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How Superman sold his soul and lost the power of hope.
My love for Superman began in Kindergarten when I saw the Fleischer Studios Superman animated shorts. It wasn’t long until I encountered the comic book version of Superman. I can still remember the feeling those animated movies and comic books stirred within me. It’s the same feeling countless children have experienced for over 75 years. His powers, “beyond those of mortal men”, were incredible and his adventures could span galaxies. There was exuberance and wonder when you read a Superman comic book. Who didn’t want to be Superman? For me he was a character of hope and inspiration.
From the 1930s to the 1970s the popularity of comic books among children was staggering. Superman led all superheroes with the most cultural significance for many of those years. To this day his trademark ‘S’ is one of the most widely recognized symbols in the world. As the first superhero he is the ultimate American myth, bearing the mantra “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” Superman could always be counted on to make the right choice even when it meant sacrificing his desires for the greater good. He has survived many periods of social, political, cultural, and stylistic change. Yet, through all these changes Superman steadfastly carried on as an ambassador of selflessness, integrity and morality. That is, until recently.
Comic books felt the first rumbling of this change in the mid 80s when two graphic novels redefined the genre. Watchmen by Alan Moore deconstructed the superhero myth and gave us a world of heroes flawed and more graphically raw than anything seen before. However, it was Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns that struck a cultural nerve with the mainstream media. Miller took Batman back to his roots and put the “dark” firmly back in the Dark Knight. The details of this story can read elsewhere, but it not only redefined Batman, it cast Superman as a villain with outdated ideals. Frank Miller’s Superman was a Regan-era staunch conservative who became a super-weapon at the beck and call of the U.S. government.
The ramifications of these two stories were felt immediately in the world of comic book superheroes. In less than a decade a new breed of superhero dominated the market. Violent heroes more despicable than 60 years worth of villains were now marketed to an increasingly violence obsessed youth culture.
Superman was losing his footing in popular culture and in 1992 DC Comics killed the Man of Steel. The Death of Superman storyline was both a brilliant marketing ploy and a statement on the relevance of the “Big Blue Boy Scout”. For a time interest in Superman was revived and sales of Superman comics reached numbers not seen in decades. Eventually he returned from the dead, sales dropped, and writers tried to find new ways for Superman to continue his never-ending battle.
23 years have passed since The Death of Superman and DC’s multiple attempts to revive his popularity have left him a shadow of the hero he was in my childhood. 2006 saw Superman return to the big screen under Bryan Singer’s direction. In this his first movie in over 20 years, Superman is portrayed as having left earth for years in search of his home planet’s remains. Upon returning to earth he spends nearly two hours moping and questioning whether he is needed at all. To top off this triumphant return to film we find out Superman is the father of a bastard child he has neglected while off planet. The best part of the movie features Lex Luthor viciously stabbing Superman with Kryptonite. Not surprisingly the movie failed to reinvigorate the franchise and a reboot was inevitably ordered.
In 2013 Zack Snyder was chosen to bring direction to a new Superman film franchise. In Man of Steel Snyder continues Bryan Singer’s mopey Superman theme. Clark Kent is shown as a lonely outsider, and in one scene destroys a man’s livelihood because he makes fun of Clark. In one of his more heroic moments Clark allows his father to die in a tornado to keep his own alien identity safe. The whole movie is weighed down with a feeling of dread too heavy for even Superman to carry. Following a climactic battle that destroys half of Metropolis and takes thousands of lives, Superman then savagely executes the main antagonist. This plot point has been debated ad nauseam, but the fact remains Superman killed and did so in front of a family with a young child.
This Superman is no hero for children and Man of Steel fails to elicit exuberance, wonder or fun of any kind. His greatest power was his ability to transcend humanity’s failings and give us something to look up to. Zack Snyder, with DC’s blessing, has stripped that ability from him and made Superman an earthbound, sinful, mortal.
The comics have followed suit and currently Superman is a buzz cut brute, nearly powerless, wearing jeans and a t-shirt. He cusses and takes pleasure in beating thugs with his bare hands. This is not Superman. It is a sad reflection of a culture that has lost its imagination. Superman’s writers say it’s a different day and age and Superman must mature. Is this true, or is it too hard to write a hero who stands for something and is inspiring? A Superman not written with children in mind is a Superman I cannot enjoy.
As a child who spent many days in hospital rooms recovering from illnesses and surgeries, Superman was a safe escape that gave me hope. Today’s Superman can no more lift a locomotive than lift the spirits of a child. One day DC may realize how seriously lost their flagship character has become, but until that day I will not follow the Man of Tomorrow into a dark, hopeless future.
Scene from Man of Steel, following his killing of General Zod.
Well this took awhile. Sorry for the lateness and hope you guys enjoy it!
“It’s because you’re
A long silence followed Cloud’s sentence as the others
struggled to accept what the blonde had said; to hear that all of them (besides
Cloud) would be dead in less than, what, five years? It was almost laughable to
even think that the four strongest men on the planet were dead in such a short
amount of time. Genesis actually felt a laugh bubble up his throat before he
forced it down at seeing the look on Cloud’s face…
It was Zack who broke the silence. “You… you’re telling the
truth, aren’t you?” The Second Class’ face was unusually grim and pale. His
hands were shaking slightly as he sat down in one of the armchairs. Angeal too,
looked unusually grim and pale.
i don’t understand how people can say zack snyder hates superman when both man of steel and batman v superman: dawn of justice have done nothing but humanizing him and proving that striving to do good actually has a cost and not everyone will be grateful for it
it’s the opposite of hating a character
story time: i never cared about superman when i was younger (the superman animated series & the justice league animated series were both enjoyable cartoons but nothing that made me love the character, and i never watched a single live-action movie) but after having watched snyder’s movies, i find superman to be a real source of inspiration
a true hero
because it shows that constantly striving to do the right thing, to do good, isn’t an easy thing. the consequences can be bad. people can judge you hardly for what you’re doing, considering you’re not doing enough, being scared of you, thinking you’re a danger to society, and so on, and yet
superman goes on. sure, he has his moments of doubts, but still, he goes on. because he wants to make the world a better place, and because he knows that what he is doing, it’s not in vain.
It was a quiet evening that day, the threesome were waiting
for their youngest lovers to come home and for dinner to be ready. They were in
Sephiroth’s apartment. Genesis lounging in Sephiroth’s favorite armchair, his
red hair was glinting in the rooms light and LOVELESS in his gloved hands. As
was the norm.
The brunette Angeal was stationed in the kitchen. A smile
across his lips as he noticed Sephiroth standing in the doorway, cat-like eyes
following Angeal’s every movement.
“Would you like to help?” The burly man asked after a while.
A low chuckle rumbled from his chest when Sephiroth nodded almost eagerly. “Tie your hair back then.”
As Sephiroth and Angeal cooked in the kitchen, out in the
living room Genesis jerked in surprise as the front door flew open and banged
against the wall. Looking up from LOVELESS, Genesis scowled at the dark-haired
teen in the doorway. “Handle the door with care, Zackary,” he scolded. “It may
be reinforced, but it can and will break,” he warned.
Ugh, because I PROMISED you, here are some old paintings of mine from around 08-09. I should be punished for my blatant misuse of the healing brush to smear away the old watermarks. Why am I removing them in the first place? I don’t know, I have issues with the past. Painters are deep like that.