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.