Posts Tagged ‘Superman’


Nicolas Cage: More Like “Man Of Rubber”

September 23, 2009

I’m still not convinced this is real, but if it is, I’m appalled.

This video is making the rounds today. It’s a collection of sketches relating to Tim Burton’s Superman film, followed by what is purported to be test footage of Nicolas Cage in a Superman costume for the aborted 1990s movie. From what limited view we get, it seems to be fake rubber muscles, which were still kind of in vogue, as the world had not yet realized how terrible Batman and Robin was.

Unlike many comics fans at the time, I was all right with the idea of Superman being played by Nicolas Cage. The way I saw it, and the way I debated it with friends, was that Tim Burton was going to cock the whole thing up anyway with his usual unusual approach, so it really didn’t matter if quirky Cage put on the cape. This would not be the classic Superman of old; this would be Jon Peters’ “caged animal,” a weird, feral alien with bad hair and a designer itching to add rubber nipples to the suit. Probably also puppets.

The hair is another interesting thing; Cage said at the time that he had no intention of changing his thinning brown hair for the role, which had a lot of fans gasping. His long black hair in this shot reflects the way Superman looked in the comics at the time. Cage had long hair in Con Air, which was made around the time this footage might have been shot, but this is an altogether different wig. I think he might have taken it from a Wonder Woman costume.

Still, I’m suspicious, particularly considering that little necklace he’s wearing. Things like that always make me think PhotoShop. And the body looks a bit too much like an action figure, particularly above the weird S shield. If it is fake, though, it’s still a representation of something that might have actually happened. Taking that into consideration, as well as scriptwriter Kevin Smith’s hilarious description of his time on the film, I realize how lucky we are that all we got was Superman Returns.


America The Beautiful (And Geeky)

June 18, 2009

As some of you may know, my world-roaming friend Patrick, also known as Chris P. Bacon, is touring the United States. For the past two months, he’s been on a couchsurfing contintental cross-cross, seeing the sights, meeting the people, getting into adventures … He just visited Metropolis, Illinois, and sent me this hilarious postcard to go with the one he sent me from Riverside, Iowa (hometown of Captain Kirk) a couple of weeks ago.

Patrick documents his travels wonderfully, and there seems to be a new album on Facebook every day. His Journey Across America series is up to album 26 or so now, and they’ve been a real treat. But I noticed a trend after a few days: the places he’s visiting are connected by a thread of nerdery. Patrick is on the ultimate hobo fanboy adventure, and we get to share.

Here are my picks for Patrick’s Top 10 (So Far) Stops on One Nerd’s Journey

  1. Graceland. You can probably imagine my envious drool when I saw those photos. I’m a super-charged lifelong Elvis fan, but I’ve still never been to Graceland.
  2. Milwaukee. Patrick dressed like the Fonz to stand beside a life-size statue of the Fonz.
  3. Whitewater rafting in Northern California, With Actual Girls: You know, like that movie The River Wild. With Meryl Streep.
  4. Nashville: After visiting the Grand Ole Opry, Patrick sat in the General Lee. Let that sink in for a moment.
  5. Metropolis, Illinois: Patrick is the world’s biggest Superman fan, so this was a must-see for him. We had plans to go together a few years ago, but I went and kept having kids and stuff. While there, he met the mayor, who stamped his passport with the city seal.
  6. South Dakota: He saw Mount Rushmore. I’m going to Photoshop his face onto it, along with mine, David Hasselhoff’s and The Burger King’s.
  7. Riverside, Iowa: Where Captain Kirk was born in the old continuity, and where he listened to the Beastie Boys in the new.
  8. Winslow, Arizona: He stood on the corner. Yes, that corner.
  9. Victoria, British Columbia: A quick detour into Canada found Patrick reuniting with our old pal Hank, the finest rockabilly musician north of Nashville.
  10. Griffith Park, Los Angeles. Patrick went to the Bronson Cave, which was used as the Batcave in the old Adam West series, and has appeared in tons of other movies and TV shows. Including Star Trek. Sadly, it did not have a giant coin and a stuffed dinosaur inside it. Just empty beer cans, used condoms and a homeless man in a Robin costume.

This is just the tip of Patrick’s iceberg, with more adventures to come: He’s off to Washington now. Apparently the Obamas are letting him crash on an old plaid sofa in the White House bowling alley.

