Saturday, October 18, 2014

Powers and failing to get it

I commented on this on my Facebook account but I wanted to touch on it here in more detail: Playstation Network is making a TV show of Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming's comic Powers. A slightly NSFW trailer is below.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/137990-Playstation-Networks-Superhero-Cop-Show-Powers-Gets-First-Trailer-At-NYCC

The further I get from this the worse a taste it leaves in my mouth, for spoiler-y reasons. So if you don't want me to spoil things for you stop reading.

In the comic Walker has secrets nested inside of secrets: we don't know at the start of the book that he's an ex-super hero who lost his powers. We have to figure that out with Pilgrim over the start of the book. But what Pilgrim doesn't learn is that Walker is relatively sanguine about having lost his powers because he is, more or less, sick of being immortal. He's been defending humanity since there's been a humanity, but his functional memory only goes back about 50 years. He was almost at the point of asking the person who invented the process to shut his powers off prior to the accident that took his powers away. It's not that he wants to die, but he wants to not be immortal any longer. And it's not that he wants to stop defending humanity, since he immediately becomes a cop.

This stance, having Walker be the less experienced cop to Pilgrim (albeit one with an insight into super heroes) inverts their relationship. Bloody hell, look at the names - Walker can't fly any more and Pilgrim is searching for more knowledge, it's not subtle here. That's bad enough, but the sort of thing TV does. But totally failing to get why Walker is kinda OK with not being a superhero, that he's not spending his time ranting about how much is sucks to just be normal, that's failing to get the entire core of the character. It's essentially Hollywood Screenwriters putting the easiest, most one dimensional gloss on the character. He gets flat, irritating and, well, the guy in the trailer.

Jim Cambias also pointed out that the guy is spectacularly miscast - Physically Walker is big and broad shouldered, the sort who you can see would once have been a classic super-hero. Emotionally he is earnest and well meaning. Christopher Reeve could pull this off, or anyone else who played Superman. (And again, Walker's hero ID, Diamond, had a big diamond emblem in the middle of his chest - who else has one of those...?) This guy? He lacks the physical presence, and the lies he's being given run against the core of the character.

All told I expect this is another instance of TV spectacularly got getting something that should be really simple.