Natalie Haynes: Superheroes and musicals don't mix

Related Topics

After the ongoing Broadway musical disaster which is Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, you may have been thinking that the world had no need of more superhero stage shows. Indeed, you might well have thought we didn't actually need the first one. Comic books can turn into good films, but why would that mean they make for a great live show? It's not like the type who enjoys the solitary pleasure of reading a comic is often to be found queuing up to spend an evening in the world of musical theatre. I live with a man who reads comics, and he wants to go to see a musical roughly never. Well, maybe once, if William Shatner ever decided to appear in Chicago.

Even when the Spiderman musical was first announced, it was impossible to feel enthusiastic. Who could fail to be baffled at the prospect of matching the coming-of-age story of everyone's favourite geeky teen-bitten-by-a-radioactive-spider with the music of Bono (who I suppose does look a bit like a fly in those specs)?

But it turns out that you just can't keep a bad idea down, which is why Batman Live, a stage show centred on the man with the cape and the cave, had its launch in London this week. The organisers have promised that this show won't be dogged by technical glitches and injuredSpidermen.

They aren't trying to cram all their stunts into a theatre, for a start – the show will be staged in stadiums – and as they point out unarguably: "Batman can't fly, so we don't have to pretend he's doing extraordinary things." At the risk of having my lunch money taken by the bigger kids, I'd just like to point out here that Spiderman can't fly either. He has web-slingers. It's not the same thing.

They are promising a Batmobile, however, designed by some bloke from Formula One. So if we're lucky, it won't look like one really big rollerskate, left over from Starlight Express. And there will be a properly scary Joker. Though Nick Grace, the show's executive producer, said he wasn't worried about children getting too frightened, and nor should he be. I saw plenty of eight-year-olds howling with fear at Heath Ledger's Joker, having been taken to the cinema to see the age-inappropriate Dark Knight by their man-child fathers. Once you've had your childhood innocence demolished by seeing a grinning man murder someone by driving a pencil through his eye, you're virtually bulletproof. Like Batman, actually, but with more crying and nightmares.

Besides, the most distressing thing about the Batman story isn't the Joker. It's the fact that as a child, Bruce Wayne sees his parents gunned down in the street by a mugger. This can be very frightening for a child, who then fears that their parents, too, might be gunned down in the street. After which they're faced with the responsibility of becoming a vengeful billionaire crime-fighter with full martial arts skills. In a world with rising youth unemployment, that sounds like a big ask to me.

The one redeeming feature of Batman Live is that it is not a musical. At no point will Selena Kyle sing "I'm Going to Wash Batman Right Out of My Hair", the Joker won't launch into a final chorus of "Sit Down You're Rocking the Bat", and Bruce Wayne can't revive the little-known Cole Porter number, "I've Gotham You Under My Skin".

Soap stars of the European Union

Unilever and Procter & Gamble have been fined €315m for fixing the price of washing powder in eight European countries. It would have been a larger fine, but they were given a 10 percent discount for admitting their guilt. The European Commission had been tipped off by Henkel, a German company, that something dirty was going on in the usually spotless world of soap. The EU Competition Commissioner, Joaquí* Almunia, said: "By acknowledging their participation in the cartel, the companies enabled the Commission to swiftly conclude its investigation." Patted backs all round, then, for a probe which took a lightning-fast three years.

So that's three years to investigate two soap companies, who admitted they were running a price-fixing cartel, after being tipped off by another one. That doesn't sound all that speedy, now I've thought about it. It sounds more like a bunch of people sat around doing nothing for almost three years, idly checking the price of washing powder online every now and then, before making two phone calls, tops. I think I might be in the wrong job.

If you want people to fit in, teach them to swear

A British teacher has won his unfair dismissal case in Australia, after being fired for teaching non-English speaking students the proper use of swearwords. He'd produced a worksheet containing the word "fuck" in every sentence, and asking his students to identify whether it was a noun or a verb in each case. But swearing wasn't on the curriculum, so he got the boot, even though his students were in their twenties or thirties, and so had probably come across profanity in one language or another by then.

If his college hadn't been so prissy, they might have realised that one of the hardest things to learn in any language is how to swear, and in the right place in a sentence. Yet if you want to fit in, it's important. Get it wrong and you risk offending, or taking offence, where none is intended. Besides, swearing is a great way of using language grammatically.

When I was a Latin teacher, my kids all knew that the most important line in Alien Resurrection was, "I am not the man with whom to fuck", because of the way it avoids ending a sentence with a preposition. The swearing stuck in their brains where more conventional teaching methods were instantly forgotten. I owe Joss Whedon so much.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

From Sam Smith to Taylor Swift, candyfloss pop perfectly reflects the selfie generation

Rosie Millard
Natalie Bennett, Leanne Wood and Nicola Sturgeon embrace at the end of the debate  

General Election 2015: Female audacity has made the male leaders – all of them – look cowardly

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own