Even if we go by the argument that Superman can go back to his Golden Age roots and be the champion of the oppressed, then what really is the point of his super powers? Batman can handle criminals like that if he wanted to. Sure, Supes can take down corporate tycoons and other exploiters, but how long can he keep doing that as a character until he says enough is enough and decides to take over (seeing how impotent and unwilling human beings are to change for the better)? The Superman character still has TONS of potential, but in order to fulfill that potential, WB/DC has to go in a direction that they would be totally unwilling to go in at this point. Think of Carradine's Superman speech from Kill Bill.
Of course, you can have superpowered villians or menacing aliens and imps, but then that begins to get tired after a while. It also becomes harder for the audience to relate to because such incidents and villains are most likely not going to appear in real life. While giving Superman daddy issues can make for a compelling arc, it still won't justify or make appealing other aspects of the character in the long run.
Spider-Man is also somewhat problematic - Marvel keeps recycling old ideas nonstop (Dan Slott's current arc is perhaps the exception). How much longer can they keep having Peter in his youth, dealing with girlfriend and money issues, and battling the same villains over and over again? The whole One More Day storyline from a few years back was really the red flag for me, in the sense that I felt like the guys at Marvel had really exhausted themselves in trying to figure out what to do with Spidey (and thanks in large part to Joe Quesada's adolescent fantasies). I feel like creators are more interested in reliving their childhood and pumping up feelings of nostalgia rather than taking these characters forward in interesting and dramatic ways.
Sure, Spidey feels guilty about his Uncle Ben's death and that's what motivates him to battle criminals, but if you strip away his super villains, then all you have left are your run of the mill crooks. What does he need the powers for then? That is the basic problem that all creators face, and that forces them to come up with the super villains in the first place, because there is little else you can do with a superhero with powers battling ordinary, regular world bad guys. Either that super hero battles super villains or they simply become outright quasi-fascists in a world gone made (which is not necessarily a bad thing). Spider-Man essentially faces the same dilemma as Superman (just not to the same degree). That doesn't mean the character doesn't have potential, it's just that the creators are stuck in the corporate rut.
With the monthly books gradually dying, and graphic novels and films becoming the way of the future for comic book characters, Marvel and DC both have to think long and hard about how to handle their respective properties. They can't just recycling the same old stuff; they need to speak directly not only to the world we live in but to the human psyche as well. As far as I'm concerned, what we're seeing with the industry vindicates what Alan Moore has repeatedly said: that superhero stories need to have an ending; the serialized format simply doesn't work anymore.
Which brings me to Batman. Even if you strip away Joker, Two-Face, Penguin, Riddler, and all the others, you still have mobsters, drug dealers, corrupt politicians and cops, political tyrants, etc - things that will never go away in the real world, things that people will always be struggling against in every society, in every time (albeit in different incarnations). Couple that with the fact that the tragedy that struck Batman is something that happens on a daily basis in this dark, uncertain world, you have a recipe for a hero archetype that will truly stand the test of time. Superman may have been the first, but Batman is by far the best, as far as I'm concerned.
He doesn't have powers; all he has is his wit, his will, and his principles. There is something about the Batman legend that is perpetually appealing, and if there is one character who will certainly transcend his comic origins and move into the realm of myth and outlive all the other superheroes, it is good old Bats. I think there are so many avenues you can go with the character, without using any of his traditional villains (although using them wouldn't hurt, either, as The Dark Knight clearly showed). However, both DC and Marvel are unwilling to really let loose with these characters, and that's the shame (they did come close with Batman, though, which brings me to my final point):
The Dark Knight Trilogy came really, really close to taking not only Batman, but the whole comic book genre, to a new level. What's so frustrating with The Dark Knight Rises is that it had all the ideas, all the ingredients to really "go there" so to speak after The Dark Knight, but it succumbed to typical genre formulas and cliches. Can the new MOS franchise change that? Maybe, but only time will tell.
"It isn't jumping the shark if you never come back down." Chuck
Is this the first time Superman has had personality flaws in the comics? are we counting superdickery type stuff which was unintentional i think?
True, but Nolan took it further by showing us why Bruce would choose to dress up in a costume, rather than just join the police or even move on with his life.I think I know what the issue is, and I think this is something that Man of Steel might be trying to rectify.
Today's world is a bit more cynical than the world of the 1950s, the 1960s, or even just a couple decades ago. Nonetheless, people clearly love superheroes and want to sort of believe in them. But I think there's an initial hurdle that the modern superhero has to get over that wasn't necessary in the past. And that hurdle is answering the "Why?" question.
In other words - Why are you a superhero? Why have you chosen to invest so much time and effort into being a hero when you could use that time and effort to enrich yourself in some way?
Whichever hero is being portrayed has to be able to answer that "why?" question convincingly.
