Why People Care About Superman and Lois Lane

As part of DC Comics relaunch of its entire comic book lineup, Superman is being rebooted again.  Fans have been in an uproar, not just because of the new costume he will be wearing (starting off with a tee-shirt, jeans, and mini-cape and ending with Kryptonian-inspired body armor -- no tights and red shorts) but mostly because the Man of Steel's origin and storyline are starting from scratch again, negating what has come before, and thus making Clark Kent single once again, his marriage to Lois Lane null and void, having never happened in the new continuity. 

Old-timers might scratch their heads and wonder what all the fuss is about, since for most of Superman's legacy he was never hitched.  Readers enjoyed the heavy flirtation between the Last Son of Krypton and the Daily Planet's intrepid reporter who never tied the knot during that first half-a-century.  In fact, Lois may have been a great journalist, but during all those pre-wedding storylines, she never figured out that mild-mannered Clark Kent was the same person as Earth's greatest defender.  It was a bizarre love triangle for the ages, with Clark and Superman competing against each other for Miss Lane's affections. 

The current generation, however, has grown up with Superman and Lois Lane being the epitomy of a happy couple.  Other marriages in comic books have had their ups and downs, separations and outright rewinds, such as Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in Spider-man or Reed Richards and Sue Storm in the Fantastic Four, but somehow we all seemed to put our cynicism aside and thought that Lois Lane and Clark Kent would last.

The last major relaunch of Superman by John Byrne in 1986 had a lot of missteps in my opinion that hurt the decades-long legacy of the character, but one of the good touches was laying the groundwork for the revelation of Superman's secret identity to Lois Lane and their eventual marriage in 1996, both in the comics and on the television series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

One of the biggest criticisms aimed at Supes is that he is too powerful, making it tough to tell interesting tales and provide dramatic challenges for him to face.  His relationship with Lois Lane gave him that weakness that his enemies could target, greater than kryptonite ever was.  It was more relatable, more human, because it was more emotional.  Despite all his powers, Kal-El was a being with feelings whose Superman and Clark personalities were just facades, but his love of Lois kept him grounded.

Maybe the DC creators wanted to explore once again how that relationship came to be, as the TV show Smallville did, but for fans who have already accepted it as part of Superman's canon and mythology, going back to square one is tough to swallow.  When did being happily married become perceived as boring or a storytelling handicap?  People want to believe in an improbable hero like Superman.  Even though they call him corny, he continues to be a pop culture icon across the globe.  That's why it should come as no surprise that so many fans are reacting as if close friends are splitting up -- or more accurately being forced to split up.  Let's face it, they belong together, why deny the inevitable.

Hopefully they'll reunite comic book's greatest couple soon without dragging it out too long.  While they're at it, bring back Superman's original classic costume! 

