September 19, 2008

Watchmen: The Darkest Night

by Jordan Coughenour

"You stop believing heroes, and the hero inside you dies."

— Nemesis in "Wonder Woman: Love and Murder"

Within The Dark Knight, Batman took down The Joker and Two Face. In March of 2009, the Watchmen will arrive in theatres and tackle the Soviet Union and Vietnam, but in the course of these battles, will they additionally destroy the superhero movie?

Recovering in the past decade, after the fatal deathblow delivered by Batman Forever, superhero movies have ascended to become one of the most powerful and monetarily successful of contemporary film's subgenres. Summer has become synonymous with capes and high tech gadgetry as in 2008, movies such as Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Hancock raked in the profits for studios. The debate continues as to whether director Christopher Nolan's masterpiece, The Dark Knight should be classified in the realms of the superhero flick, as many have noted that it bears more similarity to crime dramas and city-centric pieces than its comic book based predecessors. For the sake of the rest of the heroes in the universe, it seems best moved into the sect of detective thrillers and away from the soundly quashed competition. Between The Dark Knight's anticipated Oscar season buzz, allowed by its mature themes and progressive statements, and the anticipated March release of graphic novelist Alan Moore's (V for Vendetta) Watchmen, a film already being declared the "Citizen Kane of Superhero Movies," an allegation spurred by its medium-defining source material, fans are worrying that caped crusaders could meet their demise for a second time in Hollywood's cycle, as bubblegum heroes such as Superman and the recently deceased Captain America are exiled in favor of more malevolent and troubled protagonists.

Watchmen, though advertising the exterior shell of a typical superhero movie, is more of a comment on the political and social ambiguity of America in the midst of the Cold War. Did I mention that of the six leading crusaders only one has actual powers? With the exception of walking nuclear bomb, Dr. Manhattan, the rest of Watchmen's players are merely masked vigilantes, patrolling the streets out of a warped sense of personal entitlement. It bears wondering whether audience members may emerge from Watchmen altogether turned off by the newly egotistical institution of superheroes. If fighting crime for self-gain isn't enough to accomplish this, the most intriguing characters in the movie, Rorschach and The Comedian are subsequently a Nazi-sympathizer and a rapist; using patriotism as a guise for their superhero duties. While the graphic novel, now one of the most praised pieces of contemporary American fiction managed to portray these traits in an artistic and masterful way, on the big screen, explanations are always abbreviated.

With The Dark Knight's pessimistic views of self-sacrifice, and Watchmen's upcoming cynicism and egotistical heroes, by next summer, it may be almost impossible to any longer accept that any man or woman would take up the mantle of a superhero without some underlying grievances. This poisoning of sorts is disturbing in that through our cinema, it is becoming more and more apparent that we as a society can no longer accept our heroes in a time where we seem to need them more than ever.

(The promotional graphic for Watchmen is from Warner Brothers Studios. To see a trailer for the film, please check below.)

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1 comment:

Lakers_number_1fan said...

o wow that look cool to read!!!