On Jan. 17, Warner Bros. announced that the debut of the next Superman movie – the one tentatively titled Batman vs. Superman – has been pushed from July 17, 2015, to May 6, 2016. Injuries? Script problems? We don’t know. What we do know is that the highly prized summer release spot was quickly nabbed by Marvel Films – for Ant-Man, starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas.

That’s right. DC Comics – through its parent corporation, Warner Bros. – can’t get a Superman movie off the ground for another year. But chief competitor Marvel is ready and waiting to jump in with a new star ... one whose super-power is to get very, very small.

What’s wrong with this picture? Across the Internet, fans whine and wonder why DC has such trouble turning its famous superheroes into successful movie franchises, while Marvel releases four movies a year, and can even build a film around a C-list character who talks to insects.

And that’s with one hand tied behind its back – Marvel Films can’t even use all of the characters from Marvel’s own comic books! The movie rights to Spider-Man are held by Sony. The rights to Fantastic Four, Wolverine and the many X-Men characters are clutched by Twentieth Century Fox in a death grip. Until recently, Daredevil and Ghost Rider were off limits, too.

But so what? Marvel has managed to turn Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man and Thor into solo stars, and their team, The Avengers, into money-making machines. That allows Marvel the luxury of experimenting with lesser lights, like Ant-Man in 2015 and Guardians of the Galaxy this year.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. keeps failing with some of the biggest names in the history of comics. Superman and Batman have done all right, but Green Lantern was a flop; Captain Marvel, The Flash and Green Arrow have never appeared anywhere but the small screen; and Wonder Woman … oh, for Pete’s sake, how can there not be a Wonder Woman movie?

The Internet isn’t shy, of course, in launching lots of theories about why DC seems so incompetent with its own characters. Let’s take a look at a few:

1. It’s not as bad as it seems.

I agree, because nothing is ever as bad as the Internet thinks it is.

Sure, DC looks lame now, but how about Marvel around 30 years ago? DC had the successful Superman franchise in the ‘70s and ‘80s, while Batman was boffo box office in the 1990s, plus plenty of TV shows and serials before that. Marvel had no characters on the silver screen, and what it had done – some cheesy made-for-TV Spider-Man and Captain America movies, and the Incredible Hulk TV show – wasn’t very good. They’ve turned it around, and so can DC.

And, hey, actress Gal Gadot will appear as Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman, as part of a three-picture deal. Figuring the second of those movies will be Justice League (scheduled for 2017), the third could well be that elusive WW solo film.

2. Warner Bros. doesn’t understand its own characters.

This actually may be a tiny bit true.

While I was watching Man of Steel, I was stunned to see Pa Kent advising young Clark that maybe keeping his secret identity might be more important than saving the lives of a busload of kids. Before I had time to express my disgust of this fundamental misunderstanding of what Superman stands for, not to mention what Pa Kent stands for, the middle-aged black lady next to me said loudly, “Nuh-UH.” Pithy, and entirely accurate.

And having Superman – the one superhero who famously has a code against killing – break Zod’s neck seemed like it was designed specifically to distance the character from what made him famous for all these years. I expect situational ethics from other characters, especially those like Captain America, who have served in wartime. But from the Man of Steel I expect Super-ethics, because that’s what is so amazing about him – not that he has super-powers, but that he resolutely refuses to use them for his own gain or convenience. Now, that’s super!

Then there’s Batman. In the recent trilogy, the third movie begins with Bruce Wayne having retired for eight years. As every Bat-fan knows, Batman retiring is like Ahab giving up on that white whale. It’s a mission, not a hobby.

3. Marvel characters are just better.

This one I don’t buy.

It is true that Marvel characters were deliberately constructed with internal conflicts that are inherently interesting. Spider-Man’s famous mantra about how great power brings great responsibility almost makes his super-powers seem like a curse. That stands in opposition to DC’s major characters, who are essentially icons more than characters, born of the square-jawed heroism and idealism of the 1940s, something that can seem quaint today.

But, as we like to say on my website, there are no bad characters, just bad writers. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have been popular for more than 70 years, so the appeal is there – it’s up to the screenwriters to find it.

4. WB makes movies; Marvel Films makes superhero movies.

I actually kinda agree with this one.

