Friday, March 13, 2015

Let's put pants on Superman!

There are lots of things wrong with Superman. I mean he's overpowered, not that interesting and holy shit did anyone else sit through Superman Returns? Of course, Kryptonite, Grant Morrison, and Days of Future Past (I'll explain below) in that order solves these issues, but there's one thing about Superman that can never be salvaged no matter how hard DC tries.
Bryan Singer turned down X-Men 3 so he could do
Superman Returns, so in a way, Superman ruined two movies.
Above: the moment DC just gave up.
The costume. Sure, it's kind of-oh, sorry, I should probably warn you that I'm about to argue that Superman's new pants are what's wrong with DC comics, so if you want to bail out, now's the time. Still with me? Ok. Superman's costume. DC's holy trinity of characters anybody actually gives a shit about, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are all getting new looks. If it feels like they just did this, they did, back in 2011 with the New 52, but this time it's different (no it's not). Wonder Woman is getting tights and thigh-high boots, Batman is apparently getting robotic rabbit samurai suit (no, really) and Superman is eschewing his traditional, albeit ridiculous, blue-onsie and cape combo for a t-shirt and jeans. Yeah, a t-shirt and jeans.

And wait, what's that crap at his feet? Are those tattered remnants of his old costume, blood or those Saran-wrap 'S's he throws at the end of Superman II? Remember that? What was that anyway? Are they bringing that back?
"Because I'm goddamn Superman, that's why."
Remember this bullshit? No? That's
because it sucked and DC couldn't go
back to the status quo fast enough. 
The tights and cape thing is usually described as iconic, but that's just because it's objectively lame. Hardcore fans don't want to admit it, and casual fans don't waste their time giving it much thought, but Superman looks like a doofus and no amount of tweaks and Nehru collars you stick on him is going to change that. They've tried. They gave him a mullet for while, killed him off and replaced him with four fake Supermen, and then there was that Red Superman/Blue Superman thing where they took away the cape and gave him different powers, but that didn't stick around long. It's always back to the same dull character and that same stupid look.

The in-universe explanation has always been that the costume is made from Kal-El's advanced Kryptonian lycra swaddling blanket and is therefore the only garment capable of keeping Superman's super-junk covered at super-sonic speeds.
It 's impervious to earthquakes, Brainiac and deep space radiation, but not Martha Kent's Singer. 
Mecha-Bunny-Bat-Samurai is
definitely new, so there's that.
The out-of-universe explanation is that Superman is an icon and you can't change anything about him and that's what's wrong not only with Superman, but with DC in general. Look, I am, at best, a middling comic nerd with a definite Marvel bias, so take my argument with a grain of salt, but DC tends to be too careful with their classic characters. Marvel routinely screws with their superheroes and fictional universe in an attempt to keep things fresh. Sure, they've retconned their way out of a few big events, and resurrected a few dead characters they assured us wouldn't be coming back, but nobody ever undid Scarlet Witch's 'No More Mutants' hex and Ultimate Spider-Man is still Miles Morales. Superman in jeans is still Superman in jeans, at least until he goes back to the tights, which I would give six months. So what else is new?

Anyway, that's why Superman's pants are a troubling indication of the stagnation of the DC Comics narrative universe and why we'll never be able to take live-action Superman seriously. Well that and the fact no one can write a decent script for it.
On the other hand, Marvel could crap out a big-screen version of X-Babies and as
long as Joss Whedon was involved they'd have my ten bucks, so what do I know? 

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