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  1. #2086
    Astonishing Member DochaDocha's Avatar
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    Does anyone know if Larry Niven purposefully created it for satire? I mean, I tend to think it was never meant to be taken too seriously.

    I just did a quick search on it, and I just learned Curt Swan made illustrations for the essay. There's no way anyone was playing it straight at that point, right?

    If a fan chooses to head canon that Superman's body works that way, I'm not going to get in the way, but I don't think its utility was ever meant to go farther than a joke for magazines or movies like Mallrats, the latter of which I thought was light-hearted humor about comic fans who overthink things.

  2. #2087
    Mighty Member Yoda's Avatar
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    I'm not sure how controversial this general idea is, but rather the degree to which I think it goes to might be.

    Frank Miller and his use of Superman in Dark Knight Returns is the single greatest factor in the overall decline of Superman over the past 40 years. It's not COIE, Brynes reboot, the changes to the Clark/Superman dynamic, the marriage, Jon, reboots, New 52's chasing the perpetual "shock" change nonsense, lackluster movies, whatever your personal theory is on why he's not as popular as he use to be was. (And I'm not saying any of those things are objectively "bad" either) Even if you lumped every other factor together - literally none of that amounts to anything compared to the damage Miller did. And Miller's ridiculous attempts to justify or repair the damage he caused (which are compounding it in other damaging ways) are akin to offering a glass of water to the guy whose house you just burned down.

    The popularity of Dark Knight Returns as a "evergreen" and guiding Batman story coupled with Millers spiteful portrayal of Superman poisoned the pop culture well so profoundly that unless and until that book falls out of popularity, literally nothing else will have any lasting effect on Superman's standing relative to Batman. The pervasiveness of DKR's caused this to bleed into the general pop culture nature of Superman to the extent that his characterization (or character assassination) there is "Superman" to a lot of people, because it essentially is the one Batman story most people are familiar with and has taken on such an iconic role in his and Batman's narrative it's inescapable. Similarly, the idea of Superman as a boy scout, weak, ineffectual government stooge, perpetuated by that book has bled so far into the public consciousness that reacting to that portrayal is all most takes seem to want to do, rather than write a good Superman story.

    Now, I'm not saying that Miller necessarily created the characterization issue, but his use of it in DKR's essentially enshrined Superman's second tier status for the last 35 years. I think absent DKR's Superman's image would have rebounded like a lot of characters have over the years and we likely would have gotten a more stable and lasting characterization since creators would not be so obsessed (overtly or subconsciously) with writing against DKR's.
    Last edited by Yoda; 01-15-2020 at 02:05 PM.

  3. #2088
    Astonishing Member DochaDocha's Avatar
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    I feel similarly down on DKR, though I do think Superman's popularity was going to decline one way or another. Superman zigs and the industry was zagging.

    I do fantasize what would've happened if there were never such a high-profile story that framed for the public consciousness the idea of a weak, stoogish, inferior-to-another-hero Superman, would Superman be better off? I think so, but we still wouldn't be living the glory days of Superman.

  4. #2089
    Mighty Member Yoda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DochaDocha View Post
    I feel similarly down on DKR, though I do think Superman's popularity was going to decline one way or another. Superman zigs and the industry was zagging.

    I do fantasize what would've happened if there were never such a high-profile story that framed for the public consciousness the idea of a weak, stoogish, inferior-to-another-hero Superman, would Superman be better off? I think so, but we still wouldn't be living the glory days of Superman.
    Oh definitely. I think that there was a shift going on at the time that was causing his popularity to ebb and that that would have been something that needed to be addressed regardless. But DKR's essentially drove a stake into his character above and beyond the general generation shift that was happening. Take that away and you can rebound easier, and more importantly the driving creative force would be directed at Superman instead of reacting to the DKR's version of Superman cemented in the public consciousness.

  5. #2090
    Father Son Kamehameha < Kuwagaton's Avatar
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    I feel like more people have negative passion for those Frank Miller works than the fans of those works have positive passion. From every comic shop discussion I've had with those who do or don't read about Superman, and the letters published by DC, many of the older fans will tell you with certainty that Superman was not cool in the late 70s or early 80s. I can't say DKR was as damning collectively as it is to mostly modern Superman readers.