Comments

Nitro said…
1. Lois & Clark, the TV show, aired the wedding of Lois and Clark and this then prompted the comic books to follow suit.
2. There are 2 main Superman comics coming out in this relaunch: Action Comics and Superman. Action Comics details the beginning of Superman thereby getting to the roots of who he essentially is and modernize him. Honestly, Superman needs to be more relatable and modernized probably more so than any other character in the DC Universe, hence the most noticed changes.
3. Another thing DC (WB) is considering is actual specific rights to specific ideas within the Superman universe. Siegel and Shuster have /will obtain rights to what Superman (1930s, 1940s) essentially is. DC, in this relaunch, is trying to make it so these new ideals of Superman are their own ideas and not the original creators. Specifically, derivative copyrights. Which is a murky issue but a case occurred with Spawn and Medieval Spawn in which rights were essentially questioned.
4. The love triangle has been overdone for decades. Sadly, “Superman Returns” didn’t notice this either.
5. The ridiculous costume in Action Comics will be(as the creators quoted) an examination into the evolution of the costume as well as a modern take on the character. I’m glad it’s body armor and not tights and I’m glad it’s underwear on the inside and not on the outside. It’s simply practical. This simply makes him look more practical in the confines of the DC Universe and plausible, at least a little, in our own.
6. Superman will be explored in this relaunch as more of Kryptonian rather than as Clark Kent. This, at first, seems to be in the wrong direction. One could say without examining more of Clark Kent, Superman wouldn’t be as relatable. Here’s why they are wrong. They are going to examine Kal-El as more of a Kryptonian from the aspect that he feels alone in this world and this is testament to how we all essentially feel.
7. I hope that Clark & Lois never get together. It can be written that Supes cannot handle a relationship given who he is and who he could put into danger.
8. The classic costume is ‘old’. Superman doesn’t need to be the only character that doesn’t change over time. Superman, along with the other heroes, need to change over time in order to become more practical, believable and relatable in our times.
Nick said…
Thanks for the excellent feedback, Nitro.
1. Yes, I remember it happening around the same time.
2. I don't mind having more modern and relatable stories, that's the goal of any contemporary writer telling a Superman story, but I don't think that means that the character himself is flawed or needs a dramatic makeover.
3. That's a very important point. But I don't want to see major changes to the character that might make him unidentifiable from the Superman we all know and love. For example, is Superman without Krypton or with different powers or a completely different costume or a different supporting cast still technically Superman? We haven't gotten to that extreme yet, but in my opinion there are some timeless, universal qualities about the character that have become mainstays of the public's idea of what Superman is. Warner Bros. and DC should reach a settlement with the estates of Shuster and Siegel rather than butcher the legacy of the character. Staying true to what has worked for over 75 years is more of a guarantee that they will be successful and continue to make enough money for all parties involved.
4. Superman Returns was very disappointing -- but their treatment of the Lois, Clark, and Superman relationship seems to be sort of the new direction that the DC reboot is heading in. I'm curious to see how the upcoming Man of Steel movie will handle it.
5. I don't mind tweaks to the costume -- it has evolved over the years anyway. I just want it to be identifiable as Superman -- the color scheme, the cape, the shield emblem. Alex Ross added black to the shield for Kingdom Come and it was awesome. I just don't want to see wacky changes for change's sake. If it works like what they did with Batman, that's fine, as long as they don't go into extreme craziness.
6. One of the things I hated about the Byrne relaunch in the 1980s (and what followed in Lois and Clark and in the Smallville TV show to some extent)was the elevation of the Clark Kent persona over the Superman persona. I always envisioned BOTH to be the invisible masks that the character wore, and his true persona was Kal-El. So I don't mind that change. BUT, I do like the traditional idea that Superman grew up on Earth so even though he was an alien, he had human roots and ideals which served him well as our protector. The alienation aspect works, especially in elements like the Fortress of Solitude, etc. but I don't want him to be TOO alien or lose that moral fiber that has been so important to the character.
7. I'm curious to see where it goes. But I hope the role of Lois Lane doesn't get lost in the shuffle.
8. As I said above, I don't mind minor tweaks, but his costume is classic in my mind and in the comic books at least doesn't need to be drastically altered. He's invincible, so why would he need armor anyway? :) I can understand making it less "man in tights" looking, but it should still be practical. And the cape is just iconic and should never disappear or be made silly. In the hands of a great artist, it's the best feature of any superhero ever imagined.
Nitro said…
Superman just needs to appear more practical and relatable.

The costume doesn’t need to be a drastic change and they aren’t leading to a drastic change but rather just starting with one and then work to a practical suit. Timeless, universal qualities are important but these qualities have to be changed or re-imagined to gather different perspectives on the universally known character and/or modernize them to make them relatable/practical. The best examples can be found with different versions of vampires/Draculas, werewolves, etc. As long as Superman’s ideals are the same and his costume isn’t changed to inherit impracticality then I’m fine. Of course, the ‘s’ needs to be there and that cape. Superman’s powers are not to their usual levels in Action Comics. He will be 1938 Superman(leaping great lengths but not flying yet). I believe Krypton will still be included in the story line but not emphasized as much as much will deal with Superman’s relationship with the world. I also don’t believe there is a Clark Kent/Superman/Kal-El perspective but rather just Clark Kent/Superman. Kal-El is just Superman’s real name. Kal-El and Superman are both aliens in this world dealing with fitting in and that’s the case when Superman has convos with his real or Earth dad.
The thing with DC and the estates is really complicated. If they don’t make an agreement and all of Superman is owned by the estates then Marvel could get permission and make Superman comics and different movie studios can make Superman films. I doubt that will be the case but it ‘could’ happen. The origins of Superman go back to the estates in its entirety in 2013 hence the December 2012 release date of the rebooted Superman. I hope, as well does all fans that Superman stays with DC/WB and the estates are compensated rightfully.

Superman Returns was disappointing all around. No one truly knows about the relationship Lois and Clark will have in the comics except that Lois is in a different position and dating someone else
in the relaunch.

I hope the new film isn’t rushed in the ‘wrong’ direction, especially since they hired a writer to rewrite some of Goyer’s screenplay.

Too alien doesn’t apply to Superman. He looks like a human but has incredible super powers. He didn’t grow up on Krypton. He grew up in Smallville. He is one of us but is simply dealing with the fact that he technically isn’t.
Lois Lane is a great character and I believe they should keep her in the background like Lana Lang was in the first few seasons of Smallville. Never make them a couple though. The fact that Superman is a hero makes it difficult for them to truly ‘be together’. If I was a writer I’d every now and then allude to the possibility but never give the readers ‘a relationship’ or ‘marriage’. This is also because there’s a finality that is instilled once this happens.
Change is ok and Superman needs it the most. I’m a gigantic Superman fan and I still think he needs to be modernized and grounded to appeal to the readers.
Let Superman fly, but let us not forget that changes need to be made to reflect different times.
Anonymous said…
Nick Leshi and Teri Hatcher. The good old days.
Nick said…
Anonymous, you just gave me an idea for my next City of Kik poll. :)