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View Full Version : Does Superman need fixing?


Czarcasm
08-01-2012, 02:07 PM
In this article (http://www.comicvine.com/news/off-my-mind-the-difficulties-of-making-superman-cool/144995/), Tony Guerrero says that Superman is basically too damn good to be an interesting character. Super strong, super fast, super intelligent, super ethical..super boring? What could be done to make him a character worth caring about?

bup
08-01-2012, 02:08 PM
I've felt that way for as long as I can remember. Don't know how to fix it, though. Superman bores me.

Lobohan
08-01-2012, 02:13 PM
In this article (http://www.comicvine.com/news/off-my-mind-the-difficulties-of-making-superman-cool/144995/), Tony Guerrero says that Superman is basically too damn good to be an interesting character. Super strong, super fast, super intelligent, super ethical..super boring? What could be done to make him a character worth caring about?The one thing I would do to fix him is eliminate his superspeed. Not the ability to fly fast, the superhuman reactions.

If you're holding Lois at gunpoint, he can grab the bullet out of the air before it hits her. It just makes it too easy to do too many things. It also is the seed for the stupider of his super-effects.

Just give him action-hero level reaction speeds and he's a lot more fun. He can fly at Mach 90, but he can't do it in a city, because he'll hit something.

Czarcasm
08-01-2012, 02:20 PM
Give him a hobby, or a make him a fan of something or another, or give him a favorite food or drink. If he has a beer, what does he like? Does having super taste buds ruin most meals for him? What does Clark Kent listen to on the way to work?

Lightnin'
08-01-2012, 02:21 PM
Supes has always bored me, as well. He's basically a god; there's really no serious challenge for him, unless it's got some of the multiple megatons of kryptonite that has been found on Earth. If he can't bleed, it's hard to believe that he can fail.

Give him to Joss Whedon. There's no telling who's going to die in a Joss Whedon project.

Quimby
08-01-2012, 02:23 PM
Superman is definitely harder to film than Batman but it is film-able. They did it in 1978 pretty well.

As was discussed in the recent thread about the trailer for the new movie, he's a good man who happens to have super powers who inspires the rest of us to be better people. There's a movie in that.

Czarcasm
08-01-2012, 02:29 PM
The problem isn't that he is god-like. The problem is he is god-like and totally predictable. Any reaction of his could be predicted by a six year old child. He is his powers-he might as well be a robot for all we know about him.

CandidGamera
08-01-2012, 02:33 PM
This is one of the oldest discussions in the world. My answer is, and has always been : No, he doesn't need fixing. Not every character needs to interest every person, and personally, I find Superman more interesting than Marvel's crop of whiny 'everymen'.

As for being predictable - every well-written, sane comic character is. It's called consistency. If you knew as much about the life of your neighbor Joe Smith as you do about Superman - the history of his choices, mainly - then you'd find Joe Smith pretty predictable too.

Chimera
08-01-2012, 02:35 PM
Everyone wants to be Superman, there's the attraction.

The problem is in creating stories for said Godlike being that aren't boring and repetitious.

Anaamika
08-01-2012, 02:38 PM
I don't like him much and find him boring. I see that the last movie that came out a few years ago tried to give him a flaw, but "deadbeat dad" is not exactly an admirable flaw or one you can resolve in many good ways.

For me, a work of fiction is made 97% by its characters. Story and everything else comes a distant second. Maybe if Supes was surrounded by more interesting characters it might help, but then I fear it would be like the show Dollhouse where every single character around the main one is far, far more interesting. I was bored out of my mind with Echo. I get pretty bored with Supes, too.

hogarth
08-01-2012, 02:42 PM
When I was a kid, I loved World's Finest Comics and DC Comics Presents, where Superman would team up with Batman and other superheroes. But when I grew up and reread some of those issues, I realised how strained they were -- so many of them featured kryptonite or magic that it was terribly kludgy and repetitive.

Czarcasm
08-01-2012, 02:47 PM
This is one of the oldest discussions in the world. My answer is, and has always been : No, he doesn't need fixing. Not every character needs to interest every person, and personally, I find Superman more interesting than Marvel's crop of whiny 'everymen'.

As for being predictable - every well-written, sane comic character is. It's called consistency. If you knew as much about the life of your neighbor Joe Smith as you do about Superman - the history of his choices, mainly - then you'd find Joe Smith pretty predictable too.I know what kind of beer my friends drink, what kind of movies they go to, what nightspots they visit, what sports they are interested in, and some of their hobbies, and I don't find them boring at all. Does the dude just shut down when he gets to his apartment? Does he get upset or happy or sad or anything when certain subjects come up? A human emotion or reaction to be manipulated would be a a much more interesting weapon to wield than a glowing green rock.

Shark Sandwich
08-01-2012, 03:10 PM
Rage.

Drunky Smurf
08-01-2012, 03:17 PM
The problem isn't that he is god-like. The problem is he is god-like and totally predictable. Any reaction of his could be predicted by a six year old child. He is his powers-he might as well be a robot for all we know about him.

Well that'd make a good story.

It turns out Supes was a robot all along and the real Clark Kent/Superman is locked up at the Fortress of Solitude and is less super than the robot. Somehow he escapes, the world finds out the truth and penis ensues.

drastic_quench
08-01-2012, 04:33 PM
No, of course not.

You don't put the man in danger, you put people or the world in danger. He isn't omnipresent - just damn fast. When you need him to hit someone and have a good brawl, use an equally suped-up character. A New God or Kryptonian for certain.

On the psychological side, play up how his boy scout Midwestern values initially grates against but ultimately inspires the malaise of the real world.

TriPolar
08-01-2012, 04:47 PM
He needs more physical vulnerability for sure. After that, hit him in the soul. Reveal that the story he knows about his father is all a lie. Then let him find out that his goody-two shoes act has been exploited for evil purposes for years.

Kamino Neko
08-01-2012, 04:50 PM
Give him a hobby, or a make him a fan of something or another, or give him a favorite food or drink.

Can't speak specifically for hobbies, though he has been known to play video games with Jimmy, but he's a baseball fan, and his favourite food is beef bourguignon. With ketchup.

