Superman turns 77 today. The first issue of Action Comics went on sale June 1, 1938. The iconic cover page of Superman hoisting a car above his head is one of pop culture’s most recognizable symbols. It is also one of the most sought after pieces for any collector though few could afford it. In August 2014, a copy of the comic, which is Superman’s first appearance, sold for a record $3.2 million.
Though Superman’s history is quite storied, it is his future that is in question. Sure, he is still one of the most iconic figures in comics. However, as forms of media have begun to merge, it is safe to say the Man of Steel has fallen behind. He isn’t even the number one character at DC Comics.
After a successful 10 season run with Smallville, there has been little reference to Superman on the small screen. Instead, other members of the DC Universe find themselves at the forefront. Guys like Arrow, The Flash, and James Gordon are represented, but the closest Superman gets is his cousin Supergirl this fall on CBS.
On the big screen, the Man of Steel grossed over a half a billion dollars, but it was met with just okay reviews. It didn’t even scratch the surface of what The Dark Night grossed. If you compare Superman to Marvel, the numbers are even worse. Unfortunately, the public perception of super heroes in general are tied to their feature films.
When the Man of Steel hit theaters in 2013, even some of comic’s biggest names felt that Warner Bros. hadn’t given Superman the movie he deserved. Mark Waid, who wrote the critically acclaimed Superman: Birthright expressed his concern after seeing Zac Snyder’s version of Superman. His review on Thrillbent had everyone talking.
With the exception of the first-flight beat—the smile Superman gets when he first takes to the air—it’s utterly joyless. From start to finish. Utterly. Joyless. And I just have no interest in relentless joyless from a guy who can fly.
So, what is the biggest issue with Superman on the big screen? The ladies at Fangirls Going Rogue put it best when they were comparing who George Lucas picked as the successor to Star Wars with what was going on at Warner Bros. with DC properties in their Episode 19 podcast (41 minute mark).
It was very important he (Lucas) pick the right people. It could have gone to what we are seeing now with DC which is very much not driven…it’s driven by a couple of people who want to make what they want to make.
Do you feel Superman can rebound and become the cultural icon he once was, or do you think people are looking for something different from their super heroes? Feel free to give us your thoughts on the Man of Steel.