Marvel Films has one job and one job only, and that’s to turn Marvel’s catalog of characters into successful movies. That focus has no doubt meant a lot of man-hours figuring out how to translate the virtues of one medium into those of another – and successfully so. Warner Bros., meanwhile, releases a lot of movies in a lot of different genres every year, and only has to think about what makes superheroes tick every once in a while.

There are more theories, of course, but mostly variations of the ones above. As fans we can only hope that the bad ones are wrong, and that Warner Bros. has a better plan for bringing its characters to life than plopping as many as possible into Batman vs. Superman, followed by a Justice League movie crowded with a bunch of strangers. The characters deserve better than that – and we long-time fans do, too!

If not, there’s always Ant-Man.

Contact Captain Comics at capncomics@aol.com.

Views: 4016

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Best thing that Doc had going for him was that in the first story he destroyed Peter's self confidence for a while.  That's what a good villain should do.

  The Hub network is showing the Superman movie and I watched a few minutes of it.  I think a large part of why the bad movies get made is that Hollywood runs by money and the people who by and large control what gets made aren't fans.  Cap called it whining, but it really isn't.  It's being a fan and being a fan means that you know.  You know the characters, the settings, you know the supporting cast and you know the storylines that have and have not worked.  In short you have the knowledge that comes from reading this stuff from an age when you really didn't know what story structure or any of the technical stuff was.  You just liked the story and you read it over and over again and you absorbed it all on a level that someone who just gets a concept treatment or spends a weekend or a month or even a year can't match.  It doesn't make you a perfect judge of what is right but it does make you a perfect judge of what is wrong.  Superman doesn't kill.  Doesn't matter if this is 2014, Superman doesn't kill.  That's one of the bedrocks of the character, that no matter how bad the villain is Superman finds another way.  But to the person writing the screenplay Superman killing is big!  A bold new direction, a way to make this Superman different from all of the others, a way to make the mark and put people on notice that the old Superman isn't this Superman.  Because the person writing the script isn't a fan.  He may be a good writer, but he isn't.  You don't always need a fan to write a great superhero movie, but one would be helpful in the editing process.

But Superman does/has killed. Period. Make no mistake, Warner Brothers took a big chance on the ending of Man of Steel, so big a chance that they refused to call the movie Superman. If the ending wasn't well received, then the studio would cut its losses and make a differently titled movie to yet again, relaunch the franchise.

However, the ending, and movie, overall, were well-received, and now the hoped-for second movie is in the works.

The "problem" with the ending, for some fans, was we didn't really see anything after Superman killed. When it happened in the comic books, we got what happened next 30 days later. We didn't have to wait three years.

I remember similar sentiment when George Perez' Wonder Woman lopped off a head in the late 1980s, and then later when she offed Maxwell Lord. Everyone was upset that she was "suddenly" a killer. But who starts as a killer? Are people born killers? Wonder Woman wasn't born a killer. Neither was Superman. Batman wasn't born to carry a gun, but he did.

Is it humane to lock people away with no access to food, relatives, etc.? Yet, the Justice League (Superman, WW and Bats included) did that as far back as 1964. Yet, I've not heard one single "retcon" comment about how bad THAT was!

I'm reserving judgment on Superman's "killing" in Man of Steel. We don't know what's going to be dealt with next. It would certainly be a great character moment for Superman to vow to never kill again.

But if I have to choose between Superman's one-night-stand and Superman's protector through killing (and those are the two options we've been given), I know which one is certainly more in character than not.



Mark S. Ogilvie said:

  The Hub network is showing the Superman movie and I watched a few minutes of it.  I think a large part of why the bad movies get made is that Hollywood runs by money and the people who by and large control what gets made aren't fans.  Cap called it whining, but it really isn't.  It's being a fan and being a fan means that you know.  You know the characters, the settings, you know the supporting cast and you know the storylines that have and have not worked.  In short you have the knowledge that comes from reading this stuff from an age when you really didn't know what story structure or any of the technical stuff was.  You just liked the story and you read it over and over again and you absorbed it all on a level that someone who just gets a concept treatment or spends a weekend or a month or even a year can't match.  It doesn't make you a perfect judge of what is right but it does make you a perfect judge of what is wrong.  Superman doesn't kill.  Doesn't matter if this is 2014, Superman doesn't kill.  That's one of the bedrocks of the character, that no matter how bad the villain is Superman finds another way.  But to the person writing the screenplay Superman killing is big!  A bold new direction, a way to make this Superman different from all of the others, a way to make the mark and put people on notice that the old Superman isn't this Superman.  Because the person writing the script isn't a fan.  He may be a good writer, but he isn't.  You don't always need a fan to write a great superhero movie, but one would be helpful in the editing process.

