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Old 10-02-2010, 02:43 PM   #1
true316
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Default The Public Perception of Superman

How is Superman perceived by people? I recently came across this old list from Empire in which they ranked the 50 greatest comic book characters. Superman came in at #1! Here is a link to the list:

http://www.empireonline.com/50greate...efault.asp?c=1

What interested me was the reaction on their forum. I understand that a list like that is a recipe for disagreement but the response to Superman as a character is noticeably negative on a consistent basis. While there were some that defended Superman it seemed like there were more that were against him. For example:


-"Plus, I'm more of a Marvel fan than a DC fan, but I still think I'd put Bats above Supes."

-"Superman beating Batman? Maybe sometime in the past but not right here, right now!"

-"superman on top! why oh why, even in the films he's two dimensional, "oh save the world, oh no kryptonite, help me someone else" there you go so if you haven't read any superman stuff i just saved you time and money"

-"Pretty good list, although the blue boy-scout isn't better than Batman and never will be."

-"However any issue about this list pales into insignificance when you see how spectacularly the ball was dropped with Superman as number 1. Perhaps in the past he was the most well known and as such his look is iconic but he isn't by any stretch of the imagination the greatest character. In fact reading the description of him in the list once you get past how well known he is and that he's been about for a while, the actual comment on the character points out what's wrong with him more than what's right. At the time of writing this 87% of voters want to see him lower on the list. I think Superman can be done well but very rarely is and often works best as a foil for Batman (see Hush, The Dark Knight Returns). Writers often have to depower or radically change him to make an interesting character emerge."

-"I'm still not sold on argument for Superman's number 1 status for any other reason than he was pretty much first on the scene. He's iconographic for the same reason as Mickey Mouse, but wouldn't call him the greatest cartoon character though."

-"Suiperman? Superman????????

Seriously?

Quite probably THE MOST OVERRATED character in literature, not just comic books. Worst superhero ever! Essentially God, yawn. This issue he's not indestructable because .....................(insert lame plot device here). Only ral problem is that a a woman who doesn't deserve his attention doesn't fancy his disguise. just about the only cool thing about Superman is that his "costume" is his Clark Kent disguise and his real self is the dude in the tights."

Even a lot of people who agreed with Superman being in the #1 spot admitted they don't really like him:

-"Have to jump on the "not a big Superman fan, but still thinks he deserves #1" bandwagon."

-"I liked your list and I can see why Superman is higher than Batman, even though I would prefer the reverse. Superman is the original and so you gotta give proper respect to that."

I understand this is just one list and one forum but it did get me thinking. I used to think talk such as this was confined to nerds arguing on the internet. But in talking to many of my friends in "real life" I've found that they share many of the same views. They see Superman as too powerful, boring, lame, etc. So here's the bottom line of this thread and it's a twofold question:

1. Do you agree or disagree that Superman ranks #1 as the greatest comic book character ever? Why?

2. How should the new Superman movie address this possible public perception? What could be done in your opinion to help change it?

Here is a link to their forum in case you wanted to read what was said there:

http://www.empireonline.com/forum/tm...73&mpage=1&key=

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Old 10-02-2010, 03:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

personally, i think Batman is a more compelling character simply because he can be applied to the world we know. however, i also love Superman like no other comic character and desperately want him to redeem his role as king of the heroes on screen.

as for public perception, i honestly don't think it matters. most people like Spider-Man more than Iron Man and IM's 2 movies did just fine and imo are more fun to watch than the Spider-Man flicks. it really just depends on how they approach and execute the movie.

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Old 10-02-2010, 03:40 PM   #3
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

The film does not need to be self-aware of Superman's modern decline in popularity.

If the writers and director treat Superman like #1, and give us a great film all-around, they have the power to determine what the public perception is.

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Old 10-02-2010, 03:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

Was Thespis as good an actor as Laurance Olivier? No. But being the first one to step out from the Chorus was groundbreaking and trendsetting. And for that he will always be arguably the Best.


That's why Superman will always remain in the top ranks of Superherodom.




