of the Bayou.
As bizarre as it sounds, there was actually something of a vogue in early to mid ’70s funny-books for human corpses emerging from the murk, walking the earth shrouded in goo, and getting involved in other people’s problems. If these stories teach us anything, it’s that some things just refuse to die, especially the propensity for comic book writers to copy off each other.
Honestly, the fact that even one of these lunatic ’70s swamp monster characters managed to survive through the decades as the star of a superhero comic is hard to believe, and yet we find ourselves blessed with two of them: DC Comics’ Swamp Thing, and Marvel Comics’ Man-Thing. It just goes to show what you can achieve, when you put an infinite number of monkeys in charge of your pop culture.
Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.30: And Another Thing
I suppose that now is as good a time as any to start assigning blame.
We’re currently thirty minutes into a ninety-minute Swamp Thing movie, which means it’s time for them to stop dicking around with opossums and go ahead and show us Swamp Thing. So here he is in long shot, emerging from the mire to bang on a boat, and save the day.
You don’t see a lot of him, right away. A muscular green arm grabs the bad guy’s head, and throws him off the boat. Then there’s a shot of the monster hitting the boat and turning it over, and then we see him from behind, carrying an unconscious Cable out of the danger zone.
So you know how sometimes in monster movies you only get to see little pieces of the monster — a fang, a claw, a tentacle or two — because they want to save the thrilling reveal for later in the film? Yeah, that’s not what’s happening right now.
This isn’t whetting our appetite. It’s managing our expectations.
Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.16: Suiting Up
Well, after centuries of stories assuring us that sacrificing something for true love is admirable and worthwhile, we finally have a movie that begs to differ. Superman II tells us that making sacrifices for love is selfish, and benefits bullies who try to take over the world. That’s why there are so many bullies currently running things. People need to keep that in mind.
Continue reading Superman II 2.35: Mainly About Hot Dogs
Man, don’t turn your back on Superman during date night is the lesson of the day. After their champagne dinner at the Fortress of Not As Much Solitude As Usual, Lois excuses herself to change into something more comfortable, and I can’t imagine what that means, since she’s never been here before and they didn’t arrive with luggage.
But while she’s out of the room, Superman takes the opportunity to call his mom and tell her that he’s quitting his job, which is probably something that he and Lois should have discussed first.
“If this is what you wish,” Lara tells him, based on a procedurally-generated AI conversation from the distant past, “if you intend to live your life with a mortal — you must live as a mortal. You must become one of them.”
So I’ve got a question that I’m not sure they’ve considered: How come?
Continue reading Superman II 2.32: Mama Don’t Preach
They didn’t use the word “synergy” for this kind of thing yet, so they just called it a “push”, as in SUPERMAN PIC GETTING WARNER COMMUNICATIONS PUSH.
“Superman is due to get a super push from Warner Communications Inc.,” said Variety in July 1978, “marking the first time a major entertainment conglomerate has marshalled virtually all of its subsidiary operations in the advertising, promotion and merchandising of a feature film.”
And congratulations, the superhero movie is born, not with a whimper but a bang. Warner Bros. has realized that they’re about to launch a feature film based on one of the most well-known characters in the world, and by now they’ve actually seen a rough cut of the film, and it’s really good. So it’s time for the Warner subsidiaries to circle the wagons, and get ready to make some Star Wars money.
Continue reading Superman 1.90: You’ll Believe A Man Can Buy
But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is Central Park West, and Juliet is the sun.
Continue reading Superman 1.70: The Other Balcony Scene
I’m just going to come right out and say it — it’s not a compelling car chase.
Continue reading Superman 1.61: Thrill of the Chase
The thing to remember about Superman: The Movie is that nobody had ever made a live-action feature-length superhero movie before, so they didn’t have any preconceived ideas of what a superhero movie was supposed to be like. It could go in almost any direction: science-fiction, fantasy, drama, fairy tale, action-adventure. Should it be aimed at kids, or adults? How scary should it be?
The movie that they ended up putting together is famous for changing tones throughout the prologue: the glitter opera of Krypton segueing into Norman Rockwell in Smallville. The teen football scene could fit into a contemporary live-action Disney film with no questions asked; one of these days, I’m going to get around to writing that Superman/Escape to Witch Mountain comparison that American film criticism has been waiting for all these years.
But the most important tone shift happens right here, in our first visit to the Daily Planet. This is when the story really begins, and we find out what a Superman movie sounds like. The answer, thank goodness, is screwball comedy.
Continue reading Superman 1.32: Murder, With a Smile
“Hello, I’m Ilya Salkind,” the man says, “executive producer of Superman: The Movie, which actually I guess everybody by now knows was called Superman on the screen.” We are one sentence into this DVD commentary and already I have no idea what he’s talking about.
Continue reading Superman 1.2: It Was Ilya’s Idea