The Superman Movies! (part one)

Superman 1978

The first, and greatest, super hero, Superman has had a rather mixed bag when it comes to adaptations of his comic book adventures. There have been numerous television shows, radio serials, animated series, animated movies, video games, and live action movies, more of which were either just ok or straight up bad than good.

Superman actorsWhat is it about the big, blue boy scout that leads to so much crap?

You would think the elements that have been in place for 75 years now would be easy to adapt to the big screen, or the small screen. It’s not like there aren’t literally hundreds of pre-made stories in his publication history that are begging to be filmed and thrown on the screen, yet time and time again people think they can ‘improve’ upon the man of steel and his epically large library of awesomeness, and time and time again they fail miserably.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some success stories… “Superman: The Movie” was a high point, as were the Bruce Timm animated series and his representation in that same universe’s “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited”, as well as a handful of direct to DVD animated movies that did well. Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” may have divided some fans on its quality, but both Erik and I will go to our graves defending it.

Man of Steel

But for each of those, there are Superman 3, Superman Returns, Lois and Clark, most seasons of Smallville and the dreaded Superman 64! It’s curious. And as bad as those are, you wouldn’t believe some of the utter shit that almost got made. (6 Terrible Superman movies, you won’t believe almost happened!)

For now, just to keep things relatively simple Erik and I are skipping 1951’s “Superman vs the Mole Men” and are only going to discuss the live action feature films, starting with…

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The Not-So Great Debate vol 3- Lex Luthor v Dr. Doom

Here we go again…

Dr. Doom vs Lex Luthor

Both Marvel and DC Comics are chock-full of twisted, evil, monstrous villains. Some are unbeatable killing machines, some are twisted serial killers, some are mad scientists, some freaks of nature, and some are cosmic level baddasses. But each company has one dude that is kind of all of those things, and then some. For DC Comics it is undoubtedly Lex Luthor; Superman’s greatest foe, one of the richest and smartest men in the world, completely ruthless, and utterly brilliant, he routinely goes up against Superman AND the Justice League and still lives to tell about it. For Marvel, it has to be Victor Von Doom; one of the smartest men on the planet, has his own kingdom, and has the 2nd most badass suit of armor in the world (behind Iron Man) and is the 2nd most powerful sorcerer in the world (behind Dr. Strange), he routinely goes up against the likes of the Avengers, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and of course the Fantastic Four, and the dude is still standing strong.

Both are total, unquestionable badasses, but which one is better? Is it Luthor, with his chrome dome head, xenophobia, and suit of armor with the Simon (from Milton Bradley!) chest plate? Or is it Dr. Doom, with his gross face and his penchant for being beaten up by a walking, talking pile of rocks? Let’s begin!

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6 Terrible Superman Movies That You Won’t Believe Almost Happened!

In a world where a Comic-Book-based-Super-Hero-franchises are guaranteed blockbusters, with films like “The Dark Knight”, or “The Avengers” raking in over a billion effin’ dollars in real-life (non-Monopoly) money, it’s a little disconcerting that Superman (the original super hero – circa 1938) only recently got a decent film (with the exception of the 1978 classic) – with last year’s “Man of Steel” – a total reboot (starring Henry Cavill) from the dude who brought us that CGI-fest loosely based on the Battle of Thermopylae (Zack Snyder).

"Man of Steel" (2013)

Suffice it to say Superman movies until know have gotten a bad rep. With the exception of most of the animated movies, Superman movies have had a tendency to suck like a Hoover vacuum cleaner in a black hole. And why is that you ask? Well, although it is challenging to do a Superman movie justice (pun-intended), the reason they keep failing has nothing to do with the character (s) / story / mythology seeing as so many other super-powered champions have followed in his boot-prints since over the last 75 years of comic history, and most of them have ripped off of Superman in one or several ways with unique twists (i.e. Batman, Spider-man, Iron Man, etc).

Some say it’s a curse, others say it’s his cheesy old-fashioned sense of morality, while angry Internet trolls pollute message boards arguing about his trademark red super-speedos, but I say it’s the result of lazy writing, greedy producers who don’t understand the character, and directors who are unwilling to delve into the actual source material. The result: 30 + years of Gene Hackman’s “Lex Luthor” as an evil real estate agent.

Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor in Superman II

Out of all the terrible Superman movies we’ve had to endure over the last couple decades, here are 5 that we should be thankful never made it to the silver screen, because they somehow managed to be even worse than what actually did make it to a theater near you. It’s unbelievable how bad these scripts were and unfathomable that they made it so far into production…

(Barf bags at the ready?)

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Comiczombie’s Top 5 (Bottom?) Worst Comic Book Movies

There’s no getting around it: there have been a ton of truly awful superhero/comic book adaptations. I’m looking at you, Punisher. There are a lot that were made for next to no money, and were made only so that a company could hold onto film rights, like the 1994 version of Fantastic Four, or the Captain America movies that starred J.D. Salinger’s son as Cap, had an Italian Red Skull, and Cap’s ears on the side of his mask were rubber. Rubber! There are also some that are really bad adaptations, but not terrible movies, like Constantine. But for the purposes of this list I am looking at the comic book movies that were made by big studios for at least reasonably large budgets. So you won’t see Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four on my list. Also, I haven’t seen the Halle Berry Catwoman, so that won’t be making the list. However, you will see….

5. Superman Returns

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What We Wanted to See: A movie that reinvigorated the franchise and moved Superman into the 21st century

What We Got: A sequel/prequel that satisfied nobody

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RETRO SPOILER ALERT! – First Appearances Can Be Deceiving – GOLDEN AGE (1 of 4)

“First Appearances can be deceiving…” (Spoiler Alert – #2)

Click here for Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe!

“In the beginning there was the word, and the word was <SHAZAM!>” – John 1:1, New Testament, Biblical quote (altered, obviously)

One of the things I absolutely love about comic books is the intricate history, not just the current ‘in-cannon’ history of the stories themselves, but the history behind the stories, the history of the characters, and their creators. What started in newsstands and drug stores eventually evolved into bestselling graphic novels, and smart phone downloads.

In this (retro) installment of ‘Spoiler Alert’, I (ERIK-SMASH!) will be discussing the initial appearances of many of the world’s most famous super heroes between both MARVEL and DC comics! Furthermore, I will be delving into the differences between their initial appearances and today.  One big difference between DC and Marvel over the years is that DC characters almost always started out in their own separate worlds and eventually crossed over into the same continuity, whereas Marvel characters have always been a part of the same world from day one. However almost all these characters started out in a series that was not titled after them.

Back in the day, it was not uncommon for single comic issues to have Multiple (complete) stories rolled into one, whereas today you’re lucky to get One story in a single issue, since most stories are stretched between several issues and later collected into a trade paperback, so most of today’s comics are the equivalent of a chapter. Anyone who already knows a bit about comics knows that Superman first originated from Action Comics 1 (1938) and Batman made his debut in Detective Comics 27 (1939), while Marvel’s Spider-man (created by New York comic gods STAN <the man> LEE and Steve Ditko) first swung into the pages of ‘Amazing Fantasy’, Issue #15, in 1962. But did you know that Wolverine first appeared in the Incredible HULK?! (Issue 180, 1974)

Real quick note about DC and Marvel. The two competitive companies are akin to Microsoft and Apple in that both are very similar in a lot of ways, both have been known to copy one another, there are a few differences in the way they get things done, but it all comes down to the fact that both of them pretty much do the same basic shit. A key difference right now would be that Marvel’s live action films are kicking ass left and right (Iron Man, Spider-man 2, X-Men: First Class, Daredevil, THOR, ‘The INCREDIBLE’ HULK, etc), in comparison to DC’s few and far between with a few notable exceptions (The DARK KNIGHT Trilogy), even though they have just as much potential, but take their animated films and DC is far superior in quality thus far with their new line of PG-13 movies directed to an older audience (Superman Doomsday, Wonder Woman, Batman: Under the Red-Hood, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Justice League: Doom, etc), also, obviously, with a few notable exceptions (Hulk vs Wolverine).

Also, one cool thing about all these first appearances is that if you can get your hands on one of these issues, (I’m talking first printing) especially the older stuff, it’s going to be worth a lot more than your average comic. For instance, Action Comics #1 recently sold for a whopping $2.6 MILLION!!! It originally only sold for a measly 10 Cents (talk about inflation). But that’s a rare case seeing as it’s not only one of the rarest comics of all time, but it is the original super hero comic of all time! So yeah, if you’re ever perusing a vintage collection of comics in a random flea market keep your radar out for these diamonds in the trash.

Now that we’ve got those honorable mentions out of the way let’s buckle our seat-belts and set our Flux Capacitor for the 1930’s because when it comes to history I like to go chronologically. We’ll be skipping the Victorian and Platinum Ages that led into…

THE GOLDEN AGE (1938-1956)

—“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!”  – Superman narrator / radio announcer (from the 50’s TV series)

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Top 5 Favorite Superman Stories

I’m not the world’s biggest Superman fan. I don’t normally read that many Superman stories, but I tend to gravitate towards the really good ones. There’s something about Superman; I would say that the best Superman stories just feel like there’s something extra special about them compared to any other character. Maybe it’s because he’s the first and the best, but really good creators tend to do their very best work on Superman, whether that’s Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, or whomever.

5. The Death and Return of Superman

The thing people have to remember about the death of Superman is that nothing had ever hit the public like that from the world of comics. Not only was this story getting mainstream press every week, it was getting a LOT. Air time on Saturday Night Live, the Tonight Show, and pretty much every news show talked about it for quite a while. The creators and editors involved were made into instant pseudo-celebrities. It has since spawned video games, an animated movie, and a ton of stories. Its immediate follow-up, the Reign of the Supermen, created 4 new ‘Supermen’, 3 of which were still prominent figures in DC, at least until the recent line-wide reboot.

So to begin things off the creators introduced Doomsday, an unstoppable killing machine that would be the one to kill the Man of Steel. Doomsday effortlessly cuts a path of devastation across the country until he is confronted by the Justice League. Unfortunately for the League, they are utterly overmatched by Doomsday, even with one of his arms still tied behind his back. Literally. The dude has one of his arms confined behind his back and still punks the JLA out like they were a bunch of rookies.

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Hulk smash! I mean, no, wait…

Superman then shows up, and they proceed to destroy the hell out of each other and everything until at last they stop each other. With the last of his strength, Superman unloads everything he has into one last blow, which kills Doomsday. The effort from the punch, combined with the severe damage and injuries sustained during the battle, was just too much, and he dies in Lois Lane’s arms in the middle of the streets in Metropolis.

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