Category Archive 'Superman'

31 Mar 2016

Zack Snyder Killed Superman

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Superman2016

Devin Faraci really really does not like the direction taken by the latest Superman films.

Warner Bros, custodian of the Superman legacy, has handed the keys of the character over to Zack Snyder, a filmmaker who has shown he feels nothing but contempt for the character. In doing so they have opened the character to an ugly new interpretation, one that devalues the simple heroism of Superman and turns the decent, graceful character into a mean, nasty force of brutish strength.

Where Superman was originally intended as a hopeful view of strength wielded with responsibility, Snyder presents him as a view of strength as constant destructive force; where Christopher Reeve’s Superman would often float and flit away, Snyder’s version explodes like a rocket at all times, creating sonic booms above city centers in fits of pique, such as after his scene of moping on Lois Lane’s Washington DC hotel balcony. He is a constant weapon of destruction, often smashing concrete when he comes to earth. There are no soft landings for this Superman.

Grace is a word that I have used a number of times here, and I have meant that in multiple ways, both as a description of physical movement and as a way of behaving. Superman can be firm, but is always polite, and he does not hold his powers as a cudgel above others… unless it’s Zack Snyder’s Superman. Here is a character who threatens first and asks questions later, who resorts to physical violence against Batman at the slightest provocation, who has no words of comfort or wisdom for anyone, who even flies away after a terrible disaster at the US Senate. …

After two films I do not believe this is an accident. I believe that Zack Snyder is systematically destroying Superman not because he doesn’t understand the character but because he profoundly dislikes the character. One of the larger themes of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the idea that every act of heroism is a catalyst for something terrible in the world, a point of view that is not only a) insane but b) inherently anti-Superman. And in case you think I’m reading too much into the film (where Pa Kent’s ghost gives a bizarre horse-drowning speech that makes this explicit) here’s Snyder on the press tour for the film:

    When we find him, he’s been dealing with the everyday world of being a superhero, but there’s a paradigm shift happening in that the unintended consequences of some of those rescues are starting to come into fruition.

    Like, if you’re just taking a cat out of a tree, you can’t touch anything or the arborists will say, ‘he damaged the tree branch when he got the cat down.’ Or, ‘the cat wasn’t neutered, so now there’s thousands of cats.’ There’s no winning anymore for Superman.

Somebody tell Zack Snyder how cat reproduction works.

What Snyder is talking about, and what his movie ends up being about, is the concept of staying in your own lane – don’t get involved in the affairs of others because it’s always going to create unintended consequences, and usually bad ones. That’s an intrinsically nihilistic point of view, and it’s absolutely bizarre to me that it’s a point of view that Warner Bros allowed to be attached to Superman. It’s like making a Strawberry Shortcake movie that is all about diabetes. …

For generations there have been depictions of Superman that get the basic qualities – Truth, Justice, the American Way (an idealized version of it, at least), decency, kindness, happiness, love – correct. Whether you think Superman Returns is any good or whether you think the animated Superman show or Justice League Unlimited is the best ever, they all contain depictions of the character a someone a young person can look at as a model for action. What would Superman do? Be a good guy, be polite, be kind. Every time.

Every time until 2016.

Just like 1938 and just like 1978 it’s a tough world out there. We’re in a sluggish economic recovery and we’re stumbling out of two terrible, costly wars of aggression. We are in the middle of an election cycle that is actually insane, one where a guy with openly fascistic and racist tendencies is a lock to win the GOP nomination. We wake up to news reports of suicide bombings in Brussels and in a park full of women and children in Pakistan. … The ideals of America seem distant today, and hope seems even more distant. Just as in 1938 and 1978 we need a bright, hopeful figure to fly in and remind us of what we can be, of who we are when we’re not weighted down by the hate and the problems. We need a Superman.

Zack Snyder killed him.

When I was four years old I sat in a movie theater and I believed a man could fly. I sat in a movie theater and I saw a guy doing the right thing because it was the right thing, and he never hemmed or hawed, he never held himself above the people he helped. His strength wasn’t just physical, it was moral, and it was inspirational to me. While I identified with other characters who struggled – characters like Spider-Man – I always looked to Superman’s inherent rightness as true north for my moral compass.

Of course you can’t even bring a four year old to see Batman v Superman, but even if you did – and if they didn’t run screaming from the film’s excessive violence and darkness – what kind of a Superman would they find waiting for them? Not a hero. Not a decent guy. They would find a guy filled with anger, a guy who is haughty and disdainful of regular humans. They would find a guy who, in many ways, represents the worst of us, a guy who struggles against his urge to do the right thing. And there are no current cartoons to fill in the gap, no explicitly kid-friendly comics. (There is, thankfully, Supergirl on CBS, a show forced to pick up the torch of Superman that Warner Bros and Zack Snyder have tried to douse)

Every generation has had a Superman to look to, to learn from. I feel terrible for the youngest generation who has this cruel, selfish Superman.

27 Apr 2015

The Origin of Super Gore

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Gore-Al
Gore-Al places his son in a rocket ship, preparing to launch him in the direction of another planet, so that his son will escape the planet’s imminent destruction.

The Onion:

Former vice president Al Gore—who for the past three decades has unsuccessfully attempted to warn humanity of the coming destruction of our planet, only to be mocked and derided by the very people he has tried to save—launched his infant son into space Monday in the faint hope that his only child would reach the safety of another world.

