Long Island Recollections: What Shakespeare Teaches us of Superheroes.

This weekend I had a great conversation with my good friend Ellis who is a tremendous fan of the show Smallville, which is about Superman as a teenager. We got to talking about the publication histories of major characters, the intents of the characters’ creators, and the effect that time had had on the development of the depth and significance of great characters such as Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. I mentioned that I believe there are probably a finite number of basic archetypal characters from which all superheroes are derived. Ellis pointed out that these three in particular represented three basic archetypes: Superman, the hero who is born with super powers; Batman, the hero who has no super powers; and Spider-Man, the hero who suddenly gets super powers at some point in his life. Later that weekend, I remembered a line from Shakespeare‘s Twelfth Night.

“…some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

Back in the day, William Shakespeare keenly observed that among heroes, some such as Superman are born great, some such as Batman and Iron Man achieve their own greatness, and some such as Spider-Man and the Hulk have greatness literally thrust upon them.

More on this later…

The 25 Most Influential People in Comic Book Movies: #11 Sam Raimi

Sam RaimiPrior to his infamous run on the Spider-Man franchise, Sam Raimi was best known as the man behind the Bruce Campbell classics The Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, and their progeny.  Raimi has always been a fan of comic books and pulp fiction protagonists, particularly The Shadow.  After trying and failing to secure the rights to a feature film production of The Shadow, Raimi decided to make his own superhero film in the same vein, creating 1990’s Darkman.  In 1994 he produced Dark Horse’s Timecop with executive producer #6 Mike Richardson and #17 Lawrence Gordon‘s company Largo Entertainment. By 2000, Sony had hired him to direct Spider-Man.  His passion for the character earned him the job, and the film was finally released in 2002 after two years of filming delays, a tragic death during filming, and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The film was a huge success, and in 2004 Spider-Man 2 followed with an even bigger and better box office and critical reception. In 2007, Sony released Spider-Man 3, this time with Raimi writing the story and screenplay as well as directing.  The film was not nearly as successful as the two previous films in the series, but it was good enough to persuade Sony to have Raimi at the helm of Spider-Man 4, due to be released in 2010 or 2011. In 2007, Raimi also produced an adaptation of the horror comic 30 Days of Night, published by IDW, working again with executive producer Mike Richardson. Raimi is working on producing a film adaptation of Korean graphic novelist Min-Woo Hyung’s Priest with #25 Michael De Luca, currently scheduled for release in 2009, and on his beloved The Shadow, to which he finally acquired the filming rights.

Influence Meter: +++++

My Top 40 Comic Book (or Strip) Movies

1.        Annie*                         1982
2.        American Splendor**†           2003
3.        The Dark Knight¨               2008
4.        Superman¨                      1978
5.        Batman¨                       1989
6.        A History of Violence‡◊        2005
7.        Batman Begins¨                2005
8.        300†                           2007
9.        Dick Tracy*                    1990
10.       V for Vendetta◊                2005
11.       Batman Returns¨               1992
12.       Road to Perdition‡             2002
13.       X-Men©                        2000
14.       Iron Man©                     2008
15.       Spider-Man 2©                 2004
16.       Spider-Man©                   2002
17.       Men in Black§                 1997
18.       Hellboy†                       2004
19.       Sin City†                      2005
20.       Constantine◊                   2005
21.       X2: X-Men United©             2003
22.       From Hellª                    2001
23.       Mystery Men†                   1999
24.       Timecop†                       1994
25.       Over the Hedge‡‡               2006
26.       Superman Returns¨             2006
27.       The Incredible Hulk©          2008
28.       Daredevil©                    2003
29.       Wanted††                       2008
30.       X-Men: The Last Stand©        2006
31.       Hulk©                         2003
32.	 The Mask†                      1994
33.       Fantastic Four©               2005
34.       Hellboy II: The Golden Army†   2008
35.       Blade©                        1998
36.       Batman Forever¨               1995
37.       Men in Black II§              2002
38.       Blade: Trinity©               2004
39.       Howard the Duck©              1986
40.       Elektra©                      2005
 
*  Chicago Tribune Syndicate
** Self-Published
†  Dark Horse
‡  Paradox Press (DC)
◊  Vertigo (DC)
¨  DC Comics
©  Marvel Comics 
§  Aircel/Malibu/Marvel
ª  Top Shelf Productions
†† Top Cow
‡‡ United Media Comics
Last revised and updated: July 19, 2008
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