Note, I didn't make any of that up, it's all directly from the comics. (In fact, his love of beef bourguignon has gone beyond being characterization to a slightly overused tic with some writers.)

Which just points out the whole 'he's BORING' thing invariably comes from people who aren't actually familiar with the character at all.

Icarus
08-01-2012, 05:08 PM
Well, they kinda did this bit in Twilight, but it was Superman's problem long before those books were ever thought of.........

Sex with Lois Lane (http://www.rawbw.com/~svw/superman.html) - in short - he couldn't, without killing her.

Johnny Q
08-01-2012, 05:15 PM
You could always do a story about how his sexual frustration informs his character. Maybe he doesn't give it any thought because of the whole "woman of kleenex" thing, but at some point shooting slimy holes into the ceiling above your bed doesn't cut it anymore.

Or, if you didn't want to go there, you could always do a story with Lobo.

temp user
08-01-2012, 05:21 PM
I think Superman should go back to his first-issue roots and be seriously depowered, and the emphasis put not on his Super-ness, but on his Formidable-ness, his doggedness. This would include cutting back his strength considerably - he could perhaps lift a car, stopping a train would be taxing as hell, cut out flying and go back to his super leaps, cut out the optic powers like heat vision, cut down the invulnerability so cracking open cement with his skull can daze him or a large enough shell could penetrate his skin, cut down the superspeed so that he only runs about 100mph, not Flash fast. Then, it would be interesting to see a villain like Metallo ragdoll Superman all over Metropolis, but have Superman still come out on top. Or not even be the strongest in the Justice League anymore, but still respected among his peers for his formidable-ness.

Biotop
08-01-2012, 05:24 PM
Just please don't have him brood. We already have enoough tortured heroes to go around.

I'd like to see him age. What happens to Superman at fifty...at sixty...at seventy...?

He's got to start losing it, with his body slowly giving in to decay just like everyone else. It's probably already been done, but perhaps it could still be kind of interesting.

Lobot
08-01-2012, 05:29 PM
This is one of the oldest discussions in the world. My answer is, and has always been : No, he doesn't need fixing. Not every character needs to interest every person, and personally, I find Superman more interesting than Marvel's crop of whiny 'everymen'.

This sums up my feelings perfectly.

Superman is not perfect because he can't be everywhere at once. He's the superhero Atlas: his powers are so great that he essentially carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, and yet he can't fix everything. And then what happens when he forms attachments like any other functioning human? How does he reconcile duty with personal loyalty?

These are interesting questions, IMHO, especially with a character who is both inherently good and theoretically able to fix almost any problem.

Rather than "fix" the character, put him in situations where his ideals and his humanity come into conflict. The '78 movie managed it--it's not that hard.

Icarus
08-01-2012, 05:30 PM
He's got to start losing it, with his body slowly giving in to decay just like everyone else. It's probably already been done, but perhaps it could still be kind of interesting.

OOOO! Early Onset Alzheimer! Physically he's still got all of the strength and speed (generally) but he can't remember where he was flying off to.

Drunky Smurf
08-01-2012, 05:30 PM
I'd like to see him age. What happens to Superman at fifty...at sixty...at seventy...?

Then you might like Kingdom Come if you haven't read it already.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_Come_(comics)

Supes in older and has retired from heroe-ing and lives on his farm.

http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/1/18474/363478-196897-kingdom-come-superma_super.JPG

wolfman
08-01-2012, 05:37 PM
ehh, Let him be boring. He was designed for the tastes of Ten year olds, and is just great 10 year olds fantasy of being awesome at everything.If you want complexity make up some new character. Leave Superman alone, he doesn't need fixing.

BMalion
08-01-2012, 06:15 PM
If you don't like him, best stick with Mr. Incredible.

Invisible Chimp
08-01-2012, 06:22 PM
Superman has always been my favorite superhero. I didn't read the comics. When I was it a kid it was Adam West vs. Christopher Reeve. They later made Batman darker/edgier. I almost think Nolan/Bale is too dark. My favorite Batman is Burton/Keaton. There isn't a good way to make Supes darker or edgier without ruining him. I like Dean Cain and Smallville's take on Supes too. Superman Returns was a failure though.

Ethilrist
08-01-2012, 06:32 PM
This is what I liked about Smallville: They gave him various reasons to not use all his powers, all the time: a fear of heights kept him from flying, not wanting to stand out kept him from using them most of the time he was in high school, he's too much of a boy scout to use his X-ray vision anywhere near as much as any red-blooded American male would... and, every single cubic yard of dirt within 100 miles of Smallville seems to have kryptonite in it. Except for his farm... not really sure how that worked out.

Plus, they made a definite distinction between people with kryptonite-spawned powers (Powerful in their own niche, but not as powerful as Clark), and people who had super powers for some other reason (could usually kick his ass: The Flash was faster, Aquaman was tougher in the water, anybody using magic could make him their own private play toy...).

Lobot
08-01-2012, 06:42 PM
Superman has always been my favorite superhero. I didn't read the comics. When I was it a kid it was Adam West vs. Christopher Reeve. They later made Batman darker/edgier. I almost think Nolan/Bale is too dark. My favorite Batman is Burton/Keaton. There isn't a good way to make Supes darker or edgier without ruining him. I like Dean Cain and Smallville's take on Supes too. Superman Returns was a failure though.

I agree with all of this (except I loved Superman Returns--need to see it again, though).

It's the reason I hated the Man of Steel trailer--it's all that "gritty realism" bullshit that was effective when used sparingly, but now is like fucking Autotune.

Superman is bright, colourful and optimistic. Can't we have one thing left that isn't dark and gritty?

Grumman
08-01-2012, 06:50 PM
If you want complexity make up some new character. Leave Superman alone, he doesn't need fixing.
This. "Fixing" Superman by making him not Superman is stupid.

Invisible Chimp
08-01-2012, 06:58 PM
Confession: I haven't seen Superman Returns. But from the previews and clips I have seen, it appeared as though Routh was doing an impression of Reeve. Rosenbaum has ruined anybody else doing Lex Luthor in the future for me.

