Friday, March 25, 2011

Week 10: SWOT

-First and foremost, Powers (Bendis) has a fairly large fan-base to begin with. After all, Deena Pilgrim has been voted up to 24th among the top 50 Comic Book Characters of All Time on Empire Magazine [1]. This magazine is the “biggest selling film magazine” with a circulation of “194, 016” in 2009 according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation [2]. As we intend to remain generally true to the texts, we have little worry of alienating Bendis’ fans.
-Moreover, our film noir style which blends detective drama with superhero elements has the ability to draw audiences from both those demographics. Shane Black may draw those interested in detective drama based on his work on the Lethal Weapon films as well as his noir detective film, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Black, 2005). Additionally, Black’s work on Ironman 3 (Black, 2011) may attract those interested in Superhero films. Our texts ability to expand effectively across genre allows for an expansion of our demographic putting it among our strengths.
-Our plan to debut the film at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is also used to our strengths. As we desire to create meaningful, critically acclaimed films we have decided that a film festival is an excellent place to debut. Toronto is one of the film capitals of Canada and is swarmed with many students of film (according to TIFF [3] which includes a Student Film Showcase). Therefore, many of those among the crowd will be in search of deeply analyzing films such as ours which includes religious themes (see our blog for full details, “Week 3: Beyond the Surface”). Using the God complexes found in those with super powers, we can express the communities desire to restrain these figures paralleled with a desire to keep politicians in check similar to recent strife in Egypt. Insight such as this will excite film students searching for implications in films; the students will then spread word and build word of mouth hype for our franchise. Our film 1 synopsis contains further depth upon the matter of insight in our film; however, its importance among our strengths is merely to impress film students at the TIFF perpetrating word of mouth.
-Moreover, social significance is becoming a more desired aspect in film. For example, the nihilism in The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008) attributed to its ability to rise above the average popcorn film and achieve not only critical acclaim, but also success at the box office [4]. Nava cites many films explaining that “today’s audience does seem to genuinely associate gloom and nihilism with realism, insightfulness, and overall good quality in film.” Our use of film noir coupled with bleak insightfulness is becoming more and more desirable for audiences.  

-We, unfortunately, also risk slipping into the background of the many films which create a dark, nihilistic insightfulness. It is a popular tendency for films to illustrate a dark nihilism in order to score at the box-office [4]. Of course, we try to avoid slipping below summer box offices through our TIFF debut in the September. Our theatrical release will only occur following the word of mouth garnered at the festival. This gives our film an opportunity to portray the darker tone at a safer time, minimizing the possibility of being swept beneath many other dark films.
-We intend to conduct a survey to confirm this, but we fear our film may alienate certain older and female demographics. Detective and superhero films such as ours do not typically appeal to those outside the 16-30 male demographic. While the younger males are the primary film viewer demographic [5], it still poses a weakness to our film to alienate others. In an attempt to minimize this weakness, we intend to make an opportunity of the Mad Men series which airs late summer to early fall. As John Hamm is the star of our film, advertisements played during the Mad Men episodes could draw some fans from the demographics we may otherwise expect to alienate. We can hope to expand our demographic in ways such as this; however, this film cannot reach all audiences, especially considering an amount of cursing and violence that may lead to a PG-13 or possible 14-A rating.

-As The Dark Knight Rises (Nolan, 2012) will be released in June, the DVD release will be aligned with our TIFF debut in September of 2012. This allows us opportunity to compare Powers with this film as we share the darker tendencies of the film. The DVD release of the Nolan’s nihilistic film may spark interest in theatrical audiences desire to indulge in darker movies such as ours. Moreover, the TIFF is held in the fall allowing our film to parallel the darkening seasons drawing in an audience looking for a film that is topical of the weather.
-The theatrical release following out TIFF debut would be early the following year, just in time for the Academy Awards and various other film award ceremonies. As it is in our mission statement to create prestigious and meaningful films, we intend to win awards. Thus, if successful in following through, the award season creates opportunity for our film to be recognized by wider audiences who would then wish to see our film. Our film, therefore, has the opportunity of creating a similar effect to the recent success of The King’s Speech (Hooper, 2011). The film’s nominations for the Oscars led to a “revenue surge” in the following weeks [6]. Award nominations lead to exposure, therefore, our desire to create award winning films will effectually help our films to gain a boost at the box-office provided the films are in theatres during the rush of award season. 

