This is from 1949, five years before I was born. Why is this still an issue?
Observations by and for the vaguely disenchanted.
Risking the wrath of the whatever
from high atop the thing.
Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) displaying pretty much
the way I feel about how they've mucked around
with recent cinema and tv iterations of Superman and his universe.
When I was a kid, Superman was always super. He didn't discharge like a two-year old cell phone with a non-removable battery if he wasn't in direct sunlight. Starting with the Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman television series in the 90s, this requirement for exposure to sunlight to restore his powers has regularly resurfaced. This isn't Superman, it's Birdman.
Also irksome is the invulnerability business. The Superman of the 50s, 60s, and 70s had just two weaknesses- kryptonite and magic, whatever the hell the latter is. That version of Superman could survive a nuclear explosion or fly into the center of the sun without being injured. He did get short-term amnesia in the classic Adventures of Superman episode "Panic in the Sky1" (season 2, episode 12, first aired in 1953) when he collided with an asteroid, but we never saw Supe bruised or bleeding.
In recent films, Superman has been almost mortally wounded when stabbed with weapons composed of kryptonite. While kryptonite indeed weakens him, it isn't capable of puncturing his skin. In the classic "Defeat of Superman" (season 2, episode 6, aired in 1953), he was shot with a kryptonite bullet. While it caused him discomfort ("Just a bee sting, Jimmy") it still bounced off.
Then there's Superman killing Zod by breaking his neck in Man of Steel. Nope. Invulnerable means invulnerable. Regardless of the amount of force applied, the villain's neck should not have been able to be injured regardless of its source- not even by another super-powered Kryptonian.
And the new CBS Supergirl series is a hot, steaming mess full of stuff like this. Sun drainage issues, lots of sharp kryptonite injuries and, frankly, too damned many Kryptonians. I won't burden you with the details, but Supergirl and her cousin are not the touching sole survirors from a doomed planet, but a pair of goody two-shoes who instant message and text each other while battling an NFL-sized contingent of metahuman sociopathic relatives.
Canonical issues aside, the show also suffers from uneven writing and muddled plots, and from time to time seems to shoot itself in its non-super foot while limping through its Kryptonian mythos arc.
The show does have its redeeming qualities, like motion picture quality special effects:
Much as did Helen Slater in the 1984 Supergirl film, Melissa Benoist really sells the material. She's delightful, both as Kara Danvers and Kara Zor-El. Were she not so good an actress, this show would be unwatachable. Sometimes it seems she's keeping this misguided powerful locomotive on track by sheer force of will. But sometimes, she gets a script with meat to it, such as this clip, when battling a villain in the previous episode discharged her and left her powerless and vulnerable:
Oh well. I've been a fan of Superman since the 1950s, and I'll probably continue to watch any Superman-related stuff that becomes available. But the apparent appearance of the Doomsday character in the Batman v. Superman trailers makes me think things are going to get uncomfortable.
-----1 "Panic in the Sky" was the story upon which the Lois and Clark episode "All Shook Up" (season 1, episode 12) was based. The writer of the original show, Jackson Gillis, was given a "story by" credit. Gillis had an impressive, four decade long career that including innumerable scripts for The Adventures of Superman, Perry Mason, Lassie, Lost in Space, Hawaii Five-O, Columbo, and Knight Rider. Gillis had written a motion picture script "Superman and the Secret Planet" which was never produced.
(YouTube video: Dean Cain on Jimmy Kimmel: Live!))
The always charming Dean Cain learns that they somehow made Man of Steel without him. Cain spent more time on screen in the iconic costume than any other actor. Hard to believe, but Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman premiered nearly 20 years ago, in September, 1993.
Given the surprising number of negative reviews, I was worried when the curtains widened and the stylized Warner Bros logo appeared at the beginning of Man of Steel.
The review aggregation site rottentomatoes.com had pegged the latest reboot of the Superman legend at a tepid 57%. But then, this was the same collection of critics who rated the execrable Star Trek: Into Darkness at an unfathomably favorable 87%. So I tried to be optimistic.
I find myself agreeing with the guy on the AMC Movie Talk YouTube channel who said, "My only explanation for why some critics didn't like the show... is perhaps their heads were so far up their asses that they couldn't see the movie screen."
Man of Steel is unlike previous incarnations of Superman. It isn't presented like a fairy tale. It's a solid science fiction epic, but one that requires far less suspension of disbelief than other entries in the relatively new cgi-based superhero genre.
This isn't the childish Superman who spins the world backward to reverse time, or gives Lois Lane amnesia by kissing her. The villain isn't trying to destroy California in order to make a killing in real estate, or forcing all the oil tankers in the world cruise in circles to jack up the price of gasoline.
This is the story of an extraterrestrial refugee with amazing abilities, raised by good people after he was stranded as an infant on an alien world. He has to decide whether to defend his adopted planet or watch its destruction at the hands of members of his own true race.
