Am I Going to Have to Declare ‘Make Mine Marvel’?

ScreenHunter_629 Apr. 15 15.24

Dear DC Comics/Time Warner Executives,

We know that you are scrambling in light of Marvel’s recent releases from their new Cinematic Universe, starring the Avengers and those associated properties.

In light of the blockbuster releases of Iron Man, Captain America, The Avengers, and most recently Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we can understand why you might be in your boardrooms cussing and drinking like sailors in a burning whorehouse trying to figure out which direction to escape.

Marvel’s recent movies have been both lucrative in terms of establishing those properties as money makers but more importantly, they have converted a large yearning in terms of comic aficionados who have always wanted to see comic heroes in the proverbial flesh and found a pent-up demand of other viewers who are hungry for well-crafted stories with larger than life heroes.

Marvel has hit both of those, in spades.

Marvel

Now I know what you’re thinking: It was Superman that established those yearnings, was the first comic hero whose demand led to further stories and greater financial earnings. Superman proved people could believe a man could fly (and lift heavy stuff).

Keep hoping people forget Bat-nipples...

Keep hoping people forget Bat-nipples…

And he did it several times. Then you went to the second leg of your Trinity of heroes and put Batman back on the map. Gone was the campy Batman of the Sixties with his teen-aged sidekick, Robin. The return of Batman still had a bit of camp but was darker, richer, and more satisfying than the Dark Knight had been in decades. Alas, someone reactivated the Camp-o-meter and by the time Mr. Freeze and the Bat-nipple suit arrive, interest in Batman was flagging faster than a transplant victim in a health spa.

Batman_Superman_Wonder_Woman_TrinityBut you didn’t give up. You decided, as the master of reboots (See: Crisis on Infinite Earths) you would reboot your first two legs of your Trinity. Superman got younger, a new suit, a kid, and a revised Lex Luthor. He lifted more things, flew really fast and blocked bullets with his eyeballs. Nice look but still nothing happening there. People were cool to this new reboot.

You pulled out all the stops and went to your backup, Batman. Nolan’s vision of the Dark Detective were regressive, he rewrote a bit of history, working Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Shadows into the pastiche of Batman’s already convoluted history. No one complained because it made a kind of sense. Batman was reborn under Nolan’s hand and despite (or perhaps because of) Heath Leger’s Joker, a depiction that was a tour de force, almost overshadowing the Bat, this Batman was not just a hit, he became a force that altered Bat history on and off the page.

You were saved. The Dark half of your Duo had saved the financial day.

And yet, there was no sign of the third part of your Trinity. What Trinity you ask? The DC Universe has always looked more like a pantheon of Gods than a group of superheroes. Their arch-typical nature present for anyone familiar with Greek or Roman mythology to see. Superman is Zeus, all-powerful, literally the father of the genre and the most powerful member of the pantheon. Batman is Hades, dark lord of the Underworld. Wonder Woman was Hera, queen of the Gods, feared and loved in equal measure.

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Yes gentlemen, where AM I? Think before you answer…

So gentlemen, I ask you where is Wonder Woman? Why has she been neglected for so long? Why do I keep hearing tales that it is too hard to write a movie where Wonder Woman would be the star? She has, as one of the only female heroes to ever manage, to keep a running title for almost forty years. In the comic industry, she is the most popular female hero and the most well known. She is also one of the only female superheroes to have ever had a presence in live action on the little screen. A well-loved, well-received, fandom who will still turn out to meet and greet Linda Carter anywhere at any time.

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Guardians of the Galaxy features a mobile tree (Groot) and a gun-toting, spaceship stealing Raccoon (Rocket). Wonder Woman is hard? How?

So I ask you in all seriousness: What is your major malfunction you can’t manage to find your way to the bags of money that are sitting on your doorsteps if you were to create a reasonably well written treatment of Wonder Woman? Her animated movie did well. So did her animated appearances in the most awesome of your animated properties, The Justice League and Justice League unlimited. What are you afraid of? Marvel has a movie coming out with a walking TREE and a RACCOON in it. Only one of those will be a speaking part.

If now isn’t the time for Wonder Woman, when exactly would be the time? When a horrible spaceborne virus kills 99% of all the men on the planet? (For the record, that wouldn’t work either, women would demand a movie of the only remaining men left…)

downloadIn Wonder Woman’s defense you don’t even have to reinvent anything. We all know who she is and we are all aware of what she can do. As a matter of fact, you just have to decide how powerful you want to make her. Somewhere between Batman and Superman would, in fact, be perfect. Give her half the strength of Superman and the fighting skills to beat Batman in a fair fight and you have a winner. You don’t even have to write anything. Adapt George Perez’s famed run on Wonder Woman and you are set for at least three movies.

She has a rogues gallery, granted its not as extensive as Batman’s, but a woman who can make enemies of Gods and monsters, and survive, should surely not lack for opposition both from the real world and the magical one; she could fight terrorists one day, Minotaurs the next.

Fans have managed to create incredible depictions showing her fighting street level crime to fighting gods and monsters in equal measure. So I have to ask you again: What are you waiting for? A sign from on high?

