Cowl!

For Phillip Lee
No apologies to Allen Ginsberg

by Gordon Stanley

I
I saw the best superheroes of my childhood destroyed by Hollywood,
           pallid two-dimensional stupid,
flying themselves through the CGI streets and fake skylines
           looking to sell tickets,
sculpted spandex-/lycra-bound movie stars burning
           for the blockbuster connection to the testosterone daydream
           in the gibbering darkness of adolescence,
who orphanhood and cosmic rays and blindness
           and many many years of martial arts training
           jumped out from the cheap pulp pages of comic books
           sitting on the stoop contemplating crime,
who with their powers fought for Justice under the American flag
           and saw a race of fanboys running to Te-Amo stores breathless,
who passed through generations of fumbling ink-colored hands
           hallucinating Smallville and Gotham-night crimefighting
           hidden between the pages of a textbook,
who were worshipped like a new religion of unspoken & immature
           fantasies ripped from the skidmarks of our briefs,
who soared onto radio and then the small screen with a naïve joy
           that was once pitch perfect,
who flew up in the sky in animated Fleischer Technicolor, godlike,
           crash-landing into Terran imagination, then leaped out of windows
           onto mattresses in long underwear, only to be done in
           by Richard Pryor, and then Nuclear Man, and then Smallville
           turned the whole myth into something small,
           and then Superman Returned to mush,
who sashayed on as Cathy Lee Crosby then akimboed as Lynda Carter
           fighting for our rights in satin tights, but still in a field
           marketed at teen boys can't get a decent script into production,
who slammed, bammed, and kopowed into camp comedy
           never to be taken seriously for a generation,
           only to emerge in an awful dark shish kabob of a film,
           a mutated bastardization of Frank Miller's brutal Republican vision,
           with more than a little of the camp it claimed to eschew,
who were interpreted brilliantly in two films by Singer,
           characters fleshed out, Patrick Stewart more invested
           than he'd ever been on Star Trek, Halle Berry
           in the background, but who were
           taken outside and X'd out by a director
           who lets Chris Tucker screech racist,
who wandered the world like Caine from Kung Fu
           but turning green only twice per episode
           and never once believable, but still
           more exciting than the rampaging CGI fight with Poor Man,
who got bit by a radioactive spider, then jumped off
           the Brooklyn Bridge too late to save the love of his life,
           ended up interpreted skinnily by Friedrich von Trapp,
           and then padded buffly by Toby,
           and directed well, despite the odd, seminal webshooters,
           until he was stepped on, squashed by producers
           made to battle one villain too many,
ah, Phil, while you are not safe, I am not safe,
           and now you're really screwed in that backwards,
           intelligent design-loving, pornless red state, and we therefore
           ran through the shiny pirated DVDs obsessed with finding
           a sudden flash of the alchemy
           of the use of the exclamation the canon the origin and the costume,
with the absolute joy of superheroes butchered from the hands
           of their own creators a pox on Hollywood
           for a thousand thousand years


