Superman postsTuesday March 12, 2013
A Good Sign for 'Man of Steel'
Here's a complaint I had about the movie “District 9” back in 2009:
Writer-director Neill Blomkamp wants the aliens to be a despised minority so that’s what they become. And that’s all they become. Despite the fact that they’re aliens and—I can’t stress this enough—the existence of aliens changes everything. It’s a Copernicus moment. ...
Does the aliens’ existence change the religions of the world, or our various views of God, in whose image we are supposedly made? Apparently not. Does it alter the U.N.? Foreign relations? Our planetary defense systems? Nope. The only thing that happens, apparently, is the ho-hum, the paperwork, the disgusted shake of the head that these creatures live in our midst.
Here's something I wrote in 2007 about the helicopter-rescue scene in “Superman: The Movie”:
The crowd below — prodding us, the theater audience — breaks into applause too easily. A flying man? Who can grab a helicopter effortlessly? They should be stunned into silence. Instead they react as if someone just hit an 8th inning homerun.
And here is David S. Goyer, who wrote the screenplay for the upcoming “Man of Steel,” in the March 2013 issue of Empire magazine:
It just struck me that if Superman really existed in the world, first of all this story would be a story about first contact. He's an alien. You can easily imagine a scenario in which we'd be doing a film like “E.T.” [hunting him down] as opposed to him running around in tights. If the world found out he existed, it would be the biggest thing that ever happened in human history.
That's a good sign, and it's borne out in the trailer and in the poster (below).
Apparently the first glimmer for this project began when Goyer was stuck on what became “The Dark Knight Rises,” which he then ignored for a week to indulge a fascination with Superman. And he came up with this concept.
Another good sign? “Intriguingly,” Ian Nathan of Empire writes, “the film's biggest secret seems to surround good-old Clark Kent—formerly Superman's befuddled, bespectacled alter-ego. Coud it be here where the mythos is getting its biggest shake-up?”
Could it? I hope this means he doesn't become a reporter at The Daily Planet. Because who in their right mind becomes a reporter in 2013?
Apparently an alien with superpowers won't be greeted with applause and huzzahs in “Man of Steel”
'Superman,' 'Man of Steel,' and the US/UK Switcheroo
In casting Zack Snyder's upcoming “Man of Steel,” they kept flying back-and-forth across the pond. The American becomes the Brit, and the Brit the American:
- Superman, Kal-El, who was played by an American (Christopher Reeve), is now being played by a Brit (Henry Cavill).
- Superman's father, Jor-El, who was played by an American (Marlon Brando), is now being played by a Brit/Kiwi (Russell Crowe).
- Superman's nemesis, Zod, who was played by a Brit (Terrence Stamp), is now being played by an American (Michael Shannon).
Back in '78, the villains were British—as they were in “Star Wars”—because, I suppose, the Brits, even at that late day, were shorthand for “Empire.” Is that the U.S. now?
As for the Brits, they're our superheroes. The lastest incarnations of Batman (Wales, UK), Spider-Man (Surrey, UK), Thor (Melbourne, Aus.), Mr. Fantastic (Wales, UK), Charles Xavier (Port Glasgow, Scotland), Magneto (Killarney, Ireland), the Beast (Berkshire, UK), the Wolverine (Sydney, Aus.), and now Superman (Jersey, UK), are all British.
I guess America still has Iron Man (NYC) and Captain America (Boston). Not to mention Ghost Rider (Long Beach, Calif.). Which most people don't want to mention.
Here's the “Man of Steel” rundown:
Kneel before Zod! Terrence Stamp (UK) in 1978 and Michael Shannon (US) in 2013.
Jor-El (US) and Lara (UK) with baby Kal-El in 1978's “Superman”
Jor-El (New Zealand) and Lara (Israel) with baby Kal-El in 2013's “Man of Steel”
Superman (US) looking at Lois in 1978's “Superman”
Superman (UK) looking at Lois in 2013's “Man of Steel”
Max Landis and 'the Death and Return of Superman'
A few weeks back, during music breaks on the “Karl Show (Starring Jason),” Karl and Jason talked up “Chronicle,” and screenwriter Max Winter, son of Jon, who apparently, recently, had a few scripts on “The Black List,” which are the great unmade (soon-to-be-made) scripts making the rounds in Hollywood. Karl said the dude had also done a video on “The Death and Return of Superman.” I asked for a link.
Turns out I'd watched a bit of it before but turned it off, or the web equivalent, because Landis' persona, his general pronouncements, and the scotch sloshing around his glass, all annoyed me too much. This time I watched the whole thing. Here it is:
Landis, who was born in 1985, is railing against “The Death and Return of Superman,” a comic-book storyline that began in 1992 with, yes, the death of the world's first superhero, continued into a storyline in which four super men vie for the now-open position of “Superman,” and ended with Superman's return, not from death, but from a Kryptonian-type “healing coma,” which is similar to our “human death.”
Right. Lame. And Landis rightly rails against it. But he begins so poorly. First words:
Nobody gives a fuck about Superman. You don't give a fuck about Superman even if you think you do. What's special about him? That he was the first superhero? That's it.
How untrue is this? It's not even true for Landis. Here he is in a more recent video:
Lastly, a quick note to people who have been saying 'I hate Superman.' If I hate Superman, would I have spent two months of my life and 16 minutes of yours talking about him? I LOVE Superman.
Landis' conclusion is that, rather than being about the death of Superman, the storyline was ultimately about the death of death, since, afterward, no character died, truly died, in comic books. I'd say that's the perspective of the young. When the “death of Superman” story broke into the mainstream media in 1992, I was 29 years old, 15 years removed from my comic-buying days, but even I knew they weren't talking about the real death of Superman. Did the Green Goblin die? Did Gwen Stacy? Everyone comes back. If there's money to be made, you come back. And there's nothing but money to be made from Superman.
In fact, rather than being about the death of death, you could argue that “The Death of Superman” began the birth of “the death of” storyline: Superman, Captain America, whomever. But they all come back. It's the industry that's dying.
Superman at the 1940 World's Fair: two years after his birth; 52 years before his “death.”
Look! On the Internet! It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Henry Cavill!
Here's the long shot:
And here's the close-up:
Jeff Wells talks a bit about the costume: the subdued reds, the criss-cross texture, the pleats of the cape. He's agin it. But he doesn't mention the most obvious deficiency:
Where's the curl?
This is a step back to George Reeves' Superman's hair. I‘ll gladly give up the red undieswhich director Zack Snyder may in fact be doing. But the curl is as much part of Superman’s coiffure as muttonchops are to Wolverine.
I‘ll say this, though. I don’t know about Zack Snyder but at least Cavill looks like he means business.
Sun, Son and Superman
The morning after I watched “Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics,” I woke up thinking of that scene from Bryan Singer's “Superman Returns” (2006) where the yellow sun revives Superman, who's near death. It's almost pagan, I thought. He's like a sun god, I thought. Then I recalled the obvious Christ allusions in the film (“They only lack the light to show the way,“ his father, Jor-el, says. ”For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you, my only son”), and wondered if Singer wasn’t attempting to merge sun and son, pagan and Christian, into one. One man, one superman, to unite us all. Superman sacrificies for us, he shows us the light, even as his light, his power, comes from a less Judeo-Christian source.
Or has this conjoining of religious influences been there all along?
I know: sun/son. Give me 48-odd years and sometimes the other shoe drops.