Superman vs. Peter Pan

How do! / 你好 (nĭ hăo) / Namaste / Welcome!

“In the decade of the 1930s, even the great city of Metropolis was not spared the ravages of the worldwide depression. In the times of fear and confusion the job of informing the public was the responsibility of the Daily Planet. A great metropolitan newspaper, whose reputation for clarity and truth had become a symbol of hope for the city of Metropolis.” – Narration, by a boy, Superman: The Movie

Superman: The Movie made many of us believe a man could fly. Christopher Reeve’s warm portrayal of the extra-terrestrial sent to Earth was to many the greatest superhero of our generation. Well, all until Michael Keaton stepped in as the Dark Knight in Batman. Fast forwards to the 2000s and it seems that Marvel have serialised their comic arsenal to release a new character on a weekly basis. Even the latest Bad Boys (For Life) movie seemed to be swimming in CGI reminiscent of Marvel’s reign of fire.

“Dream, Believe, Dare, Do.” – Walter Elias Disney’s motto.

But, for those born in the late 70s and early 80s there will be a few of us that were treated to Christopher Reeve’s black lock of hair, a very-much clean-cut James Bond-type character. Director Richard Donner and Superman: The Movie squeezed over 300 million US dollars from the box offices, for a movie that cost but a sixth of that. 143 minutes of fantasy and fiction leapt out of the screen much like the scrolling title words and stars’ names. Filmed between the U.K., Panama, Switzerland and U.S.A., this movie was epic. The dark contrast of life being released from a dying planet, and evil being cast to the Phantom Zone, stemmed a story arc which leapt faster than a speeding bullet featuring comic and soft scenes amongst the pile-driving action. It was like watching a wrestling superstar cuddle a kitten.

“Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.” – Lex Luthor; Superman: The Movie

Superman: The Movie claimed a few awards for best visual effects, a BAFTA (Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles; and Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award) and numerous nominations. John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra’s score is dramatic and distinct. Mario Puzo’s story shuffles between serious issues and wastes little of the cast. Margot Kidder, Glenn Ford, Gene Hackman and Ned Beatty were big names. Terence Stamp would haunt many kids dreams for years to come. Marlon Brando was a global megastar and such was his feeling, he would never reappear in a Superman movie, as he was too buys suing for extra shares of the profits.

“Good form, Mr. Smee? Blast good form! Did Pan show good form when he did this to me?” – Peter Pan, Disney movie, 1953.

Mild mannered reporter Clark Kent starts life in The Daily Planet, before later appearing in cape and pants over his leggings. Many scenes were filmed at the world-famous Pinewood Studios. The Fortress of Solitude was on 007’s stage. British stunt double Vic Armstrong was there for Christopher Reeve for the first two movies.

“..children know such a lot now, they soon don’t believe in fairies, and every time a child says, ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.” – Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

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Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman. Richard Donner presented a snapshot of 1950s America, subtle humour in modern day Metropolis and the icy cold sci-fi realm of Krypton. The journey was created perfectly for the movies – and although the 2013 movie Man of Steel tried to start again. Jerome Siegel, just like Kal-El (Clark Joseph Kent and  Superman) used pseudonyms (Joe Carter and Jerry Ess) and was born to Jewish immigrants. This wonderful writer dreamed up Superman and with Canadian comic book artist Joseph Shuster by June 1938 Superman ascended into Action Comics #1. Until the 1980s the man of steel dominated the superhero genre of U.S. comic books.

“Stars are beautiful, but they may not take part in anything, they must just look on forever.” – Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

Superman drew on many influences. Sci-fi gave some great pointers. Fritz Lang’s 1927 move Metropolis birthed a city within Superman’s eventual realm. Douglas Fairbanks as Zorro influenced the look, although arguably, that caped crusader was closer to the caped crusader, Batman. The geeky barbershop-look of slapstick comedian Harold Lloyd and his mild-mannered persona gave us Clark Kent. Siegel and Shuster’s trawling of pulp fiction, comics and popular media expanded in so many details. Perhaps Peter Pan, as a character from so many stage performances had some influence in there. After all J.M. Barrie’s wonderfully complex character had kids leaping from seats and beds following earlier performances. Much like Superman: The Movie, Peter Pan made many believe that they could fly.

