Holy superhero film frenzy, Batman!

Published 9:00 am Friday, July 14, 2017

By Rick Baldwin

Hello good citizens. I am Filmman.

This summer sizzles along while cinema screens across America are scorched once again with superhero celluloid fare for all to enjoy or loathe.

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The superhero is a figure that fascinates fans with his or her sheer strength, ability to take flight, blinding speed, or uncanny attributes which are out of reach for us mere mortals.

These heroes must overcome great obstacles in the name of truth and justice while trying to stay true to their goal of ridding evildoers from our — or their created — worlds.

They live by a code to selflessly protect the innocent, even the ignorant, from utter destruction.

The world has always needed heroes to protect us from villains, and ourselves.

The popular comics of the 1930s and 1940s were adopted from print and found success as popular Saturday serials and hit radio programs before finding a steady platform on TV in the family living room during the 1950s and 1960s.

It wasn’t until the late 1970s, that superhero films where taken seriously with Christopher Reeves popular portrayal as the Man of Steel in “Superman” (1978), and its sequels through the 1980s.

1989 saw Tim Burton’s Batman a little darker than its campy 1960s TV adaptation and hiccup through the 1990s before being completely revamped with Christopher Nolan’s serious take with the Dark Knight releases.

The 1990s saw a frenzy of releases that fizzled and failed to live up to the hype or expectations of excited fans. Not until Sam Raimi’s “Spiderman” (2002), did the world really take notice of the fact that it was indeed possible for this genre to produce a compelling, honest and fun flick. Spiderman’s success revealed the fact to the tycoons of Tinsel town that superheroes could equal super amounts of cash for them.

Since “Spiderman’s” release at the turn of the century, every year our cinema screens have become saturated with superhero films.

Quantity has taken precedence over quality, as some titles have followed suit only to rely heavily on sex, violence and acceptance of contemporary mores to fill the seats. Parents need to remember, most superhero tales were not even intended for small children to begin with, though their biggest fan base seems to be children and adult males, hence the R-rated “Deadpool” (2016).

These classic comic heroes have also adapted within our western contemporary culture which awards individuals daily for being self-centered, materialistic and out of touch with what life is truly about.

In the age of #YOLO, most people do what feels good rather than what is right. Our culture is deep in the throes of celebrity worship, documenting menial daily routines through social media outlets, and has truly lost the ability to communicate.

For some reason, we have always needed secular superheroes to save the day and escape from our realities rather than relying on the beauty found within the relationship between man and God.

Our contemporary celluloid superheroes are not super at all.

Sure, there are plenty of big-budgeted extravaganzas that excite the mind with their special effects eye candy and still have moments of emotional depth that make a viewer ponder their path in life and their overall existence within the grand scheme of things. But, those moments are far and in-between.

If we need heroes in our lives, then we should look within ourselves or our local communities.

In Winchester alone, we have our own justice league of real life superheroes that walk amongst us. The fire Department, police, nurses, EMTs, teachers save people every day in different ways. Organizations like the Community Center, Knights of Columbus, Beacon of Hope are just a few that go out of their way to care for those in need and make a positive impact in our metropolis of Winchester every day.

These hometown heroes have a calling rooted with integrity, selflessly serving others and striving for excellence in all they do.

If it’s Wonder Woman or the new Spiderman flick that grabs your cape this summer, enjoy.

For me, I think I will vacation away from Gotham or Metropolis this summer, and live right here in the big W, where heroes walk the streets every day.

Like Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Have a FILMtastic day!

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society (facebook.com/WCCfilmsociety). Find more from Rick on Facebook at facebook.com/ricksrhetoric/ and online at theintestinalfortitude.com/category/reviews-editorials/ricks-rhetoric. He is on Twitter @rickbaldwin79  and can be reached by email at rickbaldwiniii@hotmail.com.