What kind of Superman does the world need today? It seems like a question that's been asked everywhere from the deepest places in DC fandom to the highest executive offices at Warner Bros. It's a question that has made any adaptation of Superman on the big screen a divisive one, as the line between nostalgia or new age, boy scout or godly badass, is endlessly debated. The ComicBook Nation show sat down with longtime comic book icon Dan Jurgens to talk about Superman – and what version of the character the world needs today.
Dan Jurgens stopped by ComicBook Nation to talk about the milestone release of "The Death of Superman" 30th Anniversary Edition this year. As one of the most famous Superman stories of all time, it's safe to say that Jurgens understands – like few others – just what Superman means as a character and a symbol – as well as what the void of not having him means. Back in 1993, Jurgens had the world on edge worrying if Superman was going to die and be gone for good – before ultimately making the world rejoice and celebrate The Man of Steel like never before when he finally returned. But that was the 1990s, and the 2020s are a very different world, indeed.
That said, according to Dan Jurgens it doesn't matter how much the world has changed over the decades – the entire point of Superman's character is that his values and personality are unbending, no matter how much the world changes around him.
"In many ways I would say it's kind of the same that Superman in a way has always been. If we go back to his original introduction in 1938, Superman was clearly sort of this champion of the people. This champion of justice that fought lower-level things – even like slumlords, if we go back to those very early appearances. But I think in terms of Superman representing these ideals of truth and justice – those are things that never fall out of favor. So I don't know that we need a changed Superman, I think what we do have are times where those things become a little more relevant and a little more important than perhaps they were a couple of years ago. And I think Superman represents that."
Zack Snyder's 2013 Superman movie Man of Steel has been a particularly hot cultural lightning rod. Snyder's edgier take on the Superman character and mythos thrilled a lot of fans for making the character more than the warm nostaliga Bryan Singer went for with Superman Returns in 2006. At the same time, Man of Steel also has some of the biggest detractors who felt it lacked true understanding or essence of who Superman is and what he represents.
Thefranchise is at a somewhat confusing crossroads: Snyder's Superman, actor Henry Cavill is back in Warner Bros. DC Universe film franchise, re-igniting the debate all over again about what kind of Superman movie we need right now. According to Dan Jurgens he thinks Cavill's return as Superman is "stunningly-good," and he makes the good point that a "modern" Superman movie of the 2020s may have an easier time framing the characer than other films before it:
"One of the things I've always been asked over the years was this idea of, 'Well, is Superman falling out of flavor? Is he too much the Big Blue Boy Scout? Or are his ideals too retro and too old?'" Jurgens said. "And to that I have always said, 'Well if you're going to say that someone is doing the right thing is too old school, or if someone who represents truth and justice is too old school, that's not a commentary on the character: that's commentary on us.' And so I think what Superman is able to do is provide this touchpoint, where we can look at ourselves through him in a way: and when we do find out that we have maybe this greater need for Superman, I think it's because we're the ones who have drifted too far. Not Superman."
That is something of a mic-drop answer, loaded with socio-political relevance. The world of today – with misinformation, division, rampant acts of random violence – could be a stage on which a character as stalwart and noble as Superman looks like a brighter symbol than ever before.
"What I do want is hope, optimism, and joy. Those three things are essential to the character," Henry Cavill revently stated in an interview about the future of his Superman, echoing everything that Dan Jurgens said.
"The Death of Superman" 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition will be released on December 20th. You can pre-order it HERE.
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