::Literate Blather::
Friday, May 11, 2007
5 Questions About: Superman

An Interview About the Man of Steel

(DaRK PaRTY never got into the Superman comic books. We were under the influence of Marvel (hello, Spiderman) – but we got hooked on the Man of Steel after the first Superman movie in 1978. We wanted to find somebody that could talk about Superman with passion. So, of course, we ended up on the doorstep of Justin K. – the editor of the Blue Tights Network, a web site dedicated t
o Superman. Justin’s site was so good and his passion so intense that Warner Brothers ended up contacting him before the “Superman Returns” movie was released. They worked together to create some buzz about the film. The rest, as they say, is history. One note: Justin preferred we didn’t release his last name for this interview and we are going to honor that request.)

DaRK PaRTY: Let's get this over with first. What did you think of the new "Superman Returns" movie?

Justin: Yeah, so I loved it. I know there are a lot of mixed opinions out there, and sometimes when you run a community site like Blue Tights and have to see a lot of it, you can lose a bit of faith. I've come close a couple times to that, just because I have to read all these really negative people.

But then I go and put the DVD in and re-watch it and think: "Damn, I really DO love this movie." I mean, I loved all the themes in it. DC's universe has ALWAYS had strong legacies. They are epics in the truest sense of the word, and usually have tons of father/son dynamics. While doing what “Superman Returns” did wasn't necessarily what some fans wanted for a first film back, I thought that it all just worked for the character, introduced some brave new dynamics, and upheld a strong DC (and Superman) tradition and theme.

I'm really anxious to see where they take it from here. I spoke to one of the writers after seeing it for the first time and I just said: "You know you've painted yourself into a corner, right?" To paraphrase him, he basically said that they were all very aware of the decisions they made, and are going to be very careful to keep the series about SUPERMAN, and not let it become something like “The Incredibles” or “Son of Superman.”

I mean, think about the implications now: we get to see Superman grow up with mortal parents from Jor-El's point of view... sort of. I love it. And that's the SHORT answer! I wrote a nine-page review of the film over at the site if you have an afternoon to kill and absolutely have to know more.

DP: Superman has become a cultural icon. There are few people who don't know something about the Man of Steel. What is it about Superman that captures people's imagin

Justin: I think that Superman represents the ultimate in altruistic heroism. Guys like Batman and Spiderman - you can make the argument that they're heroes because they feel guilty over losing loved ones.

Not Superman. He lost his entire PLANET, but that's not WHY he's a hero. He does what's right BECAUS
E it's the right thing to do. How can reading or watching that NOT make a person feel good? He does what's right, asks for nothing in return, and derives satisfaction from the act of doing it. I think everyone wants to be more like him.

Additionally, his longevity is largely supported by his ability to adjust with time. At the core it remains a story about some of the most basic and romant
ic human values, and from that, creators are allowed to explore so many relevant facets of human nature. The character has seen a lot of things come and go. Some stick, some don't, some are only explored in else-worlds, but they all have the chance to be explored. While it may seem easy at first, it's actually kind of hard to say that there is an absolute, definitive Superman, and I love that.

DP: Give us your own personal history with Superman. What has made yo
u such a huge fan?

Justin: Honestly, I used to be more of a Batman guy (though there are photos of me in a Superman costume as a young sprite). My buddy Jeremy, who I've known forever, collected all the Death of Superman stuff when we were younger, and I was all into the Knightfall books.

Something about Superman didn't resonate with me at that time. I fell out of comics for a while, and was drawn back in by Ultimate Spiderman (for shame!). I gave that up when Venom came into it and it became impossible to actually FIND the book for reading. I explored around, got pretty heavily back into Batman again, and just started picking up Superman books here and there. I eventually got drawn into the stuff I described above - the MANY stories you could tell with this character.

I mean, Batm
an can tend to get repetitive, in my opinion. He's always angry. Or WAS until the latest Crisis (bravo DC!). But he sort of became a one-note-fiddle to me for a while, but I could see Superman in all sorts of different stuff. Add to that the old movies, shows, cartoons, “Smallville.” I mean, the last few years especially have been a GREAT time to be a Superman fan.

Add to that my obsession with anything that flies and you've got a match made in heaven. And Hal Jordan's m'boy... shameless Green Lantern plug. I want more Green Lantern/Superman stories.

DP: There are so many extraordinary Superman villains, yet the movies and TV shows continually fall back on Lex Luthor. Give us your three favorite Superman foes (exc
ept for Lex) and why you like them.

