Of Secret Identities and Fandom

Superman

Superman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Keeping it light today folks. You may or may not know that I am a huge comic book fan. I started collecting with Uncanny X-Men #197 and bought at least eight titles a month for almost eight years. Finances have caused my collecting to wax and wane since then. I have not collected regularly in several years and the last time I picked up any issue was the beginning of the summer. I haven’t since mainly because, again, I don’t have the extra cash but also because my once beloved Marvel comics has clearly jumped the shark. More on that another time.
Today is all about the flagship character for what Marvel used to refer to as their Distinguished Competition. A certain man of steel is returning to the silver screen for the first time in many years, and this after a disappointing previous outing. I have already read a great many complaints about the movie that won’t even be released for several months yet. Fans of the old Donner films are up in arms. They see the trailers and believe it is an unnecessarily gritty reboot of the character. I think they have forgotten both those movies from my youth and the character in general.
I know Superman (I assume you realized I was writing about him) has always suffered from the perception that he is a sappy character. He wears bright blue and red, is genuinely optimistic about mankind and in gamer geek terms he is min maxed all to hell. He can do just about anything and only a little green glowing rock from his home world can hurt him. Many of his fans like him that way. Many of them look back on the movies with Christopher Reeves and have, in their minds, reconstructed them to fit that mold.
These fans forget how brutal the Metropolis of the Donner movies could be (cops being thrown in front of subway trains and such.) They forget it mirrored contemporary NYC. They forget the mugger, or Clark being called a freak after accidentally ruining a taxi that almost hit him. They forget Zod and his cronies killing a little boy. Every incarnation of Superman in my lifetime has had to deal with some dark stuff to save the people of the Earth, all while dealing with his own worries. “I feel like a I live in a world made of cardboard, always holding back, always careful afraid I will break something, break someone.” He tells Darkseid in the finale of Justice League Unlimited. For crying out loud he has to deal with sociopaths like Luthor and really freaky monsters like Parasite.
All that, however, is just the window dressing. Deep down the last son of Krypton is a tortured soul. He feels the weight of the responsibility of his powers. He grows up not knowing his place because he is so different (again, reference the ’77 movie, The New Adventures of Superman, or Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, or the comics.) He dreams of a normal life where he doesn’t have to be mankind’s guardian (JLU episode: For The Man Who Has Everything.) Though he is from another world, though he cannot escape who and what he is, in his heart he is not Kal-El or Superman, but mild-mannered Clark Kent. Juxtapose that against Batman who despite having no powers, despite being born on Earth and despite having a very well-known secret ID, deep down is really Batman.
I am looking forward to this movie, if for no other reason to see Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent (I’ve never been a particularly big fan, nor have I been one of his detractors, but this seems like the role he was born to do.) I am also looking forward to a director, producer and writers who treat this character with the seriousness he deserves while still making the movie fun to watch, which ultimately what it should all be about. What else could you ask from a strange visitor created by a couple of kids from Cleveland?

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4 thoughts on “Of Secret Identities and Fandom

  1. ” Pizza was called (and is still called) tomato pie and pizza pie in certain parts of the States. You have to shake over the paddle of the openhandedly by taking usage of the corn meal & then you have to place pizza bread on the paddle ahead of mixing toppings into it. You have to shake over the paddle of the openhandedly by taking use of the corn meal & then you have to put bread on the paddle ahead of mixing toppings within it.

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