Tuesday, 5 August 2008

The Superheroes That Hollywood Forgot

As The Dark Knight flaps onto cinema screens worldwide, during an already superhero-packed year (what with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Hancock and Hellboy II having all hit the big screen), it looks as if Hollywood's love affair with comic looks stronger than ever.

And with The Watchmen, Captain America, Wolverine, The Punisher, Thor and The Avengers all waiting on the sidelines for the next few years, Hollywood seems in no hurry to give up on converting colourful caped crusaders to motion-picture marvels.

But superheroes are a finite resource, and it can only be a matter of time before Hollywood plunders the super-powered well dry, and run out of costumed characters to franchise.

Luckily, Digital Sickbag is on hand to alert Mr. Hollywood to a few of the world's lesser-known heroes, which we feel are ripe for the cinematic treatment.

Bananaman: When mild-mannered schoolboy Eric Wimp eats a banana, an astounding transformation occurs - he turns into the lantern-jawed crime-fighter Bananaman.

Having been a mainstay of British comics for the past twenty-five odd years, Bananaman also became the star of a short-lived animated series in the eighties, but so far has not made the leap to the big screen.

We feel the adventures of the utterly useless, Banana-powered superhero and his nutty nemeses Appleman, General Blight and Doctor Gloom would be the perfect tonic to the 'gritty' and 'realistic' comic-fare of late. It might even give the British comics industry a much needed shot in the arm, unless they balls it up like they did with the god-awful Judge Dredd.

Plus, banana sales would sky-rocket.

The Impossibles: During their highly prolific 60s heyday, Hanna-Barbera churned out an awful lot of cartoons, some of which were pure poop.

The Impossibles was one such show, follwoing the escapades of three kids (who played in a band by day) who were also superheroes, and slightly gash ones at that. You had The Coil (blessed with spring-like limbs, and not adept at birth-control as you might suspect), Fluid Man (who could turn into, well...fluid) and Multi Man, who could replicate himself many times over.

The Impossibles battled equally crap villains, such as The Bubbler (preferred weapon of choice: indestructible bubbles), Beamatron (shot lasers from his hands) and the Perilous Paper Man, who could transform into paper and who boasted of 'complete mastery over all office equipment'.

Despite being toss, if Hollywood had to really scrape the bottom of the barrel for fresh superheroics, I suppose they could turn The Impossibles into some kind of superhero parody, or something. But then, Batman and Robin already beat them to it, I suppose.

The star of his very own cartoon in the 1980s, SuperTed must rank as one of the most bizarre shows ever created.

SuperTed begins life as a discarded teddy bear, ejected from the toy factory for being defective. For reasons not quite made clear, a spotty alien (called Spotty, cleverly) takes pity on the discarded bear, and takes him to see Mother Nature, who gives him life, and special powers. For some equally unfathomable reason.

From there on, SuperTed takes to fighting crime, but his line-up of villains made even less sense, featuring as they did a ruthless cowboy, a fat dope and a really, really camp skeleton. It really was bonkers, yet somewhat endearing.

At least a big-budget movie version couldn't make any less sense than Catwoman.

Another veteran of British kid's TV, Supergran was a Scottish series about, well, a super gran.

Granny Smith was hit by some sort of beam which gave her super-strength and super-speed, which she put to good use defeating the villainous Scunner Campbell and his henchmen, Muscles and Dustin.

The best thing about Super gran was the excellent theme, recorded by Billy Connolly. We'd pay good money to hear that classic tune pumping through the speakers of our local multiplex.

Altogether now: '"Stand back Superman, Iceman, Spiderman, Batman and Robin too. Don't wanna cause a ruckus, but B. A. Barracus have I got a match for you! She makes them look like a bunch of fairies, she's got more bottle than United Dairies... Hang about... Look out... for Supergran!"

The Ferret:
The Ferret was one of Malibu Comics' short-lived titles, featuring a bloke called Cal Denton, who had super-agility and feral powers, and who looked a bit like a singer from an 80s hair-metal band. Plus, he was lumbered with a terrible superhero name that would strike fear in precisely no-one.

"Quick! Here comes the Ferret!"

"The...the what?"

"The Ferret!"

"Wait, are you seriously telling me that dude is called The Ferret? Oh, man! 'Oh no, here comes The Ferret'. We'd better get a burlap bag, or something! What a tool."

"I guess it does sound pretty funny when you look at it like that..."

He was shit, really.

We think there could be some mileage in taking the character and reinventing him for the movies. Have Cal Denton get bitten by a radioactive ferret, and then have him fight crime by wriggling up criminals trouser-legs, and gnawing on their privates.

It'd be a blockbuster, I tell you.

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen: Red-headed reporter and wacky funster Jimmy Olsen was given his own spin-off comic book back in 1954, which somehow managed to run for twenty years, despite Olsen having no super-powers and being a bit, well, crap.

However, as Fox is spinning Wolverine off into his own movie, and Sony is rumoured to be prepping a solo outing for Venom, it can only be a matter of time before Jimmy Olsen lands his own cinematic series, in which he tries on a fake moustaches, battles gorillas and tries to cut Superman's hair.

We think it could work, but it all depends whether Hollywood is ready to allow a film to be fronted by a character from a much-maligned minority (i.e. gingers).

The Huntsman: You could pluck any character from Warner Brothers' excellent (but brief) cartoon series Freakazoid! for silver screen immortality, but our money would be on The Huntsman.

Each episode of The Huntsman began with an action-packed intro, showing the Huntsman (summoned by the 'Horn of Urgency') fighting criminals and overcoming evil.

But then the episode proper began, with The Huntsman walking into the commissioner's office looking for work. And each week, without fail, the commissioner would reply that there was no crime to fight, leaving the Huntsman to depart, angry and dismayed.

We think a Huntsman movie would be a brilliant alternative to the smash-pow, special effects-laden superhero blockbusters of today. It could just be two hours of The Huntsman and the commissioner talking, lamenting on how quiet the city is, and pondering on the good of a crime fighter with no crime to fight.

Then, The Huntsman could leave in a huff, kicking a bin on the way out, which could be rendered in state-of-the-art CGI just to keep the audience happy.

One ticket, please!

So there you go, Hollywood, some ideas for you to try out. There's no need to thank us, we just want to make sure you keep pumping out those super-powered pictures.

If you must thank us for saving your sorry behinds, please make all cheques out to Digital Sickbag.


- Fanton.


Roufa Tav Gosou & Mimi Lass said...

We approve of Bananaman enthusiastically.

Especially now, that the end draws nigh! Yes! The world is running out of bananas! A Bananaman movie could raise awareness on this pressing, tragic issue!

diane said...

My son used to have a Super Ted. It looked like a normal teddy until you peeled his skin off - and Super Ted was revealed.
Gave him nightmares for years...

I loved the camp skeleton though.

And don't forget Dangermouse...

Fanton said...

roufa & mimi - we need a Banana Aid, quickly! Get Sir Bob Geldof on the phone!

diane - I completely forgot about the fact Super Ted used to remove his fur to reveal his costume underneath. That's just gross and weird.

Grumpus said...

"Super Gran" was oddly compelling. But then, so was anything that aired just before Church. Anything was more interesting than that.

The Canadian parallel might be a show that was called "Aunt Harriet's Magic Hats." If someone put a hat on from her trunk it took them on an adventure into the era from whence it came.

I know! Witches like that should be burned at the stake.

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