Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Scott Snyder On Superman
The holidays and end of year wrap-ups pushed this Scott Snyder interview on IGN to the back burners. But the truth is I have worries about the portrayal of Superman these days and so I thought, despite the 2 week lag, it was worth visiting this again. In many ways, it is a good first post for the new year because this sounds like a different approach to Superman, a sort of new resolve.
The interview covers Batman, Swamp Thing, and Superman and is worth reading in its entirety. Here is the link:
I have plucked some of the Superman pieces of the interview and posted them here with my usual post-commentary. I will say up front that Snyder says a lot of great stuff here and so most of my comments are my being happy.
IGN: I know you can’t say too much, but in general I guess, what’s your view of Superman? What’s the character’s role within the DC Universe?
Snyder: In terms of the DCU, being the most powerful character on Earth and being the one with the strongest moral compass – or maybe the most acceptable moral compass, the most ethical – he’s somebody that is an example. Batman is the one you go to for answers and Clark is the one you go to to really do the right thing. He stands as a shining example of what to do in any situation. What I’m interested in exploring with him is really the burden of that. When you have the power to do something that goes beyond what you think is the right thing to do and the difficulty of that. Meaning, to be Superman also means to withhold a lot of power.
If Superman wanted to, he could reshape the world however he thinks it should be. And believe me, I’m sure you’d look at dictatorships or other places around the world where terrible things happen, and you think, why not take those regimes down and just reconfigure the whole political landscape, you know? But Superman doesn’t, historically, do those things. He allows a certain level of self-governing and a certain level of independence, I think out of an admiration for humanity. Because he’s inspired by the best in us and he challenges us to inspire each other to be the best that we can be.
In that way, I think there’s a deep heroism that’s incredibly ethical and at the same time makes him open and vulnerable to attacks. Physical attacks but also emotional, psychological, and public. Public attacks of, “Why don’t you do these things, Superman? What is it that you think makes you so great if you don’t interfere in some of these situations?” We’re trying to get to the heart, at least for us – me and Jim [Lee] – of the core aspect of Superman that we’re most interested in: what makes him relevant or irrelevant, the greatest hero or someone who can be criticized and attacked.
So this is a Superman with a strong moral compass, who deeply admires humanity, who is inspired by us and wants to inspire us.
Yeah ... so nothing wrong with this whole response.
Now the challenge of not doing something has been explored in the past from Maggin's "Must there be a Superman" to JMS' Grounded to Dini's Peace on Earth. What can Superman do and what should Superman do are very different. Those stories vary greatly in their execution.
But at least Snyder is coming at the character the way I visualize him.
IGN: Do you have any particular favorite Superman stories or any stories you’re looking to for inspiration or research?
Snyder: But I would say my favorite Superman story other than the first two movies which were so seminal in my childhood, and still to this day I think are two of the greatest superhero movies – or movies – of all time. Whenever they’re on, I can watch them over and over again. But really, Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman and Mark Waid’s Superman: Birthright as well as Geoff Johns’ whole run with Brainiac and Up, Up, and Away with Kurt Busiek and Secret Origin, and Mark Millar’s Red Son, those are the works that I really love. One other piece that’s definitely in the DNA of our Superman is the Superman in Dark Knight Returns and Kingdom Come. The Superman that gets pushed a little bit too far and sort of over steps a bit and the danger of that is definitely in our stories.
Again, I have nothing to complain about here. All of those stories are stories I love ... in particular All Star Superman, Birthright, and Brainiac.
So it sounds like Snyder is approaching the character and enjoys the character in a similar fashion to me. That might sound selfish ... but after several lackluster years of Superman being portrayed not in the way I like, I think it is time for me to be selfish. And time for DC to start thinking differently.
IGN: How’s it been working with Jim Lee? Is that intimidating for you at all?
Snyder: It’s extremely intimidating! [laughs] Jim is the nicest, most approachable guy, but I cannot stop geeking out whenever I talk to him. Between us – between us and all of your thousands of readers – I am totally intimidated still by Jim. I’m sorry, Jim! But it’s true. He sends things in and I’m blown away. His work on this book I really feel like is going to be some of his best. He really is bringing it. He understands, better than anybody, the importance of Superman’s upcoming 75th anniversary and being a book that is a #1 and it being a series that needs to exist not to just be another Superman series but that sets a very different tone and has a place in both DC Comics and the Superman mythology and of course a big, epic space in terms of the story.
It’s the most epic, daring, challenging story that we could possibly do. At the same time, it’s one that is rooted in our interest in Superman and is really personal to us. That’s the first thing we discussed to make sure we were on the same page. He’s really great. He’s changing his art style up, too, in different places. I’m really excited for people to see this one. It’s going to knock you over, I promise.
I don't get that excited about Jim Lee. But there is no denying the star power being brought to this title and finally this character. Will Lee be able to keep up with the demands of a monthly. Are we looking at a 6 issue opening arc and then out the door? I don't think it matters. The ball will be rolling.
So I am greatly looking forward to this book. At least it sounds like it is built on a solid foundation of an understanding of Superman.