Friday, December 14, 2012

Man of Steel, feet of clay

When I was a kid there was a big fuss over Superman The Movie.

We were going to believe a man could fly.

Superman was a big deal to me, at the time. I used to draw him all the time. Dreamt about drawing comics when I grew up. But I was getting old enough to be aware of the bigger picture, and start asking questions. I was devastated when read about George Reeves death. The conspiracy theories, involving his married mob girlfriend. The concept of suicide was new to me too. There have been several books, including Hollywood Kryptonite. And one great movie, Hollywoodland. Starring Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, and Bob Hoskins. Diane Lane is amazing but what surprised me was Affleck. His surprisingly subtle and honest portrayal of Reeves, the actor typecast as a popular and iconic character. Affleck disproves his own critics, with a rich portrayal of the frustration, rage, and longing for respect that comes with being an appealing, handsome actor not generally regarded for having much range.

Before the release of the Christopher Reeve Superman film, amongst all the hype, I remember hearing about how Warner Brothers was going to pay a small stipend to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. I remember hearing the hobby shop guy say something about how they were shamed into it by the greedy bastards. But I was old enough to think this through. You can't shame anyone, let alone a company, unless it actually acted shamefully in the first place.

I loved the movie.

And eventually I found more information about Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. I read anything I could find, including The Steranko History of Comics. I eventually found out about Neal Adams heroic efforts regarding creator's rights and about other artists and writers who had been treated poorly.
I never drew Superman again for a long time. I lost interest in ever wanting to work for DC comics at all.

Here we are, 35 years later. A new epic Superman movie is gearing up for a huge Summer release, and earlier this week we got erroneous news across the net that the Siegel family lost another suit against DC. This week's court decision was only a procedural ruling enabling Toberoff to appeal. He requested it. The fuss and bother about DC winning again is really only a misunderstanding on behalf of a bunch of overzealous but well meaning bloggers.

35 years later and DC comics hasn't learned the ironic shame of continuing to exploit the work of artists and writers, who dreamt of heroes who fight a "never-ending" battle for truth, justice and heroic ideals.

I'll probably go see the new Superman movie. Maybe not the first weekend.

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1 comment:

  1. I loved the Donner film as a kid, but I have to say that I don't believe it has held up over time. Oh, Christopher Reeve was still fantastic, but the story dragged too long, especially the first half, Hackman's Luthor was too campy, and that "time travel" ending was a cop-out.

    Of course, it's still infinitely better than Superman Returns. I'm not sure what to think of Man of Steel, but I will go see it in the theater.