I had an interesting exchange with a comics creator on Twitter last night and it made me realise exactly why I can some times be over-sensitive when it comes to debates involving the greatest superhero ever, Superman.
(I've obscured the identity of the creator because I don't want this to come across like I'm attacking him or settling scores on my blog. I'm a great admirer of his work and I have a lot of respect for him. I'm really just writing this to discuss my own feelings as a Superman fan. It's pretty easy to figure out who he is though.)
The trailer for the new Supergirl series was released last night and it looked pretty amazing. My excitement turned to dismay however when I realised that people on Twitter were already comparing it to the last Superman movie, Man of Steel. I wanted to express my irritation at the fact that fans can't seem to celebrate one thing without simultaneously tearing something else down. The best example of such a tweet came from the aforementioned creator so I screengrabbed it but obscured his name as I wanted to ensure it came across as a general moan about fans rather than a specific attack against him.
His name was subsequently mentioned by a friend in a reply and the creator found our conversation, presumably by searching his own name. The following exchange occurred:
I consider myself a pretty big Superman fan. I'm more than a little obsessed with the character. I also, as you may have guessed, loved Man of Steel and felt that it was a perfectly valid interpretation of the character. I'm not going to go into the reasons why I feel it's valid here as that's a discussion for another day but many of them can be found here and here.
Now you may not like Man of Steel and of course that's absolutely fine and dandy with me. After all, I didn't make it, what do I care? But I can't help but feel frustrated when other fans dismiss it as "not the real Superman" and "against the core of the character". It's doubly frustrating when they do so because of some narrow and arbitrary idea of "brightness" and "hopefulness". Personally I found plenty of brightness and hope in Man of Steel, but as I said, that's a discussion for another day.
If you don't like a particular interpretation of a character, fine, but please understand that it's frustrating as a fan to be told that a character interpretation that I'm very fond is "wrong". It's a condescending attitude for a fan to have. It turns fandom into some kind of pissing contest. "You'd realise this interpretation of Superman was wrong if you were only as big a fan as I am." Obviously it's not the worst problem in the world (we are just talking about comics and movies and superheroes here) but it's irritating to be constantly told that you don't understand what makes something you love great. To be constantly told you're getting 'being a fan' wrong. And it's particularly irritating when you want to celebrate something really cool involving that thing you love (in this case, Supergirl), but other fans can't seem to celebrate it without pissing on something else you love.
Let's face it, the "real" Superman has been many things. Let's not turn being a fan of him into a competition.