Thursday, December 02, 2010

Why I Hope Spider-Man Fails

Yeah, you heard me. I want the Spider-Man musical to fail.

Is this my typical anti-Marvel schadenfreude? Hm; perhaps. But not entirely.

As a comic book True Believer, I cringe that the show's producers felt the need to create a new villain. Sigh. "Yes, this intellectual property is so valuable and rich and culturally resonant with so many people that we MUST make it a musical and then pervert or ignore the source material." Sure, Green Goblin is there. But I mean... Swiss Miss? Really? A... a female villain, themed on a Swiss Army Knife? And I bet her background includes being a cocoa addict. If I were Switzerland I'd sue (although I'm sure they're just remaining carefull neutral). Even Marvel shouldn't have to put up with the likes of "Swiss Miss". It's an embarrasment to the company, even the one that produced U.S. 1.

Do I dislike the concept of the show because it's, well, tacky? Yes. Despite being a performer myself, I'm no fan of modern Broadway musicals. For my tastes, they are usually too serious, or, if not, too tasteless in their humor. Besides, their music is often, well... not-musical. Or at least, it's tune-less. I can't say I've heard the music to this show, but I'm presuming people like Bono and, ahem, "The Edge" didn't exactly load it with toe-tappers you can't stop humming as you leave the theater. Just a guess.

As I have mentioned before,
DC is Greek theater and Marvel is opera. Wagnerian opera, in fact. So perhaps it's only fitting that it's getting the Serious Rock Opera treatment. But "fitting" doesn't necessarily mean good or artistic. Obviously, one of the reasons I want the show to fail is to prevent DC characters from being Broadawayized as Spider-Man has been. The very idea of Batman: The Musical was the height of humor achieved by the otherwise depressing Batman Beyond series.

But the most powerful reason that I want the Spider-Man musical to fail, badly, is also the simplest one:

I want us to remember that the comic book itself is still the ideal medium for superhero stories.

Comic books can and have been used to tell all stories of all types and genres. But there is a reason that the superhero story became its native genre. Long before there were the kind of cinematic and stage wizardy for special effects that audience take for granted today, the comic book page was the only place where you could depict such fantastic people and adventures. For the longest time, it was accepted wisdom that there would never be a Green Lantern movie because what the character does could never be represented well enough on screen. That's no longer the case, and we can all look forward to GL's first big screen adventure soon. I personally am praying for a scene where Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan slips and hits his head in the shower. Sexy, hilarious, and What Green Lantern Does Best all at the same time!

But now we think we can do anything on stage and screen, including tell the stories of superheroes. To some degree, we can... .

But it's not the same. Never will be. And that's important to remember.


David said...

Good thoughts - I too agree that comics are the best medium for superhero stories, but I do think that movies are catching up a lot faster than I would have thought.

Regarding modern musicals, did you happen to see Next to Normal? I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the music and the depth of characterization there.

captcha: "bachos" which is either a lighter version of a wine-loving-satyr or perhaps a cheese-covered snack shaped like classical composers.

Gary said...

Swiss Miss? Really? Isn't that too close to Miss Army Knife from Final Crisis Aftermath: Run? Check here:

Scipio said...

Identical, basically.

Although, of course, in the DCU such a character is obviously meant to be funny, as she is immediately killed by the Human Flame, of all people.

SallyP said...

Frankly, I would kill to see Hal slip and bonk his head in the new Green Lantern Movie. It...would be SO appropriate.

Comic books as a medium are perfect for the bizarre and the fantastic in so many many ways. You just can't DO things in a movie, that you can in a comic book, no matter how much CGI you throw in there.

There is a scene in a later Sandman book, where Mervyn Pumpkinhead is in the library, using a brush to put up some wallpaper of books on the wall. It then becomes a REAL bookshelf with books, and it was simply perfectly depicted on the printed page. I don't even know how you could do that on film...much less something like that in a live action Broadway play.

Gene Phillips said...

Ditto what David said. And I'll add that at times animated cartoons get damned close to equalling the kinetics of the comics-page, even if though they're generally not as strong on characterization.

One of these days I'm going to respond on my blog to your challenge to me re: the DOOM PATROL argument earlier, so I haven't forgotten. My plate just runneth over right now.

Your Obedient Serpent said...

I've heard Jim Steinman's demo tracks for the Batman musical that inspired the Batman Beyond parody.

I, um, really like them.

Word Verification: "sappo", which is what I feel like admitting this.

Scipio said...

I will never, ever forgive you for causing me to go to that website, Serpent. Now I must go out and club some baby seals to death, just to get these feelings out of my system.

LissBirds said...

If I owned the Swiss Miss hot cocoa company, I'd definitely sue.

You make a great point about comics being the ideal medium for comic book stories. I'm almost always disappointed by comic book movies, unless I haven't read any of the source material. (i.e. Marvel movies.) Maybe I should put less stake in movie adaptations. But I like how movies can generate a wider audience than comic books, and how the let me enjoy superhero stories with my non-comics-reading-friends.

Oh, I just want to see Ryan Reynolds get hit over the head. I mean, like when the cameras aren't even rolling. That would make me happy. And I hope he gets hit in the head a lot during the movie. I bet he was reading the script and had to keep asking the director, "Um, what's the point of this scene where an anvil falls on Hal's head?"

Allan said...

Sadly, I do want the Spider-Man musical to succeed, but only for the silliest of all possibly reasons.

Julie Taymor is hot and it hurts me to see attractive geniuses fail.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to see this tonight! Love Taymor's work, but I too want it to be awful, if only because of that anti-Marvel schadenfreude Scip describes. (Yes, I am still 12.)

word verification: Allized, which sounds like a villain from the upcoming Spidey-Aladdin crossover (it could happen).

Jack Norris said...

I seem to recall talk not too long ago (maybe last year?) about reviving the "Superman" musical from decades ago, only they were rewriting it to get rid of some of the flaws that they seem determined to repeat with this Spider-Man musical (as in, the revived version was being rewritten to replace a pointless made-up-for-the play villain with Lex Luthor, etc.).

Anonymous said...

Anon from 12/3 here: Well, Scip, you got your wish. It's DREADFUL.

Scipio said...


Your Obedient Serpent said...

My work here is done.

TotalToyz said...

You can blame Mel Brooks for setting this bar. He took a decades-old movie, threw in a few songs, put it on Broadway, and it was like printing money. Suddenly everything has a musical version; from Young Frankenstein to Elf. I'm just waiting for the lavish Broadway musical version of Weekend At Bernie's.