Top 10 Things That Superman's Been Missing
Other than phone booths, of course
If you're anything like me, you've been a little disappointed by every Superman movie so far. Yes, even the Christopher Reeve ones. (Blasphemy!) I grew up on Superman comics, and I always related to the character, rooted for the character, and thought of him as a bad-ass with a heart of gold. (That makes Batman the bad-ass with a heart of stone.) Sadly, the Supes in my head has never made it to the big screen. To make a truly successful comic-to-theater transition, a modern Superman movie should have these 10 key attributes:
10. A Decent Fight
Kevin Smith famously bashed Superman Returns for the fact that the big guy never threw a punch. While I believe that the best Superman tales have more drama than action, Bryan Singer's film was a little too sleepy for my taste. And if I (the kid who brought Superman valentines to school) felt that way, imagine how non-fans felt watching it! Nolan's Batman films are successful because they carefully blend comic book action with realistic, dimensional characters. Supes needs to follow suit if he's going to survive in theaters.
9. More Jimmy
I loved Jimmy Olsen in Superman Returns, but I wanted more. The Jimmy/Supes relationship has never been fully portrayed in film. The young photographer's humorous idolization of Superman could easily be more prominent... and where's the friggin' signal watch? Plus Clark needs a guy friend to balance his time with Lois. Jimmy deserves a chance to shine!
8. An Interesting Lois
Supes could really use a more interesting girlfriend. Frankly, I found Margot Kidder to be strange and annoying, and Kate Bosworth was so bland in Superman Returns. What ever happened to the strong, smart, and sexy woman we know Lois Lane to be? Smallville's Erica Durance fit the bill more than any Lois before her, but when you get down to it, the big screen is all that matters when it comes to a character's public awareness. On that note, I'm a bit nervous about Amy Adams' casting in the upcoming Man of Steel. Generally speaking, she plays such innocent, introverted characters. Let's hope she can pull off the bossy general's daughter, too.
7. The Kents (Done Right)
Smallville handled the Kents perfectly. Perfectly! And while the films have touched upon Clark's family ties, we've never really seen the Kent dynamic at work. Luckily, the upcoming Man of Steel will give us Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Clark's loving parents, and I couldn't think of better casting choices. I just hope these beloved characters get the screen time they deserve.
6. Superman as the Disguise
It's hard to care at all about Clark Kent when his Daily Planet persona is completely an act. Several comic book stories, as well as the Lois & Clark show, have solved this dilemma by making Clark more average than dull, more quiet than dorky. In other words, a real person. I've always preferred Clark when his social awkwardness was (at least in part) a reflection of his true personality. After all, he grew up as an adopted kid in a small town, and even if he wanted to, he really couldn't allow himself to get too close to anyone. That would take a toll on any person. A slightly awkward Clark makes for a far more relatable character --- and it makes his deeds as Superman all the more super.
5. A Modern Origin
If I had a nickel for every time someone said the following, I'd have six dollars and twenty-five cents: "We don't need another origin story. Everyone already knows about Superman!"
This line of thought is why the average young person today knows zilch about the Man of Steel. I'm twenty-three years old, and I can tell you that any time Superman was brought up in conversation during my high school or college years, I was amazed to find that my peers seemed to know absolutely nothing about him. They didn't know he was an alien, or that he was raised on a farm, or that he gets his powers from the sun. Nothing. I could've told them that Superman can make himself invisible and they would've believed me (especially if they had seen Superman II).
4. Superman as Earth's Protector
I have a big beef with Superman II and Superman Returns. In Superman II, Clark gives up his powers to spend his life with Lois. Not only is this a completely moronic idea; it's out of character. Clark can struggle with these kinds of dilemmas, sure. But he's never supposed to actually make the selfish decision. In Superman Returns, he leaves the planet behind for years (without saying goodbye to Lois, I might add) so that he can investigate some Kryptonian space debris.
If Superman is anything, he's selfless. No matter what temptations come his way, he knows his role as Earth's protector. And though his resolve might waver at times, he knows he wouldn't give up that burden if he had the chance. Clark's self-doubt is necessary for him to be a relatable character, but there's nothing Supermanly about a hero who abandons his people. Earth will always be Clark's true home, just as Jonathan and Martha Kent are his real parents.
3. Clark the Journalist
I realize that most incarnations of the character show Clark pursuing a career in journalism only because it makes him the first to know of any disasters that arise. While that's noble, I prefer Mark Waid's approach. He gave us Clark the traveler, Clark the writer, Clark the investigator. In my opinion, this makes him far more interesting. Without writing, Clark really doesn't have anything else to be passionate about (aside from primary colors and Lois Lane). The movies still haven't given us an exciting scandal or controversy for Lois and Clark to uncover together. The television show made it work for four seasons. Surely it could propel one movie.
2. A Menacing Lex Luthor
I believe that a touch of humor is necessary for any story's success, but I've never been a fan of the jokey, real-estate-obsessed Lex Luthor of the films. There's a truly demented side to the bald guy that no movie has tapped into yet. Smallville did a wonderful job in developing his character, but the public at large doesn't watch CW television shows, and let's face it: movies are all that matters. It's time for the charming, wealthy sociopath to grace the big screen.
1. No Kryptonite!
The little green rock has its purposes, but at its core, it's really just a cheap plot device. Give Clark a villain who's physically strong enough --- or a dilemma that's impossible enough --- and there's no need for it. Kryptonite is overdone and non-fans roll their eyes at Superman's Achille's Heel, anyway.
Well, there you have it! We already know that Man of Steel isn't going to check all of these items off the list, but it seems that many of them will be handled in some shape or form. In any case, odds are that Zack Snyder's take on the beloved character will at least be better than DC's past efforts. Fingers crossed!
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