When Superman returned to the big screen ten years ago or so in “Superman Returns”, the movie was intended to be a direct sequel to the two original movies with Christopher Reeve. I was surprised at how mopey and depressing the movie felt.
Which is to say, the movie felt that way and Supes himself was kind of mopey and emo. I haven't seen it since the theater, but that was my strong impression. The thing was supposed to be a new and improved part-three that replaced the goofiness that took over the movies back in the day.
Thanks, but I'll take the Superman 3 with Richard Pryor and the Superman who turns into dark, selfish, lady-seducing, Tower-of-Pisa-straightening Supes in the end, before fixing it all when he returns to normal!
The newer Superman movies, which I've seen bits and pieces of, is even further away from the character's roots, with this flavor of a depressed Clark Kent who views saving the world as a burden and has themes of “not owing the world anything”, and is taught that protecting his secret identity, even at the cost of allowing someone close to him to die, is the most important thing.
It's a different take, but it never felt like Superman to me.
Another “white hat”, “goody-two-shoes” heroic character who suffered recently is Luke Skywalker. That's a different thing - I believe there was a purposeful agenda to make the character look bad. More great decisions from the Lucasfilm brain trust! But I digress.
In Superman's case, I thought it was an effort to make the White Hat Superman character ‘cooler’ or more modern, or to match some of the grit of the popular Batman movies. Or that filmmakers thought the classic Superman was too corny for modern audiences.
It may run deeper than that. Here are some fascinating Wisecrack Edition videos on the ‘new’ Superman and philosophy, and how changing Superman's original philosophical underpinnings messed things up:
Man of Steel:
Batman v Superman
In any case, the darker, edgier stuff has its place. Personally I think we've gone too far in that direction - it happened in the comics, and then in the movies.
I think that in modern times that feel complex and morally uncertain, the White Hat is needed more than ever. It's worked out well for Captain America, who has a pretty clear morality in the movies, even if he seems dorky to some of his friends.
After all, if everybody's an edgy rebel, then no one is!
the Quacky Planet
Banes at 5:04AM, Sept. 20, 2018
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