Bozuit
08-01-2012, 06:58 PM
Superman far more than any other superhero that I can think of could be saving lives almost 24/7. Many lives every hour, surely. In the end he's pretty lazy.

pseudotriton ruber ruber
08-01-2012, 06:58 PM
he couldn't, without killing her.

Sure, he can--he's super-gentle.

Lobot
08-01-2012, 07:05 PM
Confession: I haven't seen Superman Returns. But from the previews and clips I have seen, it appeared as though Routh was doing an impression of Reeve. Rosenbaum has ruined anybody else doing Lex Luthor in the future for me.

I'm one of the few people who liked Returns, so take this opinion with a grain of salt.

Returns is essentially a sequel to Donner's intended Superman II, with Donner himself as executive producer. Routh is channelling Reeve's Superman because it's a continuation of Donner's continuity. It really is the Superman III we should have gotten in '83.

The Other Waldo Pepper
08-01-2012, 07:22 PM
Returns is essentially a sequel to Donner's intended Superman II, with Donner himself as executive producer. Routh is channelling Reeve's Superman because it's a continuation of Donner's continuity. It really is the Superman III we should have gotten in '83.

"Good afternoon, Mister President. Sorry I've been away so long; I won't let you down again. Well, unless you need me next week. In fact, the rest of the month is no good for me. But next month -- no, to be honest, the rest of the year is pretty much out, and next year isn't looking any better. But at some point, maybe the better part of a decade from now, I'll be here, I guess."

;)

Folacin
08-01-2012, 07:22 PM
Superman is not perfect because he can't be everywhere at once. He's the superhero Atlas: his powers are so great that he essentially carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, and yet he can't fix everything. And then what happens when he forms attachments like any other functioning human? How does he reconcile duty with personal loyalty?

He's just doing it wrong (http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2305#comic).

foolsguinea
08-01-2012, 07:31 PM
It's tough because DC defines him as the best at everything. So after someone like Elliot S! Maggin gives him a personality, there's a temptation for later writers to contradict that so their personal idea of an ultimate-powered hero's personality can be Superman.

Married? Let's make him single!
Likes beef bourguignon? No! He should be a vegetarian!
Confident? Let's give him doubt!
Unsure of himself? Make him too super to ever be like that!

So, yeah...No, he doesn't need fixing. Not every character needs to interest every person[...]

As for being predictable - every well-written, sane comic character is. It's called consistency.Fair enough. If you can't think of a good Superman story that's not just a retread of someone else's story, write some other character.

This is why it's good that there are other Superman-like characters out there, that aren't Superman.I think Superman should go back to his first-issue roots and be seriously depowered, and the emphasis put not on his Super-ness, but on his Formidable-ness, his doggedness. This would include cutting back his strength considerably - he could perhaps lift a car, stopping a train would be taxing as hell, cut out flying and go back to his super leaps, cut out the optic powers like heat vision, cut down the invulnerability so cracking open cement with his skull can daze him or a large enough shell could penetrate his skin, cut down the superspeed so that he only runs about 100mph, not Flash fast. Then, it would be interesting to see a villain like Metallo ragdoll Superman all over Metropolis, but have Superman still come out on top. Or not even be the strongest in the Justice League anymore, but still respected among his peers for his formidable-ness.This is a decent idea on its face. In fact, Clark's been "toned down" a little bit a couple of times. But some people want the ultimate power hero, so there's a push and pull.I'd like to see him age. What happens to Superman at fifty...at sixty...at seventy...?I like the idea of Superman aging, and passing on the mantle to successors. But again, for some people, that doesn't fit their idea of the concept somehow.

Lobot
08-01-2012, 07:34 PM
"Good afternoon, Mister President. Sorry I've been away so long; I won't let you down again. Well, unless you need me next week. In fact, the rest of the month is no good for me. But next month -- no, to be honest, the rest of the year is pretty much out, and next year isn't looking any better. But at some point, maybe the better part of a decade from now, I'll be here, I guess."

;)

Yeah, I agree with that criticism. But still, I respect the attempt to make a sequel to a film 25 years old with a messy history all its own.

Arnold Winkelried
08-01-2012, 07:57 PM
My problem with all these superheroes is that they're always tackling the "easy" stuff. Oh, a train is going off the rails, or a woman is falling out of a building! I'd like to see them tackle the hard stuff - a civil war in the Sudan, or schoolgirls getting poisoned in Afghanistan, or children soldiers in the DRC, or political prisoners in China. Show us what you can do there!

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
08-01-2012, 08:17 PM
We could always have him battle Black Zero (http://thenostalgialeague.com/cr/forgotten-superman.html).

drastic_quench
08-01-2012, 09:12 PM
Superman has always been my favorite superhero. I didn't read the comics. When I was it a kid it was Adam West vs. Christopher Reeve. They later made Batman darker/edgier. I almost think Nolan/Bale is too dark. My favorite Batman is Burton/Keaton. There isn't a good way to make Supes darker or edgier without ruining him. I like Dean Cain and Smallville's take on Supes too. Superman Returns was a failure though.

Batman was always dark. He was snapping motherfucker's necks (http://i.imgur.com/eDs5X.jpg) in 1939 in addition to packing a .45.

Ethilrist
08-01-2012, 09:27 PM
My problem with all these superheroes is that they're always tackling the "easy" stuff. Oh, a train is going off the rails, or a woman is falling out of a building! I'd like to see them tackle the hard stuff - a civil war in the Sudan, or schoolgirls getting poisoned in Afghanistan, or children soldiers in the DRC, or political prisoners in China. Show us what you can do there!

Apparently, that's Tony Stark's opinion, too.

Thudlow Boink
08-01-2012, 09:56 PM
My problem with all these superheroes is that they're always tackling the "easy" stuff. Oh, a train is going off the rails, or a woman is falling out of a building! I'd like to see them tackle the hard stuff - a civil war in the Sudan, or schoolgirls getting poisoned in Afghanistan, or children soldiers in the DRC, or political prisoners in China. Show us what you can do there!Well, he did take on the Ku Klux Klan.

BMalion
08-01-2012, 10:52 PM
Well, he did take on the Ku Klux Klan.

