The story goes that when Ali told that to a stewardess, she replied “Superman don’t need no plane either.” Anyway, does it seem as if all the movies lately are about comic book characters? I guess the Superman and Batman franchises go back a long way, but lately we’ve had “Guardians of the Galaxy” which was actually a pretty funny film, and, currently, Ant Man. We haven’t seen it but we don’t think Ant Man would last long in the Idler kitchen, ruled over as it is by no-nonsense Spatula Woman.
But then you have the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Thor, Ironman and the Hulk. Don’t get me wrong, the special effects and the blowing stuff up and the hot babes can all be very entertaining, but it’s getting harder and harder to accept the premise. Getting bit by a radioactive spider probably won’t turn you into a superhero; it will probably make you sick. And wouldn’t little baby Clark Kent have kicked the slats out of his crib, KO’d the sitter and blown out all the windows the first time they burped him? We haven’t even gotten to the diaper changing. How about Catwoman? Naturally every teenage boy appreciates her outfit, but what is there about it that says “crimefighter” as opposed to “dominatrix”? Can’t there be normal heros who don’t wear costumes?
Of course there can. For instance, they could make a movie about the three Americans who foiled the terrorist attack on the passenger train in France. USAF Airman, Spencer Stone; Alek Skarlatos, a national guardsman, and a student, Anthony Sandler. There was also a Brit who joined in to subdue the terrorist and used his necktie to tie him up. Jolly good, old bean! But will it play in Hollywood? Probably not. Those guys are so ordinary.
But wait, there was another character in this drama whose role came to light somewhat later, mainly because he was pretty badly injured in the fracas. Mark Moogalian, also an American, but an English professor living and working in France, was actually the first passenger to make contact with the terrorist, which he did by taking the AK-47 away from him. Seriously, he sees a guy with an assault rifle and he instinctively snatches the gun away. He then runs down the aisle of the train car but after only a few steps he discovers that the terrorist came armed with more than one weapon. The latter pulls out a pistol and shoots Moogalian, the bullet entering his back below the shoulder and emerging from his neck. The terrorist retrieves his rifle and as a bleeding Moogalian awaits the coup de grâce the three young Americans pounce, take the rifle away again and proceed to beat the terrorist unconscious. (Aren’t those last four words delightful?)
That’s a little more realistic than ripped guys running around flaunting their super powers and never getting their tights dirty. The ordinary man as hero used to be a fixture of fiction. There is a series of books by Harry Kemelman about crimes solved by “the Rabbi” on various days of the week, and G. K. Chesterton’s “Father Brown” series was a big hit a century ago. Clergyman as superhero might be a pretty tough sell nowadays, though. Maybe the Indiana Jones series is a better template. College professor whose anthropological digs take him to exotic lands and thrilling adventures – that could work. This Moogalian fellow is originally from Virginia, but he’s an English professor, which doesn’t have so many outlets for adventure. So how about “Virginia Moogalian and the Split Infinitive of Doom”? Wait I think Virginia Moogalian was my piano teacher. We could call him “Pennsylvania” Moogalian. This is known as poetic license. No?
Back to the drawing boards. Hey, how about an action/adventure picture featuring a former Special Forces commando who must unexpectedly draw upon all his martial arts training and combat experience when he runs for Munhall Council. Working title: “Rambo, First Ballot”
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