The Russo Brothers Did Not Single out Superman as a Difficult Character to Adapt

This week, the “Marvel vs. DC” flames were stoked by coverage Business Insider‘s recent interview with four-time Marvel Studios directors Joe and Anthony Russo. The narrative that’s been constructed is that the Russos singled out Superman as a difficult character to adapt and contributed to misconceptions about the character. That narrative, however, is a fiction.

Most people/outlets are reacting to a follow-up article Business Insider published that is specifically about the difficulty of adapting Superman on the big screen, featuring quotes the Russos gave in a previous interview. The original, full version of Business Insider‘s interview with the Russos, however, tells a different story and shows the Russos weren’t even talking about Superman until the character was brought up by the interviewer and writer of the follow-up piece, Travis Clark.

Here is the relevant excerpt from the full interview to provide complete context.

Clark: Which comic book or superhero do you think is the hardest to bring to the screen?

Anthony: The more powerful a character is, the more difficult to deal with that character on a narrative level. As storytellers, and the way we explore characters, we always look for vulnerabilities in characters because that’s where characters become interesting. They’re superficially interesting in their strength, but they get much more depth when you find where they don’t have that kind of strength. In general, the more powerful a character is, the more tricky that is.

Clark: Like Superman.

Anthony: Yeah, exactly.

Joe: He’s a very difficult character. You have to find an emotional flaw or weakness in the character in order to make them vulnerable.

Anthony: That’s why Vision fell in love.

As you can see, Anthony Russo was speaking in general terms about the increased difficulty in telling stories with characters that are very powerful. Even after Clark brings up Superman as an example, Anthony brings it back to a powerful Marvel character in Vision.

Joe agreed with Clark’s Superman example, but what Joe said was hardly inflammatory. The Russos both made similar points about Thor during a recent Avengers: Infinity War Q&A with Collider.

What Joe said is actually true. The best Superman stories have indeed found emotional flaws and weaknesses in the character to establish his vulnerability. There’s nothing controversial in pointing out a basic storytelling principle that some form of vulnerability is necessary to make a protagonist’s story interesting.

The more powerful a character is, the more creative a storyteller will have to be in finding ways to threaten or harm that character. That rings true for Superman, but also many of the most powerful characters from Marvel and DC. Because the Russos have successfully used Vision and Thor, I’m sure they’d agree that this additional degree of difficulty doesn’t make Superman an impossible character to adapt, or more trouble than he’s worth.

The Russos were not regurgitating the many arguments commonly used against Superman. Given the Russos’ success with Captain America, I doubt they’d find old-fashioned “boy scout” sensibilities to be much of an issue in bringing Superman back to the big screen.

A pair of storytellers explained a simple concept that applies to several characters, including Superman. That’s all that happened, but it was turned into something it wasn’t because stirring up a “Marvel vs. DC” controversy, even a fake one, is worth a lot of clicks.


SOURCE: Business Insider