Holding Out For a New Hero!
October 20, 2013
The most recent film I saw at the theatre was Man of Steel. This latest celluloid incarnation of the famed comic book character was pretty good – lots of action, a great villain to act as foil to Superman’s overgrown boy scout character – but it was missing something. While the movie had plenty of action sequences, they seemed repetitive. Like all movie action sequences are getting to be. There’s no realism any more. It’s just a bunch of computer generated fast-paced stew on the screen. "Screen Stew" is what I like to call it. It’s when you see a bunch of colorful images just swirling around with no real idea where each image is going to end up or exactly why it is swirling, like stirring a pot of vegetable beef stew.
The characters get thrown through windows, tossed into brick walls, and slammed upside the head with hammers. Or street lights. The characters never seem to exhibit any real pain. Now, I know Superman and his enemies from Krypton can endure a lot here on earth, but these things translate to other costumed heroes and villains as well: Batman, Bane, Iron Man, the rest of the Avengers, and all their enemies. Even the 58 year old Bruce Willis fist-fights the bad guys with barely a scratch in his films.
I am getting older and cynical. Not going to deny that. But where are the original stories? The compelling characters not based on spandex-wearing comic book heroes? I don’t know. I only hope another young film student eager to make his mark with an original fairy tale is out there ready to take over where George Lucas left off. I have a desire for an as yet undiscovered author to give us a compelling book series that will fill the void left by the lack of J.K. Rowling and her beloved Harry Potter.
I have come to the realization that we are waiting for the next "Big Thing." Perhaps that will never come. There will never be another film series so beloved it spawns its own religion. We may never again see families lined up for blocks waiting to purchase a copy at midnight of a book about a nerdy little wizard.
There will probably never be another crudely drawn animated series about a dysfunctional family that inspires an ad-libbed expression that becomes a part of Webster’s Dictionary. In the world of music, there will never ever be another Elvis, or Beatles, or Michael Jackson. No group or performer has come close in the past few decades to their kind of superstar power.
I’m going to revisit the comic book hero thing again. This is an open blog asking, nay, begging for something original. An original hero. An original story. I realize there are only a handful of basic story archetypes, but we can always use another twist on the hero myth. The last good original sci-fi story made on film was The Matrix. You have to go all the way back to 1999 for that one, and its sequels are pretty weak.
The problem with other great fantasy series’ like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter is that you are limited by your source material. Only so many books were written, and this makes it very difficult to keep the series going in film. One exception – the James Bond series – has had a great run and will probably continue to do so despite the fact some of the more recent movies were not based on Ian Fleming’s novels.
Where’s the next Indiana Jones? I fear there never will be another film or film series with characters who begin on screen and then translate into other forms of media. But I’m sure hoping to see it one day. I challenge all of our library customers to become inspired by the stories already told in our books and films. Create something new with all that media to inspire you and take us all on a new adventure.
For inspiration, I recommend The Hero With a Thousand Faces. This is a great nonfiction account of the hero myth and how many similarities there are among cultures past and present and their heroes.
If you need some help with the mechanics of writing, Orson Scott Card has a good one out: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. He also has a movie coming based on one of his books.
Until next time, keep the creative juices flowing and take a nap once in a while…dreams tend to be the best inspiration!