I was very fortunate to be present at the Comicpalooza panel when Edward James Olmos announced his new project, Mettle. This will be a film, with a concurrently produced comic book, that will center on what happens after a hero hangs up the proverbial cape. Olmos partners with his son and Bob Layton, who reimagined Iron Man back into a best selling Marvel title.
This approach is very exciting because, based their description of the plot, no one really told this of story before. To my knowledge, no one has tackled this type of story in this way, with the exception of Watchmen, which does touch on the lives of retired super-heroes, and The Incredibles.
One unique take they discussed was that this story will be entirely character driven and will not be determined by the powers. The Hero retired long ago prior to the story’s beginning due a traumatic event and his powers have gone into remission. In exploring the character and plot, they are going to delve into issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is appropriate considering all the crap heroes go through. That being said, I am surprised that we haven’t really seen more super-hero stories tackling this issue which could bring added attention to this social issue that affects many of our troops returning home from war. The added attention may raise awareness without feeling like the message is force-fed.
I find great potential benefits in exploring this story. This story has the ability to explore present day cultural issues without the story centering on culture. As Olmos stated in the announcement panel at Comicpalooza, “it’s not about the culture, it’s about the story.” Bob Layton added that, “the story, as it’s written out in terms of treatment, is very multicultural.” Being Latino is “just a part of who he is, but it’s not what the story is about.” Having a Latino main character, without that cultural being a central focus, is an amazing step.
Now do not mistake my point of view. I am saying that the fact that the story identifies the hero’s cultural background but does not make it a central focus is a step towards popular culture seeing Latino characters being able to carry a story as its focus without having to justify or define their role by their cultural background. Often we see characters who solely define themselves by their ethnic culture, almost to the point of lampooning. Anyone remember the character of El Dorado from the old Super Friends cartoon?
I am really looking forward to this story; the creative team’s energy was extremely infectious during the panel so my expectations are very high. The phrase for the film really resonates with what the country as a whole may be feeling, “when you have nothing to live for, find something to die for.” Maybe this story will be one that will inspire us and others to choose to see the world as what it could be and not what it is.
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