SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED: A RETROSPECTIVE OF SUPERHERO SUPERGROUPS – Part #1

 

If you tried having an adult conversation with me at any point this week, I just want to come clean by saying that I didn’t hear a word you said. As visions of super-soldiers and mjolnirs danced in my head, I’ve quite honestly have had trouble focusing on much else. While the sensible multi-grain side of me cannot wait until The Dark Knight Rises this June, the frosty mini-wheat side of me has been having nerdgasms every time I hear the word ‘assemble.’  No wonder I skipped that last trip to IKEA.

I haven’t been this excited about the beginning of the summer movie season since 2008 and for exactly the same reasons. Both camps (DC and Marvel) were about to release some big-budget summer flicks and geek and non-geek everywhere were cautiously optimistic. The Dark Knight along with the late great Heath Ledger dropkicked the bar for comic book movies as well as summer blockbusters, into the stratosphere.

Fans of the House of Marvel, had raison d’être for major concern. One, Marvel had sold off most (and arguably the best) of their stable years ago. Two, the highly criticized and wholly underrated Incredible Hulk had ‘under-performed’ (as the experts like to say it) several weeks prior. Three, sure Iron Man is the cat’s pajamas now but four years ago he was a C-List character being played by the guy who played Charlie Chaplin a hundred years ago. All I can say is that my expectations were not all that high.

Superheroes and supergroups have a long history that reaches back to the days of WWII. In fact, before being frozen in a glacier for over half a century, Captain America (in the comics) was a part of the Axis busting trio, The Invaders. Along with Namor, The Submariner, (Marvel’s much cooler version of Aquaman) and the original Human Torch, Data-like android that ‘of course’ had the same powers as Johnny Storm.  Many have followed, however, few have ever graced the big-screen.

Super-teams there are aplenty (X-Men, Watchmen, Fantastic Four) The main distinction being a ‘super-team’ starts out as a team, while a ‘supergroup’ has individual heroes joining forces in order to combat a bigger bad guy.  My list will examine some of the more prominent entries in this category.

5) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

 

Team Codename: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or LXG (if you would like to painfully hip)

The Players: Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) from H. Rider Haggard‘s King Solomon’s Mines; Mina Harker (Peta Wilson) from Bram Stoker‘s Dracula; Tom Sawyer (Shane West) from Mark Twain; Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend) from Oscar Wilde‘s The Picture of Dorian Gray; Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah) from Jules Verne‘s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; The Invisible Man (Tony Curran) from H.G. Wells and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde (Jason Flemyng) from Robert Louis Stevenson.

The Mission: Based on the comic book miniseries by Alan Moore where in an alternate universe where the characters really exist in reality. In 1900, Queen Victoria assembles them as a team of evil-fighting heroes.

What They Got Right: (Most of) the names and…the inclusion of Dorian Gray played by Stuart Townsend is just about the only reason to watch this film.

What They Got Wrong: Everything else. Believe it or not, Sir Connery actually got in the way in this film.

Synopsis: I happen to be a fan of the other adaptations of Alan Moore’s work (V for Vendetta and Watchmen) but this impotent outing is deserving of every ounce of viewers ire. LXG was half-baked cinematic messes from nearly start to finish that got way more wrong than it did right. Sure there where moments of inspiration and fun to be had. The aforementioned Dorian Gray for instance.  However, don’t unless you have nothing better to do with your two hours.

2 out of 5 stars


4) Blade Trinity

 

Team Codename: The Nightstalkers

The Players: Blade (Wesley Snipes); Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) and Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel)

The Mission: As Blade is hunted by the FBI following the vampires framing him for the murder of a human, he is forced through circumstance to team up with a rag tag group of hunters called the Nightstalkers.

What They Got Right: Gimme a minute. I think there actually were characters named Blade and Hannibal King on the team.

What They Got Wrong: Another stinker here. Everything about Blade Trinity felt like the franchise was a little too long in the tooth. Biel’s character never even existed in the comic, making it just about the worst case of superfluous gender swapping since Chaz Bono.

Synopsis: Snipes phoned in his performance but in hindsight, he might have had other things on his mind at the time. Reynolds seemed like he had a ball ruining the first of a few onscreen comic book roles. Parker Posey was a delight in what little the filmmakers gave her to do but then you can always redeem yourself with Superman Returns, right Parker? Parker?

1 out of 5 stars

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About Dorjan Williams

Dorjan Javas Williams has been in Film/Video production for 8+ years. Starting out as an intern and then a production assistant for several production companies in the Miami area, he has worked on set for all types of productions ranging from independent films, student films, music videos, documentaries, commercials, red carpet events and reality shows. Over the years, he has followed his passion to Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Philadelphia, Chicago, Tampa even London. Recently, he has even taken on the role of production supervisor and instructor at two South Florida institutions, the Miami Film School and Miami Media School. As Production Supervisor, he assisted the film students in helping them prepare, develop, shoot and edit their short films as well as, helping them verify their film shoot locations, permits, props, release forms, cast and shot lists. Then as Instructor, he taught students Filmmaking and Production which included camera, lighting, sound, pre-production, script review and casting. As of Spring 2014, Dorjan has produced, written, directed and edited 4 short films, of which 3 have won awards from local film festivals for Audience Favorite. He is currently working on completing his first anthology series, See No Evil. His objective is to ultimately fulfill his dream of becoming a full-time 'anthology' writer/director, by producing films and short films series series that present different stories and characters within each episode or season. He can be contacted here.