Lois: “Clark…says you’re just a figment of somebody’s imagination, like Peter Pan.” / Superman: “Clark?…Who’s that, your boyfriend?” / Lois: “Clark!? Oh, Clark. No, he’s nothing, he’s just, uh…” / Superman: “Peter Pan, huh? Peter Pan flew with children, Lois. In a fairy-tale.” Scene as Christopher Reeves plays Superman before he’s about to take Lois flying around the city of Metropolis. Superman: The Movie

Peter Pan is complex and rightfully so. The ninth of ten children, Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, had already lost two siblings before birth. This short-statured man from Kirriemuir in Angus, when aged 6, lost his older brother David the day before David would have turned 14 years old. With his mother’s favourite forever-absent, J.M. often imitated and tried to fill David’s place. By the age of eight, his eldest siblings were his teachers at the coeducational Glasgow Academy and six years or so later at Dumfries Academy. Somehow he managed to kick back against his conservative Calvinist Victorian family and crack in with his dream of writing. The University of Edinburgh beckoned, and he graduated with an M.A. in literature during April 1882. After some journalism, unpopular fiction and hard graft he turned his eyes to playwriting. By 1894 he was married and with a Saint Bernard puppy, and had worked with Sherlock Holmes’s creator Arthur Conan Doyle.

“Ostensibly a holiday entertainment for children but really a play for grown-up people” – Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw

The premiere date of 27 December 1904 of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up arrived. Neverland was with us all – and a stark contrast to late Victorian and early Edwardian times. The Peter Pan models were extended and adapted throughout the years and the novel Peter and Wendy was inevitably released in 1911, with illustrations by F. D. Bedford. The two previous novels The Little White Bird and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens are two equally delightful run outs for the boy who wouldn’t age or grow up. There is another outing in When Wendy Grew Up – An Afterthought. After that, popular culture claimed Pan for a silent movie in 1924, before Disney came knocking in 1953. The thrills of mermaids, fairies, Native Americans and pirates gained global viewers. J.M. Barrie himself commissioned sculptor Sir George James Frampton (he did the lions outside of the British Museum and Dr Barnardo’s Memorial) in 1912. The May Day surprise was a gift to the children of London.

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” – Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

Some years ago, I was lucky enough to wander through a dusk-lit Kensington Gardens and see the statue of Peter Pan. Six identical moulds were taken and can be found from Liverpool (U.K.), Canada’s Ontario to Camden, and New Jersey. St. John’s, Newfoundland, Brussels (Belgium) and Perth (Australia) complete the list of original replicas. There are multiple statues of various designs globally also. Great Ormond Street Hospital has its own interpretation and rightfully so. Ever since 1929, all the rights and copyrights were given to Great Ormond Street Hospital. The boy who would be a child forever could inspire and keep those in need, some company.

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” – Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

J.M. Barrie died in Manchester, well Manchester Street, Marylebone, that London on the 19th of June 1937. This was a man who had had Jerome K. Jerome as a friend; had divorced in 1909 and the hugely influential Llewelyn Davies family. George, John, Peter, Michael and Nicholas. Perhaps J.M. Barrie wanted to be a child forever. Perhaps Peter Pan was pretending to want to be forever young or showing off to his beautiful Wendy. Wendy was mature enough to surely see his insecurities. She displays great compassions as Peter Pan struts around his gaff, Neverland and does almost anything he wants. The land of adventures are at his command. The Darling family take his attention a little, but it does feel that Peter Pan would soon grow distracted of them and return to Neverland to do whatever he feels. Peter Pan is the antihero, to the hero of Superman. The two are alike, yet so far apart. Superman is a simple and clear character, with little conflict within. Peter Pan is like me, selfish and confused, and searching for a never-ending youth to hide from everyday burdens like responsibility and grown-up stuff.

