Tuesday, November 24, 2009

At the end of last Friday's episode of Smallville, they showed a teaser for the upcoming two-hour episode featuring the Justice Society of America.

I'm excited. I had read that the episode (written by comics writer Geoff Johns) would be featuring Hawkman, Dr Fate, and the Star-Spangled Kid, but from these clips, it looks like we'll be catching at least glimpses of a couple of other characters. And I admit, I squeed like a little girl (or a middle-aged comics fan) when I saw the Alan Scott Green Lantern ring and the gas-masked visage of the Wesley Dodds Sandman.

I've been a fan of Smallville since the beginning, although my affection for it waxes and wanes. I think I was losing interest a little the first half of last season; the Doomsday story was a little too dark and depressing, the show seemed to be having trouble adjusting to the loss of two regular cast members, and I was distracted by a new relationship in my life.

My excitement was reignited with the episode last January (written by Geoff Johns) guest-starring the Legion of Super-Heroes. I have blogged previously about how I loved those characters as a kid, but didn't know what to expect from their Smallville appearance. Would they be the characters I knew and loved, or would they be radically changed (like not even from the future) to make them "cool" and "hip?"

Turns out, while some of the less-cool-for-TV elements were downplayed (they didn't have names like Cosmic Kid or Lightning Lad, to my recollection), they were very much true to their origins. And when I saw them wearing Legion flight rings that looked like they came straight out of the comics, my heart grew three sizes that day. Much the same as seeing the JSA characters in this teaser.

I've lost count of how many times I've had conversations with friends about how cool it would be to see our favorite comics or books turned into movies. I don't actually look forward to that stuff all that much. If I like a particular story or set of characters, it's because I like the stories in whatever medium they're told in. If the stories are about characters I like, then I would like more stories, but not necessarily the same stories retold in a different way. Movies based on books are necessarily going to eliminate things; even a movie or TV show that adapts every scene and every line of dialogue is still going to lose the style of the prose, and still won't match the pictures in my head. Even if you adapt a comic panel-for-panel, like Sin City, what I see on the screen is still not going to be exactly what I imagine happening between the panels.

And adapting comics superheroes to live action? Changes are going to have to be made, just in the costumes alone. For example, when you try to do a Batman costume that looks just like the one in the comics, you get the Adam West version from the 60s.

(I've read some online complaints about the Hawkman picture to which I've linked above. I don't know; I think it looks okay. Smallville has done a good job making their superhero costumes look a little more reasonable on TV, like giving Green Arrow a dark green leather costume and dark glasses instead of a bright green cloth outfit and mask. The thing about Hawkman, though, is he's got big wings. And his mask has a beak. I'm not sure there's a way to make those elements look realistic.)

Having said all that, while I don't particularly look for the things I love to be adapted into other media, I still get excited when it happens. And when it works, like The Dark Knight or the Hellboy movies, it's really cool.

But the JSA and Legion are hardly as well-known as Batman or Spider-Man or the X-Men. So to see them come to life? This really is very close to a dream coming true.

Can't wait for January to come.

No comments: