Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Tag: superman

Because, you see, in the midst of clearing shelves in my closet, where I plan to place some of the clothing I still need to put away, even after having done my laundry on Friday, I come across many items of interest, including:

-The complete set of cards from Lois & Clark, including all holofoil inserts. I’d forgotten my Teri Hatcher crush, and now thank Heaven I never got my Superman deltoid tattoo I wanted for years.

-My track jacket, from 1995. With 200m and 800m on the sleeve, which is kind of rad because it makes it look like it says “zoom boom.” Like I was running fast and passed the speed of sound. Which, of course, I didn’t, considering that I never actually ran track so much as attempted unsuccessfully to keep up with all the other dudes running.

-My silk Superman robe.

-My Norton’s Anthology of English Literature, Volume 1, which includes work from the Venerable Bede straight on through to one William Cowper, of whom I’ve never heard, but whose name makes me wonder if he is somehow related to the Cowper’s gland, and Wikipedia would be cheating. I think I remember once hearing a teacher say that the Cowper’s gland is what prevents men from urinating while they’re erect, but I also think I remember it’s responsible for pre-cum. Mileage varies. But from Norton’s:

There are no saner poems in the language than William Cowper’s, yet they were written by a man who was periodically insane and who, for forty years, lived day to day with the possibility of madness.

Whoever said literature wasn’t exciting?

-My father’s copy of Stephen King’s On Writing. I should probably return it to him.

-A 120-sheet lined notebook, which I think my sister gave to me. Its inscription: “-Bill, I know you will succeed but this stuff is just to get you off on the right foot. I -heart- U.” Perhaps as a graduation present? Not sure. I was “Bill” then, though, which is kind of funny. Also: I -heart- my sister.

The Science of Vampires. Which is research for my next major work-in-progress, Smile, a novel I’ve taken to describing as “Dracula meets American Psycho, but funny.” Which, obviously, can’t miss. It’s predicated on two semi-related but distinct ideas I will not yet divulge (you have to read it. You know. After I write it), but which made a friend of mine’s jaw drop when she heard them.

-My collection of Manon Rheaume sports cards. Drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Rheaume goalied in an exhibition game to become the first woman to play in one of the four professional leagues, after which she played for the Atlanta Knights, in the Lightning’s farm system. I was a big fan, because I was 16 and she was gorgeous. Among the collection is a signed copy of the program from the very first game she ever goalied in.

Beyond Zero Hour, which is, apparently, a comprehensive look at DC Comics and its universe. You know, I’m sure, at some point, I knew more about Crisis on Infinite Earths than its name (well. And the fact that there are multiple Earths in the DC Universe, or were, anyway, which is why the Flash sometimes has a bowl on his head when he’s not wearing his red costume with the mask), but nowadays I’ve got very little beyond that. Looks like Alex Ross drew the cover, though, which is of Batman and Mullet Superman standing back-back and looking, I don’t mind telling you, more like WWF guys than superheroes. No, for seriously. The Superman on the cover bears more than a passing resemblance to Mickey Rourke’s character in Aronofsky’s The Wrestler.

-The first draft of my first novel, which was not The Prodigal Hour. All 400 single-spaced pages of it. ~groan~

Over at The Fractal Hall, Madeley is delineating major (so-far DC) superheroes, according to what is essential to their stories.

It’s fascinating. Even if you’re not into comics or Superman or the Dark Knight, it’s really neat in terms of story and character.

This is the first one, on Batman. Others in the days following.

I’m hoping Madeley will continue through many.

Does whatever an iron can.
Presses cuffs, flattens clothes.
Creases pants, just like those.
Look out!
Here comes the Ironman!

Actually, Ironman, as portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr., does absolutely none of those things (he has a personal assistant who performs such functions, as well as, in one of the funniest lines of the movie, “Takes out the trash.”).

What he does do is carouse and carom wildly about the screen; trade witty barbs with assistants, friends, and robots alike; rebuild camshafts with toothbrushes; crack jokes; bed incredibly beautiful women; and basically demonstrate what a thoroughly interesting character brilliant, cool, and badass Tony Stark is.

Oh, and what he also does is blow shit up.

Ironman has gotten a lot of press and deserves every word of it. It’s a terrifically balanced movie, a great origin story about a man coming to terms with his own actions and realizing he has done some bad things but finding in himself redemption to do better. Batman saw his parents killed and, mentally, broke; Superman is just an overgrown Eagle Scout on ‘roids, and Spiderman struggles with everyman troubles while fighting rather outlandish villains.

Ironman is the first superhero movie we can believe in. For the first hour, its main villains are Middle Eastern terrorists, which is, provided, about as cliche as you get, but then it pulls a fast one, because Stark realizes that these terrorists are using the weapons he built. The whole movie is rooted in this world in ways I’ve rarely seen any movie deal with its problems, and I found it an even better meditation on the current, troubled world we live in than, say, Syriana. Sure, both movies had different tones and set to accomplish different things, but I’d argue that Ironman, for all its blow-shit-up/summer-blockbuster status, actually explored those themes more effectively than the more serious but also more ponderous and, let’s face it, more dull Syriana.

I geeked out all over the place throughout (one joke I saw coming; its repetition surprised me enough to make me giggle). There’s a silly cameo of Stan Lee as Hugh Hefner, but otherwise, it’s that rare beast: a socially and personally conscious action movie. Sure, it’s a dude with a make-uped goatee in a red-and-gold titanium alloy suit, but it works, and mainly because Downey, Jr. makes it work. This man is having a well deserved and well earned career renaissance, and it’s terrific, because all the press he ever got about being a ‘bad boy’ and passing in and out of rehab let a lot of people forget the fact that he’s one of the greatest actors ever. He doesn’t have the classic looks or personality one imagines of a leading man, but he has a rare intensity and charm that lends itself to carrying a movie (see: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang).

The trailers included previews of both The Incredible Hulk and The Dark Knight, but, having seen them, I’m not sure either of them will become more than what they are. Sure, they look entertaining, and I’ll catch both (and Heath Ledger’s Joker so far seems brilliant), but they look like they’re going to be superhero movies, and Ironman, somehow, felt like more than that in the best possible way.

The trailer for Hancock sure looks interesting, though.