Superman premiered this day 83 years ago–the cover date says June but it was published April 18, 1938. One could argue that no character has had an impact on culture and popular culture as much as Superman has. In the first issue, he appeared, Superman was portrayed as a fighter for social justice and a warrior for common good, and he hasn’t changed much since then.
Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who were both children of Jewish immigrants who fled to the United States to flee persecution. The character of “The Super-Man” was originally a bald telepathic supervillain but would be revamped and remodeled by Siegel and Shuster into the character we all know and love.
Superman has a lot in common with Siegel and Shuster, he is an immigrant himself, sent by his parents Jor-El and Lara to our planet to save him from the destruction of Krypton. Here Superman, aka Clark Kent, leads a double life as a godlike alien and a mild-mannered reporter. As Superman, Clark Kent, inspires humanity to be their best and gives them hope for a better tomorrow. The best portrayals of Superman don’t focus on his alienness but rather on his unique humanity. Superman is an inspiration in and out of comic books. He gives humanity an ideal to strive for and hopes that things can be better.
For me, personally, I look at Superman as that ideal. He doesn’t aim to destroy or damage humanity, he uses his heroism to inspire people and lead them into a new age of generosity and kindness. Superman may toss around and fight supervillains such as Lex Luthor and Zod, but his greatest strength isn’t his fist of steel but his kind heart. As a child watching Christopher Reeve fly around helping people inspired me to treat everyone I come across with kindness. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster used their remarkable creativity to inspire generations to be creative and good. Since this is the Spring of Sci-Fi, I thought it would be an excellent time to highlight an icon of Science Fiction and the two creators who helped inspire the world. I want to end this post with one of my favorite Superman moments. It comes from Grant Morrison’s iconic and essential All-Star Superman and to me demonstrates who Superman is and why he is important.
Batman V Superman, why did I rewatch you? The first time I watched this movie it was a miserable time. I was bored and stupified by what I saw on screen. There was nothing present in the characters of Batman, Superman, Lex Luthor, or Lois Lane that I admired from the comics. I’m fine with a movie or television show reworking characters to fit the times. I’m fine with directors placing characters in new and unique narratives that I haven’t seen before; in truth, I admire that in a director; hell, I admire that about Zack Snyder. One positive–other than the perfectly executed warehouse scene–that I can say about both Zack Snyder and Batman v Superman is that at least the movie is different, and the director is trying something different. (One glaring problem the MCU has is that it is too homogenized. At the start of the pandemic, I tried watching every MCU movie back to back and, other than a few, they all formed one big gelatinous movie that looked the same but I may expand more on that in another review) Now that doesn’t mean the movie is good it’s terrible, but at least it doesn’t feel stale. I’m perfectly fine with DC making dramatic, mature movies with a serious tone, but I would prefer if the director partially understood the characters and what they represent.
Batman v Superman opens up where Man of Steel ends, but this time we get to see the destruction from the ground, through the eyes of Bruce Wayne. The opening scene seems to be agreeing with the criticisms the third act Man of Steel received, which is confusing given the fact that Superman is supposed to be a hero in this movie, and in the last movie, he helped destroy a major city possibly killing thousands of people. The opening scene tries to recontextualize the violence and destruction that we witness in Man of Steel but I would argue that this only amplifies the negative parts of the previous movie, as well as making Superman look even worse than he already did. After we witness the destruction porn from Man of Steel the movie jumps 18 months later, skipping through time so we miss important character arcs such as Clark and Lois falling in love, or seeing Clark adjust to his new position at the Daily Planet. I feel like there should be another movie or two placed between Man of Steel and Batman v Superman to help build upon every character that we see in the movie. Anyway, back to the plot. Lois is in the desert investigating a radicalized group asking their leader such riveting questions like: “Are you a terrorist?” Also, Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s Best Pal, is introduced in this movie and he gets his face blown off; Zack really respects Superman and his supporting characters so much that he puts a bullet in one of Superman’s best friends 3 minutes after he is introduced. (This review is already too long; I seriously don’t want to rant and rave and hate this movie so much, but holy shit, it’s terrible. Let me try getting back on track.)
