Pretending I’m a Superman Review

GameStop, Inc.

Pretending I’m a Superman Review – The incredible story of how a video game changed the world

It’s hard to imagine a world without skateboarding being commonplace. But,  in the times before the mid-90’s, it was a niche interest. It always had its athletes, but it was never the institution we know it as now. A big part of skateboarding being what it is today is due to the immense popularity of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (THPS) franchise. Skating was always a thing, but thanks to THPS skating is a world-wide sport and institution. It’s even in the Olympics. While it took the pioneering of many to grow skating into the cultural staple it now is, THPS is a center point in which many of the pioneers came together and grew. To cover the journey and impact of THPS, we have the documentary Pretending I’m a Superman: The Tony Hawk Video Game Story.

Pretending I’m a Superman is the historic journey of one of the greatest video game sports franchises ever, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. We start off with some general history of skateboarding and it’s rise into niche interest into a professional sport. This includes some videogames, movie inclusion, and the underground skate videos that eventually lead to The X-Games and opened the doors for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Tony Hawk’s presence in the sport connected him with some developers, which eventually lead to him teaming up with Neversoft and Activision. Hawk and the developers worked tireless to create the game. Hawk gave the developers a thorough education into skating, which to Hawk’s surprise, the team fully embraced. This helped with the authenticity of the game and definitely a major contributor to the game’s success. Everyone behind the game expected the game to be good, but no one expected it to be the revolutionary icon it became.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater became the biggest sports game franchise in history and helped influence skating to become bigger than little league. Not only has it grown skate culture, but it also revolutionized the sport. Where when the game released and the moves and combos were barely known and just being discovered, skaters now do stuff that was thought only possible in the game as Tiktok videos. Pretendng I’m a Superman captures the story of those involved, their thoughts on the game’s impact, and what it means for them and the sport now and in the future.

Director Ludvig Gür does a wonderful job setting up the story of THPS and following through to its impact on skateboard culture. He starts with the ebb and flowing of skateboarding’s popularity through previous decades, the change with the game, and the lasting impact and influence it still has today. Gür also does an incredible job showing the other impacts, in particular, the impact it had on the musicians who are featured in the game. The film’s name is inspired by Goldfinger‘s Superman. We get to see how Goldfinger, and others, become world-renown bands thanks to 2-minute features in THPS. It also helped all the skaters involved in the game. Being playable characters in the game made them all household names and boosted their profiles immensely and give them celebrity status. Which many used to build their own brands and teams and grow the culture even more. Another nice touch was the diversity the game helped influence. Minority groups were able to play as people who represented them and allowed themselves to see skateboarding as a thing they could also do. It wasn’t a major focus, but it was a major impact and one that is still growing. Lastly, there’s what THPS did for Tony Hawk himself. No one can say it better than the man himself,

“This was way beyond any dream that existed then. You couldn’t have dreamt this back then. We’re creating the dream. We created the dream. THPS was a huge part why skateboarding is here to stay.”

Pretending I’m a Superman is a thoroughly enjoyable documentary on a huge moment in popular culture, but also a major catalyst for the skateboarding culture, lifestyle, and institution. During the late 90’s/early 2000’s it was near impossible to know anyone who has not played or at least heard of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and this documentary not only tells the story of that, but shows what the hype/fad of the game influenced and inevitably became. Gaming is a much underappreciated and under-understood artform that is far more meaningful than most are willing to give it credit. Pretending I’m a Superman is a testament to the power that a video game can have. If you want to see how a video game can change the world or were a fan of THPS you will love this documentary. My Pretending I’m a Superman review gets a 4.5/5

 

Pretending I'm a Superman reviewPretending I’m a Superman: The Tony Hawk Video Game Story is available now on VOD

Pretending I'm a Superman: The Tony Hawk Video Game Story
4.5

TLDR

Pretending I’m a Superman is a thoroughly enjoyable documentary on a huge moment in popular culture, but also a major catalyst for the skateboarding culture, lifestyle, and institution. During the late 90’s/early 2000’s it was near impossible to know anyone who has not played or at least heard of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and this documentary not only tells the story of that, but shows what the hype/fad of the game influenced and inevitably became. Gaming is a much underappreciated and under-understood artform that is far more meaningful than most are willing to give it credit. Pretending I’m a Superman is a testament to the power that a video game can have. If you want to see how a video game can change the world or were a fan of THPS you will love this documentary.

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