Yes, I heard you are putting some bony actress up there and calling her Wonder Woman. But I have to say to you: That is a mistake. You are mistaking name recognition with the ability to draw an audience. This isn’t about the Actress, this is about Wonder Woman. You want to remember, anyone you put there will one day have to contend with being in the same room as Batman and Superman and any other superheroes you later create. The last thing you want is a Wonder Woman who looks as if she could use a good meal or twelve.

Wonder Woman from Rainfall Films

When fans are doing better than you are, you suck.

This is particularly a case of working backward toward the depiction. Find someone who would make me believe she could BE Wonder Woman just standing there and my mind will fill in the blanks for just about everything else.

Bullshit you say? What if I told you Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the worst actors ever? Yet, NO ONE imagines a Terminator without seeing him in the role in their minds. This was a case of the Right Look doing the heavy lifting even if he spoke with Marble-mouth most of the time. You guys are in desperate need for a win because I hate to say this to you, Marvel/Disney is kicking your asses up and down the street. And nobody has called the cops yet. You can expect to be beaten for quite a bit longer.

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Yes, he has entered witness protection for killing in Superman’s name.

What about Man of Steel, you say? Let’s not and say we did. It made money, googobs in fact; otherwise I would call your movie future dead on arrival. Man of Steel gave you a chance to revitalize and reboot the Big Blue Boy Scout one more time, now with a bit of murder under his belt. (Bad move on your part but I am over it.) About the only saving grace you have going for you at the moment is television. I am going to skip over the cancellations of Young Justice and Green Lantern, the Animated Series, the wounds are still too fresh.

In the live-action category you have Arrow and its been doing well on television. Arrow has managed to build a continuity that has been both respected and admired for its continuity and designs, if not its depth of acting talent. Arrow has now spun off the Flash series and this is a good sign. Now you have two venues to show off both evil agencies and supervillains of the DC Universe. I expect we will see Aquaman and a few other potential Leaguers before too long. This is a good thing.

But you have been found guilty of shortsightedness, hubris and arrogance in your decision to think Wonder Woman was unnecessary in the scheme of things. She was considered to be part of the Trinity of DC Pantheon for a reason. Strong, wise, brave, and capable of holding her own against either of the other two members,she has been a lynchpin in the DC Universe for decades.

How such an inspirational character has sat fallow on your tables is a testament to the lack of vision to be found in your headquarters. Perhaps you need to rent out the Legion of Doom headquarters down in Louisiana. It might inspire you to consider your business in a more world-conquering perspective.

Scott Disick throws money on crowd, swings fake axe at friend at Halloween bash in Las Vegas!

Marvel executives making it rain with their franchise runoff…

Movies are about magic. The magic to make me believe that what I am seeing could be true somewhere. Your current candidate for Wonder Woman is a mistake and I will stand by it. You will replace her in time for the Justice League movie you are hoping for. Yes, you are hoping to make a Justice League movie for the simple fact that the creation of the Silver Age Justice League inspired the writers over at Marvel to create the Avengers in the comics industry back in the day. And the money if you pull it off successful could challenge even YOUR dreams of financial avarice. (See: Avengers executives making it rain…)

But it looks like, unless DC/Warner gets its game in gear, and creates an integrated framework to build your movies around, something good, cohesive, strong and yet flexible, Marvel will be inspiring the next generation of heroes, not you. That would be a shame since you have THREE of the most recognizable icons ON THE PLANET; talk about squandering natural resources.

Sincerely,

The World’s Most Rabid DC Comic fans secretly dusting off their “Make Mine Marvel” No Prizes in their basement.

PS: Brainiac and Solomon Grundy wanted pants and got them.

P.P.S: Can Wonder Woman get some pants, they can be yoga pants if that is all you can afford, but is there any reason she has to walk around half dressed in a room full of men who are wearing tights and body armor? In the age of internet porn, a naked legged superheroine should be considered almost puritanical by comparison. Put her in a costume that dignifies a character whose longevity, in an industry of flash-in-the-pans, warrants an outfit worthy of her age and experience.

P.P.P.S. Otherwise this Wonder Woman here (wearing pants) on the right from Injustice might make her way to your boardrooms. You wouldn’t want that…WONDER_WOMAN

Captain America, Winter Soldier (spoiler-free review)

Captain America - Winter Soldier

by Brandon Easton

Saw CAPTAIN AMERICA 2: THE WINTER SOLDIER last night and really have nothing bad to say at all. There were a few issues with story logic but outside of minor nitpicks, I’d have to say this is AS good as THE AVENGERS and definitely the best “solo” MCU movie to date. (MINOR SPOILERS)

The best way to describe this movie is “balanced.” It achieved an almost perfect balance between comic book-style action, humor, character development and story sophistication. Taking a page from the Robert Ludlum/Tom Clancy school of 1970s-era Cold War espionage pop culture storytelling, The Winter Soldier (at the VERY least) establishes a formula for Marvel Studios that if used repeatedly, should guarantee the cinematic dominance of Marvel IPs for the next generation.

Expertly adapted from the critically-acclaimed, award-winning “Captain America” comics series run from writer Ed Brubaker – the movie takes the source material very seriously (and as a side note, if you haven’t read the story this is based on, I would strongly suggest you do so immediately) – and spins the direction of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe to a place no fan could have imagined.

