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  1. #16
    Mighty Member Electricmastro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    All characters and all stories are hard to write. Superman's not any harder to write than Donald Duck, Batman, Spider-Man, Darth Vader, and Monica from FRIENDS.

    The issue with Superman is that nobody wants to write Superman as a character. For a lot of people the idea is set that Superman is some saint, some religious icon, some folk hero and basically a character stuffed with symbolism and importance.But before Superman can be any of that, he has to be a character. The last time we saw that was in the Bruce Timm Superman the Animated Series and its Justice League continuation. That version of Superman was a dude you got to know. But nobody at DC seem to want to write Superman that way.

    Superman is a human being. On Krypton under the red sun he would be Kal-El who couldn't fly on his own. On Earth he's both Clark Kent and Superman. So there's a sense of identity crisis and confusion to him which many writers tapped into before, that Superman isn't really Kal-El, isn't Clark Kent, isn't Superman. Alan Moore especially in that Swamp Thing crossover, The Jungle Line tackled that. So there's a lot of inner tension and existential stuff you can tap into with Superman. Since Superman is human he can be flawed. We've seen some of that. He can be naive, too trusting, too driven by emotion. The strength and weakness with Superman and Clark, is that he's human for better and worse. Like any human he can stumble, and he's capable of failure or lapses, and because he has powers that can be dangerous. Like any human, he can rise higher and overcome that as well.

    I don't think Superman having so many powers is so difficult a hurdle. Anymore than Batman having so much money and tech makes it hard to sell any fight against any villain as any underdog story.
    I suppose what character you consider to be more difficult to write for is subjective, despite what you say, though that being said, I do think that, as historically important as Superman is, I think there comes a time where he's hugely glorified as an extremely dependable and powerful saint to the point that he's probably perceived as more powerful than he really even is, so people keep feeling the need to "power him down" and keep him farther from the clouds and closer to the Earth as a way to also be more "relatable." I remember when Bruce Timm was talking about the complaint regarding the Justice League cartoon in which Superman is often the first one to get shot down, and he said something like that was done to give the viewer the impression that he's not invincible and is indeed vulnerable, but they kept doing that to the point that there came to be a noticeable pattern.

  2. #17
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Electricmastro View Post
    I suppose what character you consider to be more difficult to write for is subjective, despite what you say, though that being said, I do think that, as historically important as Superman is, I think there comes a time where he's hugely glorified as an extremely dependable and powerful saint to the point that he's probably perceived as more powerful than he really even is, so people keep feeling the need to "power him down" and keep him farther from the clouds and closer to the Earth as a way to also be more "relatable." I remember when Bruce Timm was talking about the complaint regarding the Justice League cartoon in which Superman is often the first one to get shot down, and he said something like that was done to give the viewer the impression that he's not invincible and is indeed vulnerable, but they kept doing that to the point that there came to be a noticeable pattern.
    Eventually the JLU show gave a perfect explanation for why Superman's powers fluctuate. He lives in a world made of cardboard and always holds back his powers.

    That speech is the foundation for making Superman into a character with an inner life, with vulnerabilities, doubts, and insecurities.

  3. #18
    Astonishing Member Vordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Eventually the JLU show gave a perfect explanation for why Superman's powers fluctuate. He lives in a world made of cardboard and always holds back his powers.

    That speech is the foundation for making Superman into a character with an inner life, with vulnerabilities, doubts, and insecurities.
    That speech would’ve been so much better if he didn’t immediately job to Darkseid again after it.

  4. #19
    Astonishing Member manwhohaseverything's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celgress View Post
    The fundamental problem with a morally perfect character like Clark is that (as with Goku in Dragon Ball) after he comes to Metropolis and deals with the culture shock (growing accordingly as a character) his character arc becomes a flat one. Unlike characters such as Batman and Spider-Man who each have flaws, they can never completely overcome (Batman's obsession with justice and Spider-Man's burden of responsibility which come into conflict often with their civilian identities) Superman has no such shortcomings to constantly struggle against. A flat character arc is centered around a character who does not change much if at all (unlike a positive, negative or infinite struggle character arc) but rather his/her actions change those around him/her and/or the world, for better or worse (usually for the better). The biggest problem for a flat character arc in an action setting is said character must constantly face external obstacles to overcome. As the character becomes more skilled/stronger and thus more easily able to overcome such external obstacles the threat those obstacles represent must be scaled ever upward accordingly.
    This is something i fail to understand .how is a vigilante strongman morally perfect?
    Last edited by manwhohaseverything; 12-31-2019 at 01:45 AM.

  5. #20
    Mighty Member Robanker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    That speech would’ve been so much better if he didn’t immediately job to Darkseid again after it.
    This is why I hate it. It's almost at his expense.

    "I feel like I always have to hold back so I'm finally going to let you have it. Oh god, stop letting me have it! Lex, help!"

