Dark. Dark dark dark dark dark. That’s how cool he is.
I’ve shifted gears over the weekend. Having wrapped the latest version of act I for Manuscript #2 (whose title is settling slightly more, thank you for asking, but I’m still clutching on to it), I’ve picked up an old screenplay idea, a period thriller, and I’m embarking on some new reading and watching for more research.
Enter Detective Inspector Jack Frost (Denton, England) and Martin Beck (Stockholm).
These were not the heroes I’d been looking for.
Martin Beck debuted in 1965 – a tired, weary Swede who solved crimes at the expense of his marriage and family. By the time Jack Frost showed up in 1992, dark heroes were well-established. Although cinema hadn’t entirely picked up the ball (fair play to Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman with Michael Keaton as a sociopathic hero in an art-deco Gotham), comic books had already teed up. Frank Miller brought us Ronin (1983-4) and The Dark Knight Returns (1986). Matt Wagner’s anti-hero Grendel pounded the pavement beginning in 1983. Alan Moore’s Watchmen ran from 1986-1987. Twenty-five years later, and now all of our super-hero movies have tortured super-heroes.
Twenty-five years from nerd-central to pop-culture mainstream.
Side-note: we may now be in a “golden age” of super-hero movies.
Side-note: this is not a golden age I expected to have; and now that I have it, I don’t particularly want it. Gilded. Bleh.
Frost and Beck aren’t that kind of tortured, although John Luther is. Their books are not comedic, character-driven procedurals a la Bones, or strung with black humor, such as with Lie to Me or House (which is a medical procedural, not a crime procedural, but in both cases we’re solving mysteries). These are heroes – or more accurately, protagonists, as they’re not particularly “heroic” – who finish what they set out to do with the help of other people, with little grace, and with a lot of determination.
They’re not cool. They’re not especially handsome. They’re not noteworthy. They just happen to be at the center of the story.
It’s kind of astonishing how radical an idea that is. Which is pretty cool, really.