How to restore your faith in Superman – Part 1

How to restore your faith in Superman – Part 1

Batman v Superman damaged the Man of Steel's reputation, but there's hope aplenty yet...

It’s often been said that time heals all wounds, but judging by the mixed at best response to director Zack Snyder’s portrayal of Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this recuperation process may well take longer in terms of how the public perceives DC’s most iconic creation. Certainly, this writer will admit that upon witnessing Metropolis’ hero being called to task in glum courtrooms, saving Lois from contrived situations of peril and coming close to killing Batman without remorse, it was tough not to wonder why so many comic-book fans adore and hold the last son of Krypton close to their hearts.

However, whether by diving into a ten-season TV drama dedicated to building Clark’s mythology or reappraising the graphic novels on which Snyder’s adaptations were based, there are countless ways to wipe any sour taste left by BvS – or at least its depiction of the ‘S’ – out of one’s mouth and restore one’s faith in the character. To make life that much simpler, we’re rounding up the six most effective remedies today and tomorrow, with the action kicking off below:

  1. Discover Superman’s True Motivations in The Dark Knight Returns

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Whereas Dawn of Justice presented next to no real motivation for Superman to battle Batman beyond his mother’s abrupt capture, its source material – The Dark Knight Returns – offers up a more nuanced, engaging take. Here, Clark Kent’s alter-ego is cast as a courageous champion of the US government who, despite being loyal to his country, wrestles with the idea of breaking his enduring friendship with Bruce as he’s ordered by his superiors to end Batman’s violent campaign in Gotham.

Not only does this allow the readership of Frank Miller’s beloved 1986 graphic novel to sympathise far more with both parties, but it makes their inevitable final confrontation that much more poignant a set-piece than BvS’s hollow conflict, especially as the latter hero ends up being bested thanks to his unwillingness to take a life. Whilst watching Clark snap Zod’s neck in Snyder’s 2013 film Man of Steel might have made some forget the core facets for which the character has been lauded, The Dark Knight Returns has precisely the opposite effect.

  1. Immerse Yourself in Kal-El’s Mythology By Meeting His Allies

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By only featuring Clark’s Daily Planet editor Perry White, his girlfriend Lois and his mother Martha for a handful of scenes – oh, and offhandedly killing off his long-running Planet photographer in a matter of minutes, of course – Dawn of Justice didn’t exactly do much to strengthen the general audience’s awareness of who Kal-El came to call true friends after embracing his destiny. However, that’s not to say that the character hasn’t built up a rich roster of allies for the less-seasoned DC fan to encounter elsewhere – quite to the contrary, provided that one knows where to look, this statement couldn’t ring less true.

To that end, while we await Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and future DCEU outings to deepen the shared universe that Superman now inhabits, why not take this rare opportunity to get to know these comrades, perhaps by recapping the recent TV exploits of Superman’s cousin in Supergirl before the show shifts airwaves from CBS to The CW this autumn? Or by seeing how he interacts with his teammates in DC’s ongoing Justice League comic-book saga? Or even by picking up a joypad to blast through the second or third LEGO Batman video games, both of which see Clark join forces with virtually every DC hero ever created, not least his trusty pet-turned-accomplice Krypto the Super-Dog?

Whatever your preferred medium of entertainment, DC Entertainment has already provided fans with ample opportunity to discover more on the escapades of Superman’s faithful partners-in-crime-busting, with the impending premiere of SyFy’s Kal-El-less prequel series Krypton next year only looking set to further expand the character’s fascinating mythology.

  1. Relive the Man of Steel’s Finest Cinematic Hour with Superman: The Movie

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Often ‘classic’ works of cinema diminish in quality as viewers return to their childhood favourites only to find that their nostalgia goggles can’t mask the cheesy tone, over-the-top performances or its director’s occasionally naïve approach to helming proceedings. Yet although Richard Donner’s critically acclaimed 1978 motion picture Superman: The Movie falls prey to some of these pre-21st Century conventions, there’s little denying the dramatic power it still holds over its viewers almost four decades from its release.

Anyone hunting for an adaptation which captures Superman’s core essence – particularly his innocent but inspiring sense of morality, the humble rural heritage which prompted him to live a dual life rather than hogging the limelight like Booster Gold, and above all his ceaseless efforts to keep the ones he loves out of harm’s way – need look no further than here. From the late, great Christopher Reeve’s beautifully understated take on the titular Kryptonian to John Williams’ magnificently uplifting score to the ahead-of-their-time special effects deployed by Donner so as to ensure that we would “believe a man could fly”, this soaring big-screen masterpiece still holds up remarkably well today, to the extent that it’s the ideal antidote for Snyder’s comparably soulless rendition.

Those are the first three of our suggested water-tight ways to restore your faith in the Man of Steel, then, but be sure to fly back over to Daily News Service this Friday, May 20th to discover how watching Clark’s origins in Smallville, encountering his rogues gallery in some of his finest comic-book arcs or even taking a trip to Illinois will continue the good work done here!

Tom Buxton
When he’s not busy working on his Journalism degree or writing new articles, Tom spends his days apologizing for still not having watched classic films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and his nights diving into as many graphic novels and TV comic-book adaptations as humanly possible. His future career plans include reporting on comics for a leading newspaper, although the Daily Planet, Daily Bugle and Central City Picture News curiously have yet to respond to his applications.

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