Friday, March 1, 2024

Let's Talk About the New Superman Movie - Superman 2025


Let's talk about the new Superman movie happening over at WB.  I mean, eventually.  We'll start by talking about me and why I'm going to focus on just the one thing in a series of posts.  With DC moving into production on a new film, I'm thinking about talking about Superman again on a regular basis.  Y'all let me know if this content would be welcome or useful.

Despite the name, this site was never intended to be a Superman fan site - at least not entirely.  We started blogging back around 2003 over at League of Melbotis, when blogging was very different from what social media is today.  Heck, I don't think I'd even heard the term "fandom" when I started, and wouldn't for a few years. 

A common thread over my years of blogging has been my enthusiasm for Superman -  as a character, studying Superman's rich history as a character and IP, Superman media of all types, Superman in media, etc...   But, again, I'm easily distracted and never just said "I am only writing about Superman".  I don't know how people do that.

At League of Melbotis and the early years here at The Signal Watch,  I covered comics and comic-related media from time to time.  But some things changed, and - of course, with the Marvel explosion, superheroes and comics went mainstream in a way that meant talking superhero media could feel redundant.  These days there are endless sites, YouTube channels, etc...  There's already enough people carnival barking about the same stuff in a way I wasn't, and am not, interested in doing.  

To cast stones on part of what I find unappealing about most discussion I see online when it comes to topics like Superman:  I do not believe I own Superman.  I have no claim on Superman, nor am I entitled to Superman.  I have my opinions on what works and what doesn't, but I also am not going to scream into a mic about it every week.  I do not believe Superman belongs to all of us.  He's the joint property of the Siegel estate and whomever owns the publishing rights to Superman, which is DC Comics, which is a wing of whatever entity owns Warner Bros this week.  

It's up to me to figure out how I fit into that picture.  Sometimes I am with what the people who own Superman want to do, and sometimes I am not.  Liking a thing does not equate to entitlement, nor am I required to think every move is equal in value.

But, to be clear - because this could be someone's first brush with me as a Superman fan:

To this day, I continue to read Superman comics, watch, view and listen to Superman media and generally remain enthused enough about Superman that, yeah, I still have a room in my house that's pretty Super.  I follow the Superman comics and have read them consistently since the late 1990's.  I've read a good chunk of the material from post-COIE, read a lot of Golden Age and a lot more of the Silver Age.  I've read some Bronze Age.  No, I don't have it all memorized.

I grew up on Super Friends and Superman flip-books and other novelties.  I saw Superman: The Movie in the theater as a tot who was way too young to be there, but was there, anyway.  And then the next two movies in the series in the theater as well.

Back at the original blog, League of Melbotis, we tracked the news about Superman Returns from pre-production to the eventual box office disappointment.  And then we tracked our own cautious optimism and shell shocked reaction to Man of Steel upon the release of that movie.  And it's generally been a ride with DC movies since Man of Steel, through Justice League and into the last gasps of the DCEU as it was.  

I don't think the DCEU was without good points.  The first Wonder Woman movie was ground-breaking, but I hated the follow up.  I hated the first Suicide Squad film and loved the second.  I like Peacemaker quite a bit, too.  There are scenes and bits I like with Superman in all of his DCEU appearances, but, by and large, the DCEU was *not for me*.  This came as quite a surprise as a person who dearly loved the DCU of the comics.  At least until DC repeatedly told me to take a hike as a reader, both intentionally with events like The New 52 and perpetual price hikes.

I just recently admitted to JimD that I've more or less now reduced my comics purchasing of floppies to Superman and Wonder Woman titles, and I pick up trades of Captain America and Black Panther.  Nothing else much seems worth the price of entry as I head towards 50 and have been reading comics for a long, long time.

That's okay.  I've done what's natural - I still like all of this stuff, but I don't need to keep reading histories of Superman or every single printed thing about Superman.  I don't need to pick up every comic and try to find the hip new thing.

That said - I do spend money on comics, but it's now much more focused on back issues and having a more ridiculous set of long boxes than a person should have (I am getting dangerously close to full runs of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen and Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane).  And I won't get into what my trade collection looks like because it's just conspicuous consumerism at some point.

