VIDEO: Who is Superman?

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In the first video of Sofie’s new segment “Who is…?”, she decides to talk about the Man of Tomorrow, and about who he is as a person and a character. What does he stand for? And what is the one “keyword” that sums him up?

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Tag: Movie Dorkness: Who is...?

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  • Jay_Bay

    THIS.

    ALL OF THIS.

    It’s so simple. Anyone can figure it out. And a person have countless stories to pull THIS from. So why can’t they figure this out? Or more correctly, why are they so abhorrent to go against THIS? And before you all go and say “Well the people want their heroes dark, it says it in the numbers”, lemme say this. Yes, Man of Steel opening weekend made money. I cannot deny that. But the trend seems to be big opening weekend, major drop off in week 2 and the following weeks. And the reviews? I think the best review I have seen/read said “This movie, while grandeous, is alright…just wish it wasn’t a Superman film”. I know DC (and WB for that matter) hear these outcries, but not only staying with this bad interpretation but gonna use that to build a cinematic world around it. I just don’t see how is these good business moves.

    And I got off track of my initial point. My bad. And hell, I am not even a fan of Supes. Wanna see me REALLY ramble, wait until the Batsy episode. Nice vid, Madam Sofie.

    • Sofie Liv

      Thanks mate *salutes*

      And yeah, obviously there are great stories with massive weight in them to be pulled from this.
      I personally grew up with Superman Tas and justice League Tas, and I thought those shows were absolutely BRILLIANT in pulling the essence of each hero present and really using it for some-thing.

      People saying. “But it’s impossible to write good superman stories course he’s tooo powerful.”
      Yeah, right.. Some-how the Justice League series managed to both have Superman AND a group of other heroes as him, just as powerful as him, being his back-up, and still deliver extremely interesting stories while still keeping true to all of the characters.. so what the fudge?

      …. Warner Brothers just doesn’t make any sense these days.. I mean come on, this is their situation.
      They are a movie studio, that is currently struggling financially, ever since their yearly cash cow Harry potter ran out of movies to make.
      They own the rights to the ENTIRETY of the DC univers.

      … they are movie studio, that owns the rights to all DC heroes, all of them.. and they are financially struggling…

      HOW THE FUDGE DID YOU MANAGE TO SCREW THAT UP SO BADLY?!

      Sorry… carrie on <_<

      • Alexa

        They fudged it up because they’re fudging idiots 😛

        • drumstick00m

          Renegade Cut gave the most didactic take on why “Man of Steel” failed (right at the end of his review): Whenever there is genuine emotion (Superman smiles, Superman cries, people stop pontificating)–cut to an explosion.

          Best stand alone Superman Origin: “Superman: Birthright.” or the “Trigun” anime.

          • Alexa

            Birthright was okay, but I actually really like All Star Superman. But yeah Trigun is the best and I like it more than the other, but still excellent, Toonami staple Cowboy Bebop. And really the makers of MoS should of just watched Trigun if they wanted to *SPOILERS* really see the severity of a person who never kills have to take a life.

          • drumstick00m

            “All Star” is a great third film in a Superman Trilogy. Birthright is the first film. All the Justice League movies the second one.

            Exactly why I mentioned Trigun.

  • Muthsarah

    Prior to Batman ’89, comic book superheroes were seen as too silly/cheesy/campy/kidsy/dated for big-budget movies. A few too-cautious, low-budget, low-talent productions in the 1980s confirmed that (more than they really should have). Batman ’89 took the whole genre for a spin (developments in comics don’t matter to Hollywood, only in movies, hence why Watchmen wasn’t made until Batman got big enough to support it), but also gave them a template of “dark, moody, brooding, gothic, grotesque” as a new standard. Hence Batman Returns going even further in that direction (unfortunately creeping out the overzealous parents’ groups of the time), plus leading to the adaptation of other “dark” comics franchises in the 90s, such as Spawn and Blade. Batman Forever returned to camp, but kept it marketable enough for the marketers, but Batman and Robin went too far, and brought Hollywood all the way back to its (less than a decade removed) mindset that “comic book superheroes cannot be campy or silly or lighthearted or anything, or we’ll get another B&R”.

    X-Men debuted well, and, importantly, did so while being all dark and clad in black leather and starring a growling man who stabs people instead of an assemblage of brightly-clad people with lasers and invisibility and stuff equally sci-fish, reconfirming that it’s far safer for Hollywood to err on the side of being too dark than too campy. Spiderman walked the line pretty well at first; Raimi left plenty of silliness in, characters DID smile and even laugh at times, but the movies always balanced that with serious, gripping action scenes, and bits with heroes and villains alike dealing with troubling stuff (dead parents, dead uncle, split personality, dead wife, dead father, murder, suicide, breakups). Then the third movie came out, and despite being the “darkest” Spidey flick, the campy bits were the ones that got most of the negative attention.

