Wednesday, February 1, 2023

James Gunn And The Supergirl Movie

Over on Twitter, James Gunn, the co-CEO for DC Studios, unveiled his plans for the next slate of DC projects.  Please listen to the clip as there are a lot of things that sound interesting, like Creature Commandos.

But the last project me names is Supergirl, based on Tom King's Supergirl, Woman of Tomorrow.

I have to tell you, my heart sank when I listened to the clip. He loved King's take on the character. Supergirl is 'much more jaded' than Superman. 

It's as if Gunn, like King, doesn't understand the character and her 60 years of existence.

But it got a little bit worse when I read more of what Gunn had to say.

Woman of Tomorrow was a 'wonderful comic'. 

King, someone who never understands a character or their history, is one of the architects in the DCEU room! Kara is much harsher and much more f**ked up than we've been used to this far. 

He says all those things as if they are good things.

I have been very vocal about my dislike of Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow, so no need to drudge up the comic.

But let me put these other thoughts out there.

One of the complaints about the DCEU movies is that they simply didn't understand the character. A Superman who kills, who flies away when the Senate blows up. A Batman who kills. An overly dour tone to all the proceedings. That take failed, resulting in this whole new slate and take on the universe.

So why hire an architect whose whole oeuvre is deconstructing and destroying characters?

Next, we had a very successful take on Supergirl on television, one where she was the primary hero of her world, an inspiration for others. That DID work.

And, unfortunately, Supergirl is always lucky when she gets some a shot in other media. But they are precious few. They stick.

If Batman does a bad animated movie (like having sex with Batgirl on a rooftop), it is a drop in the bucket. Three weeks later, another Batman movie is on the shelf. 

If Supergirl does something bad, she doesn't get second shots that often. If this doesn't work, there won't be a Supergirl movie for 40 years (proof seen in the aftermath of the '84 flick?).

So why break away from the character and what works and try a harsher take? Why do a harsher take when we have seen that a harsher take in the DCEU has failed horribly in the past? And why pick a Supergirl story which isn't even a Supergirl story to base her movie on?

Moreover, let's say it is a success. Then moving forward, Supergirl will be harsher and more f**ked up moving forward. So, the movie will undo 6 decades of stories. That is scary. 

I would rather have NO Supergirl movie than have a Supergirl movie based on that work with that 'jaded' take. 

Me, the guy who has run a Supergirl site for over a dozen years, doesn't want a Supergirl movie.  


Martin Gray said...

Oh good Lord, I saw the announcement but hadn’t seen that but about him being so pally with Tom King of the toxic takes. I’ve nothing to add, you’ve summed up the situation and likely results perfectly. I really hope the film falls through.

Medias res said...

I will have to disagree. I honestly loved it that Kara will be more harsh and badass in the film. She watched her entire world go up in flames, her parents died, and no one adopted her (in the recent comics). She's lonely and has a dark past and yet she's hopeful. The comic shows that brilliantly. But that darkness will manifest. That makes her a far more interesting character than another superman template cutout who is hopeful all the time.

The show was littered with bad writing where we saw Kara get defeated by the monster of the week and needing the help of a team. That isn't her. The comic shows how capable she is and how powerful she is. That's why I am looking forward to a film that will make everyone take her seriously.

Anonymous said...

Anj, when I heard the announcement yesterday, I knew you (and Martin) would be unhappy. As a fellow Supergirl fan, I'm truly sorry you can't greet this news with the excitement I did. I have read (I believe) every Supergirl graphic novel and collection ever published, and watched all the live-action versions, so I'm pretty well-grounded in the character and her history. I think "Woman of Tomorrow" is superb, presenting a Supergirl who, despite her rougher personal edges, ends up being one of the more genuinely heroic and inspiring versions of the character ever created.

In a way, it's a lot like what I've heard many times about "Man of Steel" from that film's fans -- that Clark's difficulties and uncertainties make him more heroic, not less. In "Woman of Tomorrow," Kara's struggles and pain are foregrounded, but it just makes her shine more brightly when she perseveres and overcomes and inspires -- which she very explicitly does in "WoT," in a way that had me setting the book aside to wipe away tears before continuing.

I know none of this is going to change your mind, and I'm not even sure why I'm writing it, except to say that King's story does speak to some of Kara's fans, even long-term ones like myself.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

It feels funny that I felt compelled to put in the tweet promoting this that the article is my opinion. I am certainly not trying to change anyone's mind. And I am happy for the people who liked the story.

