I don’t know what it is about Warner Bros superheroes. For some reason, if the movies are any indicator, Metropolis and Gotham City are where dreams and hope go to die. Overall, everything is dark (more so, at least in a physical sense, in Gotham) and gloomy, as if the inhabitants carried invisible weights upon their shoulders.
And this gloominess is apparently contagious, because their superheroes are the same. And the thing is, I actually get it in the case of Batman. He’s not called ‘the Dark Knight’ for nothing, though Superman? Not so much.
It’s what I have come to call ‘Nolanitis,’ because it’s a way of visualizing superheroes that became popular with Christopher Nolan’s Batman films (Tim Burton’s Batman lived in a gothic, dark Gotham as well, but his version was way more pulpy and very much like the comics writ large while Nolan’s films–which are just as cartoony as Burton’s and Schumacher’s; don’t let anyone tell you different–there’s a nihilism that I am not quite sure works, considering the subject matter.
Though when I saw Nolanitis spreading to the small screen, I despaired just a little bit because an archer, in the case of Arrow, isn’t the best place for a realistic portrayal. For instance, there’s a reason that law enforcement personnel don’t run around with bows and arrows. They’re significantly harder to use in close quarters, and there’s no way that a person with bow and arrow is going to do well against a person with a gun (unless their ambushing them, which is another matter).
Which is what bothers me most of all: The entire concept of Arrow is an unrealistic one (guy shipwrecked on a island comes back with the goal of cleaning up his city with the skills he learned while there) which is the weakness of the entire concept: It’s “realistic,” when it needs to be, but when the story needs to put that aside, it does.
Which brings me to The Flash, on the CW, the same as Arrow. It appears to have embraced the fantastical nature of the subject matter, which I like (though I still can’t stand the costume. I imagine that it’s supposed to protect him from friction and help heat escape but there are scenes of him running without it, so I assume that it’s not entirely necessary). It also seems colorful and almost joyous, if the trailers released so far are any indicator.
Hopefully, if it’s a success, maybe Warner Bros will understand that superhero television, as well as movies, don’t have to be so damned serious (the first sign of Nolanitis) all the time. After all, a few laughs won’t turn their next feature into the next Green Lantern (which had a good lead in Ryan Reynolds; a good director in Martin Campbell, and a terrible writer in Greg Berlanti. Which brings things full circle because Berlanti also created Arrow).
And don’t get me started on the needless CGI costume Reynolds had to wear (which I can’t help but feel cost millions to design and animate).