This is another video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is me highlighting and celebrating Superman: Earth One, a 2012 graphic novel from DC Comics that gave us a unique version of the Man of Steel. Superman has had many iterations over the years. Some are more memorable than others. But Superman: Earth One gave us something special. As a story and a take on this iconic character, it delivered a Superman that has only gotten better with age. And I break down why in this video. Enjoy!
Tag Archives: Man of Steel
Superman Earth One Video: The Most Underrated Man Of Steel
Filed under DC Comics, Jack's World, superhero comics, writing, YouTube
Thanking Henry Cavill And The Past, Future, And Importance Of Superman
Recently, fans of Superman, superhero movies, and DC Comics got some sad, but unsurprising news. In light of the new regime at Warner Brothers Discovery headed by James Gunn, Henry Cavill will not return to play Superman. This news came less than a month after he made a surprise cameo in a post-credits scene in “Black Adam,” which initially renewed hopes that he would return as part of a new direction for the DCEU.
Now, it seems that same DCEU that initially began with Henry Cavill’s Superman in “Man Of Steel” is officially over.
As someone who saw that movie in theaters the week it came out and was convinced that Cavill was the right man for this icon of icons, I’m quite disappointed, even if I’m not too surprised. I don’t deny that movie had its flaws. I also don’t deny that the DCEU has had many flaws since its inception. It tried very hard to catch up with Marvel Studios. And while it certainly had some hits like “Joker” and “Wonder Woman,” it had far too many misses.
But I’d rather not dwell too much on everything that went wrong with Warner Brothers, DC Comics, and how they went about making these movies. I’m sure there will be plenty more said and revealed in the coming years about how it got to this point. From the origins of “Man Of Steel” to the drama surrounding “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” I suspect we still only know part of that story.
But regardless of what the full story might be, Henry Cavill and his approach to playing Superman was not the issue. He truly embraced the character. He really did seem to appreciate the spirit and importance of Superman and everything he stands for. Now, someone else will be wearing that iconic costume in the next Superman movie. We can only hope that, whoever it ends up being, he appreciates it just as much as Cavill.
That kind of appreciation for a character is not a trivial matter. I know you could say that about a lot of iconic characters that have made it to the silver screen, but Superman is different. Superman is unique with respect to his place in the world of superheroes, pop culture, and our collective imagination. He represents far more than simply being the prototypical hero by which all modern heroes are measured.
That may just sound like the inherent bias of someone who loves comic books and superhero media, but I promise there’s substance to that sentiment. And whenever I hear Henry Cavill talk about Superman, I get the sense he understands that substance more than most.
To appreciate it, you need only take a step back and look at who Superman is and what he represents. It’s not just that he’s perfect manifestation of our modern heroic ideal. Superman is a character who essentially casts a purifying light on a cynical world. For both the audience, as well as the fictional world he inhabits, he is someone whose power is great, but his motivations are simple.
He just wants to help.
He just wants to do the right thing.
There’s nothing complicated, nuanced, or elaborate. There doesn’t have to be with Superman. He is just a big, strong boy scout. He’ll engage in an epic, multiverse-spanning fight Darkseid one day and save a cat from a tree the next. Both are equally important to him. He doesn’t even see it as being a hero. Being good, being kind, and doing the right thing is just part of who he is.
He wasn’t born on our planet, but he embraces Earth as his home.
He’s not human, but he embodies true goodness of humanity to the utmost.
You can call him corny, basic, overpowered, or any number of things that are born of cynical outlooks. But that doesn’t change who Superman is or why he matters so much. Whether he’s played by Henry Cavill or the late Christopher Reeves, his presence offers light in a world that seems so dark. His inherent goodness reminds us that there’s real power in kindness and compassion.
