If Jon Hamm Plays Superman, Will It Kill Don Draper?
"Those are sort of the Internet things that one person says and then 15 more people Twitter [it] and then it becomes this sort of phenomenon." So said Jon Hamm earlier today on Live with Regis and Kelly when asked about the rumors that he'd don the red cape to star as Superman. Deep breath, Mad Men fans: we're all in the clear, for now. But if this Internet meme becomes reality, would Superman kill Don Draper?
There is no getting around the simple fact that Hamm would be perfect for Superman. His chiseled, Missouri-bred jawline and all-American looks make him an ideal choice for The Man of Steel; to echo 30 Rock's Liz Lemon, the man's baseline look is "cartoon pilot." And since Warner Bros. eventual Superman reboot will be handled in some part by Christopher Nolan -- assuming he doesn't direct, he'll probably still consult -- it's not like Hamm would be left floundering in some third-rate blockbuster like so many TV-famous actors and actresses who tried to make the leap to the big screen. As Hamm excitedly said to Regis and Kelly, "It's sort of news to me, so if the powers that be are thinking that, I'd like them to get in touch with me. Maybe we can discuss it." And how.
As a selfish Mad Men fan, however, Hamm-as-Superman is the last thing I'd want to see. This is not because I want the series to last forever. Far from it, actually; I want Matthew Weiner to stick to his self-imposed six-season limit and get out before it's too late. But taking the role of Superman would turn Hamm into Superman. To paraphrase an oft-said thing about Academy Award winners, playing Superman would become the first line of Hamm's obituary.
In his ventures outside of the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Hamm has been inseparable from his iconic small-screen creation, despite the fact that he's not really all that much like him personally. Still, there's Don Draper on 30 Rock, in The Town and celebrating after the Emmys. Why wouldn't he just become Don Draper playing Superman? Because Superman is Superman, the most recognizable superhero in the world. Maybe we, the two million strong Mad Men fans who love Hamm, will always know him as Don Draper, but 10 years from now -- when Mad Men is a foggy, Sopranos-like memory and Hamm is wearing blue tights -- will the rest of the planet?
Legacy isn't something you often hear associated with TV shows, but for a select few, the word holds value. Think: The Wire, The Sopranos. Mad Men belongs in the conversation as one of those shows that will stand the test of time, that will still be watched when DVDs and Blu-rays become microchips. Weiner has always said that he fought to cast Hamm as Don Draper not just because he was perfect for the role, but because he was an unknown who was perfect for the role. When Mad Men began, the audience had no preconceived notions of Hamm, except that he was seemingly born out of Central Casting circa 1955. It worked, and, of course, the rest is history.
But what of history? If the goal of Mad Men is to be an indelible series that stands the test of time, then having the leading character star as a superhero would really cut that off at the knees. Future generations won't be watching that unknown -- they'll be watching Superman.
Look, I'm not foolish enough to think that being Superman would be anything but a major win for Jon Hamm. It would be great for his current career, great for his future career and really makes too much sense to not happen. I'm just not ready to sacrifice Don Draper to see it happen.