1938 Superman. The One To Adapt?

Discussion in 'Man of Steel' started by Road Warrior, Feb 11, 2010.

  1. Kurosawa

    Kurosawa Well-Known Member

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    Not to mention that it's a completely legitimate way to get away from Superman's Boy Scout image.

    And the Big Blue Boy Scout was a Post-Crisis addition, since all John Byrne knew about Superman was 1) The TV Series, 2) The Donner/Reeve Movies and 3) What Stan preached about him. Silver/Bronze Age Supes wasn't as rough as the original, but he was in no way the naive fool he degraded into.

    They can have some scenes of Superman dealing with street-level stuff and show that he has a strong, common man populist social activist streak. A populist Supes VS a Corporate Luthor is very fitting for today's world situation, one that is similar to the time of his creation.

    Superman should be the champion of the less fortunate and the oppressed. It's a great message-that the most powerful man in the world lives to help those least able to help themselves. Superman's altruistic nature is a huge part of his appeal. It's also part of why he chooses to humble himself by being Clark Kent. You can learn a lot about people just from how they treat a person like Clark. To Superman, even though he is literally a SUPER MAN, humility is a virtue and that's where Clark comes in.

    I think a modern audience raised on the canard that Superman is a naive child would be impacted strongly by a Superman who actually takes no crap and does and says what he thinks. Like the story in Action #12 where he goes to a factory that makes cheap cars that cause wrecks, and tears the place apart, threatening the owner, etc. Imagine how people who feel helpless against the corporate control of life would react to seeing a Superman who puts those people in their place. It's a Superman that people have forgotten, but maybe it needs to be brought back.
     
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  2. Octoberist

    Octoberist point blank

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    While I love the old Superman cartoons from the 30s, I think Zack should create his own universe.
     
    #77
  3. KrypJonian

    KrypJonian The Last Son of Krypjon

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    But like it was stated above, Superman has evolved beyond that... He can't go and strongarm people with bad business practices... It wouldn't be in his character now... But if those people were using sweatshop tactics and such, then he could do something about it... But not just for a cheap product...

    And I disagree about post crisis turning him into the big blue boyscout... Silver age Superman would have been just as likely to rescue a cat out of a tree or help an old woman across the street (especially Superboy)...

    But it was post crisis that really gave us those stories that challenged why Superman must practice restraint, and especially not kill, despite all the good it would do...
     
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  4. afan

    afan Well-Known Member

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    #79
  5. El Payaso

    El Payaso Well-Known Member

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    Except it would be. Superman has been cocky after 1938 as well.

    Ok, so I loved your dialogue, now I can disagree full time with you on this one. Thanks to trying to be a sitcom set in space I do not think of watching Abrams' Star Trek ever again. That's what I call the joke for the sake of forcing a joke in, it added nothing to the movie but a desperate attempt of likeability.
     
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  6. JamalYIgle

    JamalYIgle Well-Known Member

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    Except Burton didn't use the 1939 interpretation of Batman. Otherwise he'd have been driving around in a Studabaker and flying around in an autogyro firing twin 45's like the Shadow.
    Superman is not gone, just the opposite. Superman has one of the largest popculture presences of any intellectual property in history. You can't ignore the characters evolution to fit your tiny wishes and dreams. Yes i use the word evolution because that is what has happened. Evolution is a process of trail and error where an organism is changed in minor ways over a long period of time. Superman as a character isn't just what Siegel and Shuster started. Superman has been in the guding hands of hundreds of people, each adding their own part to the long narrative that is his story, that is evolution.
     
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  7. JamalYIgle

    JamalYIgle Well-Known Member

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    Yes and every time Superman has acted cocky in the comics something horrific has happened in response. It's not part of the character to be cocky. Don't confuse cockiness with confidence.
     
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  8. Superman2007

    Superman2007 Well-Known Member

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    One things for sure...the Superman of 1938 stood for things and wasn't afraid to punch a guy, while espousing a strong point of view.

    Nowadays, Superman is tiptoeing around abstract moral paradigms. He's wandering around the U.S questioning everything and talking himself out of relevance. Writers over the years have diluted him with angst and made him less interesting as a result.

    I read the first Superman story a while ago and he was just sensational the way he way he was just handling problems. It was in the vein of the Fliescher cartoons.