Justin: "Fall back?!" Ah, damn. Okay, look - I love Superman's rogues, but when you try to look at them from something like a film or TV perspective, they're a bit wacky. But okay, top three... in no particular order:

General Zod. That's right, you heard me. Or read me, whichever. All we've really gotten in the way of Zod was Terence Stamp's portrayal of Zod in “Superman: the Movie” and “Superman II,” as most of the comics stuff has been largely forgettable. While Stamp acted the hell out of that leather-clad role, I want more. I'm very stoked about what (Action
Comics writing team) Richard Donner and Geoff Johns are flirting with in the comics right now, and hope that they get a LOT more depth from the character. I think there are a lot of dynamics that can and should be expanded on.

I mean, this guy is a survivor of Superman's dead world. He was an adult, living life on Krypton before it exploded. There's got to be a part of Superman that wants to sit down and talk about home with this guy. It's just too bad this guy was the mortal enemy of Superman's father, and would rather split Superman's skull in two than sit down for tea at the Fortress. Also, think about it - if Zod's trying to take over the Earth, Superman's going to have to put him down, but how do you put down the one other living member of your entire race? How do you knowingly make yourself alone in the all the universe? Someone smarter than me really needs to write that stuff.

Parasite. I think he's under-rated, personally. I think the stuff (Comic writer) Kurt Busiek explored recently was really cool. Basically – stop reading if you don't want minor details - Kal-El was dead, but Parasite had absorbed the last of his "essence." He sort of was, but wasn't Clark Kent. He'd absorbed so much of Clark that he had, in his own head, assumed the identity of Clark, including Clark's great love for Lois. The only problem was that Lois wasn't really having any of it, and still saw him as Parasite.

It was sort of heartbreaking. But the whole thing just showed me that I think Parasite has awesome potential, and could lead to so many great stories about power, corruption of power, assumption of power, loss of power, and on and on. I've always said that Superman's greatest power is in his heart, not his fists, and Parasite gives you opportunities to investigate that idea. Parasite can strip Kal-El of his strength, flight, and heat vision, but can he take away Kal's drive, his willingness to sacrifice everything to protect the innocent?

Come on, that's cool.

Lex Luthor... damn it, you told me I can't use that one. Okay. But seriously, Lex rules. He's a man standing up against a veritable GOD. That takes some big brass ones! People love it when Batman does it, but get all fussy when Lex does it. It's a double standard, I say! Okay, so I can't pick Superman's bravest villain, so who else do I pick?

I'm going to use this slot for Doomsday. He's not by any means the most dynamic villain, or even the best, but frankly, everyone likes to see Superman throw some punches at the end of the day. I'm a HUGE proponent of story, and if you look back at the Death of Superman arc, story got a big fat 0 on the scorecard (seriously, go re-read it. There's nothing there). But in terms of throwing down, Doomsday is your guy. Lex Luthor prefers mind over muscle, and Doomsday is the exact opposite. He's just a living, breathing killing machine in fashionable green pants and boots. Now, I don't want to see the "Death Of" arc become a film or anything, because frankly I think it'd be pretty empty and soul-less in a two-hour feature, but I do want to see a Superman fight at some point, and if it was part of a REALLY good story, I'd like that fight to be against Doomsday (assuming Zod wasn't available that day).

Superman's always fighting disasters, and Doomsday is a big fat grey roaming disaster. I've always wanted to see the Superman/Doomsday fight play out on film in a documentary style, like all the helicopter high-speed freeway chase videos and stuff you see, or the tornado chaser videos that are always on those late-night "XTreme Nature" shows. Personally, I don't know how you make it work, but hey... there's my answer (since I can't use Lex!)

DP: Le
t's get esoteric for a moment. Is Superman God?

Justin: THE God? No. I don't think so, but I'm not particularly religious. I know that for many who are, he's definitely a Christ symbol. Again, that's awesome that he can be different things for different people. For me, he represents gods in the good old fashioned Greek mythological sense.

DC is all "gods and monsters." He represents a god-like being that lives among us, but suffers from some of our more common human frailties because he was raised by two of the most human people you could ever imagine. It's a really interesting examination, I think. I know a lot of people like to think that he's just one of us with powers, but I think the powers definitely set him very far apart. I definitely feel that he's a god figure, but instead of having the luxury of being disconnected and uncaring like a Zeus or something, he's intimately involved with the human race.

It creates extremely difficult situations for him. I think “Superman Returns” showed that very well. He's a god, and has god-like responsibilities, but he's desperately in love with Lois Lane. There's this deep, deep love between them, but they both know that it has to take a sort of back seat to "Superman" and what that means for the rest of the planet. It's got to be SO hard. I'm rambling now, I think.

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