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What Superhero Would You Be? (The Funny Side)

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What superhero are you? Pixabay

Sep 16, 2017: As humanity teeters on the edge of annihilation, take comfort that some people are staying focused on the really important questions of life, such as: What Superhero Would You Be?

A discussion of that exact question in this column caused a massive flood of emails, which included a link to astonishing recent findings about the naked mole rat, a phrase I am not using as a metaphor for a certain type of politician, although I do understand how suitable it is for that purpose. No, I am referring to an actual rodent of that name with real “awe-inspiring super-powers”, according to reader Janvi Shah.

This columnist was not totally convinced about its suitability to give its attributes to a superhero, but you decide.

First, naked mole rats don’t feel most types of pain and so you cannot hurt them. Tell them they have a stupid haircut or you don’t like their cooking and they go on smiling. Cool.

Second, naked mole rats are creepily age-proof, like Cher or Jennifer Lopez. After a year or so, the average mouse is using a Zimmer frame and dropping its dentures into its soup. But naked mole rats live for decades, equivalent to a human living for 20 or 30 generations. These critters are the immortals of the rodent world and must be mightily annoying at woodland dinner parties: “Seems like yesterday I was chatting with your great great great great great great great great…” (All guests exit.)

Third, naked mole rats have special cells that eat cancer cells, so save a fortune on health insurance. However, getting dread diseases is one of long list of human characteristics that superheroes don’t share. Superfolk also don’t go to toilets, get anxiety-induced bloating, or faint at the sight of a blackhead being popped (readers, don’t pretend I’m the only one), etc.

Fourth, naked mole rats can alter their metabolisms in emergencies, surviving for up to 18 minutes without oxygen by “effectively becoming plants”, researchers say. Not sure that’s all that amazing, as every Friday night at the bar I find myself surrounded by humans who are effectively becoming vegetables, aided by the consumption of certain popular amber-coloured beverages.

So all in all, naked mole rat abilities get a mixed review as the basis for super-powers. The longevity thing is nice but honestly not much use for a person in tights and a cape who fights bad guys: “You evil super-villains may have used your powers to destroy the city, but I have a longer life expectancy, so there.” Lacks drama.

But the one thing that ultimately disqualifies it as part of a superhero origin story is that it looks horrible. Sorry, Janvi. Pictures show creatures with pale, flabby, unhealthy-looking bodies, horrible skin and bad teeth, reminding me of beach days spent with my middle-aged male friends.

A colleague raised another issue: “People might refuse to go to the eventual superhero movie, because you can read the name as (Naked Mole Rat) (Man) or as naked (Mole Rat Man),” she said.

I decided it was time to avoid that unpleasant thought by “effectively becoming a vegetable”. Cheers!

(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and suggestions via his Facebook page)

(IANS)

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2018 in Retrospect: Super Year Filled With Superhero Films

With films like "Avengers: Endgame", "Men in Black International","Angry Birds 2" in the pipeline, there is no sign of superhero fatigue setting in anytime soon.

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Marvel, superhero
The year undoubtedly belonged to Disney with two mighty releases in 'Avengers: Infinity War' and 'Black Panther'.

From “Avengers: Infinity War”, “Mission: Impossible Fallout”, “Deadpool 2”, “Black Panther”, “Venom” to “Aquaman” — 2018 was a big year for superhero films and big franchises in India,

“It has been a phenomenal year for Hollywood with mega hits like ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, ‘Deadpool 2’, ‘Black Panther’ — besides giving Bollywood movies released alongside a run for their money; it has resulted in increased market share for Hollywood,” Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios, told IANS.

According to Vivek Krishnani, MD, Sony Pictures Entertainment India, the business grew about 12-13 per cent over last year.

While Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Doctor Strange, Deadpool came back to take forward their adventures, there were some fresh superheroes like Black Panther, Venom and Aquaman who opened a new chapter.

superhero
The “Deadpool” actor of Indian origin says it is a great time for people of colour in Hollywood, but he cannot say the same for the entire US, especially under Donald Trump’s presidency. Pixabay

The year started with the entry of African superhero Black Panther. The Marvel Studios’ film, featuring Chadwick Boseman as the superhero, registered an opening collection of over Rs 7 crore when it released in February.

But “Avengers: Infinity War” — which brought together 22 superheroes to fight supervillain Thanos — turned out to be the game changer. The film crossed Rs 292 crore (Gross Box Office collection) in India. It opened in the country in April.

