What one must understand when it comes to a super hero like Super Man is that he is a super hero by birth! He is an alien, from krypton, he has traveled galaxies to get to our world and his existence is linked with the protection of humanity. His being an Alien outstrips him of human weakness already and endows him with mystery and possibilities of the unknown.
When one actually contrast Super Man with another super hero, say Spider Man for instance and you look at their gestation you realize that he/Super Man defies a case in point of an experimental went wrong which affects someone by modifying their genetic composition to the elevation supernatural power – the accident turned hero.
He is a hero par excellence but that does not make Spidey a degraded hero by no measure. Those grown on Super Hero fables know that most of the time the poor heroes finds it hard to fit in with the normal society due to their unpredictable tremendous powers and that they lead a double life. Interestingly enough DC Super Man Clark Kent is an alter ego of Super Man. In alter ego mode he must act powerless, he must portray weakness and suppress bravery and boldness but underneath that false portrayal there lurks a force that can shake the world to its foundation. In his weak state portrayal he is self control personified. Doesn’t Peter Parker signify the latter?
Spider Man on the other hand, to enter into existence, has to be stung by a genetically modified Super Spider in order to reach the state of a force to be reckoned with. He must evolve from being human to superhuman. In this sense then Super Man must do the reverse to fit in. Spider Man must learn to contain the powers at an advanced stage of his life whereas Super Man grows with the super force and learns early to manipulate and transmutate his energies and use them without causing harm to others and himself – especially the innocent.
The Super Man phenomenon is the situation within which Wolverine comes into being although he is still much an earthling. In the new motion picture which is a prequel to the X Men trilogy Gavin Hood takes us back to those defining moments of Wolverine as a child, the sprouting of his talons, his mother’s (thus loss of maternal element) and his fleeing from home with his half brother Sabretooth who promises to take care of him no matter what. Then Hood string us along in a tour de force play of time as the two boys grow up through decades of war and survival into men, immortal warriors; they go through the American war as well the two World Wars.
The discerning viewer familiar with Hood’S Tsotsi will be pick up similarities between Tsotsi and Wolverine in the scene where the boys run away from home after the pre-adolescent enraged Wolverine kills his father.
You will remember that in Gavin Hood’s adaptation of Athol Fugard’s Tsotsi there is a scene where the main protagonist, Tsotsi, in a nightclub is confronted by one of his gang members, called the Teacher/Boston, asking him why he loved violence and as he pressed on in addition with a supposition as to the latter’s violent behavior Tsotsi loses it and punch him repeatedly into a pulp. Perplexed by his doing and with all the clubbers looking at him Tsotsi runs away into the night and as he runs flashbacks of the time he ran away from home as a pre-adolescent are played out giving us an interplay between the younger Tsotsi and the older Tsotsi. At that point the viewer is able to appreciate the nature of the trouble man and later the narrative with furnish the viewer with more data as to the isolation of the protagonist and perhaps from then onwards the viewer will then be led to understand why he relishes in violence.
The intense emotional appeal that we experience with Tsotsi as he runs away from the club is also encountered in Wolverine as the boys ran away.
But in its full explosion the mastery of Gavin Hood’s story telling through motion picture narration here leaps forward in refinement in terms of the artistic heightening experience which touches one at the core of the heart. What am I talking about?
Firstly we see the boys seared from their mother as she accuses Wolverine of the murder of the father (with whom we deduce right away she had had an affair with while married), who has actually murdered the father that Logan/Wolverine thought was his. But then as his talon/blades (still in their keratin state) protrude the mother gives the boy a hateful look and right there and then a stage of isolation is set for Wolverine the Super Hero. He has transcended weakness through anger and by so doing unleashed a force that lay buried within him ever since birth. We must remember what Prof. Xavier says in the first installment of the trilogy: that moments of high tension reveals the super powerful force that mutants posses. This force may lie dormant until a sudden appearance given the necessary environment, which is usually retaliation.
But going back to Hood and the moment of the boys’ departure and fleeing from home. When the loose canon Sabretooth consoles Wolverine that he will stick with him no matter what because they are brothers – right there and then hope flushes in and it is this scene which sets Hood apart by numerous leaps from what he has achieved with Tsotsi in that scene where the hoodlum’ isolation from the norm is fore grounded – I am talking about his ability to capture our emotions…in the matter at hand only this time he achieves the same feet and more by using modern mythological characters – Super Heroes.
In Oliver Twist Charles Dickens achieves the same feat of rallying our emotions to sympathize with Oliver Twist when he escapes from the orphanage. We experience an almost similar heightened effect at that juncture where the poor boy tells one of his friends at the orphanage, who catches the sight of him fleeing, that he is running away from that horrible place to find happiness (fame and fortune). We immediately fall in love with his character and he simultaneously evolves into a round character – he is backboned. Such is the effect here with the boys as they flee. They evolve beyond just being mere younger selves of the mutant brothers into higher possibilities and that is what will compel us to sit throughout the entire motion picture narrative.
If my readers are not able to connect with what I am fussing about here I offer only one solution – One will have to see Tsotsi and then X-Men Origins: Wolverine to experience the heightened emotional tension that I am preoccupied with, even going as far as reading Oliver Twist for that matter or Athol fugard’s Tsotsi.
Wolverine is violent by nature when provoked and this is the Superhero phenomenon that he has to suppress in order to fit in the normal society. All the more Wolverine signifies humanities yearn for immortality. He is a prediction of future societies whose genes would have been modified to withstand cuts and acute injuries through nano technology that will accelerate healing. X-Men Origins: Wolverine the Prequel to X-Men trilogy serves to show cases how he acquired his adamantine skeletal system and it also explains his loss of memory. These are provided as gaps at the outset of X-Men () To fill the gaps one will have to see the motion picture itself and delight in Gavin Hood’s craftsmanship.
20 May 2009
© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong