Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Superman Loop

Man of Steel is showing this morning on HBO. I've explained before about getting free satellite TV and the basic premium channels - along with free internet - at my apartment complex. Despite the pretty pictures and the tiny riffs on the old story of Superman's's still the same fucking story.

It hasn't been "reimagined," it has no changes from the dull repetitive death march that started in the 1930s, it is the SAME FUCKING STORY.

The real story inside the SAME FUCKING STORY TOLD EVERY FUCKING YEAR SINCE THE 1930s is the profound cowardice of DC Comics and the movie industry. Has not one of these outright cowards ever heard of "in media res"?

Start in the middle of things, never start at the beginning. Make him an epic hero. Has not one of the dummies involved since the beginning ever thought of that? We know how Superman came to be. Every person on the planet knows how it starts. Has not one person anywhere in DC or in the movie industry read Homer...or Gilgamesh...or Tolkien..or played Skyrim...or Knights of the Old Republic? Do they not think at all?

Start in the middle, then fill in the blanks on how we got here through conversation and remembrance. Start, say, with humanity trying to kill Superman, slowly reveal just why we want him dead, and then show Superman realize his sins and redeem himself through self-sacrifice. You want a first class example of how to handle Superman, read The Dark Knight Returns. Yes, I know, it's a graphic novel about Batman, but Superman plays a big role in the story, especially the last chapters. 

Say you want a reboot. How about a real reboot? Superman was never a child. In fact, not only is he not human, he isn't even a biological entity. Superman's race didn't die, because Superman has no race. He was created as the protector of an advanced race that did die off, despite his best efforts to prevent it. He has wandered the galaxy for five million years searching for a mission.

He finds it in humanity, in our broadcasts. He follows the radio waves home, sees us near the brink of World War III in the 1950s...he stops it...and we hate him for it.

But he doesn't care. He has a new mission, to protect and preserve humanity, to lead us to enlightenment.

Now that might be fun. Of course it isn't really Superman, it has elements of Buddhism's bodhisattva concept, the ideas behind the Singularity, and freaky mecha from Japanese manga and anime, but at least it is DIFFERENT. At least it would not be a display of cowardice on my TV screen.

On a personal level, this is one of the reasons why I gave up script writing. Nothing cool ever comes from Hollywood now. You want cool, read a book, play a video game, listen to music, watch TV. Movies, they're done.

R. P. Bird: Professional writer since 1989. Author of the IN THE REALM OF THE GODS series and the SUZIE crime novels. Crazy, but highly reliable. Can fix about anything.