Page 1 of 8 12345 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 107
  1. #1
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Posts
    5,663

    Default DC characters that are better suited to specific time periods

    The sliding timeline of superhero comics keeps the characters and their origins fresh and relevant so that new audiences can connect with them, but there's something to be said for the idea that some characters are often better suited to specific periods of time than they are to the present day.

    This isn't to say that any of the following characters can't work in a modern setting, because there are countless stories in which they've worked just fine set in today's world. I'm simply talking about my personal preferences.

    Superman has often been knocked for being a hero that feels outdated because he harkens back to an older sensibility. I think this is one of the reasons that the Donner Superman is so fondly remembered, because it leaned into the idea by having him come from an idealized America that never really was, then skip over the tumultuous 60s and 70s, to arrive in the much more cynical and jaded America that existed in the late 1970s. Stories like Superman Smashes The Klan have also highlighted how wonderfully the character works in his original time period, in which he can more directly face the corruption and fascism he was clearly created to oppose. Again, this isn't to say you can't tell those stories now, but I think they land better if they're set in the past. Your mileage may vary.

    Batman is even more complicated, given the enormous inherited wealth the character has and that his entire shtick is extrajudicially enforcing his own justice upon the underclass. If the news suddenly broke that Elon Musk or Donald Trump Jr. were running around New York City in body armor beating up poor people and "anarchists" with the explicit approval of the NYPD, I don't think most people would view them as heroes. The more realistic you make Batman, the more morally abhorrent he becomes, particularly today. However, I think the character works like gangbusters in the 70s and 80s, during which street crime in New York was a particularly big problem, rather than the modern NYC that has largely solved street crime by making the city unlivable for anyone who isn't rich. I think you can also lean into the superhero of it all, as Batman Universe did, and sidestep the problem, but if DC is intent on taking a realistic approach to Batman, they've got to figure out how to not make him someone Fox News would love.

    Wonder Woman's origin works much better for me set in the past when women had far less social status and during a global war because it more directly connects to the characters two most compelling aspects, her feminism and her mission of peace. This isn't to say that either of these two goals have been accomplished, but the idea of a powerful female champion arriving in Man's World lacks the same oomph today after all the gains that feminism has managed to win, then it does in the early to mid 20th Century, when women had just barely been granted the right to vote and held no positions of political power.

    With The Flash, you've got so many different ones, so there's less of a problem. Jay Garrick is a man of the 40s, but I think he's been a more effective character as a mentor in the present than he ever was in his prime. While Barry Allen is very much a creation of the 1950s, I think he works just as well today. Wally West's heydays were in the 90s, but his old status quo as a celebrity superhero would work just as well today.

    The Green Lanterns are similar. I love the new wrinkle of Alan Scott as a closeted man from the 1940s. I look forward to how that gets explored, particularly how his marriages are handled (which will be pretty tricky). New Frontier proved pretty definitively in my mind that Hal Jordan works best in the era of the Space Race that spawned him, when test pilots and astronauts were the coolest human beings around. John Stewart was very much a 70s creation of a black hero born out of the good intentions of white creators. I think he's grown since then, largely thanks to the work of the late great Dwayne McDuffie, but I think the character works in any time period. Guy was very much a Reagan era hero, but loudmouthed hot heads are timeless. Kyle is, unfortunately, a very, very '90s character and I don't think anyone has managed to figure out what to do with him outside of that time.

  2. #2
    Moderator Frontier's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Posts
    55,675

    Default

    I can't think of any character at DC who is particularly beholden to a specific era other than, I guess, the JSA heroes because of how much WWII is part of their backstory, but I feel like there is enough verisimilitude to the Big Seven and others to where they can be used to tell stories across many different periods of time.

    You can do a Golden/Silver Age Superman in Superman Smashes the Klan, a Batman in a victorian setting in Gotham by Gaslight, or a WWII era Wonder Woman in Legend of Wonder Woman, but just as easily make them relevant to the modern era as with most modern stories.

  3. #3
    Incredible Member
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    684

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post
    Batman is even more complicated, given the enormous inherited wealth the character has and that his entire shtick is extrajudicially enforcing his own justice upon the underclass. If the news suddenly broke that Elon Musk or Donald Trump Jr. were running around New York City in body armor beating up poor people and "anarchists" with the explicit approval of the NYPD, I don't think most people would view them as heroes.
    You really think it is morally abhorrent for Batman to go after psychopaths like Joker and Two-Face? Most Batman villains are certainly not poor. You also ignore the fact Bruce Wayne is the single biggest philanthropist and donates millions to reforming ex-cons. That is why he doesn't kill because ideally his villains should be given a chance to reform (and to his credit some have)

    Anyways the JSA definitely need to be a WW2 era team. I know they explain that they slowed down their aging because of radiation but they work the best as idealist 1950s WW2 superheroes. Suicide Squad also as a 70s-80s era with maybe an early 2000s period working as well. Doom Patrol also should be a 50s-70s team. Besides that most superheroes work at any period.

  4. #4
    Mighty Member Gaius's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Posts
    1,937

    Default

    Maybe Captain Marvel, though I'd say he's probably better more in his own universe/separate corner than some specific time period like the 30s/40s.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post

    Wonder Woman's origin works much better for me set in the past when women had far less social status and during a global war because it more directly connects to the characters two most compelling aspects, her feminism and her mission of peace. This isn't to say that either of these two goals have been accomplished, but the idea of a powerful female champion arriving in Man's World lacks the same oomph today after all the gains that feminism has managed to win, then it does in the early to mid 20th Century, when women had just barely been granted the right to vote and held no positions of political power.
    .
    I can get debuting in one of the World Wars works in conjunction with her ambassador for peace gimmick and stuff like the first season of the show, the movie, and LOWW have gotten some use out of it but it's not like that can't be updated like it was in the 80s. And it's not like issues of feminism have really gone away either in the U.S. or globally. Obviously there's been gains since her creation but it's not like there's new issues, or even ones still being grabbled with, that weren't even in consideration back in the 40s.

  5. #5
    Mighty Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    1,775

    Default

    Certain concepts haven’t aged well like “getting your superpowers through lightning” or “secret society of gorillas”.

    In that sense, the Flash hasn’t aged well.

  6. #6
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Posts
    5,663

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dboi2001 View Post
    You really think it is morally abhorrent for Batman to go after psychopaths like Joker and Two-Face?
    Well, the closest we've got to people like that would be serial killers like Ted Bundy, BTK, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Paul Bernardo. Would you be okay with the FBI or the NYPD allowing Elon Musk to dress up in body armor and go after these guys using extrajudicial means that would allow any decent defense lawyer to help their clients go free?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dboi2001 View Post
    Most Batman villains are certainly not poor. You also ignore the fact Bruce Wayne is the single biggest philanthropist and donates millions to reforming ex-cons. That is why he doesn't kill because ideally his villains should be given a chance to reform (and to his credit some have)
    Most of the henchmen and street thugs that we regularly see Batman fighting are most definitely poor and are almost certainly given severe crippling injuries that they no doubt can't afford given that none of them would have health insurance. I think O'Neil's notion that Batman also helps the poor through the Wayne Foundation was a fantastic one and absolutely necessary, but it strains credulity that any billionaire would have enough money to pay for the endless array of high-tech gadgets that Batman has while also paying for all the social programs required for all the mental and physical rehabilitation of all the henchmen he's bludgeoning his way through on a daily basis.

    Again, if you're going full-tilt superhero Batman, none of these concerns really matter. It's a fantasy world that only vaguely connects with our reality. However, since various creators seem to keep wanting a more grounded realistic Batman, they've got to face up to the idea that a realistic Batman is a terrifying idea that few sane people would find even remotely heroic.

  7. #7
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Posts
    5,663

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius View Post
    I can get debuting in one of the World Wars works in conjunction with her ambassador for peace gimmick and stuff like the first season of the show, the movie, and LOWW have gotten some use out of it but it's not like that can't be updated like it was in the 80s. And it's not like issues of feminism have really gone away either in the U.S. or globally. Obviously there's been gains since her creation but it's not like there's new issues, or even ones still being grabbled with, that weren't even in consideration back in the 40s.
    Like I said in my original post, I don't think feminism has reached its endpoint yet, but there's something a lot more compelling to me about Wonder Woman first setting foot in Man's World prior to any of the significant gains the women's movement have made than today. It's not that equal pay, reproduction rights, and LGBTQ rights aren't important issues, and that the plight of women around the world isn't extremely dire in some countries, but since Diana lives in a more or less progressive country like America, it feels less significant to me.

    That said, Morrison made it work in Earth One, so it's not like it can't be done. I just think it works better in the earlier decades of the 20th Century than the present.

  8. #8
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Posts
    5,663

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PCN24454 View Post
    Certain concepts haven’t aged well like “getting your superpowers through lightning” or “secret society of gorillas”.

    In that sense, the Flash hasn’t aged well.
    If the lightning is actually extra-dimensional energy and the gorillas have sufficient technology to keep themselves hidden from the outside world, I don't see the problem.

