Last week, in my blog post Mark Millar is Right!, I took a sarcastic tone while agreeing with Millar that a Justice League film would fail. I focused mostly on DC Comics and Warner Brothers’ total disrespect for the classic versions of their iconic characters that comprise the JLA. The current trend being a departure from the original in an effort to make them more contemporary, realistic and edgy. My opinion is that the beloved characters are losing both their recognition and appeal which has been their trademark for three quarters of a century.
Mark Millar’s perspective, sadly, was in line with DC/Warner as he scoffed at the plausibility of the character’s powers and their logistics. He also agreed that the iconic superheroes were outdated.
The urge to adapt comics to “live action” in film, especially superhero comics, is apparently having a devastating affect on the genre if not the comics medium as well.
The most spectacular thing about comics is that, as an artistic medium presented in two dimensions, the audience can experience the unbelievably fantastic adventures of the characters as the creators intended them. These adventures are so astonishing that Hollywood has only recently developed the technology to bring these adventures to the silver screen. Why then do we want to water them down and make them “more realistic”?
Back in 1978 when the first Superman movie featuring Christopher Reeves as the Man of Steel was released the producers were so excited about their ability to present a definitive Superman that they promoted the film with the tag line “You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly!” They wanted audiences to celebrate and embrace the unbelievable just as readers of the comics did.
I understand that the times have changed and that that Superman wass a character from a simpler time. Audiences were easily thrilled by a man that was faster than a speeding bullet and could leap tall buildings in a single bound, but that was Superman. He was the ultimate good guy with super powers and a girlfriend. He wore blue tights with red trunks, boots and a cape and had a big “S” on his chest.
This summer we get the film Man of Steel but do we really get Superman? I say, “no.” There was an innocence to Superman that made the character remarkable. That is now currently lost to the character in film, in the comics, and in video games like one titled Injustice: Gods Among Us, by the makers of Mortal Kombat.
In this violent video game Lois Lane is pregnant with Superman’s child and is captured, tortured, and mutilated by the Joker and Harley Quinn, who then trick Superman into killing Lois and their unborn child to motivate a raging Superman to fight all the other superheroes in the world.
Really? I’m sure that is not the Superman Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster intended to create.
Superheroes have taken on the attributes of the ugliness and violence of the real world. The heroes are now less idealistic and suffer from responding with more natural human instinct. This is a case where art imitating life would make Oscar Wilde twist in his grave. Comic creators and film producers alike would do well to look at Wilde’s essay The Decay of Lying and possibly they would have a greater appreciation for the value of the source material.
The real root to my aggravation is how DC and Marvel continue to milk the life out of their premier intellectual properties to avoid paying royalties to creators. Maybe if they were more willing to share some of the profits, creators would to create contemporary IP for them that is associated with fresh new characters instead of defiling the classics.
Until that day, I’d rather see films that truly adapt the superheroes as they were originally intended. Big, bold, colorful, full of action and wonder. I want life to imitate the comics the way it imitates art. Maybe that’s just too much to ask.
Making Comics Because We Want to,