  And that's what they were hoping for, but was that Superman?  Reeve wouldn't have done it.  None of the Superman's ever put on screen would have done it.  Any fan would have been able to tell them what was wrong with that, just as any fan looking at the script for Catwoman could have told them what was wrong or any fan looking at the script for Cathy Lee Crosby's Wonder Woman movie could have told them.  When all you take from the comic is the characters name then it's not going to be the character.  Did you see the reaction on the net when Diana killed Max Lord?  How many other things that she could have done were listed by tons of fans. 

  Despite all of the different interpretations of characters and how much that they change from decade to decade there should be some bedrock things that don't change.  Changing them for a shock ending for a movie is a cheap stunt in my opinion.

Yes, that was Superman.

Yes, I saw all the hypocrite comments about Diana when she killed Maxwell Lord. They certainly didn't have a problem with her when she did it earlier.

That was a version of Superman, not the one I grew up with and certainly not the one I'd regard the same way. Perhaps it's one for the bleak and bitter end of empire age that we're living in now where the ends justify the means, but it's not one for me. Nor did I consider the comments on WW killing Max Lord hypocritical. There is a divide -perhaps generational- between actions that were once considered heroic and actions that are not considered not good enough to be heroic. I can dig out comics that showed that Diana not killing, going the extra mile not to kill, in fact putting her own life in danger rather than kill a supervillain or a criminal. (Then again I remember a time when the amazons were a nice lot and not the stone age harpies that successive DC editors and writers have reduced them too) No longer it seems, now one of the qualifications for being a big name superhero is killing.

With the Man of Steel movie I think Hollywood buys into that. They look at the Die Hard movies -which was the model I think in some ways for MOS- and Bruce Willis taking out the head bad guy at the end of everyone and they say 'that's how a hero acts'. It may be for the Bruce Willis type of hero but not for Superman. One of the keys of Superman's character and appeal is that he does have all the power but it is held in check by a genuinely nice guy with a strong moral code, one who despite his power does not consider himself enabled to go outside of that moral code. Eliminate that moral code and you may have a fast paced action movie with lots of explosions and such but it won't be a Superman movie that I want to see. Not first run in a theatre anyway, no more than I was tempted to see the Catwoman-in-name-only movie in the theatre or the Green Lantern movie in the theatre. Hollywood can claim that 'this isn't your father's Superman' but I can counter that easily with 'this isn't my only option', meaning that I can simply wait until the dvd hits the discount rack at 4.99 or the movie is bundled with a superhero movie set for 9.99. When Superman premiered all those decades ago if I wanted to see Superman on the big screen I had to go to the movies and watch what Hollywood gave me at full price (not counting discounted matinee showings). I don't have to gamble that way anymore and that I think is one of the reasons the theaters aren't filled the same way they were for Superman (I remember having to show up an hour early for my showing to get in, same for Battlestar Galactica). Also there are a lot of internet reviews now, so if they don't put out a good movie true to the character -and the reviews make that easy to tell- then I don't have to gamble.
I think that the decision to make Superman kill was made at the marketing level in an effort to shock everyone and get them talking and as a gamble that people would like Superman no matter what so long as they update the costume and threw in a lot of explosions.

the John Bryne version where he killed, in a non-"needed" manor, wasn't that long ago.

 Yes, the Wonder Woman comments were hypocritical. She'd killed just a few years before and no one blinked an eye.

I'm not saying any of it's right. I'm just pointing out none of it's new.



Mark S. Ogilvie said:

That was a version of Superman, not the one I grew up with and certainly not the one I'd regard the same way. Perhaps it's one for the bleak and bitter end of empire age that we're living in now where the ends justify the means, but it's not one for me. Nor did I consider the comments on WW killing Max Lord hypocritical. There is a divide -perhaps generational- between actions that were once considered heroic and actions that are not considered not good enough to be heroic. I can dig out comics that showed that Diana not killing, going the extra mile not to kill, in fact putting her own life in danger rather than kill a supervillain or a criminal. (Then again I remember a time when the amazons were a nice lot and not the stone age harpies that successive DC editors and writers have reduced them too) No longer it seems, now one of the qualifications for being a big name superhero is killing.

