Brandon Routh plays Superman in the new Superman Returns movie but he isn’t really Superman. Christopher Reeve is Superman, and Reeve was and shall always be, the definitive Superman. Watching Routh stumble his way through the movie makes one long for the deep talent of Christopher Reeve — who was trained at Cornell and Juilliard and he cut his teeth on the live stage — and you wonder how shallow the talent pool must be in Hollywood when a lightweight like Routh is gifted the role of a lifetime. As you can see in the images below one Superman is intense and in the moment and believable while the other is frail, fake and flailing:
My want for Reeve made me begin to imagine a future where we will create DNA replications of our pets and ourselves. Even sooner than creating Whole Beings out of DNA Whole Cloth we will be able to replicate performances by resurrecting dead actors and placing them on screen via computerized fabrications of their talent and being.
We will then have the best actor for the best part and not the actor that best fits the suit. Through computers we will analyze actor tendencies, facial expressions, vocal intonation and even the essence of the spirit that made them great. New actors will only work if they can match the talent and the ability of those who have already marked the path. The dead actors become the Praetorian Guard against uncouth, untrained new talent. There will be no lack of dead talent for producers to hire.
There will be no egos to massage. There will not be any need to provide on-set perks for mouldering stars. Movie producers will negotiate fees for “re-characterization” of the dead actors with the appropriate estates. If Marlon Brando’s estate fee is too high for re-characterization, then they’ll just saunter over to Humphrey Bogart’s estate to make an even better deal for his services. Soon the performance fees will be determined by the neediest estate and not the best actor for the role.
Power, money and influence always win and the new young actor with talent can undercut the dead competition by offering to work for scale and negotiating away “all future Dead Rights” at a reasonable rate. I fully expect a Constitutional amendment banning whole-body DNA re-creation of dead movie stars who have made movies grossing more than $100 million because money rules Hollywood. Why resurrect what you cannot control? You can easily control a digital being but a cellular one is not so easy to corral and cast in Porky’s Revenge 8.
The future negotiation of Dead Rights will take us back to the Golden Age of Hollywood where actors were owned by their studios for their entire careers with no way out. Studios will once again have a perpetual “farm team” of virtual dead actors in their stable — where only their essence is enslaved and not the body so no Civil Rights will be violated — and the movie studios can turn around and replicate us, their audience, to watch their virtual actors in their virtual movie houses.
Our virtual selves will have to pay real money, though, for that virtual entertainment experience: The dead don’t perform for free! Soon nothing will remain real or dead for long and we’ll all live forever with some sort of pulse-less — yet eerily tangible — essence and it will all be done in the name of entertainment and fortune seeking stardom.