Fallen Superhero: Vane
Model: Michael Leblanc
I’ve known Michael since we were wee tots. Our families have been friends since they were kids. He’s currently producing a feature film I wrote and will direct and I’m sure there are dozens of other projects we will collaborate on down the line.
I thought of Michael instantly when Eric and I were thinking of people who would be good for the book. He looks like Superman, that classic Clark Kent bone structure. He’s also a good actor. I mentioned it to him and a few weeks went by, then he hit me with his idea.
Yes, Vane. I think there’s something there.
That something interesting he was talking about turned into one of my favorite characters, both in costume and in story. Vane’s character is basically a trust fund kid who’s never had to work for anything. We made him a child model, like a male JonBenét Ramsey. The accident that gave him his powers (read the book for that origin story) made him totally indestructible except for his one weak spot, his face; the one area no model wants to risk damaging.
In many ways Vane is the perfect Fallen Superhero. Eric’s original idea for the subjects was that they were metaphors for all the actors who come to Los Angeles thinking they are going to be the next Tom Cruise and end up on crack or waiting tables for eternity or ending up in any of the endless other horrible situations where they eventually land. The fact that Vane is one of the most powerful superheroes on the planet but refuses to use those powers for fear of hurting himself mirrors so many lives. I know “actors” who never act but have tremendous skill. They are rich, they never worked for their wealth and they have no drive, no ambition to ever do anything. Perhaps it’s a fear of failing even though they are extremely talented. Why risk failure when the bills are paid and food is on the table?
I also love the neglected rich kid angle. Michael loved it and fell into the character instantly. He did time in Los Angeles too and had more than his share of people crippled by their egos.
We shot the rooftop scenes at Tsunami in Baton Rouge. Gotta love the phallic symbols in those shots…. the water tower and the old capitol building. The nightclub shot was at a club called b.e.d. in Lafayette, LA and really showed the empty existence that on the surface seems like a full and wild life. Every girl has her eyes on him as he fills the air with vacuous anecdotes, his crotch glowing brightly.
Then we move away from his public life and see Vane at home, picking up dog poop. We shot all those pics at Michael’s real parents’ home in Baton Rouge. The solo birthday celebration dinner, the ipad browsing by the pool, all of it lavish and comfortable yet totally isolated from any emotion. And of course, the final two shots, set up and payoff, where we see that even when there is some hope of emotional connection Vane is too deluded and self absorbed to notice. Pages 68-71 in the book, enjoy.
The idea of arrows pointing to his face set off the whole costume design. I sketched out what became an almost exact match of the finished costume. Instead of 3 arrows on the glove we went with one big one. As comical as it seemed the mirrors on the back of the hands and top of the shoes worked out great. Especially for the final shots in the book. The cape is the biggest difference in the sketch. It was just a simple, silver cape that ended at the ass. But my mother had this bevelled runner material she said was fro the base of a column. It was the perfect silver and had such an odd texture, and it was almost exactly shaped like a cape. She whipped the whole design out in a day and Vane was born.
UP NEXT: Infinity Girl