More and more movie adaptations of popular comic book characters are being released every year. Being a fan of these characters is becoming mainstream. Overall, it is an exciting time to be a comic book fan. However, as happy as I am that characters that I love are being brought to the masses, I am very concerned that new creators taking on old properties are missing the point.
I touched on this topic a while back in my article about the upcoming Preacher adaptation. The most recent adaptation that is making me concerned is the film Man of Steel. Yes, I am aware that it was released last year, but I only saw it recently. And boy, was I disappointed. It’s like they took out everything that made Superman the character that we all grew up being fans of. On top of that, the plot had too many convenient moments and certain scenes just came out of nowhere. (I’m sorry, you just can’t pull out something being downloaded into a person out of nothing.) But the faults of the movie doesn’t just come from its makers, it’s also the new audience…
...Or rather, what the studio executives think the new audience wants. When a comic book or any other property gets adapted into a film or TV show, it gets exposed to a much wider audience. In Man of Steel, they decided to make it a darker movie with a brooding hero because that’s “in” right now. When in reality, Superman is supposed to represent the ideal, the best hero possible. It should have been a much brighter movie and it could have been a great contrast to the previous Batman films, but instead, studio execs wanted more of the same.
What’s even worse about making everyone dark and brooding in new adaptations is that this is the version that the largest audience sees. It potentially ruins the public perception of the character. Now when nerds talk about it, a casual fan might be quick to argue against them thinking that they saw the real thing. And the worst thing that happens, is that the characters that we all grew up with, the characters that helped shape us, get butchered. Their stories get dumbed down, their personalities get misrepresented, and everything we loved gets stripped away.
Perhaps this article was just the result of me wasting my time with a disappointing movie, but at the same time, seeing something that means so much to you get treated poorly is so heartbreaking. And Man of Steel isn’t the first film to do this to nerds everywhere. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Indiana Jones 4, Green Lantern, The Spirit, and many more have just missed the point. There isn’t much that we can do when a property gets to a studio’s hands. However, most people forget that you can always go to where it all started: the original source material.
So don’t fret fellow nerds. No matter how badly something gets adapted, you can always go home to the original source material that hooked you in the first place. No adaptation, whether it be Man of Steel or the upcoming “Bat-Fleck” Project, should ruin the original property for you. It already had an impact on you, and it already shaped you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be buried in my copy of Superman: Birthright.