Superheroes focus on having fun and worry less about the common good in Josh Trank’s Chronicle. Out now on DVD and Blu-ray, the movie features a group of teens who find themselves bestowed with telekinetic powers, but helping cut the local crime stats in eye-catching masks and fancy dress doesn’t turn out to be a high priority.
Chronicle offers the flipside of the superhero genre. Hollywood’s heroes almost always have noble intentions. Superman, Batman and Captain America are among the old guard heroes born in the 40s. In their movie versions they have the benefit of adult maturity, but Movie Land is luckier with some of the younger upstarts.
The X-Men have their personal dilemmas and internal disagreements for the sake of dramatic conflict. But when push comes to shove – barring a few of the younger peripheral characters – they’re usually an efficient fighting unit and happy to defend the world from Magneto’s dastardly plans.
Then there’s Spider-Man, who returns to the big screen in the next few weeks, and has become Amazing in the space of a few short years. Bearing in mind Peter Parker is a shy and lonely bully victim who grows up without his parents and suffers the violent death of his uncle at a young age, New York was perhaps more than a little lucky that he’s quick to embrace public service crime-fighting rather than veering spectacularly off the rails in a fit of teen rebellion.
With Chronicle branching out a bit and handing out superpowers to moody, selfish teens – and crucially bringing in a healthy return on a modest budget – perhaps this is the way forward for the more mainstream heroes. Moody and realistic has worked pretty well for Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe, so maybe a moodier version of Peter Parker could light up the box-office too.
Studio Boss will make his way down to the Right-Er’s room, a concrete, windowless box of a space with a steel table bolted to the floor. This is where the Right-Er labours on creative studio assignments. A heavy ball and chain hangs from his skinny ankle as he pulls his ragged suit around his shoulders to protect himself from the biting draught.
They’re looking for a new Spider-Man screenplay that puts the boyish web-slinger through a more realistic, grittier teen filter – maybe directed by David Cronenberg or Kathryn Bigelow – and the Studio Boss gets the initial treatment. Right-Er formats the story pointers in Twitter speak (maybe naming the account @KneelBeforeSpidey) as his treatment offers a glimpse into adolescent Spidey’s mind via social media:
“Spider bite = crazy muscles and freaky strength! Who knew?! Giving super-powered wedgies to all school bullies! LOL #GeekJustice”
“Can now shoot spider webbing!! Awesome!! Luckily it comes from my wrists rather than bum (unlike actual spider) #PotentiallyAwkward”
“Re-did spider suit to make it more homemade – looked a bit like movie studio designed it at enormous expense #CrossStitchesAreAwesome”
“Got medieval on crim 2nite. Bit overboard? Loving webbing and spider strength but went home and wrestled with conscience #BeingATeenagerSucks”
“@Curt_Connors I KNOW YOUR SECRET #WhoIsTheLizard?”
“@GStacy My bud @Peter_Parker thinks u r AMAZING and hotter than @MaryJaneW. Wants 2 meet 2morro after school #FirstKiss”
“@DailyBugle Quit hassling! Lizard is real menace 2 society! Would help but what has NYC ever done 4 me??? #TeenDisillusionedWithSociety”
“Watched @NYPD lose bank robbers and didn’t help. Lots of guns (I’m spider strong but am I bullet proof???) #TooYoungForThis”
“Lizard making trouble but seems v dangerous. @NYPD should handle it. They have guns and training and don’t get scared #JustSayin”
“Caving under Responsibility of Great Power. Does @GStacy understand? 🙁 #FragileTeenSuperhero”
Studio Boss’ eyes light up as he considers this strange new universe. Could it be extended to other franchises, perhaps? A morally-corrupt Batman alienated from society by wealth and childhood trauma? Perhaps a black comedy where he teams up with a disillusioned Tony Stark, who has long-since dumped The Avengers?
He orders a full screenplay of his Selfish Teenage Spider-Man. Time to shake up friendly neighbourhoods across Manhattan.