Some of the cool moments from my life were opportunities to see films, in movie theaters. In 1989, cinema fans filled movie houses to see the DC superhero Batman come to life.
I had a good time. Michael Keaton’s role as Bruce Wayne, with its distance from crime, detachment from wealth, indifference to romance, makes the character of Batman seem re-imagined. I suppose Keaton was a surprise heroic star turn, and the subplot of Gotham City TV news anchors unable to appear beautiful, owing to poison in beauty products delivered by the antagonist character The Joker, is clever.
The action sequence in a chemicals factory, when Jack Nicholson faces his character Jack Napier’s transition to The Joker, is memorable. In other scenes from Batman, Billy Dee Williams of Hollywood fame owing to earlier roles in The Empire Strikes Back and subsequently in Return of the Jedi, appears as Harvey Dent.
The climactic confrontation of the film, at the Gotham City parade beneath a cathedral with the height of a skyscraper, is wonderful. In 1989, my mother clipped for me a newspaper column detailing synopses of films which starred Nicholson, the other actor of Batman making a star turn.
In 1989, I thought certain films making it to the video market were important, despite evidence to the contrary. Films, I surmised, enjoyed but one opportunity to become available for home theater fans.
When the creepy little video store in the shopping plaza near my home began renting to customers Batman, the staff of the store displayed tapes of the film like a phenomenon. Shelf after shelf in their New Releases space was full of the Batman video presentation. The format was VHS, the cassette for running a film with a VHS player.
I’d been to see it, but I wanted that VHS. Christmas came, and family placed three hand-wrapped videotape-shaped objects under the holiday tree, one tape for me, one for my brother, and one for my sister.
They were VHS tapes, but what titles were they? Us kids wouldn’t know until Christmas morning. At the appointed time, I opened mine, and to my delight, the tape inside was Batman.
As the family opened our presents, the second tape of Batman under the Christmas tree emerged. My mother’s brother and his wife had arranged for the gift of the movie Batman as well. Two VHS tapes of the same film!
What did my mother pronounce, you might ask? This was a bummer. She would quietly return my copy of the film to the store.
As a twelve-year-old, the price of a brand-new VHS edition of a blockbuster film must be extravagant, I reasoned. The VHS copy of Batman we had would belong to us all.
I suppose that taught me a lesson, like not to count your chickens before they hatch. It was as if my uncle and aunt had felt I deserved my own copy of Batman, and Santa Claus did not. The VHS tape of Batman was a gift, what I wanted and what I was losing.
Thanks to film director Tim Burton, in 1989, fate unfolded for Batman mobster character Jack Napier. The criminal mastermind fell into a vat of burning acid. He lost the pigment of his skin pigment and became molded with a permanent smile on his face.
I hadn’t earned my own copy of Batman, and I suppose the real lesson was that I should share. It is a state of being tantalized by the promise of something gold and being humbled by the requirement to give it up. Maybe we didn’t know that doubles of the Batman film were under the tree, but no contingency plan was in place.
This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is to reflect on the idea of storytelling, with one picture or a few. Jen’s essay Story on the subject is lovely and if you are a photographer who blogs, perhaps you should look it over.
The idea of storytelling has more than one meaning. The ancient idea of a story is a great deed, and, now in recent times, many variations on story exist including the marketing idea. A brand should engage its audience by telling a story, by representing itself as sometimes a great notion that people can feel involved in what the brand is about and how it functions in the space of marketing. If people trust a brand’s “story,” they want to be a customer of the brand as it belongs to the space understood by both the storytellers and by the consumers.
If you watch Stranger Things, you know that the Dungeons & Dragons player who organizes game sessions is referred to as the “Dungeon Master.” Being a blogger is a little like being a Dungeon Master because you are organizing some kind of storytelling effort for other people to read and otherwise consume.
For this week’s Photo Challenge, I am telling a story visually with what is a popular visual form of storytelling, comic books. They turned up in the kitchen of the church where I work and they belonged to family years ago, which I borrowed informally on the suggestion of my father, who noticed they were there.
I picked a couple of these that I did read when I was a kid and a couple more that reflect the interests I had as a kid. I hope you like the photo I have taken, and that if you see this, you relate to how it is to come across something from the past that is a nice memory.
Blurring a photo is a normal aspect of photography and the blur in this photo was done with the camera. The photo hasn’t been blurred by software.
The International Day of Democracy is today, 15 September. I am curating my Conventional Wisdom post.
May 13, 2018
The Internet bid RIP to Margot Kidder, the sixty-nine-year-old actress who was Lois Lane for the seventies’ and eighties’ Superman films. For 1978’s film Superman, Kidder played Lois Lane near perfectly.
I have also watched a few random episodes of Krypton, the prequel TV series for the Superman universe. The design is quite appealing and the ideas are complex but interesting.
While there are no more new Discover Challenges for WordPress,I wanted to update this post for clarity.
In March I borrowed a box of comic books belonging to a cousin and reflected a touch on those stories that I remembered. It got me catching up on the Innerspace sci-fi news series on Space on cable TV. Reflecting on their launch of the Superman origins series Krypton, one of the hosts of Innerspace in an episode from earlier this winter reflected briefly but pointedly that Man of Steel is a bad movie.