I’ll leave you with this treat, filmed at Bronson Cave in 1953 … an epic of science fiction suckness.


The Worst Superhero Of All Time

June 7, 2009

This was a hard decision to make. I was inspired by this recent look at the worst X-Men of all time, a list I endorse. While most of the characters mentioned came long after I stopped giving a rat’s ass about the X-Men (mid-1980s), I am aware enough of idiocy like Maggot to understand that this is not how superheroes should look.

For most of my life, I have considered the worst superhero of all time to be Garfield Logan, aka Beast Boy, aka Changeling, who is apparently now Beast Boy again, even though he’s an adult. I thought his powers were stupid (he can become any animal, but they’re all green). I thought his personality was heinous early-80s Bill Murray horndog lite (he kept referring to women as ‘so round, so firm, so fully packed’). And even though he was the only green kid on Earth, he felt the need to wear a mask to protect his identity. Oh, so stupid.

I have, however, revised that opinion after flipping through some of the old comics here at the Weather Station. And now I say Beast Boy’s moronity pales in comparison to the 70s cheese evil that is Vartox. He’s an alien from what would appear to be a disco porn planet, a flying powerhouse with abilities that rival Superman’s, except they’re “hyperpowers,” not superpowers. So he has hyper-strength, hyper-vision, etc. Which is another way of saying he has exactly the same powers as Superman, only stupider. And he was always drawn in crotch-oriented poses, as you see above. This was unfortunate, considering his costume.

Vartox wears a brown uniform that consisted mostly of bikini briefs and a tiny little vest, all of which show off his brawny, hairy, Sellecky bod. He caps this off with thigh-high boots.

With his moustache and receding hairline, he looks like a small-town American cop who goes to the city on weekends to act out his fantasies. In the picture at left, he looks like my Grade 6 teacher, Mr. Chase, who never dressed like this but gave me nightmares for other reasons, some of which might involve hip waders.

When I first saw a comic featuring Vartox, I was about 8 or 9. And I thought he was stupid. Now that I have a box full of them, thanks to Chris P. Bacon, I think he’s an icon of a really bad period in American costume, facial hair and spandexery. He’s a scary stereotype of 70s style. And so was Vartox.

I want you to imagine this scene: You’re falling from a burning building. A flying man swoops in, catches you, and bears you to safety, snuggling you in against his sweaty, hairy chest. As you descend, you realize he has never contemplated bikini waxing. And there isn’t much spandex between you and his hyper-bulge.

I don’t know what became of Vartox. I know he was rebooted in the post-Crisis DC universe, a reboot which basically meant he got long pants, but kept the boots. This is what I call a reboot Fail.

The time is right, though, for a Vartox revival; if the creators’ tongues were firmly in cheeks, it could be a real hoot.


A Geek Goes Shopping

November 27, 2008
Sometimes, when I feel a little down, I look at this picture and then everythings okay.

Sometimes, when I feel a little down, I look at this picture and then everything's okay.

I stopped off at my favourite store this afternoon and bought a few things. Here’s a look at what Value Village yielded to the Weather Station 1 archives of geekery:

  • A copy of the trade paperback of The Death Of Superman, $3
  • A copy of Clive Barker’s Weaveworld, which I haven’t read in years but loved the first time I read it, on a Florida beach in 1989, $3
  • VHS copies of Batman, Batman Returns and Batman Forever, $1 each (I still have a VCR, eh?)
  • And the coup de grace: Season 2 of Diff’rent Strokes on DVD, still sealed, $14.

We’ve been watching a lot of Diff’rent Strokes lately, as I came into possession of Season 1 on DVD a while ago. It was really something to watch my three kids discover Gary Coleman, and it was wonderful for my lady and I to swoop back to our childhood. Diff’rent Strokes hasn’t aired on any TV station I’ve had access to since the early ’80s, so it’s great to watch a childhood favourite.

When my brother and I were kids, he looked just like Gary Coleman, and I was taller and skinnier, so we were often called Willis and Arnold. And we loved the show; thinking back, it was one of the few shows we agreed on. I don’t remember much about the later years, but that first couple of seasons was comedy gold, and it holds up well.

