Birdman, the movie in which former Batman actor Michael Keaton stars as an actor who rose to superstardom playing the titular superhero, comes out today, and it looks to be a pretty strong dark comedy.
If you're looking for a little context before you head off to see it, the movie's director, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, minced no words when asked about his opinion of superhero movies in a Deadline interview this week. The key soundbite would be "cultural genocide." There's a little more to it than that, though.
Changing the racial identity of characters has become a contentious issue amongst fans of superhero comics and their adaptations in other media. The awful practices of casting white actors to play people of color, or of turning previously non-white characters into white characters, is all too common in movie adaptations of books, cartoons, TV shows, or even real life stories -- but rather surprisingly, superhero comics and their adaptations have mostly avoided this problem.
In comics, the controversy takes a different direction. Several white characters have become non-white, mostly in movies, and sometimes in reboots. Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm in the new Fantastic Four; Helena Bertinelli aka the Huntress in the New 52; Nick Fury in the Ultimate Comics line and on screen. These are changes that agitate some readers -- but realistically, the changes don't go far enough. Superhero comics have a cultural bias towards white characters that has everything to do with their institutional history and nothing to do with what makes sense to the stories.
How many comicbook movies are on your gift list for Christmas or Hanukkah? Does it already include The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, and The Amazing Spider-Man? Are you chuffed enough to request the The Dark Knight Trilogy on Blu-Ray, or are you nervously holding your wad for April 2013, when the 10-disc Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One drops like a ton of bricks...
Just a little under a year ago we wrote about the lazy narrative of the box office flop, a phenomenon by which entertainment journalists and other pundits race to judge a film as either a financial success or failure as quickly as possible and justify their existences as pop culture prognosticators...
"Super" is an upcoming film from the writer/director of "Slither," James Gunn. The film is a look at superheroes through a very jaundiced eye. It sees them as insane, petty people who are not even remotely up to the task that they set for themselves...
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