The debate over Man of Steel has been going on for nearly three years now, and we’ve heard every talking point under the sun on both sides. However, this new bit of info is sure to drudge up some argumentative feelings (in the spirit of healthy conversation, I hope!) for those who aren’t familiar with it. Personally, I no longer care enough to take a stance, but this Justice League Unlimited clip posted by BMD commenter Lunaman is incredibly interesting from a directorial standpoint.
A bit of background for the episode, titled “Clash”: Shazam/Captain Marvel has been introduced to the League, and Lex Luthor is manipulating Superman to get him mad enough to wreak havoc in his prototype city. Enjoy.
A few details to note here: the buildings are completely abandoned, Superman is annoyed with Shazam for naively endorsing Luthor as president, and Luthor has Superman believing there’s a legitimate threat only he can see. What’s stunning here is just how similar it feels to big battle in Man of Steel, from the flying, to punches, to the exploding glass, but what really seems to confirm the clip being used as a visual template is the bit with the bank vault. It’s almost identical! That’s not a bad thing of course. In fact as DC fan I’d want whoever’s making these films to be familiar with as many sources as possible. The real perplexing bit is how it feels like it’s been lifted in a way that completely ignores context.
Superman is at his wit’s end here, and as opposed to making him look heroic, this scene is meant to paint him as… kind of an asshole! Once he figures out the device beneath the surface isn’t a bomb, the episode ends with him apologizing for all the destruction and deciding that the Justice League would pay for all the damage. In fact, Superman’s actions are so disappointing that Captain Marvel loses faith in him and quits the League! What’s also notable to me is Shazam’s perspective. He’s a ten-year-old who looks up to Superman but ends up disappointed in him because of his violence. Kind of like the disappointed kids who won’t be able to watch Batman v Superman.
In the series, this event does end up acting as a catalyst for change (Superman admits he and the League have lost their way), but what’s striking is the current situation with regards to DC’s cinematic landscape. Zack Snyder’s Superman is very different from the Superman of the shows and comics – whether or not that’s a bad thing depends on you – but the possibility of a Shazam! movie in 2019 raises some questions about how they’ll approach the character. Whether or not it’s set in the same universe, Shazam is going to either end up the bright alternative to Superman, or another dark iteration following in his footsteps, and it’ll be interesting to revisit this episode in three years’ time.
What do you folks think?