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Old 10-02-2010, 09:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

This is what getting away from the core and 25 years of being jobbed to Batman does to Superman. At least he's still ranked where he deserves to be but the fact that there is even a debate is pretty sad. I mean, it's all right there...


Quote:
-"Superman beating Batman? Maybe sometime in the past but not right here, right now!"
-"Pretty good list, although the blue boy-scout isn't better than Batman and never will be."
I think Superman can be done well but very rarely is and often works best as a foil for Batman (see Hush, The Dark Knight Returns).
Perhaps in the past he was the most well known...
Superman is perceived as having been the greatest comics character in the past. You know, before they wrecked the character. Solution? Go back to basics. The movie could help change these perceptions if done right. First of all, as the one poster said:

"just about the only cool thing about Superman is that his "costume" is his Clark Kent disguise and his real self is the dude in the tights."

Of course I advocate this, at least to a degree. Next, his power level. This is one of the more common complaints, but the simple way around this is to challenge him properly and that doesn't necessarily mean Kryptonite or magic. You put Superman in a real ramble and let him have some exciting fights where he is fun to watch then that will help a lot.

Lastly, another point I have long advocated: return the early Superman to outlaw status. ESPECIALLY if they are using LexCorp and emphasizing that Luthor was running Metropolis before Superman came along. Have crooked cops going after Superman. Let Supes get a little rough with hoods. It's not like it was unprecedented. Let Superman be the champion of the poor and the oppressed. Bring back and play up his sense of social justice. It's all in his history and it was a big part of his original appeal. This current time of great financial suffering and loss of hope is like a second Great Depression-let a modern Superman reflect the pain, anger and suffering and the hope of this time the way he did in the 30's. It's the right angle at the right time. The whole establishment stooge bit that Miller and Byrne pushed in the 80's is killing Superman. It's GOT to GO.

Really great article about the early Superman and Part 1 of an excellent history here:

http://alankistler.squarespace.com/j...an-part-1.html

I'm not saying base the whole movie around this, but make it clear that Superman fights for the people, not the establishment.


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Old 10-03-2010, 04:19 AM   #6
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

I don't want Superman as an outlaw, or above the law. That's for Batman and Spider-Man, but Superman being compliant with laws is part of what makes him Superman. His job is to protect people from threats that the police and recue workers can't handle on their own and to help uphold the law, not to enforce his own sense of fairness on the populous regardless of what the law of the people says. When you try to turn Superman into an enforcer of fairness, you open the door pretty wide for superdickery. Superman has an image to maintain, and that image is not one of a vigilante.

My favorite treatment of Superman is still the Timmverse version. He had a personality and he was still very strong without seeming like a god amongst men, so the action still had a sense of danger to it. On the whole I think that Timm and Dini "got" Superman. There are plenty of comic writers who "get" Superman as well, but the animated series was pretty consistent in how he was depicted. He was played straight without having to put some kind of dark or edgy twist on him. He was all around a good and decent person who was doing whatever he could to make the world a better place, without becoming a dogmatic demigod.

Perhaps it's the temptation to try and control people rather than simply helping them that could make Superman seem more relatable. After all, Christ was tempted by the devil when he wandered through the desert, and yet his wisdom and willpower ultimately win out over the temptation to make selfish use of his power. It can be the same thing for Superman-- the temptation to be more than just a protector, and to be a ruler / enforcer is there, but Clark will always remember what his parents, both human and kryptonian taught him about responsibility and ethics, and his willpower to heed their advice is what keeps him from falling to the temptation of abusing his power.


Last edited by Timstuff; 10-03-2010 at 04:33 AM.
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Old 10-03-2010, 09:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurosawa View Post
This is what getting away from the core and 25 years of being jobbed to Batman does to Superman. At least he's still ranked where he deserves to be but the fact that there is even a debate is pretty sad. I mean, it's all right there...