And evil landlords, and wife beaters!

Invisible Chimp
08-01-2012, 11:02 PM
Batman was always dark. He was snapping motherfucker's necks (http://i.imgur.com/eDs5X.jpg) in 1939 in addition to packing a .45.

True, but for a long time the dominant public image of him was Adam West.

Fenris
08-02-2012, 07:38 AM
I know what kind of beer my friends drink, what kind of movies they go to, what nightspots they visit, what sports they are interested in, and some of their hobbies, and I don't find them boring at all. Does the dude just shut down when he gets to his apartment? Does he get upset or happy or sad or anything when certain subjects come up? A human emotion or reaction to be manipulated would be a a much more interesting weapon to wield than a glowing green rock.

This wasn't a problem in the '70s. One of the writers (Elliot S Maggin*) delved into all that. In great detail. Clark doesn't (all per Maggin) drink beer, he drinks a fruit drink his mom used to make. His hobby was recording commercials that amused him on his newfangled video tape recorder machine. Superman's favorite dinner was Bouef Borginione (which, for the life of me, I can't spell), etc. (I'm not quite nerdy enough to remember that much detail on my own. I just reread Maggin's two novels and a bunch of his stories)

The problem is that since...oh...about 1990 (about the time that for some inexplicable reason, the Toyman became a child murderer--I'm using that to pinpoint the time, not as a cause) DC gave up on supporting cast members, especially for Superman. Ron Troupe, Cat Grant, Jimmy and Perry, Lucy Lane, etc. all vanished as major characters and weren't replaced. Superman needs a supporting cast, since without a supporting cast to interact with, yeah--Superman is boring. (Hell, Byrne's Luthor was boring too until reinvented by Morrison)

Maggin also wrote a (sadly now forgotten) classic called "Must There Be A Superman?" (http://superman.nu/tales2/yes/) which, at the time, and especially at DC was a really radical story. The Guardians (from Green Lantern) went to Superman and asked him to think about what he was doing to the human race. Every time Superman got a kitten out of a tree or rebuilt a slum, he's taking another peg out of human initiative. In an incredibly nuanced discussion (for a DC comic in the mid '70s especially) the Guardians weren't saying to quit being Superman, just....maybe think about bigger consequences and slow down just a little. Maggin wrote a ton of stories for Superman like that from maybe 1972-1979 or so. And then pretty much vanished.


Also, Alan Moore's Supreme showed how a really talented writer could take Mort Wesinger's Tougher-Than-God Superman and still make him interesting.

Superman can be great. But it takes a great writer and generally his books don't attract it.



*Who wrote two Superman novels that are the best...literally the best...treatment of Superman and cast ever, IMHO.

ETA: Added link to story--it's been online forever and the page is filled with interviews from people at DC...I assume they don't object.

Ashley Pomeroy
08-02-2012, 07:55 AM
My problem with all these superheroes is that they're always tackling the "easy" stuff. Oh, a train is going off the rails, or a woman is falling out of a building! I'd like to see them tackle the hard stuff - a civil war in the Sudan, or schoolgirls getting poisoned in Afghanistan, or children soldiers in the DRC, or political prisoners in China. Show us what you can do there!

This was touched on in The Dark Knight Returns, where Superman's a pawn of the US government. He's sent to sort out trouble on the fictional South American island of Corto Maltese, where he routs a Soviet invasion force; there's no indication that this is hard for him. Having said that, he turns out to be vulnerable to a Soviet nuclear missile sent in retaliation, not from the explosion but from the dust cloud, which blocks out the sun. In The Dark Knight Returns he's literally solar-powered.

Later in the book Batman takes him on in a fist fight, and gets in a few good punches; he's using a kind of robot suit hooked up to the mains, and Superman is weakened from the missile.

I've always thought that Superman's problem isn't so much his invulnerability, it's the fact that we can't really see his limits. We can tell that James Bond isn't bulletproof, and the other superheroes tend to have intuitive limitations - I instinctively assume that Spiderman couldn't survive a machinegun blast to the chest, even though it's not explicitly stated - but Superman's vulnerability is arbitrary. Can he lift that rock? Can he lift a slightly larger rock? There's no way to tell. Will he die if he flies into a building, or just punch straight though? I have no idea. If we can accept Superman lifting an entire mountain, it seems absurd that bullets could hurt him;

Much as it pains me to admit it, Michael Bay's Transformers got this right. Perhaps the makers of the new Superman film could break with convention and ditch the whole super-heroic aspect entirely, and make it a 70s-style youth film where Superman goes on a cross-country car race, for example, but half-way through the race is forgotten and he has a spiritual awakening. Or he goes off to Peru in order to shoot a film about himself, and the local tribesmen start dressing up as Superman and pretending to fly. Or Superman has to deliver a 1970 Dodge Challenger across the US in less than fifteen hours without cheating, and there's a nude woman on a motorbike.

CandidGamera
08-02-2012, 07:56 AM
Glad to see at least some people agree with me.

"X doesn't appeal to me! It must be broken!"

Oy, I can't stand that. Go read Supreme, or Invincible, or Thor, or any of the half-dozen others if you don't enjoy Superman. It's okay.

Alessan
08-02-2012, 08:01 AM
Superman is to DC what Mickey Mouse is to Disney - he's the original, the icon, and the big symbol, but does anyone today prefer his shorts over Donald Duck's? (Donald Duck being Batman).

Anaamika
08-02-2012, 08:17 AM
He needs more physical vulnerability for sure. After that, hit him in the soul. Reveal that the story he knows about his father is all a lie. Then let him find out that his goody-two shoes act has been exploited for evil purposes for years.

I like this.

They touched on the Superman problem briefly in Megamind. For those of you haven't seen it, a fairly serious spoiler:

About halfway through the story it is revealed that Metroman, their Superman equivalant, has faked his death and gone into retirement. Now it wasn't his story so they couldn't spend much time on him, but they did make a few comments on how he was just tired of saving everyone, all the time, how everyone just expected him to do it.


Basically demonstrate how tired Supes is of saving everyone, and how much he just wants to go into retirement. I'm sure it's been done, but I don't know how often or how well.