There are certain points in the story that just fly in the face of what I think Supergirl should be. So for me (and Mart) this seems wrong. Supergirl allowing Ruthye to witness an execution by stoning is wrong. Supergirl crying in the sun because her life is one of pain is wrong. At least to me.

It is funny Anon that you feel the need to say that King's version speaks to you. Because I feel the tidal wave is going to be everyone saying what a brilliant decision this is.

I felt compelled to write that it doesn't speak to me. Just so that voice is heard also.

And Media Res, I agree the show was oft times clunky. But Supergirl's persona I felt was spot on.

Thanks again for the discussion!

Anonymous said...

Anj, I agree that the stoning scene is jarring, but I feel it's deliberately so. It's meant to show how Kara is being affected by the cruelty and horrors she's seen inflicted by the Brigands, an early indicator of the emotions she's struggling with that inform the story's conclusion.

Like you, my reaction to her passively watching the stoning was, "That's not Kara." But I guess my interpretation of Kara is flexible enough, and my enjoyment of the book strong enough, that instead of that reaction making me reject King's take out of hand, it drew me in deeper. I wanted to understand *why* she would behave that way. But I get that it was a bridge too far for you.

Martin Gray said...

Thanks to everyone for a terrific, respectful exchange of views!

Jeffrey_20832 said...

Anj - I respect your consistency and integrity, and I completely agree. In DC Comics worlds, we have continued to see a glamorization of crime, violence, murder, and social unrest, and we will have those who wonder when there is disintegration of social cohesion. As you point out, the trend is not only with CIA Tom King's version of Supergirl, but many other comics "heroes" and "heroines." What heroine stands there while a person is stoned to death? In CIA Tom King's world of Supergirl, the "ends justifies the means," but the concept of American costumed heroes were that right is might, not might is right. So he and others draw from a well of creativity very different than our view of the world. And Mr. Gunn brags about a film for the criminals "The Authority" notorious for attacks of terrorism on civilians.

Anj, we live in a very very different world from those who believe that pain, suffering, anger are a license to commit murder, horrific acts, stand aside and watch murder, and God forbid even terrorism. We used to call such characters "criminals." Now they have a new label. They are "misunderstood." They are those whose "truth" we don't respect. I am sorry, I still would call those characters "criminals." In the pro-ultra-violent world of today,I don't know at what point in comics and of course real life is anything horrible enough to shock our society to its senses. But it is a dark age, and for the most part are whispers among the cacophy will not be heard. I have learned from many storms in life, the only real answer is to keep working to get out on the other side. Focus on getting to another place. This is increasingly where I am at with comics heroes and heroines. Focus on other ages, other stories, and find a place in my life to have a shelter from the storm, which will ultimately pass someday.

It is sad about Supergirl. But I do hope people will forget Tom King's dystopia world and will remember happier days of yesterday, and eventually happier days tomorrow. The storm will rage, but we will soldier on.

Jeffrey_20832 said...

Regarding "King, someone who never understands a character or their history, is one of the architects in the DCEU room!", I would to point out that the CIA's Tom King will not understand the character of such "heroes" and "heroines" because his profession focused on different values, where the "narrative" matters, not the values of right/wrong. James Gunn has a background in horror films.

On the other hand, in the 20th century, there was Gardner Fox who was a lawyer, and grew up in family with a father who was an engineer. Jerry Siegel's father was a tailor who died of a heart attack after an attack by a criminal. He was a writer for Stars and Stripes during WWII. Otto Binder, creator of Supergirl, was an ironworker before he worked in publishing, and wrote about Captain Marvel family (including Mary Marvel), Miss America, and Captain America. He was younger than me when he died. Many people had a HARD life. But they didn't take their pain, anger, suffering to glamorize criminals. Still they came from literally a different world and different sets of values then today's CIA writers and former horror film writers.

Rob S. said...

Anj, when I saw the announcement yesterday, I immediately thought of you and Mart. Like Anon above, I enjoyed Woman of Tomorrow more than you guys did, but I have tons of respect for your point of view. I hope the movie succeeds... but in a way accentuates the heroic qualities that Anon and I see in it, and in a way that pleasantly surprises you.

But until then, you have my sympathies and my friendship.

Maxo said...

