Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Quarterback and The Cheerleader

Superman and Wonder Woman are now going to be a couple. Yeah. This is happening.

For some background, here's the gist of the situation. The DC universe was rebooted last year, and both Superman and Wonder Woman's stories were basically put back to square one. Previously, while Superman and Wonder Woman had some minor flirtation and hints of feelings, nothing really ever came of it. (They went on a date once when they first met. It was awkward.) Superman and Lois Lane were married in 1996 (in publication, not in-universe history), and he and Wonder Woman settled on being close friends and co-workers. (At times they've referred to each other as their "closest" or "dearest" friend, which was a little weird for Superman WHO WAS MARRIED AT THE TIME.)
Meanwhile, in alternate universe stories, Superman and Wonder Woman have frequently been a couple. Often times they have a son or daughter who then becomes the leader of a new generation of heroes in the future. But the only reason that was ever allowed to happen was because they were deliberately alternate universe stories with no impact on the "real" story.

Now, in this new rebooted universe, Superman is currently only in his mid-twenties, and although he's always had a bit of a thing for Lois Lane, they've never been together as of yet. Wonder Woman is now secretly a daughter of Zeus and the Amazon queen Hippolyta (making her a half-goddess and Hercules' half-sister, which is sort of cool), and although there've been references to her romantic relationship with her classic boyfriend Steve Trevor, he might be dead now.

The comic, which goes on sale Aug. 29, culminates months of flirty foreshadowing. Writer Geoff Johns hints that some event — possibly tragic — will impact every member of the Justice League, and cause Superman and Wonder Woman to seek solace in each other and move from super-powered colleagues to power couple. This is no one-issue stunt: “This is the new status quo,” says Johns, adding that the relationship will have a seismic impact on all the heroes and villains in the DC universe.

Immediately, comic fans went a little bonkers. Here were some of the responses that came about, just in my immediate circle of online friends:

"That's the straw that broke this camel's back. I'm done [with DC Comics]."

" this was the reason they needed to break up Supes and Lois? Really?"

"...this feels like the only reason that they wiped a relationship with 70+ years of backstory out of reality and it's more than a little annoying."

You might notice that most people were only upset about how it affected Superman; that's because most comics fans actually don't care that much about Wonder Woman (myself not included). It's a complicated thing. Anyway, this was my response:


Here's the deal: I've spent quite a lot of time researching the Superman relationship dynamic. Why he loves Lois, why [his teenage sweetheart from Smallville] Lana Lang is important, how Wonder Woman might fit into it, etc. Superman is my favorite fictional character of all time, and his fairy-tale romance with Lois is very important to me. And I think this is awesome.

Something we need to get out of the way: we all know this isn't going to last. It's NOT. DC knows it and we know it. This is a sidestep. Superman isn't going to marry Wonder Woman and be with her permanently. For Superman's relationships, this is the equivalent of Superman Red/Blue, or any of the other changes in comics that lasted for a few months to a year or more, then quickly got reverted.
Grant Morrison [one of the biggest writers in comics] has written on a number of occasions that the Superman/Lois dynamic is essentially at the heart of the entire DCU; it's basically impossible for the DCU to go on for any prolonged time without going back to that romance. Just because Clark and Lois aren't together at this very moment in time in no way means that they won't be in the future.

As for the "they got rid of the Lois/Clark relationship specifically to do this" thing, I don't buy it. Sure, if you put this under the larger category of "throwing twists into the dynamic," then it fits. If he's going to be younger and single now, why not have some fun with the concept and get him together with Wonder Woman for a time? Do we actually expect that he remained entirely celibate and had no other girlfriends aside from Lana and Lois in his entire life? If this is the Superman story essentially started from the beginning, why is it a problem to not have him be with Lois immediately? And in any case, it's not as though a Supes/WW pairing doesn't actually make sense. They have a hell of a lot in common, both being inhuman immortal sometimes-alienated super-strong flying red-and-blue-clothed members of the Justice League that very specifically believe in the concepts of truth and justice to their very core. I've always said that Superman and Wonder Woman as a couple makes all the sense in the world, it's just not the way things are meant to be. (Lord of the Rings fans: Superman is Aragorn, Wonder Woman is Eowyn, Lois is Arwen.)

