Confessions of a Superhero
One of the pleasures of living maybe a mile and a half from Grauman’s Chinese Theater is that we get to drive by that two-block tourist stretch quite often. There’s always something going on; in fact, that street is closed off about as much as it’s open, for one thing or another, for as much as 10 days at Oscar time. One of the things that is always happening is the costumed characters that haunt the place, to the despair of the Grauman’s owners. They offer themselves to be photographed with tourists. “We work for tips,” they always say. (They are not legally allowed to ask for money, just to tell people that and hope for the best. In the past Elmo and Mr. Incredible have been arrested for aggressive panhandling. Chewbacca, that mangy seven-foot rat, was run in for assaulting a tourist!) On a bad day these characters might make $30. On a good day, the sky’s the limit. As much as $150 per hour, according to Wonder Woman. On a busy day you can see three Jack Sparrows, a Spongebob, two Marilyns, a Chaplin, a towering Transformer, and many others. This movie concentrates on four of the regulars: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Hulk.
You know that George Carlin routine where he says you can be talking to somebody, and something seems a little off, and you think about it, and snap! You realize. He’s fuckin stupid! Then somebody else … well, he’s not fuckin stupid … Aha! I’ve got it! He’s fulla shit! Yet a third guy … not fuckin stupid, not fulla shit … He’s fuckin nuts! That’s the hit I kept getting. Superman … well, it took me a while. I wasn’t put off by his apartment, which was wall-to-wall (and ceiling) covered with Superman stuff, jammed with toys and posters and full-sized mannequins, bookshelves groaning with Superman books … dude’s a collector! Well, Lee and I have been to the Bunny Museum in Pasadena, we know from collectors, and we like them. But then he said he was the son of Sandy Dennis, the Oscar-winning actress from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? … and a little bell began to ring. The director took the trouble to visit Sandy’s family, who were aware of Superman’s claim, and denied it. Aha! He’s fuckin nuts! Because I tend to believe this man really did believe his own bullshit.
Batman (who is a George Clooney lookalike but without the character in his face), coyly won’t any give details, but says he’s been a bad, bad man, working for … well, Italian people, if you get my drift, wink, wink … breaking arms and legs and … well, let’s just put it this way, nobody’ll be seein’ some of ‘em again ha ha ha … I got it! He’s fulla shit! Even his wife agrees, telling the camera, and us, that she believes about a third of the stories he tells. (My jaw sort of dropped. What is it with people today? Does she think he won’t be seeing this? Doesn’t she care? Has she forgotten about the camera? He’s got a self-admitted “anger-management” problem … we actually see him talking to a psychiatrist in his Batman suit. Is there anything too private for some people to spill to a national audience? I guess you only have to watch five minutes of Jerry Springer to get the answer.)
To complete the set there should be somebody who’s fuckin stupid here, but Wonder Woman and Hulk don’t really fill the bill, unless you want to count coming out west to Hollywood from Chillicothe or Paducah to get your name up in lights as being stupid. (Actually, it’s more like fuckin nuts … but who am I to cast doubts? I came to Hollywood from Armpit, Texas, and I’m doing okay. I’m no George Clooney, but still …) And I figure it’s better to have a dream and pursue it, when you’re young enough to take the hard knocks to your ego and get up and try again, than to settle down to a life of the same old shit. So you fail. There are worse things, and at least you’ll know you gave it a shot. I’m a great believer in taking your shot. You’ll never get another chance.
And think of the stories you’ll have to tell! Wonder Woman will eventually have to accept that, though she has great looks and is not without talent, that description applies to 100,000—at least!—other young women from back in the Tennessee hills. At least she’s not waiting tables. And the Hulk will one day understand that a buck-toothed, skinny black man from North Carolina isn’t likely to make Chris Rock or Will Smith nervous anytime soon. But you never know. All you need is a little luck …. And by god, Hulk does eventually get a part, as a ‘70s pimp!
This is a sweet little movie that doesn’t knock these people (though it allows some of them to expose more of themselves than they might realize). It’s about dreams, and the willingness to work hard to achieve them. Who can argue with that?