Glad to see at least some people agree with me.

"X doesn't appeal to me! It must be broken!"

Oy, I can't stand that. Go read Supreme, or Invincible, or Thor, or any of the half-dozen others if you don't enjoy Superman. It's okay.

We're just discussing. Plus, I mean, with the zillions of comics out there, I don't think it would ruin Superman to have a couple of more serious stories with him, but still fitting who he is.

Bakhesh
08-02-2012, 08:23 AM
Part of the problem, with the films at least, is that his antagonists haven't really challenged him at all. I don't care how clever Lex Luthor is supposed to be, he's really never going to defeat someone who can fly back in time. Superman 3 had a business man with a computer going up against a god. Did Superman even have to break a sweat?

The only film to give him a decent workout was Superman II. Surely Superman has a more interesting rogues gallery than that.

StusBlues
08-02-2012, 08:30 AM
Make him gay. Or at least put him in a threesome with Lois and Batman.

Alessan
08-02-2012, 08:33 AM
Part of the problem, with the films at least, is that his antagonists haven't really challenged him at all. I don't care how clever Lex Luthor is supposed to be, he's really never going to defeat someone who can fly back in time. Superman 3 had a business man with a computer going up against a god. Did Superman even have to break a sweat?


That was my problem with the Bryan Singer flick. I mean, the man can throw a continent into space. How did Lex even stand a chance?

Bartman
08-02-2012, 08:48 AM
The problem is it is hard to write Superman well. But when it is done right, it can be compelling. Take a look at the Bruce Timm animated series of the '90s and the Justice League sequel. In those he is a well realized and interesting individual. He is personally regularly threatened. His primary opponent is Lex Luther, who Supes can't seem to really get to legally. And who is significantly brighter than Supes. Which means a lot of his problems are coming at him sideways. Add in real opponents who actually are in his league and can threaten him (Parasite, Lobo, Darkseid, Jax-Ur, Braniac, Bizzaro, etc.) and there is always a feeling that he can fail. Heck when Parasite first meets him, he beats him badly and keeps him around only to feed on him. So Superman spends weeks beaten, imprisoned, and useless.

And of course many of the best episodes are focused around the things that Superman simply can't do... because of who he is. "The Late Mister Kent" and the JL episode "Man Who Has Everything" are both fantastic and are great at showing the personality and tensions of the character. Neither is resolved through the use of "powers." And "Knight Time" is fantastic, where Supes has to fill in for Batman... and is pretty bad at it, only succeeding because he has Robin to help. Then there is the alternate reality episode "Brave New Metropolis" where he takes over and runs the city in a totalitarian dictatorship, highlighting how significant his choices are, and how close he really is to becoming a villain.

Of course these and other favorites are great not because they are the standard story, bad guy shows up Superman pummels him, but because they do what a lot of people here are complaining you can't do with Superman. They focus on the character. They highlight the difficult choices he has to make on a regular basis. They show the consequences of keeping his personal code. They show how difficult it is to keep to that code. They show his humanity. And none of them veer into angst or "darkness" despite some easy hooks you could use for that.

It isn't impossible to write good Superman stories, just hard. But with a good writer, you can tell stories you can't with any other character in modern literature. So I wouldn't change him.

Anaamika
08-02-2012, 08:49 AM
Make him gay.

Is he even sexual? I mean, I know he must be, but it always seemed weird to me that he was even interested in human women. We must be as ants to him. Well, maybe more like sheep - isn't he supposed to be an allegorical Jesus anyway, ergo a Shephard?

The Other Waldo Pepper
08-02-2012, 08:49 AM
That was my problem with the Bryan Singer flick. I mean, the man can throw a continent into space. How did Lex even stand a chance?

Amazingly, you're underselling it. Throwing an ordinary continent into space would've been easier; Superman threw a continent made of kryptonite into space.

Tom Scud
08-02-2012, 08:50 AM
Basically demonstrate how tired Supes is of saving everyone, and how much he just wants to go into retirement. I'm sure it's been done, but I don't know how often or how well.


Look for the first Astro City collection ("Life in the Big City"); the first story involves an all-but-Superman ("Samaritan") and his daily schedule. I think people have done essentially the same story with Superman, but I haven't seen it done better than in that issue.

Bartman
08-02-2012, 09:02 AM
Part of the problem, with the films at least, is that his antagonists haven't really challenged him at all. I don't care how clever Lex Luthor is supposed to be, he's really never going to defeat someone who can fly back in time. Superman 3 had a business man with a computer going up against a god. Did Superman even have to break a sweat?

The only film to give him a decent workout was Superman II. Surely Superman has a more interesting rogues gallery than that.
He does. But they generally have an element of the "fantastic" they seem to be leery of putting on the big screen. Super powered aliens, killer robots and cyborgs, magic, extra-dimensional entities, and of course a lot of mutated humans. Heck even Luther in the comics is a lot more powerful. He has built time machines, created superman clones, and made many of the aforementioned robots, cyborgs and and mutated humans. Maybe now that the Avengers has shown how you can be successful having aliens, magic, monsters, super-tech and the like all mixed together, we may get a superman that embraces the same.

Bakhesh
08-02-2012, 09:17 AM
He does. But they generally have an element of the "fantastic" they seem to be leery of putting on the big screen. Super powered aliens, killer robots and cyborgs, magic, extra-dimensional entities, and of course a lot of mutated humans. Heck even Luther in the comics is a lot more powerful. He has built time machines, created superman clones, and made many of the aforementioned robots, cyborgs and and mutated humans. Maybe now that the Avengers has shown how you can be successful having aliens, magic, monsters, super-tech and the like all mixed together, we may get a superman that embraces the same.

I always think that comic book movies miss a trick when they do this. The best thing about comics is that you might see what happens when a cyborg fights a vampire, or a mutant vs a god etc.

In the movies, they assume that the audience can only cope with one 'extra-reality' thing at a time, so Iron Man has to fight an evil suit of armour, Thor has to fight an evil god etc. The Avengers was the first movie to realise that people are quite happy to watch a WWII supersoldier vs Aliens.

