When the first images and clips from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer began dribbling out of the 20th Century Fox publicity machine a few months back, perhaps you noticed the Fantastic Four had been sidelined - still looking fantastic in their Lycra jumpsuits, of course, but check out this silver guy, with the matching silver surfboard, looking like an Oscar trophy on vacation. He was getting the face time. He was different, surprising. And what was really curious about those trailers, movie posters, and TV commercials was how he stayed front and center.
As if he were the attraction.
If you're still not buying it, head to the Maumee 18: Cinema De Lux, check out the Fantastic Four stand-up in the lobby - of Silver Surfer.
Could it be? Might it be?
Look. In the sky. Dun-dun-dun.
The B-List has arrived.
You know what the trouble with superheroes is? There are not enough of them to go around. They're like major league baseball players: a handful have brand-name recognition beyond the sport itself, but after that you're looking at fan favorites, the underrated, the never-heard-of, minor-leaguers given a major-league cameo, and vaguely familiar names with vaguely familiar superpowers.
And yet the B-List lends texture, brings in fresh blood, and generally keeps the superhero universe spinning. At least that's what Hollywood is hoping. See, you can only make so many Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman pictures before the formula wears thin - think of the superhero flick as the modern-day western, but not even John Wayne could star in every western. In the next few years, expect a Wonder Woman movie, a Captain America film, and, from square one, as if Ang Lee's movie never happened, a new Hulk film.
But in between those, expect lots of head scratching. The genre's box office is too big for Hollywood to leave it to Spider-Man every three years. So we've had an Elektra film, a Daredevil picture, a Ghost Rider film (new on video this week) - and since the last Fantastic Four movie was a hit with everyone but Fantastic Four fans, the new one, which opens Friday, plays as much like a try-out for an upcoming Silver Surfer movie as it does a Fantastic Four follow-up.
The following is a crib sheet to getting you through the next few years of B-List superheroes. Learn it, live it, and study it before you head out to a cocktail party - on the other hand, any cocktail party where this is needed is a cocktail party to avoid.
Contact Christopher Borrelli at: email@example.com