With "Superman Returns" now just one month away, it's time for fanboys around the globe to figure out three things: When, where and with whom to see it. For most, the first two are no-brainers — right away and on the biggest screen possible. It's the "with whom" that can sometimes be tricky.
Comic book fans have been stereotyped, not entirely without basis, as antisocial — isolated in dark, climate-controlled fortresses of solitude, obsessing over collectibles that must remain in mint condition (more on collecting and its pathologies in Part 4 of this series).
What socialization does exist among the tribe often takes place among like-minded folk, people who know that "Shazam" is not Captain Marvel but instead is the wizard who gave Billy Batson his powers. Most fanboys are not clubbing on a Friday night; they'd never get past the velvet rope.
The irony is that millions of people (including those nightclub doormen) who'd never set foot in a comic store will eagerly plunk down 10 bucks to see a superhero movie. Nothing mainstreams a comic book more than a big-budget Hollywood adaptation, and this can frustrate fanboys. They feel proprietary toward "their" characters, reluctant to share "Spider-Man" with people who don't know that there's a hyphen in the name or that MJ calling Peter Parker "Tiger" has historical context.
Part One: " 'Superman' — Truth, Justice And The Fanatical Way"
Part Two: "How Much Prep Work Is Too Much?"
Part Four: "Come On Feel The Toyz"
Part Five: "What If 'Returns' Is (Gasp) Kraptonite?"
Thank George Lucas for that. The "Star Wars" films were all marked by news stories about obsessive fans who were a little too hyped. But then a certain amount of derision is to be expected when one chooses to dress up in a Darth Vader costume and sit outside a theater in a lawn chair for a week in advance of a film's premiere.
Unlike "Star Wars," however, there aren't a lot of costumes for the Superfan to don while waiting in line on June 30. No doubt many S-shield shirts will be worn, but other than that, what's a supreme fanboy to do? Perhaps one could shave his (or her) head, Lex Luthor-style! Or wear a Jimmy Olsen bow tie! Personally, I plan to wear red underwear. (Who knows ... perhaps even on the outside!)
As for the "Where," fans in big cities will have the option of seeing the movie not just on a nice big screen, but the biggest screen. And in 3-D. "Superman Returns" is the first Hollywood feature to use IMAX conversion technology to turn about 20 minutes of the movie into what's touted as "immersive cinematic 3D." While I'm all for seeing "SR" on a big screen, for my first viewing I'm gonna stick to a more traditional theater. I'm going to be so focused on letting go of my preconceptions and just relaxing that I don't want the movie theater itself to be a distraction from the story and the characters. I'll see it in IMAX later on (hoping, that is, that I'll want to see it more than once).
And what of the "With whom?" element of the experience?
|Bryan Singer: Out Of Solitude
From bringing Brando back from the grave to joking around with Peter Jackson, the 'Superman Returns' director opens up to Gideon in this exclusive interview, only on Overdrive.
The communal experience of filmgoing is, of course, one of its biggest thrills, especially for a highly anticipated, spectacle-laden film like "Superman Returns." "The Venture Bros." creator Chris McCulloch admits to being less of a fanboy than he was in his youth, except when it comes to comic book movies. Chris' plans for seeing "Superman Returns" are just like they have been for every other big superhero flick: "Midnight showing, opening night, with geeky friends. Always. I like to be the first to see it, and the crowd is always all pumped up so it makes it more of an event. More fun."
But not all Superfans are willing to share. Kal-El.org webmaster Adam McAllister wishes he could see the film alone in an empty theater with just one friend.
As with the "Star Wars" prequels, nostalgia seems to be fueling anticipation for "Superman Returns." New York photographer and Superman fan Gary Ashley has a Florida friend considering a trip to Manhattan, all because the two of them saw Richard Donner's "Superman: the Movie" together as kids. I can relate.
There's a shot in the "Superman Returns" trailer of the superhero flying high over the Earth that looks an awful lot like that penultimate shot in all four of Christopher Reeve's Superman films. If, as many have surmised, "Superman Returns" ends with Brandon Routh recreating Reeve's final fourth-wall-breaking smile at the audience as he flies off-screen, there are gonna be a lot of fanboy tears flowing during the end credits. Including mine.
In all honesty, I'll be surprised if I don't cry at the end of "Superman Returns." I've been awaiting the character's big-screen revival for many years, even if I was dreading some of the films that almost happened (which we'll deal with in Part 5). If Bryan Singer's done a good job, if the movie successfully captures what I love about Superman in a huge, entertaining, rousing manner, I'll probably weep tears of joy and relief. Conversely, if the movie turns out to be an overblown disappointment, sadness might well up in my geeky ducts.
My viewing priority has less to do with what theater or when, but with whom. I'll need to be surrounded by sympathetic friends who know me well enough to not judge (or be freaked out by) my potentially emotional response to the movie. I've got the roster. Some of them are actually almost as excited ... er, cautiously optimistic as I am. As to whether June 30, 2006, becomes as indelibly burned in my brain as December 15, 1978, only time will tell.
Check out everything we've got on "Superman Returns."
Want trailers? Visit Movies on MTV Overdrive for the newest, scariest and funniest coming attractions.
Visit Movies on MTV.com for more from Hollywood, including news, interviews, trailers and more.