There have been several recent articles on why Superman has not been a very successful character is recent years. In print and in the theaters. From "too powerful" to just plain ole boring. Do u have an opinion on the matter...?
TB: Yeah, I think it's all crap. I think Superman is just as relevant and interesting today as at any other time in the character's history, and it only takes good creators with proper insight and skills to be able to bring that out. I think that most people who wave this opinion around have only a cartoonish viewpoint on Superman, what he does and what he stands for--but any character considered in such a cartoonish way won't be relevant. I would love to edit Superman at some point (though that's not likely.)
Re: Ur reply on Supes. If you did have the chance to edit, & were given the opportunity to make 1 wholesale & lasting change to the character, any idea what that would be? Did you like what Byrne did with the character all those years ago?
TB: Superman and Lois: not married.
I would submit that Superman being married - to Lois - does not damage the character, certainly not like Spider-Man being married did. Him being a bachelor just isn't important to his core appeal. "Single Superman" just sees superfluous now.
TB: I disagree. I think it's entirely the familiarity of a long-time audience that misses the forest for the trees on this one. Married Superman takes away one of the essential engines of the series: "And who disguised as Clark Kent.' The Clark-Lois-Superman triangle is one of the essential dynamics of that mythos, and it's only because people became so familiar with it that it became perceived to be old. Marrying Superman takes the romance out of the character, and also takes the sense of loneliness and alienation out of the character. It doesn't harm the series to the extent of Spider-Man, but it doesn't replace what it takes away with other, better stuff. It is a terrible mistake, and one that, again, no other medium that's adopted the character has seen fit to pursue (outside of the final ill-fated seasons of LOIS AND CLARK, when they were getting desperate.)
Why would you unmarry Clark and Lois? Don't you think the love triangle is done to death?
TB: It's not just the love triangle, though, it's the whole dynamic. On some level, Superman needs a sense of isolation, of loneliness, of loss. In my world, the Kents would both be dead as well.
What is with you guys and marriage? It's weird. I mean, Superman is the sappy, married type so being against a Superman marriage doesn't even make sense.
TB: The fact that you think Superman is the sappy, married type is the problem. And that's kind of a hard attitude to change if he is actually married.
You make a good point about the Clark-Lois-Superman triangle, and I'm willing to concede that that is a valuable missing element. But if Lois is going to be a smart, competent character in her own right, it only makes sense she would figure it out herself
TB: Only in the sense that there's something to figure out. How often have you met somebody who resembled a particular celebrity over the years? Now, you didn't think that person actually was that celebrity, right? Because that would be sort of crazy. Same thing. Superman doesn't wear a mask, so why would anybody think that he spends most of his time walkig around in glasses and a three-piece suit simply because Clark Kent resembles him/ It's much easier to believe that there's a resemblance than it is to believe that Clark is Superman (which is a perspective that's skewed for the audience, of course, because Clark IS Superman. But that's not a natural point of view.)
Re: Superman. I'm a big proponent of "Clark Kent is real, superman is the costume". Partly because when I grew up and partly because of my own secular humanism. I don't think there's a right or wrong answer, though. There are pros and cons to both takes.
TB: Kal-El is real. Both Clark Kent and Superman are affectations of one kind or another.
"Kal-el is real" is he though? When he didn't know he was Kal for how many years, living as Clark? As an adoptee is my adopted name and life not "real"? The "real" me (and Superman) is the identity we didn't know of for years?
TB: The thing about Superman, though--and this is something that's always bubbling under the surface--is that he isn't human. So right from the start, he would have known that he was different from everybody else. THAT'S Kal-El. Clark is the mask, the trying to fit in, to conform to peer pressure (the peer pressure of every person on the planet) and be what you think you're spposed to be. In a ot of ways, it's analogous to a young person who's gay but doesn't quite realize it yet (or doesn't want to accept it yet) attempting to conform to society's notions of what is good and proper and acceptable. Superman doesn't even see or hear things the way the rest of us do--his life experiences from a very early age would have been very different from everyone around him, and would have been something that he couldn't explain to anybody he'd come in contact with. How do you describe a color that nobody else on Earth can see?
