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Ian Austin said on December 13th, 2012 at 2:15 am

For the love of…

SUPERMAN IS NOT THE AVENGERS.

Stop comparing them. Now. Because everytime you compare them, you are basically throwing up a neon sign that says: ‘I do not know what I am talking about.’

Want to know what Superman is?

Superman is a story about a Messiah like figure who, unlike Thor, does not have it figured out when he arrives on Earth. Thor’s story is about becoming humble, Superman’s story is about realising he’s the most powerful being ever after a childhood of believing he was a normal kid… realising it’ll mean a life of sacrifice AND likely death (see Doomsday), and doing it anyway because he was raised by parents who, despite being overprotective, raised him with exceptional values.

So that when he grows up, he’s the greatest of all of us.

Which is what this film is trying to do. It’s not an inconsequential blockbuster with quips and logic gaps (oh no, a flying death machine will kill us all… oh wait, Hulk’s destroyed it in five seconds)… it’s basically taking the essense of Superman and making it into a film with the same purity of spirit as the original Donner one.

Namely great actors taking the film seriously and enough versimilitude to park fifty cars.

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Ian Austin said on December 13th, 2012 at 2:16 am

But these comments ALWAYS come from people who watch Nolan’s Batman films, and miss out on the fact that they’re basically James Bond films taken seriously.

Quips
Gadgets
Over the top villains

Suggest these films aren’t as ‘grim’ as we’d been led to believe.

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Doctor Bloodmoney said on December 13th, 2012 at 3:44 am

@HonestObserver
Don’t try to tarnish my opinions by associating them with Alex Ross – not only do I not like that guy’s lifeless and stilted art *at all*, it also has nothing to do with the type of Superman I’d like to see on the big screen. I might be a mom-kidnapping villain, but I got standards, goddammit.

@Ian Austin
Newsflash, buddy: Superman, being the original superhero, is a POWER FANTASY. That whole hero’s journey you describe is revisionist claptrap that’s been retroactively grafted on to the character by expanding on an origin story less than a single page long. Unlike Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter or any other quasi-messianic protagonists, Superman doesn’t start out as a normal kid (something this very trailer makes abundantly clear) – he always had his special powers. And since he was raised by kindhearted saints, it’s also not really that surprising he decides to use them for good later in life. Wow, what an epic story! Nice kid from a good family becomes a nice guy who uses his superpowers to help others – SHOCKER. This riveting tale of moving from point A to point B in a short, straight, completely predictable line should be dealt with in 5 minutes tops, not used as the entire movie’s major theme, as this trailer seems to suggest.

Superman isn’t Batman, Spider-Man, Harry Potter or any other superhero with an actually interesting origin. He’s just superheroic wish-fulfillment in its purest form, the guy who jumps into the phone booth a normal schmuck and dashes out an all-powerful he-man. “They think I’m just mild-mannered Clark Kent…if only they knew!” That’s the appeal of Superman, not all this woe-is-me-for-I’m-so-powerful-and-I-can-fly-sit-with-me-while-I-ponder-this-and-maybe-cry-a-little pussyfooting around.

Also, say what you will about the Avengers, but at least Marvel’s movies understand that there’s something extremely joyful about superheroes. You, on the other hand, would rather have them gazing into the distance with a constipated look in their eyes, because it shows their ‘purity of spirit’. What a laugh!

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(Also, say what you will about the Avengers, but at least Marvel’s movies understand that there’s something extremely joyful about superheroes. You, on the other hand, would rather have them gazing into the distance with a constipated look in their eyes, because it shows their ‘purity of spirit’. What a laugh!)

Putting aside the fact that I never criticised The Avengers (and only said it wasn’t what a Superman film should be), you’ve revealed yourself to be nothing more than a troll at this point. And not even a particularly good one, given everyone is refuting your idiocy with calm replies and you’re resorting to a fundamental misunderstanding of how Superman and films work to try and convince everything that you’re ‘the rightest right that’s ever been right.’

But whatever, you’re clearly in the minority here and online. The film might turn out to be terrible, I’d just trust in people who actually ‘get’ Superman rather than someone who rants and rants and yet completely fails to understand the idea of an evolving medium such as comics that builds to a film which picks and mixes from ALL available continuity to form a cohesive whole.

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Doctor Bloodmoney said on December 13th, 2012 at 6:54 am

Hmmm…you never criticized the Avengers? Really? Then what do you call your description of said movie as “an inconsequential blockbuster with quips and logic gaps”, a rousing endorsement?

I’d like to think I’ve offered more than my fair share of calm, measured explanations of what irks and worries me about the Man of Steel trailer. I’m also not the one who suddenly began declaring, in an irritated tone, that other commenters ‘don’t know what they’re talking about’ and ‘don’t get Superman’, as if the last son of Krypton, a character with nearly a century of history and (as mentioned) numerous incarnations is as simple and straight-forward as a mathematical equation you either ‘get’ or don’t. So don’t call me a ranting troll when your every sentence is dripping in aggrieved, thin-skinned vitriol and you have to resort to the childish argument that since the majority agrees with you, you must therefore be ‘right’.

