Superman/Lois Lane

Attempts at a Superman movie have suffered from a flaw inherent in the mythos: Superman is boring. You can tell an interesting story around him, certainly, but as a character study he's boring as hell.

Superman is an aspirational figure, he's the guy that you want to be when you grow up. He's got awesome, incredible power, and he uses that power responsibly. Most people would be changed by that level of power, but Supes will always be a kind and cheerful boy scout. Those are his real super powers: not being corrupted by his own power, and not being crushed by the responsibility that comes with it.

You can play Superman as more wishy-washy, but that's more Superboy than man. Discovering that power comes with responsibility is more Spider-Man's thing, anyway. Super-angst is pretty unwatchable. More than anything else, it was the angst that sank Superman Returns.

So those are the two extremes that a Superman story has to skate between: Immature and angsty or all too perfect. A good writer can pull it off. Or you could take a short-cut.

Move Superman from subject to object. Our POV character is Lois Lane, intrepid reporter. Superman's inner turmoil, or lack thereof, is at a safe remove from the center of the story. Even better, Lois is too skeptical to take Superman at face value. If he seems too perfect, Lois will be just as skeptical as the audience. Does he have moments of self doubt? Is is creepy that he doesn't? Are there secrets behind that smiling face? We can address these questions, but we don't need to answer them.

Wouldn't this be a great way to write an origin story? No info-dump flashbacks, no maudlin tales of his youth in Smallville, just dive into the story. We get the details as Lois gets them. She's a reporter, it's what she does.

So here's the pitch: Lois is on the trail of a mystery, namely the flying man that has only been seen in blurry photographs so far. Seems like tabloid material, but there is definitely something weird going on. Her research uncovers impossible things happening, as if some unseen guardian angel had swept in save people.

She soon finds the common thread: freelance writer Clark Kent. She gets to know the kind, awkward guy, and the two start a relationship. Then the weirdness starts happening, and Clark's other life has to come out of the shadows.

So there you go, a superhero story firmly grounded in humanity without wallowing in angst, and it's only the first act.


  1. But Jon, the protagonist of your superhero movie would be a GIRL. Don't you know that is INCONCEIVABLE.

    (It would be awesome. I love it.)

  2. Also, it's funny you complained about Super-angst today; I've been mainlining episodes of the Justice League cartoon while Gary is out of town, and just last night saw this scene:

    ("Angst is my schtick, Superman, get your own.")

  3. Hmm, maybe WB would go for a Wonder Woman movie if Steve Trevor was the POV character? Diana doesn't have the too-perfect problem, but her origin is extra weird, and unlike Superman, she doesn't have Smallville to anchor her in the mundane world.

    Justice League was a great cartoon. How far into the series are you?

  4. Just started season 2. I love the Batman characterization. He's got a sense of humor, although a very dry one. In the season 2 opener, he growls at Wonder Woman - as things start to go south - "Next time I let Superman take charge? Just hit me really hard." I lol'd. And later on, they look up at a floating city, way up in the sky, and he says, "I'm going to need a longer grapple." And I was like, Was that a Jaws reference? From Batman? omg. <3

  5. I think Diana's problem is more that no one has ANY sense of what her personality is supposed to be, other than strong chick with boobs. The movie is going to have to establish who the heck she is.

  6. A proper WW movie is like a gender-flipped Thor. She's an honorable warrior from another world, he's a cynical modern-day everyman. They fight crime! And evil gods.

    Maybe I should do her next? I have a Fantastic Four idea percolating, too.


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