I've never understood the idea that suffering somehow equals heroism. It's the same trope that leads people to treating Native Americans as "the noble savage," the poor as "starving artists," and anyone who experiences tragedy as somehow wise and enlightened. Most people who experience suffering will be the first to tell you they're not heroes, just people who try to live through and with their experiences as best they can.

Do you know which comic characters, without fail, have tragic backstories? The villains. Why do we insist on our heroes having feet of clay? Why must they struggle with their morality in order for us to see them as moral paragons? Heroes, of course, must be seen overcoming adversity—that's part of the heroics. But I don't agree that that adversity always has to come from within. Who could put their trust in a Supergirl who has such a gray outlook?

Comic book superheroes should be aspirational, they should be bright beacons. Can we only appreciate that brightness by the shadows they cast? If that's the case, it's not for me.

Michelle Bacon said...

Agreed. Gunn, Stefan and King are the absolute wrong people to be controlling DC films. They can only tell one story: horror's catharsis-through-suffering. It's a very unhealthy outlook to be forcing every single story through.

I'll echo the comment that I hope this film fails before it gets out into the world, but the entire slate is a mistake.

I guess we'll see if Tom King's minor success in the niche, low sales world of Marvel and DC Comics actually appeals to a mainstream movie audience.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

Is this to be a film adaptation of the Woman of Tomorrow mini series? Wonder what happens when the estate of Charles Portis and their lawyers find out about it? The mini series probably went under the radar, but a big budget movie ripping off Portis's original story will attract a lot more attention. I would think they will have something to say about it.

I want a Supergirl movie, I just don't want THIS Supergirl movie.

Anonymous said...

Yeah here I thought 2023 was gonna be a good year for Supergirl, or at least no further harm would be done to her...and it all lasted about a month, oh well it was a good month while it lasted.
I have to give James Gunn credit though, he unerringly marched thru sixty four years of Supergirl's history, star turns, supporting turns, Don Heck, Bob Kanigher and Win Mortimer, from Selena to Galatea AND STILL landed on the most divisive possible property...a storyline than uniquely appeals to the five hundred or so people left in the USA who give a rat's @ss about the damn "Shazam Awards".
Per CBR Messr. Gunn is lavishly promising Supergirl's movie audience (which is a far different thing than the remnants and remainders who buy her comics) a "“Harsher, more F**ked Up” version of The Maid of Steel. It sure sounds like this genius is desperate to get Supergirl an R-Rating, wait til said audience gets a load of that!
But I am rehashing old arguments, I agree with my Landsman Above the Redoubtable Professor Feetlebaum that someone should Dime Out DC Comics to Charles Portis' Estate, at least get everyone on record.
Oh and I am fine with an on line petition denouncing this mishaugas, I'll sign in an Argo City Minute. None of this will derail said project, but at least I'll have the satisfaction of making my views know, and when the whole stupid sham goes up in flaming chunks Shazam Award and all, I'll have the satisfaction of knowing I stuck to my believes loudly and publicly.
On the Other Hand, If Gunn's First Two Movies Bomb, Him and His Whole Regime will likely be chased out into the street long before they even select a director for "Supergirl".
That frankly, would be the most efficacious outcome IMHO.

Yours Ever in Defiance


SG Fan said...

So, my two cents...

I'm not a super-fan of the news BUT there's a chance the adaption will be better than the source material. A couple examples here, first the MCU Civil War film was WAY better than the Civil War comic. Spider-Man: No Way Home took the horrible 'One More Day' idea and did it right. I've enjoyed Gunn's stuff I've seen, the new Suicide Squad, Guardian Movies, now doesn't seem he'll be writing/directing this BUT IDK maybe they'll take this and make it better.

For example, maybe it begins with Kara in a low place, but as she goes on the journey she recovers and remembers what it means to be a hero and wear the S-Shield.

I'm trying to be a bit neutral/positive that things will give us a good film. I mean, they know the whole 'DARKNESS! MY PARENTS ARE DEAD!' is why few like the Synderverse, and more hopeful, colorful films like Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Shazam did better.

So, going to be positive or neutral till I have reason to believe otherwise.

H said...

The groundhog's going to be all shadow this year- looooong winter. I mean, we'll see but I'm going with what most people here said.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

I agree that Gunn is insane to want to adapt Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, one of the worst garbagefests in the history of comics. Fortunately, it looks like The Legion of Superheroes movie with Supergirl is going to be terrific. According to the producer, there will be a Supergirl/Braniac romance.

