Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Virtues of Animated Caped Evil Slayers

Live-action movies have taken over comic-book super heroes the way piranhas take over bloody slabs of beef. I mean, Iron Man, Batman, Watchmen, flesh-and-blood actors enhanced with copious amounts of c.g.i. now cover them all. But such wasn't always the case.

Max Fleischer’s Oscar-nominated “Superman” cartoons first appeared in 1941, merely three years after the Man of Steel (arguably the first superhero) made his comic book debut ...

Today, of course, the massive moolah for the comic book brigade is in mega budget epics that are mostly live action. As Curt Holman (of creativeloafing.com) points out, this isn't necessarily a great idea.

For every hit like The Dark Knight, there’s at least one costly flop: take the nipple-costumed Batman & Robin or Halle Berry’s embarrassing Catwoman. Even with the successes, audiences face flaws like the obvious CGI-rendered Spider-Man and Hulk in their first movies, or unfortunate choices such as Ian McKellen’s dumb-looking Magneto helmet in the X-Men films ...

The problem, of course, is that all these characters began life as drawings flowing out of a comic-book artist's mind. So they're not photo-realistic to begin with.

For my money, The Incredibles is one of the best super hero movies ever made, and not just because the story is solid and the characters work like gangbusters. There is also the visual reality that Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) comes out of an artist's visualization, not Billy Crudup in a bizarre foam suit.

Animation holds out an easier approach; it goes with comic book stories as comfortably as a cape and cowl. The best cartoon features and TV series can do an end run around the real world’s limitations to offer an unlimited canvas that emulates iconic comic book art while putting exciting designs into motion. The right voice performances can even convey emotional heft without hanging a tights-wearing movie star from wires ...

Face it. Animation serves the comic book kingdom as well or better than live-action ever could. But as long as big money is raked in by pictures like The Dark Knight, animation will remain in the low-rent district, super hero-wise.

4 comments:

r said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olr2Cr3LHbE


R.

Graham Ross said...

I totally agree.

Anonymous said...

ummm...Billy Cruddup (Dr. Manhattan) was done mo-cap, not a foam suit.

Although point taken, it would be AWESOME to see a big budget Avengers/Justice League/Batman animated film. Won't happen any time soon.

Anonymous said...

I still enjoy the Batman cartoons that WB puts out far more than the latest live action incarnation. The Dark Knight seemed determined to disconnect itself from its roots by pushing the 'real' side of the work. The man thinks he's a bat for crying out loud. A bat. He thinks he's a bat. He has pointy things on his helmet. Hello? Anyone catch that?

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