However, you *are* right when you state that films (and the comics themselves) can pick and mix from a wide spectrum of continuity across various media – if not, we’d be bereft of Jimmy Olsen (who debuted in the Superman radio show, remember?), and that’s not a world I want to live in. But, as should be painfully clear by now, I don’t agree with your particular synthesized ideal of Superman.

Look, writers have been struggling for nearly two decades now to make Superman seem ‘relevant’ to a large(r) audience, both in the comics and other media. He’s widely recognized as a difficult character to write, because it’s hard to make such a (for lack of a better term) primordial archetype from a simpler time appeal to modern sensibilities. See also: Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and other square-jawed icons of yesteryear.

A recurring ‘fix’ for this dilemma has been to zoom in on Superman’s origins and motivations: every few years we get yet another ‘definitive origin’ of Clark Kent’s pre-Superman years, or a much-ballyhooed storyline like ‘Grounded’ which will help ‘reconnect’ Superman with the common people and show us why he does what he does. But that is neither necessary nor does it make for a good Superman story, which is why the problem never truly gets fixed. All it does is make Superman seem like a diet version of the stock troubled Marvel hero, a second-rate copy when he should shine like the original that he really is.

If you ask me, it’s easy to over-complicate things, but a lot harder to keep things simple: Superman is a decent, stand-up guy because decency is a self-evident virtue and an end unto itself. Secretly, we’d all like to be as good as Superman, if only we too had the super-stamina and mental fortitude to pull it off. Which is why you don’t have to explain Superman’s altruism: you can just present it as a fait accompli. In other words, I don’t think a good and successful Superman movie requires, as MGK puts it, contemplation on the responsibility of power (leave that to Spider-Man, since it’s hardwired into the character), just massive earth-shattering action (and lots of it) and Superman’s rock-solid faith in the common man. Throw in some good ol’ fashioned Lois-Clark-Supes love-triangle melodrama and you have yourself a winner, I think, and a very refreshing one at that.

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MonkeyWithTypewriter said on December 13th, 2012 at 9:50 am

It wouldn’t take much to be better than Superman Returns. And I kinda see where Doc-B is coming from: No mystery or danger in his backstory. Overwhelming power, enough that most issues we face could be fixed pretty easily.Good guy raised by good parents is nice, but a little unrealistic-denies Big Blue any complexity.

But Superman HAS to connect with normal people, because he’s not. He needs the connection. He’s the hero we deserve, not the one we need right now, but people nee3d to see that he’s like us inside, both in the comics and the movie, or why care? But “decency is a self-evident virtue and an end unto itself” wouldn’t be enough to stop the kryptonite handcuffs. Show he’s human.

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HonestObserver said on December 13th, 2012 at 11:23 am

Wow, badmouthing Alex Ross. Do you diss Norman Rockwell as well? Why do you hate Americana, Doctor Bloodmoney? For shame!

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highlyverbal said on December 13th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

@K-Box in the Box: “And to everyone who’s saying that Superman with a muted palette and an Enya soundtrack and ponderous musings over his place in the world is the only way to do the character justice and to generate the sufficient amount of blockbuster dollars that the studio needs to justify making the film, the BILLIONS of dollars raked in by Marvel’s Avengers film proves you wrong.”

I don’t think you have remotely grasped the arguments involved. You’re not even defeating the strawperson you have created, which is a bit embarrassing.

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highlyverbal said on December 13th, 2012 at 12:51 pm

@Doctor Bloodmoney: “A recurring ‘fix’ for this dilemma has been to zoom in on Superman’s origins and motivations: every few years we get yet another ‘definitive origin’ […]”

So that explains why there are only reboots for the icons of previous eras! I had been wondering. It all makes sense.

“Superman is a decent, stand-up guy because decency is a self-evident virtue and an end unto itself.”

Oh dear. How to unpack all the problems with this statement? Tell you what, once you hit college, take an Intro to Philosophy class that adds a little rigor to your thinking about “virtues” and “ends” (and “self-evident” while you’re at it), come back and make a better attempt crafting this claim. Please wait until you understand the concept of “supererogation.”

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At this point, I could go either way. It could be thoughful–but mopey and Earth-1-ish seem very possible too. And Zach Snyder … not my pick.
I’m not thrilled about Zod–frankly I’d much sooner see some variation of pre-Crisis Luthor. Lex was perfectly capable of building something to make Superman sweat (energy beings, battlesuits, Galactic Golem) and having a human being do that interests me a lot more than Zodd.

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“Oh no! you disagree with me! if only you had read what I have read! known what I have known! taken these highly intellectual university courses that handle big words! Oh how tragic, this profound dissonance between my education and that of the common man! how unlucky of you, to be paired up against the likes of me!”

