For many, superheroes are merely an easy Halloween costume choice; for some of us, they are more like friends. (I’ve just realised how sad that sounds now that I have written it down. I don’t mean as in an imaginary friend way, just that I like them…and would like to be them…well some of them.) Sky One is heaven for Fanboys (or Fangirls…yes girls do like this stuff as well) as they have all the best superhero shows. Over the past decade we have seen a dramatic increase in superheroes shows on both the small and big screen. Let me, briefly, explain why. (Cue travelling back in time harp music.)
Once upon a time…well 1936 to be exact, DC comics was formed and became home to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Supergirl and The Flash (to name but a few). In 1961 rival Marvel Comics was formed and their roster included Captain America, Spiderman, The Hulk, Iron Man, The X Men and a whole lot more. Now the important thing to remember is that these two camps form special loyalties with the fans. Just as you are either a blue or a red; Mac or PC; Star Wars or Star trek, you are either DC or Marvel. Over the years they have had various incarnations on TV and at the cinema. DC were quicker off the mark with various Superman films (the best still being Superman II in 1980) but they were patchy and sporadic. Marvel took their time and looked at the bigger picture created Marvel Studios. Steadily they created an on-screen Marvel Universe which allowed for the characters to pop up in other stories (as they did in the comics) or just all join together (such as with The Avengers). They were so successful that they received the ultimate accolade, and were bought out by Disney. Both DC and Marvel now have long-term strategies that are mapped out for years in advanced, presumably on a massive superhero spreadsheet.
On Sky One we currently have Inhumans (Marvel) and Supergirl (DC). Not being an avid comic book reader (although I do prefer books with pictures) I have to admit that I had never heard of Inhumans, but apparently, they date back as far as 1965. The premise (I think) is this; there is this group of inhumans (so not human…or is that unhuman?) who live on a secret base on the moon, invisible to the inhabitants of earth (otherwise known as humans). Because they are inhuman (not to be confused with inhumane), they have special powers (hence they are more than humans…human+ you might say. Actually, I think that is a better title). However, not all inhumans have these powers which just makes them…err…humans…so there is a strict caste system (hmmm, I wonder if that will cause a problem in the future). I’ve not fully worked out why they are living on the moon or why they occasionally come to earth, but let’s just go with it for the time being.
I said they first appeared in 1965 and I think the city Attilan was built around the same time, as it looks as though it was based on the brutalist designs of a 1960’s housing estate. There is a monarchy; Queen Medusa, (named after the mythical creature) who looks like Debra Messenger from Will and Grace but with extensions on steroids; and King Black Bolt (named after a black Labrador) who looks like Ben Affleck with constipation. You see, the King can’t talk as even a whisper can kill a person, so all the acting is done in the face and with a made up sign language. His younger brother Maximus (first name Pepsi. Blatant product placement if ever I saw it) obviously had a thang with his sister-inlaw, but is also a bit peeved as he seems to be the only member of the Royal family who is…well, human (which is a bad thing remember. Keep up). Anyway, by the end of episode one, little brother has started a coup using guns, arm to arm combat and a set of hair clippers as weapons and the constipated King has escaped to earth via the teleporting giant Pug dog (did I not mention him, sorry) to keep him safe.
…kings, queens, sibling rivalry, adultery, teleporting dogs, it’s basically the plot of Hamlet.
Now this all sounds bonkers, but do you know what, I loved it. Personally, I think it owes a lot to Shakespeare; kings, queens, sibling rivalry, adultery, teleporting dogs; it’s basically the plot of Hamlet. I mean come on, the palace even looks like the National Theatre on the Southbank. I think sometimes you just have to approach superhero stories with the same suspension of disbelief that you approach a Shakespearian play. The other thing that Inhumans (and most Marvel productions) has is humour. There are some real laugh-out-loud gags in it. The same can’t be said for Supergirl.
Into its third season, Supergirl is going from strength to strength. However DC is much straighter than Marvel. If King Black Bolt looks permanently constipated, Supergirl looks permanently concerned. It’s a big responsibility saving the world you know. Also, like Superman, it would appear a pair of glasses can completely disguise you. The main difference that happens when she turns into Supergirl is that she gets great hair. I mean just stepped out of a salon great. (For someone who undergoes a real transformation look at this.)
This week, Supergirl and green Martian J’onn J’onzz went to Mars (come along now, just go with it). J’onn is a r’curring c’aracter (well if they can do it so can I! Come on guys, his name is John Jones!). Normally the Martians take on human form on earth, but look all Martian-like on Mars (or CGI in other words). So with this whole episode being based on Mars, that was going to blow the whole CGI budget. Not with a clever line about “a Martin tradition of taking the form of their guests”, so they all became human looking and meant that the accountants could breathe a sigh of relief. (Saying that, the only human there was Supergirl and she isn’t even human, she is a Kryptonian. So I guess she is an alien inhuman? Oh I have no idea now, this is all getting too complicated.)
For all its earnestness Supergirl is still a good romp, but I think I now prefer Inhumans. Ok, time to come clean. Remember I said before that you were either a Team DC or Team Marvel? Yep, the first superhero comic I bought was Marvel.