'Avengers' Tom Hiddleston Argues Superhero Films Deserve Critical Praise: [ send to a friend ]
Tom Hiddleston, who starred as Loki in the 'Thor' and appears as the central villain in the upcoming 'Avengers', says superhero tales should be treated as more than popcorn adventures with big budgets.
Writing in the UK's 'Guardian', Hiddleston begins: "Earlier this year, beneath the wind-whipped tarpaulin of a catering tent in Gloucester, I was working on a film with the actor Malcolm Sinclair. He told me something I had not previously known: when Christopher Reeve was young, barely out of Juilliard, he was roundly mocked by his peers on Broadway for accepting the role of Superman. It was considered an ignoble thing for a classical actor to do."
"I grew up watching Superman. As a child, when I first learned to dive into a swimming pool, I wasn't diving, I was flying, like Superman. I used to dream of rescuing a girl I had a crush on from a playground bully. Reeve, to my mind, was the first real superhero."
"Since then some of the greatest actors have turned superheroes into a serious business: Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson in Batman; Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, the first venerable knights of the X-Men, who have now passed the baton to Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy."
"In spite of 20 years of mercurial work in the likes of Chaplin and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, it was his rock-star-charismatic yet somehow humble Tony Stark in Iron Man that helped wider audiences finally embrace the enormous talent of Robert Downey Jr."
"And Heath Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight quite simply changed the game. He raised the bar not just for actors in superhero films, but young actors everywhere; for me. His performance was dark, anarchic, dizzying, free, and totally, thrillingly, dangerous."
"Superhero films offer a shared, faithless, modern mythology, through which these truths can be explored. In our increasingly secular society, with so many disparate gods and different faiths, superhero films present a unique canvas upon which our shared hopes, dreams and apocalyptic nightmares can be projected and played out."
"Ancient societies had anthropomorphic gods: a huge pantheon expanding into centuries of dynastic drama; fathers and sons, martyred heroes, star-crossed lovers, the deaths of kings – stories that taught us of the danger of hubris and the primacy of humility. It's the everyday stuff of every man's life, and we love it. It sounds cliched, but superheroes can be lonely, vain, arrogant and proud. Often they overcome these human frailties for the greater good. The possibility of redemption is right around the corner, but we have to earn it."
"Superhero movies also represent the pinnacle of cinema as motion picture. I'd like to think that the Lumière brothers would thrill at the cat-and-mouse chase through the netherworld streets of Gotham in The Dark Knight, with helicopters tripping on high-tensile wires and falling from the sky, and a huge Joker-driven triple-length truck upending 180 degrees like a Russian acrobat."
"I hope that they would cheer and delight at the rollercoaster ride through the skies of Manhattan at the end of Avengers Assemble. These scenes are the result of a creative engine set in motion when the Lumières shot L'Arrivée d'un Train en Gare de la Ciotat in 1895. The trains just move a lot faster these days."
"And not just trains; trucks, bikes, bat-mobiles and men in flying, shining iron suits. The spectacle is part of the fun – part of the art, part of our shared joy."
"How far I hope we have come since the judgment of Christopher Reeve's peers. Maybe playing superheroes isn't such an ignoble undertaking after all. 'I still believe in heroes', says Samuel L Jackson's Nick Fury in Avengers Assemble. So do I, sir. So do I."