    I want to see a Superman of action, in this film. Someone who has a point of view and makes no apologies for it....Someone who does things without whining and handles relevant problems.
     
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  9. TruerToTheCore

    TruerToTheCore Well-Known Member

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    Off Topic, but that's one of the cases when I have to agree with El Payaso.
     
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  10. 04nbod

    04nbod I need to debrief you

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    What we really need from Golden Age Superman is his opinions. Superman has been stripped of all his stands for out of fear certain readers might disagree. Its like he's not allowed to voice anything but sacharrine or inane comments that barely touch on any issues. Superman can say he's against racism, for example, because its a mainstream ethical consensus but he can't say anything specific about how it should be done even though he has experience of how social isolation feels. (unless he's in the future and the writer uses sci fi allegory) I don't have to agree with him but it would give him character to have a point of view. While he doesn't he's a blank canvas. At the same time I don't want a Superman whose stoies are led by social issues primarily.

    Once we found out 'Grounded' Superman is the product of a complete breakdown I liked it a lot more. I think its better to compare it to DCU Decisions that tied in to the last US Presidential election. Superman of 1938 would have no fear of leading the debate on social issues because he stood for something specific. He looks after people who can't look after themselves for many reasons such as gender inequality or financial powerlessness. This Superman cannot tell us his opinions. Its a bizarre perspective that this man can stand for everyone but to do so he has to abdicate any individuality in the role.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011
  11. The Batman

    The Batman The Dark Knight

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    See, now you're being pedantic. Burton did use the 1939 Batman, not in style, but in character. Keaton's Batman, much like Kane's Batman, was a violent figure of the night who dosent hesitate to kill villains. Whether or not he drove a stubaker or carried around twin 45's is not really the point. Keaton's Batman was very much the 1939 version in attitude.

    1. I never said Superman was gone. I said the Golden Age Superman was gone.

    2. You can't ignore the character's evolution? Let's take your employer for example, who until recently has "ignored" a good chunk of Batman's history, particulary the 50's and 60's, to constantly go back to the dark atmosphere of the original. Isnt that ignoring evolution?

    3. Mark Waid's Superman in Birthright is very much a modern version of Siegel and Shuster's Superman, and the Birthright TPB even says that Waid went to great lengths to "Stay faithful to the core concepts envisioned over 60 years ago by creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster".At the same time, it does mention that Waid didnt want to ignore other versions either. And to quote Mark Waid again:


    "I'm not for ONE SECOND arguing that Superman should go back to punching out wife beaters or throwing enemy pilots to their doom or otherwise so completely and thoroghly take the law into his own hands..."

    "But I really, genuinely do believe that he's increasingly marginalized in a world where kids have to go through metal detectors to get to school and that the next superman renaissance will come when our audience once more feels it can connect with a hero who acts like defending metropolis from brainiac isnt the only way to make a difference. That's what Siegel and Shuster came to the table with, and thats what we have to put forth here."
     
    #86
  12. JamalYIgle

    JamalYIgle Well-Known Member

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    Yes because Tim Burton , who by his own admission didn't read the comics, and only took the surface elements of the character from the few sources he chose to. He turned Bruce wayne into a borderline schizophrenic with impulse control issues.


    This is were you and I again will have to part ways. The soul of the character remains the same.

    When they did that, they were trying to streamline history for sales reasons. They did it because people complained that there was too much continuity to follow.
    It's not the first time i've disagreed with Mark's opinions about comics and Superman. He and I are just as passionate about these things, I have a different view.
     
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  13. Superman2007

    Superman2007 Well-Known Member

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    You say it's bizarre, I say it's moronic. He doesn't even have to espouse controversial things but he needs to do things represent his beliefs.

    Iron Man went to the Middle East to take out Terrorists. Batman wasn't opposed to beating a criminal, rendition, or wiretapping in TDK. The X-Men fight for Civil Rights. What does Superman stand for and what issues does he inject himself in? Lifting really big objects? Picking up cats stuck in trees?

    It's not very controversial, but it's not very interesting either. Which is why for decades now...the character has been not taken seriously by the general public.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011
  14. Superman2007

    Superman2007 Well-Known Member

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    True, he liked "The Killing Joke though.

    "I was never a giant comic book fan, but I've always loved the image of Batman and The Joker. The reason I've never been a comic book fan - and I think it started when I was a child - is because I could never tell which box I was supposed to read. I don't know if it was dyslexia or whatever, but that's why I loved The Killing Joke, because for the first time I could tell which one to read. It's my favorite. It's the first comic I've ever loved. And the success of those graphic novels made our ideas more acceptable."
    -Tim Burton
     
    #89
  15. The Batman

    The Batman The Dark Knight

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    And to that I say...so? Burton's Batman is still a valid and entertaining version of the character, whether or not he's based on surface elements of kane and miller's Batman.

    I'm not saying it isnt. I just think Superman today is like a KFC chicken with artificial herbs and spices instead of the original herbs and spices that made it good in the first place. No one's saying make it exactly how you used to, but using some of those original elements dont hurt.



    True, but there's also the fact that that era of Batman has been looked down upon by many die hard fans. Even before post crisis, the 70's era Batcomics seem to largely ignore the 50's-60's in an effort to go back to the darker roots of the character.


    It is what it is, I guess. I happen to think Mark's absolutely right. Going back to the roots of the character and modernizing it usually helps characters more than it hurts it. Geoff Johns did it with Hal Jordan, and now Hal's become a popular character.
     
    #90
  16. The Batman

    The Batman The Dark Knight

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    Exactly...and it just so happens that the original character actually DOES stand for certain things.

    Putting Superman on this high pedestal and treating him squeaky clean is making the character seem ancient, when he's anything but.
     
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  17. Catman

    Catman Well-Known Member

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    Bravo.
     
    #92
  18. GhostPoet

    GhostPoet Well-Known Member

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    UGH...enough with the old Superman comics. If you're going to do a good movie. Do the more modern Superman comics route. The one that is much more sci-fi oriented.
     
    #93
  19. Kurosawa

    Kurosawa Well-Known Member

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    Has it been an evolution, or has it been a sell-out? A scared need to offend no one, which has made Superman degrade to the point where he stands for nothing? He was created by working class guys who knew first hand the pain of poverty. If they want to kill the perception of Superman as an establishment stooge who is too scared to offend anyone to ever do the right thing (and God forbid, bend a rule or law or two in the process), then this is their big chance. It's a young Superman at the beginning of his career, full of fire and ideals. And it's not like these tactics aren't in his resume.

    True, but the Silver Age version was nowhere near the naive child that the later, Post-Crisis version was often shown to be. Not to mention he would have never endured the sneering disrespect paid to him by other superheroes, particularly Batman, who replaced him as DC's #1 character and main earning point.

    But it was the Post-Crisis version-who was trapped forever in being an immature Superboy by the bad decisions to remove that from his career and also to leave the Kents alive-who also made the emotional decision to execute the Phantom Zone villains, something his more adult Silver/Bronze Age counterpart would have never had considered or had to resort to.

    The current version of the character is of course, a compromise between the classic version that worked and the failed Byrne experiments that have reduced Superman to a point of near-irrelevance. If DC ever rids themselves of the wrongheaded school of thought started by Byrne and continued by Mike Carlin (who also doesn't understand the character), then they can just put those elements out to pasture where they deserve to go, and bring back a Superman who actually believes in things and stands for something, and acts like a man, not a boy.

    Until DC themselves decide that Stan and the entire Marvel way of thinking is completely wrong for Superman, until they decide to embrace Superman with pride instead of shunning him in shame, the character will fail and fail hard.
     
    #94
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011
  20. The Question

    The Question Objectivism doesn't work.

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    The problem with that is that it would completely consume the story. The second Superman starts destroying neighborhoods to force the government to build better ones, or destroying industrial facilities because they make unsafe vehicles, then the United States will declare all out war on this guy. It would just be the cops shooting at him when they see him. It would be full military mobilization every time he's spotted with intent to kill. It would be Lex Luthor becoming a trusted military advisor and supplying CIA assassins with Kryptonite bullets. And the public would be 100% behind this, because when a super powered being destroys a factory that produces a potentially dangerous product, the American people aren't going to see the thousands of lives that were potentially saved, they're going to see the hundreds of people who lost their jobs.

