"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
The ill-considered comments made last week by screenwriter David S. Goyer highlighted an embarrassment for an intrinsic part of older superhero characters and comic books in general: A lot of them are just downright “goofy.” However, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Goyer’s go-to ridicule of the silliness of Martian Manhunter’s name, concept and origin nicely encapsulated a school of thought that’s been running throughout comics for a long time. It most strongly peaked when all the wrong people misinterpreted the success of Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as due to an over-serious, grim-and-gritty take on superheroes that focused on distorted realism.
“What if superheroes really existed in our world?” is such a tired premise at this point, but it has proliferated to such a degree since the 1980s that it keeps getting recycled every year or so by someone, whether with an established property or new creation. I admit that, back in the day, I got caught up in that swirl of faux-maturity too. Comic books were still struggling to find respect and appreciation in broader pop culture, and this seemed like the easiest way to prove they could have artistic merit. If it wasn’t completely serious, it somehow wasn’t good.
Between movies, comic books and TV, Man of Steel screenwriter David S. Goyer has written quite a few superheroes in his career. On the latest episode of the Scriptnotes podcast, he made his feelings for two of them clear — Marvel’s She-Hulk and DC Comics’ Martian Manhunter — and upset quite a few fans in the process.
In an episode recorded last week in front of an audience at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, Scriptnotes hosts John August and Craig Mazin asked their guests — Goyer, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely and “Legend of Conan” writer Andrea Berloff — to play a game where they randomly drew a name of a superhero, and disclosed how they would handle a contemporary film adaptation of that character.
Around 33 minutes into the podcast (full episode here), the conversation moved to She-Hulk, with Markus stating that the character has “the worst, most demeaning character name possible,” due to being presented as only a female adjunct to Hulk. That led to co-host Mazin calling the character “Slut-Hulk,” and Goyer describing her as “pretty chunky” and similar in stature to former WWF performer Chyna. Goyer then elaborated on his thoughts of the character, including describing her as a “giant green porn star.” Here’s the full quote:
If you did a Venn diagram of 11-year-old girls and J’onn J’onzz collectors, it’s very likely the intersection would be sparse — but it wouldn’t be completely empty. Brad from Vermont — the “Green” state — recently shared some pictures of his daughter Taryn’s Martian Manhunter collection.
“She is a fiend for the hero,” her father told us. “She is the only 11-year-old girl who wears Martian Manhunter shirts to school. None of her friends know who he is but think her collection is cool.”
Check out her collection below.
At Comics Oughta Be Fun, everyone’s favorite, little stuffed blogging bull has declared June to be Bear Attack Month. “Even tho’ they have never gotten their own series,” Bully writes, “bears attacking is one of the most common tropes of comic books both yesterday and today.” That’s why – all month long – he’s featuring comic book scenes of bears attacking everyone from superheroes to Springfield. I’ve included a couple of my favorites below, but there’s lots more (and more to come) at Bully’s site.
DC Comics’ Justice League of America will expand with March’s Issue 2 with a Martian Manhunter co-feature written by Matt Kindt and Geoff Johns and penciled by Scott Clark.
“To me, Martian Manhunter, you can almost do anything with him because there hasn’t been a definitive take on him yet,” Kindt, who previously wrote DC’s Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., tells MTV Geek. “We’ll see what ultimately happens, but to me, he’s always been like Superman, except he wasn’t raised by human parents, so he doesn’t have the human element to him. He has all the crazy strength and powers, but he also has a disconnect from humanity. There’s that element, which I think is going to be interesting to play with, his true alien-ness. You forget Superman is an alien sometimes, but with Martian Manhunter you don’t because of the way he looks. He’s like a man out of place in a way.”
Have you heard? Some maniacal super villain has kidnapped the Justice League and turned them into… tater tots? Don’t worry, super friends, it’s all part of a unique promotion DC is doing with the fast food chain Sonic Drive-In.
Available “for a limited time only” with purchase of one of Sonic’s Wacky Pack Kids’ Meals, these “Super Tots” come in 10 varieties: Superman, Clark Kent, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Supergirl, Bizarro, and Plastic Man. Batman and Green Lantern are conspicuously absent, but I’d chalk that up to the adult world of licensing agreements and what not given their recent movies.
This isn’t the first time comic heroes have shown up in fast food kids meals, but it’s arguably one of the most deliciously cute ones in recent memory. Check out all the little guys after the jump, courtesy of Sonic.
Once dead, twelve heroes and villains were resurrected by a white light expelled from deep within the center of the Earth. The reason behind their rebirth remains a mystery. But it will not be a mystery for long. This is the Brightest Day.
So reads the mission statement which began each issue of the year-long, twice-monthly, just-concluded Brightest Day miniseries (written by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi, drawn by various artists). One might therefore be forgiven for thinking that BD would have used this premise to mold those characters into an imperfect ensemble, in order to explore collectively what “life after death” meant in a superhero context.
Instead, BD farmed out almost half its potential cast to other titles, thereby transforming itself (rather quickly) into a multi-headed Rebirth-style rejuvenation. From there it reintroduced readers to Aquaman, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Firestorm, J’Onn J’Onzz, and Deadman, and used them in turn to reintroduce … well, you probably know by now, but let’s wait a while to talk about that.
I mentioned last week that I really dug the idea behind Project:Rooftop’s All-Ages All-Stars feature, and the latest entry just hammers that home. Artist Jon McNally shares an all-ages version of Martian Manhunter, complete with his own dog.
“Wonder Woman has her sisterhood on Themiscyra. The Flash has his fellow speedsters. Superman and Batman have their respective families. By contrast, poor J’onn J’onzz hasn’t much in the way of connections, aside from bands of bloodthirsty White Martians that appear every now and then. By gum, if Superman and Batman can have pets, then Martian Manhunter can have a dog!” McNally said.
Martian’s Best Friend? I like it.