-We must also soberly admit that Nolan’s DVD release also poses a threat to drown our film. If our films are too closely similar, it could lead to flak labelling our film a “cheap remake.”
-A common threat for films is the issue of pirated copies. However, the DVD remains attractive to those who hope to attain the many artefacts offered [7]. As our film arises from a culture of fans who maintain worth in collectable items, the DVD holds a value that is not shared in pirated copies. In the same manner fans choose to buy comics rather than read them online, we hope fans may buy the DVD rather than pirate the film online. Moreover, assuming our comparison to Scott Pilgrim (Wright, 2010) is accurate, our dark cult film will most likely gather it’s followers through DVD after it has had time to fully grow it’s fan-base as discussed in the previous blog (“Week 9: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Powers”). Thus, we recognize pirating as a threat, but maintain that our DVD popularity may surpass it. The primary threat that could arise from pirating would occur between our TIFF debut and theatrical release. Students may spread word of this film immediately following the TIFF debut causing many viewers to be anxious—leading them to pirated copies before the international theatrical release.

[1] “The 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters.” Empire Magazine. Web. 25 Mar. 2011. <>

[2] “ABC Circulation Figures January-June 2009.” Bauer Media. Web. 25 Mar. 2011.<>

[3] Toronto International Film Festival. <>

[4] Nava, William. “Batman: The Dark Knights Nihilism: Trend of Cynicism Infects Box-Office” 1 Aug. 2008. Suite 101. Web. 25 Mar. 2011. <>

[5] McDonald, Paul and Janet Wasko (eds.) The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry. Publisher Malden, MA ; Oxford : Blackwell Pub., 2008.

[6] McClintock, Pamela. “’The King’s Speech’ Gets Big Box-Office Bump.” 26 Jan. 2011. The Hollywood Reporter. Web. 25 Mar. 2011. <>

[7] Denison, Rayna. “It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! No, It’s a DVD!: Superman, Smallville, and the production (of) Melodrama.”

Friday, March 18, 2011

Week 9: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Powers

This week, we began to tease out the importance maintaining the fandom of Bendis and Powers when adapting our film. Using the recent adaptation of Scott Pilgrim as a miniature case study and launching point for our discussion, we learned some valuable lessons in terms of fans jumping from medium to medium. While the Scott Pilgrim franchise does not share the same style/ tone we wish to evoke in our adaptation, it does serve as a topical comparison in terms of adapting comic to film. Moreover, both Powers (2000) and Scott Pilgrim (2004) began publication not too long ago which suggests both series’ are still building a fan-base unlike others such as Batman or X-Men which are recycling their audiences.

