Jun 8, 2022

Why Christopher Reeve is the best Superman

 Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill are great actors, but their Supermen aren't as good. Out of the 3 main big screen Supermen, the only actor who managed to achieve a close to perfect take on Superman (for the most part) is Reeve... this was in part because he got the better direction and scripts (only counting Superman 1 and 2 for Reeve, since Superman 3 and 4 had awful writing and directing. Then again, pretty much everyone forgets Superman 3 and 4) aside for the memes...
Christopher Reeve managed to capture the dichotomy of Clark Kent/Superman far much better than the other 2 actors... mostly, becaise Reeve's Superman was the only one who ACTUALLY got to be Clark Kent AND Superman.

Routh was forced to be a Caricature of Reeve, while having the added pathos of being a stalker and a "deadbeat dad". Cavill, on the other hand was forced to be a brooding alien god, who can't connect with humanity and his only emotions are sadness and anger... kinda like a cross between Batman and Doctor Manhattan.

Only Reeve got to play the kid from Smallville raised by his loving parents, who taught him how to be an upstanding man, who not only tries to do the right thing, because it's the right thing to do; but one who also ENJOYS doing the right thing. The other versions of Superman have tried to add artificial pathos, which doesn't work for Superman.
Everything wrong with Superman
in one picture...

Aside bad CG due to mustachioed Cavill, the Whedon reshoots, managed to showcase glimpses of an ACTUALLY GOOD SUPERMAN within Cavill. (Yes, Whedon is a shitty person, but his littlest toe has a better understanding of Superman than Zack Snyder.) 

Some people qill say that Reeve's Superman was good for its time and it wouldn't work on a modern setting while pointing out "the shortcomings of Superman Returns".
The shortcomings of behind the scenes with WB cutting material like the expensive opening of Superman visiting the remains of Krypton

The cast being far too young for a sequel and forced to play caricatures of the late 70s-early 80s cast.

Rehashing plots from the original movie and playing them beat by beat with very little variation. At the same time, the movie being slightly cynical of its universe. "SUPER DEADBEAT DAD" comes to mind

Rather large budget with very little action. Trying to be. 70s movie in the 00s was a bad idea.

The Snydurr fans quickly claim that a "Boy Scout Superman" is the reason why Superman Returns failed. Which is not. Meanwhile, they Praise the Dr. Bathattan, which is everything that Superman is not. Superman's biggest powers aren't his strength and speed, but his kindness and empathy. Sure, he could snap all our necks easily if he went bad, but that's NOT Superman. Search for Superman and the Jumper to read why Superman's empathy and kindness are just as, if not more important than punching aliens and gods hard. Yes, he saved people in Man of Steel (as the wanderer), but Superman doesn't just save people. He tries to make the experience a bit more comforting for the folks being saved. Superman sees the good in us that we can't see, not because of his superpowers, but his heart. His upbringing with strong family values, Truth, Justice, and all that stuff... I know "the American Way" is missing, because today's "the American Way" isn't the same as it was when Superman adopted it. There is a more cynical turn to the phrase due to 'Nam, 9/11, and other events that have made "the American Way" something less than ideal. 

We could argue that the concept of Superman himself can be considered "outdated" and/or "boring". Yes, Superman IS boring, because he is a "boy scout" and despite being "the last of his kind" (more like one of few Thousand surviving Kryptonians if we count the ones from the Bottle City of Kandor), he is more "human" than some actual humans. As a baby he was saved by the Kents who helped him, because he was an abandoned baby that needed their help. They did the right thing because it was the right thing to do. Which brings us back to Snyderverse "Superman". Clark's upbringing is confusing. Do good, but not unless it puts your identity at risk? Sometimes it's OK to let people die, just to protect your secret? That's Not Jonathan Kent. An accurate representation of Jonathan Kent would've been proud of Clark doing the right thing by saving the bus, but would've reminded him to be more careful about using his powers in publoc to avoid exposure. He would be worried about his son, for obvious reasons, but he wouldn't be mad about Clark doing what's right. The Kents are who made Superman, well SUPER by teaching him how to be a MAN. 

Superman is an optimistic kind of fellow and if he could end all his battles without throwing a single punch, he'd most definitely take that route. He most definitely wouldn't force his way upon others like on Injustice or Zack Snyder's Justice League (knightmare bs). And so far the only actor whose performance has been the closest to the iconic Superman is Christopher Reeve. Cavill and Routh could've pulled it off if they had gotten better writing and direction.

I wouldn't want the next Superman to mimic Christopher Reeve, because then he'd have the same issues as Routh. I want an actor who is:
-Respectful of the source material and not interested in "changing the character into something else."
-Charismatic enough to showcase the difference between Clark Kent and Superman, despite bad writing/directing. While both are the same person, Clark doesn't project himself the same way Superman does. He seems meek, feeble, while Superman looks strong, confident, powerful. This has a lot to do with both body language and actual voice. While, yes, Superman should have a friendly voice, because despite his immense power, he doesn't want to look threatening, it can't sound weak. 

But the actor is not enough: He needs a writer and a director who understand the Source Material and are RESPECTFUL of it. I want you to take notice on the word I used: RESPECTFUL. I didn't say Faithful and I will explain myself now. Yes, a degree of Faithfulness to the character is needed to tell a respectful story. Movies are not comic books that can take years of character development. Movies are usually condensed to two hours. Sometimes deviations from the source Material must be made in order to adapt the story to a different format. Some of these deviations are good, some of them are odd, and others are just plain awful. 
Ie: Removing the Cold War from the Fantastic Four is a good change for a contemporary adaptation. Making the Storm Siblings interracial was an odd choice. Making Doctor Doom "the 5th Member of the journey" is an awful idea. 

Let's look at the "death of Jonathan Kent", something not canonical to the comics, but meant to teach Clark that he can't save everyone.
On the 1970s movie, Jonathan Kent dies of natural causes, most likely a heart attack.
On Man of Steel, Jonathan Kent dies murdered by Clark... or Clark's inaction. Here the "Clark can't save everyone" lesson comes with a caveat: especially if he doesn't do anything to save them. This caveat mot only ruins Jonathan, but it also ruins Clark.

While I believe Reeve IS the best Superman, writing DID do him a bit dirty as well (in Superman 1 and 2... we don't use 3 and 4 here. Those were awful)
Memory erasing kisses, cellophane S, turning back time, depowering the Kryptonians and killing them. I want to see a Superman BETTER THAN Reeve. A Superman that can duke it out with guys like Mongul, Parasite, or Darkseid, but who can also stop suicidal jumpers, save kittens from trees, and help old ladies with their groceries... a Superman that inspires hope instead of fear.

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