Sunday, June 26, 2011

Does nobody get Superman?

Or rather, does nobody given the responsibility of bringing the essence of Superman to the "mainstream" not understand him?

Smallville just(ish) completed an extremely successful(how?!?!?!) 10 seasons and I'm left thinking "Five for Fighting" understood Superman better than the writers on that show.

"Superman (It's not easy)" by Five for Fighting

Yea, I know they set the "no tights, no flight" rule WAAAAAay in the beginning and maybe THAT should've been the first clue that they didn't get Clark.

Not. At. All.

And it pains me that it went on for so long, twisting the Superman mythology left and right and generally messing things up in the least creative ways imaginable - it even proved unsalvageable to Geoff Johns.

Promotional photo for Smallville

BUT it happened. And, thankfully, it's over. Yet it's left this really bad taste in my mouth. A feeling of despair permeates my soul every time I hear about any new Superman related developments.

Don't get me wrong. HUGE fan of Christopher Nolan's directing and David S. Goyer's writing. And although Nolan is not directing the next Superman film, that honour falling to a Zack Snyder of "300" and "Watchmen" fame, I am willing to suspend my skepticism one final(?) time - cos that's at least part of what Superman is about.

Isn't it?

Ever the eternal optimist. Ever the eternal "boy scout". Ever the eternal barometer of doing what's right, even when the odds seem insurmountable and grossly out favour him - and through it all you know that he will emerge untainted and heroic... even if it meant dying.

What's that you say? Smallville was a reimagining of sorts? It was an attempt to go another way? What coulda been?

Then why do it as Superman? It could have been the origins story of another superhero altogether - a new one. Oh... right... without the name recognition a lot less of the series would have been commissioned and therefore it would not have been as successful?

I beg to differ.

Cover art for Superman: Secret Identity

Superman: Secret Identity did all of that and more and STILL managed to retain the essence that is Superman. It's a shame that it can't be made into the next Superman film though... but MAN is it a beautiful story... Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen out did themselves, and most Superman writers in recent memory, and they weren't even writing about "the real" Clark Kent...

Secret Identity moved me and provoked thought about heroism, our global condition and obligation(s) - all the while staying true in service to its inspiration.

We should be so lucky if an iota of that thought process went into anything Superman that is to come in the near future...


Evelyn Clayton said...

There is an odd duality between those who create content and those who profit from the creator's intellectual property. The first, invest in the integrity of their story, characters and journey. The second, invest in "what people think is good and what people want."

Integrity, for the first, lies in the joy of creating a story because they already love the character (like Superman) or subject, regardless of "what people think/want."

The second consider how Creatives (the new term coined for those with talent for generating content) are expendable and easily replaced. Especially when their content remains with the company and can be easily adjusted so Copyright Infringement cannot be proven in court. There are no "Moral Rights" in the USA as there are in France.

The germination of Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster has made billions of dollars and thus, SUPERMAN is of value and an asset of infinite worth. Siegel and Schuster saw as much money as their original contract paid them. What's .05% of a billion?

It's not that no one gets Superman. The people who do are valued less than the men who created the character. They get paid a few hundred, maybe a few thousand dollars -- whatever the WGA or contract agreement states.

The folks who really don't understand Superman, do understand Cost-Benefit Analyses, Market Focus Groups and most of all, Work-Made-For-Hire Contracts signed by young talents who just want to share their story. And they are the ones who bring him to us, the "mainstream," all polished and exactly as the "people think and want."

aindhy said...

I'm just glad that creators/writers like Busiek and Morrison at least get to contribute to comics continuity - Morrison sounds like he gets Superman and Busiek gets him even when he's not really writing about him - he really is but technically he isn't!