Wednesday, August 02, 2006


And a Child Shall Save Them...

The soon-to-open Zoom is the latest example of "children as superhero" films that seem to have exploded in popularity ever since the success of Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids in 2001. Of course the concept of the smarter-than-their-age, resourceful youngsters is not a new concept. The Little Rascals were having adventures as far back as the 20s. The Goonies did the same in the 80s. But those children, while resourceful, were not, per se, superheroes. Starting with Spy Kids in 2001 and evidenced, not only in the Spy Kids sequels Island of Lost Souls (2002) and Game Over (2003), but also in Agent Cody Banks (2003), SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004), Thunderbirds (2004), The Incredibles (2004), The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl (2005), Sky High (2005), and now Zoom -- in movies these days, children are simply saving the world! But why now? Well, for one thing, movies on the whole appeal to younger and younger audiences. Plus a generation has grown up on being able to play the kinds of video games where you become the hero. When I was growing up, we had pinball and Blip! Children are also more media savvy these days. Part of the appeal of Spider-Man when he was first created was that HE was a teenager himself, a point made in Spider-Man 2 when the people he rescues on a runaway train see how young he is, as his mask is lost in the rescue. We have an eternal optimism about children. They will make the world better than we left it for them, is the hope. These movies reflect that hope. The audience for many traditional superheroes have grown older. Today, movies encourage children to look no further than the mirror to see the next superhero -- see it in themselves.

And may the saints preserve us when kids come up against actual obstacles to their whims--proof that they are not, in fact, super, but just regular people like the rest of us schmucks! In the old days egocentric little shits would just look up from their copy of The Fountainhead and scoff at the bungled and botched masses surrounding them. What's the 21st Century equivelant? Trenchcoat mafiosa?
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