With the Man of Steel movie I think Hollywood buys into that. They look at the Die Hard movies -which was the model I think in some ways for MOS- and Bruce Willis taking out the head bad guy at the end of everyone and they say 'that's how a hero acts'. It may be for the Bruce Willis type of hero but not for Superman. One of the keys of Superman's character and appeal is that he does have all the power but it is held in check by a genuinely nice guy with a strong moral code, one who despite his power does not consider himself enabled to go outside of that moral code. Eliminate that moral code and you may have a fast paced action movie with lots of explosions and such but it won't be a Superman movie that I want to see. Not first run in a theatre anyway, no more than I was tempted to see the Catwoman-in-name-only movie in the theatre or the Green Lantern movie in the theatre. Hollywood can claim that 'this isn't your father's Superman' but I can counter that easily with 'this isn't my only option', meaning that I can simply wait until the dvd hits the discount rack at 4.99 or the movie is bundled with a superhero movie set for 9.99. When Superman premiered all those decades ago if I wanted to see Superman on the big screen I had to go to the movies and watch what Hollywood gave me at full price (not counting discounted matinee showings). I don't have to gamble that way anymore and that I think is one of the reasons the theaters aren't filled the same way they were for Superman (I remember having to show up an hour early for my showing to get in, same for Battlestar Galactica). Also there are a lot of internet reviews now, so if they don't put out a good movie true to the character -and the reviews make that easy to tell- then I don't have to gamble.
I think that the decision to make Superman kill was made at the marketing level in an effort to shock everyone and get them talking and as a gamble that people would like Superman no matter what so long as they update the costume and threw in a lot of explosions.

You know, I never thought much about it in the Silver Age, but Luthor varied pretty broadly depending on who drew him. For example, John Forte's Luthor was clearly late middle age, with a spare tire and jowls. But he looks pretty buff in the Lexor story below, even though Curt Swan usually drew Luthor as out of shape and with enough facial lines to indicate him being older than Supes, probably somewhere in his 40s or early 50s.

Man, I need to become a comic-book character, so I can lose weight just by getting drawn by someone else.

Richard Willis said:

Mr. Silver Age said:

The only time he worked up a sweat fighting Superman was on Lexor, where they were equals--and Lex came across as a brawnier brawler there than he usually was made out to be. I'm kind of surprised Lex is as formidable of a physical specimen as he's always shown to be, especially on the animated shows. I would think they'd emphasize his power isn't physical at all.

I think you're referring to Superman #164 (OCT63), "The Showdown Between Luthor and Superman." I remember being surprised that Luthor was so brawny. I'd always thought of him as a thinker only. It kind of made sense that Superman wouldn't be a good boxer because (as far as I know) he had never had to do it before.

That's why I always figure Captain Cold, not Professor Zoom, was The Flash's arch foe. The Flash speeds up molecules, Cap slows them down.

I started reading Flash with #111, and first saw Captain Cold on the cover of #114 (AUG60). I love that cover so much a copy of it is on my wall. Not only were his powers distinctly different/opposite from Barry's, but every time he showed up he had a massive crush on beautiful celebrity. I was never crazy about Professor Zoom. His powers, being the same as Barry's, aren't interesting. I think it's like the Dr Octopus/Green Goblin switch. Doc Ock was always the main villain until Gobby killed someone important. The same with Capt Cold/Prof Zoom.

Lex, with no suit, as an evil real estate agent is wrong.

I agree with the latter (especially twice) but not the first. I think Realtor Lex in the first movie was a bit of camp, to show how deranged he was. He was going to destroy the West Coast to create new beachfront property. It's almost Joker-like in its insanity. Repeating that idea for the revival was nutty. It was barely funny once.

Lex should be the instigator, the supplier of weaponry, the manipulator of others (like Zod), but he shouldn't be going toe-to-toe with Superman in a battle suit, at least the way I envision him. Lex doesn't have to be the visual center to be the danger.

Is it humane to lock people away with no access to food, relatives, etc.? Yet, the Justice League (Superman, WW and Bats included) did that as far back as 1964. Yet, I've not heard one single "retcon" comment about how bad THAT was!