Czarcasm
08-02-2012, 09:18 AM
Glad to see at least some people agree with me.

"X doesn't appeal to me! It must be broken!"

Oy, I can't stand that. Go read Supreme, or Invincible, or Thor, or any of the half-dozen others if you don't enjoy Superman. It's okay.But you are ignoring a very real problem-declining sales. Comic characters need to develop and change to increase(or even hod) an audience. Put in some new to spark interest(new outfit, new characters, new interests), and take out the old that never really worked(super intelligence-talk about an inconsistent ability!). Unless y'all get together and vow to buy hundreds of copies of each issue of Superman and/or Action it will eventually disappear.

Love Rhombus
08-02-2012, 09:59 AM
Hell, you want boring? Captain "Shazam!" Marvel has Superman beaten in that category before the contest even begins. Superman is tricky to make interesting, much harder than Batman or Green Lantern, but not impossible (That's Aquaman).

Acid Lamp
08-02-2012, 10:17 AM
Nope, He doesn't need fixing. But like others mentioned, he needs compelling supporting characters and adversaries to play off of so we can root for him. There is nothing wrong with supes that a judicious application of Lobo can't fix.

TriPolar
08-02-2012, 10:52 AM
I like this.


Reducing his powers is one thing. His near omnipotence makes the stories boring. But you have to go deeper than that, because he is boring. There's hardly any personality at all. I think Batman is a psycopath, but he's a lot more interesting than the alien boy scout.

Thudlow Boink
08-02-2012, 12:08 PM
Reducing his powers is one thing. His near omnipotence makes the stories boring. But you have to go deeper than that, because he is boring. There's hardly any personality at all. I think Batman is a psycopath, but he's a lot more interesting than the alien boy scout.Personally, I'd rather see him made less super than less heroic. I want Superman to actually be a hero: someone I—or the kid version of me—could look up to and hero-worship.Superman never made any money
Saving the world from Solomon Grundy
And sometimes I despair the world will never see another man like him

In fact, I found superheroes in general, and Superman in particular, a lot more interesting when I was a kid than I do now as a grownup, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I don't want to see him fixed at the expense of what made him fascinating to me as a kid. (And among the things that I loved, and still do, about Superman, is that he was unambiguously and unapologetically one of the good guys.)

Chronos
08-02-2012, 12:37 PM
I think the biggest key to writing good Superman stories is to focus on personal issues, rather than his powers. The TV series Lois and Clark was a good example of this: Oh, they threw in super-challenges that he needed his powers for, but he beat those all easily. Where the real drama came in was in his relationships with other people. Being able to fly faster than sound and punch out mountains doesn't make it any easier to tell a woman you love her.

The thing is, though, that in a TV show, you have enough time to do long, detailed character studies. But in a movie, you really don't. For a movie, you can maybe do a little character development, if you devote the whole movie to it, but then you don't have room for the super-antics, and why are you making a Superman movie, anyway? So I think it's much harder to do him justice on the big screen.

grude
08-02-2012, 12:41 PM
Smallville tip toed around this but what about a Kal El at odds with his parents and all Kryptonians?

He considers himself human basically, the other Kryptonians are disgusted with Kal El's love of the earth monkeys.

ftg
08-02-2012, 12:43 PM
I read Silver Age DC stuff when I was a kid. (So aside from the crappy movies I really don't know much about the S-Man since then.)

I liked Batman, Flash, Green Lantern for the most part. Never bought a single Superman. But oddly found the World's Finest books okay. I think those were more influenced by Batman themes rather than Superman themes.

There were just crappy comics. Superpowers didn't enter into it, directly. They just had a 10-20 year old time warp feel to them. I think there's something intrinsic to the character that prevents it from being put into a truly modern world.

So you have this person with all this amazing power, how do you fit him into stories that involve computers, gene splicing, quantum mechanics or whatever? Is he going to use his X-ray vision to read the bits inside a working computer? I don't think so.

Everything he can do now, he could do in the 1940s. He cannot be updated without getting silly.

But most of the problems over the years just seems to be bad writing. Comic books, TV and movies, it's all the same.

CandidGamera
08-02-2012, 02:04 PM
We're just discussing. Plus, I mean, with the zillions of comics out there, I don't think it would ruin Superman to have a couple of more serious stories with him, but still fitting who he is.

They have those.

CandidGamera
08-02-2012, 02:08 PM
But you are ignoring a very real problem-declining sales. Comic characters need to develop and change to increase(or even hod) an audience. Put in some new to spark interest(new outfit, new characters, new interests), and take out the old that never really worked(super intelligence-talk about an inconsistent ability!). Unless y'all get together and vow to buy hundreds of copies of each issue of Superman and/or Action it will eventually disappear.

All comic sales are declining in the long-term. Using your logic, that means all the characters are broken. And efforts to "change" established characters like you describe usually bump up sales for an issue or two, then things go back to where they were, or the changes steepen the decline.


Ya think maybe there might be some other factors there? Like the $3-$4 price point?

Sorry, Czarcasm, I just think you don't know what you're talking about here.

TriPolar
08-02-2012, 02:09 PM
Hey wait, when you said "Does Superman need fixing?" did you mean like a vasectomy or castration? Given the current state of his powers that ain't gonna be easy if he doesn't want to do it.

Mister Rik
08-02-2012, 02:18 PM
It's the reason I hated the Man of Steel trailer--it's all that "gritty realism" bullshit that was effective when used sparingly, but now is like fucking Autotune.

Superman is bright, colourful and optimistic. Can't we have one thing left that isn't dark and gritty?

Heh. I play the City of Heroes MMO, and a while back a created a couple of colorfully-costumed heroes on separate accounts so that I could log them both in at the same time. Then I planted them in the area where new hero characters go, waving protest signs and shouting slogans against black costumes and the general "Batmanification" of the game. All in good fun, of course :D

Anaamika
08-02-2012, 02:26 PM
They have those.

You didn't participate in my comics thread (and I was kind of hoping you would), and you haven't listed any here. Would you care to list a few here? I promise I'll look at them with an open mind.