Superman is perceived as having been the greatest comics character in the past. You know, before they wrecked the character. Solution? Go back to basics. The movie could help change these perceptions if done right. First of all, as the one poster said:

"just about the only cool thing about Superman is that his "costume" is his Clark Kent disguise and his real self is the dude in the tights."

Of course I advocate this, at least to a degree. Next, his power level. This is one of the more common complaints, but the simple way around this is to challenge him properly and that doesn't necessarily mean Kryptonite or magic. You put Superman in a real ramble and let him have some exciting fights where he is fun to watch then that will help a lot.

Lastly, another point I have long advocated: return the early Superman to outlaw status. ESPECIALLY if they are using LexCorp and emphasizing that Luthor was running Metropolis before Superman came along. Have crooked cops going after Superman. Let Supes get a little rough with hoods. It's not like it was unprecedented. Let Superman be the champion of the poor and the oppressed. Bring back and play up his sense of social justice. It's all in his history and it was a big part of his original appeal. This current time of great financial suffering and loss of hope is like a second Great Depression-let a modern Superman reflect the pain, anger and suffering and the hope of this time the way he did in the 30's. It's the right angle at the right time. The whole establishment stooge bit that Miller and Byrne pushed in the 80's is killing Superman. It's GOT to GO.

Really great article about the early Superman and Part 1 of an excellent history here:

http://alankistler.squarespace.com/j...an-part-1.html

I'm not saying base the whole movie around this, but make it clear that Superman fights for the people, not the establishment.
While I'm often at odds with Kurosawa, I do agree that Supes needs to be, personality-wise, more like his original incarnation. He needs to be allowed to have anger, to have a sense of humor, and to be brash sometimes when the situation calls for it. I remember a great scene in a Curt Swan comic where Supes is hovering over a modern day pirate ship at see where he's basically threatening the crew. He said something very much like 'See this emblem? Know what it means? It means I can mop up the ocean with scum like you.' It was great and this is what I want to see the MOS do. I don't like the naive boy scout that he became over the years.. and mostly due to the Donner film. That perception needs to go.

I'd like to see Clark as someone who's very aware of the human condition and have feet of clay himself sometimes. I wouldn't mind seeing him lose his temper and having to reign himself in from time to time. I also wouldn't mind seeing him make cutting remarks as Clark like George Reeves used to do. I do disagree that Clark is a disguise. I think Clark is the restrained version of the character who is allowed to demostrate real feelings while Superman has to be 'On' all the time because he needs to present an image.

But, yeah, Superman needs to be able to be angry and worldly. The boyscout thing wasn't an invention of Byrne BTW.


As to what Timstuff posted - I think Timm/Dini got a lot of the character right. I know they had to dial it down so that it would play across all ages but, for the most part, it was dead on. My vision of Clark would be a blend of Dean Cain, George Reeves, and the one fromTimm/Dini. Clark should, first and foremost, be relateable and down to earth like Dean Cains. He should be an honestly likeable ordinary guy. He should be beliveable as a tough reporter as was George Reeves and with a sense of humour like his. The Dini/Timm 'Clark' is a bit like that.


Last edited by DavidTyler; 10-03-2010 at 09:55 AM. Reason: Added thought in response to Timmstuff.
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Old 10-03-2010, 10:12 AM   #8
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I think opinion on Superman should be divided. I'm not a huge advocate for this is comic movies, but in all realism Superman would probably be wanted by the police because of vigilantism and all that. Plus the fact that he's superpowered. But by the end of the film he should be accepted by most if not all (save for villains)

But I dont think that it's 100% necessary.

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Old 10-03-2010, 10:46 AM   #9
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidTyler View Post
He said something very much like 'See this emblem? Know what it means? It means I can mop up the ocean with scum like you.' It was great and this is what I want to see the MOS do. I don't like the naive boy scout that he became over the years.. and mostly due to the Donner film. That perception needs to go.

I agree with you that Supes could be a bit more outgoing and witty, but the above qoute sounds too much like something McG would do. Yes, he should be very direct and sometimes threatening, but saying "'See this emblem? Know what it means?" sounds too vigilante-like and also has an "imature" insecurity to it that Supes definitely shouldn't have.