The Crime Syndicate got put in limbo, so they had no need for food (or relatives?). They escaped on several occasions, including once when they tried to help Per Degaton nuke Earth (long story). That's a better fate (at least for them) than having their necks snapped. They even discussed among themselves what it meant to be imprisoned in limbo in that story (JLA #209). There's no need to be discussing a retcon--they and limbo went bye-bye along with all the Earths in Crisis. There's no con to ret for them.

It would certainly be a great character moment for Superman to vow to never kill again.

There *has* to be a reason they did that, doesn't there? It can't just have been what the writers considered the only (or easiest) way to deal with Zod to ensure he wouldn't be back. With so many ways to end the movie and eliminate Zod, they *had* to choose that one because it would have long-lasting consequences. I hope. Not resolving it at all in the movie was bad, but if they ignore it from now on, it's even worse.

BTW, I don't think we can argue that the writers weren't familiar with Superman. It was written by David S. Goyer, whose written several Superman comics.

But if I have to choose between Superman's one-night-stand and Superman's protector through killing (and those are the two options we've been given), I know which one is certainly more in character than not.

Given those two choices, my vision of Superman has him having sex with Lois before he snaps a guy's neck. Okay, maybe not unprotected sex--he's the fastest guy on the planet, nothing is unexpected for him, so that was idiotic for them to have added in the revival. It was a strange moment, to be sure, but neck-snapping veers further from my view of Superman.

The Reeve movies weren't perfection--the time travel, the amnesia kiss, the sex--and they weakened the climaxes to have such goofy resolutions. But I'd hoped the resolutions would be getting better by now, not worse.

-- MSA

Not everyone read the earlier story where Diana killed, so I don't think that's hypocritical.

Dan Long said:

the John Bryne version where he killed, in a non-"needed" manor, wasn't that long ago.

 Yes, the Wonder Woman comments were hypocritical. She'd killed just a few years before and no one blinked an eye.

I'm not saying any of it's right. I'm just pointing out none of it's new.

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

That was a version of Superman, not the one I grew up with and certainly not the one I'd regard the same way. Perhaps it's one for the bleak and bitter end of empire age that we're living in now where the ends justify the means, but it's not one for me. Nor did I consider the comments on WW killing Max Lord hypocritical. There is a divide -perhaps generational- between actions that were once considered heroic and actions that are not considered not good enough to be heroic. I can dig out comics that showed that Diana not killing, going the extra mile not to kill, in fact putting her own life in danger rather than kill a supervillain or a criminal. (Then again I remember a time when the amazons were a nice lot and not the stone age harpies that successive DC editors and writers have reduced them too) No longer it seems, now one of the qualifications for being a big name superhero is killing.

With the Man of Steel movie I think Hollywood buys into that. They look at the Die Hard movies -which was the model I think in some ways for MOS- and Bruce Willis taking out the head bad guy at the end of everyone and they say 'that's how a hero acts'. It may be for the Bruce Willis type of hero but not for Superman. One of the keys of Superman's character and appeal is that he does have all the power but it is held in check by a genuinely nice guy with a strong moral code, one who despite his power does not consider himself enabled to go outside of that moral code. Eliminate that moral code and you may have a fast paced action movie with lots of explosions and such but it won't be a Superman movie that I want to see. Not first run in a theatre anyway, no more than I was tempted to see the Catwoman-in-name-only movie in the theatre or the Green Lantern movie in the theatre. Hollywood can claim that 'this isn't your father's Superman' but I can counter that easily with 'this isn't my only option', meaning that I can simply wait until the dvd hits the discount rack at 4.99 or the movie is bundled with a superhero movie set for 9.99. When Superman premiered all those decades ago if I wanted to see Superman on the big screen I had to go to the movies and watch what Hollywood gave me at full price (not counting discounted matinee showings). I don't have to gamble that way anymore and that I think is one of the reasons the theaters aren't filled the same way they were for Superman (I remember having to show up an hour early for my showing to get in, same for Battlestar Galactica). Also there are a lot of internet reviews now, so if they don't put out a good movie true to the character -and the reviews make that easy to tell- then I don't have to gamble.
I think that the decision to make Superman kill was made at the marketing level in an effort to shock everyone and get them talking and as a gamble that people would like Superman no matter what so long as they update the costume and threw in a lot of explosions.

He looks really heavy this one.

Attachments:

He also looks pretty old, but that's always been the case. They should be just about the same age, shouldn't they?

-- MSA

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2020   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service