How Many Supermans Is Too Many?

Another Superman movie is set to be released.  It’s called Man of Steel, and it promises to show more extraordinary feats by the first superhero of them all.

I’m sure the new movie has spectacular special effects, but I’m suffering from a profound case of Superman Fatigue Syndrome.  I’m old enough to remember when the cheesy George Reeves Superman TV show episodes — “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive” and standing for “truth, justice, and the American way” — were rerun on cable TV.  I enjoyed the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies, and particularly liked Superman II, where Superman gives up his powers then returns to defeat General Zod in a movie filled with classic comic moments.  I thought Superman III sucked, though, and after that I lost interest in the Superman story.  I didn’t watch Superman IV, or the Smallville TV series, or Superman Returns.

To tell the truth, Superman is kind of boring.  He’s indestructible, flies faster than anything, can lift anything, can survive in the superheated conditions at the Earth’s core, etc.  What’s the challenge?  So long as he avoids that hidden piece of Kryptonite that makes him like a mere mortal, you know he’s going to win any battle.  Any superhero who can reverse the rotation of the planet and thereby change the course of time and bring the dead back to life, as Superman did in the first film, isn’t going to struggle with any villain found on Earth.  How do you top that feat in later films?  (I’m sure, of course, that the new movie will try to do so.)

More basically, how many Superman, Batman, and Spiderman movies can be made, and remade, and remade again?  There’s so much copying, so much formula-driven film-making, and so little creativity in the movie industry that it’s remarkable when a truly new and creative hero film, like The Matrix, gets made.  Hollywood should be embarrassed to keep churning out the same characters in the same settings, over and over and over, and audiences should be embarrassed to keep buying tickets.

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