“To die would be an awfully big adventure.” – Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

Today, in China, it was Children’s Day and we watched the Disney retelling of Peter Pan, complete with lost boys, manipulation and an upset Captain Hook because Peter Pan had cut off his hand and fed it to a crocodile with a timepiece. Eton College-educated Captain Hook seems devoted to bringing Peter Pan down. The Neverland story goes on and on and on, with endless retellings and reinterpretations or works based on Peter Pan and company. The right to collect royalties in eternity under precise and explicit provisos in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 mean that Peter Pan is the gift that keeps giving to Great Ormond Street Hospital. Superman, however, is the $5.48 billion cash card of DC Comics and Warner Bros.

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” – Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

Favourite Flicks

你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do / S’mae,

In 2019, Velvet Buzzsaw, starring Jake Gyllenhaal arrives on general release in February. The arty feel of the trailer made me think of some of my favourite movies. I also gandered a dozen other trailers, include Men In Black International, which in its first edition was refreshing and great fun. Pet Sematary as a remake excites me too. Hellboy as yet another remodelling seems okay too. It does make me think that new ideas for Hollywood are limited but you’ll still see me watching Godzilla: King Of The Monsters in May. Triple Frontier, The Mustang and Bird Box follow tested formulas and throw in solid casts, but they carry much anticipation. I do like a good movie though. In 2020, maybe Ghostbusters 3 will be marvelous – with the teaser adding familiar noises and music. Who knows?

In 1993, Jurassic Park was my first truly antipcated movie. I’d been glued to the novel years before and now I wanted to see the words on the big screen. Mum and I went to the Davenport Cinema near Stockport. The cinema has since been demolished. I remember that the screen was massive, and the old theatre style was beautiful. It had become too expensive to maintain. I grew up having watched few movies, unless you count Dot and The Kangaroo. Movies rarely interested me. Watership Down had probably freaked me out too much – and then The Plague Dogs – too much you know, erm, grimness. At least the former had a great song!

Movies that I like that are probably on almost everyone’s list include: Braveheart, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, The Silence of the Lambs, Titanic, Toy Story, Schindler’s List, The Lion King, The Shawshank Redemption, Fight Club, Groundhog Day, Heat, Fargo, 10 Things I Hate About You, Trainspotting, Brassed Off, The Fugitive, Goldeneye, Mrs Doubtfire, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Goodfellas, Forrest Gump, The Green Mile, Bad Boys, The Iron Giant, and Con Air. I’m sure you can pick this entire collection up on DVD for less than £10 now. I watched Saving Private Ryan with my Granddad. It was the only time I seen him cry. The realism was all too much for someone who had seen it up close and personal.

Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full-trance mediums, the Loch Ness Monster and the theory of Atlantis?

In 1984, the world had new heroes. The Ghostbusters. Just like 1984’s Gremlins, 1990‘s Gremlins 2: The New Batch, 1985‘s Goonies and 1989‘s Ghostbusters 2, I had a winter’s day movie. Great entertainment and fun, that you can watch time and time again, are hard to come by in a movie. Flash Gordon sits in there too, alongside the Back to The Future trilogy. From my year of birth, 1982‘s E.T. – the Extra Terrestrial is on that list but give me a tissue. A tissue to watch 1942‘s Bambi too. From 1988 onwards, The Naked Gun triology just requires a light-hearted laugh. 1980‘s Blues Brothers wins on that count too.

