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How to Be a Superhero

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 How to Be a Superhero Empty How to Be a Superhero

Post by Admin on Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:56 pm

* February 17, 2011, 8:54 PM ET

By Christopher John Farley

Adrianne Palicki is Wonder Woman–all she needs is her invisible plane.

The Hollywood Reporter announced this week that actress Adrianne Palicki (”Friday Night Lights”) had won the role of Wonder Woman in the pilot for the coming NBC series about the comic book hero. The story comes on the heels of the report that Henry Cavill (”The Tudors”) will relaunch the Superman franchise in the title role; also, “The Social Network” star Andrew Garfield will help reboot “Spider-Man” by playing the super-powered character in a film due out next year.

So what does it take to be a super-hero? Speakeasy, drawing from too many hours spent watching super-hero movies and paging through comic books when we should have been doing our calculus homework, has created an easy guide.

Be British: The top superheroes were created by Americans, but the new Spider-Man (Garfield), Superman (Cavill) and current Batman (Christian Bale) are all played by actors with British roots. James McAvoy, star of the coming “X-Men: First Class,” is Scottish; his co-star Michael Fassbender is German; Ryan Reynolds, the new Green Lantern, is Canadian. Perhaps, because such special effects-heavy films are expensive, such international casting helps with the global box office. Not certain how big a market Scotland is, but okay. Palicki, who hails from Ohio, helps snap the trend of outsourcing American superheroes. And “Wonder Woman” should open big in Toledo.

Be Male: Comic book films featuring female stars for the most part haven’t fared well at the box office. “Catwoman,” starring Halle Berry, spectacularly and famously bombed. “Elektra,” the 2005 “Daredevil” spinoff with Jennifer Garner performed about as poorly as you’d expect a “Daredevil” spinoff to do. And “Aeon Flux” with Charlize Theron bombed because filmmakers seemed not to realize that most moviegoers had no idea who or what Aeon Flux was–even after they’d seen the film. (I actually for the longest time thought Aeon Flux was an upscale version of Metamucil.) Let’s hope Wonder Woman leads the way to more female-fronted comic book films.

Be Romantic: Let’s face it–for some female filmgoers, it’s a date night nightmare when their boyfriends or husbands drag them to movies featuring flying, fighting and caped crusaders. (Kinda the way guys feel when they see the name Nicholas Sparks appear somewhere in the opening credits.) The most successful superheroes have a softer side–romance helped Christopher Reeve’s “Superman” movies take flight. “Iron Man” without Gwyneth Paltrow is the Tin Man without a heart. And one of the enduring images of the 2002 “Spider-Man” movie is that upside-down kiss between Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. Nicholas Sparks never wrote a kiss cooler than that.

Be Serious: Movies that treat the superhero genre as something to be parodied typically don’t do well with comic book fans, who take their icons seriously. “The Dark Knight” is as grim as “King Lear,” which is partly why it was a huge hit. “Catwoman” never took itself seriously–and as a result, fans rejected it. “Iron Man” was funny, but it was grounded by a great actor–Robert Downey Jr.–who was playing a character, not sending it up. And the first “X-Men” in 2000 co-starred Patrick Stewart who has actually played King Lear.

Be Well-Dressed: A lot of this is about the suit. Not a whole lot of kids are going to be wearing Green Hornet costumes because 1) His outfit isn’t cool and 2) this isn’t 1936. And even if you’re not in a suit you gotta at least have some style. The first “Hulk” (2003) failed because the title character looked like a cartoon, not a real whatever the Hulk actually is. And the second one failed because the filmmakers seemed not have watched the first one. Like the rest of America.

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