II
What bungholio from Spago's and Santa Monica bashed open
           their masks and ate up their hearts and inspiration?
Tim Burton! Artsy! Freak! Ugliness! Awful Sam Hamm script
           and millions of dollars! Batman killing and smiling! Bumbling Bruce Wayne?!
           Stuntcast villains nothing like the canon!
Tim Burton! Tim Burton! Nightmare of Burton! Burton the bloodless!
           High-haired Burton! Burton the self-loathing lover of freaks!
Joel Schumacher the porn director! Schumacher the gaudy
           crotch-shooting and applier of nipples! Schumacher and Akiva Goldsman's
           execrable script!
Brett Ratner whose mind is pure machinery! Ratner whose blood
           is running money! Ratner whose movies are pure shit!
           Ratner who so wants to be Michael Bay! Ratner whose eye is all candy
           and no art!
Mark Steven Johnson whose eyes should be irradiated out!
Mark Steven Johnson whose set pieces are cheesy
           and whose action sequences are copies of copies of copies
           of better movies! Mark Steven Johnson with a fratboy star
           and no talent! Mark Steven Johnson who sucked all the charm
           out of Jennifer Garner!
Mark Steven Johnson who took the fiery Ghost Rider
           and extinguished any flame of interest! And Nicholas Cage,
           whose hairpiece is a special effect in itself!
Ang Lee! Who was crippled by a reductive plot!
           The scourge of superhero movies! A Freudian Hulk! Green like pus!
           But nowhere as interesting!
Christopher Nolan, you talented though overrated!
           Christopher Nolan, who gives us one great hour of Batman
           and a blah second hour hinging on a plot device out of Superfriends!
Bryan Singer in whom I must chastise! Bryan Singer
           in whom we had so much confidence after X-Men 1 and 2!
           To let it falls into the hands of Ratner! Madness!
Bryan Singer in whom we entrusted Superman, the greatest
           of all heroes, but who delivered us a lackluster adventure!
           What an unfeisty, pubsecent Lois Lane!
And Raimi! Raimi! Raimi! Three villains? Constant unmasking?
           Gwen Stacy?! Raimi! Awkward CGI! Raimi! Try wire work! Raimi!
           Don't listen to that devil Avi Arad! Raimi!
Visions? Junk! Wastes! Garbage! Blockbusters!
           thrown up on IMAX screens!
Dreams? Missed chances! Bad fight choreography!
           boatloads of oversensitive bullshit!
Fantasy? Green-screen acting! Jerky CGI! Sloppy FX!
           disbelief unsuspended!
Highs? Lows! Making us long for Bill Bixby!
Real holy crap in the theaters! They did it all! the sexism!
           the yawns! They hawked shoddy goods!
They flew off the roof! to commerce! pandering! fast food tie-ins!
           Down to the trash! into the sewer!


III
Phillip Lee! I'm with you on the planet Rann
           queuing up for the Zeta Beam express.
I'm with you in Atlantis
           asking Aquaman to fetch us a shrimp scampi.
I'm with you on Themyscira
           spying on the girl's locker room.
I'm with you in Calvin City
           bowling with the Golden Age Atom.
I'm with you in Queens
           unable to say no to Aunt May and
           a tenth serving of cookies.
I'm with you in Hub City
           waiting to question The Question.
I'm with you in the sub-atomic world of K'ai
           sitting shiva for Jarella.
I'm with you in on Colu
           shopping for new laptops.
I'm with you in the Negative Zone
           air guitaring with Rick Jones.
I'm with you in the Everglades
           wondering if Man-Thing
           could kick Swamp Thing's ass?
I'm with you in Fawcett City
           dropping things for Mary Marvel to pick up.
I'm with you on Earth 2
           getting up the nerve to talk to Power Girl.
I'm with you in the Avenger's Mansion
           asking Jarvis to whip up
           some cheeseburger deluxes.
I'm with you in Star City
           checking out Black Canary's
           fishnet-stockinged legs and
           goofing on Green Arrow's goatee
           until he threatens to skewer us.
I'm with you in Gotham City
           hoping to pick up Batsouvenirs
           left around at crime scenes.
I'm with you in Wakanda
           getting back massages while lying
           on a mound of vibranium.
I'm with you in Asgard
           where the mead flows all day
           and, if you play dead, Valkyrie
           arrives on winged horse
           to give you mouth-to-mouth.
I'm with you in the Fortress of Solitude
           tapping on the glass
           of the Bottle City of Kandor
           and really pissing off
           the Kandorians inside.
I'm with you on Oa
           getting Green Lantern a band-aid
           because he cut his finger
           on yellow legal paper.
I'm with you on Mars
           wondering if John Carter ever met J'onn J'onzz.
I'm with you in the Baxter Building
           waiting for Reed to invent a way to erase
           our memories of the two Fantastic Four movies.
I'm with you in Kansas where juvenile dreams
           are lived out not on giant screens
           by actors and directors who don't even read comic books,
           are meant to be dreamt under the wide open skies
           following the Earth's yellow sun from brightest day into the blackest night.

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