What carries this film are the performances from the core cast – Chris Evans has grown on me as an actor and it is somewhat disappointing to learn that he wants to retire from the role when his contract expires – but Scarlett Johanssen, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford and Sam Jackson turn in strong, somber moments that propel this beyond the pulp trappings of Thor and the last two Iron Man films. The actors seem much more relaxed than in Avengers and it feels like they’ve been given more freedom to explore the characters and not worry so much about corporate blowback from Marvel Studios or their parent company Disney. Evans has great chemistry with Mackie, Jackson, Redford and Johansson and all their scenes feel natural with the right amount of dread when necessary and levity when you least expect it.

The identity of the “Winter Solider” is not a shock to anyone who’s read the comic books or paid attention to all the press releases from Marvel Entertainment, yet, we all sat there waiting for the big reveal of Bucky as the Soldier, experimented on by Arnim Zola to be the Nazi/Hydra version of Captain America.

The fallout of the super conspiracy within the Marvel Universe and what this means for AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and Captain America 3 is just plain awesome. This movie pushes Captain America from being a B-level punchline in the pantheon of costumed heroes to a legitimate superhero in the eyes of the (non-comic-book-reading) audience. The story unfurls at just the right pace – when the character development reaches its apex, then a massive-action-set-piece drops into the script. To continue on this point – Marvel Studios has basically trashed the convenient existence of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and this makes me wonder what this means for the TV series AoS?) – and created a new, more dangerous, less predictable and an altogether shadowy status quo – sort of like a combination of the gritty-post-Mike Zeck PUNISHER 1980s Marvel Universe and Ed Brubaker’s vision of the spy-comic 2000s Marvel Universe.

As a longtime viewer of comic book movies, it was nice to see well-choreographed fight sequences using real-world martial arts. That, I think, represents the mindset of the filmmakers: inject just enough “reality” into the movie to grab the attention of even the most ardent anti-comic book moviegoer and then dazzle them with incredible stunts and the trademark big Marvel-finale.

The diversification of the Marvel heroes on screen is important for the continued growth of the brand and to capture younger viewers of all backgrounds. With the exception of Blade, Anthony Mackie’s Falcon was the first Black superhero featured in a Marvel Comics movie (Sam Jackson as Nick Fury doesn’t count, and neither does Idris Elba in Thor). The exploration of Black Widow’s background and character motivation is just enough to whet our appetites for the eventual Black Widow movie (and after her performance here, I’m certain Scarlett Johansson can carry an action movie on her own – as we shall see this summer in the Luc Besson-produced LUCY). One other thing – I never understood why everyone thought she was “hot” but after this movie – wow, she really is a beautiful woman.

For all the excellent things I have to say about the actors and the setting, the core element that holds this movie together is the amazing screenplay. It would have been easy to tell another Avengers-style caper but the level of restraint and constant references to Marvel Comics, 1970s-spy thrillers, PULP FICTION (the best meta-reference in movie history), COMMUNITY (yes, Abed shows up) and past Marvel movies makes this something special.

I enjoyed every second of Captain America 2: The Winter Solider. From the introduction of Batroc, to the old school version of Zola, to the well-designed construction of double-crosses (and some were obvious), to the after-credit tie-ins to AGE OF ULTRON, I can’t give a higher recommendation. See this in the theater. The Falcon flight scenes are worth the price of admission.

© Brandon Easton 2014, All Rights Reserved

Brandon Easton

Military Industrial Stupidity Complex

COMMENTARY | NATIONAL PRIORITIES | THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM.

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This picture and quote is from Sploid Magazine

“We’re not preparing to fight the aliens. This isn’t a scene from Independence Day 2. It’s just a throwback photo of 25—yes, twenty five—Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk black stealth fighter jets celebrating its 25th anniversary back in 2006. What a beautifully intimidating celebration of power it was.

According to The Aviationist, the jets flew over Heritage Park at Holloman Air Force Base. Code One Magazine recently put up the photo taken by Denny Lombard for Lockheed Martin on its Facebook page.”

Then I wondered…

How much this display of airpower cost? Exactly what does a stealth bomber go for these days? So I turned to everyone’s favorite information resource, Wikipedia. Wikipedia reveals the cost of the Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk to be a cool $112 million dollars average cost, not including weapons payload or fuel costs…

Role Stealth attack aircraft[1]
National origin United States
Manufacturer Lockheed Corporation
First flight 18 June 1981
Introduction October 1983[1]
Retired 22 April 2008[2]
Primary user United States Air Force
Number built 64 (5 YF-117As, 59 F-117As)
Unit cost US$42.6 million (flyaway cost)
US$111.2 million (average cost)[3]
Developed from Lockheed Have Blue

[3] Aronstein and Piccirillo 1997, p. 267.

From the same Wikipedia article we see this nice picture of some OTHER F-117A Nighthawks on the ground in 1983 give or take…

F-117A aircraft from the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Virginia, prior to being deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield.

What you are seeing is an average of $27 billion dollars flying overhead. Another $27 billion or so sitting on the ground, and let’s just overlook research and development costs (I could probably find it, but it would certainly be VERY expensive and not necessary for you to get my point.)

Gets your patriotism fires burning, doesn’t it?

