Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Do Not Care About Superman

You may have heard that the film rights to Superman are up in the air. Or you may be one of those people who reads the real news instead of the entertainment news, you smug prick. Either way, Warner Bros still owns the Man of Steel for the time being but will probably lose the rights unless they develop another Superman film by 2011, which, considering the time it takes to get a big summer Blockbuster through scripting and preproduction, doesn't seem terribly likely. Well, okay, Warner Bros is able to get a Harry Potter out every eighteen months or so, but remember, with Superman they would have to come up with a whole story; with Harry Potter all they need to do is go through the book and carefully delete any wizard battles or villain backstory or anything that might accidentally be interesting onscreen.

As with any news story about lost rights and delayed films and general chaos, my initial thought was "that sucks!" I then paused (both my mind and my porn) and thought for a few moments and it occurred to me that I don't really care if another Superman film is never made in my lifetime. I'm not trying to be controversial here, I really don't care. Yes, the original Superman with Christopher Reeve was great back in 1978, and even Superman II has some goofy appeal, but it's done. It's finished. Superman was an incredible character with an innovative mythology when he was first created seventy years ago, but like many things nearly as old as the state of Arizona, he's no longer relevant, interesting, or entertaining in the modern world, for many reasons:

1. He's too goddamn powerful. Yeah, it's pretty cool to see Superman deflect bullets off his hands and chest the first few dozen times, and it's neat to see him lift cars and buildings and airplanes and (in Superman Returns) small planetoids. But a big part of making an interesting superhero movie (or action or adventure or thriller or horror movie, for that matter) is presenting some kind of viable threat to your hero, and nothing can viably threaten Superman. And knowing Superman, if someone did formulate a viable threat for him, Superman would develop a new viable-threat-to-Superman-destroying power. Not to mention that like any comic book character all his "deaths" result in swift resurrection.

A lot of power does not a good character make. To prove it, I just made up a character in my head right now named Badass Man. He can destroy the entire space-time continuum with his pinkie. Now, if you think Superman is great because he's so powerful, then by default my new hero Badass Man is your new favorite character. I expect you to purchase all the merchandise.

2. He's too morally perfect. Some may feel that Spider-Man is too teenage and angsty and Batman is too dark and brooding, but there's a happy medium here, people. Superman is a fucking boy scout, plain and simple, without the faintest iota of anything resembling a character flaw or personality defect, let alone a dark side. There's nothing wrong with being good — hell, Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker and James Bond are all good, but they also all have quirks and foibles and weaknesses, and at a certain point the all-American helping old ladies cross the street and saving cats from trees and telling a kid not to smoke just makes me want to projectile vomit and makes the character a distant paragon utterly impossible to relate to.

3. A weak lineup of villains. Now, I never read any comic books or watched superhero cartoons with any meaningful frequency growing up. My exposure to DC and Marvel mythology all comes from the films and general pop culture osmosis, but despite these limitations I can name tons of Batman villains and tons of Spider-Man villains and tons of X-Men villains (and even a smattering of Hulk and Iron Man and Fantastic Four villains), because they are cool and memorable characters. Superman? I got Lex Luthor. Oh, and General Zod, I guess, whose entire motivation and personality is "I'm evil." And that's it. If there's any I'm forgetting it's because they're too dull to remember, which doesn't bode well for them being the primary antagonist in a giant summer movie, does it?

And as for Lex Luthor, I'm as sick of him as I am of his nemesis. All his dumb plots blur together and it helps with what I like to call "tension" when a hero's main villain isn't as weak next to the hero as a gnat is next to you or me. I know, it's silly of me, obviously The Dark Knight would be more entertaining if the Joker had brittle bone disease and hemophilia, and No Country for Old Men would be better if Anton Chigurh had no arms. There is, however, one way Luthor can hurt Superman...

4. Kryptonite. Kryptonite is a clever idea at first, until it occurs to you how stupid it is that Superman can only alternate between invincible living god and writhing-in-pain weak little child with absolutely no middle ground whatsoever. The fact that it's Superman's only weakness also means that plots inevitably have to come back around to it again and again and again and again.

