If only I had taken a little time to do more research on James Gunn’s Super, I would have been able to ruminate on the moral relativistic bomb a month ago! (note that a “bomb” and a “cult” film are not mutually exclusive). In September the director all but guarantees his audience will see what happens when the superhero genre gets drenched with an overpowering liberal aioli:
James Gunn: “I think that one of the things with “Super,” one of the questions is, is Frank D’Arbo doing something that’s completely f**ked up, or is he really on a mission from God? That’s sorta the central question of the movie. So, I wanted to show the violence. I didn’t want to like, pretend that it didn’t exist. I mean, this is a guy hitting people with —you see people in a movie hitting people with lead pipes and pipe wrenches and knocking people unconscious all the time and it doesn’t make you go, “Ugh.” I wanted this to make people go, “Oh, wow, that’s f**ked up.” It’s like, you think it’s gonna be great and then he hits the guy and then I wanted people–when he’s hitting the guy in line–I wanted people to be, on the one hand, you really want him to do it. Then you see him doing it and you’re like, “I think I still kinda like it, but I’m not sure,”…
Interviewer: Ellen Page is just amazing in this, she’s totally psychotic. You mentioned before that Frank is kind of like a counterpart of yourself, but I think in some ways both of them are. They’re both the parts of people who read comics and want to be superheroes. There’s the practical part and then there’s Ellen Page who is just out of it and doesn’t have any control over what she does.
James Gunn: Yeah, well I think you’re questioning Frank’s motives and exactly what’s going on, but he obviously has some vague sense of right and wrong.
Interviewer: He actually has a motive though.
James Gunn: I don’t think he’s beating up people for the sake of violence. Ellen Page, however, it gets to the fact where she’s in it for one thing and that’s for beating people up and putting on a costume somehow instantly makes that right.
So let me get this straight. According to the director:
- Frank may be on a “mission from God.”
- Frank only has a “vague sense of right and wrong.”
- Frank teams up with a woman who is “only in it for one thing and that’s for beating people up…”
- Audiences are supposed to say, “That’s f**ked up.”
Only a liberal like James Gunn could come up with a story where God would team up a guy with a thinly tethered understanding of right and wrong with a psychotic woman, have them mutilate and kill people for reasons normal citizens can’t decipher —in ways we’re uncomfortable with—and think he accomplished something:
James Gunn: There’s a moment where it clicks and that was a moment where it clicked. It was like, “Yeah, Rainn is the guy. He’s the person.” Rainn and I are very similar in our personalities. I think we have a strange mix of both extremely liberal, and not in the political sense conservative, but conservative in terms of believing in the goodness of humanity and love and that sort of thing.
I can write a dozen blog posts from that bit alone, so I better stick to the topic at hand… The reason why people often don’t flinch at violence is because seeing pure evil blown to smithereens is cathartic. Just as we must sometimes bring out the rhetorical big guns on opponents, there are times in life where it is morally right for nations or individuals to resort to violence (i.e., God-given rights are threatened). Killing someone because they keyed your new Jetta doesn’t fall under that category. Hence, the cringe.
James Gunn crafts a movie where the tool who cuts in line at a movie theater gets a bottle broken over his face, and then he thinks he’s created “a mix of cinema verité and pop art.” Not really. It appears you convinced a lot of people to put up a lot of money for a very expensive piece of crap. Oddly enough, there is some sort of bragging rights to be had in accomplishing such a feat, but from a cinematic point of view I think Gunn is deluding himself.
Liberals are like really bad chefs who try deconstructions of your favorite comfort food and end up serving you a tasteless, sordid concoction that turns your stomach—only they also try their experiments on the culture at large. The Wachmen (the comic) is a case study in how to successfully deconstruct the superhero, and that was written by a raging liberal. The funny thing is, his writing was so good that the conservative character who was supposed to be nuts was the one guy who knew what was really going on! The movie, directed by Zach Synder, was also fairly impressive.
My personal opinion is that Zach Synder has some libertarianism or conservatism in his blood, which is probably one of the reasons why his flicks tend to go over well with so many people. I’m happy that he’s teamed up with Christopher Nolan (another one with tinctures of conservatism in his veins?) to direct the new Superman. If my gut is correct on both of them, the Man of Steel will return to form. Good luck, Zach. And remember: “Never compromise. Even in the face of Armageddon.”
James Gunn? You might want to return to the drawing board. You have a long way to go before you reach the upper echelons of smug, successful, hypocritical liberal directors.