At the Picture Show: Extended Cut
by Chris Bellamy
* Author's note: This essay contains spoilers for Man of Steel, Se7en, 2012 and White House
Down. Proceed at your own peril.
"Food and sex - those are my two passions. It's only natural to combine them." - George
That might as well be the official mantra in Hollywood these days. It should be emblazoned atop
the front doorway of every studio in town, with each executive and decision-maker touching it
ceremonially each morning, like Notre Dame football players tapping the "Play Like a
Champion Today" sign on their way out onto the gridiron.
If nothing else, it's their modus operandi already. The pop-culture ascendancy of standalone
superhero movies - as new as it still is - has already given way to a culture of conglomeration,
where one superhero simply isn't enough. Building entire universes out of multiple properties is
the new standard. If that wasn't clear enough already after the record-setting success of The
Avengers - sorry, my mistake, that's Marvel's The Avengers - it certainly is now in the wake of
Warner Bros.' Comic-Con announcement of a pending Batman/Superman mash-up, set for
release in 2015 and inevitably leading up to an eventual Justice League film.
It's only natural to combine them, right?
And so just like that, the Man of Steel sequel has doubled in size, and the pissing contest begins
in earnest. As mid-budget studio films continue to disappear, the blockbusters get bigger and
bigger - and they make them bigger and bigger simply for the sake of doing so. Though I, for
one, have never watched a superhero movie and thought, "You know what this needs? More
superheroes!" - one is apparently no longer enough to qualify as a franchise. For what reason
beyond the obvious, I have no idea. Bigness is apparently its own reward. Enhance, enhance,
enhance. Where it ends is an open-ended question.