‘Little Sir Echo, how yo you do?’ – Bing Crosby, 1939

Night Train to Murder starred Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise and came out in 1985. It was written by the comedy duo too, alongside the original James Bond Casino Royale director Joseph McGrath. Well one of them. There were about six! His credits included the Beatles’ music videos, The Goon Show and Rising Damp. Night Train to Murder would be his final movie. 16 TV appearances would follow and two writing jobs. The Glaswegian went near silent. Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise’s TV movie. One half of the duo was ill during filming of this movie and soon after in May of 1984. Roger Brierley, Richard Vernon and Pamela Salem co-star. The film would be the fourth and final expected big screen outing for Morecambe and Wise. Due to Eric’s death, it became a TV release in 1985. The closing moment of the TV movie sees Morecambe and Wise walking away together. There never was another televised gig.

 

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon [卧虎藏龙] gave international audiences something unseen before. Hovering, fluttering and graciousness seemed to be hand in hand with violence, menace and misery. Warriors, destiny and mythology gave Michelle Yeoh [杨紫琼] good reason to shake off the Bond Girl moniker. That same year, of 2000, saw Snatch hit the screens. As me and my best mate Dan watched, the movie entertained us. Momento came out too. Gladiator may have ruled the screens but Requiem For A Dream would carry as great a memory in time. Cast Away was epic.

Y Tu Mamá También, came out in 2001. This Mexican road movie is essential viewing. Donnie Darko was a very indie film with a great indie score. A beautifully dark movie. Black Hawk Down was a fine example of a bleak war movie. A Beautiful Mind, was as the title said.

City of God (Cicade de Deus), has great street chases, raw energy, a lack of Hollywood gloss and shows realism that modern gangland movies can only dream of. This 2002 movie is a snapshot of a Latin America that the tourism boards will hate. Another movie that I can’t reverse watching was Irréversible. It made me feel physically sick. Powerfully forlorn cinema. The camera shots and soundtrack are dizzying. Perhaps look up Daft Punks’ Thomas Bangalter and his solo work. Many a film critic said it was, “a movie so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable” – and some labelled in homophobic. I just found it dizzying and extreme. The Bourne Identity was simple to follow, with a great sequence of pursuits throughout. In some ways it was James Bond without the boobs. 28 Days Later and Signs added to the cinematic splendour.

In 2003, Oldboy leapt off screens from Korea. It was remade many years later. Avoid that. The best in this case is the original. Prepare to be shocked. Kill Bill: Volume 1 was released too, with one of the best soundtracks for some time. Bad Boys 2 probably marked my last VHS owned.

In 2004, Downfall, was made and suddenly Hitler’s angry map scene would occupy an endless flow of memes. Kill Bill: Volume 1 wasn’t just released – it was practically flung at you like a dagger. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Terminal completed a good year. Ttosi landed in 2005. It is hugely emotive, dynamic and lives up to its meaning of thug. Redemption may or may not be earned. Lord Of War added wit and seriousness to the world of arms dealing.

The Lives of Others released in 2006 is worth a look. Of course, you are being watched – just like the antagonists on screen. That same year Pan’s Labyrinth became quite mainstream for a foreign movie. The movie is up there on the good ground with David Bowie in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. Batman Begins kept my love of mainstream movies that year. It also gave us Little Miss Sunshine, and Letters from Iwo Jima.

In 2007, The Bourne Ultimatum made great contrast to the movie adaptation of Into The Wild, perhaps my favourite tragic book of all time. Sunshine was great viewing too. The Western movie 3:10 to Yuma ranked highly on my watchlist. 2008’s guilty pleasure for me was Iron Man. If only we knew what was to come!? Slumdog Millionnaire was an instant hit and the soundtrack made my MP3 player soonafter. Lion’s Den was the most gripping movie of the year. Like Stars on Earth is the sweetest teacher-themed movie of all time. The Baader Meinhof Complex is brutal and wonderful in equal proportions. If you needed a taste of mental health awareness – though extreme, Belgain film Ben X had it.