Anj said...

Thanks for the continued comments here.

Obviously the movie is years away so who knows where things will end up. Appreciate folks telling me what they saw in the book.

I'll keep hoping it isn't the darkfest the source material is.

Martonimos said...

I've never commented on one of your posts before, but I read a few of them years ago, around the time Justice League United was coming out. I remember how upset you were about the New 52 version of Kara, joining the Red Lanterns, siding with H'El against her family, etc. When I read about this movie, I decided to see if your blog was still active, and... yeah, sounds like you're as dismayed about this as I am.

I get the rationale behind angry brooding Supergirl; she was a teenager when her entire world was destroyed, and unlike Clark, has clear memories of her home. But you can't just ignore all the other aspects of her character that have been developed over the decades, not for a flagship project like this. The DCAU ain't perfect by any means, but that version of Supergirl balanced her grief over Krypton and her difficulties fitting in on Earth with her still being a good person and earnestly trying to do the right thing. I wish more mainstream projects would try for that kind of presentation; some kind of middle ground between the bland Kara of the Arrowverse and... well, this.

SG Fan said...

So, I just learned apparently Tom King is involved with all this...not sure to what level but...okay I'm pessimistic again.

Anj said...

Martonimos - thanks for coming back. Red Daughter turned out to be a great story, a redemption arc for all the bad stuff that preceded it. H'El was terrible.

The sad thing is, comics are monthly and things can be turned around. A movie, especially for a character like Supergirl, can be a once in a generation thing. This tanks, their isn't a redemption arc coming up to salvage things.

That is the difference between comics and movies.

Anj said...

SG Fan, Tom King wrote WoT, so no surprise that he is in the room.

Mary said...

Their Wonder Woman related/Amazon series, Paradise Lost is more interesting to me than this take on Supergirl.

Anonymous said...

Like it or not a ton of people loved that book and it’s probably the most any have talked about Supergirl since the start of the last TV series, but even that ended on a whimper. More exposure for Supergirl is only a good thing and I’m going to stay cautiously optimistic for now. It feels too gatekeepy to just start throwing out “this is not my Kara” just yet. Let’s see how things go.

Martin Gray said...

Anonymous, I don’t get how a sincere expression of disappointment that a certain story is to be adapted equates to being a gatekeeper, to denying anyone their Supergirl - Anj has said again and again that he is happy SWoT has fans. After spending thousands of hours maintaining a site for the love of Kara, surely an opinion is OK? No one is trying to take away anyone’s (ugh) ‘personal truth’.

Anj said...

Thanks Mart.

Yes, I am very careful with my words. I never said 'you are not a Supergirl fan if you like this'. Or 'I don't like anyone who likes this.' I am not a gatekeeper.

These are my opinions. This is not MY Supergirl.

Anonymous said...

Well…I Am a Gatekeeper and Proud of It! I’ve been a Supergirl fan since 1970, I’ve been called a lot worse down thru the years. And My Only Admonition of WoT fans is watch your backs, if this is the curtain raiser on Kara becoming Superwoman off having “cosmic adventures”, forget it, you’ll never hear from her again no matter who draws or writes it. DC will find some bright shiny new Supergirl to completely ruin.


Unknown said...

Meanwhile, we just got a Supergirl movie! For some reaon, it's called Legion of Superheroes, but it IS a Supergirl movie! Watch it! :D
Who saw that coming?

Pedro Vallefin said...

I was hoping the movie would only take some of the aspects of the comic, mainly the horribly traumatic origin, and discard everything else. But learning King is actually directly involved (the only comics writer in the room is the guy who couldnt care less about this characters, the hell?) makes me feel less certain of that. We can still assume that this being an introducion to the character for wider audiences, it at least means that Supergirl is gonna be the protagonist of her own story in this version. That alone, if nothing else, would make it better that its source material. So im willing to give it a chance. Particulary cause Gunn hasnt left me down yet and he seems to understand how Superman has to be, so he should know that Supergirl would have to enbody most of the same values, regardless of how much of a edge she is given.

SG Fan said...

Anj, sorry for a comment on an older post, but thought you might like seeing that some people do agree that adapting SG: Woman of Tomorrow is the wrong move for the upcoming DC Movies.

While I do think different takes on Kara are okay (within reason), I think this one does a good job of pointing out why WOT is not the best choice for a SG film.