Why Spider-Man Cannot Spin Its Way Into A Musical
story that people keep talking about and even joking about lately in the
entertainment world has not been about how bad music has been lately or that
anyone would pay $300 Million for Blockbuster Video or even how bad the films
have been lately. Instead, it has been
the woeful tale of an expensive Broadway Musical. The ironically entitled Spider-Man – Turn Off The Dark has possibly set some kind of
records for accidents to happen to its cast and the endless changes show that
no one involved had any idea what they were getting into.
that they are owned by Disney, Marvel Comics is not known for any kind of
memorable association with music of any kind, save the fun theme songs of
cartoon series made back in the 1960s of their various characters. That Musicals are a genre of old does not
help, but in most cases, they are about ordinary people in ordinary situations
and what kind of people they are. When
you make one now, now matter on stage or on screen, you have to reinvent the
the Superhero genre may have peaked, but is far from dead. When Marvel decided to try to make an
expensive Spider-Man Musical, at least their choices madder some sense. Julie Taymor has a great track record with
her Shakespeare films and made Lion King
work because she found a way to infuse it with humanity that went beyond the
animated feature film, which was not bad.
However, there are even limits to her talent and capacities, as Turn Off The Dark
has proved. For one thing, she already
proved she could make mistakes and her film Across The Universe with all of its Beatles remakes, was a
mess. This play’s failures and her
departure prove that she knows and understands as little about The Fab Four as
she does about Marvel’s all-time #1 character.
She may love them, but that does not translate into good narrative
is not the only one to blame. We also
have U2 members Bono and The Edge, who have not been adventurous in their work
since the Pop album and though they
are talented good guy and we know about Bono’s charity efforts, they have had
mixed success with pop culture characters.
Their band had a hit in Batman
Forever and they wrote the James Bond theme GoldenEye for Tina Turner, but hit records do not necessarily equal
the capacity for a Musical. They have
never even participated in making a Rock Opera and this is hardly that, even by
their own admission.
the many changes made, the show (which has had dates cancelled) has made plenty
of money as people are curious to see what does work and sadly at worst, if
they will see someone injured during the performance. From the many descriptions of plotting,
storyline and arrangement of the various elements, it is obvious that this was
begun without any consideration of direction.
many elements (not even considering the quality of the individual songs, their
placement and where these elements are reshifted to, which is still going on as
you read this), the most glaring error which has nothing whatsoever to do with
the character is adding characters that never existed in the comics before, are
trivial, underdeveloped and especially come from Greek Mythology! Maybe this would have been an approach for a
Thor, Captain Marvel/Shazam! or Wonder Woman musical,
but is a disaster for Turn Off The Dark.
can’t take Spider-Man as if it were shallow pulp material and do what you want
with it. Yes, the satirical recent hit
stage musical of the failed Olivia Newton-John film Xanadu was a big hit, but such ancient mythology was part of the
film for better and worse. But when you
do this, then you admit you really know little about the comic books, the
character’s history or why the character is constantly so popular.
denies the fact tat Spider-man and all the Marvel characters are eventually
products of the counterculture, something this play is apparently absolutely
clueless about. The result is that this
Spider-Man becomes the opposite of what he was originally intended to be, a
down-to-earth superhero with an ordinary life and not some fancy uppity
demi-God (like almost all Marvel heroes, he is the product of a freak
scientific accident) of some sort. The
result is that the real character is obscured and it also tells us that the
producers were afraid that telling the real story would not appeal to people
who could afford to pay the high ticket prices that would need to be charged to
recoup the costs the show would have up front.
Instead, it has become a joke that will continue to be so for a long
time with no one in sight being hired to know what they are doing. Even Disney (who despite their many big hits
of late, has the megabomb Mars Needs
Moms to contend with) does not seem to know what to do and it will take
more than their marketing machine to save this one.
history of Superheroes also shows how music does and does not interact with the
genre’s characters. Any movie or TV show
with music featuring singers has always implied humor (starting with the 1960s
Batman TV megahit series, to the theme of the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman) while
instrumentals have been the best musical accompaniment to the best versions of
the characters with few exceptions.
the 1970s, DC Comics tried out It’s A Bird!
It’s A Plane! It’s Superman and it was an ambitious work that also failed,
though not to the spectacular extent that Turn
Off The Dark has. Few remember or
talk about it and the hardly anyone could sing or even hum a song from that
one, but it at the very least understood the mythology behind Superman. We cannot say that about Turn Off The Dark and probably never
will. And imagine,
this has not even ‘officially’ opened yet!
they scrap the whole thing and start all over (give to take saving some of the
songs and considering designing a theater to accommodate the production) with
people who love and understand Spider-Man and his world, this will be a
permanent scar on the web-slinger’s otherwise evergreen appeal.
- Nicholas Sheffo