JUSTICE LEAGUE NEEDS THE TRUE SUPERMAN

We know the ‘Last Son of Krypton’ is coming back in Justice League—but what form will he take?

Following the first entry into the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), Man of Steel, many fans were left complaining that the Superman depicted in the film was too unsure of himself and not quite the same Kryptonian that the source material typically provides. Concerns over the characterization of the world’s most famous comic character only grew after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, as many viewers came away from the film with the impression of Superman being an even more brooding character, despite his sacrifice at the end (though in fairness, the dark and moody nature of the film didn’t help).

But here we are as the flagpole movie of the DCEU is on deck—Justice League. With Superman dead following the events of Batman v Superman, there seem to be two prevailing options for bringing him back in Justice League:

  • Superman comes back to life as a corrupted force, either by Steppenwolf or another force, and the Justice League is forced to band together to stop this version of Superman
  • Superman comes back to life, and unlike the two previous film appearances, represents the hopeful, self-assured, lighter version of Superman we’re accustomed to seeing.

After the critical reception to Batman v Superman, one would think the second option would be a slam dunk. However, too many rumors continue to circulate that Superman could be closer to the Injustice version of the character than the classic version. If true, this would be a monumental mistake.

With the success of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, and the critical buzz that was based on optimism and hope, re-introducing Superman to the DCEU as a negative being would pretty much negate the optimism built up in Wonder Woman’s screen debut. Even if Superman is only evil for a short timeframe, you surrender perhaps the greatest opportunity of all in this regard—the epic return of Superman as he saves the rest of the league and shows the world that he is still the standard as far as heroism goes.

Which leads me to my next point: Geoff Johns seems to be hinting at something in this direction. After the critical pulverization of Batman v Superman and especially Suicide Squad, Warner Bros. took some necessary steps to address critiques of their DC properties. One of the biggest moves was putting Johns, the Chief Creative Officer at DC Comics, in a position to impact the DCEU more. In so doing, Johns also assumed the title of DC Entertainment President, with the hopes that he plays a similar role to the one that Kevin Feige does at Marvel Studios. For those unfamiliar with Johns, he’s arguably (and it wouldn’t be a hard argument to make) the most important creative voice at DC Comics during the last 20 years. 

Johns, through his writing at DC, has continually demonstrated that he has true love in his heart for the characters he writes. This has come across to fans, as some of the most popular stories in DC Comics history come from Johns’ pen, such as: Flash Rebirth, Green Lantern Rebirth, Green Lantern: Blackest Night, the first two volumes of Aquaman’s New 52 run, and Batman: Earth One. For the sake of this article, one of the most notable stories Johns has written was Superman: Secret Origin, in which Johns blended the best elements of the Silver Age Superman, John Byrne’s Man of Steel, Mark Waid’s Superman: Birthright, and even Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie (in which Johns worked on). In short, if you are in need of reinvigorating a character and amplifying the best elements of that character, there is no better person in comics today than Geoff Johns.

While Johns’ assignment for the DCEU is bigger than just assuring Superman gets handled properly, Johns spoke directly about the hero in his first statement as the DC Entertainment President and indirectly addressed the decision to make Superman more brooding as a means of making him relatable to modern audiences in his first two DCEU appearances:

“I think people make a mistake when they say, ‘Superman’s not relatable because he’s so powerful,’” he said. “I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? He’s a farmboy from Kansas who moves to the city and just wants to do the best he can with what he’s got.’ That’s the most relatable character in the world.”

This was from the same interview where Johns repeatedly used the phrase “hope and optimism” throughout. Despite all this, it’s actually a recent Twitter post that has fans buzzing about the prospects of Superman returning and returning in true Superman style. While responding to an article ranking the top Superman moments in the DCEU to date, Johns had a direct response:

Time will tell if the DCEU continues its great momentum that it earned on the heels of Wonder Woman. However, Justice League will be the ultimate barometer of the course corrections Warner Bros., Johns and Zack Snyder have made. And perhaps most importantly, the re-introduction of DC’s greatest hero will likely be the driving force behind it all.

Written by | Omar Hussain

Omar Hussain serves as the Publisher and Managing Editor of the Heroic Universe.