Despite a longtime disinterest in the character, I've found myself really in love with Superman within the past five years or so. What I used to see as a boring, weakness-free hero suddenly became a beautiful figure of acceptance and honor and justice. Much of that came from Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, but that film soured just slightly for me as it settled in my mind, alongside a viewing of Richard Donner's 1978 classic which I much prefer.
So, nostalgic throwback aside, I thought about my ideal portrayal of the Man of Steel himself, which eventually kickstarted a whole DC cinematic universe idea (maybe I'll finish that someday…) But now, having experienced many different portrayals of the character, I'd like to revisit my original idea and both tweak and elaborate on how I'd approach the character in a perfect world.
The movie would, of course, begin with a “prologue” on the planet Krypton. Scientist Jor-El has uncovered evidence that, very soon, a disruption within the nearest sun will explode, wiping the race of Kryptonians from existence completely. He takes this message to the Council of Krypton, who refuse his evidence on their own terms. With the clock ticking, Jor-El and his wife Lara Lor-Van decide to send their newborn son, Kal-El, to a distant planet, sustaining the race as the last son of Krypton. He prepares an escape pod, outfitted with data containing an extent of the minds of Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van, and set its destination: a distant planet called Earth. The pod departs just as the planet is completely destroyed.
The rest of the movie would follow two very distinct periods of Kal-El's life on Earth, in which his pod crashes in rural Kansas and he is adopted by farm couple Jonathan and Martha Kent as their son Clark, in somewhat non-linear fashion: age 15, and approximately 10 years later.
The Young Clark timeline follows a pre-Superman, coming-of-age story. Clark's true identity has been hidden from him by Jonathan and Martha, but only to the best of their ability: Clark begins to discover, and use, his powers at his own will, and often for his own amusement. He discovers his ability to fly, his enhanced strength and speed, and, of course, the emotions that come with such discoveries: excitement, but also fear. In school, Clark's few outbursts of his powers have cemented him as an outcast; however, he harbors feelings for classmate Lana Lang, and, against better judgment, uses his powers in an attempt to win her over. The timeline would ultimately culminate with Jonathan and Martha sitting Clark down and telling him his true origins. Both the Kents and the El family, whom Clark discovers in his stowed away pod, tell of their desires (and in the case of the Kents, their change of heart) for Clark/Kal-El to put his powers to use for the good of humankind.
The Adult Clark timeline follows him in the days of what the world has deemed “Superman,” a character that's still in his infancy and has not set a consistent positive or negative view from the world. Clark, now working in the city of Metropolis as a reporter at the Daily Planet newspaper, balances his ordinary life with that of a benevolent superhero, and faces struggles in doing so. As Clark, he romances journalist Lois Lane, befriends young photographer Jimmy Olsen, is slowly introduced to Metropolis' famous philanthropist millionaire Alexander “Lex” Luthor, and helps tend to the farm of aging Jonathan and Martha back in Smallville. As Superman, he upholds a sense of justice within the city, and slowly sets the foundation for a troubled relationship with Luthor. This arc would conclude with Clark feeling at home in his new civilian life, and with Superman slowly becoming a positive aspect of Metropolis in the eyes of most everyone… except Luthor.
Unchanged from my original idea, I like to think this would be a very unconventional take on Superman, and one that would never happen realistically (at least onscreen). There would be no traditional villain (only the seeds of one that could be used for future movies), no huge action set pieces outside of Superman saving citizens. Just a quaint look at the character from two defining points in his life and the varying relationships in each period. Still very much inspired by Max Landis', one of my favorite writers, Superman: American Alien, and his general view of the character.
Jonathan Kent (same actor across both timelines)
Martha Kent (same actor across both timelines)
Pete Ross - one of Clark's sole friends (he and Lana would briefly cameo in the Adult Clark timeline)
Perry White - editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action, and some language.
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