Superman's two biggest problems; perception that he is a boy scout, and perception that he is too powerful. Both solved by his original incarnation where he knocks around crooked politicians and dictators, and can be hurt by a "bursting shell". Thoughts?
TB: I don't know that I'd take him back to "bursting shell" levels--I don't think that you could at this point. But my Superman would definitely have a strong streak of Siegel & Shuster's in him. Superman is an activist for justice, not the status quo.
I disagree on what you said about the superman marriage. Being married doesn't change the fact that he's completely alone in the universe. In fact it kinda reminds him of the thing he can never be, human. Having tons of kryptonians ruins thing more.
TB: Being married totally changes thathe's alone in the universe--because he isn't at that point! I agree with you about the tons of Kryptonians.
Glad to see that my question re Superman has birthed such a spirited debate. Those Gambit qstns were getting tedious. Sadly, I don't find Superman, as he's written today, to be an interesting character. I mentioned b4, I've penned 2 eps of Smallville.
TB: I'd have to say that that's teh fault of the writing, rather than the character. And i think there have been good Superman stories over the last few years--just not enough of them. At some point, the right person is going to come along and really nail Superman again for the 21st century, and everybody will read it and go, "Of course..."
"And really nail Superman again for the 21st century". And there in lies the rub. Writing for Smallville was a Herculean task. Boundaries and rules. Did you like what Byrne did with his revamp, that was eventually re-revamped?
TB: I liked bits of it, but especially at the time, I thought it caused as many problems as it solved, and that some of it was wrong-headed. Still, it was very successful in making Superman successful and relevant again for a time, so who can argue with that?
Clark Kent is the mask? I don't know about this Physically he's very much alien, but his morals and values have conflicted with his alien heritage Whether with kryptonians, kal, or humans,Clark, he is an isolated character Batman calls him Clark as do I
TB: Well, there's also the difference between "Real Clark" and "Mask Clark". The Clark that most of his normal human associates know is a concoction, a part he plays, to prevent anybody from realizing that he's Superman. So he can't really be himself among ordinary people, he's always got a degree of play-acting going on. And when you get down to 'Real Clark", I consider that Kal-El. He's informed by all of his life experiences, but this is who he is to himself, in his own mind.
Doesn't being married just remind Superman of the fact that he can never ever be human no matter how much he tries to fit in? To me it kinda accentuates the tragic elements of the character.
TB: I'm not sure how being happily married would make the character feel more alienated and alone and tragic--but if it works for you, so be it.
What did you think of Superman: Secret Origin? And why no love for the JLI?
TB: I thought Secret Origin was pretty good. As for the JLI, two things: I suspect I would have liked the original 1987 version better had it not been called Justice League, as what i wanted out of a Justice League book was all of the A-listers together, not a random assortment of whomever-we-can-get. That also would have made the strong comedy approach go down easier with me, I suspect. but even with that, the use of those characters in generation Lost is fundamentally 180 degrees from what was done with them back then--it's not fun, it's not bouncy, and it's not upbeat. Nothing wrong with that if it works for you, but for me, it's a series about characters I don't much care for dealing with stuff I don't much care about. So it's hard to care, y'know?
I'd think that both Superman and Clark are masks. Each an exaggeration of some aspects of his personality to the exclusion of others. He's most himself around, say, the Kents, but not even they can fully understand what his life is.
TB: I agree mostly--except that, to me, Superman is the best outward expression of who he genuinely is inside, the person he can't be all the time, and the person who can't truly relate meaningfully with all of the ordinary people around him. Making that a mask or a put-on makes the whole character seem phony, in my opinion. When he's Superman, he can drop all the pretences and be who he truly is--but his superhuman attributes inevitably make him an outsider.