the 90's- when every comic book character had huge muscles, tiny heads, carried large guns and had an obscene amount of pockets on their costumes. The success of Alan Moore's Watchmen and Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns (both took the comic genre and turned it on it's head, turning heroes into anti-heroes) gave rise to the popularity characters like Wolverine, Punisher, and Lobo- all "heroes" with considerable moral ambiguity.
I loved that he stuck to his guns. I loved that he was a good guy through and through.
And I was reading this in my formative years. I wanted to be Captain America. I wanted to be the guy everyone looked up to. Who had an unyielding moral compass. I wanted to be a good guy.
And I kind of am, I think (hard to tell, since I am in the eye of the storm and all)... but I think I may have always been destined to be.
My mom once told me the first ever movie I saw was Superman. Sure I was a baby, and according to her, I cried, and had to be taken to the lobby for a bit- but I'm sure some of that hokey "aw shucks" dialog that Christopher Reeve said with such aplomb.
Guess what? I love Superman too!!
Superman stood for truth, justice, and the American way- kind of like Captain America.
So- I finally bought my ticket to see Captain America: Civil War... and I'm so excited. The reviews up to this point have been mostly positive (I've been trying to stay away from them, but it's difficult to ignore if you live and breath this stuff) which is good considering the mild disappointment Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was earlier this year.
I hate that I'm underwhelmed by Zack Snyder's Superman. Superman is such a great character. I know people think he's boring (much like people thought Captain America was boring back when I was growing up). Superman was the first costumed superhero - created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster back in 1938. Superman was the first of his kind. There had never been a superhero like him before then. Jerry and Joe created Superman to right the wrongs of the little guy. Superman beat up slum lords and domestic abusers. Press forward on into the 1950's and Superman would become more wholesome, and part of the Americana landscape, which kind of carried Superman through to the 1980's, and 90's when Superman's long standing fan base grew tired of the big blue boy scout... so DC Comics killed him off, and then promptly brought him back (but with a pony tail- which was Superman's extreme 90's make-over).
But through and through, even with the long hair, Superman remained true to form, the guy with the power of a god, but with the heart of a mid-westerner.
Then in 2011 DC Comics rebooted their entire line-up (they called it The New 52), giving all their characters new origin stories... and Superman went from the elder statesman of the superhero club, to a bit of a young blow-hard asshat. Writer Grant Morrison took Superman back to his social justice roots, but gave him a bit of a chip to bear on his shoulder. They made him a bit more stand offish. He was no longer married to Lois Lane. He was a loner. He bickered with his Justice League teammates. He was just kind of unlikable all around.
Then in 2013 Zack Snyder unleashed his Man of Steel - the Superman reboot, the movie that would go on to launch the extended DC cinematic universe. I would have wished for a throwback to the Christopher Reeve stuff- but instead I got a mopey Superman who's afraid to be Superman. Lame.
And that gave way to Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice - which gave us more mopey Superman, and a killer Batman (both figuratively and literally).
Later this year DC comics will once again be rebooting their entire universe, and the New 52 kind-of-an -asshat Superman will be killed off, replaced by the old version of Superman, the elder statesman (it's comics, so there's all kinds of other dimensions and time travel or something involved... don't ask 'cause I can't tell you).
This will be the second time DC has killed off Superman. Back in 1992 hordes of people bought Superman 75, this issue in which Superman died.
I remember seeing news reports of people crying. Their hero was dead. I wonder if anyone will cry over this younger angrier Superman.
(Spoilers if you haven't seen Batman V Superman) I didn't hear many people sniffling in the theater when Superman died in his latest film incarnation.
I wondered if people cared? That incarnation of Superman never earned my respect. That incarnation of Superman was a bit selfish. That incarnation of Superman was Super, and he was heroic, but he was never really a superhero. He didn't really earn his big death scene.
I'm a bit worried about this Captain America movie, not because I think it'll be anything like Batman V Superman, but because it'll be the opposite. I guarantee that if the movie kills off Captain America, I will choke up a bit because this version of Captain America is a hero. He does try to do what he thinks is right, not just for himself, but for everyone. That's what superheroes should be about. They should inspire you to be the best version of yourself. There's something magical in that.
Look, I know big action is cool. I know it's exciting when Batman asks Superman if he bleeds, but there's nothing heroic about that... and it certainly doesn't stir an emotional tie to the characters... just think about how powerful heroes are to people.
Here's a clip from a documentary called Secret Origin The Story of DC Comics. It's a small clip of two voice overs. One from Mark Waid, the other Louise Simonson. Both have written for Superman comics.
When Louise Simonson talks about Superman's death she actually tears up! I think that's amazing. I think it's amazing that a fictional character can do that to a person.
I mean, I get it. I get why we have a National Superhero Day. We all want to be the best versions of ourselves. We all want to help out. We all wish we could effect the world in some profound way.
I think, deep down, we all wish we could be like Superman.