Now let’s merge this with another news article and see if your patriotism is still stoked…

From the Atlantic Magazine 2014 – Here’s Exactly How Much the Government Would Have to Spend to Make Public College Tuition-Free:

“A mere $62.6 billion dollars!
According to new 
Department of Education data, that’s how much tuition public colleges collected from undergraduates in 2012 across the entire United States. And I’m not being facetious with the word mere, either. The New America Foundation says that the federal government spent a whole $69 billion in 2013 on its hodgepodge of financial aid programs, such as Pell Grants for low-income students, tax breaks, work study funding. And that doesn’t even include loans. 

If we were we scrapping our current system and starting from scratch, Washington could make public college tuition free with the money it sets aside its scattershot attempts to make college affordable today.”

Update—Friday Jan. 3, 3:45 PM: Just to clarify, because some readers have asked, making tuition free in 2012 would have required $62.6 billion on top of what state and local governments already spend subsidizing public colleges, as well as some of the federal spending that doesn’t go towards financial aid. Again, you can find a detailed breakdown of how our colleges are funded in theDepartment of Education’s data.

For anybody interested in reading more about the idea of making public college tuition free, and the vast array of economic considerations that would entail, here’s a lengthy piece I wrote last year.

Update—Friday Jan. 3, 4:31 PM: One more update to answer another good question I’ve received. Technically, you could say the additional cost of making college tuition free would be even cheaper than $62.6 billion. How come? Because most Pell Grant money is already spent at public colleges. In 2011 – 2012, state school students received $21.8 billion in grants. So, if you subtract that from the total needed to completely eliminate tuition, it the sum would be closer to $40 billion. (Apologies for not teasing that point out earlier. I’d noted it in a previous article and didn’t think to repeat it.)

So what have we learned?

For the cost of 50 stealth bombers, we could send every American who wanted it to college for no expense to the student! Imagine what we could do with the rest of the military industrial complex’s expense budget…Remember, these bombers aren’t the only thing the military produces.

Still feeling patriotic or just kind of dirty…

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What inspires you? This should.

Richie Parker

Adaptive, creative, beautiful, inspirational, dedicated. He is Richie Parker.

Watch this video for eight minutes and then go out and change the world, somewhere.

Richie Parker is a vehicle engineer and 3D chassis designer at the famed Hendrick’s Motorsports for eight years. He is an amazing man whose parents are to be commended for their efforts and fortitude.

Man of Steel Lament

Lament of Superman

I am sick to death of the fan boy rage around the recent release of Man of Steel. Sick to death, I tell you. All I hear over the Internet is:

“This isn’t my Superman!”

“Why didn’t Superman protect the people of Metropolis?”

“He had time to kiss Lois Lane but not to look around at the catastrophic damage done by the Kryptonian World Engine. Where was the empathy we associate with the character?”

“These writers didn’t know the character, weren’t aware of the canon. They wasted 75 years of history to make a movie where Superman fails in an epic fashion.”

“Where is the transformative scene in the third act where Superman finds himself and creates a solution to an unsolvable problem?”

“How could they have Superman kill anyone?” “How could they have Superman let anyone die?” “Superman has superspeed, so he can save everyone. That’s what he does!”

“The body count and catastrophic destruction show in Man of Steel is on the order of 100,000+ people and 730 billion dollars worth of damage.”

I have people all over the internet finding images of Superman being super, doing his thing protecting people from threats which do not equal the scale of the problems seen in Man of Steel.

Superman saving people from falling aircraft. Wow. This show Superman at his best.

Superman saves people from burning building. Yes, he can do that. And he can protect people by putting out the fire with his super-cold breath.

“Superman gave people hope in the 50s and 60s in happier and simpler times. This new interpretation is the worst ever.”

Enough!

If we are going to compare stories, then let’s compare stories of equal capacity and challenge.

In terms of destruction, let’s look at Superman vs Doomsday.

Death_of_Superman_Final_Panel

Yeah, baby. Metropolis got completely owned. Entire sections of the city were destroyed and had to be completely rebuilt. Their titanic struggle was more like a bomb going off in the middle of the city. Note Doomsday and Superman were nearly equally matched in power, speed and ferocity. Superman wanted to take the battle out of the city but Doomsday was simply fast enough to make sure that didn’t happen. Oh and for the record, this isn’t the first time Metropolis gets destroyed. Consider the 1994 epic “The Fall of Metropolis.

You know where else this happened? Man of Steel.

Zod’s superior fighting skills, honed by a lifetime of combat meant for most of the fight, he owned Kal-El’s untrained and unskilled ass. What tiny advantage he had was lost as Zod’s mastery of his superpowers increased every second.

Superman saving falling airplanes? We’ve seen it. And we hated it. We complained about Brandon Routh’s Superman Returns, calling it lifeless, dead on arrival, derivative crap, and another appearance of Lex Luthor, public unpowered menace. Hmmm.

Could one of the real reasons we hate Superman Returns is because, in the entire movie, Superman never even throws a punch? That he gets shanked by Lex Luthor and kicked around like he was about to experience a prison rape scene? Huh? Yeah, maybe?

No, don’t turn away. I’ve got more.

Wait, when Superman (Christopher Reeves) failed to save Lois Lane because he had to chase down two cruise missiles heading in different directions, did we complain when he REVERSES the rotation of the Earth and somehow manages to stop the flow of time, which mysteriously allows him to catch both missiles AND saves Lois Lane? No Deus Machina there, huh?