Now, let's look at Batman and Spiderman for points of comparison. Bruce Wayne's parents were gunned down by murderous crooks when Bruce was only 8 years old. Nothing more really needs to be said, does it? Crime took a young boy's beloved parents away, and so that boy is going to make crime pay. Plus, Bruce Wayne is already wealthy. It's easy to buy into "Batman" and why he chooses to be the crime-fighting hero that he is.
Which was sufficiently told in 2002 and didn't need to be expanded upon last summer.Spiderman actually did try to use his powers to enrich himself. That's all he cared about, and so he let a crook get away. The crook that ultimately killed his beloved Uncle Ben. Again, nothing more really needs to be said, does it? Spiderman, like Batman, learned the terrible impact that crime can have. And in Spiderman's case, he also learned the terrible cost that irresponsible selfishness can have. It's easy to buy into "Spiderman" and why he chooses to be the crime-fighting superhero.
Indeed. The question with Superman is why would he wear a costume and commit himself to this life. To get to the costume, we need to see the importance of having a dual identity and the consequences that come with not having one.Now... why is Superman Superman? Did criminals also kill someone important to him? Well, not really... Superman landed as a baby in Kansas, and was raised with good values by the Kents. Combined with his own strong sense of morality, Superman decided to be a champion for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. There was a time when this was perfectly fine, but maybe in today's world this lacks a certain "punch" compared to what Batman and Spiderman endured. I think that people are looking for something a bit more personal, a bit more emotional, and a bit more visceral than that.
One problem is probably that people like the Kents aren't as common today as they used to be. In other words, a lot of people can't relate to being raised by parents like the Kents. But people still tend to love their close family members, whatever their faults, so the stories of Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker still ring as true today as ever.
So Superman needs to answer the "Why?" question. Once that's done, I think more casual movie-going audiences can feel the story a bit more, dig a bit deeper into it, get the character better. And so what I think Man of Steel is aiming for is a conflict between father and son - a conflict that I'm sure many rebellious teens (or people that were rebellious teens in their youth) can relate to. Conflicts between parent and child will often leave the child with a strong desire to "prove himself/herself". And I think that's what we're going to see with Superman in Man of Steel. Superman will fight to be accepted, he will fight to prove his case to his father, that will be the intensely personal element that helps drive Superman onward in Man of Steel. And how many kids struggle to be accepted? Will they find a relateable champion in Superman?
Personally, the classic Superman origin is good enough for me. However, if adding some stronger elements to it is necessary to winning over more people to Superman, then maybe it's worth it. Maybe once Superman answers the "Why?" question, he'll once again soar as the most beloved superhero of them all.
Superman has always had flaws in some version or another. Most people don't see that, which is why they say he's not flawed like Batman and Spider-Man. Clark's not an obsessive asshole that pushes people away and he's not like Peter who always finds some way to let people down and thus winds up being miserable. In terms of boy scout, the problem is people like a little gray in their worlds. They like bending the law and breaking the rules to do what they want. They don't like it when Johnny Law comes along and spoils the party and that is what Superman is.Originally Posted by Sonofspam
Last edited by Mat001; 12-23-2012 at 11:55 AM.
Spider-Man works because he does have the kind of personality one can relate to. Ignoring the OMD stuff of course
Batman works as someone thats a much better written escapism character. That and his view is a little more grey when compared to Superman's
Last edited by Legato; 12-23-2012 at 12:53 PM.
"It isn't jumping the shark if you never come back down." Chuck
Life is but a dream.
Superman is the greatest creation in American pop culture, but he has went through 25 years where people tried to make him less than what he is supposed to be, and so much has been lost that I don't know it can be recovered. Even Grant Morrison does not get Superman enough to make him what his is meant to be again, and the rest of the writers in comics are so in love with grimdark crap that they are useless. The nu52 Superman is a massive improvement, but that's a reflection of how flawed Post-Crisis Superman was as much as how good Morrison is. Of course, the Superman that the nu52 Superman replaced was himself several generations removed from the Post-Crisis version.
The way to go, IMO is the following:
1. Make Superman a character who is based in editorial leadership. His most successful era (Silver Age) was based in this. In a perfect world, Maggin would be Superman editor but they blew their chance at that. Mark Waid would be a good second choice.
2. Hire several good sci-fi writers to write Superman. Modern comics writers have proven they don't have what it takes.
3. Limit Superman's contact with the rest of the DCU apart from the JLA and protect him when he is used. Any usage of Superman needs to be approved by the Superman editor first.
4. Find an artist that is wanting to commit to being the Superman artist-less important than the others but would be nice.
Over and over, the crow cries uncover the cornfield.
