Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Superman Belongs to America

The British have produced a lot of heroes and homegrown mythology. They have given us Narnia, the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, Discworld and James Bond. I have nothing against the British. They are the masters of the fantasy genre. We Americans have not come close to them when it comes to fantasy. Who wouldn’t like to be a fly on the wall when J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis would get together for beer and talk about those two novels they were working on? That being said, we Americans seem to have something that the British don’t. We have our comic books. Yes, comic books. We may not have J.K. Rowling, but we do have Stan Lee. That’s what we Americans have. We have created Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, Batman, Archie, Wonder Women, the Justice League and who can forget, well, Captain America. So, you Brits may have created timeless fantasy novels, but we Americans have created timeless comic books. I think that’s a fair trade off. The recent trend is that in the new comic book movies, Hollywood has been shipping off our American superheroes to British actors. The new Spiderman movie stars Andrew Garfield. The new ‘Batman’ stars Christian Bale. Now, I think I could handle this. As much as I think ‘Spiderman’ is the all-American teenager, insecure and somehow heroic at the same time. All while pining for the girl next store, Mary Jane. I think an American teenager would have been a better choice, instead of a twenty something British guy. Anyway, it’s the recent trend in Hollywood to hire British actors. There is an exception to my tolerance. They have casted Henry Cavill, a British actor, to play Superman.

Now, I have nothing against the British, but I don’t think its right to cast a British person as Superman. Superman is our hero. He is the All-American hero, and I think Superman should only be played by Americans. Before you yell at me that this is an unfair judgment, ask yourself this question. Would you cast an American kid to play Harry Potter? Now, yes, I know Harry Potter and Superman are very different, and in some ways, similar to each other, but you can’t deny they are both icons of their respective countries. Now, the last ‘Superman’, was played by an American, Brandon Routh, in 2006. He’s a soap opera actor and model. I guess that franchise reboot didn’t work too well if they never invited him back to play ‘Superman’, and yes, I have to admit, the movie was stiff and not one of the better Superman films. That being said, if they are going to do a re-boot, they still need to cast an American actor to play Superman.

Now, what you don’t know about Superman I will tell you. It all goes back to history. Superman was created by two Jewish comic book writers named Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. They envisioned Superman as both a Jewish response and an American response to Hitler’s idea of a perfect, blue eyes, blonde hair society. I mean, think about it. All you have to do is look at an early issue of ‘Superman’, which I don’t expect you to because it’s one of the most highly priced comic book issues ever, but stay with me here. He was a man with black hair, in a suit that was red, white and yellow. He lived in Metropolis. His persona was a mild mannered reporter for a newspaper called ‘The Daily Planet’. His love interest was an independent woman who’s profession was journalism named Lois Lane. His adoptive parents where Ma and Pa Kent, who lived on a farm in Smallville. He’s an alien. He’s an outsider. Yet, he’s a hero. He’s an immigrant. Doesn’t any of this just scream America?

So, I just think it makes no sense for Warner Bros. to cast a British actor to play Superman. The British already have their fictional icons, and Gawd, they’ve done great. We Americans deserve our own, and that’s the comic book superheroes. Those are our icons, and thus should be cast with American actors. I wouldn’t dream of casting an American kid as Harry Potter, or cast an American guy as James Bond. So, why should we cast a British guy to play Superman or Spiderman? That makes no sense. We Americans need our own mythology like everyone else does. So, casting a Brit to play Superman, is well, not super.

1 comment:

Annie Webb said...

Over here, many Torchwood fans were very upset that Torchwood: Miracle Day was set in America this time! I wondered what the big deal was. However Superman, is American and should be played by someone who understands the American way of life, which I can tell you is VERY different now that I'm in the UK and can observe it. I think you make some very good points. Of course, Robert Downey, Jr. played Sherlock Holmes, so perhaps we are trading off? :-)