Since my pal David Wiegand first mentioned Penny Dreadful on his blog, saying that the Showtime series would be “about the origins of classic literary horror figures such as Victor Frankenstein and Dracula,” I’ve been curious and excited. But after this trailer, well, I don’t know. It’s never a great sign when the creators basically just give you a bunch of quick creepy images instead of anything approaching a narrative.
I continue to hold out hope, however, because I am eager for a Josh Hartnett revival. Let’s talk about this.
First, he was AMAZING in The Faculty. Which, yes, is a deeply flawed movie (it really shouldn’t have been PG13. If the studio had let Robert Rodriguez — did you forget it was him? — go R, it would have been way scarier, I believe) but Hartnett is a real standout. This is a movie where creepy body snatching aliens take over a small town high school, some sort of shitty meth (which Hartnett’s character manufactures) is the only way to stop them, and Hartnett’s character — A HIGH SCHOOLER — ends up with (in the Biblical sense) his teacher, played by the wonderful Famke Janssen.
Next, and I got A LOT of shit (like, seriously, five or six mansplainy tweets! Some even from people I DO NOT KNOW. Since I have, like, three followers this is a big deal to me) for this when I first brought it up, Josh Hartnett should play Batman. I first proposed this when speculation began over the upcoming Batman Superman movie. We’ve since learned (I guess) that the idea is that Batman is an older dude, which is why Ben Affleck maybe makes sense (OK sure). I think Ben Affleck tries hard and I’m sure he’ll be fine. But I think Hartnett should play Batman at some point soon, before he gets too old. He’s 35 now — in comparison, Christian Bale is now 40, Affleck is presently 41. If I’m doing my math right, Michael Keaton was 38 when he was in the “first” Batman movie in 1989.
Oh, boy. I was looking for a clip from Lucky Number Slevin to give you an example of Hartnett badassery, and I found this instead.
So many questions, like, partying with Bruce Willis while wearing a fake nose? Dating Scarlett Johansson? What happened here.
If you don’t want to watch Slevin (which you maybe shouldn’t, because it’s a product of that post Tarantino/Usual Suspects era when everything was glib and twisty in a way that now feels so dated your butt hurts) then let’s try 30 Days of Night.
In this film, which is based on a comic book mini series of the same name, Hartnett demonstrates a brave and resourceful desperation that jibes perfectly with what one would need to depict Batman in a non shitty, non Kilmer or Clooney way.
As Batman is one of my favorite fictional characters (beneath Buffy but above The Transporter), this is HIGH PRAISE I am giving Hartnett, here. But I really think he could pull it off! Would a successful Showtime series put him in the position to be the next Batman (should he want it)? I think that’s possible.
If you take anything away from what I’m trying to say here, it’s that Josh Hartnett is real quality, quality that has been held back by bad choices or bad luck or a combination of both. Will this Showtime show be his second act? I don’t know — if HBO is the Corvette of original premium programming, Showtime’s always been the Camaro. Similar lines, still kind of premium, but not quite right, either. (In this scenario, Starz'(s?) original stuff is one of those 80s Mustangs)
But in this case, especially for my buddy Josh, I don’t want them to be the Camaro. I want them to be the Trans-Am. Yeah, maybe we didn’t cost as much as your fucking Corvette, but we make up for it with swagger and style.
Now let’s take off the t-top and drive.