Superman has always stood for truth, justice, and the American way. Except for the odd occasions when he doesn’t. Sometimes, Superman can stand for himself (which, in turn, makes him sort of a dick), but most of the time Superman is a cut and dry character. Most folks think this a detriment to his character, but that’s completely wrong. The reason Superman works so well as a character within DC Comics is because he’s such a nice guy.
Why am I bringing this up? Because there’s a disturbing rumor floating around the internet, that if true, threatens to destroy Superman’s character for reasons. Sure I’m probably overreacting here and the movie might be great (hell, even I liked the trailer), but there are just some things you do not do.
Superman, and Clark Kent to a lesser extent, is an orphan who was raised to be a nice guy by two loving, adoptive parents. Take that away, you ruin everything about Superman. He won’t even be a “man” let alone “super.”
Since this could be a spoiler if true, you should avoid this paragraph since I’m going to mention the rumor that started me on this whole spheal. For this article, I’m going to discuss what the changes (big and little) will do to the character rather than harping on potentially dumb the change is. So, for a little context, I direct you to this tweet by Russell Crowe from a few days ago. He’s defending something. You see the rumor floating around, which Crowe intended to squash, was that Krypton, Superman’s home planet, will survive (and Kal-El is sent to Earth due to a genetic anomaly rather than his home planet blowing up) and Zod’s intention is to bring Superman back to Krypton.
Okay now since that’s out there, time to start talking about change for the sake of change. From the get go, David S. Goyer and Zack Snyder wanted to tell a different kind of Superman story. They set out to distance themselves from the current understandings of the hero. Thanks to the recent success of the Dark Knight trilogy, the two felt Superman was also in need of a “naturalistic” approach. Hey Superman is also an orphan who dons a suit in order to avenge his parents so it could work, right? Well…no. The whole naturalistic take worked so well for Batman because, despite the deus ex machina nature of the character, it seemed pretty easy to accept a Batman in reality. Granted a “real” Batman would be locked away in prison, but the films get the point across of it being a possibility as long as someone has enough money and abandonment issues. Because of Batman’s successes (and because money is a thing folks like to have), Superman underwent some changes that removed the far more fantastical aspects of his universe.
A few of the reported changes to his mythos are the lack of kryptonite (the green rock that dampens his abilities and nearly kills him), the lack of his reporter gig (he’d be Clark Kent in full on origin mode), altering the way he flies (this hasn’t been clarified, but maybe he punches the ground real good? That would be kind of cool). And of course, there’s the big one I refused to mention because it’s so damn asinine. No of course I don’t believe changing things about Superman is the worst thing in the world, as I assume Man of Steel would’ve been canned if it were truly terrible, but changing what already works is a dumb, dumb idea. And to be fair, I’m alright with some of the changes. I can accept the lack of kryptonite since it does open up the world to the other colors (for example, Red Kryptonite turns Boy Blue into a Superjerk), and he’ll probably be a reporter in the second one (Sixth? Whatever.).
But come on, there are some things you do not do. Superman is established the way he is because it works so well. He’s meant to be a parallel of Batman (although given creation dates, it’s the other way around). Where one character chose to brood in darkness, the other used his new found loneliness and embraced the warmth of other people. Superman came to represent such things as truth and justice because he was raised by two humble farm folks who believed in those very things. Unfortunately this does cause the character to have a rigid perspective, but that’s where the best stories shine. The best Superman stories available take what he’s known for (his black and white view of morality) and skew them in order to provide an even better story.
Justice League‘s “A Better World” took Superman’s long withheld desire to not harm Lex Luthor