Watched the animated Batman/Superman: Public Enemies. Like nearly everything done as part of the DC Animated stuff, it’s exceptional. Stuff like this tends to remind me why I used to like superheroes, before the 90’s came along and ruined it all with realism and grittiness. Really, what the hell do superheroes have to do with realism? One only need watch Kick-Ass to realize that realism and superheroes are so opposed to one another that even a film that claims to have “Superheroes with no superpowers” still has jet packs and an eleven year old girl who can gun down a room full of professional killers.
Even Alan Moore’s lauded Watchmen is a poor study in realism. It has realistic elements. Most notably, the flawed psychology of the characters. Aside from that though, Watchmen is pure superhero fantasy. And it’s not just Dr. Manhattan either. It’s all the characters with their funny codenames, bizarre costumes, super technology, and amazing ability. The story even ends with a giant space squid, for crying out loud.
Realism and superheroes? No, my friends. I’ll have none of it. They are at most passing acquantainces. That’s not to say that superheroes can’t explore deeper issues and resonate on an emotional level, but if the writer thinks the only way this can happen is by discarding the innate fantasy of the superhero genre then they’ve made a tragic miscalculation.
But I digress. I didn’t start this post to talk about superheroes. Instead, I wanted to say that Public Enemies is a fantastic animated feature, well worth checking out. What’s most interesting to me as a writer though is that it adapts a good story and makes it great. The original graphic novel is decent, but it’s full of plot holes and strange twists. It never quite fits together properly, and after I’d read it, I found myself dissatisfied by its flaws. The good news is that these flaws are fixed in the animated version. It’s nothing major, just taking the concepts and scenes from the original comic and making them fit together better into a more coherent story. The result is excellent and, sadly, only makes me realize how flawed the original comic book is.
Kick-Ass is much the same. In the original comic book, none of the characters have redeemable qualities. Kick-Ass is a pathetic fanboy who can’t get the girl. Big Daddy is a disgruntled father who kidnaps his own daughter and uses her as a tool in his twisted superhero fantasy. The characters are, at best, pathetic and, at worst, deranged killers. Kick-Ass the movie changes this significantly, and for the better, if you ask me. It might be the trend in comic books right now to have every character be an irredeemable scumbag, but that wouldn’t play so well on the silver screen. Just check out Watchmen, which was a box office disappointment. And that was an intelligent work with a lot more subtlety than anything found in Kick-Ass. I still didn’t really get Kick-Ass, I’ll admit. Neither the comic or the movie really worked for me. Although the movie did come closer. Not really a criticism of either though as I’m old school when it comes to superheroes. No doubt, it’s why I don’t read much in the way of superhero comics anymore.
This is a roundabout way of getting to my real point. I know that Dreamworks is working on a Gil’s All Fright Diner script, and I’m positive it will be good. I’m also sure it will resemble my original story, but changes will have to be made. And I’m wondering if I’ll find myself thinking about the Gil’s movie what I’m thinking about Public Enemies. Will I applaud the changes as an improvement? Will I find them distasteful? If these changes make the story more mainstream will I be able to appreciate them? Or will I have to stifle my own artistic ego?
Great questions. I really have no idea, but it should be fun to find out.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,