Sometimes an actor can take on a role and really understand him or her better than the people making the production. (Except maybe the creator but that’s a different argument.) If that’s the case then I just lost a little more interest in Man Of Steel and the world Chris Nolan and Zac Snyder made for it. Recently Henry Cavill, who plays Clark Kent and what passes for Superman in this movie did a couple of interviews while I was setting up for ConnectiCon. Now that I have a bit of a breather before the next convention let’s look at those interviews and show why this Man of Steel fails to live up to the real one on two grounds: the Justice League and Lois Lane.
First we get into an interview with Peter Travers for ABC News as reported on by Entertainment Weekly about the future of a Justice League movie. This one has been on a few minds recently with the San Diego Comic Con announcement that a Batman/Superman team-up movie is currently in the works. Basically, Mr. Cavill doesn’t think a Justice League movie is possible. And no, it’s not because he doesn’t know The Avengers happened.
Justice League could be great if done correctly. It’s a very tough one to do because the DC comic heroes are all god-like in their power. So in this real world universe, real-world setting we’re telling our story in, it’s going to be tough to achieve that. It has to be done very delicately with a lot of thought. So, it won’t be right away. I hope it’s not, anyway. It may take some time of building up other movies and other characters and introducing them together in one way or another.
One point I do agree with him on is that they need to introduce and build the other characters first, which is also my problem with the Batman/Superman team-up. Assuming the same people are involved and, unlike the direct-to-video animated movies, they’re setting up a universe we’ve only seen the setup of a Superman part of a DC movieverse while Batman has had three movies to define his character. Iron Man only had three movies after the Hulk had been established and the second came around Captain America and Thor’s debuts. Arguably Iron Man was the most popular so of course he got a second film and one that defined his place in the eventual Avengers film. The third movie came AFTER The Avengers. Superman’s getting robbed here.
But as far as the rest of Cavill’s comments, let’s break it down.
“The DC Heroes are all god-like in their power.”
Um no, they’re really not. Just take the current Justice League of the New 52, as seen above. Superman and Wonder Woman being godlike? Well, maybe. You might even make a case for Green Lantern if Hal is particularly creative that day. Not so much the others. The Flash can run fast, but unless you specifically point to Hermes/Mercury that’s all he has. Batman? Aquaman? No godlike powers at all (not even in a Geoff Johns tale) and Batman doesn’t even have powers; just a lot of training and some cool gadgets. Cyborg is really powerful but I wouldn’t put him in a god class unless Johns is really overselling him.
The Real World Setting
If this really were a “real world setting” you couldn’t do Superman at all. This term has been so poorly used it has lost meaning. In the real world Clark’s superpowers would be hard to control. I’ve linked to more than one Cracked.com article list that proves this. This isn’t some documentary or regular crime drama. This is a superhero story and I could easily go through Man Of Steel and the three Dark Knight films and point out everything that wouldn’t work in the real world. Maybe Nolan has done his research into real world things that could be used by Batman (this has been stated and shown), but then he exaggerated them to make them work, much like MacGyver was based on actual scientific principles but Mythbusters has proven that many (but surprisingly not all) of the escape methods Mac has used over the years don’t measure up to actual science.
When you write a work of fiction with science fiction elements, even if it isn’t a full sci-fi presentation, you are altering things to fit your world and your vision. (Actually, you could make the case for all fiction, especially if the writer’s social/political viewpoints either seep in or drown the story altogether.) You are creating a world that’s believable for that universe. As long as it doesn’t contract itself and its own physics and history anything from Avatar The Last Airbender to, yes, even Super Friends, can be a believable world without mirroring the real world, the one we actually inhabit. If not, Arnold Schwarzenegger wouldn’t even have had an acting career.
But could a Nolan-universe Justice League exist? If it were just Batman, no. However, Superman proves that at least some version could be made. It wouldn’t be as flashy or exciting as the Avengers movie (which is sad, but the Marvel Movieverse feels more like a DC universe that thing Nolan’s creating) but it could be made. Cyborg didn’t always transform his arms into things and the first time I remember seeing it was Teen Titans. Even his first post-comics appearance in Super Powers Team didn’t have Victor turning his arm into a supercannon but did have weapons he could attach to himself which weren’t as powerful. Smallville did a fair job of giving the Flash believable superspeed before the show completely lost me and the live-action The Flash television series showed Barry using his powers creatively as well as the weaknesses entailed. (Besides his new ravenous appetite to fit his new metabolism he tried cleaning his apartment at superspeed once and actually made more of a mess thanks to the wind he brought up.) If Superman can have powers why not someone getting superspeed?
Wonder Woman right now fits perfectly because she’s just a woman with superstrength, a lasso, and bracelets. (Unless she can still fly but if you bring Wonder Woman in you need to be prepared to acknowledge magic (or magick) on some level. (And yes, I know they’re announcing a Flash movie before a Wonder Woman one. That’s another topic for another commentary.) She’s not that hard to work into Nolan’s DCU. Krptonian technology and how it’s depicted in MOS shows that a Green Lantern has potential and is the ability to communicate with sea creatures and having superior strength and harder skin really that hard toe believe at this point in this supposed “real world”? I really don’t think so. The only thing “real world” is how people react to these characters, which again is supposed to be a Marvel thing and not a DC thing, but even the current group in charge of DC Comics fail to realize that.
So I’m sorry, Henry, but a Justice League movie in Nolan’s vision is possible with only a minor de-powering of the characters. It wouldn’t be all that interesting to someone like me and it would be looked at negatively compare to the Marvel Movieverse, but it’s still possible to exist after we get some more superhero movies out there to flesh out the Nolan DC Universe. I would just rather it not be in this universe.
Well, this went longer than I thought it would. Tomorrow we’ll look at Cavill’s rather negative view towards a Lois/Superman relationship and how he gets that as wrong as so many others.
In all fairness, I think being able to move at almost light speed is pretty much “godlike”. Same with a ring that can create anything the wearer imagines. All the heroes could be de-powered, sure. But lots of fans hate that.
I made possible exceptions for GL and Flash, but in the TV show they gave his super speed a limit and it didn’t hurt the show. And the Power Rings are limited by the wearer and whether or not he’s distracted. (Assuming they’d drop the silly yellow impurity. I give Ron Marz credit for finding other ways to limit Kyle’s power.) So they’re still not in Superman’s class and we haven’t seen this Superman’s real limits.
That’s just it though. the majority of the JLA are pretty much god-like unless you place creative restrictions on them. Restrictions that the majority of fans hate. Byrne de-powered Superman and fans went nuts. Those speed restrictions on the Flash originally came from Mike Baron (as I recall) on the Wally West Flash and were deeply hated – then Waid came along and removed them and people rejoiced. And while I loved twice the speed of sound and needing a sandwich Flash plus Ron Marz’s GL, Neither that version of Wally or Kyle was exactly universally embraced.
I guess it depends on how you define “godlike”. If we go by the majority of the comics, I have trouble seeing how they’re not godlike.
Placing it on them in the comics is bad but I don’t remember complaints about the Flash TV show, the Christopher Reeve movies, or the Wonder Woman show that WAS made.
The Wonder Woman show was from a different time, and back then (if I remember correctly) Wonder Woman was never even close to Superman’s power level. Not like she is these days. The Flash show… all I remember was the complaints, but your mileage may vary. As for Superman, was Reeve’s Superman not godlike? He could fly the Earth backwards in time and grow a fortress from a crystal.