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Superman turns 83!

The iconic cover of Action Comics #1

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.

An early desciption of Superman’s powers. He would evolve and become much stronger later.

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.

A scene that shows Superman’s true power and inspiration.
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Batman DC Comics Movies Reviews Superheroes

Wild Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I forgot to mention Wonder Woman in my review. She watches screens and helps set up the next movie. She helps fight and Batman says a terrible joke that makes no sense. Why is she on the poster? She’s not even a character, just a setup.

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)

I’m broken.

Rating 1/5

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Batman Comics Movies Reviews

Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) (Part Two)

We’re back with the second and the final part of our Zack Snyder’s Justice League review. The film is still a mess, but shaping up to be better than the original cut. It’s time to review the final two hours of this four-hour superhero saga. The film, obviously, is directed by Zack Snyder. It is written by Chris Terrio. The film stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash, Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg, and Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman.

As I mentioned in the previous review, the Snyder cut does a tremendous job with the origins of Cyborg. Viewers get to see Victor Stone’s life before the horrific accident that almost killed him. The Mother Box, an alien device, is as connected to Cyborg as the Kryptonian spaceship is to Superman. If it wasn’t for the Mother Box, Cyborg wouldn’t exist. This inclusion into the film is a great addition by Snyder. However, a surprise addition follows.

After the scene where Cyborg explains the background of this particular Mother Box, we get a new sequence where Martha Kent is visiting Lois Lane in Metropolis. The pair chat with the surprise coming after the talk. Martha goes to the hallway after leaving and it’s unveiled that it’s actually the Martian Manhunter (Harry Lennix)! General Swanwick (Harry Lennix) from Man of Steel is secretly the Manhunter. He’s there to motivate a depressed Lois Lane to live again in the world. Why? His motivations are unclear.

In the original cut, there’s a scene where the Justice League resurrect Superman from the dead. The scene isn’t executed properly, as the tone is everywhere and the scene is confusing as to how Superman is resurrected. There wasn’t a thorough explanation. This time around, the movie explains better how the Mother Box can bring Superman to life. Also, the tone is better as the League are afraid of the resurrection and are somewhat at odds due to fear. Snyder introduces a new nightmare scene into this sequence. Cyborg gets a vision of what could possibly happen with Superman’s return. It seems that the future could be in peril with Superman’s return to the living.

Snyder shakes up the battle scene where Superman fights the Justice League. In the original version, Joss Whedon made the scene similar to an Avengers’ fight sequence. There’s drama injected with comical quips. Snyder’s version is all drama with peril as Superman is deadly in his return. The scene is smoother, cohesive, and it makes more sense.

The final battle sequence sees many creative changes. Unlike the original cut, the team actually loses briefly. Steppenwolf forms the Unity and the world explodes. For the first time, we get to see The Flash run into the past and rewind time. A huge, creative change that actually works flawlessly. It made the scene more impactful and that it takes the whole team to win. If Snyder gains enough success from this, we may get a sequel. It sets up a potential sequel where the league would fight Darkseid in a dark future.

Although the film’s odd at times, the Snyder cut is a deep improvement. Out of the three films he has directed, this is the best installment. Snyder had plans to do a five-film saga. Hopefully, this film generates enough buzz that Warner Brothers will let him complete his vision. If not, Snyder delivered a passionate project for the fans.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.

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DC Comics Movies Reviews Superheroes

Man of Steel (2013) Review: A flawed portrayal of an iconic character.

Man of Steel. Released in 2013. Directed by Zack Snyder. Starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, and Diane Lane.

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.

Rating 2/5

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Comics

Somebody Save Me! Smallville and the mythos of Superman. A slightly Wild Review.

Show stars Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, and Michael Rosenbaum looking their angsty early 2000’s best!

Smallville, which began in 2001 and ended in 2011, has remained–at least for me–an impressionable show. For me, Smallville is the perfect nostalgic show; it helped bolster a love for Superman as a character and honestly just plain makes me happy. The show is a perfect example of early 2000s genre television. I find it interesting that both Smallville and Buffy the Vampire Slayer were both on at the same time–for two years, from 2001 to 2003–due to the obvious influence that Buffy had on Smallville, as well as other shows of its kind. Smallville has now influenced multiple shows itself, with CW’s slate of superhero shows owing a lot to Smallville’s success and cult following. While a lesson on 2000s genre television would be fun to explore, what I want to talk about is the legacy of Superman and how Smallville both adhered to the character’s mythology as well as distanced itself. The show was famous for its declaration of “No tights, no flights,” which helped distance the character of Clark Kent from his alter ego of Superman, but the show still follows similar themes that are featured in the comics. While Clark Kent remains to be Kal-El of Krypton, the stories of Smallville liberally drew from the mythos of the comics to create a teen drama full of romantical intrigue and soap opera-like storylines.

As of writing this, I have recently finished Season 3 of the series. The third season features Clark grappling with his destiny, his identity, and his relationship with the people in his life. A glaring negative of the show is some of the recurring conflicts that remain unresolved and/or uninteresting. Clark’s relationship with Lana is a key component of the show, and Clark’s unwillingness to share his secret with Lana causes most of the tension that exists within their relationship. This itself is not a bad concept, but the hump the show can’t seem to get over is the fact that the conflict never changes and creates a stasis for the plotline and the characters. Now, bitching about the relationship drama that happens in a season that aired around 18 years ago seems pedantic but bear with me, this show has occupied a lot of my headspace for nearly 20 years now.

One component of Season 3 that works incredibly well is the main antagonist, Lionel Luthor. Lionel Luthor, for those of you who may be unfamiliar, is Lex Luthor’s father; an evil, self-absorbed, and vindictive business executive whose narcissistic impulses create hatred and division, not only in his family but also in the world around him. Lionel Luthor wants to know the secret of Clark Kent, but unlike everyone else who genuinely wants to know more about their friend, Lionel wants to exploit Clark and use his extraordinary abilities to cure his terminal illness. Lionel occupies the antagonism role that Lex fills in the comics.

This is no review, just a rant from a person obsessed with an old superhero show, but what I propose would have been unique and different for the show is that they threw the mythos out the window and forged something different. Lana, Chloe, and even Lex Luthor should all have discovered Clark’s secret during this season. Clark already has a confidant in Pete Ross, his childhood friend, but Pete is the only one who knows his secret other than Clark’s parents. This puts an unfair burden on the character of Pete who constantly remains worried he will accidentally reveal Clark’s secret. I understand that Lex knowing his secret is possibly a controversial take, but we already have the comic character of Lex embodied in his father, and it could have been interesting to see what Lex would have done with the knowledge of Clark’s secret. Maybe, he would have still turned to darkness, or maybe, Lex would have become an anti-hero willing to protect Clark through any means possible, malevolent or not.

This may seem like a random post, but Smallville has remained a favorite of mine throughout my life, and doing a deep dive into the content of the show is something I’ve always wanted to do. I have many thoughts about this show and may explore some of those in more mad ramblings at a later date.