Michael B. Jordan's 'Superman' Project Has The Potential To Be Pop Culture Defining
News! We are bringing the ‘90s back … in one of the strangest ways possible: twin movies. A lot of you may not remember it (although how can that be since the 1990s were like … 10 years ago? Yeah, that sounds right), but for a while, we used to get back-to-back blockbusters with weirdly similar stories and themes, including Armageddon and Deep Impact, Tombstone and Wyatt Earp, or Antz and A Bug’s Life. And, yes, we did put the better movie first in each comparison. And now it looks like we will be getting two Black Superman productions.
The first is the Ta-Nehisi Coates movie which will be the classic story of Clark Kent if he was Black. The second is going to be an HBO Max limited series produced by and starring Michael B. Jordan as the DC character Val-Zod. Let’s talk about the latter.
Okay, this will require a little explanation first. What’s the biggest problem with comic books right now? If you said “pushing diversity,” please post in the comment section so I can describe to you what touching a boob feels like. Anyway, the biggest problem in comics is STILL the homework. Every comic book character has a library wing-worth of backstory that contradicts itself all the time and makes it harder for newcomers to get into some comics. That’s why DC Comics originally created Earth-2, where all the original “Golden Age” heroes like Superman lived so that they could publish new stories untied to a character who did things like marrying Jimmy Olsen after he had his soul switched out with a day-old Danish. Earth-2 and the rest of the DC Universe were later rebooted in 2012 during yet another attempt at a continuity clean-up called “The New 52,” and that’s when we were first introduced to Val-Zod.
Like Clark, Val-Zod is a Kryptonian who traveled to Earth, discovered he had special powers, and used them to do good. He’s also Black and has a really interesting origin: His parents were executed by the state back on Krypton, and he actually spent his ride off the exploding planet while listening to his parents’ teachings about renouncing violence. So by the time he landed on our blue marble, he was a dedicated pacifist. He eventually became Earth-2’s main Superman after a series of events that are honestly too bizarre for words (instead, imagine a smoothie made of equal parts ‘50s pulp sci-fi magazines and a Spanish soap opera). His whole pacifism angle was abandoned in practice pretty quickly, but that’s where Jordan can fix it.
We still don’t know the details of the Val-Zod series, but if it wants to set itself apart from the black Clark Kent movie, it will give us a character who uses his powers to save the world without resorting to violence. The issue of Superman and brute force is a fascinating aspect of the character, which some shows have explored beautifully in the past:
But some of the best Superman stories have also focused on how his near-indestructibility would result in a person who’s actually really chill and who looks for non-violent solutions to problems because he could quite literally destroy our planet by accident. There is one animated movie that partially explored that, but a whole series concentrating on that and starring an actor who has successfully played a comic book character with radical beliefs that are especially relevant in the modern age? That has real potential to be pop culture defining.
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Top Image: DC Comics