    And there's nothing inherently wrong with that, I think it would make for a very good story. But it would make a film potentially unwieldy, and it would certainly infuse the story with a lot of moral ambiguity. Which, again, I have no problem with, but Warner Bros. might.

    Personally, I do like that approach, because I do like a Superman who's doing everything he can to help but might be overzealous about it, and I do like characters who make mistakes and are confronted with serious ethical dillemas and have the consequences of their actions come back to bite them. But I do think, reasonably, it's something that would be from his early years, from when being a super hero was pure trial and error for him, and he sometimes made mistakes or overstepped his boundaries. Because, ultimately, that strikes me as very reckless, and with the reaction it would garner from the government and the populous, as well as the fact that in the public eye it would prove Luthor right, it would end up causing more harm than good if he kept that up all the time. Not to say he should lose his social conscience, or that he should always tow the line and follow orders, but he should find a way to deal with complex social situations in the best, most nuanced way possible.

    That's one reason, besides his own personal needs and desires, why his personal life and dayjob as a reporter is so necessary. A super powered alien who inflicts his will and his justice on the world is a tyrant. A jorunalist who uses his writing and his mind to expose evil acts and bring the people who commited those acts to justice is a hero. Not that the two should bleed into each other, because it's all his life, and he should certainly use his powers to dig up information for his stories, but that seems like a very good and practical way to address the characters' social concience.

    Also, if we're thinking long term in terms of a franchise, I do think that his desire and, let's face it, practical need to gain the public support and trust leading him to cooporate with the authorities (good), and then in turn becoming more conformist and more willing to follow their orders and will (bad) would be a good thing story wise. It would be interesting for an older Superman to realize that, in his attempts to maintain peace and safety, he's become a tool of the establishment, and then having to find that fire from his youth again.
     
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  21. The Question

    The Question Objectivism doesn't work.

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    That actually leads to an interesting idea: What if he were established as Superman for a year or two before he moved to Metropilis and took a job at the Daily Planet, and that's when he's more proactive and hot headed? That way, his decision to become a reporter could be a point of character development. Plus, it could take the place of the "Superboy" period of his life, which would appease people with Silver Age nostalgia, while at the same time not having the more cheesy elements that the less nostaglic cringe at. That could be very interesting. It could be very much about discovering one's identity. He starts off as a young man in Smalville, with all these strange abilities, with the knowledge that he was born on another planet and how bizzar and alienating that is, with no "normal" skills besides a talent for the written word, and with no sense of purpose in life. He goes out into the world to try and learn and maybe become an author or a journalist and figure out what to do with his powers. He sees all sorts of pain and suffering in the world and decides to become pro-active about it. He creates the Superman identity and costume and goes public as a Superhero. He throws himself into the role and gets very pro-active and a tad overzealous. By the end, after everything goes down the way it would, he realizes that he needs to bring himself back closer to Earth in order to be a real hero, and embrace the humanity instilled in him by his upbringing instead of distancing himself from it in a persuit of personal meaning. Out come the glasses and the reporter gig. Maybe the death of a parent could be thrown in somewhere.
     
    #96
  22. Llama_Shepherd

    Llama_Shepherd Well-Known Member

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    Not to mention Superman isn't supposed to be relatable. The character comes from the Nietzche concept of the superman, the pinnacle of humanity, the end of the road in evolution. He is supposed to be what we aspire to every day. On a slightly unrelated note that is why Lex hates Superman. Lex actually wants to be the beginning of the superman ideal for humanity, but now, because of Superman, he's afraid to do so. It's something I'd like to see explored in the franchise too.
     
    #97
  23. Kurosawa

    Kurosawa Well-Known Member

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    That would be an interesting way to approach it, to be honest. There is a real need, I feel, to combat the heavily establishment image that Superman has. And these more fiery incidents from his early career would really impact people now. People feel helpless against both Corporations and the Government, like they have no true voice. It is a heavy enough issue for an entire movie to be honest, and I expect them to go more of an action route. But there may be traces of the early Superman in there, and if Birthright is as influential as it seems to be on Nolan/Snyder, then I think there's a good chance.

    Superman works best when his stories are about bigger issues than just the supervillain of the week. That's fine for lesser characters.
     