5. I don't give a shit about Lois Lane. Okay, admittedly, Superman is far from alone in having a dull love interest; Mary-Jane Watson is hardly a scintillating character in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies (personally, I think Peter should dump her for Gwen Stacy, because yowza). But that doesn't change the fact that I'm utterly done with Lois Lane. I have no interest in seeing her and Superman angst in each other's directions ever again. And I don't give a damn if they ever get together or not, because (at least when played by Kate Bosworth) she somehow has even less personality than Superman / Clark Kent, perhaps the only time Superman has ever been defeated at anything.

6. The other side characters are varying shades of boring. What do the names Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and Martha Kent all have in common? That's right, they all induce immediate yawning. Perry White in particular seems a joke next to the similar but way, way more entertaining J. Jonah Jameson from Spider-Man. Not to mention that since the supporting cast is so small and tepidly iconic there's absolutely no chance whatsoever of any of them getting killed off. No one onscreen need feel threatened in any future Superman film besides innocent bystanders; if you have a name and are a character from the comics you're just as immune as Supes himself (okay, okay, unless your name is Jor-El or Jonathan Kent).

7. Metropolis is boring. Seriously. Who cares about Metropolis? Not only is Gotham about a million times more interesting, but the real-life New York City is too. When your fictional city with all the limitless potential of your imagination can't measure up to actual, physical steel-and-concrete cities in the real world, it's time to give up and raze the motherfucker down.

8. His dumbass "disguise." I know we've just asked to accept this and move on for decades now, but give me a goddamn break. He wears no mask. All he does is take off his glasses and slick his hair a little different. He's not in fucking disguise. If in Christopher Nolan's third Batman movie Batman took off his mask in front of Jim Gordon to reveal Bruce Wayne with his hair slicked slightly differently and Jim Gordon didn't recognize him the movie would be rightly eviscerated, but for some reason everyone happily gobbles this shit up when it comes to Superman and tells you to stop overthinking things if you question this universe-sized plot hole.

Hasn't Lois Lane, like, done it with him? And spent thousands of hours with Clark at the Daily Planet? She should have recognized him a million of times over, especially in the dumb scene near the end of every movie where someone says "lol isn't that weird how Clark is never here when Superman is here!" and Lois always squints at Clark and goes "hmmmm..." but never quite puts the pieces together. I hate to break this to the Daily Planet, but I'm fairly certain their star reporter is retarded.

9. If I have to sit through Superman's origin story one more time I'll kill myself. Yes, Superman, I get it, I fuckin' get it. Marlon Brando put you in a basket and put the basket in a rocket and sent you to earth. Never again do I need to see any version of this.

10. Superman Jr. They can pretend this never happened, but if Superman and Lois's superpowered toddler from Superman Returns shows up in any future Superman film, then fuck that noise.

In the interest of fairness, I will also list the good things about the prospect of a future Superman movie:

1. John Williams' theme song. Hell yeah!

That's all.

I look forward to future Spider-Man and Iron Man films, and I sure as hell hope to see more Batman movies if they're on par with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but Superman is at this point basically a perfect storm of uninteresting elements; boring powers, personality, villains, love interest, side characters, and settings. Every single plot proposal I hear for a hypothetical new film (whether a sequel to Superman Returns or another goddamn reboot, with presumably another goddamn origin story) sounds duller than the last. Oh, you mean to say that Lex Luthor is going to come up with a nefarious plan while Superman angsts over Lois Lane? Oh man, do I wanna see that!

I can no longer motivate myself to care. I mean, Warner Bros has Harry Potter and Batman, it's not like they're hurting for intellectual property. It's time to wrap a two-ton chain made of Kryptonite around the last son of Krypton and throw him in the bay.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually superman DOES have issues on occasion. He just has to work harder to keep them in check, because things would get tragically awful if he lost control (there have been a few times he has. He's actually pretty god damn terrifying in that phase. There are other weaknesses (if he's exposed to red sunlight he's as weak as the average man, and magic can also hurt him quite badly. Lex is more the shadow archetype. Superman is selflessness personified, Lex is the selfish bastard personified, and has the brain to superman's brawn. Also, some of his villains actually are quite intimidating (Darkseid for instance, Braniac (his original incarnation caused Superman to use lethal force (and this was when he was still the ultimate boy scout mind you.) Also, you'd be surprised at how easily some simple disguises actually worked. BTW in comic time Lois actually knows, and is married to him. The Superman animated series is actually quite good.