Saturday, March 5, 2011

All-Star Superman

Spoiler Level: High

I think I need to rewatch this one.

I'll be honest... I think I missed the point.  When I first heard about DC's "All-Star" comics, I thought it was something different than it actually is-- I figured it was family-friendly stories where you didn't need to worry about continuity with the DCU at large; something that the average reader off the street or a kid starting out could just pick up.  And by "family-friendly" I don't mean kid oriented; I mean along the lines of the current Doctor Who, something that has enough action and character drama for adults but that you can generally count on to not be too intense for your kids.  And the fact that this movie is rated PG, while all the other DCU OVAs have been rated PG-13, reinforced that in my mind.

Well... I was wrong on all counts.

Not that this is completely unsuitable for children; I'd feel more okay watching this with my daughter than I would with just about any of the other DCU OVAs.  There's no blood, but there's some strong language, and some very intense fight scenes, so it is a lot heavier than I expected.

Where I was really off was in my mindset of how it connected to the rest of the DCU.  While I didn't expect it to be tied heavily to DCU continuity, I thought it was still a part of DCU continuity.  Yeah, I was completely wrong there.

What the All-Star line is supposed to be is all-star creators on all-star characters, telling stories that touch on what makes those characters iconic.  Which is, really, a great concept.  It's stories that, by necessity, need to be in their own little world, because we're examining the mythos of the characters themselves.  I think I would have gotten a lot more out of it if I had realized that going in.

It's an enjoyable tale, but the problem with seeing an adaptation of an adaptation is I didn't realize what was being changed from the original comic for the movie.  Okay, Lois doesn't know Clark is Superman here; is that something the movie-makers are doing because the general public doesn't realize she does know these days, or is that from the original All-Star Superman comic?  And that's what kept throwing me off the entire time.

So now that I've seen it and I know what approach it's taking, if I watched it again I could appreciate it for what it actually does, with completely different expectations.

For example (and here come the spoilers)-- one of the main elements of this story is that Superman is dying.  His body has been overloaded with more solar power than it can absorb.  But I didn't honestly believe for a minute that this meant Superman was really dying.  I figured it was a motivator for a lot of his decisions but he'd be cured by the end.  Because, y'know, even when Superman dies he doesn't stay dead. And if I don't believe that a character really can die, the drama doesn't work. But now that I know this story is in its own world, I know that Superman's plight is sincere, that he isn't guaranteed to survive, and I can appreciate it for the story it wants to tell.

So I think I'd like to at least watch this one again, and possibly read the original comics.


greatplaidmoose said...

I didn't read it but I did page through most issues and it seemed to me to be pretty much an exact adaptation with just some parts cut out to shorten the run time.

Semaj said...

Is there really continuity between the animated movies and DCU or even between the DCU movies?

Fer said...

Eh, yes and no. The Superman/Batman movies are direct adaptations of the comics, and being faithful adaptations they're both in continuity with the comics and with each other. Green Lantern: First Flight or Wonder Woman, however, are completely new interpretations, and it looks like the next Green Lantern animated movie isn't necessarily going to be in continuity with the first.

Since I knew this one was a direct adaptation, I guess I just assumed it would be like the Superman/Batman ones, not realizing the material it was adapting wasn't meant to be in continuity. I was definitely overthinking it.