23 Feb

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay: What could have been

Posted by Bryan White | Wednesday February 23, 2011 | News

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and ClayWith a fascination with low-brow movies, sometimes bearing plots detailing the trials and tribulations of a world where cocks explode I fail to inform the public that I actually have tastes in world culture that some might consider sophisticated. Though, I play it down in these parts in favor of portraying a dude who loves nothing more than movies about severed heads and karate kicks a part of my brain starves for complex entertainment and a few years ago I found that in a used copy of Michael Chabon’s novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Put aside the notion that I’m predisposed to love all things comic book and just go with it. Chabon is a member of the current literary mafia that wins high praise from book reviewers and scholars and the sort of people who like Gore Vidal also find time in their busy literature schedules to read books about 20-something Jews in 1930’s New York city blazing trails in the fledgling comic book world. Chabon tells deeply satisfying, emotionally complex stories couched in the genres and when dealing in the literary circles that he does, that’s not something easily found. Even Bret Easton Ellis’ horror novel, American Psycho is a stuffy, wine and cheese affair that struggles with its status as a gory horror story doubling as an American metaphor. Chabon makes super heroes cool while feeding the intellectual cravings of any given brain.

Kavalier and Clay concerns the ordeals of two cousins, one a native New Yorker, the other a transplant from Prague at the beginning of Hitler’s conquest of Europe. Together, they create The Escapist, a costumed super hero stand-in for Superman whose popularity grows over the course of the novel. Meanwhile, they get fucked by the publisher, a deliberate retelling of the story of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, creators of Superman. It’s a loving tribute to the Golden Age of Comics that also happens to examine family, what it means to be Jewish in America and notions of sexual identity; typical trappings of a novel by Michael Chabon. It won a Pulitzer and was optioned for a movie that never came. Locked up in development hell, it’s unlikely that this movie will ever go before a camera but a video surfaced recently showing off a screen and animation test for what might have been. This test, directed by Jamie Caliri was an idea that overlaps the worlds of Kavalier and Clay and their creation, The Escapist. The video that came from that was fucking cool as hell! It’s stylish and lyrical. If only this movie could have been produced!

1 Comment 

  1. September 17, 2011 9:06 pm

    Andrew M

    Armie Hammer would be perfect for Tracy Bacon. Also, I was imagining Benedict Cumberbatch as Josef, but he should probably be played by a Jewish actor.

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