Thursday, August 06, 2009

Superhero Show/Comic Concept

Opening setting: Typical college fare. The star: Brilliant engineering student who's started having trouble getting to classes on time, sleeping in class, and so forth. First few episodes mostly involve his teachers and friends complaining about him going missing for a while and returning with lame excuses. Sprinkled in the background are reports of some guy fighting criminals in body armor, a trenchcoat, and a mask...

Said reports start getting more outlandish and attracting more attention and camera time: The mystery man takes on tougher and tougher criminals, displaying exotic high-tech weapons. It soon becomes obvious to any genre savvy viewer that the main character and the mystery superhero are the same person. But all the action is off screen, or shown in fragmented security camera views. The show isn't about the glamor and action of superheroics: It's about how the main character's civilian life is affected by adopting his alter ego.

How does he keep his friends from figuring it out? How does he handle the situation when they do? Can he balance the demands of both lives?

Of course, those are all questions shows about supers usually have to deal with, but I can't think of one that focused exclusively on the man under the mask. I'm sure there's some comic book out there that's done it (and that inevitably, I'll get a recommendation from a reader).

So, any thoughts to share on my little idea?


William said...

I don't think the audience would go for it. They'd interpret those glimpses as foreshadowing of the big reveal... that never came... and get annoyed.

Dark Jaguar said...

I can't say I've heard of one with that focus to the EXCLUSION of the super hero side, but there's plenty that do expand on how the hero lives their normal life. Spiderman, that Smallville show, I believe those do a big focus on the lives of the main character. However, when you have this whole thing about fighting crime, it is kinda hard to just avoid that. If you don't inevitably have the hero actually appearing, if at least to clash in more direct ways with the "secret identity" lifestyle, it may frustrate a lot of people.

Cloverfield is an example. The majority of the movie focused on random people, rather succesful somewhat unrealistic people, but certainly not the standard scientists or soldiers of the big monster movie. However they didn't just hide the monster away completely and did eventually show it, or at least enough to make you remember this IS in fact a monster movie.

If you did this story with the majority focus on "the ordinary life", I don't think you could get away with NEVER showing any battles. However, it does suggest another idea, of a super hero story that focuses on a completely ordinary person that at best is friends with the hero's "normal" persona. Heck, do it right and from their perspective you could actually explain why they never actually figure out that Billy is the Masked Opposum. I think you'd still need to do a reveal near the end, maybe with the twist that the hero retires instead of steadfastly continuing to "hunt the night".

Matt P said...

If you haven't read it, check out Marvel's Marvels miniseries. The action isn't entirely off-camera, and the viewpoint character is a photojournalist instead of one of the heroes, but it's kind of along the lines of what you're looking for.