Reflecting on the successful year, Bikram Duggal, Head – Studio Entertainment, Disney India, said: “Fans loved the high-octane superhero action drama in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, making it the highest Hollywood grosser in the country and the same audience took to animation as a family entertainer when they embraced the story of a unique family in ‘Incredibles 2’.”

For film and trade business expert Girish Johar, the success of “Avengers: Infinity War” marks a “huge achievement for Hollywood films in India which were earlier only including two to five per cent of the total revenue pie”.

Incredibles 2
Incredibles 2

“The total revenue pie contribution from mere five to seven per cent, has become 15 per cent. That is a very strong holding,” he added.

At a time when Salman Khan’s “Race 3”, Aamir Khan’s “Thugs of Hindostan” and Shah Rukh Khan’s “Zero” fell flat at the box office, larger than life stories from Hollywood gave people a reason to come to the theatres.

“As compared to its Bollywood counterpart, the performance was better as far as movies which had big stars featured in it, whereas Bollywood did have a few failures even with big stars featuring in it,” said Dhruv S Sinha, who looks after overseas and Hollywood business for Reliance Entertainment.

It proved, once again, that content is the bigger star in showbiz.

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Zero Movie Poster

“What has worked with the audience is the storytelling, the content, the visual effects – essentially wholesome entertainment that audience has been longing for,” Singh said.

Krishnani pointed out “whether it is English or local content, people are smart enough to understand what is good content and what is not”.

Added Sinha: “Learning has been very similar with both Hollywood and Hindi films that audience is accepting films which are content driven.”

Be it Tom Cruise’s return as a spy in Paramount Pictures’ “Mission: Impossible Fallout”, Chris Pratt’s jungle ride in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”, Tom Hardy’s “Venom”, fun packed family adventure with Disney.Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” or Jason Momoa’s aquatic affair with “Aquaman” — there was action, romance, drama, comedy and lots of entertainment in the stories that came to life on the big screen.

If we open the number chart for Hollywood films at the Indian box office this year, then, according to Warner Bros Pictures India, films which made the year remarkable for the banner were: “The Nun” (Rs. 62.50 crore), “Aquaman” (over Rs 34.16 crore) and “Rampage” (Rs 35.20 crore).

Aquaman, superhero
Aquaman

For Viacom18 Motion Pictures, “Mission: Impossible Fallout” — which minted Rs 109.1 crore — made the year worthwhile. Other notable releases from the studio included Matt Damon’s “Downsizing” and John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place”.

Ryan Reynolds’ “Deadpool 2” turned out to be profitable for Fox Star Studios as the film collected Rs. 77 crore in India.

In the department for the shrills and thrills, films like “The Nun” and “”Insidious: The Last Key” fared well in the report card. Films like “A Star is Born”, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Ant-Man And The Wasp” also captured the audience’s attention.

Breaking down the business, Ashish Saksena, Chief Operating Officer-Cinemas, BookMyShow, said: “The year undoubtedly belonged to Disney with two mighty releases in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘Black Panther’. Besides these two superhero films, ‘Deadpool 2’, ‘Ant-Man And The Wasp’ and year closing releases ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ conquered the box office.

“There were encouraging signs with some of the quieter releases ending up doing great business in India like ‘A Star Is Born’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, clearly showing that market for Hollywood has expanded beyond just big budget tentpole releases.”

Antman and the Wasp
Antman and the Wasp

Whether it was building campaigns in Hindi to dubbing in regional languages — ‘desi’ touch to the foreign content contributed to the growing business.

“Dubbing of Hollywood movies in regional languages is another factor that has contributed to their success and in reaching out to a bigger audience,” said Devang Sampat, Director, Strategic Alliances, Cinepolis India.

On new learnings, Krishnani said: “2018 has shown that high concept films if they have audience connect then they will bring audiences to the theatres. It has forced a lot of people to go back to the drawing board and re-look the content.”

Also Read: 2018 in Retrospect: Celebrities That Left Us

Sinha feels “niche Hollywood content still has difficulties and its own challenges and acceptance at box-office”.

With films like “Avengers: Endgame”, “Men in Black International”, “Spider-Man: Far From Home”, “Angry Birds 2”, “Jumanji” sequel, “The Turning” and “X-MEN: Dark Phoenix” in the pipeline, there is no sign of superhero fatigue setting in anytime soon. (IANS)