Hollywood’s Fairy Tale Craze Meets Hollywood’s Superhero Craze, Plus 9/11

So, um, this is the origin story for the Beast in one of the two, count ’em, two, Beauty and the Beast shows in development:

Vincent worked as a doctor at the New York University hospital – and was working On September 11, 2001 when the towers came down. Long story short, a wounded Vincent ends up in a medical clinic where he’s injected with a DNA-changing drug. The drug turns him into an unstoppable soldier type that is used in Afghanistan. Think ‘Captain America’ or a ‘Universal Soldier’. Unfortunately, the strength and stamina comes with a price…it also changes Vincent’s look — in particular, hair sprouts hair everywhere. When he returned from Afghanistan, looking like he is, he hid himself away.

That’s a way of integrating fairy tales into our self-mythology of our actions after September 11, I guess? There are certainly real side effects of the way we treat our veterans, including a dramatic overprescription of really powerful painkillers that are more serious than a lot of body hair. But I have to say that I think Sherlock has done a better job of linking an old story to a new Afghan war.

And I’m actually more interested in the way in which Beauty and the Beast narratives intersect with our schlub-gets-the-girl trope popularized by Judd Apatow’s movies. There have already been some feints in mashing up those movies with superhero or secret identity narratives, most notably Kick Ass. But it’s one thing to take a guy who’s always been a schlub and putting him in the path of a gorgeous, talented woman, and another to take a guy who’s been popular and attractive, strip him of his physical assets, and then put him in the path of the kind of woman he’d be able to conquer easily were he his old handsome self. That whole breaking a main character down before he can be built back up thing sounds suspiciously like what we so often do to female characters.