    The Batman relaunch wasn’t remotely campy anywhere (maybe bits of the third), and it was huge. Yeah, the Marvel films, and The Avengers in particular, shoulda been a wakeup call to the producers of Man of Steel that some more levity was required (especially after the rather dull and too-seriously-taking-itself Superman Returns), but they’re still clearly more terrified of taking “lightness” (any kind) too far. Dark and brooding and violent still has the better track record in recent times, especially as DC properties have gone. Picking Zack Snyder to helm was possibly a mistake (setting up expectations of Watchmen and 300, all wrong for Superman’s vibe), but the very conception of the movie, with the screenplay and those who ordered it, probably has it roots deep in the pre-Avengers days.

    It’s not just about box-office numbers, it’s very much about the comics’ (and the studios’ comics divisions’) images, both of themselves and of their audience. Same as how the image of video games has become dominated by gritty FPSs, such that too many people still think they represent what the “typical gamer” buys, there’s still an impression that the “typical moviegoer” (a teen or 20-something guy) just wants to blow stuff up and/or punch things in the face while being deep and dramatic because no one understands them and how awesome they secretly are. Hence, the DC comics movies we’ve seen. I’m not surprised at all at how MoS turned out. I AM, however, disappointed at just how slow the studios are to realize that their impressions of their audience (and their products) aren’t as accurate as they think they are. Hollywood is, as usual, a deeply conservative industry as far as their industry is concerned. Yeah, they coulda (/shoulda) aped The Avengers more, but they’ve been burned before. And until it’s PROVEN than the old ways aren’t the safest bet, they’re gonna stick with what has worked before.

    • Alexa

      To fair to Superman Returns it at least had some humor and Kevin Spacey was delightfully over the top and campy. Also I would say Man of Steel was way more dull and up its own ass than SR just based on how their was a severe lack of humor and when it was attempted it failed so miserably, it was painful.

      • Muthsarah

        From what I recall (haven’t rewatched), that wasn’t the main critique of the movie at the time. Yeah, Spacey’s Luthor harkened back to Hackman’s, which, even now, seems so silly as to be irrelevant to the modern understanding of the character (it was still very Silver Age). You cut away from Clark/Supes/Lois to Lex/Redneck Bumpkin/that woman character, you’re going from a superhero movie to pure slapstick. Like the Adam West Batman movie’s take on the “fearsome foursome”, but without the obvious self-parody. I saw SR in theatres, having seen the first three Reeve Supes, and little else; the Luthor and Co. scenes were really jarring. ‘Course, so was the rest of the movie. Both halves ill-fitting, one too earnest and self-serious (without sufficiently establishing the link between it and the earlier series, where, of course, the characters all seemed far older, something that was impossible to ignore or get past), the other too campy by half. So saying the movie was “too campy” or “too serious”, well, either woulda fit, ‘cuz it was both.

        MoS, in comparison, was just dreary and depressing and dark and too cynical even for me. With SR, I felt they were trying, yet missing the mark. MoS, however, was darker than any Batman, like they felf “this HAS to be dark, and since Superman is so powerful, it’s gotta be SUPER-dark!”, without bothering to ask if general audiences (or fans, of which I was not) would even be on-board with that. On the whole, though, even when MoS was “serious”, it still seems as if it was trying to be more “badass” and “conflicted”. SR was “serious” as in “heavy”, feeling and acknowledging the weight of the franchise, the earlier movies, and the legacy it was building on, but just stumbling by taking that legacy SO seriously that it failed to create anything meaningful on its own. MoS was Batman on steroids. And not even the Batman I like (Keaton or Conroy).

