Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Men of Steel

The many lives of Superman!

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I finally get to let my inner geek out for a bit on this week's entertainment blog.  Summer is fast approaching and so are the summer movies.  It seems like each summer movie season we get more and more comic books morphing into live action movies.  The  highly desired and much anticipated reboot of Superman is one that I am definitely looking forward to seeing. 
Henry Cavill
Man of Steel will be DC's entry into the comic book movie showdown this summer, with Henry Cavill (Immortals) donning those very well fitted blue tights (what happened to the red undies). I was very surprised not to see Tom Welling who played Clark/Superman on The CW's Smallville not given the chance to take his very popular and long running role to the big screen. I wonder if he's mad about the snub.  Although, this new movie is more of a re-telling of the Superman story. I guess Welling's version would have been more of a continuation.  Oh well..   

George Reeves
With all that being said, how can one talk about a Superman movie without reminiscing about all the actors who have portrayed Mr. Faster Than A Speeding Bullet.  I was more of a Superman animation and live action fan than I was his portrayal in the comic books. But, I will say I own the complete series of The Death of Superman comic books.   My earliest memory of any kind of Superman television show was on Sunday mornings after church.  My dad and I would watch the George Reeves version in Adventures of Superman.  Little did I know I was watching black and white reruns from the 1950's.  I actually think at some point they were in technicolor.  But, regardless, I enjoyed watching him each week fight the bad guys and duck out on Lois Lane to do so. For some reason I remember the "Clark Kent" scenes with him typing very fast.  I also remember the first man, Kirk Alyn, to portray Superman in a movie from 1948.  My mom took my sister and I to a Super Hero movie revival at The Victory Theater in Evansville, IN.  I remember it being very odd and corny and not like what I had seen on television. I bored quickly and fell asleep on my mom's lap much to her disappointment.  She should have warned me that it was going to be so horrible.  LOL!  

Saturday morning cartoons is where I solidified my love for comics and the super powered.  The Super Friends were my Saturday morning soaps. Batman & Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and, of course,  Superman were the super powered cast! I couldn't wait to see who The Super Friends were battling each Saturday.  My favorite Superman themed episode was the one called Revenge of Bizarro. The cartoon actually went through several incarnations in the 70's before it was canceled. Whew, finally in the 70's this is where it gets good.

1978 brought us the Superman Movie and probably one of the most memorable, hunkiest and beloved Supermen in all Superman movie-dom.  Christopher Reeve was the quintessential hero.  He embodied the role and fans adored him.  And who can forget the most perfectly curled piece of hair on his forehead.. ..swoon..  I remember being forced to play "Can You Read My Mind?" in band class.  

One of the most memorable scenes from the Superman: The Movie. And who didn't love Margot Kidder's cigarette smoking, raspy voiced Lois Lane.  This Superman franchise produced 4 movies in all.  In Superman: The Movie we see his battle with Lex Luthor and Mortality.  Superman II, General Zod and friends tear up the city.  By the way, to this day, Terrance Stamp's General Zod has been my favorite. In Superman III Richard Pryor is the anti-villain whose computer smarts produces a version of Kryptonite that makes one bad and one good Superman.  It also brought us the first appearance of  Lana Lang, Annette O'Toole.  For those of you who didn't know Annette O'Toole, played Clark's mother (Martha Kent) on Smallville.  When I first saw her on Smallville I giggled like an Asian school girl at a Sailor Moon convention. Superman IV: The Quest For Peace was the fourth and last movie in this series.  I really didn't like it and the franchise was getting old and stale. The solar powered villain and green message alienated audiences and the series was done.  
After a nearly fatal  1995 riding accident, Christopher Reeve, took on another hero role as an advocate for paralysis research.  The Horseback riding accident left him paralyzed from the neck down.  Christopher Reeve passed away in October 2004. You can make donations by visiting The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation page.  

Switching from the big screen back to the small screen Superboy debuted in 1988 and ran for four seasons.  It was an introduction of Superboy's adventures (renamed The Adventures of Superboy in the 3rd season) in college.   After John Newton donned the cape in it's premiere season, he was replaced in season 2 by Gerard Christopher. The reason being was John's diva behavior and publicised DUI arrest. Since, both actors have lent their voices to some Superman animations and documentaries. 
John Newton
Gerard Christopher
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman debuted in 1993.  It was a primetime hit that introduced the world to Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher (Clark Kent and Lois Lane).  It was more of an action soap opera, where I felt they concentrated on dialog and drama just as much as the action hero stuff. Did you know that Gerard was originally cast as Clark for this series? But, after the director found out he had already played the part he was replaced by Dean Cain.

Superman fans would have to wait until 2001 before we would see another actor take on the mantel of Kal'el, the son of Krypton, role.   Another Superboy-ish retelling of Clark's adventures, before he became Superman, is where Smallville came to life. Tom Welling, in my opinion, has definitely left his mark on the Superman mythology.  He, like Christopher Reeve, embodied the hero and made it his own.  The show included updated and upbeat versions of  Lana, Lois, Jimmy, Perry, Lex, TJ and Laura Vandervoort as Supergirl (remember when Helen Slater played Supergirl?).  I loved it when they would make references to The Super Friends or The Justice League. We also got an hour long show featuring The Justice Society of America.
Helen Slater as Supergirl

Smallville was the longest running live action Super Hero themed television show in history. The only problem I had with the show was the last episode.  I wanted to see him transcend into Superman.  But, something to do with copyrights never allowed us to see him in full cape.

Well that brings us back to the movie theater.  Superman Returns!! Thought of as the 5th installment of the original Superman films, in 2006 the cape belonged to Brandon Routh. Not much to say about this one.  I remember going to the theater to see it and almost walked out.  It was the basic formula that didn't quite translate. Lex + Superman + Kryptonite + Lois = Bad Movie. All I can say is Brandon made a good-looking Superman.  And obviously Superman had a son.  Booo! I guess it was bound to happen.

So there you have it.  I hope I didn't leave any of the actors or incarnations out.  Fanboys can still see Superman in the numerous and completely enjoyable animated movies.  See you at the show on June 14.

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