Superman postsTuesday October 16, 2018
Superman on the Radio: Ep, 1: Baby from Krypton
Superman debuted in Action Comics No. 1 in June 1938, but by Feb. 12, 1940 he was already all over the place. His daily comic strip began on Jan. 16, 1939 and it was soon in 300 dailies and 90 Sunday newspapers across the country. He crowded out the rest of the Action Comics heroes so after Nov. 1939 he was always the feature on the cover. He got his own quarterly comic, “Superman,” in summer ’39. Talk of a live-action movie serial with Republic Studios fell apart but Max Fleischer began developing his classic collection of Superman cartoons, which would debut in Sept. 1941. Plus a live version of Superman did appear. In June 1940, actor Ray Middleton appeared as The Man of Tomorrow for “Superman Day” at the New York World’s Fair.
Then there was this.
The Superman radio series ran thrice weekly for 15 minutes, and it introduced kids to patter that would be soon be familiar to everyone across the globe—if, here, in slightly different fashion:
Boy and girls, your attention, please! Presenting a new and exciting radio program, featuring the thrilling adventures of an amazing and incredible personality!
Faster than an airplane!
More powerful than a locomotive!
Impervious to bullets!
Up in the sky, look!
It’s a bird, it’s a plane
I love the differences: “Up in the sky, look!” When did they reverse it? And when did they change the “faster” to a speeding bullet? Which would, of course, necessitate a change in the third stranza, right? You can’t have bullets twice.
I also love that they call him a “personality.” Plus they‘re polite when asking for your attention.
Believe it or not, this kind of patter continues. Apparently they had a lot to explain about the guy:
And now Superman. A being no larger than an ordinary man, but possessed of powers and abilities never before realized on Earth. Able to leap into the air an eighth of a mile in a single bound. Hurdle a 20-story building with ease. Race a high-powered bullet to its target. Lift tremendous weights and rend solid steel in his bare hands, as though it were paper.
The first episode, no surprise, is about the last days of Krypton. Most of the storyline is familiar to anyone familiar with Superman. Jor-El is Krypton’s “foremost man of science.” He warns everyone of doom. They laugh. He tries to build a rocket to take himself, his wife and his baby, away from Krypton, but ... too late! So they just send the baby.
Some differences from the canon:
- Superman gets his abilities not from a yellow sun but because Kryptonians are “advanced to the absolute peak of human perfection.” They are a race of supermen. Nazism soon made this a little unpalatable.
- Krypton is breaking up because it’s being pulled closer to its sun. (Or is that canon?)
- Jor-El actually wants to send Lara to Earth: “If one of us must go, it should be you!” It’s Lara’s idea to send the baby. Some dad.
We don’t come off well, by the way. Humans are described by Jor-El as “weak and helpless and with all their faculties extremely limited.”
Lara: And that’s where we're going? Oh, how dreadful!
Jor-El: My dear, which would you rather do? Go to Earth and live or stay on Krypton and die?
“Earth: Better than dying.”
Anyway, the baby gets away to Earth. Tune in next time.
Another Death of Superman
This was my favorite response to the news yesterday that DC and Warner Bros. were going in a different direction with their “extended universe” and Henry Cavill was out as Superman.
WB got rid of Henry Cavill? I'm fucking done with those imbeciles.— Swagatha Christie (@grantdlewis) September 12, 2018
If you'd asked me what was wrong with DC's universe, I would‘ve most emphatically begun with director Zack Snyder, who made the problematic “Man of Steel,” then the disastrous “Batman v. Superman,” and gone on from there. Most of the bad follows from the decision to hire him. Snyder’s not just form over content, he's vainglorious form over idiot content. The whole “Martha” thing will be a joke for decades to come—for as long as superhero movies are made. Introducing half of the Justice League in “Justice League,” before they had a movie of their own, or at least been in someone else's movie, wasn't smart, either. Hey, here's three origin stories along with the continuing story of the death of Superman in one movie. Have at.
But at the bottom of the list? I.e., What‘s right with the DC universe? Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Henry Cavill as Superman.
Many men have played the Man of Steel but only one has played him better—and even then it’s pretty close. Cavill was perfect in looks, form, content. There was a gentleness and quiet to his spirit as Superman, as if he knows he might break the world otherwise. But Snyder gave him an idiot world to act in. He didn't give him a reason for being. After the search for himself, for his origins, he had no motivation other than hanging with Lois and rescuing Lois and confronting Batman. His Clark Kent, reporter, was never grounded in anything—let alone J school. He seemed like Superman playing dress up—or dress down. They never addressed this: Why be Clark when the world was in such trouble? Their answer made it seem like he didn't want to be Superman. Helping people? What a drag. He seemed lost and no writer or director reached out to lend a hand.
The tweeter above also gave us this: “Besides being distressingly handsome, Cavill perfectly blended humanity and an ethereal otherworldliness that makes Supes Supes.” I love that “distressingly handsome” bit. So true. Every so often I'd call Patricia over to view some photo of Cavill and say, “My god, look at this.” For some reason, Patricia was less impressed—until she saw the photo montage with his dog, Kal; then she became a fan.
Remember the promise?
Superman: illegal alien. Unwelcome. Incarcerated. It had even greater meaning than we knew. Then it all got lost in Zack Snyder's noise.
My boy. Look what they did to my boy.
Margot Kidder (1948-2018)
From my 2013 slideshow on the cinematic history of Lois Lane:
Why does Kidder's Lois Lane instill define the role? Because there's a difficulty dichotomy to thread in portraying Lois. She's supposed to scoop Clark and get rescued by Superman, but often within this dynamic they make her either too tough (and unlikeable) or too agreeable (and thus hardly a scoop-worthy reporter). Margot was able to inhabit both aspects of Lois. She held the two opposing ideas of Lois in her mind and was still able to function. Her toughness (at work) was never annoying, her vulnerability (around Superman) was always endearing. Plus I just like the way she says “Peter Pan.” Not to mention, “Blaghhh.”
She's also the object of my fifth-most quoted movie line. Not to mention one of the primary actors in the best lost scene ever. And she was smart enough to know the franchise was better in the hands of Richard Donner than Richard Lester—for which she got the shaft in “Superman III.” If barely appearing in a movie is really “the shaft.”
I love that little scene in the original, so '70s New York, when Lois and Clark run into film critic Rex Reed coming into The Daily Planet building, and we get this exchange:
Lois: See anything good today?
Rex: Not until you came along.
I was watching “Voyage á travers le cinema française,” a three-hour doc about the history of French cinema—essentially Bernard Tavernier doing with France what Scorsese did with America back in ‘95—and an hour in we get this shot while Tavernier talks up the many great theaters in postwar Paris:
It took a little digging to figure out this promotion was for the 1948 “Superman” serial starring Kirk Alyn. OK, a little peering. The spiderwebs on the poster to the right, sign of the villainous Spider Lady, are the giveaway.
I’m a little surprised that Superman was a big-enough deal to warrant this kind of promo, to be honest. And this very French promo. Look at Supes' face: more Jean-Paul Belmondo than Kirk Alyn. Then again, this is before the Cold War-era “the American way”; and it's not exactly leaping a tall building in a single bound to go from liberté, egalité, fraternité to verité et justice.
Everything Wrong with 'Batman v Superman'
Not a huge fan of these “Everything Wrong with...” videos but agree 100% with this one. What's the highest sin total they've had? Surely, this is near the record—even though they forgot the idiocy of the U.S. government nuking Doomsday/Supes in space when Supes was taking Doomsday away from Earth. Worth a few more sins:
I had a lot of the same complaints last March.