Czarcasm
08-02-2012, 02:30 PM
All comic sales are declining in the long-term. Using your logic, that means all the characters are broken. And efforts to "change" established characters like you describe usually bump up sales for an issue or two, then things go back to where they were, or the changes steepen the decline.


Ya think maybe there might be some other factors there? Like the $3-$4 price point?

Sorry, Czarcasm, I just think you don't know what you're talking about here.
Well, let's check the stats for the last six months: (http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales.html)

January-Superman ranks 7th, with a circulation of 73, 719, while Batman ranks 2nd with a circulation of 130,492.
February-Superman is 7th, Batman is 2nd.
March-Superman is 10th, Batman is 4th.
April-Superman is 13th, Batman is 2nd.
May-Superman is 21st, Batman is 3rd.
June-Superman is 29th with a circulation of 59,081, Batman is 3rd with a circulation of 130,265.

foolsguinea
08-02-2012, 02:37 PM
How do you market those "couple of serious stories," and still put out two new Superman comics a month? Does DC need to cut back on the filler?

Czarcasm
08-02-2012, 02:45 PM
How do you market those "couple of serious stories," and still put out two new Superman comics a month? Does DC need to cut back on the filler?As has been said before, it just needs better writers, and Superman has to be allowed to fuck up royally once in a while. That's what makes Batman interesting-he is overly paranoid, and that paranoia leads to things like, say, the Brother Eye fiasco.

mlees
08-02-2012, 02:46 PM
One way to make Superman more interesting might be with villains that understand that if you have a being who is invulnerable to all physical attacks, you attack his mind and morale.

Make him doubt his purpose (mind games), and/or his senses (misdirection and illusion). Or, con him into doing things that, in the end, prove to be his downfall emotionally. (Emporer Palpatine "turning" Supes to the Dark Side. :D )

This requires good and imaginitive writing, which Hollywood seems to forget, sometimes.

I don't know the history/canon of the entire Superman comics. Maybe this is already old hat.

Fenris
08-02-2012, 03:41 PM
Well, let's check the stats for the last six months: (http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales.html)

January-Superman ranks 7th, with a circulation of 73, 719, while Batman ranks 2nd with a circulation of 130,492.
February-Superman is 7th, Batman is 2nd.
March-Superman is 10th, Batman is 4th.
April-Superman is 13th, Batman is 2nd.
May-Superman is 21st, Batman is 3rd.
June-Superman is 29th with a circulation of 59,081, Batman is 3rd with a circulation of 130,265.

However, Superman has meh writers and a revolving team of artists, while Batman has had one writer (with a story to tell) and one artist.

If we make the more apt Action Comics comparison (name author with a story to tell), the numbers aren't nearly as bad.

January-Action ranks 3d, with a circulation of 105,088, while Batman ranks 2nd with a circulation of 130,492.
Feb-Action is 3d, Batman is 2nd
March-Action is 6th, Batman 4th (Avengers books are responsible for all place changes)
April-Action is 6th, Batman is 2nd (Big changes--Avengers had something to do with it, but Green Lantern jumped up a few ranks. Was it a special issue?)
May-Action is 9th, Batman is 3d. (A Batman annual didn't help Action's rankings but the downward trend is continuing)
June-Action is 13th with a circulation of 80,751, Batman is 3rd with a circulation of 130,265.

So--while the numbers for Action aren't as dire as the Superman title, there's still a consistent downward trend.

However, the big problem is the numbers overall. In the '40s, Captain Marvel sold something like 1.5 million copies a month, and the Dell Walt Disney (or just duck titles) sold over 2 million.

So to a degree, quibbling over Action selling 50,000 less comics than Batman, when they're both considerably less than 1/8th of the circulation of the Golden Age titles is kinda like arguing who has to be the last man in the lifeboat with a hole in the bottom. ;)

As has been said before, it just needs better writers, and Superman has to be allowed to fuck up royally once in a while. That's what makes Batman interesting-he is overly paranoid, and that paranoia leads to things like, say, the Brother Eye fiasco.
Fully agree. One of the better bits in the Silver Age (especially in Maggin's reinterpretation, but either way) is that Superboy created Lex Luthor. Lex was a troubled genius, Superboy made him a lab (per Maggin, because Lex's science-fair project was so good that the judges assumed Superboy helped him and Superboy felt guilt). Lex (age 16-ish) created artifical organic life and...oops...accidentally set the lab on fire. Superboy saw that and....did he get a giant fire hose? Did he fly in at super-speed and fly Lex out first? No--he used his super-hurricane-force breath in a lab filled with volitle explosive, flammable chemicals. Which started a nasty chemical fire which killed the artificial life, burned all of Lex's notes and permanately disfigured him (the baldness thing). Lex figured Superboy did it on purpose because no-one could be so stupid as to think that the best way to stop a fire in a chemistry lab is to blow the chemicals over. :rolleyes:

DiggitCamara
08-02-2012, 06:33 PM
Look for the first Astro City collection ("Life in the Big City"); the first story involves an all-but-Superman ("Samaritan") and his daily schedule. I think people have done essentially the same story with Superman, but I haven't seen it done better than in that issue.

There's also the fantastic The Eagle and the Mountain (http://www.comicvine.com/astro-city-samaritan-special-the-eagle-the-mountain/37-151787/) story where he faces an enemy as powerful as himself.

drastic_quench
08-02-2012, 08:01 PM
There's also the fantastic The Eagle and the Mountain (http://www.comicvine.com/astro-city-samaritan-special-the-eagle-the-mountain/37-151787/) story where he faces an enemy as powerful as himself.

Yes! Criminally underrated.

Diceman
08-03-2012, 07:08 AM
However, Superman has meh writers and a revolving team of artists, while Batman has had one writer (with a story to tell) and one artist.
That's because Superman is a boring character who's hard to write good stories for. Consequently, all the top writers want to work on another title.

CandidGamera
08-03-2012, 07:58 AM
Well, let's check the stats for the last six months: (http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales.html)

January-Superman ranks 7th, with a circulation of 73, 719, while Batman ranks 2nd with a circulation of 130,492.
February-Superman is 7th, Batman is 2nd.
March-Superman is 10th, Batman is 4th.
April-Superman is 13th, Batman is 2nd.
May-Superman is 21st, Batman is 3rd.
June-Superman is 29th with a circulation of 59,081, Batman is 3rd with a circulation of 130,265.