    #98
  24. Slugster

    Slugster the Slugster

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    :dry:
    No Im not joking ... I meant what I said. The morals and values of the average person back then where great compaired to average people of today.
    Yes it was the great depression but Superman was what they needed then just like now. that is my point.
    Today almost everyone is disrespectful esp young people morals and values are horrible. people back then at least cared about each other. and feared God.
     
    #99
  25. The Question

    The Question Objectivism doesn't work.

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    The morals of the average person haven't changed drastically in America since the 30s, with the exception of less racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia. Which is a good thing.

    You say people today, especially young people, are disrespectful, but on any given day I see people going about their business, saying their pleases and thankyous, and trying to not encroach on the boundaries of others. For the average person, I think they're biggest crime is being too insular and emotionally distant towards others out of fear of encroaching on boundaries, stemming either from their morals or their desire not to look foolish. Obviously, there are people who overstep coundaries and treat people poorly, but from what I see they're hardly in the majority. The vast majority of people are simply cold and self involved, their sins are of ommision and inaction, not of anything they do.

    And these days, respect for a woman's sexual boundaries is more common and accepted. Respect for the rights and oppinions of other races and nationalities is more common and expected. Respect for new and different ideas about how the world works and how it should be done is more common and expected. It's far from 100%. There are still rapists and racists and close minded, condascending people, but it's not as common and certainly not as celibrated as it was in the 1930s. I think, ethically, the western world is in a better place than it was 80 years ago.

    Now. Back to Superman:

    I think the interesting thing with Superman is that the changes in how he's been portrayed over the years does bear a striking resemblance to straight up character development, barring the fact that the current canon doesn't reflect this.

    In 1938, when he started out, he was hotheaded, blunt, and went straight to the heart of the matter when dealing with problems. Like Kuro pointed out, he did things like strongarming people into straightening their lives out, destroying factories and buildings to stop some form of corruption or force some kind of social change. And while his advocacy for the rights of the downtrodden was admirable, and something that is often lacking in the more bland depictions of the character, his entire approach was incredibly immature and naive. You cannot solve the world's problems solely with brute force and stern words. The world is far too complex for that. The failure or organizations like the IRA or Al-Quaeda to achieve their goals.

    And so, as the 40s go on he mellows out. He becomes more of someone willing to work with the establishment while still holding to his morals and beliefs. If he disagrees with the powers that be, he'll work against them if he has to, but subtley, intelligently, as to not make the situation worse or burn bridges. At the same time, he makes a bgreater attempt to be a role model to others, to inspire people and gain the public favor.

    That of course leads into the heart of the silver age, which couldn't be considered character development unless you want to argue that Superman got really into psychadelics in the 60s, which might be ab argument worth making.

    And then we get the 70s. During a good chunk of the 60s social issues tended to take a back seat in favor or incredibly stupid and uneccessarily weird sci-fi stories, and so when we get the Superman of the 70s and early 80s, we see something interesting. Having by now become DC's flafship hero, and the symbol of heroism in the DCU, he has become a symbol of the establishment and the status quo. I really don't think you can argue that this is something that came about after the Crisis, it certainly existed befoe that (although it probably was handled more slopily post-crisis), but he still had his ideals. He was much more a part of the system, but he was still an idealist within it, and he still worked to make a better world beyond just punching bad guys.

    Then the Crisis happened, and everything was rebooted and streamlined. The Superman we got, initially, was a distillation of the popular image of Superman. Of the symbol of Heroism. The pure champion of the status quo. What we got was a man who wasn't who he was when he started out. Someone who, in his attempts to please people and be a role model and act with subtlety and grace, has lost his fire and has stopped fighting like he used to. And since then, we've been seeing his mid life crisis. We've been seeing him struggle with his status and his responsibilities as a symbol and his desire to do more and be more pro-active. I don't think post-crisis Superman is inherently bad, but it's very bi-polar, as there are a lot of writers who aren't that familiar with the character beyond his status as a brand name who are thrown in with the writers who get him better.

    And over all, I think that's interesting. And I think that should definitely color his characterization. I think, ultimately, the ideal Superman is someone who has 1938's fire but has the grace and subtelty and understanding of responsibility that the more "status quo" Superman has, but I don't think he should start out that way. The Hero's Journey would be very dull if he's the perfect hero at the start.
     
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