And I say this as someone who’s enjoyed the recent Superman films.

§ September 13th, 2017 § Filed under question time § 1 Comment

Hey, remember those questions I asked you for way back when? Hoo boy, it’s been a while…let me see if I can knock a couple more of ’em out today:

Cwolf howled

“Like to read your thoughts on the reports about Marvel’s retailer conference this weekend.”

Uh oh, this question was asked on…egads, April 3rd, so let me look things up for a moment…

[tempus fugit]

…Oh, right, Marvel’s whole “our audience doesn’t want diversity” thing, based on the idea that a number of titles featuring non-traditional (i.e. not white male) leads weren’t doing well solely based on the idea that the leads were the problem, and not, say, a symptom of Marvel’s own publishing policies that undermined both retailer and consumer confidence in their titles. I mean, I don’t think I had too many customers…or any customers…complaining about Thor being a woman. If anything, that boosted sales a bit, at least for a while…but Marvel’s starting and stopping and relaunching and rebooting doesn’t help things, and sometimes it strangled new titles in the crib before they even had a chance to grow up, so what can you do? Marvel’s “Legacy” initiative (restoring original numbering to many of their long-term titles) may go a little way toward repairing that damage, and maybe readers might be a little more willing to try something new is they think there’s a chance it won’t be restarted from #1 if the issues get to close to double-digits.

Anyway, I know I’m a bit late to the party discussing this particular situation (though I’ve addressed this general topic on my site plenty of times before), but this article from The Atlantic gives a pretty harsh but not-inaccurate assessment of what all this rebootery has done to the marketplace.

• • •

Jerry Smith hammers out the following:

“Would you like to see a comic book movie or TV show do an actual, colorful comic book costume (within reason, that is)? You know, Wolverine in something close to the comics, Iron Fist in his traditional mask (with probably the modern track-suit costume) or anyone in something not black leather? I get tired of the black ninja crap on everyone, and long for attire closer to the comics (again, without being ridiculous).”

Well, sure I would. I know that’s probably not the in-thing in live-action representations of comic book characters nowadays, but there’s probably a way to do it without looking too ridiculous. Like, I always thought the costume in Batman: Dead End looked nice…fitting in well with the usual “dark” takes on the character without replacing the standard costume from the comics with the plastiformed muscle armor you usually see in movies.

But I think making the costumes appear to be some kind of armor or athletic outfit or something other than just tight-fitting spandex is one of the methods filmmakers use to support that willing suspension of disbelief. It’s a small touch of “reality” that helps ground the fact that the character can fly or run at the speed of light or whatever. I think Daredevil’s live-action costume looks fine, for example, and helps sell the “grittiness” of the character and setting that a ersatz circus outfit probably wouldn’t.

That said, I’d be happy to see a Superman movie where Superman is back in blue tights with red trunks and a big red flowing cape without any excessive detail noodling or lines or seams or such to somehow sell the “reality” of the costume. It’s a costume. It doesn’t serve any purpose other than to say “Hi, I’m Superman, I’m here to help.” By all rights, it should be silly-looking just on its own, but virtually every actor we’ve seen in that classic costume elicits the reaction, not of “hey, look how goofy he is wearing that,” but “hey, it’s Superman!” I bet if you got Henry Cavill into that costume and let him smile more, he’d probably get that response, too.

One Response to “And I say this as someone who’s enjoyed the recent Superman films.”

  • Thom H. says:

    I wonder if there was a similar backlash to non-white characters when the All-New X-Men were debuted in the ’70s. It seems like you can’t debut a new black, female character anymore without someone either a) saying his childhood is now ruined or b) blaming her for low sales.

    I realize that there are lots of factors involved: the advent of the internet, new characters primarily being “legacy” characters these days, living in a very particular political climate of backlash against civil rights.

    But did anyone say, “Storm is ruining the very idea of the X-Men!” back in the day? Or was she more palatable to fans because she was a new character and basically surrounded by white men? And the only other non-white characters a) left the team in a huff (Sunfire) or b) were immediately killed (Thunderbird)?

    I think maybe the problem lies in numbers — reactionary fans are cool with adding one or two women to a shared universe, or one or two people of color, but they start getting nervous when the non-white, non-male characters are the majority. Like on the new Star Trek show, or in the suddenly more diverse Marvel universe.

  • Leave a Reply