Stop looking at your shoes. You accepted it. You laughed about it. Just like the super-memory wiping kiss. Yeah.

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One more: Superman would never kill anyone. I’ve got a picture for you. (see above)

It’s from a comic series called Miracleman (Marvelman, if you’re old enough to have read it the first time). This used to be London. This image shows what a being with the powers of Superman/Zod could do if he just did what he wanted to do. And there was no one to stop him. Oh yes, I could see Zod having such a good time this way. This scene is what you get when you have a writer willing to portray the destructive capacity someone like Superman or Zod is capable of. Terrifying and bold were the writings of Alan Moore. Read a bit more if you dare.

Just keep it in mind. Now back to the issue.

Except when Superman does kill, he does it for almost the exact same reason he kills in Man of Steel. To protect the entire world’s population. Needs of the many and all that jazz. On Superman’s 50th birthday, he kills the Phantom Zone criminals of a parallel universe because on their world, after they escaped the Phantom Zone, they killed everyone on the planet. Torturously. Cruelly, as only a Kryptonian could. Even after depowering them, Kal-El decides to make the ultimate judgement because their Zod vowed to get their powers back and come to his reality and kill everyone there as well. This was a threat he took seriously. They had already done the deed once. No moral compunction would stop them.

So for his 50th birthday, John Byrne has him do the deed. Happy birthday, Kal-El. Kill some fellow Kryptonians and let’s eat some cake after you get back from your trip into interstellar space to screw your perfect I-never-kill-anyone-ever little head on straight.

If a man is going to break a cardinal rule, something that defines him and his character, let it be for a threat worthy to the cause.

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For his 75th birthday, Kal-El gets a movie and the same damn dilemma.

Renegade Kryptonians arrive, threaten the Earth, plan to build a Kryptonian K-mart on the bones of the human race.

Faora Ul told Kal-El (while she was kicking his ass) that for every one he saved, the Kryptonians would kill a million more. Zod would later reveal his plans for terraforming the Earth and bringing back the Kryptonian races via the Codex over Kal-El’s dead body, preferably.

So. Presented with at least three combat capable Kryptonians, though I remember at least six being sentenced on Krypton, Kal-El is given the choice of killing the Kryptonians or allowing them to destroy the Earth. 3 against 1 odds didn’t go well in Smallville. Things would not have likely gotten better if the rest of Team Zod hit the field.

The writers made a call to allow Superman to dispose of the bulk of Team Zod by sending them to the Phantom Zone, while disposing of all of the remaining Jor-El tech and links to Krypton.

But now we are left with Zod. Lets go over the checklist of things Superman can do given the circumstance he is left to contend with in Man of Steel. Remember this is as the WRITERS DESIGNED IT, not as Superman would have chosen it.

  • He is standing in the rubble after a powerful terraforming device has turned part of Metropolis into a fine and even grey dust.
  • Zod has decided since he has nothing to live for, he will dedicate his life to the destruction of Earth. He is quite capable of doing it. This is not an idle threat.
  • Kal-El does not have a Phantom Zone projector conveniently hidden in his Fortress of Solitude.
  • For that matter, Kal-El has no Fortress of Solitude.
  • No STAR LABS to whip one up out of Kryptonian “stone knives and bear skins”.
  • No Batman or other superheroes to tag team the villain with and subdue him with overwhelming force or cunning.
  • No stray sliver of green or gold Kryptonite hidden until the last moment. (Quick, someone call Brandon Routh, he had an entire island of the stuff!)
  • No Kryptonian artifacts he could use to depower or cripple Zod.
  • Zod is an alpha male, trained for decades in fighting, sufficient skilled without superpowers to take over (even if it was just for a minute) the government of his home planet.
  • Kal-El is a farm hand who has traveled the world and never raised his voice in anger, let alone fought anyone for fear of turning them into a pile of Chunky Monkey. The Karate Kid (pick your era) has more combat training than he does.

What did you expect was going to happen? Zod would somehow come to love humanity while he and Kal-El were duking it out destroying everything they came into contact with and swear undying loyalty and fealty to Earth?

Somehow, farm-hand Kal-El was going to overcome warrior-god Zod and restrain him without long-term injury? Really?

Without a Deus Machina (which we already talked about in the Lois Lane Incident) Kal-El was left with no real options for restraining or stopping Zod. And yet they gave us one anyway. Zod is stronger, faster, better-trained, more skilled and yet he is “overcome” by Kal-El? Or was Zod simply forcing Kal-El to make a choice which Zod himself would have NEVER made?

Fuggedaboutit.

All of you whiners complaining about this Man of Steel have only yourselves to blame. You loved the Avengers, though they barely did anything at all besides show up. Iron Man and Thor did the bulk of the heavy lifting and Hulk gave us a great bit of comic relief. The Chitauri were about as dangerous as baby food products imported from China. (See: Melamine) It was your worship of the potential of catastrophic destruction which led to this monstrosity of a movie desperately seeking your approval. If you are complaining this wasn’t your father’s Superman, YOU ARE CORRECT.

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This is the Superman of Post 9/11. This is the Superman of Vietnam, Korea, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. This is the Superman of the modern age with all of the fear and loathing superheroes like him never had to deal with in the past. This is the Superman of Big Brother and our surveillance society. This isn’t just the paragon of good, he is the spectre of evil as well; the potential for power to be used for evil as well as good.