The final volume of Scott Pilgrim was released to coincide with the largely popular San Diego comic con. While this is a common means for advertising a comic series, it also served as an advertising ground for the film which was to be released only a little over a month following. They staged screenings of the film at the convention in order to receive early opinions from fans willing to wait in hefty lines. A review from Chris Sims of comic book fan site Comics Alliance was one of such fans willing to wait in line. Sims offered a greatly positive review and stated that he felt most the audience shaqred the felling (although he soberly admits that these are fans of the novels and had spent the last few hours having them hyped). He praised it as a comic adaptation done right, or ‘Wright,’ I should say, as his praise is generally aimed at the director who he feels maintained the themes of the novel. Sims notes that Wright “gets it,” going on to explain that he beautifully maintained themes and aspects of the novels while recognizing he was telling the story through a completely separate medium. He admits characterization was sacrificed in the switch to the time constrained medium, but praises the actors for remaining true to the characters they were portraying. All in all, the fans are happy; biased as they may be, the fan review reveals the desire for themes and character to remain apparent in the adaptation. It is also worth noting that the film also faired well with critics.
This is great news; after all, we hold in our mission statement that we wish to remain true to the dark themes and style of our novel in order to hold on to the growing fan-base. Excellent. No? Well, an interview with Wright and the author of Scott Pilgrim, Bryan Lee O’Malley, discusses the pathetic gross of the film. The interviewer from the Canadian Press  notes the film grossed just over $45 million world wide only denting the $60 million budget. However, Wright explains that much like his other films, it will find steady success on DVD becoming a cult favourite similar to his other films; he notes that the films complicated style needs time to spread—a time that simply isn’t offered in a theatrical run. Fair enough, this is another parallel we have in our project as we express our mission to create a cult film rather than a summer box office hit. Moreover, O’Malley notes in the interview that the film increased the sales of the 1st volume suggests the rise in a fan culture. But has the DVD been as successful as the creators hoped? Another look at The Numbers reveals DVD sales to be above $14 million in the US alone thus far, 4 months after release. Moreover, the DVD, which was released late December in the UK, was reported to be the number 1 selling blu-ray upon release. This is clearly a tall percentage of the films gross—it’s also the only one which can continue growing. So perhaps Wright is apt in making his prediction: the product is great, but the fan culture needs time to grow. After all, the reviews this film has received call for it to be seen, even if not on the big screen.

To summarize this case-study research in terms of our project, it is clear that our mission statement will remain to be loyal to (and emphasise) the thematic and stylistic structure of Powers while also maintaining similar character portrayal. Like Scott Pilgrim, the fan-base of Powers is still growing, and we wish to build upon them, bringing fans of the text to the film and vice-versa. Of course, we cannot say the profit of Scott Pilgrim is the most desirable, but we can learn from one of their mistakes. While the popularity for the franchise grows on DVD as Wright suggests, the profit ends there. However, if they were to make a sequel, it would be a much larger success in terms of the box-office as there would be a larger fan-base. Unfortunately, the film summarized the series and this is hardly possible unless the rights are bought from O’Malley or he continues to write more volumes. Our film needs time to continue growing off the fan culture of the text like Scott Pilgrim, so, through the use of sequels, we will avoid this problem and afford opportunity for audiences to acquaint themselves with the material. Thus, we are still justified in maintaining the tone of the text and playing to the fan-base of the text so long as we correct the mistake of Scott Pilgrim and introduce sequels to please the growing following found on DVD. We do not plan to compete in the summer box-office as the full potential of the film relies on a young culture of fans for Powers which can grow through the same reciprocating power that O’Malley suggests for his own text.

Apologies for the length of this post, we saw many connections between this film and ours and did not want to sacrifice any implications that arose in our research.

“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” The Numbers. Web. Mar. 18, 2011. <>

Sims, Chris. “10 Thoughts on ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” Comics Alliance. July 26, 2010. Web. Mar. 18, 2011. <>

Szklarski, Cassandra. “Scott Pilgrim vs. the disappointing box office.” The Canadian Press. Nov. 4, 2010. Web. Mar. 18, 2010. <>

Top 40 Blu-Ray Archive-8th January 2011. Official UK Charts Company. Web. Mar. 18, 2011. <>

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Week 8: Ancillaries: This Title Means Business.

