Oct 24, 2004

Clark Kent's Older Than Superman?

I don't know if I ever told anybody at the site or the boards this, but I'm a huge Superman fan. I'm just a big a Spider-Man fan as I am Superman, but The Man of Steel is the iconic hero of the comic industry. Don't get me wrong, I won't plaster the shield on everything in my house nor name my first born child "Kal El," but I am definitely a huge Superman fan.

A few columns down in my Christopher Reeve obit, I even admitted that I had Superman pajamas with a velcro-tabbed cape when I was a little kid, often waking up mornings climbing on the chairs in the living room with my arms at my side and my chest beaming doing a cocky laugh as my cape flew in the breeze of the oscilating fan. I've enjoyed both the comic tales as well as the televised adventures of Superman, both the animated (I'm probably one of the few folks that actually got up at 8 in the morning to check out the '88 Ruby Spears series) and the live-action (Dean Cain was good and all on Lois and Clark, but where was the trademark spit curl?).

I'm still a huge fan of Smallville (btw, the last episode introduced a character calling himself "Bart Allen" [the secret identity of Kid Flash, formerly Impulse] but also called himself "Jay Garrick," "Barry Allen," and "Wally West," all incarnations of The Flash; shame folks missed it to watch the Yankees lose badly and embarassingly to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in New York) and actually can't wait for, of all shows, Krypto the Superdog on Cartoon Network this spring. I'm also anticipating Bryan Singer's Superman movie in 2006. If his track record on The Usual Suspects and the X-Men movies are any indication, the movie is definitely going to be a must-see. However, the guy he picked to be Clark Kent/Superman, Brandon Routh, is actually younger than the guy who plays Clark Kent on Smallville, Tom Welling. Brandon's 25 and Tom's 27.

It's probably much ado about nothing, I'm sure that Brandon will do a good job in a role that made Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, and Tom Welling famous (no pressure). It's probably best that a virtual unknown plays the role of Superman, and plays the role well. I have no doubts that Tom would have played Superman as well as he plays Clark Kent. However, I can understand that Mr. Singer and the producers of the movie franchise aren't trying to connect Smallville continuity with the movie continuity. It would have been nice. Hell, it would have even been appropo. But the movie version and the series version of the Superman mythos shouldn't be connected at all since they are different shades of the same story. Otherwise, you'd have the same origin story for every version. Lois and Clark barely covered the Kryptonian side of the story but it did have elements from John Byrne's reimagining of the origin in his Man of Steel mini-series in '86. When Timm, Dini, and Burnett relaunched Superman in animation, Jor-El is much more kind-hearted and warmer than the cold version created by Byrne, who is, in turn seemingly nicer than the version implied on Smallville.

If you think Superman's filmed origins are different, check out Spider-Man's. There's only one constant in all the versions . . . Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider, gaining its strengths and powers (God bless Bendis and JMS for actually creating interesting spins [no pun intended] on the origin created by Stan Lee in Ultimate Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man, respectedly) and donning the mask of Spider-Man. The live-action series actually had Peter Parker as an adult photographer getting bit. The various animated versions had Peter Parker as a teen getting his powers, but predominately shows him as a college student. Ultimate has Peter as a teenager bitten by a genetically-altered spider, and actually keeps him as a teenager. The movie Spider-Man is basically a mutant of sorts, bitten by a genetically-altered spider but using his actual spinnerets rather than constructing his own. The "traditional" Marvel Spider-Man has Peter Parker getting bit by a radioactive spider as a teen, but as an adult, he gets an interesting philosophical lesson that radically changes the way Peter (and the reader) sees his powers and how he really got them (was the spider going to give him his powers, or was the radioactivity just a small factor into the source of his powers). Like the Superman movies and series, each version of Spider-Man stays true the core of the original story.

It'll be good in the end.

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