Yes, indeed - and guess which character actually got "updated" as a result of DC's New 52, and which one was allowed to keep all his continuity? I'll give you a hint : exactly the ones that prove my point.

CandidGamera
08-03-2012, 08:03 AM
You didn't participate in my comics thread (and I was kind of hoping you would), and you haven't listed any here. Would you care to list a few here? I promise I'll look at them with an open mind.

You seemed like you had plenty of advice there.

Off the top of my head, I'd actually suggest the recent Superman vs. The Elite animated movie - it's an adaptation of an issue of Superman from a while back - before the recent reboot - that actually serves to address some of the anti-Superman arguments people are making in this thread.

The original comic was "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?" but I don't remember the issue number.

Beyond that, I'd have to dig into my collection - some stories are serious, some are lighter. Unfortunately, the New 52 Reboot seems to have jettisoned most of the interesting parts of Superman in favor of the bland caricature most of these people are claiming he was all along - at least, in the Superman title. Over in Action he's still a fun read.

CandidGamera
08-03-2012, 08:16 AM
However, Superman has meh writers and a revolving team of artists, while Batman has had one writer (with a story to tell) and one artist.

I think the New 52 numbers aren't especially useful, truth be told, because DC essentially upended the table in an unprecedented way. Digging back through the old statistics for Batman, Detective, Action, and Superman, two out of the four were selling at the 40K mark before the reboot; Batman was the big outlier at 50K. There's a reason it's used as the benchmark for the comics sales figures. The Superman title was the lowest of the four, at 35K.

Justice League was clocking in around 40K as well; Green Lantern was a star at 75K, but that's easily attributable to Geoff Johns.

Using these :
http://www.comicsbeat.com/2012/07/16/dc-comics-month-to-month-sales-may-2012/

Anaamika
08-03-2012, 08:21 AM
You seemed like you had plenty of advice there.

Off the top of my head, I'd actually suggest the recent Superman vs. The Elite animated movie - it's an adaptation of an issue of Superman from a while back - before the recent reboot - that actually serves to address some of the anti-Superman arguments people are making in this thread.

The original comic was "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?" but I don't remember the issue number.

Beyond that, I'd have to dig into my collection - some stories are serious, some are lighter. Unfortunately, the New 52 Reboot seems to have jettisoned most of the interesting parts of Superman in favor of the bland caricature most of these people are claiming he was all along - at least, in the Superman title. Over in Action he's still a fun read.

Thank you, I appreciate it. I'll add these to the mega List I have from the other thread.

BigT
08-04-2012, 07:17 PM
That's because Superman is a boring character who's hard to write good stories for. Consequently, all the top writers want to work on another title.

You know what, since this thread has several people talking about how Superman isn't boring, I want a citation for this. It's one thing to say you think he's boring, but to argue that even the people writing for him do needs some sort of support.

Honestly, I find the comics Batman to be rather boring. Should I assert that his author is so bored out of his skull but just keeps on trying on the same book to prove he can do it?

Binarydrone
08-06-2012, 02:59 PM
I, for one, would hate to see Superman "fixed". I feel like we have enough gritty, brooding and conflicted protagonists around and don't really need any more. Let's hang on to at least one hero.

Jake
08-06-2012, 03:22 PM
I know what kind of beer my friends drink, what kind of movies they go to, what nightspots they visit, what sports they are interested in, and some of their hobbies, and I don't find them boring at all. Does the dude just shut down when he gets to his apartment? Does he get upset or happy or sad or anything when certain subjects come up? A human emotion or reaction to be manipulated would be a a much more interesting weapon to wield than a glowing green rock.
Give him a boner once and a while. In front of Lois. Say, 7", throbbing, pulsating, and vibrating. (Hey, he's Superman, isn't he?)
I did read some articles, probably here on the SD, about what would happen to Lois if she had sex with Supes. Not a pretty picture.
But this would still make the big S more interesting, wouldn't it? ;)

Charlie Wayne
08-06-2012, 04:11 PM
I've felt that way for as long as I can remember. Don't know how to fix it, though. Superman bores me.

How about changing his daytime job from a reporter to a gigalow.

Then, you could include many wonderful sex scenes and very satisfied ladies.

Now, whaddya tink about dat?


Hah hah hah.

Superman would make a fantabulous sex worker. Don't cha tink?

drewtwo99
08-06-2012, 04:24 PM
I don't see how any long running superhero could be interesting from a vulnerability/invulnerability perspective. So what if Superman is super powerful? We know that in these stories the good guys always win, they always live, no matter how flawed they are or how weak their super powers are.

The interesting stuff doesn't come from the super powers or the idea that the super hero might not be able to save the day (they always do), but how it affects them mentally, affects their personal life, etc. So, explore all that (has this really not been done in any super man comics or movies or whatnot?)

CandidGamera
08-07-2012, 09:12 AM
I don't see how any long running superhero could be interesting from a vulnerability/invulnerability perspective. So what if Superman is super powerful? We know that in these stories the good guys always win, they always live, no matter how flawed they are or how weak their super powers are.

The interesting stuff doesn't come from the super powers or the idea that the super hero might not be able to save the day (they always do), but how it affects them mentally, affects their personal life, etc. So, explore all that (has this really not been done in any super man comics or movies or whatnot?)

Of course it has. Most of the people complaining about Superman being boring just aren't aware of all the different kinds of Superman stories being told, because they don't read his books, because they find him boring. It's a self-enforcing cycle of ignorance of the character.

Tibby or Not Tibby
08-07-2012, 05:11 PM
Superman would be more interesting as a functional alcoholic, who drinks to quell his agoraphobia, triggered by flying. He'd be a mean drunk whose morality goes out the door after super-guzzling Mad Dog 20/20 after a tough day fighting for Truth, Justice and the American Way.

...I'd also give him a facial tick and a foot fetish to give his character additional depth.