This week, the CW released a new trailer and a new extended clip of Tyler Hoechlin's first appearance as Clark Kent/Superman in Season 2 of Supergirl, set to premiere on October 10 at 8pm. It's as classic a take as you can get, from the nerdy-looking, mild-mannered Clark Kent, to Perry White's signature line of "Great Caesar's Ghost," to the signature alley run and logo reveal as he flies into the air to help his cousin Kara save a plane from a catastrophic crash (Flying is NOT statistically speaking the safest way to travel in Metropolis or National City, it seems).
As if on cue, it didn't take long for this to show up on the Internet and catch wildfire among the DC fans:
Needless to say, some "triggering" occurred. Here we go again.
Seriously, we just went through this with Heath Ledger vs. Jared Leto and in some circles that's still a debate, even though many have either stated that Heath is the top dog or that they need more than 20 total minutes of Leto's Joker to make a determination (I'm in the latter camp). Now here comes the next Something Else vs. The DCEU debate, and all over a total of three minutes worth of footage.
Look, I'm not anti-Hoechlin here at all. In fact, I thought the new Supergirl clips were awesome. I loved seeing him team up with Kara and I'm excited to see how it all plays out this season, but it's clear that DC Entertainment is giving us the classic take on Superman in Supergirl this season and there's nothing wrong with that at all since there is major precedent to do it, not just in the comics but in the previous movies and animated shows and features as well. The thing is, just because Hoechlin is probably going to be awesome in the show doesn't mean that Cavill immediately is garbage, nor was he ever garbage in the first place.
Many DC fans don't live Henry Cavill's take on Superman in the DC Extended Universe for the following reasons:
- He doesn't smile
- He's emotionless
- He's too conflicted and angsty (Aren't these emotions?)
- His movies are too dark
- Zack Snyder ruined him
All of this is completely debunkable, for the record. He smiles multiple times in the movies:
He's clearly an emotional being seeing as how he displays happiness, anger, being conflicted, angst, worry and sorrow in several scenes from Man of Steel to Batman v Superman. The movies he has been in are darker, but are not without hope at all. In fact, he gives hope to Metropolis residents when he saves them from Zod at the end of Man of Steel, enough hope that they build him a statue and do all but worship him in Batman v Superman, then further adds to that hope when he sacrifices himself to save the world from Doomsday at the end of Batman v Superman. He even restores Batman's hope by the time the movie is over. So pardon me if I don't consider Zack Snyder to have ruined him at all. In truth, he's another discussion for another time......soon.
While I understand that some fans may not appreciate seeing a rookie Superman actually build himself up to the point where he is the stoic leader of the Justice League that we've all come to know and love, that doesn't make it a bad approach. It's just different. In Supergirl, Tyler Hoechlin's take is an established Superman that has been protecting Metropolis for years. The learning curve that Cavill's Superman is going through now, he has already been through. How can you compare the two when they are literally different Superman incarnations at different periods in their superhero careers?
It's just as silly as comparing Christian Bale's Batman to Ben Affleck's Batman. Of course you can have a preference and a favorite and there are certain pieces of the aesthetic that you can say are more like the comics than others, but Bale's version hadn't been doing it for 20 years and become as jaded and tortured as Affleck's had. He never lost a Robin, he never had a Superman to worry about going rogue and destroying the planet. The most his Batman had to worry about was the League of Shadows. That's not a knock on Bale's Batman, it's just the truth of the matter.
It also speaks to the ultimate truth about why these comparisons are silly: They are NOT in the same universe. The DC Universe employs the multiverse principle, where there are multiple versions of the same places, people and events but in different universes. This is a time-honored, well respected motif of DC Comics that has been used time and time again on the page, yet when it comes to these shows and movies, everyone has an idea of just which universe it SHOULD be across the board, instead of respecting the multiverse concept and accepting that they are going to be different. The DC shows on The CW are not in the same universe as the DCEU, therefore they are not going to be the same, nor should they be. How boring and uninspired would that be?
Boring and uninspired is exactly what I heard people tell me about Superman's character before Man of Steel was released. They said he was too perfect and completely un-relatable as a superhero and it was time to stop making so many movies for such a boring superhero. Now that the DCEU has effectively done it differently and actually made a Superman that is more "human" in nature and emotions than he has ever been portrayed before on screen, even arguably in Smallville, so many people are resistant to it, yet it was exactly what they asked for in the first place. Are we that ridiculous as a people that we openly ask for change only to completely slam it as soon as we get it? And if you are someone that didn't ask for that change and you were content with the Superman we have always been given, did you really want more of the same with no evolution or change in storytelling or character design at all? I guess the answer to both questions is yes. Sadly, yes.
The whole comparison thing isn't going to go away anytime soon, of course. The Cavill haters will almost certainly latch onto Hoechlin's Superman and proclaim him as "their Superman," setting things right from the fictional damage that Cavill and Snyder have wrought on the character, completely ignoring how many different takes and approaches there have been to Superman in the comics over the decades.
And as for other comparisons, the Bale-Affleck and Ledger-Leto debates aren't going away anytime soon, and when we start to see more information and actual photos of Ezra Miller's Barry Allen/The Flash appear, that debate between him and The CW's version played by Grant Gustin will get ramped up, so don't expect any resolution to this or for these arguments to end at all. If anything, they are only just beginning.