SUPERMAN EXCLUSIVE: Challenges of the MOS- Interviews with David Goyer, Jim Lee, Bruce Timm

Superman as a character has proven himself a difficult one to keep relevant through the years, and it's an issue that's explored through exclusive interviews with David S. Goyer, Jim Lee, Bob Goodman, James Tucker and Bruce Timm.

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By EdGross - 2/22/2013
by Edward Gross. As Superman celebrates his 75th anniversary this June, the Man of Steel has proven himself to be one of the most enduring fictional characters ever created and, as time has gone on, also one of the most challenging to continually make relevant for modern readers and viewers. Ironically this is despite the fact that the character has managed to appear in some sort of non-comic book medium in every decade since he was created.

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"On the face of it," offers writer David S. Goyer, who has co-written the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight films as well as Zack Snyder's forthcoming Man of Steel, "I think a character like Superman is more challenging than a character like Batman, because Superman is known for being somewhat of a Boy Scout. But as Zack Snyder has said, I think we're attempting to depict him in a slightly more realistic way, and our goal was to make you care about him as a real person and sort of get to know him in a way that we've never known him until now."

Writer Bob Goodman, currently on staff at Syfy's Warehouse 13 and someone who's been involved in writing the DC Tooniverse for the past 17 years, most recently by adapting the two-part The Dark Knight Returns and the upcoming Superman Unbound, feels that Superman is a deceptively rich character with a lot more to him than he is generally given credit for.

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"Batman," he muses, "was kind of a response to, 'Oh, you have this superhero with all these powers and is not as relatable. Let's create a superhero that is just a regular guy and doesn't have super powers.' I would argue that Superman is, of the two, a more regular guy; a relatable character. You can always find stories to do with Superman/Clark Kent that relate to us, that are, 'This is what I wish, this is how I hope I would react in this situation; this is a situation we can all see ourselves in.' Plus, he's very much, in my mind, the right character for the century he's evolved in. He's existed through this period in time that has seen such mind-blowing changes in technology, in our visions of the future and change like we've seen in the 20th Century and going into the 21st Century. Change that brings anxiety. It brings simultaneous wonder and optimism with dread and fear. And Superman stories have always embodied that and always been able to change and shift, and embodied anxieties that the culture is feeling at any given time. So we can explore through Superman stories about our worries about what happens when humanity does contact aliens. Will they be our protectors and saviors, or will they show up in a Skull ship like Brainiac and want to blow us up? At different times during Superman's history we can explore what the bomb is going to mean to us, what nuclear energy is going to mean to us, what growing corporate power in the form of Lex Luthor is going to mean to us, what nano-technoogy is going to mean to us, what sci-borg enhancements - combining men to metal - is going to mean to us, what chemical contamination is going to mean to us. So Superman has always been a character who grew with the times in enabling us to exorcise our own demons about our future phobia - and at the end of the day see our hopes triumph."

DC co-publisher and artist Jim Lee, who is taking on Superman in a monthly comic this June with the Scott Snyder-written Man of Steel, has no doubt that the character remains a relevant one and working on him is an opportunity to deal with someone "who's better than yourself."

"Trying to deal with a character that is so noble and so powerful is difficult for a writer and an artist to tackle," says Lee. "Purely from an artistic level, you look at his power set - heat vision, X-ray vision, flying, being able to walk through the molten sun - and it's not like Batman driving around in a car, throwing batarangs around. You have to come up with a different visual vocabulary to express that. I think it's the same with writing - he has to be firmly attached to his human roots as Clark Kent, but he should also be this aspirational character who rises above that and has this tremendous humility. So how do you introduce drama into that situation? Well, Scott Snyder is an amazing writer. What's really impressed me with his run on Batman is he's been able to introduce elements to a mythology that's been around for about 75 years and make it feel organic. The introduction of owls, which are the natural predators to bats - I mean, that's a no-brainer, but no one had done that in 75 years. And the stuff he's doing with Superman is the same. He's going to give some new jumping-off points, and mythology, and he's playing up the Clark Kent and Superman relationship, and I think it's really going to impress people.

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"So, why is Superman more difficult?" he elaborates. "I don't know. I think Batman is something we can get our heads around: if you work hard and make a billion dollars, you, too, can be a superhero. A crime fighter! It makes a lot of sense; it seems doable. It's hard to be an alien who crash lands on Earth and gets powers because he's exposed to yellow sun radiation. That said, he is the ultimate superhero for me, so I think there's nothing more impressive and that brings me back to my childhood than drawing Superman flying across the skies of Metropolis. That's the kind of joy you want to bring to the comic book, and in my gut, it tells me that Superman is a broader character than Batman - this is a character who can reach the youngest of readers and the oldest of fans. That's what we're shooting for with Man of Steel."

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23 Comments
ElShumway - 2/22/2013, 12:00 PM
^^^^ mmmm yummy!!!!
ElShumway - 2/22/2013, 12:06 PM
^^^^ MORE FOOD!!!
thewolfx - 2/22/2013, 12:08 PM
So inspirational, this is why for ME superman will always be better then batman
JoeMomma29 - 2/22/2013, 12:11 PM
JoeMomma29 - 2/22/2013, 12:14 PM


And we cannot forget Gusto!

ATrueHero1987 - 2/22/2013, 12:18 PM
I just read Superman: Brainiac yesterday. It's a very good read. Maybe not the best jumping on point but still it was good.

MOS by Snyder & Lee comes out in May? Thought it was June but cool.

Before that comes out, I will also read these Superman stories
Man Of Steel by John Byrne
Superman: Earth One vol.1 & vol. 2
MrEko - 2/22/2013, 12:27 PM
Love... LOVE this article!!!

