Zack Snyder’s MAN OF STEEL is only a month or so away, and I am, shall we say, cautiously excited. Having not really enjoyed a SUPERMAN movie since SUPERMAN II in 1980, I’m hoping to leave the theatre satisfied at least in some measure. Unfortunately, I know all too well that many of my favorite things about Superman will never be seen on the big screen. Let’s look at a few of them, shall we?
The Superman Robots
Back in the day, Superman had an army of Superman robots at the Fortress of Solitude he had built that could sub for him if he needed to protect his secret identity, or if he need them to fill in for him on hazardous, Kryptonite-laden duty, or just if he needed some backup and a little extra muscle.
He even kept a couple at his place in Metropolis, just in case:
Aside from the fact that having your own personal robot army is always cool, the Superman robots were a nice reminder that Superman isn’t just super-strong, he’s also super-smart, a detail that seems to have been lost in the last few years of Superman comics.
The Big Key
In the 1950s and ’60s concept for Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, there was a detail about it that always charmed me: the entrance to the Fortress itself was a giant golden door with a keyhole, and the enormous key that would allow access was always just sitting outside the Fortress nearby. And that was the trick to it: only Superman was strong enough to lift the key, so only he could open the door.
It’s a charmingly fairy-tale-like notion. Fifties and early Sixties Superman especially has a whimsical tone that I love. Grant Morrison had a wonderfully clever revision of this idea in ALL-STAR SUPERMAN:
A distinctly groovy ’70s innovation, Superman would make use of the Supermobile whenever he expected to need a little extra protection from the old Green K, using the Supermobile’s robot hands to grab up the offending mineral and usually chuck it into the sun or something along those lines.
Admittedly, this may just be nostalgia based on the Corgi toy Supermobile I had as a kid…
…but I still like it.
The Bizarro World
A long-running story element in 1960s Superman comics, the Bizarro World was where Superman’s imperfect duplicate Bizarro lived with all the other Bizarros, more duplicates of himself and Lois Lane, as well as Bizarro duplicates of all of Superman’s friends.
I think what I liked about it most was that it stood for an element of mercy and kindness that’s integral to Superman’s character, and which kind of gets lost these days. When Superman was left with the dilemma of what to do with Bizarro, an imperfect tormented creature that didn’t ask to be born so different, he didn’t kill him or lock him up in a prison. Superman reshaped a planet, carving the square edges into it so that Bizarro and his people would feel connected to it. He made them a home. That’s what Superman does. He doesn’t fight people. He helps people.
Krypto the Superdog
I know, I know, it’s a dog in a cape flying around. How can we take that seriously, you ask? First of all, it’s comics, so in a world where Martians, mermen and witches not only exist but are teammates with Superman (hell, Superman’s college girlfriend was a mermaid), I don’t see why he can’t have a dog.
Moreover, Krypto is a reminder of Superman’s childhood, an unexpected piece of his homeworld that found its way to Earth and helped make Superboy feel a little less alone.
How can you argue with that?