MovieBob - Intermission
Advice From a Fanboy: Superman Edition

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 8 Oct 2010 17:00
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The reality is, while we'll deny it until we're blue in the face, what really mollifies fanboys (and girls) are the details. The little things. The minor, specific constants. Superman has black hair. His costume is blue, red and yellow. He's kind of smug, but largely oblivious to it. When he's angry, his eyes glow red because he's about to shoot lasers out of them - which isn't really how heat vision ought to work, but nobody cares. He wears glasses when he's Clark Kent. Lois Lane is a brunette and kind of a pain in the ass. Jimmy Olsen has a camera. Perry White says "Great Caesar's ghost!" instead of cursing. Lex Luthor is bald. Kryptonite is green and glowy. Get those kinds of things right, and fans will - as if by magic - find the "themes and spirit" in whatever you plan to do with the story.

Rao Is in the Really Weird Details

As stated about, fanboys like details, but what they love are obscure, offbeat details culled from the depths of the property's arcana and allusions to the outer fringes of its universe - particularly stuff that's been left out by prior adaptations. Some examples? Non-comic Superman hasn't had the yellow shield on his cape for a while, so put it back on. Give Clark a dog named Krypto, though whether or not he flies is up to you. Read up on the effects of various colors of Kryptonite. Put a lock on the Fortress of Solitude that can only be opened by a building-sized Big Yellow Key. Have him say "Great Rao!" (the Kryptonian version of "Oh, my God!") a lot. Take Lana Lang and Lori Lemaris out of mothballs. Leave both of the elder Kents alive.

This extends to bad guys, by the way. The sillier the classic Superman antagonist is, the happier fandom will be to see them - and yes, that includes mainstays like Toyman, Prankster and Mister Mxyzptlk.

Nobody Cares About Smallville

Here's a perfect example of that details maxim in action. Smallville is an absolutely horrible TV show that's managed to stay on the air for a decade for two reasons: #1: drawing the bare minimum genre series audience is close enough to "successful" for The CW (formerly The WB.) #2: About five years in, they started making regular fan service shout-outs to other areas of the DC Universe - mostly with half-formed versions of Flash, Aquaman, Green Arrow, and so forth turning up but recently expanding all the way to fully-realized versions of Stargirl, Hawkman and Doctor Fate among others. It's still a horrible show, but now it's a horrible show that gets the occasional peak in fan-attention (the all-but-inevitable finale where Tom Welling finally puts on his Superman costume will probably be the highest-rated thing ever to air on CW ... and then everyone will forget the show ever happened a week later.)

This has led Warner Bros. and people working therein to adopt the mistaken assumption that anyone is paying attention to Smallville and that it needs to be taken into account in relation to its other properties. Even Christopher Nolan wasn't immune, - famously banning Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson from appearing on the show to prevent it from interfering with his Batman movie plans. He needn't have bothered: Nobody cares what does and doesn't happen on Smallville - hell, hardly anyone would've even seen them there.

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