         Welcome back fans—of whatever aspect of our production you may be fans of. In any case, what can we launch to determine if you’re a fan or not? This week we discussed Eileen Meehan’s insight into film as a commodity in her article, “‘Holy Commodity Fetish, Batman!’” which analyzes the production of Tim Burton’s Batman film in the 1980s. The steps preceding the decisions of beginning production on this film were clearly grand as Meehan describes it. However, we are not working with what Meehan would call a “tried and true product” as she does the Batman franchise. Powers does not garner the same attention that Batman can: we cannot open a hotline asking fans if they would like to see Deena killed—she’s just not as iconic as the famous sidekick, Robin. Of course, there’s no use whining about our disadvantages, we just have to work with the merits of our own project.
            In terms of ancillaries, Meehan brought up two which we discussed in terms of our adaptation of Powers. First of all, Meehan explains the success of Prince’s connection with the film to increase fans and sales for both the film and his album. She notes the strong link between the two to be the music videos which feature imagery and scenes from the film. However, Meehan overlooks the importance of the rising popularity of music videos in the late 80s; they were seen as miniature films (Michael Jackson’s Thriller, for example). Without the same interest in music videos, it’s become much more difficult to draw connections between album and film in order to use albums as ancillaries effectively; albums now must illustrate the connection with the film through the tone of their music alone. Nonetheless, Iron Man 2, for example, created an ancillary album with the help of AC/DC. The music of AC/DC clearly resonates with the tone of Iron Man as, for lack of a better term, an American bad boy. Though your eyebrows may be raised, AC/DC do in fact garner an American bad boy image through their edgy music…in the 80s. Thus, Iron Man clearly demonstrates an air of charisma to a younger generation while AC/DC illicit the same bad boy attitude to the older (male) generation. It is important to note that the album was not used the same as Prince’s for Batman. While Prince was used to grab at a separate audience (female and African American as noted by Meehan), AC/DC was simply used to bridge a generational gap for the desired tone of the film. So, rather than ambitiously grasping for new audiences, the producers of Iron Man maintained the tone of their film and merely extended their audience to an older generation that may also be interested in a revival of the bad boy image. They stayed true to the tone of their film rather than drawing the major connections through music videos hoping to grab a completely foreign audience. With this analysis of the development of album ancillaries in mind, we believe the dark, gritty, and powerful tone we wish to create in our film deserves a musical counterpart. We require a band that offers this tone to an audience outside our comic reading/ late teen male demographics that we can already achieve through various advertisements (rather than ancillaries). We are searching for a band that can effectively portray the tone of our film to a wider demographic as well as AC/DC did for Iron Man 2.

            The second ancillary we find has merits for our project is the DVD. Though Meehan does not discuss these in her article (go figure as she discusses a film made in the 80s), we believe in the importance of DVD’s to promote our film and increase our sales in the future sequels. Throughout our blogs and in our presentation, we have stressed the importance of creating a full and complex world within our films. The DVD is an excerpt from this world that allows the audience further insight. The amount of bonus features that could include set tours and, character biographies, summaries of the comic series, etc. would feed the viewers interest in the franchise making them eager for more. Viewers would use these features to submerse themselves within the world of Powers, peaking their interest enough to join speculative conversations with other fans. As we’ve stated before, we are not pitching a summer tent pole; we expect to harvest fandom through word of mouth which leads to an explosion for DVD sales as with movies such as Fight Club. Though this may seem like an empty hope, it becomes all the more possible with the help of the internet. Online posts of bonus features similar to the ones on the DVD can spread like wild fire if they express a dedication to maintaining a unique and intriguing tone. Viewers climb deeper and deeper through the rabbit hole wishing to construct the extensive world of Powers. The flow of fans would follow the internet to the DVD, and the DVD to future sequels. Online attention always garners a fan base as we saw with Heroes; however, we also recognize that this is a risk to count on people to find our DVD. Nonetheless, this ancillary could offer a very large pay off if it successfully extends the extensive world we wish to create in our films as discussed in our presentation pitch.

            That is our long winded reasoning for our desire to make use of these two ancillaries (at least); our commitment to a consistent and unique tone lends itself to make effective use of soundtrack and DVD. There’s much more to add, but, like the DVD, it’s only a minor insight to answer a few questions that drive your interest (and ours).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Week 7: EXTRA, EXTRA! Read all about it!—or just watch the movie instead.

