What have you started lately?
It’s a good question to ask from time to time. Whether it’s starting new habits (e.g. volunteering more for charities; quitting smoking; etc.) or starting a project we’ve always wanted to do but didn’t start (e.g. building a house; taking classes; etc.), we are all originals with value and have something special to give to the rest of humanity. No wait… we all have many things special to give to the world. What we start, finish, and leave behind becomes our legacy. Starting is the hardest part, but most every time is also the most memorable and cherished.
To me, Superman is a first. It is a pivotal movie that one could arguably say “started it all.” Of course, it wasn’t the first superhero movie. You could say the first was The Mark of Zorro in 1920. For two decades he was the only one. By 1940 there were five movies made about Zorro, and seven more would be made since. Once the 40’s hit audiences were watching the Green Hornet, Batman, Captain America, Superman, even Captain Marvel on the big screen. But it was in 1978 that our movie of the week (formerly known as Superman the Movie) became the first of a kind that we are all too familiar with: the superhero blockbuster.
Popular movies that bring everyone out to the theatre have always been around, but the big summer blockbusters are unique. Most film critics agree on which one started this trend, and surprisingly it’s not Star Wars. But it came out just two years before. Jaws. This movie was the talk of popular culture in 1975. Maybe not everyone saw it, but everyone was talking about it. Not many think of Jaws when it comes to technology, but it should be. Spielberg was so effective with his use of camera, perspective, and a mechanical shark that the realness of the finished product actually caused people to fear swimming in the ocean. Add to that the timing of the release: summertime seems to be everyone’s best time to go catch a flick. Then there was the merchandising. I can still remember buying Jaws bubblegum cards.
Fast on Jaws’ heels was Star Wars, Jaws II, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Saturday Night Fever, Grease, and of course, Superman. And it’s not just the year it happened to come out that gives it the “first” distinction. Consider this: The last superhero movie before Superman came out that anyone talked much about was Batman (1966). Practically the only thing that made this movie stand out any more than its predecessors was that it was in colour. Only eleven years separates Batman and Superman, but the difference seems light years apart. It’s like comparing Shakespeare’s sonnets to Captain Underpants.
The music, the technology, the stars, the bigger-than-life presentation. It’s clear to me that the precursor to The Dark Knight, The Avengers, and Batman vs. Superman wasn’t The Mark of Zorro. Superman started it.
Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Richard Donner (dir.) and many others started this project. Spielberg started Jaws. Lucas started Star Wars. Cameron started Titanic. We can’t all start something of that magnitude, but we all bring something unique to life on this planet. We all leave things behind. So start something.
Congratulations Superman. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: I think Madeline Kahn is hilarious and I wish she was in more movies. She was funny in Blazing Saddles and who can forget her on SNL talking about getting her “weew wifted.”
Best Actor: Seeing as Gene Hackman is in two of the nominated flicks I suppose he should get the recognition this week. Plus the fact that he is and always has been an excellent actor. My favourite film of his is Mississippi Burning.
Best Quote: “Gentlemen, please rest your sphincters.” – Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles
List time! My favourite superhero movies:
10. Batman Begins
9. Mystery Men
8. Spider-man (2002)
6. The Avengers
5. Superman II
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
3. Iron Man
2. Batman (1989)
1. The Dark Knight