Why Superman can be good and you can like him for it.


Now, the title of this post is very telling, so I should just jump to the rice and beans of the whole thing. Since Warner Bros executives recently spoke of treating the Superman franchise "like Harry Potter"(make one for every two books?), along with Batman(dum-dum, DAH), it would seem we are heading into a future film featuring the Man of Steel.

But should there? The last film was a disapointing affair for most people involved. There are those who would say that Superman is a boring boy scout character in an age of Dark Knights and Wolverines, of DR House and The Shield. Goody-good is out. Dark conflicted and just plain nasty is in. And besides, Superman is invulnerable. That should be boring, right?

You might think so. But you might be wrong. You see, I will point out to an example and you will know then that it can be done.

The story of Robocop, in case you don't know, is about police officer Alex Murphy. At the beggining of the movie Murphy is gunned down by the towns main criminal outfit, led by the guy who plays Red Foreman in That 70's show. His is revived and turned into the titular Robocop, an invulnerable machine, by mega corporation OCP. and Outfitted with "prime directives", rules by wich he must act. They included "upholding the law" and "Protect the innocent". A fifth directive, however, is blocked.

So he sets out to dole some justice, firing of like a rocket after his...well his killers. As he walks towards them all their bullet fire bounces of, and one by one they fall. Until, that is, until the character Kurtwood Smith plays...gives up. Robocop WANTS to kill the guy in cold blood, but the directive "uphold the law" pops up. He coughs up the info(and some blood as well) that he works for Dick Jones, CEO of OCP.

Robocop walks up to Dick Jones tries to arrest him. But oops! That fifth directive was that he not intervene with OCP personnel.

Yeah, why am I bringing up that 80's movie? Where does Superman come in? Well, Robocop is a morally righteous character in a morally corrupt world. He sets out to clean it up from the bottom up, but as you start moving up, the more powerfull elements of corruption, the wants you can't just punch, start getting prevalent. Could this not be the case with Superman? What about Robocops invulnerability to conventional weaponry? It is not until the mid point of the movie where he begind to be challenged physically (By the stop-motion robot ED-209 and by more prepared thugs who prey on the damage he already had). Could a Superman origin film where he isn't challenged until later in the film not be possible? And Superman would also seem to be limited by his on "directives" wich in this case arn't imposed by the bad guys, but by himself. He "has to" protect the public, wich might lead to a bad guy getting away because he's busy avoiding collateral damage. He might want to punch Luthor into paste, but he knows that would not be right.

An Idealist character in a least than ideal world can be done to great effect. The one character who wants to do the right thing. And if you disagree, perhaps you should see Robocop again. His an invulnerable, lame walking tin can who can't get revenge illegally. But that hasn't stood into the way of him being succesfull, now, has it?

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