Three Idiots was a surprise. It was neither Bollywood, nor Hollywood. I’ve tried watching many Indian and Pakistani movies. None have succeeded in keeping my attention, until Three Idiots arrived in 2009. There is a buddy movie feel that Trains, Planes & Automobiles successfully caught – as did the Canadian production Due South. Tragedy and warmth drips from the screen. District 9 added a valid and tangible story to the usual CGI-gone-mad state of movies of this period. The Secret in Their Eyes was a particularly good thriller. The White Ribbon, set before World War One is a mystery that both grips whilst it presents oddity and intrigue.

127 Hours was not as long as the title suggested and with a soundtrack to suit the true story, the movie whistled by in no time at all. In 2010, the book was promptly picked up afterwards. Incendies followed twins returning to their former middle-eastern homes. Biutiful was a great and disturbing movie that awoke the imagination. Can you imagine knowing how you will die? Javier Bardem was hypnotically mesmerising.

The following year of 2011 gave many awards to Drive, and rightfully so. Moneyball added some baseball to my viewing but the story was wonderful, so I let the U.S. version of rounders slip without a worry. Super 8 surprised me with how good a feel it could generate. The Intouchables was heart-warming and witty – and in 2017 the formula of a caregiver with an aristocratic quadriplegic was remade with Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston.

In 2012, The Dark Knight Rises, wasn’t quite as the previous two Christopher Nolan incarnations of Batman. Still it is a favourite. Skyfall made up for that. At last a Bond movie with a real bite to it. The Hunt gave us a look at how creepy Mads Mikkelsen can appear.

Captain Phillips told audiences, in 2013, a story of Somalian pirates. Tom Hanks stars. When he performs well, the audience always feels it. Accolades and awards followed. The Man of Steel reinvented Superman before DC Comiscs trashed that in almosy every instalment since. All Is Lost, scored by Alex Ebert, lasted 105 minutes – and starred just Robert Redford. It was not last time watching that masterpiece. Pacific Rim followed a Transformer, Power Rangers, Godzilla feel but kept me inside a Colchester cinema out of a heatwave. I enjoyed the movie greatly. It was one of my guilty pleasures that year.

In 2014, Boyhood gave probably the most original piece of cinema for a long, long time. The coming-of-age drama had been shot over an epic period spanning more than a decade. Nightcrawler added thrills and gave the pulse a work-out. Gone Girl was another great thriller. Godzilla was okay, just okay. Birdman was a wonderful comedy and The Theory of Everything was positively riveting. American Sniper told a sorry story well.

The Revenant in 2015 was powerful and moody. The Martian was atmospheric and moving. Spectre started great but fizzeld out. Idris Elba’s Beasts Of No Nations, opened discussions and eyes to an otherwise ignored world within the 21st century. Everest, tried to bundle together many accounts of a disaster offering a respectful disaster and made a wonderful IMAX feature. 2016 reinvigorated the Jurassic Park machine by bringing is Jurassic World, a rollercoaster of a movie. In 2016, Deadpool refreshed the graphic novel/superhero genre with a splash of bad taste and violence. The Jungle Book, in live-action was almost a frame by frame copy of the cartoon by Disney but it added sweetness to the silver screen. Suicide Squad added wit to the overly-full genre of superhero outings. Star Wars: Rogue One was a good war movie, albeit with a scifi backdrop. Tom Hanks once again wowed audiences with his performance in Sully.

Dunkirk was visually stunning and well shot in 2017. Wonder Woman challenged gender roles for superhero main stars and also added some good drama between the CGI sheets. Logan added a geriatric take the hero genre. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri swept away many awards and rightly so. War for the Planet of the Apes concluded a great trilogy remaking. The Darkest Hour gave the excellent Gary Oldman a vehicle to display his varied talents. Disney added a live action beauty in Beauty & The Beast.

In 2018, Bohemian Rhapsody added a loveable rock star to our screens. Freddie Mercury was extragavant, complex, talented and had a voice like so few. This movie captured the magic and gave voice to a story that many didn’t know. I didn’t know that Farrokh Bulsara was born in Zanzibar and went on to become the lead singer of Queen.

 

再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye / Hwyl Fawr