Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Planning The Super-Marathon - a list of things we'll be watching!

Leading up to the release of Warner Bros. Man of Steel, expect this blog to become all the more Super-Centric.

If I could watch all of the Harry Potter movies again before catching the final installment, and watch all the Avengers movies leading up to Whedon's Avengers, I think I owe it to myself, to you, and to the world to watch just a whole ton of Superman media leading up to the film's release.

I am going to go chronological, and if you want to play along at home, I'll try to keep you up to speed with what I'm watching.

Also, I am not averse to having screenings where folks can come over and join me if they're in the Austin area, but time is of the essence.  We can't really dilly-dally while you try to find a date that works for you.  We've got, like, 100 hours of media to watch before the movie kicks off.*

The Fleischer cartoons

I figure three or four ought to do it.  These cartoons are groundbreaking for the era and hold up remarkably well today.  Superman still can't fly in most of them, but he's a heck of a lot of fun as the squinty-eyed, devil-may-care action ace who is always two steps behind Lois's nose for news.

Superman (aka: The Mad Scientist)
The Mechanical Monsters
Terror on the Midway 
The Underground World

We'll see, I'll probably watch all of them peppered in with other items.

The Serials

Live action (except for flying scenes), these serials are good, clean fun with a very young Noel Neill and the affable Kirk Alyn playing a less lantern-jawed Superman.

At minimum, it seems necessary to catch the first two episodes
Superman Comes to Earth (in which his parents are Eben and Sarah, I believe)
Depths of the Earth

The Adventures of Superman

You guys know I'm totally in the bag for George Reeves as The Man of Steel, and I'd say "hey, let;s just watch all six seasons of this thing!" but that hardly seems practical.  Here are a few selections to consider, if you've got all six seasons sitting around.  You know, like you do.

Season 1:
Superman on Earth
The Monkey Mystery
The Unknown People (Parts I & II)

Season 2:
Panic in the Sky
Jimmy Olsen, Boy Editor

Season 3:
Great Caesar's Ghost!
King for a Day

Season 4:
The Wedding of Superman

Season 5:
The Stolen Elephant

Season 6:
The Superman Silvermine

The New Adventures of Superman

I won't lie.  This series is pretty rough.  I've never been much of a fan of the work by Filmation, but I am a completest, so I'll give some a whirl.

You're on your own, but, you know, check it out.  Shows you what American animation was like in the 60's being made crudely for TV and not by Hanna-Barbera.

There's a lot of these on YouTube if you don't have the DVDs.

Superman: The Christopher Reeve Films

Christopher Reeve was a great man, and I will punch you in the mouth if you try to say otherwise.

I plan to watch all four (yes, all four, including the one with John Cryer) Superman films, time permitting.

What I cannot decide is if I will watch the Donner cut of Superman II or the theatrical cut of Superman II.  There's an argument to be made for either.

Jamie swears she is not watching the final two of these movies, which I find ludicrous.

We will not be watching Supergirl as part of this marathon.  But if you haven't seen it, I invite you to do so.  It's batshit crazy.  I am officially too old to find Helen Slater fetching as Supergirl, but maybe you younger cats can do so.

The Ruby-Spears Superman Cartoons from the 1980's

These are probably great for your kids.  Written by Marv Wolfman and really leaping off from the movies as much as the comics, they're a pretty straight, if 2D representation of Superman in which Lex is a total weirdo more than really villainous.

It's very episodic, and one episode is probably as good as another.  The oddest part of the show is that it includes shorts of "Baby Superman".  Basically, Superman, tearing things up as an infant or young kid.

I have no idea.

Episode 1, Destroy the Defendroids, is probably as good an example as anything.



Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

This series is a perfect capsule of the state of TV in the early 1990's.  Attempts at being stylish, Lois is written with a backbone, you can tell the network was throwing money that this thing in an era before CGI made sci-fi a relatively inexpensive commodity on TV.  And, yes, a lot of us tuned in for Teri Hatcher as much as seeing Superman zip about.  It reflects the post-Crisis Superman continuity very well, with a less cheesy take on Ma & Pa Kent and more, sort of laid back parents of an alien.

