At some point a couple of years before we saw the soulless train-wreck that was Man Of Steel (MoS) the Exec’s running the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) got around a table and decided Superman was not interesting enough, that he had to be more edgy, less super, less good, more like Batman. The movie should be dark, depressing, meaningless and above all the DCEU Superman must not be seen rescuing any innocent bystanders in the finale fight… Oh, and he has to kill Zod because audiences expect that type of closure.
Now I am paraphrasing that meeting, but that is what happened to Superman in the DCEU. The Man of Steel was regarded to be the Man of Stale, and good for the sake of being good, for having a value system that put others before himself was considered old-fashioned, boring, not edgy, somehow less heroic. How did this happen? When did hero become a bad word in the DCEU? Why do they mourn the concept of superheroics?
Apples & Oranges
I am going to take a moment to step into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and look at Captain America. He is in set of value systems about the same as Superman, Cap is old-fashioned believes in doing good for the sake of doing good and will not compromise his beliefs even if it means the end of him. He is a man out of time, and yet we saw one of the best superhero movies ever made with Winter Soldier that was gripping, which was interesting, which had an engaging lead character because Cap refused to compromise who he was. Sure he struggled with it, but his refusal to fight his childhood friend even when he was getting pulverized summed up who Cap is.
He is a good guy.
Apples and oranges you might say, Cap isn’t invulnerable, or has super strength and has almost godlike powers. To all that I say bollocks you all have forgotten Superman’s greatest strength.
All About Heart
Superman’s greatest strength isn’t his insane power levels, it is his heart, his compassion, his strength is not how easily he can beat his enemies, but wanting to understand their motivations to turn them from foe to a friend. I never believed Superman ever enjoyed defeating his enemies with physical violence, for him that was self-defeating, it meant he failed to understand and help them.
The DCEU forgot that… Superman is heart, compassion, self-sacrifice, the total good for goodness sake character. Maybe these are old-fashioned values, but Superman is supposed to the ultimate Boy Scout that is what contrasts him with the rest of the DC Universe. He is the living embodiment of hope and light. Somehow the Exec’s and Showrunners who run the DCEU believe that all makes him an uninteresting character hence we have the MoS and have lost a huge part of what makes Superman… SUPERman… And what makes him superMAN…
And that is what the hard cynical world of Hollywood does not get… Good for the sake of being good…
Play nice with the world now…