Inspired by Nice Video – Shame About the Song, there are a ton of things which simply have one brilliant gem embedded in them, but the rest of it is just a shame. It basically means a middling film, game or book.
Hancock personifies this for me (at least recently). The film itself starts really well; a flying brick superhero; but one who doesn’t care and simply is an asshole who gets drunk and breaks things. Why is he like this? Why doesn’t he care? Where did he come from? Why are there no others like this? Lots of somewhat interesting questions!
It then leaps to trying to get him to improve after randomly meeting a PR person; The PR angle alone is actually quite fun; him going to prison was pulled off okay; the bank scene was fun and also made sense in a “superman can’t be killed but hostages can be” way, give or take the issue with a bank robber thinking he’d get away somehow.
You then learn his past a bit (amnesia, no one coming for him) then it really goes to pants – I’ll just ignore the rest here – the whole “duo demigods” (with silly fights)/”plot device of him being vulnerable” (with silly conclusion) and so forth. His past could have always been unexplained too; a real John Doe superhero, and just focus on the present. Shame it just went to pants exactly when the woman throws Hancock through the wall – like Hancock I was like “waaaa?” for all the wrong reasons (not just because she can’t act).
The gem is having a rather real anti-superhero (a non-caring one, not just one who kills bad guys) and actually pulling it off quite well in the beginning. It could have been an interesting dissection of why someone who is invincible wants to help people (and in fact it is never reached in the film the reason why he does help people apart from it possibly being rewarding in unto itself!), especially when he has no past and possibly might not even be human.
In fact how he even came to be actually absolutely terrible but at least trying to help is never really covered – he could have just as surely just bummed around doing next to nothing but stealing liquor for the rest of his life! Seeing his past would have been an interesting way to take the film – flashback or just actually seeing him start out trying but failing and just being terrible at it. After all you have to wonder after 80 years what happened? How long has he been trying? and so forth. It’s quite Disney overall despite implied violence; no moral questions about not saving anyone one day because he was hung over, or if in fact he had issues doing everything right so turned to drink or whatever. I mean, it is quite comically both serious (in a way; with hostages, C4 and so forth) yet just not serious at all (silly demigod fights and over-the-top fights in general, silly badguys, redemption-in-a-week montage, no actual questions asked about morals and fuzzy silly PR, etc.).
Anyway, enough rambling words on Hancock. I hope some future films look into the more meta-side of superheroes. I’d certainly find it entertaining 🙂