Like many my age, I've been through two reboots of movies that didn't quite work between Superman Returns and the slate of DCEU films.  I watched large parts of 10 seasons of Smallville - which was very much a product of its era and network.  I did six seasons of Supergirl, and am headed into my fourth season of Superman and Lois - which is spiritually mostly spot on for what I'm looking for, but exists as this weirdo "the later life of Superman when he's a dad with teen sons" show.  The program does have a terrific depiction of Lois and Clark, and a notion of how Superman can exist in the world - and on a budget!   And, as a surprise bonus, last year we got the surprisingly good cartoon, My Adventures with Superman, that retconned Superman's early career and much of the DCU, but which I liked a lot.*  

I've also seen the original 4 Reeves-starring films more than I care to discuss, all six seasons of George Reeves and Co., the Kirk Alyn serials, and plenty of versions of animated Superman from the 1960's to the 00's.  I've read the - frankly horrendous - JJ Abrams script. 

It's been a lot.

But because of this time, I tend to think I know my Superman better than the average bear, but hopefully I've retained a mind open enough for new things or new takes.  Superman has been an ever-evolving fixture in the public eye and the various mediums in which he's existed.  I won't say my take is the only one, nor do I want to be a jerk about it, but I'll say: my take is informed.  But! I am always willing to concede that there are many, many other people out there who know more than I!  I know enough to know there are those who have made Superman their whole life, and I bow to their hard-won knowledge and wisdom.  

Thus, I have my opinions about what makes Superman work when the character is written at his best.  As long as that core is there, Superman can be a cartoon, a movie, a comic, a puppet show - the story just needs to understand what kind of person Superman is.  And that includes the characters around him that show different aspects of who he is while remaining characters in their own right.

In considering what's coming from Gunn and Co., it's with a knowledge of what else has been tried in recent years to return to the well with many franchises that I once liked.  Those efforts have varied in quality (see: Star Wars), or hit notes I didn't feel were what I was looking for (the Addams Family spin-off, Wednesday).  Or flopped before they started (see: The Dark Universe).  

Still, Gunn put out three of the best Marvel movies with Guardians of the Galaxy, and maybe the last good DCEU movie in Suicide Squad.  He mixed comedy and pathos, action and adventure with stories of found family, and made characters like bug women from alien planets and talking raccoons seem more real than most characters in cinema.  He made you feel for these unlikely characters and created worlds that felt lived in and visually interesting.  

And he gets what essentially lonely characters are like.  And Superman is the Last Son of Krypton, an alien on a planet where he's one of maybe two or three like him (we've already heard there's casting for Kara Zor-El, aka: Supergirl - who has a far different take as a refugee rather than an adoptee).  And I think we can look at the Daily Planet staff in a way that the comics have eschewed far too much the past two decades, and that's as Clark's found-family.  And this movie does have a Lois, a Jimmy and a Perry, I believe.  

What's curious is that Gunn is starting not with Superman's first appearance, but a world in which a variety of super heroes are established.  We already have a Mr. Terrific, a Metamorpho, a Hawkgirl and more.  We even borrowed from The Authority to have The Engineer.  What this means and what the story might be is something we can dig into later.

Oh, and we have a Lex Luthor in Nicholas Hoult, just one bit of the good casting news.  And talk about the loneliest of lonely boys.

So, this will be the first installment in this run up to the movie - which I think is slated to be released July 11, 2025.  

This week, we know the cast had a table read, and we got to see the Super-emblem (above).  And shooting started on February 29th - ironically and unintentionally Superman's comics-based birthday.  

These posts will come out as makes sense - based on news about the movie is slowly released.  But I can probably talk casting in a follow-up post, what we know about the characters announced, etc...

You can see all my Superman content by looking up the Superman label.  Or, you can follow along this possible series with the Superman 2025 label.

Until next time, here's to a better tomorrow!

*I won't bore folks with the list of Superman media I haven't watched or experienced, but we can do that, too, sometime

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