10 Superman arcs to prepare you for 'Man of Steel'

Posted by · 12:04 pm · June 5th, 2013

We’re just over a week away from one of the year’s most anticipated movies, Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel.” With Marvel Studios drawing the map for successful superhero franchises as of late, DC Comics is looking to catch up, and in the wake of Christopher Nolan’s self-contained Batman trilogy, the way into developing that world on film — after the stumble of “Green Lantern” — is surely the Boy in Blue. But what of the Superman mythos has been tapped for this new vision?

Screenwriter David S. Goyer and others involved in the project have made it clear that “Man of Steel” is not drawn directly from any one storyline over the character’s towering 75-year history. That doesn’t mean, however, that a number of arcs haven’t informed and inspired the narrative along the way. Last year we charted the various stories that played a hand in shaping Goyer and Nolan’s vision of The Dark Knight, from Frank Miller’s “Year One” to Jeph Loeb’s “The Long Halloween” to the epic “Knightfall.” So, too, have a number of Superman stories found their way into “Man of Steel.”

The key to re-imagining material such as this is compositing and finding the right essences that have worked on the page, but also finding ways to make them your own, molding them to the overall new take on the world. The DC way on film appears to be finding a realistic rhythm (while of course not sacrificing too many of the fantastical elements of the material).

It’s an interesting spot to be in because, unlike Marvel, which has a long history of grounding its superheroes in a sort of hyper-reality, the DC universe doesn’t really come with such a built-in governor. So an overcompensation is called for. It worked for Batman. Will it work for Superman?

From here, DC certainly hopes to spin its universe on film into a larger canvas. The hope is we’ll get more Superman and eventually Batman (whether of Nolan’s universe or not) will join the picture. The road will later be paved for a Justice League movie where Green Lantern, the Flash, Wonder Woman and more can take off on their own trajectories. But first thing’s first: “Man of Steel” has to make its mark.

The gallery story below details 10 story arcs that have inspired this exciting new beginning for Warner Bros. and DC Comics. It’s mostly from a post-Crisis standpoint, so not much from the early days is included. That’s not to say things like Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” or even the early Curt Swan imaginings didn’t play a hand in things, however. Indeed, Goyer has said they absolutely did.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of superb stories to dig into that have deepened the Superman story over the years but aren’t mentioned below, from “The Death and Return of Superman” to “Superman for All Seasons,” “What”s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?” to “For the Man Who Has Everything.”

But these are the ones that would make a great primer before seeing the new film. So click through the gallery to learn more.

“Man of Steel” opens everywhere on June 14.

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