I despise this movie. (Well shit, I’m back off the track. Might as well stay there.) I want to be fair and give an accurate fair review but my brain is on fire. Superman murders a man like ten minutes in the movie because he loves Lois Lane and is mad that she is being threatened. That is nothing good about what I just wrote but it happens in the movie. Batman murders nearly everyone he comes across but both he and Superman hate each other because the other murders constantly. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THIS MOVIE! Lex Luthor is playing with prequel Palpatine powers and somehow orchestrates future events to line up exactly how he wants. Also, Jesse Eisenberg plays the characters of Lex Luthor like Mark Zuckerberg on cocaine. Batman and Superman suddenly overlook the homicidal tendencies each other have because their mothers have the same first name, and…I can’t do it. I can’t be fair to this movie. I have tried to enjoy this. Many people love and adore Zack Snyder and his takes on these iconic characters and I have tried to see what the appeal is and I can’t…I just can’t. I feel like I have lost a part of my soul watching and reviewing this movie. I’m going to watch Zack Snyder’s Justice League soon–I skipped Joss Whedon’s version–and I hope it is as good as I heard. I keep coming back to Zack Snyder movies for some reason, even though I only like 300…and Dawn of the Dead is alright (I just don’t care about it because Romero’s original is one of my favorite movies)
Zack Snyder’s Justice League has inspired me to play Batman: Arkham City again. I’m going to start another new playthrough. I believe this is my first time streaming this. By the way, this year will be the 10th anniversary of this game. 10 years! Crazy. Stream starts at 9:10 p.m. at robertfrowniejr.
Man of Steel, released in 2013 and directed by Zack Snyder, shows us the origins of Kal-El and his emergence as Superman on Earth. I should start by stating that I have a strong bias when it comes to Superman, and this story isn’t my flavor. I grew up with Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies, and while not all those are great–see Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace–I feel like Reeve’s first two Superman films capture the spirit and magic of that character that is hard to replicate. I will give credit to Henry Cavill’s performance; Cavill not only looks the part but truly seems to love the character and works hard to embody that character even though the material is weak.
The movie starts off showing the demise of Krypton and what led to their fall. The people of Krypton have not seen natural childbirth in over a century. The citizens are preprogrammed from birth to fit a certain skill set and cannot depart from their programmed setting. Jor-El and Lara have a son Kal-El through natural means and place within him the genetic codex for their species. The villain of the movie, Zod (Michael Shannon), is sent to the Phantom Zone in penis ships, (Kal-El also gets his very own penis ship. There are too many penis-shaped ships in this movie to count) and escapes after the destruction of Krypton. He comes to Earth looking for Kal-El wanting to use the codex to wipe out the human race and rebuild Krypton in the dust. If that was exhausting to read, try watching the movie. One big flaw that this suffers from is that it is all plot and barely story.
I want to like this movie when I sit down and rewatch it, but there are just too many flaws that distract me and either bore me or make me roll my eyes. A few moments I do enjoy include: Superman learning to fly, young Clark Kent saving the kids on the bus (although this is slightly diminished by Jonathan Kent’s words after the fact), and I like the moments when you see Superman stopping Faora (Antje Traue) from destroying a plane and Superman rescuing a person falling out of a crashing helicopter. These moments are not prevalent throughout the movie, instead, we see Superman committing massive amounts of damage and killing people he has claimed that he is trying to protect by not letting Zod get ahold of the codex. The biggest offender of Superman acting out of character is when he breaks Zod’s neck. Now, if Superman were in a situation where millions of lives were in danger then maybe, and only maybe, could I see him taking a life, however; the movie has already established that Superman will destroy buildings bringing them down on innocent people and possibly killing them in order to stop Zod but for some reason, Zod directing his heat vision at four people puts Superman in a situation where he has to kill. I’m sorry I just don’t buy it, and no one telling me I just don’t understand the genius of Zack Snyder will convince me either. I hate to say it but even though I enjoy Henry Cavill as Superman, this is a bad Superman movie. Unfortunately, this movie’s sequel, Batman v Superman, makes this look great in comparison.
It has been a while since we had the chance to talk about Batman: Gotham After Midnight! The saga continues as the citizens of Gotham are running scared as they learn about a new villain rising in the city. Steve Niles does a fantastic job portraying a sense of urgency within Batman. Midnight, the book’s villain, is menacing to victims, while being motivating to Batman’s rogues gallery. Niles provides Midnight with the same charisma that Joker has. Midnight persuaded Scarecrow and Man-Bat previously to help in his/her violent mission. I said his/her because Midnight’s gender is unidentified. Midnight adds Clayface in this issue to the mix to assist.
Readers get their first look at Midnight’s face in the comic. It is a ghastly sight due to Kelley Jones’ huge, one-splash page of a bony, gaunt face. It’s revealed that Midnight uses a speaker attached to the throat in order to speak. Clayface learns from Midnight that he can absorb bodies and become a gigantic, building-sized monster. Niles and Jones make Clayface into a monster that is reminiscent of classic monster movies, such as Godzilla. Clayface gets colossal size and starts to terrorize the city of Gotham. Batman appears in a mammoth-sized robot to combat Clayface–setting up for a massive showdown for the next issue.