    Though the sentiment was always implicit. Nobody grips a glass of water with all their strength. Everyone instinctively knows to dial their strength to the task at hand. Clark would only really have a problem with that during the phase where he discovers his powers. Afterward I imagine it's as much a non issue for him as anyone else.

  6. #21
    Mighty Member Electricmastro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robanker View Post
    This is why I hate it. It's almost at his expense.

    "I feel like I always have to hold back so I'm finally going to let you have it. Oh god, stop letting me have it! Lex, help!"

    Though the sentiment was always implicit. Nobody grips a glass of water with all their strength. Everyone instinctively knows to dial their strength to the task at hand. Clark would only really have a problem with that during the phase where he discovers his powers. Afterward I imagine it's as much a non issue for him as anyone else.
    Yep. Not so perfect of an explanation with how it played out.

  7. #22
    (formerly "Superman") JAK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robanker View Post
    I would argue that Clark's arc is paternal in nature by that measure because it's about how do I best inspire people to do the right thing even when they don't want to. As a parent, caretaker, boss or what have you, one of the most important lessons to learn is imparting the necessity for self-motivated action as opposed to instructed action.

    How do you get someone to be kind when they're angry without fear or manipulation as your influence? Parents wrestle with that all the time. How do I make sure I give my kid the tools to overcome obstacles in a healthy manner? I know they'll drink, but can I trust they won't get behind a wheel? Are they resistant to peer pressure enough to not compromise their safety? Are they good and honest people as the parent has come to understand those concepts? Clark wants us to be better versions of ourselves and while he can force it, he like most good figures of influence know that change is only real when it's voluntary, else it will snap back when he's no longer in play or will counter his example in rebellion. If he made us obey a la Injustice, we would do so out of fear but those beliefs would not change. Clark doesn't and never would want that. He wants us to change, to be better, and he can't force that. He can only lead by example and protect us until we get there.

    How does he show us how good he knows we can be and how does he get us to bring that version of us out. That's his real never ending battle. It's easy for him to say "but hope, though" and Johns is as guilty of that as any, but like any parent, boss or so on, it's really hard to get up every day and still be that positive influence when you know if all the awfulness around you. He's a person. He has likes, dislikes, things that really make him angry and things he wants to accomplish in his life that aren't just being the ultimate civil servant. He has to balance all those with his legacy and self-imposed responsibility and he fails sometimes. But he never lets us down. We know that when he falls short, he gave it everything he had. Same as Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker and so many more. But win, lose or draw, his story is one of taking expectations of yourself and weighing them against what you feel you can do for others and doing your absolute best, hoping others will do the same. Can't think of a better superhero, to be honest, and that's something anyone can aspire to. Anyone can do what they can to help, to be better. Sure, you can't come from Krypton but you likely aren't a billionaire from birth or bitten by a radioactive spider that didn't give you cancer. But you can always be better. You can always help a neighbor.

    I'm a caretaker myself and I've recently been promoted to a position where I'm in charge of other employees and I can promise you it's very hard to always be my best self because I have an example to lead by. Clark, being the best of us, struggles with that too sometimes. When he's written well he still struggles with that too, but ultimately will never let us down because that's his core narrative; the man who we need in our darkest hour.

    I hate when I hear Clark is flat because it sounds like someone who never had to be responsible for others, or at least doesn't consider the weight that places on the person in question. I can speak anecdotally when I say it's exceptionally difficult to accomplish, but I do believe Clark's core arc as it's developed is plenty interesting and relevant. There's a lot to work with there alone, but adding in his crusade for the truth through journalism in a time where the President has declared war on the free press, being an immigrant during a time where the same President is the champion of every group who demonizes them and himself has actively participated in the separation of their families, and Clark being an example of said immigrant coming here and embracing his new home while bringing his culture to enrich this country he loves... I don't see how his story is flat. He's dynamic. He's relevant. More than ever, Clark is the man of tomorrow.

    Is he hard to write? I don't honestly think he is. There's a ton to work with. His biggest obstacle is everyone has made their mind up on him, love or hate, and most just think of him as a power set and fantasy. Take even a peak under the hood and there's a rich character with a robust world to explore. Especially now. But some people believe he's just too perfect and should just go away or be a villain for a billionaire to virtue signal against. Or that he's boring, flat, what have you.

    And much as he would say himself, the only way to change minds is to do so by example. Instead of complaining how hard he is to write for, just look to his core elements and tell stories with those. It isn't like Batman, The Flash or Spider-Man don't have a ton of logical fallacies built into them. They're all immensely powerful. Bruce literally throws money at all his problems and Barry changes time to fix his mistakes. Give me a break.

    I know to some degree it sounds like I put him on some pedestal, but I don't. He's a character. He's allowed to make mistakes and be a damn bonehead sometimes, but I do believe Morrison was right in that he really is the man who won't let us down. He gets it right in the end or he goes down swinging, but even so he finds a way. As much as he believes in us and doesn't trust Luthor, he can eventually be won over with enough time because he really believes in us full-stop. He wants to be wrong about Lex so much sometimes he fools even himself. Does that make him an idiot at times? Yeah. It does. Everyone's dumb about something. Jor El is another example. It's important he's shown as someone with flaws and shortcomings, but his character is one that if called out, he would admit to it and try to grow as a person instead of explaining why Brother Eye was not a bad idea, just bad execution or something.

    His real super power is being a well-adjusted adult. Don't know why that's so complicated to write.
    I like all of this a lot, really. Well said!
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  8. #23
    Savior of the Universe Flash Gordon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Eventually the JLU show gave a perfect explanation for why Superman's powers fluctuate. He lives in a world made of cardboard and always holds back his powers.

    That speech is the foundation for making Superman into a character with an inner life, with vulnerabilities, doubts, and insecurities.
    I think that scene is one of my least favorite depictions of Superman.

  9. #24
    Extraordinary Member SiegePerilous02's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    That speech would’ve been so much better if he didn’t immediately job to Darkseid again after it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Flash Gordon View Post
    I think that scene is one of my least favorite depictions of Superman.
    It came about in a Bruce Timm production, so it sadly is not surprising that it is a bit iffy.

  10. #25
    Astonishing Member Adekis's Avatar
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    Whenever someone claims that DC or WB doesn't know how to make Superman relevant, an illegal immigrant journalist with an aggressive passion for championing the vulnerable, for pushing back against bullies, and whose nemesis is a corrupt executive? I just kind of dismiss that. They know how to make Superman relevant. Anyone with half a brain could see how to make Superman relevant. They're just scared, because taking him back to his progressive roots makes it harder to sell him to broad markets. But Superman isn't just a product, Superman is also an idea, and that idea will stick around in the back of people's heads, whether WB is too scared to do any good with it or not.

    ... maybe we should encourage more Superman fan comics.

    On the other, less political side of things, just... I think they're also scared to just lean into the pulp adventure side of Superman. I get it, for decades on decades we've been told Superman is far beyond that level of story, and that an action hero story is only interesting if the hero can be physically hurt. But I say that's just not true. They could get more energy out of more classic Adventure Superman if they were just willing to try it, instead of going straight for obnoxious status quo changes all the time.
    "You know the deal, Metropolis. Treat people right or expect a visit from me."

  11. #26
    Unstoppable Member KC's Avatar
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    I watched a bit of the video, but the answer is honestly no.

    In my mind, the best way to challenge a morally good character like Superman is by putting him up against opponents or challenges that are in direct contrast to him and that rub up against who Superman is. You don't have to change Superman to make him more grey, you just have to put him up against things that challenge who Superman is and what he does. If it is done well, it can make for a good story.

    And the truth is all of Superman's stories don't have to be like this, he can fight threats that are black and white, but a balance and doing both well is a good way of writing Superman well.

  12. #27
    A Wearied Madness Vakanai's Avatar
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    He's a hard character for certain writers, or perhaps a certain type of writer, to write. But no, he's no harder to write than Batman or Wonder Woman or Spider-Man or Iron Man or any other hero.

  13. #28

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    Yes, Superman is a difficult character to write. It didn't used to be this way because the character started off rather simple - the greatest strongman ever who fought against corruption and was the champion of the "every man". This at its core was the appeal of the character and why he became so popular - he was just some quasi powerful dude who beat up bad guys. As the years went on and his powers expanded exponentially, Superman's adventures evolved to the point he was really no longer the champion of the people but rather an omnipotent being who had to be written in weird, fantastical tales in order to be challenged. In the meantime, DC and Marvel created new characters or readjusted established ones to serve as the people's champion, making Superman irrelevant (or at the very least unnecessary) in that role. I think it's hard writing a character that is a moral compass of sorts for all other characters, while also so powerful that him battling villains like Toyman or Prankster seems ridiculous, and therefore those characters have more or less fallen by the wayside. Now Superman has to be written down or written up for any particular story, to the point he's portrayed inconsistently.
    Last edited by kingaliencracker; 01-02-2020 at 07:35 PM.

  14. #29

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    Superman is not a difficult character to write for, the issue is that a lot of these writers just prefer writing the darker characters or the psychopaths like Joker because they feel it's the only thing that the viewers gravitate to. Superman is popular for being Superman, being a symbol of hope. That's not too difficult. There is no need to change him.
    Superman: The Movie & Superman II showed how you could write Superman interesting while still having his values and he didn't need to be a darker version to accomplish that.

  15. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by CloisSupporter View Post
    Superman is not a difficult character to write for, the issue is that a lot of these writers just prefer writing the darker characters or the psychopaths like Joker because they feel it's the only thing that the viewers gravitate to. Superman is popular for being Superman, being a symbol of hope. That's not too difficult. There is no need to change him.
    Superman: The Movie & Superman II showed how you could write Superman interesting while still having his values and he didn't need to be a darker version to accomplish that.
    While I love Superman I and II, there are many people - especially movie goers today- who would be bored to tears watching those movies.

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