           This week we submersed ourselves into the business of advertising superhero films; after all, approximately 30% of our budget is expected to be spent on advertising. Specifically, we discussed one of the most effective means of advertising: branding. Branding is essential the Look, Hook and Book of high concept marketing; moreover, Derek Johnson explains in his article, “Will the real Wolverine please stand up,” that branding has been effectively used by companies such as Marvel and DC in order to accomplish horizontal integration expanding their sources of possible income. Johnson notes that horizontal integration has become a must in the comic book industry; he points out that a dying medium needs to reach out to rising ones in order to (re-)invigorate their franchise. Johnson catalogues the shift of Marvel from monthlies to movies becoming an industry that sells characters and ideas above all else. Both lecture and reading stressed the importance of creating and selling a brand in order to maintain a strong franchise, so, accordingly, we discussed our ability to attach our film to existing brands while also creating our own in order to foster a strong fan base.

            Johnson explains in his article that Marvel began in the early 2000s to license their characters to a more profitable medium, film. This effectively drove book sales as it re-invigorated interest in their very recognizable characters—X-Men were already widely known, but there was previously wavering interest before the arrival of the film adaptation. This, unfortunately, is not the case for the characters of Powers. While Lord of the Rings dealt with an estimated 25% of possible audience never having heard or read the source material, as Prof. Lipsett suggests, our text most likely sky rockets this number. Powers hardly carries a brand powerful enough to draw much an audience on its own, but we began to recognize the audiences we were drawing based on our presentation pitch. For example, as Johnson notes in his article, Marvel used a sense of auteurism in order to brand their characters; similarly, our use of director Shane Black creates a brand for our film. Black’s direction and authorship of many detective films helps not only to bring out the tropes of the genre, but also the fans. Moreover, the casting of Jon Hamm as Detective Christian Walker has a similar effect. Fans of his character on Mad Men will obviously be drawn to him in this film, and rightly so as he will be playing to similar dark and corrupt tropes of the character. Simply put, we recognized that our choice of director and cast effectively creates a flexible brand for our film.

            While we’ve begun branding our film with the well known artists we hope to bring on board, this loose branding also creates the problem of multiplicity as suggested by Johnson. As we further solidify the themes and tropes of our film, we further separate ourselves from the original characters that the dedicated Powers fan-base has grown to love—in the same way the X-Men films changed Wolverine. This is inevitable as we are essentially re-designing the origins of our characters. Of course, Johnson goes on to explain that much of the multiplicity comes from spin-off comics that alter the origins of characters. Johnson notes that Marvel often began writing newer comics to expand their audience by attracting the devoted fans while also appealing to a new younger demographic that follows the film. Of course, we do not share the same worry as there are not multiple authors working on Powers in order to constantly reach out to different demographics. Moreover, Bendis’ comics are fairly new, beginning in the early 2000s, the devoted fans of the comics most likely remain a part of the profitable ‘Men under 25’ market.  

            Simply put, advertising is a large part of our production process that has begun with the decisions we are making now. With a focus on the effectiveness of branding as described by Johnson and Prof. Lipsett, our group has discovered that, similar to Marvel, we’ve effectively begun branding our film through auteurism and other casting choices. Moreover, we’ve also recognized that while our comic is not as popular as the brands of Marvel, we still risk alienating devoted fans by creating a multiplicity for the characters we portray. Of course, risk of alienating this crowd is minimal primarily due to their presence in the largest film viewing demographic. In terms of the future, our group has begun to recognize the links of advertising to every decision made. For every decision we make from here on out, the thought of advertising will swim in the back of our minds—I think 30% of the back of our minds will do…tropes such as lame jokes and puns have obviously remained in our minds as well.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Week 6: Melodramatic Media and Darker Decisions

This week our group discussed the parallels and divergences of film and television in terms of the superhero genre. While both deal with issues of adaptation and advertisement, the primary difference discussed is televisions need for melodrama. As we saw in the television series of Heroes, characters of melodrama require an essence of melodrama in order to maintain a constant connection with the audience. Contrastingly, film only requires a connection between character and audience lasting an hour or two, but this doesn’t take anything away, it’s just a difference caused by the techniques of each medium. Nonetheless, with this as our launching point, our group began to discuss the uses of melodrama, advertising, and the infamous DVD in terms of our adaptation of the graphic novel, Powers.  