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Old 10-03-2010, 07:39 PM   #10
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

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Originally Posted by DavidTyler View Post
While I'm often at odds with Kurosawa, I do agree that Supes needs to be, personality-wise, more like his original incarnation. He needs to be allowed to have anger, to have a sense of humor, and to be brash sometimes when the situation calls for it. I remember a great scene in a Curt Swan comic where Supes is hovering over a modern day pirate ship at see where he's basically threatening the crew. He said something very much like 'See this emblem? Know what it means? It means I can mop up the ocean with scum like you.' It was great and this is what I want to see the MOS do. I don't like the naive boy scout that he became over the years.. and mostly due to the Donner film. That perception needs to go.
I remember that scene. It was great and it reminded me of the early Superman.

Quote:
I'd like to see Clark as someone who's very aware of the human condition and have feet of clay himself sometimes. I wouldn't mind seeing him lose his temper and having to reign himself in from time to time. I also wouldn't mind seeing him make cutting remarks as Clark like George Reeves used to do. I do disagree that Clark is a disguise. I think Clark is the restrained version of the character who is allowed to demostrate real feelings while Superman has to be 'On' all the time because he needs to present an image.

But, yeah, Superman needs to be able to be angry and worldly. The boyscout thing wasn't an invention of Byrne BTW.
Yeah, the farm boy stuff that Byrne codified originated in the Donner movie. The Donner movie influenced much of what was done in the 80's.


Quote:
As to what Timstuff posted - I think Timm/Dini got a lot of the character right. I know they had to dial it down so that it would play across all ages but, for the most part, it was dead on. My vision of Clark would be a blend of Dean Cain, George Reeves, and the one fromTimm/Dini. Clark should, first and foremost, be relateable and down to earth like Dean Cains. He should be an honestly likeable ordinary guy. He should be beliveable as a tough reporter as was George Reeves and with a sense of humour like his. The Dini/Timm 'Clark' is a bit like that.
I like Clark to be mostly introverted but with the occasional moment of toughness and I like to see him dedicated to the same causes as Superman just using the power of the media to fight them as well. I was never very happy with the Timmverse Superman, and in fact I had some major issues with his JLA series as a whole, especially his misuse of Hawkman, but that is an entirely different manner. Timm and Dini to me are Batman guys and I never trust them with Superman.


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Old 10-03-2010, 08:41 PM   #11
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

I never felt like either Clark or Superman acted like a farmboy in the movies. He was a little old fashioned and not exactly urbane, but so what? Was Superman ever depicted that way?

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Old 10-03-2010, 09:25 PM   #12
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I never felt like either Clark or Superman acted like a farmboy in the movies. He was a little old fashioned and not exactly urbane, but so what? Was Superman ever depicted that way?
What is funny is that when EVER that question is asked, somebody will find a comic or panel where he was to post.

That is because there have been so many different ways of showing the character used over the years, likely anybody can find one that fits what they like or do not.

I just take my pic of what I like based on my personal biases or taste.

In other words; how do you want to see him portrayed?

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Old 10-03-2010, 09:52 PM   #13
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

I've always felted that Superman Returns had the chance to change the divided perception of Superman. Instead, it didn't and somewhat relished on what some people don't like Superman.

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Old 10-03-2010, 10:05 PM   #14
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Even a lot of people who agreed with Superman being in the #1 spot admitted they don't really like him:

-"Have to jump on the "not a big Superman fan, but still thinks he deserves #1" bandwagon."

-"I liked your list and I can see why Superman is higher than Batman, even though I would prefer the reverse. Superman is the original and so you gotta give proper respect to that."
Whenever anyone says anything positive about Superman, they have to let everyone know they don't actually like the character. God forbid anyone mistake a person for a Superman fan. It's like the comic book version of saying "No homo."