This Ain’t your father’s Superman. He has way more baggage than those earlier versions of the character EVER did.

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Personally, I liked the real hidden message within Man of Steel.

There are and will be things beyond your control.

There are things which transcend your ability to right.

There will be people whose power may (or certainly) exceed your own.

It does not mean you do not fight.

It does not mean you give up.

It does not mean there will not be casualties. 

It means you do your best with what you have and understand sometimes your best, even with the best of intention, even with great power and great responsibility, will simply not be enough.

Do it anyway.

In today’s world THAT is the real message. Not a message of faux inspiration when there is nothing at risk. Not a message of do-gooderism which does not take into account the reality of loss. 

You don’t like Man of Steel because it paints a picture of the invincible hero who does not manage to protect everyone?

Good. This is the reality of the world we live in. Get over it. It’s not the 1950s anymore. Times change. You might want to as well. Now sit your fanboy ass down and enjoy the view. Superman will more than likely herald a series of DC movies of other heroes who deserve some screen time besides Superman and Batman. I know someone right now who can’t wait to get to the big screen. Here’s a hint:

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Be like Superman and roll with the punches.

Signed:

A Real Superman Fan

Could Superman die of old age?

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New Earth Superman: Got rid of the bloomers on the outside and now I’m too sexy to get old…

[science of science fiction]

This question cannot be definitively answered because DC Comics has never definitively answered it.

And this is still one of the greatest shames of the DC Comics franchise. Without a clear quantification of Superman’s powers, it is truly impossible to answer some of the most important questions around the character, including Could Superman die of old age? Granted, given the powers of his enemies and the danger of his lifestyle, the possibility of him living to a ripe old age is probably slim to none but should he find himself growing older and want to consider whether he should sign up for a 401K, the question does need to be asked.

To address the question effectively we have to check a few things before we dive in. The first question is WHICH Superman are we talking about? Since the character has had multiple iterations and multiple continuities, each has possessed varying levels of longevity.

See: How many canon Supermen have existed since his first appearance in Action Comics in 1938? 

The main versions of the character include the Golden Age version, the Silver Age version, the Post-Crisis version and the Modern DC New Earth version. We are going to skip the Post Crisis, John Byrne version because he no longer exists and we will skip over the DCnU version because he is still too new for DC to have revealed enough to know for certain. He has been returned to his youthful age of 25 to 30-something after their recent reboot of their universe.

We will talk about a couple of examples of Supermen who didn’t appear to age and a couple that did.

DC has published the DC One Million storylines where a Superman has retreated into the sun to live (yes, INSIDE the sun is where he places his Fortress of Solitude, and I can bet he gets NO visitors) and has gained powers far beyond any of the versions of the character that has existed to date. His powers were so fantastic, he was able to power his descendants giving them extraordinary abilities as well. Superman Prime (as he was called) appeared to be invulnerable, immortal and completely unaging. This was a Post-Crisis version of Superman.

Supermen

DC has also shown signs of Superman aging. The original Golden Age Superman (Kal-L) whose origins on Earth-2 (Pre-Crisis) seemed to age as an ordinary human would. He married his universe’s Lois Lane and the two seemed to age at comparable rates. His powers also diminished as he aged, making him only a fraction as strong as the Earth-1 Superman of the same time period.

Another aging Superman was the Kingdom Come Superman (which counts as an alternative Earth storyline, but it was a very popular version of the character). He aged far slower than humans, and grew more powerful as he aged. He lost his vulnerability to Kryptonite but was still capable of being harmed by the chaotic energies of magic (he tests this by cutting his finger on Wonder Woman’s god-forged  sword). In this iteration, his power were great (not as great as the Silver Age Superman or the Superman Prime character) but quite formidable and he hadn’t appeared to lose a step due to the aging process.

Silver Age Superman

The Silver Age Superman (the second most powerful version of the character, and the version you probably grew up on before his reduction of powers after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC’s first universal reset) had vast powers under a yellow sun and did not appear to age at all. While he could be (theoretically) killed in battle, once he reached an adult age, there was no further sign of aging. This character existed Pre-Crisis as well. This character was so powerful in one of his stories he sneezes and destroys a solar system. I believe this is the real reason the Crisis on Infinite Earths had to happen…

So CAN Superman die of old age?

The question can’t be answered effectively because no one has ever written the definitive treatment on how Kryptonians acquire superpowers on Earth, (or for that matter how metahumans acquire powers in the DC Universe) and there is no ratified documents describing how the Kryptonians (Homo Sapiens Krypton), who resemble (Homo Sapiens Sapiens) in appearance, but vary so far from us in terms of biological processes.

  1. Are the Kryptonians related to Humans and happen to have a convergent evolution?
  2. Are the Kryptonians genetically-modified humans, who use technology to create superhuman abilities when powered by particular wavelengths of energy?
  3. Are the powers of Kryptonians only viable in certain environments or under certain conditions but in all other ways they resemble humans?
  4. Are Kryptonians peak engineered humans whose physiology without powers is simply better, having reduced or eliminated the threat of disease, genetic dysfunction, and slowed or erased the aging process?

These are the questions which are never definitively answered so questions about Superman’s aging (with yellow sun or without) can be answered fully.

