Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Stop trying to make Superman more human

When I was a kid and my dad would show me those serials Superman shows from the 50's on his old school film projector, I was always fascinated by the power of Superman.  You know, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive.... I always loved it when the bad guy would empty all the bullets out of his gun at and then throw the actual gun at Superman as if that was gonna hurt him.

Later, when the Superman movies came out in the 70's and 80's( we are only going to acknowledge the first 2), it was awesome to see his full powers on display with flight, x-ray vision, freeze breath, etc. And as much as I hate it, he even turned back time to save Lois at the end of Superman 1.

Yet after the last two movies failed, DC seemed to be over powerful Kal El.  It seemed to me they felt he was too powerful and people could not relate to him and when he does reappear on the small screen, the focus has shifted from Kal El to Clark in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Not that the show was terrible, but even tho we get Superman in the show, the focus was primarily on Clark( and Lois) and all the relationship and work foibles that occur between him being Superman.  DC doubles down on that a few years later when it debuts Smallville which totally focuses on Clark and Superman is an afterthought of the series which is alluded to more than seen.  Smallville focuses on his life as a teenager and all the teenage angst that is associated with being a teenager.  Now Smallville was a great show, I am not denying that, but it continued DC's focus on Clark over Kal El.

When we finally do get Superman back on the big screen with Superman Returns its an overly emotional Kal El whose powers are on full display, but he is burdened with all these real world problems- his girl got a baby and is engaged to some other dude and the parentage of said kid is in doubt.... They got Kal on some Maury Povich type shit!

Now even tho DC has been giving Superman a forum to shine as one of their biggest heroes, their handling of Superman recently borders on shameful.  Superman has generally always been a symbol of hope for the DC universe. He represents what we all can achieve and someone to believe in yet -DC has attempted to turn him into Batman with superpowers.  In Man of Steel,  they tinkered with his backstory, killed off Pa Kent, and had him kill off Zod... all of this was done to create this tortured, emotional version of Superman- who seems to have very little hope.  It's why he appears joyless in Batman V Superman  because he doesn't have anything to be happy about.  DC has created a cinema world where Superman is feared instead of loved by the populace.  Superman has become Charlie Brown in DCU with various people playing Lucy and pulling the ball away from him.  Its no wonder this Superman doesn't crack and go full Justice Lords and fulfill the destiny Luther predicted in JLU and begin his own brand of Justice in a world that already hates and fears him.

DC has become obsessed with attempting to give us more Clark than Superman.  Obsessed. Its why shows like Lois and Clark and Smallville get made, while Superman is regulated to cartoons.  They honestly feel people are more interested in Clark than Kal El and that's simply not true. Kids are not dressing up as Clark Kent at Halloween. The man inside the suit is not as interesting as the man wearing the suit.

This humanizing of Superman has its roots in those original Donner/Shuler Superman movies from the 70's and 80's.  The whole sub-plot of Superman 2 was Kal losing his powers so he could be with Lois. I think, since most people hold this movie as the best of all the Superman movies, they come back to this trope of what would happen if Clark was not or could not be Superman.  And honestly, I don't know or care.  The DCU needs Superman to be Superman- not some emotionally stunted person who cannot handle his true emotions- DC has Batman for that!

DC should be highlighting his powers and abilities, not downplaying them.  Kal El knows how powerful he is and keeps them in check himself, not because of some overly self important writer or director who feels Superman should be more like us.  Superman is NOT LIKE US! He is SUPERMAN! He is an alien, from another world/planet with SUPER human abilities.

I am not one of those, "Zack Snyder should drop out because..." people. He has his vision of Superman and we have seen it on full display for the past two movies.  That is fine, I guess.  But he and DC should not be surprised by all the negative clap back they are receiving from fans and from creators who are not enamored with this version of Kal El.  What I would like to see,  after his "death", Kal El comes back and is appreciated as the hero and savior he was sent to be on Earth. Sadly, I think we are going to get an angry, seeking revenge Kal El before we see his redemption. Maybe this is part of Snyder's long run plan for the character...Maybe. But until then, I am going to enjoy Superman in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited- those shows are the most accurate version of Superman anyway!

The Producer

1 comment:

  1. I think the Marvel melodrama spirit has infected even the comics since the mid eighties. They're turning Apollo into Odysseus, but their mythology is too poor to even understand the difference.