Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Is the Spiderman singalong truly meant to be Broadway bound?

A lot of recent attention has been given to the previews for the upcoming musical Spiderman;Turn off the Dark,including a spot on 60 Minutes and various write-ups about how well the first show was and mainly wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

This is a pretty pricey musical,even by Broadway standards. The budget has gotten as large as 65 million,nearly dwarfing many a Hollywood blockbuster film. That wouldn't be so bad if the show was amazing to behold,yet the problems with the production are not that much different from any major film flop.

Along with the technical mishaps which hold up the works for a long time that even the most patient audience can endure,the script of the show is rather sloppy. From what I gather,it starts off with four teenagers imagining the origins of Spiderman and throwing in a character from Greek mythology known as Arachne who gives Peter Parker his superhero outfit but later turns into a villain.

The Green Goblin enters the scene and at some point,just about every bad guy in Spiderman's enemy rolodex is called forth to do battle. Granted,I'm not very scholarly in my comic book knowledge but this sounds like they threw in more than the kitchen sink here,folks. Great visuals and a confusing plot are the key ingredients in any pop culture recipe for disaster and like many a bad movie before it,the only saving grace here may be in the music:

The tunes in question were created by Bono and the Edge, the main forces behind this show who I suspect got a taste for making a superhero musical during the time they contributed a song to the soundtrack of Batman Forever back in 1995.

Just from listening to "Boy Falls from the Sky",you can tell that it's twisted pop goth energy has more in sync with "Hold Me, Thrill Me,Kiss Me,Kill Me" than say anything from the soundtrack of the first Sam Raimi Spiderman movie.

Even in the animated portion of the music video for "Hold Me,Thrill Me,etc",Bono places himself in the forefront there as both tormented hero and gleefully wicked foe,clearly demonstrating his desire to be the centerpiece of such a project. Be careful what you wish for seems to be a saying that Bono either has never heard or bothered to listen to,which he may soon regret:

Interestingly enough,a better choice of pop superstar to bring a comic book based musical to the stage would have been Prince. His set of songs for Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film were written as character studies,with certain ones meant to be sung by Bruce Wayne("Vicki Waiting"),Batman ("The Future")and Vicki Vale("Lemon Crush").

Of course,the most popular songs were the ones created for the Joker and many would agree that Prince really seemed to enjoy letting loose on such naughty numbers as "Electric Chair","Trust" and the infectious evil "Partyman",the last of which played a significant presence in a key Joker scene in the finished film.

While a Prince styled musical would be darker and overtly sexual than a family friendly audience would expect from a Batman production,no one could claim that they didn't get their money's worth there:

An even better fit for Broadway adaptation would be Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog,the Joss Whedon online musical sensation. Not only does this bittersweet superhero satire have a strong following,the success of animated flicks like Despicable Me and Megamind prove that folks are receptive to a story that places the bad guy as the sympathetic leading man.

Not to mention that the budget would be far less than the one for the lunches for the Turn off the Dark crew alone. The true appeal of Dr. Horrible is not in the special effects or the superhero mythos that it mocks but the basic blend of love story with humor and pathos that admirers of all genres can easily identify with:

Perhaps by the time Spiderman:Turn off the Dark hits the stage in January 2011,the major kinks will be worked out and a real shot at making some of the investor's money back can be seen. Stranger things have happened and in this case,a little remodeling could be a financial lifesaver.

Then again,look how long it's taking Hollywood to even consider greenlighting a decent Wonder Woman movie. I know it's a different medium but hey,if Marvel can get it's act together to connect the key players in their comic book franchise on film,surely DC can do the same. Keep the faith,true believers!:

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