Should Superman Be Evil In Justice League? Let's Discuss
The commercials are coming in fast and furious for Justice League, with just a few weeks left until the big DC blockbuster arrives in theaters. Viewers have seen lots of Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and Aquaman, but you can count on one hand the amount of times Superman has shown up. Even though the character died in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, he's definitely, without question, still in the movie. This has led some to speculate on why exactly Superman is being held so close to the vest, and one of the more prominent theories is that Superman will be resurrected as a villain in Justice League.
It's always possible that Warner Bros. is trying to preserve some secrecy for moviegoers who don't regularly follow Justice League news, but there is a solid amount of evidence that Superman will turn bad in the movie. Batman V Superman predicted as much with the infamous Knightmare dream sequence, and some foreboding music from the official Justice League soundtrack involving a dark spin on Superman's classic theme also raises some questions. Something's going on with Superman, and while my gut instinct is to say that making Superman evil -- even though it's almost definitely temporary -- is a bad idea, let's look at this from both sides to see if there's any weight to Evil Superman.
Pro: It Would Be A Different Take On A Live-Action Superman
Superman is a popular fictional character, which means we've seen tons of different iterations of him in just about every form of media. His live-action movie versions -- with the exception of the current one -- are mostly the same. Christopher Reeves' Superman is as classic as they come, representing Truth, Justice, and the American Way, while Brandon Routh's is mostly (and intentionally) the same as that one. At least with a villainous Superman portrayal, there is the spark of variety to give it some merit. Superman's unflappable goodness is a bedrock of his character, but that lack of change doesn't make him any more exciting to watch. Variety is the spice of life! Maybe a temporary stint as an enemy can liven him up a bit.
Con: DCEU Superman Needs A Positive Redemption
One of the biggest pieces of criticism about the DCEU is in its portrayal of Superman. They turned THE superhero -- who stands for hope, and represents the best in all of us -- into a guy who maybe shouldn't save a school bus full of kids. This Superman seems to be less worried about saving people and more concerned about what people say about him when he does it. Superman should never be internally debating the merits of heroism, but the DCEU version spends a LOT of his screen time doing just that. It's okay for Superman to have doubts, but this one's morals have been thrown out of whack. Maybe his dirt nap was enough to reset him to factory settings, because there's nothing wrong with a little more positivity in the world.
Pro: The Action Set Piece Of The Justice League Vs Superman
This is some shallow reasoning, for sure, but ultimately, aren't we going to a superhero movie to be entertained? While it would be great if Justice League had themes and subtlety and intricate characters for days (and it might), I also want to see a lot of punching and laser blasts; Zack Snyder tends to do that well. The problem with Man of Steel is that it went way too hard on the destruction, which ultimately made the action depressing. Justice League would need to toe the line between fun and overkill, but I can't say that I don't want to see the most powerful beings on the planet fighting each other. Plus, despite being named Batman V Superman, Batman V Superman didn't really deliver the epic brawl it promised. It'd be nice to see a little redemption on that front.
Con: It Undercuts Steppenwolf's Threat
As far as we currently know, the main villain of Justice League is still Steppenwolf. Known in the comics as Darkseid's uncle, Steppenwolf is the man in charge of the parademon army looking to take control of Earth. Steppenwolf is already an odd enough choice as the main antagonist, but the second Evil Superman shows up, Steppenwolf is irrelevant. Why do we need to be worried about this guy and his weird helmet when an EVIL Superman is wrecking the Justice League right in front of us? We're no longer concerned with his threat or even really Apokolips at this point. Superman is taking all the attention and he's likely a bigger challenge to our heroes than Steppenwolf is.
Pro: Then Again, Steppenwolf Might Not Be Enough On His Own
Being the Big Bad of the first Justice League movie is a tall order, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that Steppenwolf doesn't quite measure up. In the comics, he's mostly just one of Darkseid's henchmen, and while he may be powerful and cruel, well, so is everyone else on Apokolips. There's not much more to him than that. Maybe Ciarán Hinds elevates the role with his performance, but Steppenwolf alone doesn't seem enough for the Justice League (there's been suspiciously little footage of him). Enter Superman, who's not only an incredible physical threat, but has an emotional connection to the League. Even a brainwashed Superman is more compelling than what is basically a placeholder for Darkseid.
Con: It Ruins The Ending Of Batman V Superman
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice ends with the world mourning the passing of a hero. Thousands turn up for his funeral in Metropolis and a memorial is erected in his honor. Yes, this mostly rings hollow because, right up until his death, these people all hated Superman (a mutual feeling, I'm sure). But even this last minute pivot would be ruined by having Superman be resurrected and then immediately try to kill everyone. What is the point of painting him as a heroic figure at the end when you're just going to undo that by making him a villain in the next movie? Superman's death is also a major plot point for why Batman is forming the Justice League in the first place, so an evil Superman would also contradict Batman's development. It would be a more interesting plot twist if Man of Steel and BVS had done the work and actually made Superman feel heroic, but doing it now just doesn't have the same punch.
All in all, I'm leaning more towards the fact that they shouldn't make Superman a villain, but it's not as bad as an idea as I originally thought. Now we want to know what your thoughts are! Answer the poll below to share your thoughts on if Superman should be evil or not in Justice League.
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Matt has lived in New Jersey his entire life, but commutes every day to New York City. He graduated from Rowan University and loves Marvel, Nintendo, and going on long hikes and then greatly wishing he was back indoors. Matt has been covering the entertainment industry for over two years and will fight to his dying breath that Hulk and Black Widow make a good couple.
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