Thursday, December 18, 2014

Classic Corner: Unsung Hero

By Da CogNegro

With Marvel Studios' recent announcement of its' upcoming Phase 3,coupled with DC Comics/WB  future offerings, it is a great time to be a comic book fan!  I know we have to suffer through Fox's and Sony's cash grabs entitled the Fantastic Four and the bastardization of the Spider Man universe but at least Bryan Singer is back at the helm of the X-Men franchise. I for one feel quite spoiled, don't you?You see kiddies, there was a time where comic book movies where no where to be found thanks to a small film called Superman IV :Quest for Peace. This waste of celluloid was so horrid, that movie studios did not want to touch any comic  book property with a ten foot pole used at Drake's bar mitzvah! Though Tim Burton revitalized the Batman franchise in 89, producers and distributors alike where still  leery at adapting established comic franchises. As a result, studios begin to create their own super heroes to fill in the chasm that Superman haphazardly created. Most studios failed at making anything substantial Nevertheless, one of those attempts, to the day, stays near and true to my heart!

Meteor Man, which is directed by Robert Townsend, tells the story of Baltimore native, Jefferson Reed; a mild mannered,  high school, substitute teacher, who moonlit as a bass player for a  local band. After being struck by a meteor, Reed becomes a super powered being bestowed with incredible abilities that includes, but not limited to, superhuman strength, speed, hearing, healing powers, telekinesis, super breath (ok?) and being able to understand the language of dogs!The movie basically goes through your standard superhero phases of overcoming initial uncertainty of the new found role , combating the scourges that plague the hero's community (which in this instance are the Golden Lords: a local gang funded by drug kingpins and known for their affinity for everything gold, think Trinidad James but less garbled),rejection from the community due to the retaliation of the antagonists and finally, redemption through the defeat of the villains once and for all! Throw in many cameo appearances from every black entertainer at the time,no seriously, even Luther Vandross manages to snag a role as a mobster...let that sink in for a bit ,a catchphrase (GET METEORIZED) and a August slot for the Summer of 1993 and you are be  guaranteed a blockbuster franchise...right...RIGHT?

(I just bought this suit from Burlington Coat Factory!)

(Canceled After Just Six Issues??!! Arrghh!!)
Unfortunately,Meteor Man bombed at the box office and was panned by most critics upon release.  However, one has to applaud Towsend's efforts for  at least attempting to fill in the vacant spot when it came to heroes of color. The closest thing we ever received when it came to black heroes where those of the blaxploitation age and surely  that wasn't geared towards young children. I also believe the film may have been ahead of it's time. As mentioned earlier, the only comic book franchise that had proven to be successful at the time were Burton's Batman(s), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles doesn't count because their popularity was clearly a result of the animated show and not Eastman's black and white comic book. If Meteor Man was released  circa 2000, when special effects had improved and comic book films were becoming more of a staple, I'm pretty sure that it would have drawn a bigger audience. Nevertheless, Meteor Man did manage to  spawn a 6 issue limited series produced by Marvel Comics (ironically), a criminally underrated soundtrack and even a bendy toy  that no one bought! And dare I say, that if it wasn't for Meteor Man, there would be no Blank Man or the widely herald  STEEL, staring a post Kazam Shaquille O'Neal! On second thought, we've had a pretty crappy track record! Black Panther can't come soon enough!

My copy of Meteor Man (I'm such a nerd!)

*Plot and character details derived from Wikipedia

1 comment:

  1. Meteor Man could be re-released right now with the exact same production value, and it would still be better than the recent Green Lantern and The Green Hornet movies. (Maybe green super heroes are just jinxed?) This post has made me nostalgic--Ain't nobody bad like the Metero Man! --OM