Friday, June 14, 2013

Your Choice: Batman or Superman?

Completely devoid of new ideas, Hollywood is trotting out Superman for viewers again. The last reboot kind of sucked from what my friends told me, but there must be too much revenue potential for Hollywood to wait and relaunch it again. Superman is a great story, but America seems to have moved beyond it because we love the anti-hero now. It's part of our devolution. Whenever a Batman or Superman movie comes out, it makes me revisit the Batman or Superman choice. What did you read as a kid? What type of comic fan were you? As a great deleted scene in Pulp Fiction explained, you're either an Elvis or Beatles man. You can like both, but ultimately, you'll pick one over the other. Who you got, Batman or Superman? It probably reveals more about you than the character.

This isn't about adult readers. It isn't about the beta fantasy BS, because comics targeted kids. I enjoyed comics growing up because I loved to draw, and I had a young uncle who would let me read his. He'd make up a character, and I'd draw how I imagined him. Video games and comics can bridge 15 years. He and I both liked Batman, and for the same reasons. Batman is born a rich kid who suffers a horrendous tragedy. Rather than live a life of decadence, he channels everything into fighting crime. He is obsessed with fighting crime to avenge his family's death. Almost all of his opponents are psychologically damaged individuals, like him, and usually intelligent, like him. He has to out-think the villains. He's complicated, and he is just one man applying himself. He's human and vulnerable. The citizens don't even appreciate his efforts, but he feels it is his duty as a leading citizen of the city to try to clean it up to an ungrateful, declining population. He works at night, using the shadows to his advantage. He has to hide his face. Any man could choose his path but only he did.

What is Superman? Superman is an alien, orphan raised in a safe, small town who has these magical powers he never knew he was born with that make him invincible, powerful and able to fly. He is unique. No one can be like him. Not just in being a one of a kind orphan, but in abilities. His foes can never match him physically, but they can outsmart him. His foes are pathetic, with the exception of Darkseid. Luthor is a brilliant concept but has no power to challenge him. He fights crime in the security that he can't be beaten. Actually, his only weakness is if a scrap of his home planet, where he is really from, somehow makes its way to Earth. He doesn't hide his face when doing his good works and is complimented and loved by his city. He graciously serves mankind. I can see how a reader can get into that, but they better be 10 years old.

I'm already slagging on Superman people with that last line, but it does seem more appealing to kids. If you're a kid drawn to Batman more than Superman as a kid, maybe you have a darker home, maybe some rougher stuff happened, or maybe you know evil is always going to be out there so you have to fight it. Your choice of Batman or Superman probably says more about your childhood than you as people change their tastes. How many kids grew up liking Luke Skywalker more but switched to Han Solo after some years? Although President Obama says he a Superman fan. The Superman opening will sell plenty of tickets, but that first weekend will have a different crowd than an opening for Batman films. It's just part of who you are.

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