A new Lois for a new Superman
The DC Universe has shifted the way the character of Lois Lane meshes with Clark Kent. Will the world follow along?
A year ago, DC's New 52 event relaunched all of their super hero stories in 52 new ongoing books. Some have been replaced and shifted around further, but the core of the event is that the whole story universe needed a second chance at continuity.
New writers were put on every title, and under the direction of DC's lead creative editor Geoff Johns, each writer was left to redevelop their assigned story.
Some were left mostly alone, like Green Lantern, which saw some shifting alliances, but otherwise maintained continuity, but some were completely reworked, like Green Arrow who was made younger, and seems to now be depicting a point earlier in his life as a secret crime-fighter, as if nothing else he's done before ever happened. Most fell somewhere in between, getting updated where needed for modern sensibilities. Lots of costumes got redesigned, for example.
One of the characters to receive a nearly complete overhaul is Superman. His origin was left intact, with the current canon shown to readers the pre-new 52 book, Birthright, which follows Clark from his first adventures out of Smallville to his decision to protect Metropolis in costume.
The new Superman is now a more emotional, introspective person. He's an alien, the last of his kind - until he discovers one of his cousins also survived - he grew up in a world in which he did not truly belong. He's different and powerful, but cannot really share than with anyone. This upbringing has reflected in his new personality. Gone is the slightly arrogant, very confident Superman of old. This Superman has known loneliness, and is constantly unsure of himself, especially in personal situations.
Another major change for this new Superman is his love-life. Lois Lane is still there, but it's turned out much differently this time around. Past relaunches and readaptations of the story have always seen the same formula. Lois thinks Clark is a bit of a geek, but she loves Superman because he has to save her all the time, and she eventually becomes the one person he can trust with his secret.
In the new story, this doesn't happen. Instead, Lois has been transferred to the Television station owned by the same media company that owns the Planet, and Clark stops seeing her at work every day. This combined with the addition of a serious boyfriend for Lois causes Clark to finally move on from his infatuation with her.
This has, in turn, lead to the recently revealed romance between Superman and Wonder Woman, a match which makes a lot more sense from an plot standpoint (not every story about Superman's lover has to be about him recuing her anymore) and from an emotional standpoint for the new versions of these characters (The new Wonder Woman is also a very lonely and brooding person after the murder of her mother and sisters).
This is indeed a postive development for the comic. Finally we're getting some truly new Superman stories, which really analyze the character, and deal with interesting themes. What they'll be able to do with the theme of 'traditional gender roles' alone will be fantastic.
What does it mean however to the world outside the comic, to the fans outside the comics industry?
The new Superman-based film, Man of Steel, for example, is supposed to be portraying the new version of superman. We've had multiple reports, some from the actor Henry Cavill, who is playing the character this time around, that the Superman we see in today's comics is the version we're getting in the film, from the darker attitude to the new costume. I can't imagine, however, that we're also getting the new Lois Lane. If for no other reason, we know it from the casting. Amy Adams is playing Lois in the film, and she's got second billing, so she'll clearly play a major role, and no one has been cast as Wonder Woman.
Could director Zach Snyder be planning an ending which does not involve Superman getting the girl? It seems unlikely. 'Getting the girl' at the end of the film has become such a strong trope of super hero films, that it's tough to imagine anything else. We have Joss Whedon's recent Avengers as an example, but that was a super hero ensemble, which is a bit different. The closest we can point to is the first film in the previous Spider-Man trilogy, in which Peter Parker gets the girl, but turns her away afterward.
If Man of Steel doesn't end with a kiss, would the audience accept that? What will the reaction be, if at the end of the film, Lois thanks Superman for saving her, then returns to the arms of her non-super boyfriend? Most of the critics and theater goers might not be ready for that type of ending. It would be a brave thing to do, and I'm not sure Warner Bros. is that brave.
However, we do have some hint that this Lois will be different from her past film incarnations in some way. Most obviously, her hair color is different, but that could be merely aesthetic. Amy Adams looks better as a red-head, afterall. In recent interviews, however, Adams herself has admitted that this version of Lois will be "a new idea." She's still Lois Lane, but "it's a whole reimagining" of the character. What else could that mean?
We'll have to wait until next summer - Man of Steel releases June 14, 2013 - to see for sure, but I for one am rooting for Superman to remain lonely and sad at the end of the film, which sounds cruel, but it makes for a much better story.