Monday, May 31, 2010

Superman absent in “Boys of Steel” and “Smallville”

As has been noted elsewhere, Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman does not include the word “Superman.” (I’m talking only about the story proper—the illustrated portion—because “Superman” does appear in the Author’s Note and, of course, the subtitle.)

We show Superman, and I do use “super” (once), but that’s as close as it comes. (No, this was not a legal moratorium. It was simply an experiment that occurred to me when I was nearly done writing the book and noticed I’d not yet used his name.)

One of my favorite moments during school visits is when I ask an audience that has read the book how many times the word appears in the text. For some reason, someone usually answers "18.” But someone always gets it right as well, which is impressive because I’m not always posing the question while the book is fresh in mind. And even if they’d just finished reading it, it’s not like they memorized it!

The reason I bring this up again is because I (being a dim bulb far too often) only recently realized that it correlates to the TV show Smallville, whose 10th and final season will start this fall. The mantra of the show has been “no flights, no tights.” It is reimagining the Superman mythos, showing Clark take on a heroic role long before he puts on a cape. It’s a nice if obvious message: it’s not the suit that makes the savior.

Fans have speculated that the first and only time the show will show Clark in costume will be the last scene of the last episode. That’s probably true (though in the 9th season finale, viewers do see the suit—twice. But both times in reflection: once in a future-dream sequence, reflected in the globe atop The Daily Planet, and the other time the actual costume, reflected in Clark’s eyes.)

So Boys of Steel shows but doesn’t tell Superman while Smallville tells but doesn’t (technically) show Superman. And that, perhaps, is the only convergence.

Except for this:

Allison Mack, who plays Chloe Sullivan on Smallville, in 2008

5/13/11 update: The series finale of Smallville does, as expected, show Clark Kent in the Superman suit (though either obscured or from a distance), and it does use the word "Superman" (referring not to Nietzsche but to Clark's supehero name)...once.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Haha love the end of that post!