“Truth, Justice, and the American Way”. It’s not a subtle mission statement, but then Superman is not a subtle character. In an age of the anti-hero, Superman feels like a very old fashioned character, and in his current incarnation, it seems like the story tellers are constantly apologising for what he was, rather than celebrate what he is.
The teaser trailer for the ridiculously titled Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice was released on Saturday, and it marks the first time in their shared 76 year history in which both characters have appeared together in a movie. As a fan, this has been a long time coming. Before now we've had to share knowing giggles when, in Batman Forever, Val Kilmer's Bruce Wayne made a throw away reference to Superman's home city 'Metropolis'. Or we've poked each other in the ribs when we see a satellite emblazoned with the Wayne Enterprises logo in Man of Steel.
So why am I not more excited? Have the Avengers stolen the sense of occasion? Is it because this trailer is selling me a fight that I don’t particular understand or want to see? No. It's Superman. He seems so tortured, so violent, and so dour. Remember when he saved cats from trees?
I don't mean this as a slight against Henry Cavill. The Englishman oozes the kind of sincere, blue-eyed warmth this character needs. But after decades of fending off accusations that Superman was “too square” or too “boring” Zack Snyder's Man of Steel cast him as a frowning and burdened brawler. One who even took a life at the end of the climactic fight. An attempt to make him more complex and sophisticated no doubt, but Cavill was scarcely permitted a smile.
Superman is square. That's okay. He's never going to seem badass like Batman or sardonic Iron Man. But there is something inspiring about a guy more powerful than a locomotive spending as much time talking down jumpers as he does averting comets. The compelling thing about the world's original superhero is that for all his power and strength, he doesn’t place himself above us. He has no dominion, asks for no worship. He's an inspiration for six year olds and sixty year olds alike and we don't need to make him cool and relevant. He's timeless.
Actors who have played Batman
Actors who have played Batman
1/11 Ben Affleck...
Batfleck returns? Ben Affleck has been cast as the new Batman in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel sequel, Batman vs. Superman. The announcement was met with outrage from many fans who did not see Affleck as suitable for the role
2/11 ...and here he is as Batman
Ben Affleck as Batman with the batmobile in a Batman vs. Superman teaser photo tweeted by Snyder in May 2014
3/11 Christian Bale...
Christian Bale starred as the Caped Crusader in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, which made Batman finally, well, dark. 'Bale has exactly the balance of darkness and light that we were looking for' said Nolan. Bale had also tackled the role for 2005's Batman Begins, to generally favourable reviews bar what some critics called his 'ridiculous' husky voice
4/11 ...and here he is as Batman
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from 2012's The Dark Knight Rises
5/11 George Clooney...
George Clooney was cast in 1997's Batman & Robin when his career was only just taking off. The film was a shocker, not least for the famous 'bat nipples' and general camp style - it is still laughed at today. Clooney has since called the movie 'a waste of money' but luckily, it did little to harm his chances as an actor.
6/11 ...and here he is as Batman
Those 'bat nipples' are bad, aren't they? Look at them...
7/11 ...and here he is as Batman
Michael Keaton as Batman in 1992's Batman Returns
8/11 Adam West...
Adam West (L) and Burt Ward, who played Batman and Robin in the 1960s
9/11 ...and here he is as Batman
Adam West played Batman for a 1966 movie and several animated series. Many know him for his camp OTT portayal of the superhero but West was later offered the role of James Bond. He declined as he believed Bond should always be British. He now makes regular appearances on Family Guy.
10/11 Robert Lowrey
Robert Lowrey played Batman in 1949's Batman & Robin aged 36. He didn't star as the superhero in another movie but did guest-star in a 1956 episode of The Adventures of Superman - the first time a Batman actor and a Superman actor collaborated on-screen.
11/11 Lewis G Wilson
Lewis G Wilson was the first actor to play adult Batman in 1943 serial Batman. One critic meanly called the 23-year-old 'thick about the middle', not helped by the bizarre positioning of his utility belt. Wilson did not go on to enjoy a film career
Den of Geek
In Superman The Movie, Christopher Reeve hopped onto Lois Lane's balcony with humility and quiet strength. He didn't pose. He wasn't conflicted. He was simple. When he tells Lois “I never lie” he says it without irony and we believe him completely. Our world remains snarky, shady and corrupt. We could do with a boy scout.
I have hope. The trailer spends a lot of time ruminating on what a man with so much power would mean to us as a planet. History tells us that anyone with enormous influence seldom uses it for good. These are interesting themes. I hope the movie finds a way to embrace the big blue for who he really is: a simple character, who stands for truth, justice...all that stuff.Reuse content