Thursday, 31 March 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #704: Governator Gets Creatively Terminated

I was a big Arnold Schwarzenegger fan when I was a kid in the 1980s. Thanks to films like The Terminator, and Predator what kid at that time wasn't. That fandom started to fade when I got older and started delving deeper into the history of the action film and got into the films of Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, and the daddy of them all John Wayne. But there was still a warm place in this fanboy's heart for Ah-nuld's cinematic canon.

Well, that warm place has been rendered down to cold, wet ashes, because Arnold himself has just pissed all over it.

I'm not talking about his many failures as governor, this is not a political blog, I'm talking about his big comeback to pop culture in partnership with Stan Lee. Look upon this and despair...
Apparently Arnold's big comeback vehicle will be a comic and animated series called The Governator, starring Arnold as... well... Arnold... who, after a lackluster governorship, becomes a costumed crime fighter, called the Governator.

I don't know which is sadder, so I'll list them, and let you decide...

1. The sheer lack of imagination displayed by the once great, but now sadly pathetic Stan Lee, who managed to reach new depths of legacy-destruction than he did with 2004's

2. That Arnold's ego is still so overwhelming that he thought this would be a good idea.

3. That the Lee/Schwarzenegger combo was enough to get other people/companies to go along with this hare-brained scheme.

4. That
Entertainment Weekly was that desperate for something to print that they made this steaming pile of an idea their cover story.

5. That people in Hollywood know so little about their own industry that they can't see that this whole enterprise is doomed to become nothing more than a punchline in some geek's stand up routine.

Now you're probably wondering how I know that this little endeavor is doomed to clog up the remainder bins of comic shops and remainder bins if they go through with....

--What? You're not wondering how I know? Fine, I'm just going to tell you anyway, it's my blog & I can pontificate if I want to.

I know that this will fail, because I know a little history, so unlike the people who are investing time and money in this little boondoggle I am not doomed to repeat history. I'll explain this history with a little thought experiment.

I want you to think back to all the times, probably deep in your childhood when you saw a cartoon or comic book based on a real celebrity. Especially where they tried to transform said celebrity into some sort of superhero or adventurer. Think Mr. T's illustrated/animated spin-offs, or Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos.

Now try to remember how many lasted more than few episodes, and how many are seen as nothing more than a quaint artifact of how stupid TV and comics people would try to cram anything down your throat as long as it had a famous name attached.

I couldn't think of any, so I did a little research, and came across 1, The Jackie Chan Adventures, that actually had a good 95 episode run. Possibly because it relied just as much on self-deprecating slapstick comedy than it did on heroics, giving it an element of humility. Even then it probably won't have legs in the ongoing pop-zeitgeist like a Batman, a Superman, or even Stan Lee's own Spider-Man.

So why do they fail?

Three reasons--

1. EGO. Having a superhero based on yourself is the ultimate ego trip, and you know how much comic book and cartoon fans love to spend their money feeding someone's ego.... NOT!

2. QUALITY. Usually these sorts of projects have very little thought put into them beyond the initial premise of slapping a famous face into a superhero suit. So you get characters that are thin, even by cartoon standards, lame villains, and plots with more holes in them then the corpse of John Dillinger. And lets not forget the inevitable, and lame kid sidekick they usual inject into these projects like potassium chloride into the arms of a condemned prisoner.

3. REPULSION. People who like superheroes have spent their entire seeing their favorite genre being disrespected as juvenile at best, or a sign of some social or personal abnormality at worst. So when a company puts out something like this they are telling those fans: "Look, this piece of shit has a famous face dressed like a superhero, and you people will buy any piece of shit with a superhero in it." It's the corporate equivalent of them pissing in the ears of fans and telling them it's raining lemonade. It usually fails badly, even with kids.

So why do they keep trying with lame-o stunts like this one?

1. NAME RECOGNITION. In Hollywood everything is about name recognition. If it's familiar, and sold well in the past, they automatically assume that it will sell well again in a new package. It doesn't matter if the original product's sell by date is decades old, they're going to toss it at the wall and see if it sticks.

2. TRACK RECORD. Hollywood is full of people who coast on past successes. They love to say that it's a "what have you done for me lately" kind of place, but having the status of an Oscar winner, mega-stardom, or status as an industry "legend" can cover up a lot of more recent foibles and failures. This really works when the backers of said project have a--

3. LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF THE MEDIUM/GENRE. Because if they did, then they'd know about the track record of celebrity based superhero projects. They'd also know that Arnold's movie career was more fizzle than sizzle before he entered politics, and that Stan Lee hasn't had a good idea since the death of disco, and that his biggest talent the past few years has been at wooing investors, and creating more frustration, aggravation and litigation than any wonderful flights of the imagination.

Now it's time for to make a prediction. I predict that this project will fail, Schwarzenegger's image and career will be damaged by the fiasco, lawsuits will fly freely, and Stan Lee will be seen meeting with Justin Bieber to pitch him his new concept, a cartoon about a boy singer with a magical haircut.

Just let it die now, before the hole gets any deeper.


  1. I still remember HAMMERMAN, which was on Sat mornings after the NKOTB cartoon. Were they on the same network? I cannot remember as my childhood cartoon memory is quire hazy.

    This idea will work just as well as HAMMERMAN. Except Arnold will not end up broke doing a TV ministry.

    At least Donnie Whalberg went on to do Band of Brothers.

  2. "Stan Lee will be seen meeting with Justin Bieber to pitch him his new concept, a cartoon about a boy singer with a magical haircut."

    Please do not give them any ideas.

  3. Kit said . . .

    AS someone who watched THE JACKIE CHAN ADVENTURES as a kid I can tell you that you are right, it did have humility.
    They created decent storylines and gave it a strong supporting cast of likeable characters.

    The show also had Adam Baldwin.

  4. Anyone else remember when Lee said he was going to make Paris Hilton into a superhero?

  5. Blast Hardcheese1/4/11 10:20 am

    You forgot another reason, D...


    Sorry for shouting. "The Governator" was funny for about 0.5 nanoseconds after Ahnold took office. And even then, it was the 'smile briefly' funny, not 'laugh' funny. And I can see it now, all of his old hackneyed lines getting recycled, endless retreads of 'I'll be back' and 'It's naaht a tuumah' and thasdlfkjasaa;lskdjf;alksdjlnawo;ievf

    Sorry, dozed off and went headfirst into the keyboard there.

  6. Govenator like Hammerman will probably last just as long. Arnie and Stan Lee, remember unlucky 13. 13 Episodes that is what you have to BEAT. that is the Hammerman record.