The criticisms I've read are disheartening. They mean some truly don't get the concept of Superman. They aren't bright enough to follow a straightforward narrative told partly in flashback to provide exposition and character motivation. They can't put aside the archaic "rules" that governed Superman's behavior, motivated not by a dedication to a higher moral code, but by the fear that government intervention would negatively affect comic book sales in the 1940s and 1950s.
My first memory of television is watching George Reeves pause at a storeroom door, remove his glasses, then hurl himself via a barely-concealed springboard into the monochromatic skies of a stock footage Los Angeles. That was probably around 1958.
It took them 55 years, but they finally got it right.
My kids are taking me to see Man of Steel today, an early Father's Day present. I'm really looking forward to seeing it; I've been a fan of Superman since, oh, 1957, once I was old enough to focus my eyes on the blurry black-and-white image of George Reeves in his foam-padded shoulders.
Here's hoping they pulled it off.
From Lois and Clark- The New Adventures of Superman:
Lois Lane: I like your new glasses.
Clark Kent: Thanks.
Lois Lane: Did you ever think of getting contacts?
Clark Kent: No.
It was the last day of school- May 31, 1963. My parents decided to take me on a short weekend vacation trip to Niagara Falls to celebrate my completing third grade.
We stopped at the J&I Dairy on 13th and McClure in Homestead to pick up some last minute items. At the front of the store was a comic book display.
I was three months shy of my ninth birthday, yet somehow had managed to miss the fact that my favorite- make that only- superhero, Superman, actually had a comic book. In fact, he had an entire series of comic books in which he appeared. My experience to this point with the Man of Steel was the endlessly rerun Adventures of Superman, which I watched daily on a snowy WTOV Channel 9 Steubenville.
Naturally, I was drawn to the book. My parents bought it for me, along with some other Superman titles, to keep me quiet on the trip.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that comic book changed my life.
It was the middle of the "Silver Age" of comics, and after Superman, I discovered Green Lantern, The Flash, The Manhunter from Mars, and rest of The Justice League of America.
My comics reading habit opened a world of literature. I discovered that Superman wasn't the first hero with a dual identity, after learning (in the comics' letters from readers section) that a Hungarian baroness, Emma Orczy, had first introduced the concept in The Scarlet Pimpernel. an idea later borrowed by Johnston McCulley's Zorro.
You know how when you read an article on a web site that has a link, which you follow to another link, then ten others, until it's eight hours later and you haven't found what you were originally looking for but instead discovered dozens of other even more interesting topics and facts? Superman comics were like that for me, only instead of surfing the web, I roamed the stacks of the Carnegie Library of Homestead.
I mention all this because today in the birthday of Curt Swan (February 17, 1920 – June 17, 1996), the man whose cover art for Giant Superman Annual #7 drew me like a moth to a flame. Referred to by some as "The Norman Rockwell of comics," Swan's influence is perhaps most apparent in the original Superman film series, where Christopher Reeve appears to be a real life version of Swan's artistic interpretation.
Fifty years. Wow.
In related news, reports are surfacing that the largest crater resulting from the Russian meteorite strike contained a spaceship, and that a childless, middle-aged couple rescued a toddler wrapped in red and blue blankets...
Actor Dean Cain turns 46 today. In the 1993-1997 ABC series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Cain perfectly played an updated version of the superhero. While the show embraced many elements of the traditional Superman mythos, the major twist was the portrayal of Clark Kent as the "real person", and the Superman identity as a disguise. As he said in one episode, "Clark Kent is who I am... Superman is what I can do."
(YouTube video: Dean Cain panel at Wizard World, 2012)
(YouTube video: Don McLean performing "Superman's Ghost")
"Pet peeve time: for the contingent out there who sneer at heroes like
Superman and Wonder Woman and Captain America, those icons who still, at
their core, represent selfless sacrifice for the greater good, and who
justify their contempt by saying, oh, it’s so unrealistic, no one would
ever be so noble... grow up. Seriously. Cynicism is not maturity, do not
mistake the one for the other. If you truly cannot accept a story where
someone does the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, that
says far more about who you are than these characters."
According to the Huffington Post,
In "Action Comics #900," Superman will renounce his American citizenship, rejecting the international notion that his actions are part of US policy. The shift comes after a personal visit to Iran in support of protestors leads President Ahmadinejad to believe America was declaring war against the government in Tehran.
By rejecting his citizenship, Superman will now work on a grander international scale, because, as he says, "truth, justice and the American way... it's not enough anymore."
That's the official story. I blame the damned birthers. Just because Clark Kent couldn't produce a "long form" birth certificate...
Santa Claus is going to make an unscheduled appearance at a local church function this week, and a member of the congregation asked me my opinion.
"I'm the wrong person to ask," I replied. "To me, it's sort of like asking what would happen if Spiderman showed up unannounced at Superman's Fortress of Solitude."
It's an interesting premise, but there are weightier philosphical matters to consider, such as the such as the origins of Christmas itself.
Whatever. In the words of Ogden Nash, "Merry Christmas, nearly everyone!"