        • Alexa

          Pretty much, and to SR’s credit it tried to be true and it got Superman way more than MoS, which was trying so hard to be as you said SUPER- DARK, and for that it completely missed the point even though Zack “The Dumbass” Snyder kept saying he loved and understood the character, only to make a movie that WAS NOTHING LIKE SUPERMAN. I don’t care what anyone says, that was not Superman, that was as I said in another comment, Bearded Idiot. And again I may have liked SR but I understand why people hate it, but again it tried. And when I mentioned Spacey’s Lex I mention to highlight how that film was at least fun, it may have been a mess in some regard but I still found enjoyment from that at least, and OMG! In that movie Superman actually saves people. Superman actually saving more than three people and not basically destroying a city in the process! What a concept!
          T_T

      • bbally

        I disagree at least I cared about what happened in Man Of Steel, while the Returns just bored me for a huge number of the film and I’m not a fan of Spacey’s Luthor I just felt he was doing an over the top imitation of Gene Hackman’s Luthor. Returns tried to go for drama like Donner films, the thing is that the drama in the Donner films felt more natural while it felt so forced in Returns. Also Cavill has the feel of Superman better than Routh appearance (I know Cavill got some acting chops too) and Amy Adams was at least less bland Lois Lane than whoever played her in Returns.

  • I never understood the animosity Superman seems to provoke in some people, “He’s boring” or, “He’s perfect” or, “He’s too powerful”. But none of those statements are actually correct.

    The question of, “What would you do if you had the powers of Superman?” is a good question to ask in fiction, and Superman uses his power to help others and to be an example of how to use power. Lex Luthor (in various continuities) takes umbrage with this because he is an arrogant and greedy tool who does not comprehend someone using so much power for the benefit of others. And considering he lives in a universe in which there are dozens of people (just on Earth) who could go toe to toe with him in a fight, the idea of him being too powerful is nonsense as well.

    Under those parameters I never grasped how the set up was boring. Hell, half of all science fiction seems to be so variation of, “What do we do with all this power?” In a way Superman is the best answer to that question.

    • Alexa

      It really is a matter of preference, I slightly prefer Batman but I still love Superman too. And really Superman can really shine when you put him into the right hands, like Grant Morrison with All Star Superman which is not only one of my absolute favorite Superman stories but one of my absolute favorite comic book stories.

  • Gallen_Dugall

    None of this explains Indian Superman.
    That said I have to agree about the William’s score.

    • Sofie Liv

      ….. Indian Superman, right.. urhm.. yeah I got nothing…

      WILLIAMS SCORE! and as for Batman, yeah.. you.. you just have to give up all-ready, The Elfman score is the ONLY Batman score, period. It’s just, it’s just not done any different.

      Pssst, here’s what you do for your new movie. You incorporate these two scores behind the two characters and eventually make a mix up in their inventiable battle scene.

      Even if the writing ends up being shitty, using those two scores smartly would at least be enough to fool me for a while, because.. the music is just that great.

  • Alexa

    I can understand if someone were to generally like Man of Steel as a film itself (I will admit the visuals were good and some performances were alright), but I don’t understand people who say it was a good Superman movie, which it wasn’t. Besides the lame ass ending, the film as a whole never communicated what made Superman great and “hopeful”. Really it felt like the origins of Bearded Idiot more so than Superman, if you know what I mean. And now he is going to be joined by possible Crazy Steve and Bonkers Betty. Yeeeeeaaaah….
    :/

    • Jay_Bay

      OMG. It’s true. Linkara foretold the sequel before it even went to paper. By the Gods.

      • Alexa

        He must be a superhuman himself, he is pretty awesome and he does help people in his own special way 🙂

        • Sofie Liv

          Linkara is such a fantastic sweet dude, all interactions I ever had with him has only been extremely positive. He is a cool guy, a very very cool guy!

          Urgh.. it’s not like that “Darker comic book.” thing is confined to movies either, the DC relaunch STILL has no idea in what the hell, what they are doing with their stuff, only that it’s supposed to be “Dark.” and “Edgy.” and “Totally serious.”

          …. Dudes, no one cares about your re-launch, at all. We are actually much more interested in the history of these heroes at this point than we are at any new interpretations, at all.

          • Alexa

            Exactly! And really the main reason they do this is because Batman (who I love but I will freely admit I am kind of sick of at this point) is quite popular. And they think “Well this dark and moody character is popular how about we make all the characters like him.” With some exceptions, nearly all the heroes now act without humor and are soooooo serious all the damn time. Its boring!

            Gone was a rich and immersive world with all kinds of different people and personalities and now we have dull whiny pants people who can’t find joy because according to the jackass Dan Didio, people who are heroes can’t possibly have happy lives, that wouldn’t work. Even though some of the best story lines involved the heroes having somewhat happy dispositions having to face adversity, and what helped them get through it was their ability to be positive.

