Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Superman Returns - The Official Movie Adaption: DC chickens out

I didn't expect it to be great but the official comic book adaptation of Superman Returns was very disappointing. It added nothing to the story but instead did, in fact, take elements away from the film. There is no excuse for why DC would not be able to put together a better adaptation considering that Superman is a property that they are very familiar with. The book appears to be created by an uncaring committee and that guarantees a shoddy product. In another era I'd expect a copy of this book to be in a cheap plastic bag with a Whitman logo on it, packaged with 10 other throw away comics consisting of various issues of Richie Rich, Little Lotta and Archie. A little bit of art, wit and talent applied to the adaptation would have made this relevant to the mythos.

It's mandatory that someone publish the comic, novelization and easy-reader version of the movie but DC should have done a better job or if they did not really care about it, then farm it out. Whatever there was about the film that was even remotely interesting was bleached out. The entire issue is just somewhat random scenes that seems cribbed from a summary of the script. Even the trip to the ruins of Krypton and Argo City by Superman that was cut from the film (but will likely show up on the DVD) was sparse and added absolutely nothing to the story.

I can't imagine that the film producers were worried about spoilers to the general non-fan public, so it must have been to delay the comic fan or conservative media reaction to a new Superboy. A child out of wedlock and a dead beat Dad might not have been the sort of publicity the studio wanted to focus on.

One the plot points left out of the comic is the revelation that Superboy had powers and used them to kill a thug who was threatening his mom. No smooshing by a piano here.

In fact, all obvious references that might lead one to believe Superman had a child is either skipped over or deleted from the comic. There is a touching Prince Charming/Snow White type hospital scene when Supes is comatose, but it isn't much of a revelation. Children love and respect Superman/Moses and a thank you kiss for saving the world isn't out of possibility.

So Superman has a kid? If I saw that in the comic I'd definitely want to see the film, then. A comic adaptation is advertising. It is a teaser. It is there to continue or generate new interest in a film. No one who picks up a comic adaptation will decide they don't have to see the film since they have already read the story. But a poor adaptation is at the same time poor adverstising. Much of the box office success of Superman Returns relies on the patronage of the average person who does not read comics. While the adaptation will not make or break the receipts it didn't help either.

If you are inclined to read a Superman Returns-like tale then just forget this filler and grab yourself some copies of the Up, Up and Away story arc in the recent Action Comics.


  1. You will probably be really happy to know that the novel, which was released a week or two before the movie, also omits the piano squishing anonymous thug #4 as well. I don't understand the omission in the comic since it wasn't released until after the movie was released.

  2. I don't really understand why comics even bother with adaptations anymore. When I was a kid, the Star Wars adaptations were essential because home video was basically unheard of; if you wanted to relive the story, you had to see it in the theatre again, read the novel, or read the comic. It used to be years before a movie might make it to primetime TV, if ever. Now, movies are sometimes out on DVD before I'm even aware they left the theatre. So I have to wonder if these still sell well, and if so, why?

  3. I notice from your first picture that Lex doesn't even stab Supes in the right place. I'll left with the impression that the creators of the adaptation just weren't given much information to work with.

  4. It is possible that the comic book team was not given some of the "shocking revelations" of the movie in order to keep info from getting out. Considering hte turnaround time for comics, it was probably started prior to the movie coming out. Maybe this explains it or maybe DC just wanted to keep sertain retarded elements from the movie out of "comic book continuity".


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