It doesn’t matter how overpowered he is or how much those powers have changed over the decades. You could keep giving him more and more powers. It still wouldn’t matter. Superman would still use them to help people. He would still use them for good. He’s a direct counter to the notion that power will always corrupts or heroes will always become jaded or bitter. Superman will keep doing what he does. He’ll never let the worst of humanity outshine what makes them good.
That, more than anything, is what makes Superman such an important character. He dares us to believe that doing good is more powerful than any feat of strength. The world might have changed a great deal since his creation in 1938, but the importance of doing good hasn’t. Even if Superman is perfectly good, the world around him is not. And his willingness and ability to do so much good with this vast power he possesses offers others perspective, as well as a beacon for hope that we can be better.
You could argue how much or how little “Man Of Steel” embodied that spirit. But you can’t argue that Henry Cavill embraced the hope that this character embodies. I also believe the world will need that hope for whenever the next Superman movie comes out, whoever ends up playing him.
Superman has endeared for as long as he has because what he stands for still matters. The world today has plenty of issues the likes of which Superman’s original creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, never anticipated. We’re a world so divided and torn, struggling to see the forest from the trees at a time when everyone insulates themselves in their own comfortable bubbles. But Superman’s inclination to just help people and do the right thing transcends all of that. The hope he inspires goes beyond arbitrary divisions.
We need that hope now more than ever.
We need a character like Superman to remind us that a man can fly, move worlds, and save the day for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do.
Henry Cavill did his part for this character. For that, an entire generation of fans will be forever grateful.
But as sad as it is to see him move on from the role, let’s be ready to embrace a new version of Superman for a world that still needs him. I certainly am and I hope he can continue being that beacon of hope we’ll always need, inspiring us to both do better and be better.
Filed under DC Comics, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies
Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Celebrating An (Overdue) Vision
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a video I never thought I’d get to make. In it, I review Zack Snyder’s “Justice League,” a movie that legions of fans, as well as the cast, fought for. I didn’t think it would succeed, but after years of advocacy, it came out on HBO Max. I made it a point to build my Saturday night around watching it and I’m glad I did. Watch this video to see why. Enjoy!
Filed under DC Comics, Jack's World, Movie Reviews, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, Wonder Woman, YouTube
Shazam! Review: A Simple Formula For Maximum Fun
When a particular genre becomes over-saturated and overdone, it’s tempting to try and reinvent the concept in hopes of striking a new chord. It’s especially tempting when so many others have risen the bar to such an insane extent that success can only be measured in billions instead of millions.
It would’ve been easy for a movie like “Shazam” to give into such temptation. With the recent success of “Aquaman” and “Avengers Endgame” set to break all sorts of box office records, it seems like this movie has to do something extreme, just to stand out. How else would it succeed in such a crowded market in a golden age of superhero movies?
That was my greatest concern before I saw “Shazam.” As much as I loved the trailer, I was worried that this movie would try so hard to stand out that it would overlook the part of actually being a fun cinematic experience. That sort of oversight has been plaguing the DC Extended Universe since “Man of Steel.”
Well, having seen the movie, I’m happy to say that none of those concerns were founded. In fact, I’m elated to report that “Shazam” is another big win for DC Comics and superhero movies, as a whole. However, it didn’t win because it reinvented the genre or did something radically different. It won because it followed the basic formula for quality superhero movies and had fun along the way.
It helps that the core appeal of Shazam, as a character and superhero, is that it approaches heroics with a childlike playfulness. Billy Batson, the alter ego of the titular hero, is not some jaded adult like Batman. He’s not even a boy scout idealist like Superman. He’s just a kid and one who got dealt a bad hand, for that matter. Being both an orphan and a troublemaker, he sees the adult world through very different eyes.
That’s a novel perspective, to some extent. Every other superhero movie, even going back to the era of Richard Donner’s “Superman,” has framed the idea through an adult lens. It always starts out as something simple. An individual gets superpowers, they start carrying out simple acts of heroism, and those acts eventually get complicated, as often happens with adult issues.