  9. #9
    Incredible Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    908

    Default

    Batman is still relevant today - its just that DC dont want to tell relevant stories or that todays threats are far more complicated and far less visual than in the past.

    Huge banks of servers holding everyones personalties, tech companies posing a threat to democracy, crime and wars fought over fibre optic cables isnt something a global media tech company is probably going to want to say in books.

  10. #10
    Extraordinary Member Restingvoice's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Posts
    5,791

    Default

    Not the character but Superman and Batman's trunk
    Not only because people don't watch Circus anymore, not only because Circus people wear one piece these days, but also because the shape of the trunk looks like a it's from older decades.

    Superman adjusted his relevancy by focusing on immigrants and racism, Wonder Woman on sexual freedom by making Themyscira L and B, but it is kinda rare because like we established, DC only thinks of superhero stories as fighting or hero vs villains that they even make a story about mental health into murder mystery.

    About Batman, they move forward and backward at the same time by making the villains of Arkham more sympathetic and the Batfam focusing on healing them, but also making Gotham and Arkham itself a cursed old haunted house. Not just that, but Batman's own psyche and their fans/writers demand that Batman should be solo and brooding and the villains still villains, ignoring the healing part of the Batfam in order to preserve the status quo.

    Trying to do all this at the same time making Batman status quo a groundhog decade of madness, which also feeds into the image that all of their mental illness is a doomed, incurable horror show.

    and I haven't gotten into the cops yet.

    Here they're lucky that they've been depicting the GCPD and BPD as mostly corrupt since forever, so it fits, but there's also Jim's back story.

    I don't know if they want to keep Jim Gordon's back story of shooting to death a couple of robbers and sending their son into juvie, while Gordon himself was only transferred to Chicago, and manage to grow into a hero cop years later once he's back to Gotham while the son grew into a supervillain cop killer, but I want to see if someone dare to take on this story again some day.
    Last edited by Restingvoice; 09-23-2020 at 06:18 AM.

  11. #11
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Posts
    4,648

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by iron chimp View Post
    Batman is still relevant today - its just that DC dont want to tell relevant stories or that todays threats are far more complicated and far less visual than in the past.

    Huge banks of servers holding everyones personalties, tech companies posing a threat to democracy, crime and wars fought over fibre optic cables isnt something a global media tech company is probably going to want to say in books.
    Agreed.

    I think most of DC's big names are sturdy enough thematically that they will work in today's society, as well as many other periods.

    When it comes to Wonder Woman and feminism, I think placing her in the past (like the 2017 movie did) will result in neutering any feminist message that the character can and should bring. It will turn any feminist critique of that society into something that we can feel superior about, rather than making us think. (And no, I don't think Morrison did anything interesting or even worthwhile regarding feminism in Earth One; he used the modern theories of feminism in order to mock Marston rather than evolve Wonder Woman's feminism.)

    I think placing Superman Smashes the Klan in the 1940's was the least important element for its success. Yes, it had a very strong sense of time and place, but I think the important bit here was that it had such a sense, not that it was towards a particular period. Also, I think the return to a strong positive vision of Superman was the most important element, together with the freedom to do a simple story well told with engaging characters.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  12. #12
    Mighty Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    1,775

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post
    If the lightning is actually extra-dimensional energy and the gorillas have sufficient technology to keep themselves hidden from the outside world, I don't see the problem.
    It's mostly a difference in audience. The concept of gorilla villains doesn't have the same resonance that they do with Golden/Silver Age fans.

  13. #13
    Boisterously Confused
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    6,337

    Default

    Robin (the original) is not a creature of his time exactly, but his origin is. Circuses are disappearing.

    I'd agree that Hal Jordan's occupation hasn't aged well. Being a pilot is still neat, but not like being a test-pilot was in the hottest moments of the space race.

    All that said, however, there aren't too many who can't be made relevant for modern times.

  14. #14
    Extraordinary Member manwhohaseverything's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Posts
    5,409

    Default

    Superman, the character is a literal strongman from space. How are you gonna change that up without changing some aspects of the concept ? His whole shtick is a strongman fighting for the weak like a modern day gladiator.
    As said above dick grayson robin.
    .
    Last edited by manwhohaseverything; 09-23-2020 at 09:45 AM.

  15. #15
    Moderator Frontier's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Posts
    55,675

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PCN24454 View Post
    It's mostly a difference in audience. The concept of gorilla villains doesn't have the same resonance that they do with Golden/Silver Age fans.
    Even after the Planet of the Apes movies?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •