Whatever happened to The Man of Steel?
I don't know about you, but I have been pondering this for a few years. Superman is, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest and most iconic superhero ever. Batman is popular, Iron Man has found his place and Spider-Man will always be a fan favorite, so why has Superman slid from his status to become almost a bit player in the DC Universe? Here's a few thoughts I'd like to share as to why The Man of Tomorrow has become the icon of yesterday and how to resolve the identity crisis The Big Blue Boyscout is currently facing.
Next year Superman will be a whopping 80 years old. But as Batman infamously stated in Infinite Crisis, the last time Superman truly inspired anyone was when he died. But who's fault is that? Why is The Man of Tomorrow currently viewed as The Man of Yesterday?
1) Superpants! Have you noticed every other superheros costume has evolved over time. Hell, Spidey can barely keep the same costume for longer than one story arc. Batman now wears a rather interesting looking kevlar suit (minus the pants, although Dick Grayson is still sporting bat-underwear on the outside). In fact, whilst looking through my comics, I noticed out of the JLA core members Aquaman has had a massive costume makeover (Brightest Day Aquaman actually looks a bit fantastic), J'onn J'onzz has gone all Martian looking and back again, Wonder Woman has had a change of heart (ok, so it doesn't always work) and Green Lantern has removed the 'ball hugging' costume for something a little less camp. But Superman still insists on wearing the underwear on the outside. You have to admit, it's a little more difficult to take him seriously in a movie when he looks as if he got dressed in the dark. Can you imagine The Dark Knight with Adam West?
2) Someone change the record! It's as if DC are so scared to change their number one Son of Krypton they refuse to make any major changes to the character. Captain America is a fine example of Marvel updating and keeping with the times, something DC seem to struggle with. For those who don't know (where have you been?) Steve Rogers now dons a more SHIELD style uniform and Bucky now wears the Captain America uniform. It's still similar, but updated. Modern. It fits in more with the changing times. And it's not just the uniform. At the end of each day saving the planet Superman returns home to his wife and the bad guy is defeated. I know DC ran the New Krypton story, but how has that actually changed the character. If anything, it damaged him more by having this massive story off planet, only to have him return and... well... remain Superman. Don't you, as fans, think it would be more interesting to really make a major change in Superman's universe? I think the resolution is simple; kill off Lois. How would it change Superman and Clark to have Lois killed? What if it was a major villain? How would Superman change towards that villain? What if it were a B list bad guy? Which nicely leads me into...
3) Superman: The Mighty Marvel Man of Steel! OK, the thought of Big Blue going to Marvel seriously weirds me out. He is the face of DC. But maybe Marvel can deliver a major overhaul to the character where DC have failed. I would rather see Supes with more original ideas and stories, new challenges and so on that rotting away in DC. I mean, even the movie failed to produce anything spectacular. And a part of me kind of wishes Tim Burton has got his way and updated Superman. Perhaps not with Nicholas Cage though. But a definite change of pace is needed. Marvel can have Superman face off against so many new challenges. Sentry, Hulk, Thor, Doom, Magneto... wouldn't that be a nice change from whopping Bizarro and Brainiac every week?
DC have given Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash and Martian Manhunter updates (even going so far as to have Wally West as The Flash for 20 or so years so we are left with a returning Barry Allen who doesn't quite fit into this new, darker World for superheros). So why is Superman so stagnant?
I am and will always prefer DC. I read Marvel, have a large collection of the graphic novels but, since I grew up with DC, my heart will always lie with them. But I can't help but think if I want to see Superman truly back in action, Disney/Marvel should aquire the rights.
I'd love to hear what you guys think, how can they save Superman?
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