Will The Real Superman Stand Up In Justice League?
Smallville gets a lot of hate. For some of those middle seasons and near the very end, it deserves it. One thing that I really loved was that Clark Kent was Kal El was Superman. Huh? Yea. What I mean by that is the show did a very good job of maturing Clark Kent from a boy into a man, while at the same time showing all of us that Superman is Superman regardless of what he's wearing.
I've always disliked the bumbling Clark Kent. I understood its purpose, but, ultimately, for me, it made Clark Kent into a lie. There was Clark Kent in Smallville and then there was Clark Kent in Metropolis and then there was Superman. The clothes and the glasses and tousled hair was one thing. They were meager distractions meant to be icing on the cake of the biggest deception: there's no way this god, this icon could be a journalist living among us. I'm ok with that. That's why I was ok with Clark Kent in Man of Steel and Batman V Superman. Superman was always brimming below the surface of that Clark Kent, as he should be. When you have a goofy Clark Kent it's more of a childish distraction. With that Kent, you're supposed to say "this clown couldn't be Superman". I don't want to say that. Clark shouldn't separate himself from Superman, it should be the other way around.
Clark Kent is the hero. Clark Kent is one who, by the sum of his experiences, decided to change the world for the better. It wasn't Superman. Superman is the icon. He's the ideal. Humanity wants to prop up man, but just as much, humanity seeks his downfall. Superman is like a legend in that the man doesn't matter. Humanity can aspire to be like Superman because he stands apart like some sort of Christ-figure. Superman's presence, his abilities and mission create a secret identity by themselves. Superman is so god-like that he couldn't be Clark Kent. That's where it should be, in my humble opinion. I don't need you tripping on desks and fumbling words. You're not Dick Van Dyke. So, for all its mistakes, MoS and BvS got Clark right. At least to me. What of Superman?
Every live-action Superman movie has been garbage when it comes to showcasing his powers except for Snyder's movies. The thing I hated most about Superman growing up was the lengths gone to in order to stifle his power. Snyder said nope. This is a god and you will see as much. The old tag-line was "You will believe a man can fly". Snyder said "You will believe a man can destory the planet if he wanted to". Yes. Absolutely, yes. The drama that is Superman is knowing what he can do and watching him decide what he should do. That's what Snyder got right. They chose to go with an origin story, in MoS, first because we needed to see that journey. I've always said that if you're an X-Men fan then you should be a Superman fan because their early years are quite similar. By that I mean that Clark grew up not knowing what he was, what he could do or why he could do it. He was already a teenager before he got any information at all and even then, that information only brought more questions. There's a lot to mine there. Look at our world. Look at yourself or your children. Can you honestly say that if you grew up like that, that you'd be the Superman shown in the Donner films? I sure as hell wouldn't be. In all honesty, I think I'd be EXACTLY as he's shown in the Snyderverse. So what's the problem? There's levels to this shit.
Even by "Batman" standards, Snyder's world is dark. It's the underbelly of real life. Batman lives there. He thrives there. Batfleck is the coolest Batman I've seen live-action. That makes sense. The problem is that Superman is supposed to bring hope and that part didn't quite make it to the screen. We saw hordes of people worshipping him, but that's not the same thing. We saw people begging to be saved, but that's not the same thing. In every other live-action Superman film there was one constant: people enjoyed his presence. They saw him fly by and they waved. So why isn't that the case in Snyder's movies? I believe it's because he's not there yet. I said this when BvS came out and I'll say it again: You don't become Superman by putting on fancy pajamas. He was wrestling with who he was supposed to be and why, for two whole movies. I think that's fair. I also think Snyder overestimated his audience's patience. There was a lot to hate about both those movies, especially BvS, but there was also a lot to love too. I think the main issue with Snyder's Superman is that it's taking too long for him to be our Superman. When he decided to give his life to save Lois and everyone else, I think that's when our Superman was born. I think that when he "comes back to life" in Justice League that, if not immediately for plot purposes, we will see a Superman not just confident in his abilities, but in his ideals and in his mission. He might even smile. Imagine that.
I believe our Superman will rise in Justice League. Snyder took his sweet time, for his own reasons, but I think there was a plan all along. That plan doesn't make what went wrong in his films right, but it does offer hope for Superman's future in the DCEU, as Superman has always been a source of hope for our own.