September 9, 2004

Viewer Discretion Advised

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Sometimes in life, you just need a little saving. But those glossy super heroes of new with their high-tech gadgets and complex uniforms just seem a bit too impersonal for my taste. What ever happened to the good “ole days of yesteryear when heroes threw punches rather than (not so) witty one-liners at villains? When angst was minimal and a villain”s threat level wasn”t directly proportional to the absurdity of his costume? To honor the memory of such a time, I present this list to you of past heroes who always got the job done, white knights in tight tights.


Before the WB gave Smallville a complete makeover, before Superman posed for Abercrombie and Fitch, Clark Kent was simply a rookie reporter from Kansas who also had somewhat of a night job. Watch him awkwardly carry himself with his giant glasses and earnest country boy nature or be charmed by that fast-talking city girl, Lois Lane. The stirring theme music, the monolithic vision of Metropolis, and the busy newsroom of the Daily Planet all made it clear why this neighborhood needed a hero, and why Superman was clearly the one for the job.

Robin Hood: Men in Tights

Cary Elwes is a smug, British aristocrat back from the Crusades who discovers that his beloved country is now in the hands of incompetent Prince John. Armed with his Merry Men and an impeccable accent, Robin resolves to fight the tyranny of Prince John and win the heart of Maid Marian all in the name of England. A typical Mel Brooks spoof in the sense of its laugh-out-loud comedic quality, Robin Hood is a testament to how even heroes can”t be serious all the time, especially if they wear tights.


Robin Williams as Peter Pan? Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook? Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell? These all seem like preposterous suggestions, but Hook delivered them through a different spin on the classic tale of Neverland. The life of a hero seems one reserved for only the young, and when we first meet Peter, he has given up his former exploits and grown up, a mischevious boy no longer. But what befalls a hero after retirement? Hook answers this question ambiguously by suggesting that even heroes have a chance to achieve the simple happiness inherent in being ordinary.

The Phantom

Billy Zane in a full-body purple outfit fighting poachers and evil businessmen may sound an awful lot like the best plot NEVER, but The Phantom manages to overcome the ridiculous quality of its original premise, at times with developments that prove even more ridiculous. In any case, this movie has it all: Christy Swanson as the spunky, blonde female lead; Catherine Zeta-Jones as the sultry, brunette villainess; and a pre-Everwood Treat Williams dishing out a full dose of sleaze as the Phantom”s archenemy. Throw in some tigers, a quest for magical skulls, Genghis Khan, and you”ll have a movie definitely worth watching.

Archived article by Tracy Zhang
Red Letter DAZE Movie Editor