"no Lois. superman is what i can do. Clark is who I am"

Superman's greatest challenge is identifying with him on a basic human level i.e. as Clark.... If Man of Steel can successfully address and overcome this challenge then we are golden.

And also, none of that bumbling oaf Clark nonsense, gawd I hate that characterization. If Henry Cavill's Clark starts acting all clumsy and stupid, I'm gonna be [frick]ing pissed.
MrEko - 2/22/2013, 12:32 PM
Wow, just realized voicesfromkrypton is a website, the more you know... BOOKMARKED!!!

Great article Ed Gross ;)
EdGross - 2/22/2013, 12:40 PM
Thanks, MrEko. Much appreciated.
ElShumway - 2/22/2013, 1:18 PM
@Gusto Shut up you old fool!
SkateandDestroy88 - 2/22/2013, 1:18 PM
As far back as can remeber was so stoked on the Superman Logo. My mom had a shirt with an iron on and I wore the crud out of that shirt cause it gave me special powers.
The Idea of the young child figuring out his morality and the guidance of his loving adapted parents is good. (Man of Steel)
It's time for Supes to cast his shackles aside and annihilate twith the kick ass.
cbostont102 - 2/22/2013, 2:10 PM
Best babysitter in the world right there!
nikgrid - 2/22/2013, 2:12 PM
Yeah people who say that Superman is not interesting, are just plain wrong. He is a very interesting character especially when comparing his character to that of Batman.
Batman; a human who doesn't know how to relate to people, and Superman; an alien who is far more relatable. But the journey to how he got to that point is an interesting idea. I think peopl who say Superman is boring because he's all-powerful are focusing on the pre crisis Superman.
Jollem - 2/22/2013, 2:21 PM
GetsugaTensho22 - 2/22/2013, 2:53 PM
Superman's simplicity is what makes him so complex.

He's Neither Clark Kent nor Kal-el nor Superman.

He's simply "Clark".

Superman is the persona he needs to be in order for people to look up to him. He's spent considerable time in this pre-New 52 so he was pretty much Superman all the time, but that's not the case any more.

Kal-El is simply who he was born to be but never realised, because he was sent to earth and Krypton was destroyed. It's a name he feels connects him to his lost home world, but it's a stranger to himself.

Clark Kent is a bumbling but mild mannered reporter who deliberately acts opposite to every belief held about Superman in order to throw off suspicion so he can concentrate on collecting news and responding to emergencies.

Finally, CLARK is who he feels he is. It's who he refers to when referring to "himself". It's not a role. When you strip every layer away, you find a person who's just got these powers and knows his responsiblities to the world. THAT'S Clark.
Shua - 2/22/2013, 3:16 PM
People always want to play up his alien heritage but he was raised as Clark Kent, a normal human boy from Kansas. Sure he has this crazy power set, but with his loving adoptive parents he ends up more like the ideal human being than some strange alien. I love how the comics are currently portraying Clark and Kara. (for one Kara is no longer acting like an american teenage girl). Superman speaks and acts like a human while Kara is distant and has to come to terms with a foreign culture and lifestyle. Kal-El is his birth name, not his identity. At this heart he is Clark Kent of Smallville who fights for truth and justice as Kal-El/Superman
superotherside - 2/22/2013, 3:46 PM
Can't wait for this book!
Colorist - 2/22/2013, 5:14 PM
To the people think that Superman is a boring, too noble, white bread Boy Scout: (I just KNOW I'm gonna stir up a firestorm wit this, but---) I believe that it's because they know that if they had Superman's abilities, they secretly-or not so secretly- know that they could not be Superman themselves. and do the things he does. Think about it,,, most of us know people that are painstakingly honest and kind and considerate and helpful to others, who put the welfare of others before themselves, (and don't ram those qualities down your throat) and what happens? They are met with insults, scorn, cynicism and derision, called "Goody-goodies" and "Holier than thous."
I think it's because they are the people most of us wish we COULD be, but know we never will.
Bottom line, while it's cool to be Batman:: the money, the mad detective and martial skills, the cars and gadgets, I don't think that the other members of his universe actually LIKE him. Sure, he's respected, but no one really likes him, except for Alfred & the various Robins.
Superman, on the other hand is liked and respected, but even more, ADMIRED. Truthfully guys, who would you rather be? A dark, angry, scary, obsessed loner with a history of loss, abandonment and solitude, with no real friends, or Clark / Superman, a person who radiates hope and inspiration without even trying, and even with his God-like powers, is not a jerk about it?





mbembet - 2/23/2013, 4:37 AM
Batman kicks superman's ass anytime anywhere!
KeithM - 2/23/2013, 4:54 AM
@mbembet: Shh. Adults are talking.

Some good points, both in the article and by some of the commenters - spot on analysis of the '4 personas of Clark' from GetsugaTensho22 :thup:
Colorist - 2/23/2013, 12:47 PM
@KnightoSteel

Don't get me wrong, anybody. I love Batman as a character, always have, in just about every media in which he has appeared. I even think he plays better than Superman in prose stories.His abilities seem to play better via the printed word than "He leapt into the air and kept on going!" Still, I will always prefer Superman. I'm just standin' up for Big Blue.
sameoldthing - 2/23/2013, 8:25 PM
@Colorist

Great job at describing the nuanced differences of Supes & Bats.

If I had Superman's abilities I bet I would do the wrong things..& I was even raised in a small town in Kansas!

Glad Clark is a true "super" man.
lucio7lopez - 2/24/2013, 9:43 AM
I like the Superman from All Star comic. Iconic.

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