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely what a Superman should NOT be about.

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Kristopher A said on December 13th, 2012 at 4:05 pm

And to everyone who’s saying that Superman with a muted palette and an Enya soundtrack and ponderous musings over his place in the world is the only way to do the character justice and to generate the sufficient amount of blockbuster dollars that the studio needs to justify making the film, the BILLIONS of dollars raked in by Marvel’s Avengers film proves you wrong.

All Marvel’s Avengers proves is that if you spend 5 movies building a framework, people will see a high-on-action, low-on-character film that brings them all together. Avengers had lots of stupid action with almost no character development because people had already seen the characters develop in their own movies. They wanted all the characters to join up and just fight and be fun, and that’s fine. But you still had to have those reasonably serious movies to make the point in the first place.

And Marvel basically makes my point for me with the Iron Man 3 trailer, which is NOT a fun smash’em up action movie like Avengers, but them exploring the character in a serious and, frankly, much darker looking movie than Man of Steel.

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I have never seen either Snyder’s 300 or Watchmen, and I don’t care. One is Frank Miller’s version of the Tolkienian lie that Western Civilization, arbitrarily defined, is the one abode of true men, and the rest of the world is made of monsters. The other is a paean to the self-importance of Alan (spit) Moore’s damn revisionist shitfics.

But this I may bother to see. Supes and I go way back.

I can already tell that they’ve messed up Pa Kent, and thus changed Clark’s core motivation. One of my favorite things about Supes is his motivation: Clark doesn’t fight crime out of displaced guilt like Spidey, or a quest for displaced revenge like batty Bats. Clark serves the world because he was properly brought up, and it was Pa Kent who taught him that. This version of Pa is a little too much like the Amish family that raised Kal El in JLA: The Nail. And that’s a shame. But a movie about a sort of Nail-ish Supes could still be good.

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HonestObserver said on December 13th, 2012 at 6:46 pm

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely what a Superman should NOT be about.

Tell it to Nietzsche, bub.

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Some in this discussion seem to put forward the idea that “good guy raised by good parents” is an idea without conflict, without interest, and without merit. As though making the moral choice, or imparting to someone else how to find the moral choice, is easy.

As has been said, the trailer suggests that Clark has had his powers since childhood. Imagine for a moment, the power of Superman in the hands of a child, or a teenager–with all the swings in mood, the still-under-construction reasoning, the pains of growing. Think about the fights you got into, or saw others get into, in high school. Now imagine that one of those kids was a living god. There’s your tension.

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And HonestObserver makes an extra effort to further illustrate my point. Thanks, friend!

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K-Box in the Box said on December 14th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

“But whatever, you’re clearly in the minority here and online.”

And popularity is ALWAYS the definitive yardstick of quality! That’s why the sales records set by guys like Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane in the ’90s objectively PROVE that their comics are superior to Alan Moore or Kurt Busiek or Grant Morrison!

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Ian Austin said on December 14th, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I like how you’re putting up simplistic comics with minimal depth to destroy an argument by me saying a Superman film needs more depth than ‘good man does good things.’

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CanukistaniJohn- he destroyed blocks of homes so better ones would be built in their place. He didn;t beat people because no one could stop him but because no one else was. His first actions were to stop an innocent person from being executed.

And as to why he does what he does? Because he was raised that way, but would also like some privacy

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I don’t mind a deep thinker Superman. Really, they should stop trying to figure out why Superman does what he does and work on the why he does it the way he does it.

How about a Superman who creates the Fortress of Solitude because he feels the need to know if where he came from was a good place. Was it worth remembering?

Did he ever consider a career as a police officer or a firefighter?

Or even a soldier? He does/should believe in the US. Think of how he’d change battles being on the ground.

Did he ever consider wearing a mask?

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HonestObserver said on December 15th, 2012 at 2:22 am

What other names did he consider for his superhero alias?

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Did he even consider an alias at first, or did someone call him Superman and he decide “Eh, let’s go with that.”

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HonestObserver said on December 15th, 2012 at 1:39 pm

In a surprise twist, he was an admirer of Nietzsche all along. If he had only arrived on Earth a few decades later, he would have adopted John Galt as his alias.

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Someone’s done a gag with “Ayn Rand’s Superman,” where Clark Kent is not a mild-mannered reporter but a blowhard opinion columnist who never helps anyone, right?

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Emperor's New Clothes said on December 16th, 2012 at 12:58 am

@Alegretto

I am enjoying your performative contradiction*.

Clearly, the only person who expects commenters to act like Superman is yourself. And yet, it is hard to imagine the Man of Steel being so aggressive and sarcastic (and he definitely isn’t the Man of Straw). So, the only person trying to hit this target is missing it! Bonus points for the hypocrisy.

* Oh, and just google the big words instead of getting intimidated by them… you know, since you’re sitting right at the internet! I personally was stoked to be led to the term “supererogation” – are you suggesting that the “common man” is incurious?

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