Friday, March 25, 2016

The prophecy I Am Legend foretold

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice is being unleashed around the world right now, and boy do the reviews stink.

But for me, it feels also like the ultimate case of life imitating art, one that had been gestating for nearly a decade.

When I saw I Am Legend in 2007, I noted that one of the billboards hanging in post-apocalyptic New York was for an upcoming movie called Batman vs. Superman. Unaware of a narrative thread in the comics that brought these two titans in opposition to each other (but also fairly aware that this is the type of thing that does happen in the comics), I thought this poster served as a commentary that seems prescient given what has happened superhero movies since then. This was a full five years before The Avengers, yet even in 2007, some shrewd observer could foretell that our nascent superhero craze would have its ultimate realization in movies that contained not one spandex suit, but a whole heap of them. At the very least the film was envisioning a future project that Warner Brothers would likely actually greenlight, which definitely made I Am Legend look like it was giving us a glimpse of our actual future, making the idea of a plague that will wipe us all out by then all the more chilling.

I guess I Am Legend imagined a more immediate future, as the date in this poster seems to be sometime in 2010. It took Warner Brothers six years longer than that to actually do it, and change up the signage just enough so it wasn't the exact logo from the movie.

So now I am awash in the weirdness of seeing the actual arrival of something that always seemed like a speculative future. It's like how we will all feel when we see our first hoverboard in use. And not that one that Tony Hawk rode for like a minute at one inch off the ground, but a true, versatile hoverboard like in Back to the Future II. Or, more directly similarly, when we watch the Aquaman movie that was first parodied in Entourage -- a moment that will actually occur in 2018.

But this may very well be the most interesting thing about the actual Batman vs. Superman. You're supposed to withhold judgment until you can see any movie for itself, but you can also make educated predictions based on track records. And Zack Snyder's is trending very negatively. Watchmen was great in 2009, but since then it's been a downward decline with The Owls of Ga'Hoole, Sucker Punch and Man of Steel. The odds that Snyder would suddenly seem more inspired in another Superman movie were always fairly low.

But I will dutifully go to see it in the theater ... even if only because then it will be free for me, rather than costing me $3.50 for a rental.

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