“I tried to warn them, but the Elders of this planet would not listen,” said Gore, who in 2000 was nearly banished to a featureless realm of nonexistence for promoting his unpopular message. “They called me foolish and laughed at my predictions. Yet even now, the Midwest is flooded, the ice caps are melting, and the cities are rocked with tremors, just as I foretold. Fools! Why didn’t they heed me before it was too late?”

Al Gore—or, as he is known in his own language, Gore-Al—placed his son, Kal-Al, gently in the one-passenger rocket ship, his brow furrowed by the great weight he carried in preserving the sole survivor of humanity’s hubristic folly.

“There is nothing left now but to ensure that my infant son does not meet the same fate as the rest of my doomed race,” Gore said. “I will send him to a new planet, where he will, I hope, be raised by simple but kindly country folk and grow up to be a hero and protector to his adopted home.” …

“On his new planet, Kal-Al’s Earth physiology will react to the radiation of a differently colored sun, causing him to develop abilities far beyond those of mortal men,” political analyst Sig Schuster said. “He will be faster than a speeding Prius, stronger than the existing Superfund program, and able to leap mountains of red tape in a single bound. These superpowers will sustain him in his never-ending battle against conservatives, wealthy industrialists, and other environmental supervillains.”

Read the whole thing.

21 Apr 2013

Superman’s 75th Anniversary

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Glen Weldon Superman’s biographer), in the New Republic, traces the Man of Steel’s history and the changes to his persona and characteristics over the decades which mirrored those of America’s changing culture.

Seventy-five years ago, every red-blooded American kid read comic books.

Churned out on cheap paper, these comics sold for ten cents a pop, a not inconsiderable amount of money considering that the Great Depression still hung in the nation’s doorway like a party guest who can’t take a hint. In exchange for their dimes, kids could spend an entire afternoon at the movies, gorge themselves at the soda fountain, or take home a comic ablaze with the four-color adventures of Tarzan, Buck Rogers, Popeye and other well-known strips hastily reprinted from the newspaper funny pages.

Then came Action Comics #1.

Like the other comics of its day, Action adopted an anthology format, offering eleven different features of varying length. These features, however, were different. They were, for the first time, original stories starring brand new characters. Despite their brawny, evocative names—Scoop Scanlon! Sticky-Mitt Stimson! Pep Morgan! Chuck Dawson, Fastest Gun in the West!—none of them would last.

Well. Except one.

The guy on the cover? That circus strongman hefting a green Studebaker over his head? That guy?

He’d hang around. In fact, he’d do much more than that. Scant months after Superman’s debut as the lead feature of Action #1, he would leap from the comics page into the funny pages and from there into the toy box, onto the radio, the movie screen, and the television. Over the course of a 75-year multimedia push, he would transcend the various media that convey him and infiltrate the collective consciousness of the country, and the world. He would construct his own archetype, powered by a uniquely American fuel mixture: our power and privilege, our violence and spectacle, our noblest ideals.

Read the whole thing.

I predict that Superman will go Gay, and have an affair with Archie in 2020.

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Of course, the best take on Superman comes from Bill:

31 Jul 2008

Al Gore Takes Drastic Step

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The Onion:

Former vice president Al Gore—who for the past three decades has unsuccessfully attempted to warn humanity of the coming destruction of our planet, only to be mocked and derided by the very people he has tried to save—launched his infant son into space Monday in the faint hope that his only child would reach the safety of another world.

“I tried to warn them, but the Elders of this planet would not listen,” said Gore, who in 2000 was nearly banished to a featureless realm of nonexistence for promoting his unpopular message. “They called me foolish and laughed at my predictions. Yet even now, the Midwest is flooded, the ice caps are melting, and the cities are rocked with tremors, just as I foretold. Fools! Why didn’t they heed me before it was too late?”

Al Gore—or, as he is known in his own language, Gore-Al—placed his son, Kal-Al, gently in the one-passenger rocket ship, his brow furrowed by the great weight he carried in preserving the sole survivor of humanity’s hubristic folly.

“There is nothing left now but to ensure that my infant son does not meet the same fate as the rest of my doomed race,” Gore said. “I will send him to a new planet, where he will, I hope, be raised by simple but kindly country folk and grow up to be a hero and protector to his adopted home.”

24 Apr 2007

Kryptonite Discovered in Serbia

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Reuters:

Kryptonite, which robbed Superman of his powers, is no longer the stuff of comic books and films.

A mineral found by geologists in Serbia shares virtually the same chemical composition as the fictional kryptonite from outer space, used by the superhero’s nemesis Lex Luther to weaken him in the film “Superman Returns”.

“We will have to be careful with it — we wouldn’t want to deprive Earth of its most famous superhero!,” said Dr Chris Stanley, a mineralogist at London’s Natural History Museum.

Stanley, who revealed the identity of the mysterious new mineral, discovered the match after searching the Internet for its chemical formula – sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide.

“I was amazed to discover that same scientific name written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luther from a museum in the film Superman Returns,” he said.

The substance has been confirmed as a new mineral after tests by scientists at the Natural History Museum in London and the National Research Council in Canada.

But instead of the large green crystals in Superman comics, the real thing is a white, powdery substance which contains no fluorine and is non-radioactive.

The mineral, to be named Jadarite, will go on show at the London’s Natural History Museum at certain times of the day on Wednesday, April 25, and Sunday, May 13.

Hat tip to Dr. Milton Ong.


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