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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 11 December 2019 at 9:08am | IP Logged | 1 post reply


I've posted this elsewhere - not here, I think - but doesn't the popularity of Chris Evans as Captain America prove that audiences will enthusiastically respond to an unequivocally good hero, and that "straight" doesn't have to mean "dull"?

I have also posted this argument elsewhere. 

I think the other aspect of the "difficulty" of Superman is his power level. Going this route would mitigate that. 

A live adaptation of the Fleischer cartoons would work for me. Even set in the early 40's would be fine (DC/Warner have seen to given up on the DCEU, so movies can just be set whenever). But the power levels, especially. Sure, he flies, but not at faster-than-light speeds. He's bullet proof, has X-ray vision (but not heat vision, IIRC), and is very strong; he can stop buildings from falling over, but with great effort. No planet pushing, here. Could he survive a nuclear blast?  A nuclear what??

Could be his existence would be so effective in the war effort, nuclear weapons aren't even developed (during the war, anyway).




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Steven Brake
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Posted: 11 December 2019 at 3:09pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

@Brian:

The Fleischer cartoons are astonishingly good, but setting Superman in, or during, WWII has the big problem in that he can't be seen to stop it, and, as he can't, therefore runs the risk of looking ineffectual. Superman IV really showed how self-defeating it is to have Superman address real world problems - the threats he faces, and overcomes, should feel real when we watch them, of course, but they shouldn't be rooted in real world events.

I still think it's a problem of character rather than power, and that the studios are underestimating the appeal of having a Superman who's decent, kind, and brave. Don't make him "edgy", make him inspiring.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 12 December 2019 at 2:21am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Doug, I am right there with you. Those 70's-era issues of All-Star Comics with the JSA are something special. 

While the Captain America films did well overall, I personally know a couple of people who still don't like them because Cap is, well, boring. A good guy and all, but so what? Nothing about his being a fine, upstanding fellow spoke to them at all and they found revisiting his films a chore in the lead up to Infinity War and Endgame.

A good, moral Superman will appeal to many, sure, but the acclaim still won't be universal. To far too many, Superman is the guy who's just too damned nice, especially in comparison to the Marvel stable, or, worse, Batman. SO many people consider it an either/or situation between liking Superman or Batman. Almost no one I've ever met has led with, "I like 'em both." It's always Ginger and Mary Anne with those two, and Superman, like Ginger, loses every time.*

I am, to the best of my knowledge, the only one of my friends & acquaintances to prefer Superman to Batman, and even there, I get where everyone else is coming from. My friends Linda & Laura especially feel that the only reason to have Superman and Batman in the same universe is to have Batman kick Superman's butt on a routine basis**. And these are women whose names start with "L!" If Superman can't count on their support...

So, as much as a good and noble Superman is something Superman fans can hope for, the people making the movies would argue that A.) So what? You're going to watch anyway. and B.) That's exactly what we have been giving you and you still don't like it. Honestly, Zach Snyder's vision may be dark, but it doesn't give us a dark Superman. He's morally conflicted because he wants to be good and the world is too messed up to allow for it. He's forced to snap Zod's neck. It's not like he's into it. Brandon Routh's Superman was still a good guy. He was decent, kind, and brave. He was just ineffective. 

Phillip Wylie's "Gladiator" was likely a strong influence on Siegel and Shuster's Superman. Hugo Danner fought in the Great War in that novel and isn't shown as ineffectual for not being able to simply end it. I could easily see a WW II Superman film taking its cues from the Look Magazine feature way back when and Tarantino's INGLORIOUS BASTERDS and having Superman bring Hitler and Stalin to trail at the Hague (!) but the film wouldn't be a failure if he doesn't. Wonder Woman wasn't held responsible by audiences for not ending WW I. I don't think Superman would be either.

It may be worth noting that in October of 1945 Superman survived an "atomic bomb" in a story that was intended to see publication two years earlier. That would have put it less than a year away from the final Fleischer cartoon. He climbed the power scale quickly back in the day, and the Fleischer version wasn't that far removed from the "overpowered" one complained about here, usually by folks who have no trouble with the Silver Surfer, Galactus, Thanos, et al.  

* And universally, everyone who picks Batman (and Mary Anne) thinks that they're the rebel for doing so. 

** Present-day DC seems to agree.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 12 December 2019 at 6:56am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

It may be worth noting that in October of 1945 Superman survived an "atomic bomb" in a story that was intended to see publication two years earlier. That would have put it less than a year away from the final Fleischer cartoon. He climbed the power scale quickly back in the day, and the Fleischer version wasn't that far removed from the "overpowered" one complained about here, usually by folks who have no trouble with the Silver Surfer, Galactus, Thanos, et al.

False equivalency. They all STARTED at god-like power levels. Superman accumulated power as he went along, usually at the whim of the editors and writers.

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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 12 December 2019 at 7:35am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Zach Snyder's vision may be dark, but it doesn't give us a dark Superman.

That's he's "forced" to snap Zod's neck and his go-to move just seemed to be getting angrier to get stronger/more effectual reads to me as a character made "dark" by writers who don't get it. 

Also evidenced by his adopted Earth parents telling him it was wrong to save a bus load of kids and that he doesn't "owe those people anything."

Barf. 




Edited by Brian Rhodes on 12 December 2019 at 8:03am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 12 December 2019 at 7:54am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Too many writers/editors/directors do not want to deal with characters who are BETTER than them.
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Steven Brake
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Posted: 12 December 2019 at 10:58am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

@Brian Rhodes:

Yes, that scene when Jonathan tells Clark that letting the kids die might have been the right thing to do was awful. What parent, or adoptive parent, tells their son, or adoptive son, that? And Jonathan Kent, of all people?

I thought that Costner was a decent choice to play Jonathan, but, like Cavill's Superman - and even moreso - the character was poorly written.
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Steven Brake
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Posted: 12 December 2019 at 11:04am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

@Brian Hague:

Lots of great points, and I won't try to address them all! :)

I would point out, though, that in the Wonder Woman film, Wonder Woman doesn't enter "man's world" until 1918 - by which time the First World War is drawing to a close. Superman grows up as Clark in "man's world" - how to explain his inability, or refusal, to get involved in the conflict?
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