Shocking Origin Issue!

So after seeing Spider-man 3 (a mixed bag, but overall a pretty enjoyable popcorn movie) and reading Mike's post I started to think about super-hero origins. Specifically, which ones of the "classics" honestly hold up after all these years, actually make logical sense, and more importantly, are good, solid well-thought out bits of characterization.

Mike's post pointed out the big three that fit all of the above (Batman, Superman, and Spider-man), and I absolutely agree. Those are probably the best - they all still make sense (with minimal modern revising), they're all solid writing and all firmly establish the characters; all of their traits, faults, and personalities are laid out right there at the beginning.

(As an aside, I agree with Mike that this movie so completely botched - with a retcon - Spider-man's origin. Completely sucked all of Peter's guilt out of it. In fact, absolved him of it, to a degree. And Spider-man without guilt is like Batman without Joe Chill. Oh, wait...)

But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are very few big ticket super-heroes with origins that still work today. And make sense. Let's go through a few of them:

- Fantastic Four - All kinds of problems have cropped up since the years we learned that simply leaving Earth's atmosphere will not give you super powers, despite the Incredible Diaper-Lady. The modernization of the gawd-awful movie made it even worse, and I didn't think that was possible. The best re-vamp I' ve seen was how they handled it in the Ultimate universe. Keep it on Earth, make it a different Reed experiment (attempting to send an object into another dimensional plane), and include Doom. And make it Doom's secret mathmatical correction that causes it to explode in their faces. And don't ever let him believe that. Completely OK with that one.

- Wonder Woman - Tricky. Which one are we talking about? Personally, I like the classic one, slightly adapted like they did with the Justice League cartoon. Greek Amazons, contest to decide man's world representative, princess wins despite being forbidden to enter, given sacred artifact weapons, etc. etc. This should be fairly easy to translate to the screen, whenever the hell the movie gets written. But this one is soooo easy to botch up. Badly.

- Captain America - I don't see why this one wouldn't work just as it is. I'm willing to keep the one time only super soldier serum, the suspended animation, and the indestructible shield. Yes, keep this one just as it is, please. And for God's Sake, please have him behave as if he was actually from (hard to believe) the 1940's! I don't think we're going to see that bit translate well.

- Green Lantern - Don't mind this one, either. As long as it sticks to the "crash landed alien choses successor with last dying action to serve in the Universal Police Force" theme and Hal (yes, Hal) simply has Earth as one part of the vast responsibilities in his sector. That setup lends itself so well to any bit of good writing - you've got a whole universe worth of crime drama right there. Probably the best setup - if you're thinking about sequels - in the bunch. But, and I'm thinking Hollywood here, I shudder to think of how many ways this can be screwed with. Think (Jack) about (Black) it. Ugggh.

- Iron Man - From all the press, I've got a decent idea how they're going to go with this one, and I've always been a bit bothered by it, even though it's pretty spot on to the original. I like the idea that Tony creates a device to keep him alive while imprisoned out of spare junk. Man's a genius. But, when you go from that to building a suit of war-armor out of that same junk.. not so much. It would be much better, I've always thought, if Tony fixes (temporallary) his heart condition, then builds something more simplistic - like a laser gauntlet and a shield - that allows him to escape and gives him the idea for the real suit once back at Stark Industries. He makes the suit there, then starts with the ass-kicking. Simple device out of junk while imprisoned just to escape; big ass machine once back at the place that could actually build it. I know I'm splitting hairs with the Mark I (prison) - Mark III (Stark Labs) armor thing, but I think that even the Mark I armor shouldn't have been built under those conditions. Keep it simple at first.

- Hulk - This one's a classic, but it needed tweaking almost as soon as it came out. And all you have to do is move from a bomb to a lab. Fine by me. You can even have that wacky intern Rick Jones screw it up somehow.

- X-Men - Mutants. Who cares? Probably the laziest origin of the bunch. But it holds up pretty well.

- Ambush Bug - You don't mess with perfection. I'm looking at you, Hollywood! And you better get James Earl Jones to be the voice of Argh!Yle! in the movie. Or Gilbert Gottfried.

Whoops! Got stuck dreaming out loud there again! Laters!

(Heroes night tonight! Yay!)


SallyP said...

Well-reasoned, my dear. I have never, for the life of me, been able to figure out why Hollywood, after apparently liking a concept enough to buy and develop it, then changes the concept so completely. Happens all the time, when they adapt novels...which rarely turns out well.

Adam Barnett said...

Nothing annoys me more than gutting an origin, whether it's in comics or on the screen. I still haven't forgiven Tim Burton for having the Joker kill the Waynes in the first Batman movie. It sounds like Marvel did it this time with Spidey. It's gonna tick me off when I finally get around to seeing it.