Oscar-season entry Birdman slashes through Hollywood’s superhero obsession like Wolverine talons, but it looks like distributor Fox Searchlight couldn’t resist the time-tested tradition of superhero merchandising. In the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed film that closed the New York Film Festival and begins its rollout Friday, Michael Keaton plays Riggin Thomson. A washed up movie star, Thomson tries to shed his superficial superhero past and find one pure moment of artistic honesty by risking all to stage a Broadway adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story about obsessive love. His every step is dogged by his feathered alter ego, voicing his every artistic insecurity.
Searchlight has gone to the trouble of manufacturing a talking Birdman action figure. It just arrived at my doorstep, in an attractive box. Will it move off shelves this holiday season like dancing baby Groot from Guardians Of The Galaxy? I press the talk button to see.
I hear a growling voice: “You were a movie star, remember? Pretentious but happy, ignorant but charming. Now, you’re just a tiny, bitter cocksucker.” Oh, my. I don’t remember any Marvel character saying such a thing. Even Wolverine would blush. Let’s try again. “People, they love blood, they love action, not this talky, depressing, philosophical bullshit.” More. “Shave off that pathetic goatee, get some plastic surgery. Sixty is the new thirty, motherfucker.” OK, one more. “This place is horrible…smells like…ballssss.” Okay, so maybe this is not going to move off shelves. I was just told it was manufactured specifically for members of the press. It’s ideal for us, a real keeper. Perfect for the desk, to be activated in those rare moments when the journalist’s own self-loathing voice shuts up.