            I’m not saying you can’t go dark, but making everything dark is just ridiculous. Its like the opposite of how nearly all the heroes in the 50s were inexplicably happy all the time, even the ones where it didn’t make sense, in that case Batman. Its just a waste and so incredibly unnecessary, and now the only thing DC related I read is the wonderful and amazing web comic JL8 where the main DC heroes are children and they act more like adults than the ones in the official comics. Go figure….

          • Sofie Liv

            Well.. speaking as a writer.. I have to say in my exsperience, big emotions comes exactly from great contrast.

            The things that makes you feel the most, are the things were it starts of fun and light, so you don’t see the twist coming at all.

            Starting act is always all about, getting the reader/viewer invested in this world, it’s supposed to welcome you with a warm happy embrace, setting up what is good about this world and these people, making a good grounding here in the good. So you can understand the tragedy and the darker side when it arrives.

            If you have nothing to put your tragedy up against, the reader will have no reason to feel sad because there is nothing that was really lost.

            Humour as well, help lifts more dramatic situations, gives the reader breathing room, and a place to attach yourself to the characters in between the darker situations.

            It’s an art of balance really, to go really dark and disturbing, you need to know how you can also be really light hearted and funny, so the two things can play up against each other and be a contrast. Then the light side seems that much lighter and the darker turn has that much greater an effect!

            You don’t want to start off a re-launch having it being heavy at all, you want to let it start off being colourful and fun and a great. “HEY! LOOK AT US! See how new and fresh and full of life and fun we are now! Come on, come on!” and then, when the reader got relaxed. “BAM!” then you pull away the carpet under their feet’s and make it dark, but only just long enough to let it have an affect before you give the reader a bit of breathing room and let them have fun.

            Balance! Writing is also an art in balance!

          • Alexa

            I immediately think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it comes to this, which is a show that was constantly balancing light and dark. And did this by smartly introducing characters that were fun, warm, entertaining, that slowly had them deal with dark issues and outside sources and how that affected them, and while they grew from these experiences they never resorted to be all gloom and doom all the time. And this is what made them and the show endearing, its expert use of levity. And what made the supposed moody Batman endearing, was not his darkness but his path to escaping his tragic past and finding a path that wasn’t so dark, which is nicely showcased in JL:TAS with him becoming less of a loner and more part of the team.

          • Sofie Liv

            You can applie that to just about any-thing that made you feel some-thing while writing.

            Sherlock is also a grant example, each episode starts off with making you laughing your ass off, and then BOOM halfway in, things get serious.

            Doctor Who always starts of being a heck of a lot of fun, it draws you in, and then again, BOOM! now things got serious.

            The reason why Adventure Time can leave such an emotional impact some-times is because the standard for the show is to be humourus, and then the deeper things comes out of no-where and BOOM you feel for it.

            Harry Potter started out being fun and all. “Yay! Wizards and castles and stuf.” and then later came the war and the darker stuff.

            I would even dare say, if you watch Batman Tas again, that show is actually also quite humourus.. it’s a very dark kind of humourus, but there are still humour in there, hell.. “Christmas with the Joker.” which was the second episode of the show is freaking hillarious, though in a pretty dark way.
            And well, man, Batman/Bruce seemed like such a nice guy in Batman Tas, a really really swell kind nice guy, when he wasn’t pissed off. It was first later in this continuity he seemed to develop that constant grit complex.
            But there it made sense, because it was part of his tragedy, a kind of Hydra complex, where Batman fights to attempt to give people the happiness he was denied, to make sure there wont be as much misery.
            But for each person he safe, two new tragedies appears that he witnessed happening, and he stands powerless against all these tragic stories he sees, so slowly he becomes that bitter old man from Batman Beyond, whom just couldn’t safe the world he loved, no matter how hard he tried, no matter how many times he tried, the world around him kept being tragic and all kinds of messed up, and he was left a bitter old man.

            At least that’s how I view his DC TV series continuity character.

          • Alexa

            Yeah Buffy is just the first thing that popped into my mind. Had it on the brain today. But yeah the most effective storytelling is the ones where things appear fine and then, as you said, BAM! Shit just got real! But even when things do get real you have to pull back and give the characters room to breath and not be so serious all the time. Without a sense of humor life would be pretty dull. Plus you can make more compelling characters that appear very happy but have tragedy that surrounds them.

          • Sofie Liv

            Exactly!

            Having a constant brooding Superman makes little to no sense as, if he broods all the time.. how then can we know the difference of the situations of the encounter and how he takes them.
            How can we know that. “oh dang, now things got serious, he is suddenly serious now.”
            When he was ALWAYS that brooding.

            And well, even Batman has been known to have a sense of humour in some representations.