Man of Steel

As a thought experiment, let’s look at the recent Man of Steel version of Superman to determine through inference if Superman can die of old age.

The Kryptonians had a population management program where members of the society were born through an in-vitro process of genetic recombination of traits. This may imply:

  1. Kryptonians possess superior genetic recombination science. They were able to selectively mix and match genetic capabilities to ensure genetic dispositions for abilities were passed down.
  2. The Kryptonians had already cleared away genetic imperfections or diseases which shorten lifespans. This may be the reason they were utilizing population controls. A species with very long lifespans may need to keep populations under control lest they overrun and destroy their environment with near-immortals consuming everything.
  3. Since they were mining the core of their planet, this may imply they had already HAD an ecological over-population which precipitated their regulation of their population as a potential counter.
  4. Though we have no indications of how old anyone was, we do see examples of older Kryptonians on the Council, and Jor-El is a bit grey (approximating the age of a man in his mid-fifties) though he appeared hale and hearty enough to hold his own in an unfair fight.

We can assume aging takes place among the Kryptonians while they live in their native environment, though its rate in comparison to Humans is as yet unknown. We can compare Kal-El’s growth rate from child to adult as similar enough to our own, he was able to blend into Human society without incident regarding his physiological growth rate.

Once he was fully an adult does he stop aging?

This is the question that cannot be answered effectively unless we are able to understand how he is able to fly, resist incredible amounts of physical damage and project energy from his body.

If we assume physical capabilities which require a catalyst to activate (in this case, the yellow sun) these abilities would be in addition to his normal Kryptonian genome, perhaps genetic technologies woven into their genome as a survival strategy for conquering other planets or surviving hostile environments.

With such abilities, however, a single Kryptonian could conquer any planet with an environment like Earth’s. And it would make sense for Kryptonians to do so. Unfortunately, only about ten percent of the galaxy’s stars are similar to our sun, so on most planets they would have far less durability or capability.

So if these are genetic patents designed to be a support technology increasing durability, strength and resilience, they would only be most effective on a tiny range of planets overall.

Did the Kryptonians know this? Judging from the speed some of them learned and used their abilities, I can only surmise that indeed, some of them were aware of what they were capable of.

If their genetic technology did not completely stop their aging on Krypton, but were an integral part of their biological structure, it is safe to assume, even under a yellow sun, the Man of Steel Kryptonians require sustenance, water, air and other biological necessities, which can be temporarily reduced or ignored while living under a yellow sun. For Kryptonians to be able to live and utilize energy as a biological organism, even a perfect one, experiences some level of entropy and overall decay.

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SUMMARY

My verdict would indicate the Man of Steel’s Kryptonians were masters of genetic and engineering technologies which give their underlying Humanoid physiology fantastic capabilities under a tiny window of conditions. Given the right solar energy levels, the right gravitational fields, they are prodigious engines of destruction but even they had limits. Note that Faora Ul (who was wiping up Smallville with Big Blue and the US Army) was taken down by a cruise missile which evidently delivered sufficient force to knock her down and out.

That means we still had technology strong enough to kill a Kryptonian, if you didn’t mind the collateral damage required to do the job.

Having 100,000 years of technological evolution to work with makes any Kryptonian advance technology appear as magic to us. They mastered space travel, dimension-crossing, wormhole generation, genetic engineering, recombinant DNA mastery, and energy manipulation abilities we don’t even have names for.

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But their greatest limitation is their desire to maintain a human form.

  1. Is it vanity? Or is there some other societal issue?
  2. Is it an inability to alter their physical capabilities further without a change in their psychology?
  3. Why did they give their bodies such capabilities and then limit them to a tiny subset of environments?

Something in this limitation makes me believe there is an underlying limitation in their genome we are not aware of.

It is this unknown limitation which makes me believe they have mastered their genome sufficiently enough to REDUCE aging but not completely STOP it.

Man of Steel Review (spoiler-free)

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Guest blog by Kenneth Alexander Wright Vazquez

“His name is Kal, Son of El”

For the last 35 years director Richard Donner’s ‘Superman The Movie‘ has been the cinematic representation of the beloved hero for a generation and considered by many to be the best movie of the super hero sub-genre (despite needless camp and holes in its plot). Now, visionary director Zack Snyder and writers David S. Goyer and Chris Nolan have delivered what could very well be the Superman of a new generation with ‘MAN OF STEEL’; in fact it is.

Zack Snyder has achieved, along with Goyer’s and Nolan’s sharp and deeply layered script, nothing short of greatness. This is the Superman film all of us, not just fans of the character, but movie goers in general have been clamoring for since the closing of the last one. Disregard, yet never forget, the Christopher Reeve films, for ‘MAN OF STEEL’ is a spectacular re-imagining and re-telling of the Superman mythos in modern day brought to us by the genius of Zack Snyder.

Every scene of ‘MAN OF STEEL’ belonged to Snyder and that’s evident in everything from the editing and photography to the signature kinetic use of the camera. Goyer and Nolan have written the definitive cinematic Superman with a script that explores the inception and growth of a hero on multiple levels. A smoothly-flowing narrative that moves eloquently from memories to present day beautifully depicting the creation of an icon.