            We can’t say there is much melodrama in our graphic novel; the issues of the characters in Powers are hardly brought down to the everyday as they are in Heroes. While characters in Heroes are frequently making decisions based on their concerns as friends, lovers, or as parents, the characters of Powers often wade through large questions of existence, death, and morals in terms of the world as a whole rather than in terms of family or other miniature societies. Of course, Powers is not completely void of any melodrama, the love story between the protagonist and Retro Girl fills this hole. However, our group agreed that this was oddly thrown in merely as a possible story line that could connect the novel’s series which, fittingly, is the purpose of melodrama in superhero television series such as Heroes and Smallville. Of course, this offers many implications in terms of our desire to create the contained world of Powers in our adaptation; our desire is to bring the audience into the world forcing them to be a voyeur of the world rather than simply the action. This effectively leaves space between the audience and our characters. This space allows them to be impartial, critical judges of the actions of our twisted, complicated characters rather than being drawn in based on sentimental reasoning that encapsulates melodrama. The sentimentality of melodrama simply has no place in the darkened world we wish to portray.

            Our group then began to discuss methods of advertising as well as the importance of the DVD as discussed in Rayna Denison’s article. The effectiveness of internet advertising for Heroes strongly intrigued our group. Moving beyond the fact that this blog itself is essentially advertisement, our group discussed the importance for advertisement to illustrate the overall feel of its product. As done with the campaign for Heroes which emphasized the melodramatic and interconnected interactions of the characters, we clearly need to distinguish the feel of our film which we previously noted to be a complete and darkened world. Denison sites Smallville for making use of interviews on their DVD to demonstrate the family atmosphere of the show existing upon the set as well. Denison explains that this is important for fans who may now feel a deeper connection with the show. This provoked an idea for us to present this in an advertising campaign; however, our campaign would be done as the world juxtaposed with the set rather than the characters with their actors. For example, we may film footage of the making of the set which showcases the construction of the skeletal structures followed up by shots that illustrate the final version complete with dark and looming atmosphere. Posting clips such as this on our blog would build audiences excitement to dive into the world we are giving them glimpses of. Moreover, expanded clips of these ads could be added to our box set DVD solidifying its collector’s artefact status as Denison suggests.

            That concludes our insight for this week. Until our next piece of advertisement, all of us here on the “Powers 1” team wish you a good break….no matter how sentimental that statement is.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Week 5: Revision, Revisionist, Revisionism…

This week in class our topic was a continuation from last week’s on genre; our lecture moved past the formation of conventions and focused on its cycle and the effect it has on the superhero film. We watched Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass (2009) as an example to the third stage of revisionism and the conventions it exploits for purpose of irony.

To begin, genre is explained, by Louis Gianetti and Jim Leach, as films “that are immediately recognizable through their iconography, motifs that become associated through repetition” (52). It is always traced back to Edwin S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1903), as it was the first western ever made, a genre not unlike that of the superhero. Both deal with isolated individuals with a penchant for social do-good following specific conventions that have become altered as film has progressed through history. To point out more similarities, the western, like the superhero film, is also rooted in convenience store material.

The reading that supplements the lecture, titled “Introduction: Once Upon a Time Once Again,” is an interesting article that provides the history of the evolution of the superhero and the interpretation readers provide through its progression. They dissect what they consider to be “canonical and non-canonical” in regards to changed material in order to help presence its integrity. The author emphasizes the point of change where a superhero becomes revamped while staying true to source content. He utilizes examples where it has enhanced the original content, like that of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, where its serves a new vehicle for “superhero relevance.” It adds a new gritty realism that was not seen to that point. He also provides examples where it was harbored conventions taking it to a point where it provides no variety and diminished the product, like the bifurcation of Superman into two separate entities of red and blue.