            *Bats falling down the air, into his death, calmly presses his communicator.*

            “I could use some air support…. because I can’t fly….. at all….. now would be good.”

            Lols, there are so many good jokes in Justice League and it all comes from the character interactions.
            Not to forget the episode where they all gets turned into children and Batman still behaves like a brooder, and he just make these best pouty faces so it’s impossible to take him serious, best joke in the entire episode XD

          • I like Batman too, but he has been done to death.
            The Batman and co. are so pervasive that:
            Counting Arkham Knights he will have 6 video games in the last 10 years (2 Lego)
            He will have had 3 cartoon shows in the last 15 (“The Batman”, “Batman Brave and the Bold”, and “Beware the Batman”)
            3 Blockbuster movies.
            Currently 11 of the New 52 are Batman
            He was a prominent figure in “Young Justice”, “The Lego Movie”, and will be a prominent character in “Man of Steel 2”.

            Only Spiderman and Wolverine can compare in the amount of merchandise. Spiderman is the only character Sony makes movies about, the WB has 4 dozen in their stable, and Fox only has the FF and other X-Men to work with.

          • One of the two creative heads of DC is Jim Lee, who was a founder of Image comics, and co creator of Wild C.A.T.S. He was part of the Dark Age of comics and that is (probably) what he thinks of comics as being.

            Superman and the like have existed for so many decades that you can interpret him 100 different ways. I have read Else Worlds comics of him during the Civil War, where he was raised by the Amish, where he was raised by the Green Lanterns on Oa, and Red Son.

            The concept is a very easy starting pitch: Baby Alien Refugee raised as an orphan on a world not his own, has great power. You could swap out any number of factors in that equation and still get an interesting story. And I think “Man of Steel” took a valid, though gloomier path, what if Superman was afraid that humans would reject him so he hid, but still wanted to do good?

            Ultimately he does become Superman, but the world is a bit rougher and he is facing an enemy that he can’t overcome without resorting to extremes (and he was right, humans end up only half trusting him, and he had to kill all the remaining members of his race to even get that far).

  • Wizkamridr

    I’d rather watch MOS than superman 2, 3, or 4. STM is still the best imo. SR was boring. MOS reminded me of the new 52 version and original version. Punch first and ask questions later. I have yet to hear a better ending to MOS from anyone who hated the film. I understand their point, but it doesn’t mean I have to agree. And for the record, superman was a dick in the 2nd film even if zod did or did not die.

    • King Beauregard

      Better ending ideas:

      1) Superman takes the fight to somewhere less populated.

      2) The same trick that was used in “Superman II”, “Spider-Man”, and probably a few others, where the villain thinks he’s beaten the hero (spoilers, the hero is about to rally and beat the bad guy once and for all), only to discover that the people are still behind the hero and will never Kneel Before Zod. This plays up Superman as an inspiring figure and not just a guy who’s really good at causing damage.

      3) The Phantom Zone is always an easy cop-out for Kryptonian villains, and it touches upon Superman respecting the laws of even the world he never knew.

  • Jim

    Sofie, I agree with your assessment of the character, motivation, and self-imposed morality of Superman. It is not his super powers that make him a hero; a man who is completely impervious to almost all harm cannot be heroic. Superman’s heroism comes from his conscious decision to live within the limits of law and his respect for humans that make him heroic. Among the many faults of Man of Steel, the biggest has to be the death of Jonathan Kent. Clark has just finished sulkily declaring that Jonathan isn’t his father; he then stands by and watches Jonathan get killed by a tornado because “someone might see” and Pa Kent gives the wave off. At this point in his age and power development (perhaps early 20s) Clark could have run around the tornado at such as speed that he would be invisible to the crowd. Now some might say that Clark was obeying Jonathan Kent’s order, however we JUST witnessed petulant Clark arguing with Pa Kent about not being his father. In my opinion, a better scene would have been for Clark’s disobedience to act as his declaration of his own independence and a declaration of his own moral code: I will not stand by and watch my father die when I have the super powers to save him. “How does a good man live? What is virtue? When does a man’s obligations to those around him (Pa Kent) exceed his obligation to himself (his secret)?
    This is why the original story from Action Comics through the George Reeves TV show and the Donner film maintain that Pa Kent dies of natural causes. Superman IS stronger than a tornado, but he cannot stop people from natural death. It is a humbling reminder for our hero. The angry guy in Man of Steel isn’t a hero. He certainly isn’t Superman. I’m sure the MOS fans are going to rip into me for that, but that’s why we have our opinions and debate.