My affinity for Jesus Christ Superstar has been no secret, so the news that Universal is looking at (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb to direct a new version of the musical makes me feel a touch queasy. Especially when the Hollywood Reporter’s Risky Biz Blog says it could be a ‘modern, hipstery take.’ Great, just what we needed – a Jesus Christ with an ironic mustache and a trucker hat.
Webb’s apparently an incredibly nice guy, and his debut film is innocuous enough. Good for him for figuring out that the modern generation is dying to be marketed to, and that he can generate a hit by pandering to that desire. But while (500) Days is suitably slick and watchable, it doesn’t have a single moment that tells me he can do Jesus Christ Superstar, with its weird tackiness and shockingly deep spiritual themes and wonderfully off-kilter theology, justice.
And the hipster part. Ugh. I don’t want a JCS with songs by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or Vampire Weekend (although it would be funny if Kickball Katy from The Vivian Girls played Mary Magdalene. I was buying her beers when she was 17). I don’t want a Jesus wearing a terrorist scarf. I don’t want any irony at all. The thing I like about JCS is that it’s so fucking sincere. It’s wonderful.
Apparently this is all still a long way away, so anything can change. I hope.