    My own opinion is that you have to break someone's will Kaido style to build them into a more ardent Superman supporter. When you hold onto the hope that Superman is cool or a rebel or something, "if only that story didn't happen" or "that writer wasn't on" or "that other character didn't exist" I think you're just going to struggle too much to enjoy the character on a consistent basis. When you get past something being damaging the way Spider-Man fans will just eat his worst stories and move on, I think it's bound to work closer to how it works for Spider-Man. I'm kind of cold on Bendis now tbh, but I can sort of keep up while moreso biding my time with his library of thousands of other stories.
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  6. #2091
    Mighty Member Yoda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kuwagaton View Post
    I feel like more people have negative passion for those Frank Miller works than the fans of those works have positive passion. From every comic shop discussion I've had with those who do or don't read about Superman, and the letters published by DC, many of the older fans will tell you with certainty that Superman was not cool in the late 70s or early 80s. I can't say DKR was as damning collectively as it is to mostly modern Superman readers.

    My own opinion is that you have to break someone's will Kaido style to build them into a more ardent Superman supporter. When you hold onto the hope that Superman is cool or a rebel or something, "if only that story didn't happen" or "that writer wasn't on" or "that other character didn't exist" I think you're just going to struggle too much to enjoy the character on a consistent basis. When you get past something being damaging the way Spider-Man fans will just eat his worst stories and move on, I think it's bound to work closer to how it works for Spider-Man. I'm kind of cold on Bendis now tbh, but I can sort of keep up while moreso biding my time with his library of thousands of other stories.
    But so many other characters had bad runs in the 70's and early 80's and have rebounded just fine. Nor do they carry the baggage of those periods around still. Spider-Man has had terrible stories sure, but those are considered bad stories and haven't infected pop culture. The impact the Clone Saga or One More Day is nothing compared to the impact DKR's had on comics and pop culture in general. The problem isn't that Superman had bad stories, it's that his character was destroyed in a good one.

    That is a far more malignant thing than just bad comic stories or even a decade of bad comic stories.

  7. #2092
    Father Son Kamehameha < Kuwagaton's Avatar
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    I don't mean to say the comics were bad then. Many of those stories are forgettable sure, but I'd argue for many of the stories before and right after the fifty cent era to actually be some of the most fun and definitive for the character. But they really didn't do his popularity favors so doing a story at the tail end of that where he's already what many expect but additionally gets sort of roughed up by a character on the fast track to the top doesn't seem irrevocably damaging (though it's a popular enough opinion that it's not like I can dismiss that it matters to many).

    I think he already bounced back by selling relatively well for a few years after and keeping his big dog status even if his losses to Batman will always resemble that story. But Superman IV through JL hold disappointing ratings besides Batfleck dark knighting Cav El. Superman gets out in the pop culture spotlight and falls by himself when he does. There are so many reasons people cite besides kind of losing to Batman when they're old men in that one story. DKR is lauded for so much besides that fight.
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  8. #2093
    Astonishing Member DochaDocha's Avatar
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    Specific to Spider-man, I've noticed that TV and movies have been skewer Spider-man to the younger side (to my chagrin), and it makes me wonder if non-comic fans actually prefer this. I think new comic readers are generally teens (i.e. older readers are generally people who started reading when they were younger), and naturally they are drawn to teenage protagonists. I can sort of see why Superman, in his mid-30's, might not be the gateway drug for a 15-year-old kid who wants to start collecting comics. I know Batman is also an older guy, but his character's broodiness probably relates well with teens (incidentally, while I don't care for a "relatable" Supes, I can see why creators want him to be relatable). So maybe that's why Spidey can survive terrible story ideas, because he's an easy entry point for younger readers, and most new readers are younger.

  9. #2094
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    Well if we're throwing our two cents into the "what went wrong" hat. I'd say rather than any one particular moment I think modern writing doesn't mix well with what Superman is as a character. He needs more nuance than modern writing can give him. Like I know I harp on this a lot but "farmboy at heart" seems less like the writers are trying to write a multifaceted person and more like they're trying to nail down a wrestlers gimmick. If I'm being honest I feel like modern Bruce's personality is plenty gimmicky as well but at least his gimmick keeps him entrenched in things that at least kids enjoy like action and adventure.

