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Author Topic: Superman a timeless classic; world can do without Spidey  (Read 2817 times)
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Super Monkey
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« on: October 22, 2005, 07:55:50 PM »

Superman simply saves people because he is naturally good. He doesnít have an agenda for keeping Metropolis safe. Supermanís good-hearted-but-tough attitude toward fighting crime is a refreshing break from superheroes with ulterior motives.

Read the whole article here:
http://www.kstatecollegian.com/article.php?a=5812
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2005, 02:09:11 AM »

Seriously, what is this article trying to prove?

"My Daddy can beat up your Daddy?"

Superman is a great fictional character. Spider-Man also is a great fictional character. What's interesting about them is that the two work for different reasons. WIZARD OF OZ and THE GODFATHER are both great, classic movies, but one is a musical and the other is a crime movie. WIZARD OF OZ is not "better" than THE GODFATHER because Marlon Brando doesn't bust out into song in the middle, or because Dorothy doesn't have the Tin Man whacked.

(Actually, now that I think about it, Marlon Brando tap dancing with his thunderous bulk and Judy Garland with an uzi and sunglasses would probably be the greatest movie ever.)

Same thing for Spider-Man and Superman. Spider-Man is idiosyncratic and funny and can't buy a break, motivated by guilt, and the responsibility of powers which he resents because they interfere with his life. One can argue that Superman's incorruptibility and strong moral compass makes him more "heroic" than Spider-Man, who is a hero because a moment of human weakness and selfishness forced him to understand how inaction is a lapse in responsibility. But whether Superman is the more Righteous In The Sight of the Lord is really missing the point about what works about Spider-Man.

They're asking the wrong question. Both superheroes are interesting but for different reasons which cannot use to place them on a hierarchy where Superman is "above" Spider-Man; what matters is how well the writers can use the concept to bring the character to life.

He DID say several things that I totally agree with, and that was how boring Mary Jane Watson was in the Spider-Man movies compared to Margot Kidder's raspy and assertive Lois Lane, who was vivacious, smoking a cigarette while using a juicer. It's interesting to point out that both comic book girlfriends were introduced in their respective movies through a POV shot through a camera lens, with both of them showing their high cheekbones and pearly whites. The difference is, Margot Kidder and the Superman screenwriters, gave her something to do BEYOND posing for the camera, beyond the mascara and high level of dental hygene.

You can completely tell that the SPIDER-MAN movies were written by men; Mary Jane was a male fantasy projection of a "dream girl," made boring because she wasn't real. She didn't have an inner life; when she said at the end of SPIDER-MAN 2, that "she always kind of knew" that Peter Parker was our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler, one just reels from the total lack of support this subtext has. See Spider-Man for yourself again, looking for knowing smiles or dialogue that has multiple meanings that would support this, and you wouldn't find it, because it isn't there. She just wasn't written - or played - with that degree of forethought, so that line just comes out of the blue. What's sad is that Mary Jane Watson in the comics was a vivacious girl that had personality to burn; she was kind of crazy, kinky, wild, a bon vivant with a zest for life.

On the other hand, Mary Jane's blandness might just be a creative decision. The reason the vanilla Kermit the Frog is the main muppet on the Muppet Show is because he has no personality, so everyone can project themselves into him. Many people point out the appeal Spider-Man has amongst women. Perhaps Mary Jane is a wish-fulfillment response to women, who want to see themselves wooed by the cute and endearingly shy Tobey MacGuire as Spider-Man?

Another thing the article said that I completely agree with, is how effective the high level megalomania of Lex Luthor is. By far my favorite Lex story was one this website introduced to me, "The Man Who Stole the Sun," where Lex completely blots out the sun entirely. Lex is really, the best of both worlds; under Bates and (especially) Maggin he was made a sympathetic misanthrope (a characterization that Waid, to his credit, revived for "Birthright") and he combined this with an ability to create grand scheme after grand scheme, which makes his ability to challenge someone like Superman much less than laughable.

The other thing the article said that I agree with is how refreshing and unique Superman's unselfish humanitarianism is. In many ways, pop culture becoming "Tarantino-ized" with veneration for hitmen, gangsters, psycho brides, and jewel thieves, has actually done Superman a FAVOR: it makes him more unique among fictional characters.
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2005, 06:51:43 AM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
Same thing for Spider-Man and Superman. Spider-Man is idiosyncratic and funny and can't buy a break, motivated by guilt, and the responsibility of powers which he resents because they interfere with his life. One can argue that Superman's incorruptibility and strong moral compass makes him more "heroic" than Spider-Man, who is a hero because a moment of human weakness and selfishness forced him to understand how inaction is a lapse in responsibility.

Keep in mind that Spider-Man was new to power.  He was an orphaned wimp kid, the meek and mild-mannered sort Superman only pretends to be.  Likely, he would've evolved into a hero as a natural part of growing up, but the manner of Uncle Ben's death caused him to grow up in a hurry.    One thing about the early origins is that they tend to occur in isolated universes where the new hero was the first one on the scene.  Do you think Spider-Man would've been a selfish wrestler if he had role model like the FF (who came first and who a science geek would've certainly been aware of).  

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But whether Superman is the more Righteous In The Sight of the Lord is really missing the point about what works about Spider-Man.

The writer really didn't get Spider-Man at all.  He's not about avenging his uncle... those are Batman words.  

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The difference is, Margot Kidder and the Superman screenwriters, gave her something to do BEYOND posing for the camera, beyond the mascara and high level of dental hygene.

I think Kirsten Dunst was miscast.  She should've been Gwen, and I'm not just saying that because of the hair color.  I just don't get that wild "you've hit the jackpot" vibe from her.  

Having said that, it's harder with MJ since she wasn't cast as the damsel in distress in the comics the same way that Lois was.  I know that every other Superman story involves dealing with the jam that Lois gets herself into.  I can't say that for Spider-Man, and there's only so many women who can be comic book damsels in distress before it gets old.

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You can completely tell that the SPIDER-MAN movies were written by men; Mary Jane was a male fantasy projection of a "dream girl,"

The same could be said for the Spider-Man comics, and most every girl friend that Spidey had.  Superman has Kara.  Smiley

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Another thing the article said that I completely agree with, is how effective the high level megalomania of Lex Luthor is.

Spider-Man has at least as good of a rogues gallery as Superman, especially if you factor in J. Jonah Jameson.    <sigh>  I hate how they've tried to strip so much of Spider-Man's supporting cast...  dumb Marvel.
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« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2005, 08:38:49 AM »

The MJ character was a compromise --certainly not the John Romita sexpot thjat I remember.  The actress was still compelling however and my better-half liked the film.
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« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2005, 03:53:03 PM »

I enjoyed both films, the second moreso than the first, but not because of the romantic aspects.  I like Kirsten Dunst, just not for that role which I thought would've been better served by someone a little edgier.

For that matter, I didn't enjoy Margot Kidder much after Superman I.  When Ursa talks about what an undemanding male Superman must be in II, I found myself agreeing.  If I were Superman, I'd have run off with Annette O'Toole and never looked back.
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