I take it Man of Steel is regarded many times as such and to counter the perception that it isn’t a good retelling of the thousands of Superman comics available in print, I want to include here from Jun 2, 2014, Exploring Man of Steel on YouTube TWITTER ► https://goo.gl/koijhV which is a go-to for a review in detail about a maligned film.
It is now known that Henry Cavill will no longer appear in the film role of Superman. You can hear thoughts on Man of Steel in a brief discussion piece about Superman and the rest of the DC Comics Universe. Henry Cavill Leaves Superman
My thoughts on the conventional wisdom of Man of Steel are presented here.
This week’s WordPress Discover Challenge presents the trial of posting a different point of view than what other people have, whatever POV. This appealed to me because I thought of Superman, as a matter of fact, from the films of the nineteen seventies and eighties about the beloved comic book character, and also from the 2013 film Man of Steel, which is what specifically I have a different interpretation to write about than the casual interpretation it often gets otherwise (a great superhero film).
Christmas Eve last year, December 24 of 2016, late in the afternoon my younger brother and his son went with me to my parents’ house for dinner and the Christmas tree. My brother let me know that the two had been in the middle of complaining about Superman, in the movies, and I was surprised that they have this opinion, which is not the same opinion I have. We’re very different people from one another.
Man of Steel presents the Superman character as an alien, which I know he is, as in the story of his life told in the 1978 film about him (titled Superman, naturally). However, whereas in that film Superman is a very human character, who blends in with his peers quite easily, in Man of Steel (2013) Superman is almost an alien monster, considering that while he looks human, he has the mentality of an outsider. This is clear, for example, when he only takes his job as a reporter for the Daily Planet at the conclusion of the film (spoiler), which is unlike Superman (1978), in which his entire time in Metropolis is spent in the alter ego of Clark Kent, a reporter alongside Lois Lane.
What I think about Man of Steel is that Man of Steel is the story of an alien creature living among humans whose fate it is to help the human race. This is like how in ancient Egypt, Egyptian workers built enormous pyramids, which were probably tombs for their leaders once deceased (the Pharaohs).
It is unknown how the ancient Egyptians were able to build these pyramids because there is no evidence that the Egyptians of ancient times had technology which could have made building those pyramids possible. It is a great mystery.
One theory is that, as in history when impossible feats were accomplished without the benefit of technology, alien forces could have visited Egypt and helped the Egyptians build the pyramids with the help of the alien people’s technology. It is a popular theory among people who believe in life among the stars (Erich von Daniken is one scholar who argues that the theory is based on real history, of Ancient Egypt).
Given that the pyramids would have been nearly impossible to build without technology, consider that aliens visited and lent a helping hand, with an interest in contributing to the prosperity of human beings (as a species). Man of Steel is a little like that because Superman is an alien living among humans helping preserve the human race from dangers that are inherent to people encountering alien creatures.
What I think is that when Superman reveals himself to human authorities, when he is given the ultimatum to surrender by his enemies, it is noted that Superman may be a hazard for human folk merely because his body may contain a disease that could be inflicted on the humans. I say this because it is not immediately the fear of Superman’s powers as a superhero that bothers the authorities, or the details of Superman’s past in the Kansas town of Smallville, but whether Superman’s body could spread illness and death to the humans who meet him. I don’t think that the Egyptians meeting aliens who gave them help to build the pyramids, stopped their alien benefactors to question whether they would become sick from contact.
What I am thinking about Man of Steel, is what if the point of Superman’s existence among humans is that he doesn’t succeed at guiding human beings to a better existence? Every time it is questioned if humans in ancient times had visitors from other worlds among them, there is never evidence that the aliens caused devastation and ruin for people of the past.
What if Superman’s role as a visitor to modern-day people of the world demonstrates good intentions on Superman’s part, but poor planning for the man from Krypton that actually reduces the success of people to safely maintain conditions for life around the planet? When you sit down with Man of Steel, consider the possibility that while the strange realities that led the men and women of Ancient Egypt to construct pyramids, in this film, when Superman is battling and causing destruction in both Smallville and Metropolis, this could be the beginning of events that challenge human’s mastery of Planet Earth and undermine them in a way that will end in defeat and downfall. If Superman for once is the alien visitor closest to human beings in his physical form, could he likewise have the kinds of human weaknesses at the end of human’s reign over their blue and green planet?
Every other time in history that aliens might have come to help humans with the growth of their civilizations, are we, at last, to understand that there is no more? For however Superman feels about belonging to the human race, which is clearly passionate, considering the climax of the film when Superman is challenged by his nemesis how he feels about human life, if Superman is the final alien visitor to Earth, is it because he will eventually destroy us all? That is how I would understand Man of Steel, instead of interpretations that are more along the lines of a visitor from the stars who kindly brings the benefit of his superpowers to help us, folk.
Thank you for reading and good luck to you, whatever you do. Take care of yourself as always.