French export superhero helmers

A passel of studio pics get Gallic treatment

Think French exports, and most will conjure up images of brie, Champagne and Peugeots.

How about Gallic helmers doing superhero pics?

Though comicbook protags and masked crime-fighters seem as American as apple pie, French directors are making inroads into the bigscreen properties once largely the domain of native helmers.

Paris-born Louis Leterrier kicked off the latest French superhero wave when he directed Marvel property “The Hulk.” Fellow Parisian SylvainWhite continues the trend with his take on DC comicbook “The Losers,” which bowed this weekend. In January, French helmer Michel Gondry is bringing back masked vigilante “The Green Hornet.”

“I don’t think anyone needs to worry that we’re injecting a French sensibility because there’s really no such thing as a French sensibility,” says White, who considers himself culturally mixed because he was raised in France by an American father and French mother. “But in Europe we are influenced by our graphic novels, which are much more diverse (in subject matter) than they are here. They cover a full range of genres.”

Also, European comicbooks and superheroes inhabit a world that is more morally ambiguous than their counterparts across the pond.

So can Gallic helmers successfully tackle the genre? Certainly Leterrier’s “Hulk” was a box office success. But studios betting French are hoping to avoid the wrath incited by Frenchman Pitof’s bigscreen take on “Catwoman.”

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