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Old 10-03-2010, 10:15 PM   #15
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

Quote:
I like Clark to be mostly introverted but with the occasional moment of toughness and I like to see him dedicated to the same causes as Superman just using the power of the media to fight them as well. I was never very happy with the Timmverse Superman, and in fact I had some major issues with his JLA series as a whole, especially his misuse of Hawkman, but that is an entirely different manner. Timm and Dini to me are Batman guys and I never trust them with Superman.
Ah, yes. Hawkman the cuckold. That episode was like the intro to some interracial porn movie.

That whole love-triangle story was lame.

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Old 10-03-2010, 10:39 PM   #16
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See that's the strange thing... why did a Superman movie open so low when he is recognized everywhere as the most famous Hero ever... seems rather strange... on name along there should have been a HUGE opening... but anyhow that's water the under the bridge... however it does apply to the upcoming reboot

How do you make sure what happens with SR in terms of opening doesn't happen with this film? Superman being marketed in a reboot has a strong chance of going the Incredible Hulk way and not opening strong at all.. How do you really help ensure through marketing or what not, maybe through some viral strategy, to change the public perception of Superman and guarantee asses in the theater to ensure more potentially kick ass sequels?

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Old 10-03-2010, 10:48 PM   #17
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How do you make sure what happens with SR in terms of opening doesn't happen with this film?
Viral marketing, like you mentioned. A damn good action-packed trailer showcasing CG and emotional displays from the various characters.

And if that fails, we may have to depend on DVD sales if we want a sequel. If I'm not mistaken that's what happened with Batman Begins. It was under-the-radar in theater but the DVD's sold well.

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Old 10-04-2010, 12:15 AM   #18
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Whenever anyone says anything positive about Superman, they have to let everyone know they don't actually like the character. God forbid anyone mistake a person for a Superman fan. It's like the comic book version of saying "No homo."
It really is. That's a shame and it shows just how effective the anti-Superman spiel has been.

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Ah, yes. Hawkman the cuckold. That episode was like the intro to some interracial porn movie.

That whole love-triangle story was lame.
Yeah, it was horrid. I'm glad they used Hawkman on Smallville and did the character justice, Shanks' silly Christian Bale Batman voice notwithstanding.

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I never felt like either Clark or Superman acted like a farmboy in the movies. He was a little old fashioned and not exactly urbane, but so what? Was Superman ever depicted that way?
You mean as a farm boy or as a urbanite? Because he's been depicted both ways, but Pre-Crisis he was never primarily identified as a farmer or a farm boy or anything. Smallville was much more small town Americana and less rural-it was on the East Coast within driving distance of Metropolis. It was more like an American Graffiti kind of town, less like the Waltons I guess is the easiest way to say it. Smallville was moved to Kansas and Jonathan Kent became a farmer for life instead of a farmer who became a General Store owner in the Donner movie which much of Post-Crisis was based on except for the Clark/Superman duality which was like a comedic exaggeration of the Pre-Crisis depiction of it.


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Old 10-04-2010, 09:41 AM   #19
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

The public perception is that he's too perfect, borring, and too powerful. The only one that really impacts the enjoyment they think they might have is the idea that he's boring. he is soooo not boring to anyone who's read All-STar Superman, Superman Secret Identity, Superman Birthright, For All Seasons, etc.

The only reason people as singing praises of Batman is because of the Nolan films. Seriously if this article had come out in 98' after BAtman and Robin was in theatres do you honestly think anyone would be talking about how BAtman is the greatest character ever? I doubt it. The public's perception of BAtman is almost exclusively based on the Animated series which most people saw growing up and the Nolan films these days. That's the only reason the average person is talking about how cool batman is.

A new Superman film could indeed change the public's perception and it needs to. Like some one else posted Superman REturns had the chance but only reinforced people's negative view of the character as boring.

If they can just focus on making a well writtten film, full of action, compelling characters, intelligent dialogue, with a fun tone, then you could easily get people excited about Superman again.

I don't think anything drastic is needed, but some serious thought has to go into it. Too many people think that "superman my way" is what would work. The key is to just make it good. So if someone had no idea who Superman was, no preconceived notions, of liking or disliking, they coudl see a preivew be intriqued, then go to the film be blown away by this facinating, powerful, character and run out tell their friends they have to go see this film.

