You know, it’s very emotionally draining being a Superman fan these days. There’s always this constant need to keep things big and shocking with Superman, to keep him interesting to the audience. Which often leads to the same fate, his death.
Spoilers for Batman v Superman (as if you haven’t already watched it) and DC Rebirth follow.
There’s always the looming questions of, is Superman relevant anymore? Is he boring? How can we keep him interesting? Now I know a lot of people feel that he isn’t as interesting as some other heroes, but there’s a reason he’s remained in pop culture for as long as he has. But there’s this desire from creative teams to keep spicing things up with him. Which is fair enough because after 77 years, you need to keep things new and fresh. And so the latest trend apparently is to just kill him.
First of all you have the movie universe, the DCEU. I liked Batman v Superman, but the more I think about it, the more I wish Snyder didn’t make the choice to kill Superman. Obviously his death triggered the world’s belief in Superman, along with Batman’s belief in Superman as well. It will lead to the birth of the Justice League and a new age. So yes it had its storytelling benefits.
But imagine an ending where Superman didn’t die. Instead he was triumphant against Doomsday. The world saw the sacrifice he was willing to make, putting his life on the line, but he was eventually successful and they rejoiced him. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman start hanging out and talking, realising that they should seek out the people from Luthor’s files. So their relationship starts to grow and strengthen as they work together to unite the seven.
This way we get to see more from Clark. One of the problems with Batman v Superman, was that it spent too much time focusing on the bigger picture of Superman, what other people perceived him to be. It didn’t spend enough time focusing on Clark, who he perceived himself to be. We could have the chance to explore Clark more, things from his perspective, as he takes a leadership role in forming this team. And we get to see the relationship between the trio become real.
However with the ending we got, we probably won’t get much Superman in Justice League. So obviously the huge Superman fan in me gets a little upset.
Then you have the comic books. New 52 Superman is dying, and is going to get replaced by pre-Flashpoint Superman. So you know, the Supes who was killed by Doomsday and came back with a sweet mullet.
I know the Superman titles have had its ups and down since 2011, but I definitely think they got to a point where they finally had a grasp on what they wanted to portray with Superman. And just as they started to embrace it, they decided to replace him.
Of course this is the world of comics, so its to be expected. In 2011 they replaced one Superman for another, and now they’re replacing the replacement Superman with the one that got replaced in the first place…
But this post isn’t a whinge fest. If you can’t handle change, then you probably shouldn’t be into the world of comics. My only hope is that we get good Superman stories. There doesn’t always have to be some big shocking thing that’s happening to sell the character. Embrace the story of one of the most ordinary people happening to be this super-powered alien whose biggest strength and weakness is that he wears his heart on his sleeve.
So to Snyder I say: don’t get too obsessed with the grand imagery and the metaphors. Don’t forget that Superman is just Clark Kent. It’s great to discuss the philosophical implications of the Superman figure, but the reason why so many people love him is because of just how human such a god-like figure can be.
And to DC Comics I say: pick how you want to portray Superman, and stick with it. Because he’s such an established and long-running character with many interpretations, you’re never going to make every person happy. But you can’t keep replacing him anytime you feel things aren’t working. Oh and that in the world of the multiverse, you can have parallel Superman stories running, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
But yeah, if this can be the last “Superman dying” stories we see in a while, I’ll be happy!