A few weeks ago, there was a trend on Twitter going around that made my heart swell. That’s an unusual thing to say about Twitter, given its boatload of problems and almost zero supervision, but every so often that platform pleasantly surprises you. That happened a few weeks ago, where a reliable entertainment news source linked an article with a headline that read something like, “Movie Studio Doesn’t Know What To Do with Superman, Doesn’t Know how to Make Him Relevant for Modern Audiences.”
Twitter had a field day with this, in the purest way possible, and it made me so happy as a Superman fan.
I’m a mostly-lifelong fan of Superman. My parents showed me the old Max Fleischer cartoons as a kid. I watched Superfriends with all the enthusiasm of a child in the 1980s. I had a big stuffed doll of Superman. The Christopher Reeve movies (the first two, anyway) enchanted me and hooked me on the character. I moved away from him in my teenage years, looking for edgier comic book heroes like the X-Men and Ghost Rider, but once I was in my 20s I found myself drawn to Supes once more, and it was with more mature eyes that I really appreciated him.
My fellow Superman fans came out of the woodwork on Twitter in response to that article, offering all sorts of takes on Superman that kept true to the essence of his character: Superman as a friend instead of a muscleman; Superman as an alien, truly alone in the world, not wanting anyone else to feel isolated; that Superman’s greatest strengths are his kindness, compassion, and trust instead of some overblown sense of him being “overpowered”; that those same values are not a problem, since Captain America (the closest thing we Superman fans have had to, well, Superman on the big screen) helped make Marvel Studios BILLIONS of dollars; that his greatest rival is a narcissistic criminal billionaire CEO who is out to capture and/or discredit him in the eyes of a distrustful public is EXTREMELY RELEVANT today.
All of those defenses of Superman, and a general plea to see the character we love so much done justice, was nice.
Superman fans don’t want an edgy badass, or an overpowered muscleman, or a character who generates hollow spectacle. Superman fans want the compassionate friend, the incorruptible spirit, the hero who does the right thing not because he has to, but because he chooses to. It’s that essence of Superman that inspired me to write Star Power, and continues to do so to this day.
I hope one day to get the big screen Superman so many of us are longing for.