No aspect of Superman is left untouched thanks to Goyer’s respect for the comic book source material and yet, Nolan’s technical and thematic approach is complementary to the mythos. Some were afraid of Nolan’s well known ultra-realism seen in his Dark Knight Trilogy with its unique and gritty vision of Batman, however in ‘MAN OF STEEL’ his sensibilities are faint in the grandeur of it all. It might be Goyer’s and Nolan’s words, and rightfully so, but it is Zack Snyder’s world.

There’s a delicately woven balance of drama, humor (yes there’s humor) and non-stop action in this seriously epic sci-fi experience. Snyder has evolved as a director and ‘MAN OF STEEL’ is the apex of his illustrious career. It’s as if Snyder used comic book panels from 75 years worth of Superman adventures to lay out the course of this film. Trust me, this is virtually ANY Superman comic brought to cinematic life.

Special effects are quite extensive and a sight to behold especially when it comes to the depiction of Superman’s many powers chief among them, flight. Damn, can this Superman fly, and well enough to make the wire pullers from the Chris Reeve films proud. In Snyder I continue to trust.

Superman needs to soar musically and the score, that grandiose music score, was beautiful. Somber, serene, harmonious, thunderous and downright magnificent (it surely reminded me of Vangelis musical renditions for Blade Runner). It lacked that “Superman music” sound that a hero like him invokes but it makes up for it in so many ways. Hans Zimmer re-invented himself as a composer just as ‘MAN OF STEEL’ re-invented Superman as a hero.

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Snyder is known not just for that bold eyeball of his when it comes to capturing amazing imagery but for spotting talent in a cast. And what a solid cast this is. Let me be blunt and straight to the point, Henry Cavill IS Superman. His portrayal of the greatest hero in pulp fiction is on point from shy and humble beginning to stoic, generous and powerful end. His is a Clark Kent on a journey, a life affirming quest of self discovery that will take him from the relative safety of Smallville, Kansas (a Norman Rockwell and homely Plano, Illinois), a re-rendered Krypton, a perilous ocean, a mysterious and cold tundra to a gleaming Metropolis. When Cavill dons the legendary suit (and what a gorgeous suit it is) he becomes heroism incarnate complete with a smile. Yes, this Superman freakin’ smiles!!! Please, don’t even bother to compare Cavill’s Clark Kent/Superman to the amazing late Christopher Reeve, this is a very distinct version of the character.

What’s Superman without his Lois Lane? Incomplete, that’s what he would be. As powerful as he is, Superman needs support and “protection” and that’s what Amy Adams’ Lois Lane provides in threes. She’s ambitious, tenacious, clever, persistent and above all caring. Snyder chose wisely.

Perry White, in MY opinion, is as vital a part of the mythos as Superman’s cape and Laurence Fishburne stepped up to the bullpen portraying a man dedicated to the truth and integrity of his newspaper and that of his reporters. I could not be happier with Mr. Fishburne’s skill.

The foundation of Superman’s heroism is his parental units. Both his Kryptonian and Earth-based parents do a brilliant job at shaping a savior. Russell Crowe embodied Jor-El with plenty of fatherly presence as well as surprising physical ferocity. This is a Jor-El with brawn as well as smarts. Giving birth to Superman requires a heck of a mother and Israeli actress Ayelet Zurher (Angels and Demons, Vantage Point) portrays Lara Lor-Van as a heartfelt matriarch and supportive wife.

He was born in a neo-medieval Krypton but raised in a rural and idyllic Smallville by Mr and Mrs Kent. Kevin Costner was so loving and protective that as a viewer I felt as though he was my father. Jor-El was the father, of course, but Jonathan Kent was the dad. A still attractive Diane Lane (The Outsiders, Streets of Fire) was the sweetest mom, an anchor for Clark to hold on to and quite the tough lady.

A hero is only as good as the villain and in ‘MAN OF STEEL’ our hero has quite a few to face off in order to save the day. The most interesting villains are those who do not think of themselves as such and Michael Shannon (Premium Rush, The Iceman) is exactly that. As General Zod, Shannon portrays, with his notorious intensity, a relentless former war hero that will go to great lengths to save his people’s legacy even if it means genocide. Again, do not make comparisons to past versions of Zod, specially that of the brilliant Terence Stamp for his was a highly operatic and comic book flamboyant Zod, while Shannon is just a complex force of nature.

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Exotic and petite German actress, Antje Traue (Pandorum), plays the fierce and psychotic Kryptonian warrior Faora Ul while the enigmatic Mackenzie Gray (Shooter, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnasus, Smallville) portrays Jax-Ur with cold and calculating finesse. He even reminded me of Superman villain, Brainiac.

Making memorable appearances were Christopher Meloni (12 Monkeys, 42, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit), Richard Schiff (The Lost World: Jurassic Park), Harry Lennix (The Matrix Reloaded) and Dylan Sprayberry.

The only thing that bothered me about the film was the absence of a supporting character to the saga of Superman. In the end it did not keep me from enjoying the overall presentation.

Phenomenal action, stunning visuals, powerful performances and subtle nods to both the comic books and previous films in the franchise make Zack Snyder’s ‘MAN OF STEEL’ quite the film to behold. This is the true return of a superhero who will forever reminds us of the greatness that lies within us all. We may stumble as we follow him but in time, we will join Superman in the sun.

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Man of Steel Publicity Special