Writing in his native England’s The Guardian, actor Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki in Thor and the upcoming The Avengers, published a passionate editorial defense of superhero blockbusters as legitimate works of filmmaking, not simply fun and games. That Hiddleston believes superhero pictures are still marginalized in this way surprises me; after all, Christopher Nolan’s Batman epics and the first Iron Man, for instance, were heralded by critics and audiences alike for being great films. But whether or not a snooty bias against these popular entertainments really exists or not, Hiddleston has thoughts on the genre that are well worth reading. Here are some highlights:
On why modern audiences are attracted so deeply to superhero stories:
[S]uperhero films offer a shared, faithless, modern mythology, through which these truths can be explored. In our increasingly secular society, with so many disparate gods and different faiths, superhero films present a unique canvas upon which our shared hopes, dreams and apocalyptic nightmares can be projected and played out. Ancient societies had anthropomorphic gods: a huge pantheon expanding into centuries of dynastic drama; fathers and sons, martyred heroes, star-crossed lovers, the deaths of kings – stories that taught us of the danger of hubris and the primacy of humility. It’s the everyday stuff of every man’s life, and we love it.
On how superheroes express greater truths about “real” life:
The Hulk is the perfect metaphor for our fear of anger; its destructive consequences, its consuming fire. There’s not a soul on this earth who hasn’t wanted to “Hulk smash” something in their lives. And when the heat of rage cools, all that we are left with is shame and regret.
On the cinematic art of the superhero film:
Superhero movies also represent the pinnacle of cinema as “motion picture”. I’d like to think that the Lumière brothers would thrill at the cat-and-mouse chase through the netherworld streets of Gotham in The Dark Knight, with helicopters tripping on high-tensile wires and falling from the sky, and a huge Joker-driven triple-length truck upending 180 degrees like a Russian acrobat. I hope that they would cheer and delight at the rollercoaster ride through the skies of Manhattan at the end of [The] Avengers. These scenes are the result of a creative engine set in motion when the Lumières shot L’Arrivée d’un Train en Gare de la Ciotat in 1895. The trains just move a lot faster these days.
For more musings from Hiddleston, who can also be seen in the best film of the year so far, Terence Davies’ postwar melodrama The Deep Blue Sea, check out his Twitter account @twhiddleston.
Source: The Guardian