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Thursday, February 03, 2011

So, I found my Superman Movie deal-breaker

So, I originally had a completely different post lined up but I ended up distracted when THIS was linked on Twitter.

I'm going to ignore the bit where they don't want "a name" that would overshadow their leading man playing Superman's love interest simply for my own sanity. Because maybe I'm old fashioned, but I always thought the point of seeing a movie was seeing the CHARACTERS.

But the female lead won't be Lois Lane?

How in the world can you have SUPERMAN without LOIS LANE?

There are many heroes out there whose love interests don't play as vital or defining role in their mythos. Batman, Green Lantern, Captain America, and so on. But I definitely wouldn't consider Superman to be one of them!

Superman's a great character, don't get me wrong, and I don't think that every appearance of his needs to also feature Lois. I'm perfectly fine with Lois not appearing in the Justice League or anything like that, as, well, she's not a superhero.

But Lois is a huge part of what makes Superman appealing and accessible. I honestly think a large part of the problem with Superman Returns was that Superman and Lois's relationship was so peculiarly defined that she really wasn't able to match him like she does best.

Lois is the dynamic center of the partnership in a lot of ways. She's the ambitious one, jumping in over her head in pursuit of a story. She's the one who pokes at Clark Kent and pushes at Superman. When he's being a lofty superhero, she's the one who brings him back down to Earth.

There's no story in watching someone all-powerful experience no conflict or no pain. That's why the writers invented kryptonite, so that they have a way to neutralize Superman's powers and harm him physically so that there's actually a sense of danger. That's what Lois brings too. HE might not be able to be hurt, but she can, which means that through her, he's vulnerable. He's human.

The movie is still going to have a female lead, according to the article, but it won't be Lois. Which is utterly mind-boggling to me. Who the heck is she supposed to be, then? Lana Lang? Lori Lemaris? Cat Grant? It's not like the comics really have a lot of female characters that could be slotted into Lois's role. This isn't like the Ultimate Avengers movie putting Black Widow into Sharon Carter's position. That move might have been annoying to me as a Sharon fan, but I understood it intellectually. Natasha's a better known character with a position and skill-set similar enough to Sharon's that she could slide in.

But there IS no woman in the Superman mythos that could be the Black Widow to Lois's Sharon. Actually, I'd stretch that farther. With the possible exception of Wonder Woman or Supergirl, I'd argue that no woman in the DC Universe has as much name recognition outside comics as Lois Lane.

And it's utterly irrational, but this woman could be played by the greatest actress in our generation and the romance could be the finest written since Casablanca and I will still not be able to care. It'd be the same for me as if they suddenly named Superman "Wonder-Man". Everything else might be the same, but it's not Superman.

It's funny because until today, I never really thought much about it. But for me, the crux of the Superman story is that it's a love story. It's a romance! It's never been, for me, about a guy growing up to become a hero. He was always a hero. He was a hero the moment he appeared on the cover of Action Comics lifting a car. The George Reeve show took less than five minutes to go through his entire backstory and get him in the tights. See also: Lois and Clark or the first Superman movie. Superman doesn't really have an "origin story" per se. He doesn't NEED one. He needs five minutes and maybe a new/re-introduction to the Daily Planet, then you're ready to go!

Smallville's the exception, of course, but I don't really consider Smallville a SUPERMAN story. It's a Superboy story that took on a life of its own, and that's an entirely different thing altogether.

The Superman story is also not about a guy learning to balance the different aspects of his life. He already had that. Clark Kent might be new to Metropolis, but he's been Clark Kent all of his life. It's not about a guy trying to deal with his own inner darkness and become a symbol. Superman's never needed to BECOME a symbol, he's always been one just by nature of who he is.

The Superman story is, to me, about a guy who gets this new job and meets this girl. And then shit happens. There's an adversary to overcome, there are some things he has to do. But in the end, it all comes back to this girl.

And now you're going to take out the girl?

Sorry, but that's just not a Superman story to me. It's a deal-breaker for me. Plain and simple. So it sounds like I'll be giving this movie a pass.

((Unless of course, the article turns out to be wrong. :-)))

[EDIT/UPDATE: This article (which contains spoilers) seems to indicate that the role in question is a villainess. If that's the case, then I will tentatively rescind my complaint pending casting news of an actual Lois. :-)]


  • At February 04, 2011 9:07 AM, Blogger Diabolu Frank said…

    While I am a fan of Lois and the marriage, I have to agree that leaving Lane out is a smart move. Babydrama overshadowed any super-doings in the last movie, and so dominated the first two that it feels as "been there, done that" as an origin. If you think of it in terms of the law of threes, Clark lost Lana in Smallville, Lois in Returns, and now has raised stakes for his next love. Seeing as Superman history has been made by outside media as much as comics, I'd have no problem with a brand new love interest, if written correctly. As an unknown quantity, you could go anywhere with the prospect, including outright villainy. Maxima? Mala? So many more interesting possibilities...

  • At February 04, 2011 9:29 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I have to disagree with you. There are heroes I think that could work for, but with Superman, you have more than 70 years of comic history behind him and Lois. She was there from day one, and is as prominent and important in her role as Wonder Woman is in hers.

    I strongly believe that if you can't work Lois and Superman because of baby!drama or whatever (a drama that is NOT in the comics, I'll point out) then it's time for a reboot.

    Superman's story is pointless without Lois Lane. Another love interest simply won't work, in my opinion, and it's blatantly disrespectful to a character who is as vital to the mythos as Superman himself.

    Besides, if it IS a continuation and not a reboot, Superman's love for Lois has been so strongly established in the original movies and in Superman Returns that I would have a lot of trouble buying him in love with anyone else. She would feel like a placeholder at best, and one that would probably be forgotten as soon as Superman and Lois came to their senses.

    When you have the same love interest for, what, three movies? (I think we're assuming 1, 2 and Returns are in continuity, right?) Then it's going to be very hard to buy a new romance.

    ...that said, it was pointed out that the "new female lead" could be Kara, rather than a romantic interest at all. I could go for that, but I still don't think you can really have a Superman movie without Lois's presence somewhere.

  • At February 04, 2011 9:58 AM, Blogger ARS said…

    Maybe Time Warner should give control of the live action DC Comics films to the animated films creative people. They make awesome movies while with the exception of the Joker role, the live action is underwhelming.

  • At February 04, 2011 2:06 PM, Blogger Your Obedient Serpent said…

    I agree!

    People who don't get the importance of the Lois/Clark/Superman triangle don't get Superman.

    A lot of them are the ones who gripe that Superman is "too powerful to be interesting" -- including, alas, too many comic book professionals.

    I should note that their marriage shifts the dynamic of the triangle, but doesn't eliminate it.

    I should also note that, nine times out of ten, "Superman is too powerful to be interesting" is immediately followed by the claim that "Batman is realistic" -- which, in turn, is followed by sudden turns and awkward snorting noises as Your Obedient Serpent desperately tries not to laugh in the claimant's face.

  • At February 04, 2011 3:55 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Oh god, yes. I love the whole "Batman is a self-made man" argument.

    Yeah, I'd buy that if it weren't for the fact that gadgets, education, training by the best martial artists all cost MONEY. Which he was born with.

    As I see it, Batman's money is as much something that he didn't have to earn as Superman's powers. This doesn't make him a BAD hero, but they're more alike than different in that respect.

  • At February 04, 2011 4:41 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Really? No Lois? That's just...wrong. Heck, I can live with no Lex sooner than no Lois.

  • At February 04, 2011 7:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You know, I was going to make an argument for Lana and then I saw how blonde the actresses were.

    Kara or screw them!

  • At February 04, 2011 7:38 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    Next thing they'll be telling us is that it'll be set in a city other than Metropolis. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE??????

    (Ok, calmed down now.)

  • At February 05, 2011 12:52 AM, Blogger Diabolu Frank said…

    I try not to talk to Batman fanatics if I can help it. It's just too frustrating.

    Far more so than Lois, I desperately want a Superman movie without Lex or an analog. Brainiac really should have been in a movie by now, and it would be awesome to see a Weisingerian epic sci-fi tragedy play out. Like Superman goes back in time to save Krypton, or maybe hooks up with a Daxamite before Brainiac blows up the planet. That seems very much in Zack Snyder's wheelhouse.

    My point is, you don't tug off Superman's cape, but shouldn't he be strong enough a character with a broad enough supporting cast to offer more than just Clark-Lois-Lex every single movie? Insisting otherwise feels more dogmatic than pragmatic to me, because I (and I suspect general audiences) can't sit through another lovingly tedious homage to every other blasted Superman adaptation we've all seen. I love Lois Lane, but she's Robin or Steve Trevor, not Batman or Wonder Woman.

  • At February 07, 2011 1:49 AM, Anonymous Anthony said…

    Lois is the love interest and the love interest is always the most replaceable character in a superhero story. Just because they need a love interest doesn't mean they have to keep using Lois. Have him go out with a spunky Star Labs scientist.

  • At February 07, 2011 10:03 AM, Blogger kalinara said…


    Did you not notice how you're replying to a post that's pretty much all about how I am of the opinion that Lois Lane is vital to the Superman mythos?

    Just checking because you posted this exact reply word-for-word on Ragnell's post.

    It doesn't impress me either way. If you are interested in an actual discussion, learn not to cookie cutter your comments.


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