    But on the other side I think's it's sort of pointless to try and force one version of the character to become something he clearly isn't meant to be. Post-Crisis Superman isn't Pre-Crisis Superman and he's never going to be him nor does his fanbase want him to be. But with the idea that the old Superman exist in the multiverse we have the opportunity to let Post-Crisis Superman be Mayberry citizen with super powers while the other versions show a character with more of the older characteristics intact allowing the old spirit of the character to live on.
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  10. #2095
    Spectacular Member Knightsilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DochaDocha View Post
    Specific to Spider-man, I've noticed that TV and movies have been skewer Spider-man to the younger side (to my chagrin), and it makes me wonder if non-comic fans actually prefer this. I think new comic readers are generally teens (i.e. older readers are generally people who started reading when they were younger), and naturally they are drawn to teenage protagonists. I can sort of see why Superman, in his mid-30's, might not be the gateway drug for a 15-year-old kid who wants to start collecting comics. I know Batman is also an older guy, but his character's broodiness probably relates well with teens (incidentally, while I don't care for a "relatable" Supes, I can see why creators want him to be relatable). So maybe that's why Spidey can survive terrible story ideas, because he's an easy entry point for younger readers, and most new readers are younger.
    Into The Spiderverse was really popular,and it had a 40 year old Peter...so I'm not so sure if teen Peter is all that popular with anyone who isn't just nostalgic like Quesada. As far as young readers go,I'm not sure how many of those there are anyway...

  11. #2096
    Astonishing Member DochaDocha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knightsilver View Post
    Into The Spiderverse was really popular,and it had a 40 year old Peter...so I'm not so sure if teen Peter is all that popular with anyone who isn't just nostalgic like Quesada. As far as young readers go,I'm not sure how many of those there are anyway...
    Just my observation in other media, but when I was a kid, Spider-man (and his Amazing Friends) was a college student. When Fox Kids brought Spider-man back to cartoons, he was also a college student. Tobey Maguire Spidey started out as a graduating HS student transitioning to college. But since then? In other media, Spider-man has been a HS student in the MTV cartoon (I think, didn't really watch it), Spectacular Spider-man, Ultimate Spider-man, his bit role in Earth's Mightiest Heroes (I think, again; not 100% sure), and of course the Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland movies. There's an older Peter in Into the Spider-verse, but that's less Peter's movie and more Miles'.

    I may have my facts mixed up since I'm not a Spidey historian, but 616 Spidey hasn't been in high school since the 1960s, and Marvel keeps bringing him back to his HS years in other media.

    I also don't have a number on how many readers are teen-aged, but my understanding is that new readers usually don't start in their 30s or 40s, and all forms of entertainment rely on getting new (and younger) fans/customers.

  12. #2097
    Astonishing Member stargazer01's Avatar
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    Superman just needs more quality stories, shows and movies to gain back some of his popularity. He is still relevant and popular with general audiences, he just needs to be represented better and more truly. Remember the pop culture joke that was Aquaman? But he got a good and exciting movie and people loved it. The lead also had plenty of charm. Wonder Woman was also shown as someone charismatic and powerful.

    Superman hasn't really have that kind of mainstream movie, on the contrary, his recent movies have been very gloomy overall. He needs a well made feel good movie or well written show that captures the imaginations of most fans. He needs a visionary director who understands him and his great mythos.

    Batman had Batman & Robin. It nearly killed the franchise. Batman Begins wasn't a big hit, however, it regained the trust of the fans and general audiences kept coming back.
    Last edited by stargazer01; 01-16-2020 at 05:18 PM.

  13. #2098
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knightsilver View Post
    Into The Spiderverse was really popular,and it had a 40 year old Peter...so I'm not so sure if teen Peter is all that popular with anyone who isn't just nostalgic like Quesada. As far as young readers go,I'm not sure how many of those there are anyway...

    Into the Spiderverse was headlined by a teenage though. Peter was mainly stuck in a mentorial role.
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  14. #2099
    Mighty Member adkal's Avatar
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    The 'turn back time' original ending for the two Donner movies (ie, the ending that was supposed to be for Superman II but ended up placed for Superman The Movie) was 'necessary' because Superman was effectively overloaded with power (having had Zod, Ursa and Non's energies transferred into him) and it was the only way to expel the energy and make things right.

    Like the green crystal restoring his powers with the essence of Jor-El (so the son became the father), the 'turn back time' feat was a once in a lifetime thing.

  15. #2100
    Mighty Member John Venus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yoda View Post
    Frank Miller is a proponent of it, so it's not just a few crank shippers on Tumblr and Twitter that are obsessed with that garbage.
    Though they are by far the most vocal about it with respect to Lois and Steve Trevor to a lesser extent.
    I'm pretty sure many even in the mid-Aughts would say Frank was past his prime now.

    The most grating for me was JMS using the idea in the Earth One GN. That was stupider than the walk across America story he tried to do in the mainstream continuity.

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