This will hopefully be somewhat short (#Spoilers, it doesn't end up being short), but I wanted to put it somewhere and Twitter didn't feel quite appropriate. This post combines a feeling splurg between my observations on Batman V Superman and the ideas of the "Superhero" genre as a whole.
First, a confession, I haven't yet seen Batman V Superman. That fact is why I'm not specifically stating any core opinions about the content of the movie itself. I don't like passing judgement on a work that I myself haven't consumed. But my own morals and values are primarily /why/ I haven't "consumed" the film yet. Since while I haven't /seen/ it, I have seen/read enough to have at least a surface understanding of the tones and themes of the movie.
The movie is unquestionably dark, and bleak. In it two of the greatest superheroes in the history of the genre literally beat the everloving shit out of each other until something happens and they don't anymore. I've never been a /huge/ fan of Batman (outside of pretty much anything Bruce Timm's put out involving the caped crusader), however, thanks to a really good friend, I became a huge fan of Superman.
That's largely why this film hasn't set well with me from even the first mention of the "new" Superman in Man of Steel. Whether accidentally or intentional, a Superman was created who was dour, gloomy, depressing, and frankly not a hero. The Superman I loved through my best friend was a noble, humble hero. He has power, and knows how to use it, but doesn't. He's a sort of shy farm boy from Kansas who just happens to have super strength, invulnerability and flying. He's not a god who just disguises himself as a reporter.
This is /my/ interpretation, mind you. And with all forms of media it's always open to interpretation from others. But this is how I've always, and will likely continue to view the "Superman" character.
And this friend has kids, both of whom he's practically raised as DC fans. From the memorabilia to the cartoons, to the movies. They've never shown (to my knowledge) any rejection of these heroes. That's what they are, heroes to be looked up to and whose example one aspires to.
My friend won't expose his kids to BvS. And I understand and agree with that point of view. BvS portrays these characters as dark, gloomy manifestations of darkness and such. Batman is even gloomier than usual, murdering left and right to achieve his goals. Superman lets people die. He stands there when a bomb goes off.
That's the limits of spoilers, but there's a lot more. Characters are haphazardly murders while the "heroes" care more about beating the shit out of each other than being better than that. That's the problem with those characters.
It is a core belief of mine that you can have characters that can work with kids, while not making the characters "childish". You can have a Superman that deals with mature issues while not stepping into the grimdark land of depressing greys.
Finding that balance I think is a cornerstone of making a good story, especially one that's appealing to wide audiences. Kids are not stupid, I never believe that. Kids can handle dark, kids can handle scary. As Don Bluth once said, ([araphrasing), it doesn't matter how dark a story is, if it has a happy ending, kids will be able to take it.
And as the works of Bluth show, you can have that "kids" appeal while also being something adults can enjoy. Look at most of the great Pixar movies like "Up" or the Incredibles.
Huh, I did say this would be "short", didn't I?
Well, to bring it around to the whole purpose of this ramble, as I thought on BvS, and the conversations I've had with this friend, I've been reflecting on my own superhero work in progress. I thought to a scene, with a certain villain. And admittedly....the scene itself is super dark...and kind of psychotic.
Granted, this is still only the first draft, so it's all likely to get super reworked, but that's not the point. I thought of the characters, scenes and elements, and then thought of BvS...and at work today, I thought of a little promise I'd make to myself...and my friend...for all my (at least) superhero/comic-related works.
Kids and adults alike need heroes. Yes, you'll always have the bitching about "goody-goods" and being "unrealistic", but you /need/ these good guys. You need these heroes, these individuals who, even in the darkest of times, /remain/ heroes. The Superman that talks down suicidal people merely by being a good guy. The Wonder Woman who refuses to attack until other peacable avenues are breeched. The Batman who flat out refuses to murder, and who prefers to de-escalate scenarios with wit, planning and guile and not brute force.
In this day and age, these are what we need. There's already enough bleakness and misery in our own real lives, we don't need it in our entertainment too.
So I'm working on a promise...and I may falter sometimes and nobody is perfect, not even Superman...but I want to promise that the superheroes I create....embody and strive to make real will remain heroic and approachable to my friend's kids...and all kids and adults. That might sound cheesy, but I never want someone looking for a true hero to open the cover and see...well...Black Canary's head sewed onto the chest of a Supervillain who then uses it to obliterate another character, while Wonder Woman stomps around sewn to a mechanical spider.
That exists. Look up DC's free comic book day submission. I'm sorry.
But yeah, that was on my mind and I just wanted to illustrate it. This will likely be a subject I poke at a few times. We'll see.
Until next time, take care peeps.