With a character like Billy, things never get that complicated. Again, he’s a kid. Even in his heroic form, he sees conflict with a childlike simplicity and “Shazam” captures that simplicity perfectly. The movie doesn’t deviate much from the details and themes of the source material. Concepts like the Rock of Eternity and the Seven Enemies of Man are present and accurately portrayed.
Such details may not matter to those unfamiliar with the comics, but such accuracy is largely a bonus. What really makes this movie work is how it follows Billy’s journey and not just the one he undergoes as a hero. His evolution when he’s not a magically-endowed superhero is arguably the most meaningful aspect of the story.
When we first meet Billy, it’s hard to discern whether he has the spirit of a hero. He’s no upstanding boy scout. In fact, he’s very much a troublemaker who’s willing to thumb his nose at police, break the rules when it benefits him, and run away from anyone who tries to help him. However, he never comes close to crossing that might send him down a darker path.
It’s that trait that sets him apart from his villainous counterpart, Dr. Sivana. While he’s no Thanos, he demonstrates that he’s a lot like Billy in a few key aspects. He’s given a chance to become a hero, but is unable to refuse the temptation that often comes with immense power. That failure haunts him and pushes him down a darker path.
For a time, it seems as though Billy could walk a similar path. When he first gets his powers, he reacts in ways that most would expect of a 14-year-old boy. He tries to buy beer. He tries to make money. He even ventures into a strip club. It’s hilarious and cute, but it also establishes the perfect tone for a movie that avoids complicating the standard superhero narrative.
Within that narrative, there’s a hero who makes choices and learns from his mistakes. There’s also a villain who makes choices and refuses to learn from them. When they eventually clash, it’s a flashy spectacle with simple, understandable stakes. It’s no Battle of Wakanda, but it doesn’t have to be.
From the moment he first gets his powers to the final showdown with Dr. Sivana, Billy develops into his own hero, but never loses his childlike mentality. He’s not forced to grow up too fast, nor does he have to abandon the civilian life he’s trying to establish. Whereas being Bruce Wayne is often an inconvenience for Batman, being Billy Batson is necessary for Shazam.
This shows in the seamless characterization provided by Asher Angel, who plays young Billy, and Zachary Levi, who plays Shazam. At no point does either manifestation feel like a different character. They both wield the same childlike charisma as they navigate their superhero journey. The same lovability that made Levi so great in shows like “Chuck” help him and Angel bring out the best in Billy Batson.
When the movie begins, it’s not clear that Billy has what it takes to be a competent hero. Trying to determine his worth is like trying to determine if some random 14-year-old will one day play in the NFL. The odds are against them, but the potential is still there. By the time the credits roll, the message is clear. Billy has the spirit that Shazam was looking for and you can’t help but root for him.
At its core, “Shazam” checks all the right boxes for the classic hero’s journey. Billy Batson is perfectly poised to take that journey and not just because he’s one of many orphans who become superheroes. The movie doesn’t try to subvert these tried and true tropes. If anything, it embraces them and dares to have a little fun along the way.
It’s easy to share in that fun. The humor is exactly what you would expect of a movie that involves 14-year-olds getting superpowers. It’s serious when it needs to be, but never too serious. Given the grim and gritty settings of other DC Extended Universe movies, it’s a breath of fresh air that the superhero genre badly needed.
It’s not without its flaws. Some details of Billy’s life are underdeveloped and glossed over. There were also inconsistencies with Dr. Sivana as well, but none were egregious to the point where they derailed the movie. It simply stuck to a simple formula, mixed in a few twists along the way, and made the most of what it had to work with.
If I had to score “Shazam,” I would give it an 8 out of 10. It didn’t reinvent superhero movies or raise the bar. It was simply a fun, entertaining movie that gave a character with little star power a chance to shine. It even managed to accomplish all this without trying too hard to make him like Batman. For a DC Comics movie, that alone is a major accomplishment.
Filed under Movie Reviews, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies