Posted March 25, 2016 by Yuri Mangahas in Movies/TV

ROAD TO BATMAN v SUPERMAN Part 2: Advent of The Supermen


Long before Batman became the poster boy of DC Comics and all of its related media, it was a red-caped boy scout in blue tights who dominated the scene as pop culture’s premier superhero. Superman became the face of the genre during that time, with Christopher Reeves’ iteration of the character reverberating in the memory of fans for years. He was the quintessential hero for a growing generation of moviegoers. Indeed, his fight for justice, truth, and the American Way rose to appeal, paving way to a new template for a budding flock of superheroes.

However, as decades passed and circumstances had changed, Superman’s fight has lost its charm. Darker stories and mature tales prevailed. The once black and white battle of good and evil shifted to a gray area. Fans became more diverse each day. It was a brand new world.

To that regard, comic book outfits saw the need to springboard darker heroes into the fold, prompting DC and Warner Bros to introduce Batman as the new face of the aforementioned companies. Though there are efforts to revitalize Superman and bring him back to the big screen, it was tricky considering the demographic and how he’ll fit in to the era. It took two decades, five directors, and five scrapped projects before the Man of Tomorrow made its triumphant live-action comeback in Superman Returns. Despite its lukewarm reception, the character became reinvigorated for the present generation, eventually leading to 2013’s reboot outing Man of Steel.

Let us look back and discuss what made these films stand out amongst other comic book movies, and why it mattered for our perception of Superman.

The Day Superman Returned

Instead of doing a clean reboot, the Bryan Singer-helmed Superman Returns continued where Superman II left off. After hearing the astronomers’ discovery of Krypton’s remains, Superman flew to space in a bid to search for surviving Kryptonians. However,, his quest is a failure, and Clark returned to Earth. Five years have passed since then, and a lot of things changed. The world moved on without a savior, and Lois Lane, feeling dejected after the Man of Steel’s disappearance, settled anew to family life. Clark sees himself adjusting to these changes, not knowing that his long-time nemesis Lex Luthor has escaped from prison and has embarked on a plan to terraform Earth. 03_BusShelter

Superman Returns served its purpose to reintroduce the character to a new slew of moviegoers. It steered away from the trend and infused Superman with enough sensitivity, whilst not misleading the path of his mythos. All the quintessential elements that made the Reeves-era Superman well loved were there. Truth be told, the Big Blue Boy Scout came back and fit in with the current era.

It also introduced the idea of Superman and Lois having a child. Though it was subtly implied, Jason White’s inclusion to the scene made the coping period for our hero more difficult, as he struggles to embrace the fact that Lois is not attached to him anymore. It also opens a door to other possibilities for the franchise. Possibilities which may never see the light of day.

Granted its lukewarm reception, as well as the eventful Writers Guild’s Strike, Warner Bros decided to pull the plug to the series and greenlit the decision for a reboot, a decision which many have criticized up to this very day.

The Man of Steel, Reborn

After the success of The Dark Knight trilogy, WB commissioned Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer to aid Zack Snyder in helming Man of Steel. Harking what made Batman Begins great during its run, it depicts a very green Superman, as he defends Earth from a Kryptonian invasion, while discovering his roots and purpose.

why-the-criticism-thrown-at-man-of-steel-were-baseless-329659Unlike previous Superman outings, Man of Steel features a Superman who feels alienated, confused, and naive. It also managed to show a spectacle of visuals, starting with Krypton’s destruction, to Superman’s battles with Zod and his men. It is the definitive comic book movie. MoS felt more like a comic book event coming to life, as each moment were suspenseful, thrilling, and visually exciting.

Perhaps, Man of Steel’s most monumental element was its large body count. It depicted the consequences of demigods fighting in this present setting. Truly, when gods clash, the Earth crumbles, and it did. Not to mention, the decision for Superman to kill Zod was thrown with flak due to the character’s strong adherence to a no-kill rule in the comics. Despite numerous criticisms, a few comic book creators actually supported this idea, pointing that this Superman is still new to his duties as a superhero.

Superman as a Messiah

Despite the two films’ varying interpretations of Superman, they converge into one, interesting similarity: the perception of the character as a Messianic metaphor.

Superman Returns echoed this element with Marlon Brando’s lines:

Live as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you… my only son.

Furthermore, majority of the scenes show the people looking up to Superman as some sort of deity. Indeed, their world needed a Superman, in stark contrast to Lois Lane’s Pulitzer-winning article.

Man of Steel, on the other hand, utilized Returns’ Messianic influence through the viewpoint of Kal-El’s father, Jor-El. He repeated numerous times that Superman is the savior and hope the world needs, and that his power will be pivotal in bridging the extinct civilization of Krypton and humanity as one. However, the movie’s huge body count said otherwise.

Up, Up, and Away

I’m always around.

True enough, Superman is always around. Despite the emergence of numerous heroes to the scene, one cannot deny just how much of an icon the Man of Steel is. Change may be constant, but Superman will be here to stay.



Yuri Mangahas

Yuri is magnanimously juggling between two managerial jobs: A technical manager position for an advertising/copy-writing company, and an associate editorial position for a fashion and lifestyle magazine. Nevertheless, he still finds time taking photos and seeking for geek nirvana.