All of this can be applied to our adaptation of Powers because Michael Bendis takes conventions and subverts them. He does not alter them to the point of irony like in Kick-Ass but to point where he presents something not considered a-typical of the superhero medium. In the graphic novel, the world is created around the notion that superheroes are a common phenomenon although in the way that they exist without being called attention to. The protagonists of the novel have no powers alienating them from the world at hand creating a paradox not seen in most comics. It inverts the notion of isolation usually attributed to the superhero; however, the ones singled out are regular human beings. Although this is not a radical revision, he creates a new approach to the genre connecting the audience with something not ultimately available.

Works Cited
Giannetti, Louis D., and Jim Leach. Understanding Movies. Toronto: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. Print.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Week 4: *Insert Generic Title Here*

This week our topic revolved tightly around genre; looking specifically at the film Dick Tracy and the article by Peter Coogan, “The Definition of Superhero,” our group experienced flurries of discussion greater than that of the snow out doors. Puns and quick dialogue, of course, are conventional to the superhero genre, although writers of the genre are much stronger in this area than I, so I’ll spare you from more of my own pathetic examples. Why don’t we just dive right in?

            Coogan, in his article, explains that a superhero is a champion of the oppressed; a superhero is one who generally follows the mission, powers, and identity formula. Through his many case studies, Cogan illustrates that the superhero does not necessarily need to be firmly planted in all three of these tropes. Superheroes may survive on merely two of these identifiers such as Batman. He has a strong mission to clean up the streets of Gotham and avenge his parent, he has a clear identity drawn from his origin which inspires his costume; however, he does not have any special powers. Of course, Coogan points out that his displays of strength and conflicts with eccentric villains more firmly establish him in the genre.
            Throughout his article, Coogan digresses into these case studies; however, he makes a few strong points throughout which greatly helped us to look critically at Dick Tracy as a superhero. Coogan sites McCloud’s argument for the importance of easily recognizable costumes. This is strongly illustrated in the film; Dick Tracy’s bright suit and the kid’s sharp red outfit are abundant signifiers throughout the film. Dick Tracy and the kid also have a clear mission, to clean the streets of the mob; clearly, they are champions of the oppressed. However, Dick Tracy does not go much further into the realm of the superhero genre as explained by Coogan. Tracy does not have any special powers beyond his heroic acts such as climbing and leaping off building and riding on the backs of cars, in this way, he is not greater than the average hero as Coogan would wish him to be. Moreover, he does not have a secret identity that arises from an origin story; he simply runs through the streets with everyone aware of who he is. Some might argue that the kid presents the characteristics of identity as he is illustrated to have an origin to his mission and does not have an identity until the end; however, as the title hero is Dick Tracy, this is easily overlooked. Thus, apart from clearly identifiable costumes, identity is not prevalent in the film. Thus, Dick Tracy only strongly follows one of the three formulaic qualities described by Coogan. Our group decided this prevalence of identifiable costumes, heroic, but not super-heroic feats, and a lack of secret identities arising from an origin story left Dick Tracy too far on the outskirts of the superhero genre to be truly applicable among a firm tier list of superhero films.

            After discovering Dick Tracy to be on the outskirts of the genre, we then took a look at Coogan’s solar system metaphor which explains the importance of producers and writers to decide what genre their film is going to belong to. Joe Lipsett noted the importance of this in advertising; after all, we don’t want our audience to feel cheated out of what they expected based on the iconography and conventions of our trailer. As producers we have to decide how firmly we wish to establish ourselves in the genre in order to attract not only the appropriate audience, but also a wide audience. Of course, Prof. Lipsett also explained the empiricist dilemma, or, in other words, the chicken and egg dilemma which is presented by defining genre convention. This got us thinking of the constant evolution of genre which we are inevitably a part of whether as producer or as audience member. So, how much do we want to stray from convention? At what point will we offend genre seekers at our film? Do we want to evolve the genre or remain true to what’s already established? As our graphic novel, Powers, merely fringes upon many of the conventions of the superhero genre, we have plenty of room to tinker with, but we don’t want to give too much away, at least, not yet.