Superhero Week: Man of Steel and other stories

Man of SteelThis week sees the release of Man of Steel, the latest Superman movie to be adapted from the DC comic. In other news, and by no means a coincidence, it also happens to be Superhero Week here at Gollancz (any excuse…). Superhero Week involves a lot of (sometimes heated) chat about our favourite movie adaptations, comics, heroes and villains, taking our Geek asses to the Man of Steel premiere to spread the good Gollancz word and occasionally running around the office in a cape and pretending to have powers.*

We’re going to be sharing some of the team’s favourite comic book movie adaptations on the blog over the next few days, and we’ll be launching a very exciting competition later in the week with a big prize to tie in with the movie release. Also, because we’re never ones to miss a marketing opportunity, we’ll be telling you more about one of our most exciting books coming out later in the year which may or may not be loosely connected. Can you guess what it is? Steel yourselves, it’s going to be a good one…

Charlie will kick things off today with his favourite adaptation. 


I thought about the likes of The Dark Knight and The Avengers, but I’ve decided to go for 2001’s Ghost World, adapted from Daniel Clowes’ excellent comic (Clowes himself co-wrote the screenplay with director Terry Zwigoff). Some films earn the tag ‘bittersweet’; Ghost World is more ‘bitter bitter’, as it perfectly captures the uncertainty of early adulthood and a friendship that is starting to slowly fragment. We’ve all had experiences of drifting apart permanently from people once close to us, and the film explores this with brutal accuracy. The central trio of Thora Birch, a pre-stardom Scarlett Johansson and the ever-reliable Steve Buscemi all give great performances, with Birch and Buscemi both showing the frustration of dealing with a world they can’t and/or don’t want to understand (watch Buscemi’s expression when his date says she doesn’t understand Laurel and Hardy films). The film’s major trump card though is the frequently caustic (and Oscar-nominated) script, which lands very some funny blows, not least on artistic pretentiousness. Even now, just reading some of the film quotes on the film’s IMDB page, I find myself laughing.  It’s a rare film/TV show that balances comedy with drama without the two elements jarring horribly but Ghost World succeeds admirably.

And as a final aside, it was pretty much the only film that dared to come out on the same day as Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone in the UK. That’s counter-programming I have to admire.


*Please note we will be of no use should world catastrophe strike.