The kids laugh at Arnold’s antics, but they’re learning, too. As you may know, I am of mixed African, American Indian and Scots-Irish descent, so they are, too, and they’re just figuring that out. They have a lot of questions about the race relations issues on Diff’rent Strokes, and I’m proud to talk to them about the strides African-Americans made in the 1970s. Diff’rent Strokes was a big part of that.

So it was great to find Season 2 today. I can’t wait to watch it with them.

Oh, also at Value Village was a framed and mounted poster of Steven Segal’s The Patriot, which I’ve never seen because Steven Segal is shit, and this is from his “sensitive” period, which is even more shit.

But seeing it (I photographed it for you) made me wonder (a) who bought the poster and thought it should be framed and (b) why is it $24.99 at Value Village when the hand-painted picture of a cute puppy is $5?

So I asked the clerk. He looked at me sideways and said “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”

No, he didn’t. I just wish he had.


Superman Returns Again, Maybe

November 2, 2008

Comic-book writer Mark Millar is now talking about his plans for the Superman film series, which was resurrected two years ago with Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, to mixed reviews. That’s a polite way of saying lots and lots of geeks went to see it, but not all of them will admit it was pretty sucky.

Singer’s mistake was paying too much tribute to the Donner Superman movies (I’m counting the original version of No. 2 here). He wisely ignored Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Plot and tried to continue that noble, squeaky-clean version of Clark Kent/Superman that Christopher Reeve did so well.

But Singer got something really wrong, something that proved how bad a match he was for the job. He just didn’t convey any kind of grandeur, of epic majesty, which is crucial for a Superman story. Singer has excelled with street-level grit, even in his two X-Men films; they were about superbeings who dwell in the shadows, dressed in black, not godlike figures in bright primary colours.

Example, and this may be a spoiler: When Superman saves the falling jet in Superman Returns. The crash sequence itself should have been thrilling, but it falls apart under its crappy CGI (I saw it in 3D originally, which made it worse). Then Singer redeems himself with a nice character moment with Lois Lane (a really miscast Kate Bosworth, who looks about 13). But it all falls apart when Superman steps to the door of the plane to face his adoring crowd. Singer parks the camera at crap angles and gives us a vaguely smug Superman just sort of looking around.

And from there, Superman Returns flew downwind, taking the stupidest elements of the early movies (Oh, Lex Luthor has a real estate scam? How … lame), adding a son-of-Lois subplot, throwing in James Wooden, I mean Marsden, as a make-good for X-Men and all in all just tanking hard.

Brandon Routh did a pretty good Christopher Reeve impression, but never quite mastered Reeve’s ability to make Clark and Superman two different people. Reeve nailed it. Routh didn’t. He was too Clarky as Superman, too Super as Clark.

So, Mark Millar says, ditch all that. Quit trying to draw from the old films and instead look to something else for inspiration. He suggests, as an example, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and wants to film three Superman epics back-to-back, to be released a year apart. The series would begin with the birth of Kal-El, uh, a thousand years ago on a dying Krypton, then tell his life story through three films until the trilogy travels far in the future, with an ancient and immortal Superman, the last man on Earth, as the sun turns from yellow to red and he ends his story.

“It’s gonna be like Michael Corleone in the Godfather films, the entire story from beginning to end, you see where he starts, how he becomes who he becomes, and where that takes him,” Millar told Empire Magazine. “The Dark Knight showed you can take a comic book property and make a serious film, and I think the studios are ready to listen to bigger ideas now.”

Okay, I love this. I think it’s perfect. This is Superman. He’s tough to write, as he’s indestructible, fast and pretty much unbeatable. This is why Superman comics are so dull, why the movies haven’t been working, why the various pitches that crashed and burned in the 80s, 90s and onward couldn’t be made. Tim Burton’s Death Of Superman came close, and had a story worth telling on film, but also had Nic Cage as Superman, which could almost be called the worst Superman casting concept ever until you remember that John Travolta was supposed to play Superboy in 1978. Seriously.

So to do this right, it should be a monumental piece of filmmaking, which is exactly what Millar is proposing. He is, after all, in the upper echelon of modern comics writers, and possible among the best of all time. So when he comes up with an idea like this, you know it’s no fanciful geek daydream, but a viable, makeable plan.

At this stage, it’s still a theory, but it would be something amazing to see this happen.

Note: The image at the top was created by a guy called Huckman.