My main point was that the idea of Batman was more "relatable", especially in our contemporary world. When societal structures begin to crumble and are unable to confront corruption and evil (which seems to be a perennial problem within human history), the idea of one person rising up and operating outside the established order to set things right is a very compelling and appealing one. You don't need supervillains to justify Batman's existence - you're always going to have corrupt governments, politicians, mobsters, drug dealers, etc, etc, and Batman, because he is human, will always have to struggle against everyday wrongs that take place. I think more people find Batman appealing because, of the comic book pantheon, he is the most realistic expression of that urge to fight evil without the constraints of law and order. Batman will already have his hands full confronting common criminals and tyrants - he doesn't need the Joker or other villains to be compelling. When it comes to other heroes like Superman and Spider-Man, their stories DO eventually get tired without the use of supervillains. Like I said before, why bother having a superpowered character battle your average criminal, when you can get a non-superpowered human hero to do the job?
And with Superman, is it really just the lack of good writers that's the problem? Some of the best writers of the biz have tackled the character and still haven't been able to figure out what's wrong. You yourself say that Grant Morrison didn't "get" Superman enough - if he doesn't, then who does?
As for the Silver Age, I wasn't even born back then. Byrne's Superman is my Superman, and that is the version of the character I grew up with, so I am biased in favor of Post-Crisis Supes (and it irks me to no end that he never got a proper send-off). But I do know enough that Byrne's de-powered Superman was much closer to the original Golden Age concept than the Silver Age ever was; if anything, it's the Silver Age that was the complete aberration, not the Post-Crisis version.
I do agree though that a more SF approach to Superman is the way to go, and if you ask me, the Post-Crisis reboot got a lot right in that department, especially in its version of Krypton.
There's a few guys and Morrison is one of them, but he is a Batman guy first. Most of the people who really get Superman are not active in the business today-Maggin, Bates, Pasko-or are away from DC like Waid (although he is not in their class). Superman has been lost for so long that I have serious doubts that he can be found.And with Superman, is it really just the lack of good writers that's the problem? Some of the best writers of the biz have tackled the character and still haven't been able to figure out what's wrong. You yourself say that Grant Morrison didn't "get" Superman enough - if he doesn't, then who does?
My favorite version of Superman is actually the Golden Age version, but it is Byrne's version that is different from the rest, not because of the diminished power level, but because he took the core concept of Superman-that Superman is the main identity and Clark Kent is an act-and eliminated Clark Kent from it, leaving a character that was never much different from one identity to the other. That's the way it is with every other superhero and that is boring. It wasn't being the sole survivor of Krypton that made Superman unique-it was the fact that he had a complete and total alter-ego as Clark that did the trick. If Clark and Superman are the same exact guy in and out of costume, then there is no one the reader can project themselves on and therefore there is no interest. It's why that version was doomed to fail from the start. No Clark=no success. Byrne made some other mistakes but none of them were unprecedented in the character's history and none of them-even having Superman kill in a cowardly manner-hurt like getting rid of the nebbish Clark Kent did. There is a distinct difference between a secret identity like 99.9% of all superhero have (unless their identity is publically known) and an alter ego or "second self" which is a completely different personality. Superman has mental issues just like many people; massive survivor's guilt over Krypton and the Kents, an inability to commit, fear of failure, of losing those he loves, and he has this need to role play as the mild mannered Clark Kent.As for the Silver Age, I wasn't even born back then. Byrne's Superman is my Superman, and that is the version of the character I grew up with, so I am biased in favor of Post-Crisis Supes (and it irks me to no end that he never got a proper send-off). But I do know enough that Byrne's de-powered Superman was much closer to the original Golden Age concept than the Silver Age ever was; if anything, it's the Silver Age that was the complete aberration, not the Post-Crisis version.
The Post-Crisis reboot got nothing right to me except the idea that Superman is not assumed to have a secret identity, which I thought was a good idea. I don't like that Krypton at all and I am very glad it is gone.I do agree though that a more SF approach to Superman is the way to go, and if you ask me, the Post-Crisis reboot got a lot right in that department, especially in its version of Krypton.
Over and over, the crow cries uncover the cornfield.
Heres a good idea on how to go about it-Have Superman fight evil organizations in power that use their power to oppress the people of earth.Have this organizations be connected to Cosmic Villains thus making them a Huge threat to Superman.With this method you have Superman be the Champion of oppressed and Simultaneously Champion of the cosmos.
Last edited by Zionite1; 12-27-2012 at 12:10 AM.
People seem to really seem to connect with stories where the hero stands up to an oppressive rule.Spartacus,Starwars etc so I think this is a good way to go with superman.And the cosmic element brings the required epicness to the stories.
Another thing Superman writers shld learn is to downplay the sci fi Jesus aspect of Superman and play up the Scifi Hercules/Samson aspect instead.The Jesus aspect just makes him look unneccessarily preachy.
"It isn't jumping the shark if you never come back down." Chuck