Oddly, their Lex had a really nice head of hair, but was otherwise pretty engaging.

I"m just going to take on the pilot.

Superman: The Animated Series

Once again, I'd recommend every episode of this superlative program.  Just an amazing program, and part of what exploded an interest in Superman into full-blown fandom.

By season 2, you can tell they thought they'd get canceled at any moment, so every episode is a kitchen sink of DCU awesomeness.

Season 1:
Last Son of Krypton Parts 1-3
Stolen Memories

Season 2:
Blasts from the Past 1-2
Identity Crisis (Bizarro!)
Brave New Metropolis - the only dystopian Superman story you ever need
Apokolips... Now!  1-2

Season 3:
New Kids in Town
Absolute Power
Superman's Pal


It's been years since I watched the pilot.  I'll give that a whirl, plus the episodes where Virgil Swan (played by Christopher Reeve) makes an appearance.

I have a complicated relationship with Smallville, a show I was dumbfounded to find on the schedule year after year, well after the show had long gone off the rails.

Superman Returns

Basically Superman: The Movie fanfiction on a $250 million budget, there's so much I like about the movie its easy for me to overlook the glaring problems and narrative back-bends to make everything fit.  Superman saving the plane is still absolutely breathtaking (and has a Superman pitch-perfect conclusion).

Still, I'll champion the movie for what it tried to do as a continuation of the story established in the first two Superman movies with Christopher Reeve and trying for a thoughtful slant in a world of movies where stories are always shredded down to the lowest common denominator.

June 14th - Man of Steel

June 14th sees the release of Man of Steel.  I will be seeing this one in the theater.  Sure, you can join me, but you're joining me and Jamie on our excursion.  I'll let you know where we'll be (probably the Alamo on Slaughter Lane) and then its up to you to catch up with us.

If the Alamo throws a curveball and adds a Super-marathon of their own, I'll let you know as soon as I know.  Yes, we'd love to have you!  But, you know, get onboard now!  Clear your calendar TODAY.

So, I'll post when I'm going to be watching things, including (and especially) the Christopher Reeve movies.  I'll likely post on media as I watch it.  If you want to participate at home or in person, let me know, and I'll try to keep you synced up.

*not really, but we probably do have 100 hours of Superman video around the house.**
**I've wasted my life.


Jake Shore said...

Re: Superman III & Superman IV

"Jamie swears she is not watching the final two of these movies, which I find ludicrous."

I'm with Jamie. They are unwatchable. You should heed her wisdom. It is because of my affection for Superman that I must despise those "films."

Jake Shore said...

What I find interesting about your enthusiasm for Superman is how much the Superman: The Animated Series influenced you.

Aside from the Donner films (the first two only!), not much of the other show interested or influenced me much. I never liked any of the live action TV series, from Superboy to Smallville. I did enjoy the George Reeves series when it was on in syndication when I was a kid, but I haven't seen it since. I only discovered the Ruby Spears Superman a few years ago on Youtube. I've seen only a few of the Fleischer cartoons on Netflix and need to watch more. I bought the first season of the Superman animated series for my boys, and the few episodes I've seen are solid.

For me, the Superfriends were a big part of my early exposure to Superman, along with a few comics, and coloring books.

And well, I'm the other person on Earth who likes Superman Returns.

The League said...

I am aware that Superman's III and IV are not traditionally "good" cinema, but they're interesting cinema.

Yeah, I love that Bruce Timm Superman series. Especially watched in order, it's a really excellent bit of TV and gives you a nice mish-mash of aspects of Superman from Silver Age to the then modern take, and was hugely influential in recent thinking on Luthor and Brainiac.

The Fleischer cartoons somehow fell into the public domain and are about 8 minutes each, so I have a lot of friends who show them to their kids on YouTube. Really well produced stuff.