Also it challenge people who think "he's lame" , when they see it, to acknowledge how great of a character he is. That's exactly what BAtman Begins did. It was CHARACTER DRIVEN. People who didn't like the old BAtman films, saw this, and got the character for the first time, they enjoyed the film b/c it did what solid films do, had good acting, solid dialogue, some humor, good overall tone, solid action and effects. That's the treatment Superman needs. The movie also revolved around Bruce Wayne. Iron Man revolved around Tony Stark. Superman needs to revolve around Clark Kent/Superman. He needs to have dialogue, we need to get inside his head, we need to see him react to things. Not just watch a silent figure mop in the shadows like in SR. Give him a fully fleshed out personality, let him talk and act like a real person and i guaruntee people will see the character in new light.

Show him as a WELL DEVELOPED CHARACTER WITH A PERSONALITY and you'll get people to stop calling him boring and lame.

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Old 10-04-2010, 11:05 AM   #20
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Superman in the last decade has been dismissed as 'lame' by a majority of audiences because sadly most people don't really buy pure 'good guy' heroes anymore. I'm reminded about something Tom Hanks said when he was asked why the planned FORREST GUMP sequel didn't go ahead, him and Zemeckis met to plan the movie in 2001 and shelved it when 9/11 happened, and he said that he didn't feel audiences would buy a morally flawless character like Gump (who on some obvious character levels came across like a non-powered Superman) anymore.

And here's the key what was the last successful blockbuster with a main hero who was a complete nice guy? The closest are the Spider Man movies and the writers tried making Parker as flawed as possible whenever they could.

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Old 10-04-2010, 11:25 AM   #21
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I want to see this clark have some backbone. No, he doesnt have to standout, but I do want to see him as a tenacious reporter going after Lex.
As for Superman, the reaction from the public seeing him should almost be rockstar or moviestar like. Everywhere he goes the public Ooo's and ahhh's, but Supes just brushes it off with a smile.
His soft spot should be kids. I wouldn't mind a scene where supes is flying overhead on patrol and he can't help overhearing an abusive father hitting his kid. The man walks out with a bottle in his hands, cursing the kid as he goes. As soon as the man hits the street walking, Supes flies him up a couple of miles and drops him.
Just before he hits the ground Supes could catch him and give a witty but serious line, maybe something like, ''If you hit your kid again and I have to come back, I might just misjudge the distance.'' We know of course supes wouldnt really kill him, but the guy wouldn't.

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Old 10-04-2010, 12:08 PM   #22
El Payaso
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

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I've always felted that Superman Returns had the chance to change the divided perception of Superman. Instead, it didn't and somewhat relished on what some people don't like Superman.
Excuse me, Superman's on top of the list. So, you know who to thank for that.

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Old 10-04-2010, 12:48 PM   #23
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

All this "people think hes too boring/powerful" talk is meaningless. Like Daybreak said, all they have to do is make it look interesting. It really dosent matter how strong he is

People are somewhat shallow and fickle when it comes to movies. Just give them a hook, and they'll grab onto it. No matter what take they have, they just need to convince people that it's awesome.

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Old 10-04-2010, 02:38 PM   #24
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

Agreed although I also feel that as soon as a potential Superman writer starts spouting that junk they just need to be sent down the hall to the Batman editor and kept away from Supes forever.

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Old 10-04-2010, 06:27 PM   #25
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Default Re: The Public Perception of Superman

Well if Snyder, someone who simply liked Superman as a cultural thing, similar to how Abrams was a Star Trek fan but wasn't a Trekkie like Orci, but was bowled over by Nolan and Goyer's story, then so should the average moviegoer.

Christmas 2012 is a smart move too for box office reasons, the normal moviegoer may be more likely to see Superman after other superhero films are released during summer. You wouldn't release a Bond or Sherlock Holmes movie during summer nowadays.

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