By Jim Foote & Josh Krubner
I love Superman. He's my dude. So, it's only natural Josh and I take on the movies of The Man of Steel. The Man of Tomorrow. The Last Son of Krypton. Kal-El. Clark Kent. Superman! Okay, I'm getting carried away. Point is, whether you enjoy the character or you don't, this franchise/series has some of the best and worst comic book or superhero movies have produced. Having seen Josh's rankings, I can say we DO disagree often, but some of our reasonings are similar. Before we get to the rankings themselves, we'd like to talk about a few things that influenced this list, the standings, and what we look for in Superman. We're going to expand more on such themes and aspects in our next piece, but for now, I'll let Josh take it away. - Jim
If you’re as much as a Super-fan as Jim and I are, you tend to know things that the average reporter wouldn’t. Superman couldn’t fly until the mid 1940s. Originally, he was only able to “leap tall buildings in a single bound."
Over the years, Supes gained more and more powers and after flight/next in the description, people took a keen notice of his “super speed." Despite racing time and time again throughout the ages and against various speedsters, Superman is not and has never been touted as “The Fastest Man Alive.” Most recently, in the old DC universe, Barry races Clark to the Speed Force and for once, goes full force without holding back, leaving him in the dust remarking “Clark, those races were for charity.” While it’s true, in the movies he can fly fast enough to reverse time/the Earth’s axis, “Faster than a speeding bullet” (circa 1950) 1500-1700 mph. Sure, the Sound Barrier will break at 800mph give or take, and he’d be the fastest Olympian ever, but “speedster” he is not.
Other nifty powers added to and taken away from supes over the years/incarnations, the ability to breathe in space, telescopic vision, x-ray infrared heat vision, super intellect, super hearing, super telepathy (quickly taken away), super voice throwing, super voice changing, and a few others that never once included throwing a plastic S-shield prison. I really can (and gladly will sometime before BVS) write about the big blue boyscout at length, but for the purposes of this list, I’ll move on to one last basic in any Superman story… make that two, and they're called The Kents. - Josh
Before I let Josh finish, I'd like to dive into something important. There is a reason it's extra difficult for Superman to translate into the movie world nowadays. Because of his boy scout nature, it's as if everyone feels the need to make Supes dark and broody. They shouldn't. That's Batman's territory. Superman should be loud in color, flying high and proud, an inspiration of hope. Instead, he's dark, brooding, and moody. Well, at least in the last couple of entries. It's almost as if the filmmakers don't really get the character. In my eyes, he's incredibly tragic. He's destined to outlive those he loves, doesn't really know what it means to live amongst his own, and the only piece of his home... can kill him. But you see, that's the thing. Despite all of those tragic factors, he rises above.
This brings me to the main problem overlooking the cinematic universes of both Marvel and DC, the tone. The tone of a single movie can be anything. However, once the tone of each movie starts merging, you wind up pushing out the same kind of story each time. Let's take the latest attempt at Fantastic Four. With Fant4stic, they... of course... tried to make it serious and dark. It's the fucking FANTASTIC FOUR! They should be fun, goofy, zany, etc. Think Incredibles, but live action. What made me like movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier so much is that they had different tones. They went somewhere different, be it comedy or turning a comic property into a spy-thriller. Iron Man and Man of Steel set the tone for each cinematic universe. Thing is, you need to branch out. Each needs to tread the line of having its own identity while not taking a shit on your expanding universe. That's why Superman doesn't need to be dark and gritty. We have that in Batman and from the looks of it, that's where things are headed over in the MCU. DC has the chance to be different, but nope.
Anyway, back to Supes. I'll go more in depth, as we both shall, as to what we look for in the character. To me, he IS Clark Kent. Superman is the mask. Being Superman lets him do what he does without involving his family. That's the difference between Supes and Bats. Bats IS the real. Bruce Wayne is the mask. Supes, though, is the mask that covers Clark. Why? It's simple, and it's what I'll allow Josh to get into next. - Jim
Whether Superman comes from a futuristic nihilistic society of assholes who have given up on human to human sexual relations, or a 30s Krypton that looks like “1986 Earth," his rocket lands in the heartland, where he is taken in and taught the value of human life by his adopted… scratch that, “his parents," Jonathan and Martha Kent. Jonathan doesn’t always make it to see Clark in Metropolis, but with what little time he has with his son, he ALMOST always instills some of the best lessons anyone could ever teach. Clark is taught to forgo things like ego, pride, wealth, and “being an asshole,” in favor of understanding, compassion, morality, and “not being an asshole." Jonathan Kent is like the guy on the Folger’s commercial who gets a bad call in slow pitch adult league softball to lose the game, only to pull over and change the tire for the ref who lost him the game three hours later in pouring rain. This is the man we should expect him to be, and he is one of the two biggest reasons that “Superman” is not only “super,” but that he even has the “truth, justice, and the American Way” credo. - Josh