Home » Cinema and Television, February 2009

Angels With Dirty Faces

5 February 2009 2,580 Views 5 Comments author: Daniel Swensen

Original illustration by Michael Sean Hansen.

“It a choice, Wesley, that each of us must face: to remain ordinary, pathetic, beat-down, coasting through a miserable existence, like sheep herded by fate – or you can take control of your own destiny and join us, releasing the caged wolf you have inside. Our purpose is to maintain stability in an unstable world – kill one, save a thousand. Within the fabric of this world, every life hangs by a thread. We are that thread – a fraternity of assassins with the weapons of fate. This is the decision that lies before you now: the sheep, or the wolf. The choice is yours.” – Sloan (Morgan Freeman), Wanted

If the most recent crop of superhero movies is any indication, you can be sure of one thing: should an average young white male suddenly manifest mysterious supernatural powers, a menacing cadre of imposing men in expensive suits (led by an equally imposing black man) will soon arrive to try to shape those powers — and our young white protagonist — into a tool of governmental or corporate evil. If such a young man were a caped superhero of the Golden Age, the call to action would be clear — to fight crime and defeat evil. The new, plainclothes breed of hero, however, is a much more complicated animal, more likely to cash in for a quick buck than take up a just crusade.

Witness the latest trailer for the upcoming Infinity Features Entertainment film Push, featuring a young man discovering that he has extraordinary powers. Like clockwork, enter the well-dressed and menacing Djimon Hounsou, representative of “The Division,” a secret agency that wants to create an entire army of super-powered individuals. If this plot sounds familiar, it really should; 2008′s Wanted chronicled the adventures of young white-collar stooge Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) joining a team of super-powered government assassins led by an intimidating and stylish Sloan (Morgan Freeman). As if that weren’t more than enough, 2008 also saw the release of Jumper, in which Hayden Christensen discovers he has super-powers, and is soon hunted by a murderous Samuel L. Jackson. The startling sameness of these storylines makes one wonder what’s next: Jonah Hill develops the power to fly, only to be ruthlessly pursued by psychotic federal agent Danny Glover? Jason Biggs discovers he has the strength of ten men, only to be harangued at the bus stop by interdimensional assassin Cedric the Entertainer?

Lead illustration by Michael Sean Hansen of .

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