Who Is To Blame For Superman’s Image Problem?

After news started circulating that Warner Bros. is lost about what to do with Superman next, Twitter was flooded with tweets from fans and would-be writers to share their ideas. It quickly became apparent that many people view this iconic and enduring character through a narrow lens. Some even bordered on what can only be described as disrespect in their demands for the characters cinematic representation yet lacked the awareness to even realise it. They don’t take the character too seriously and therefore any iteration of the last son of Krypton must lean more towards ‘goofy’ than mature, or earnest.

It’s such a shame that so many people don’t want innovation or originality for a character that’s spent decades being innovative himself. There’s a growing demand for Superman to ‘return’ to his roots and people legitimately want this regression rather than see him steadily grow throughout the decades and evolve to reflect the present times. Superman as a character has so much to say but we’re taking away his voice and yet expecting him to remain as relevant; it’s impossible, and it puts the studio responsible for bringing him to life into an even more impossible situation.

Christopher Reeve as Superman

Unfortunately, the general impression of Superman is so heavily entrenched in an antiquated adaptation which sees any attempt at creativity or ingenuity applied to the character publicly jeered and criticised. I don’t think it’s the movie studio that’s confused about what to do with Superman, it’s his so-called ‘fans’. Even more frustrating, is that some vocal detractors of the more recent attempts to make Superman relevant again are on Twitter spouting their ingenious ways to “fix” the character. The problem is, the ideas they’re proffering are what we’ve already seen in his most recent movie appearances. The ardent fans of these two DCEU films, directed by the divisive yet gifted Zack Snyder, have been left wondering whether they’re being pranked. How can these people not realise the ideas and stories they’re clamouring to see are already available, and yet, under scrutiny and threat of being wiped from our memory like a flash from the MiB neuralyzer.

The cause may lie in the fact that they see these characters they’ve defined by various buzzwords and begin making a movie in their minds. They have a checklist of what should be included and then diminish these rich fictional personalities into one-dimensional caricatures defined by preconceived assumptions of their entire disposition. They want it all wrapped up in a romanticised package; they would prefer empty speeches to the genuine actions, goofy smiles rather than a character experiencing the entire emotional spectrum. They want big action sequences without any of the real-world consequences, and straightforward morality definitions rather than anything emotionally layered or complex. They prioritise shallow entertainment over meaningful or substantial storytelling.

Micheal B Jordan as Superman

All of this explains why Warner Bros. should not listen to the “fans”, and should not force relevancy through race swapping or other attention-seeking marketing ploys; they should find a creative team with a unique vision and trust in them to push the character in ways that even the most fervent fans don’t see coming; create a distinct approach to the character that sparks conversation, inspires a new generation of enthusiastic fans, and simply trust in the strength of Superman to withstand new and creative ideas.

In short, they should step aside and just let people explore the character in ways that are fitting for the times and resonate with them, just like Zack Snyder attempted to do. This will help audiences connect with the character in unexpected ways and keep Superman relevant for decades to come.

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