November 16, 2017

The "normal" superhero

Having complained about the eye-rolling superness of too many (if not most) comic book superheroes, I should point out that the protagonists in action-oriented series, from James Bond to John McClane to Indiana Jones to Himura Kenshin, are superheroes in everything but name, only more "normal."

Not to mention police procedurals that are really excuses for action series, like Hawaii Five 0 and NCIS: Los Angeles, or that contain a supernatural element, like Lucifer and iZombie and Supernatural.

Jim Caviezel as John Reese in Person of Interest is a true superhero, especially when paired up with Michael Emerson and his "Machine." This is essentially the premise of Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex, though Ghost takes place in a world where everybody has a "Machine."

Unfortunately, as much as I enjoyed John Nolan as Mr. Greer, in the Decima Technologies arc that dominated the last third of the series, "Samaritan" was little more than yet another comic book supervillain that rehashed all the old Big Bad Mainframe cliches.

By contrast, Enrico Colantoni as Carl Elias is a billion times more interesting. A vulnerable bad guy who can do the right thing is hard to beat.

The best episodes of Person of Interest had them tackling problems that prove more complicated than they first appeared (true of good police procedurals in general), but more complicated because of human complications, not superhuman ones.

I'd love to see a franchise like Spider-Man eschew the supervillains and the city-wrecking apocalyptic plots. Okay, the good guys can do a little pounding, but that still won't solve the problem, not if the goal is a conviction that'll stand up in court.

Actually, Wonder Woman largely did just that, which is what so elevated it above the competition. Okay, Wonder Woman cheats by using World War I as the setting, but at least Diana isn't the one wrecking the cities (aside from the odd belfry).

Alas, based on the previews, Diana will henceforth no longer be an independent woman (with a couple of human sidekicks), but will be chaperoned by a bunch of superguys and frustrated by a bevy of silly supervillains. As if the success of the first movie was a fluke.

Related posts

The Big Bad
Person of Interest
Too super for their own good
Reframing the mainframe plot

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