Oh, and as for that "relationship with 70+ years of backstory" thing, that's not how that works. Sure, that's as long as Lois Lane's existed, but it's not as though that same story extended through all 70 years. We had a universe-wide reboot in 1986, don't forget, which at the time set the Superman/Lois relationship back to square one as well. That's how these stories tend to work; they continue for a generation or more, then get retold. Meanwhile, those past stories still exist, effectively sealed off for all time like a capsule. Stories like Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow and Superman: The Wedding Album, huge moments in the Clark/Lois relationship, still exist. Just because the story of the new DCU says that things were "changed," that doesn't matter. No one can go back in time and literally get rid of stories that happened in the past.

As far as Superman and Wonder Woman are concerned, literally all their continuity has been wiped from existence, so this is the start of a new universe entirely for them. Why is that a problem? How is that terribly different from other mediums?
Major spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises:
If the next Batman movie doesn't have Bruce and Selina as a couple (cause, y'know, reboot), is anyone going to complain that they "broke up that relationship" so Bruce could be with Vicki Vale? No, because that's the way these things work in movies and everyone expects it. Comics frequently work the same way, just on a much longer timetable. So we should be happy that we got fifteen years of a married Superman and Lois, not complain that it's not the current story that's being told.

Personally, I actually think that this is extremely cool, both from the silly/fun fanboy angle of Supes and Wondy getting together as well as the fact that now this makes the Superman/Clark/Lois dynamic a hell of a lot more interesting. How is Lois supposed to compete with essentially a female Superman? Why is Superman going to choose to be with Lois (and he will) despite her technically being nowhere near as amazing as Wonder Woman? Yeah, it throws a speedbump in the road for Clark and Lois. But maybe that's a good thing. Do we really want their relationship to just smoothly jump into place with no tension whatsoever?

Sure, DC's going to market this as "the new status quo," but we all know what that means. It's the new status quo for about a year, then it goes back to being the classic thing again. Let's just let ourselves have fun with it while it lasts.


Something I didn't actually mention much in that post because it wasn't relevant to the conversation at the time is that I actually think it's a good move for Wonder Woman. She's always had difficulties with romance, mostly because she doesn't have a romantic interest the way that Superman has Lois Lane. Yes, she has Steve Trevor, but he's nowhere near as important to her story as Lois is to Superman's.

Wonder Woman is, in many ways, a rather difficult character to put into a relationship simply because of who she is. In most versions of her story, she was raised by Amazons who told her all her life that men were corrupt. Furthermore, she believes so strongly in truth (I mean, she has a lasso for it), justice, and the desire to unselfishly help others that virtually no man on Earth can live up to her standards—no one except Superman, that is. Superman is the least-corruptible person in the world. If there were ever someone to disprove the Amazons' sexist belief that men are universally evil, Superman would be the one to do it.

Clark and Diana are also good company for one another, since they can relate to one another rather easily. Their moral beliefs are part of it, but they also both frequently feel alienated, being super-strong inhumans living in a world that either idolizes them or is wary of them, depending on the day of the week. Most men are either intimidated by Wonder Woman or treat her like a sex object, neither of which Superman would do. Superman is frequently treated like a god by women (see Superman: The Movie's horrible "Can You Read My Mind" scene); Wonder Woman wouldn't have that problem. She's literally half-goddess herself now; she'd treat him like a "normal" person.

On top of that, Superman and Wonder Woman actually do make sense from a purely practical standpoint. They don't need to worry about each other getting hurt, neither of them can die from aging (Wonder Woman never ages past age 29 or so, and as long as Superman's near a yellow sun he stays rejuvenated), and as it happens, Kryptonian and Amazon DNA are compatible while Kryptonian and human DNA are not. (because... magic? I dunno.) So they could presumably have a real family together.

So, all in all, while this is a slightly bizarre turn of events, I'm good with it. I'm actually really excited about it. It's gonna be a temporary thing, but it should be fun while it lasts. And hey, y'know what, maybe it'll turn out to be something amazing and actually continue on. Maybe this generation of comics will have Clark and Diana as the definitive romance of the DCU. Whatever's best, really.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sci-Fi Music

FYI, I'm not gonna continue that superhero series thing; I think I kinda ended it with the last post.

Kinda random, but I figured I'd post my favorite bits of music from science fiction movies, TV, and games.

"Main Title" from Star Trek: First Contact
"Stargate: Atlantis Main Title" from Stargate: Atlantis
"The Doctor's Theme (Series 4)" from Doctor Who: Series 4
"I Am the Doctor" from Doctor Who: Series 5
"Amy in the TARDIS" from Doctor Who: Series 5
"Finish the Fight" from Halo 3
"Sacred Icon Suite 2" from Halo Legends
"A Future for the Krogan" from Mass Effect 3