M’hoiven! I will be heard, internet! I have important opinions!

The new DC Universe Online trailer looks pretty cool. But their Superman really bugs me.

It’s not that they went with Dickhead Superman from the third movie to show, I guess, how the rigors of endless conflict with Luthor has dragged him off his moral high ground. Okay, it’s not just that, but it’s a good place to start I guess.

Then there’s the implication that there’s all this war, all this senseless destruction and death, and Superman is just kinda chillin’ out in space? It’s clear that he’s not unaware of what’s going on down on Earth (and elsewhere, but we’ll get to that in a minute) because he can hear Wonder Woman scream. So, he’s probably heard the screams of everyone else who died while he was up there.

I mean, you can try to sneak in a line about “self-imposed exile” all you want, but that doesn’t make it internally consistent with the character. This is Superman we’re talking about. He doesn’t do self-imposed exile when the fighting gets rough. He’s too injured to go on? Good thing it’s Superman then, ’cause he fights harder. Even if he knows it’ll kill him. That’s what he does, that’s what makes him Superman.

What he does not do is brood out in space growing a grimdark five o’clock shadow while a global war kills billions of people due to his inaction. In fact, if dictionaries worked this way, that’d be the dictionary definition of what Superman does not do.

But it doesn’t stop there! Superman’s final breath is spent telling Luthor he’s already lost everything. And then it’s revealed: Brainiac’s been waiting all this time to invade Earth and lol @ Luthor for wiping out all the super heroes so he can sweep in and steal the planet out from under him.

Okay, so now Superman not only takes a beard break from the war, but he’s plainly been aware of Brainiac’s machinations for who-knows-how-long and never made the slightest effort to stop it? Superman just let the Earth fall? Twice? In one afternoon? C’mon.

I know all this sounds like a lot of fanboyish nerdrage. And, hell, maybe it is. But what galls me about all this is how easy it would’ve been to do right by Superman without changing the plot. Because, really, when they were plotting out this video they had to ask “Why doesn’t Superman just stop this from happening?” And their answer was “Self-imposed exile.” That’s a terrible and clunky answer. They could’ve had their cake an eaten it too. Here’s how: Superman was already dead.

Have Luthor wearing Superman’s dirty and ripped up cape as his own cape or belt or flag. The implication is clear: Superman is dead and he has been for a long time. Though the kryptonite spear bit is pretty brutal, leaving it up to the viewer’s imagination is always going to be more brutal. The apocalyptic cityscape and subsequent invasion from Brainiac are no longer what Superman selfishly lets happen; they’re the tragic consequences of his death. The horrible future is still Luthor’s fault, he’d still want to go back, and holy shit, Supes’ ruined cape would be a hell of a selling point to the Heroes of the Past.

The only thing you lose with this version is seeing Superman in action. And, granted, they had some fantastic minimalist realizations of Superman’s powers in that video. But c’mon. You’re telling me they couldn’t have had Flash moving faster? Couldn’t have shown Black Adam being stronger?

I dunno. I’m just a big ol’ softie for Superman, and it’s always a disappointment when the focus is on how powerful he is as a plot device instead of how powerful he is as a character.