Tom Sawyer. Huck Finn. Oliver Twist. The Artful Dodger. Tarzan. Rhett Butler. Scarlett O’Hara. Peter Pan. Alice in Wonderland. To some of us, characters like these, and their many, many young siblings, are more real than the people we work with, go to school with or meet on the street. Their images are indelibly stamped on our hearts, so well did their creators fashion them. They are alive for us.
All of these characters have been revisited, again and again, by authors not their creators. That’s because they are so powerful. Because we want more adventures with them. Because they fire the imaginations of even the most imaginative people… and, yes, sometimes the imaginations of the dullest of people as well.
I daresay Captain America is such a character now, for millions of Americans. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in the pages of Timely Comics (now Marvel Entertainment, thank you very much!) during the early days of World War II, Cap was re-engineered by Kirby and Stan Lee beginning in 1963. Starting as just another patriotic-themed Nazi-buster, in the 1960s, Steve Rogers became a stranger in a strange land, Rip Van Winkle, Buck Rogers, a man who goes to sleep and wakes up in a time not his own. Of course, in 1963 he’d been asleep for only 18 years. Now, since World War II can’t move in time, the movie version of Cap awakes over 65 years in the future, still young, still ready for battle.
Hawkman has been one of my favorite comic characters since I first heard of him back in the early 1970s. You might rightly ask if there’s a comic book character I’ve heard of who is not one of my favorites. A fair question. I don’t like Lobo or the Punisher. Wolverine wears on me after a while. He’s a great supporting character on a team, but I have little desire to read a whole book (or see a whole movie, even starring Hugh Jackman) about him. But if you were to ask me if there was a character created before 1975 who isn’t a favorite, well, probably no. I love them all. Each for different reasons.
In Hawkman’s case, I loved the fact that he came from another planet. I loved that his wife Hawkgirl was his equal partner in adventure. (She was later Hawkwoman, when we became socially aware, and then Hawkgirl again, when social awareness, um… took a cruise? I’m not sure.) I loved that he dressed in red, yellow and green. Not everyone can pull that off. There’s definitely not enough green in the superhero spectrum. If recent films are to be believed, there’s little color at all. Isn’t it sad that, after they went to all the trouble to invent Technicolor, that our films (superhero and otherwise) are now effectively in black and white again, they’re so drab? No, that’s not fair. Black and white films of yesteryear had far more color than many of our films do today.
This is going to be a controversial review, I think. This film has already been noted to have divided comics fans. We seem to either love it or hate it. And, sadly, we also seem to be directing a good deal of hate at those who don’t agree with our opinions. That’s too bad.
And yet this movie represents some trends in modern entertainment and storytelling which I think need to be identified and discussed, so I’m going to share my opinion no matter how much it pisses off those who disagree. If you disagree with me, I’m sorry. But I’m not going to hide or deny my opinions simply because you don’t like them.