If real life imitated film, there wouldn’t be a major American city left standing. They’d all have been obliterated by Iron Man, Superman, Thor, the Avengers or the Autobots.
And those are the good guys.
Of course, destroying skyscrapers and decimating urban populations is but one element of the modern cinematic “blockbuster” formula, albeit a fairly recent addition. I don’t remember quite so much random destruction and general mayhem in the action movies of my youth.
(On what, for example, did Indiana Jones wreak havoc? A cave or two? Some ancient ruins? Obviously a rank amateur.)
These days, the big-screen chaos grows increasingly more spectacular with each new release, as directors strive to one-up each other. So your hero knocked down a building or two? Hah! Mine took out an entire city block. Oh, yeah? I’ll see your city block and raise you Manhattan.
Makes you wonder: How exactly does reducing a city to rubble constitute “saving” it?
Another must-have element of the 21st-century blockbuster is the hunky male hero, sans shirt or in skin-tight leotard. From this I can only deduce that women nowadays are driving movie ticket purchases.
Take the latest iteration of the Superman myth, starring newcomer Henry Cavill in the title role. I am told by several women of my acquaintance that the conspicuously healthy Mr. Cavill is quite the specimen of male perfection.
As my wife and I were watching the film, I made a snide remark about a scene in which a young Clark Kent hitches a ride on a tractor-trailer in the middle of nowhere. “Seriously? We’re supposed to believe that a dude who can fly is sticking out his thumb beside some God-forsaken highway?”
“I’d pick him up,” my wife responded.
Hello. I’m sitting right here.
Anyway, it’s not enough for the hero just to be physically attractive. He must also be mysterious and have a dark, haunting past. I suppose the purpose for this cliché is to establish that he is not only hunky but sensitive, in order to give the women in the audience a reason to watch even when he’s wearing regular clothes.
Consider again the latest Superman movie, in which Clark as a child is traumatized by being “different” from other children.
Traumatized? Really? I’m going to speak for a moment just to the guys in the audience: If you discovered in elementary school that you could pick up a tractor or, oh, I don’t know, FLY — would you have taken great pains to hide that fact from your classmates?
Forget flying. The moment you figured out that nobody could ever, EVER beat you at Kill the Man with the Ball, how would you have responded? Would you have teared up? Looked wistful?
Probably not. Which just goes to show that you’re not nearly sensitive enough to wipe out a major city.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and author of “Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility,” available at Books for Less in Buford and on Amazon. E-mail Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit familymanthebook.com.