Stan Lee has been enlisted to come up with cartoon characters (I am sure that term is out of date, there must be some more dignified term these days, like “graphic novel thematic identities”) to represent each NHL team. It is being called The Guardian Project. A lot of hockey fans have their doubts. It seems silly to many. The characters are insufficiently… what? What the heck do you expect from a cartoon character?
See early spider Man, Bat Man, Superman, the Hulk…. none of them particularly profound or complex. They evolved,incubating in the minds of the children who first saw them, and as those children grew, they grew too, until you had The Dark Night, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, Smallville, Ang Lee’s Hulk. I use that last instead of Leterrier’s more popular version, because Ang Lee’s take was a greater divergence from the original, which is what I like to see happen to these stories: change.
So I’m not going to judge the characters by what they are here in their infancy. They are for children, for the next generation to develop, these are but the seeds.
Take the Hulk, for example. He was not an original concept, he was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, only instead of psychology as the new magic, gamma rays were. People recognized the premise but were excited by the “modern relevance” of radioactivity.
I understand that many of the NHL Guardians have something about environmental awareness in their stories. That is the issue of today. What will the issue be 20 years from now? What will that issue look like 40 years from now?
I am kind of interested in who the villain is, the big bad guy. How does Stan Lee see the dangers of the day? What are the villain’s evil methods and objectives? I don’t think Stan Lee is so much a master of the fantastic as a good observer of the real. He notices what worries us and can guess what would reassure us. That’s a kind of genius, a link to the childhood imagination that so many of us have trouble hanging on to.
I think I just talked myself into watching the Guardian Project premier.