Man of Steel storyboard artist Jay Oliva defends Zack Snyder’s film after posting a new frame for Superman’s 79th anniversary. In just a few months, Wonder Woman will come to life in her first very own live-action feature film. Then a little after that, she’s set to join up with Batman, Superman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg for a big screen Justice League movie. To say the DC Extended Universe is going well is an understatement, as Warner Bros. currently has at least five upcoming movies on the docket and many others in the works. However, it wasn’t always this way.
Even though there are plans for each and every Justice League member to tell their own story in upcoming films, the new franchise all started with the release of Snyder’s Man of Steel. In 2013, the premiere of the first new Superman film in almost 10 years was met with a lot criticism. Whereas Batman was usually understood to be the darker, more serious DC superhero, Man of Steel introduced a troubled Clark Kent surrounded by Snyder’s gloomy, unique visual style. For many, Man of Steel is not their favorite Superman film by far, while for others it served its purpose to usher in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and a whole new wave of DC favorites.
As we celebrate the 79th anniversary of Superman, DC animation director (The Dark Knight Returns, Flashpoint Paradox) and Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, and Wonder Woman storyboard artist Jay Oliva decided to commemorate this event the other day by sharing a frame from his work on the former film via Twitter. However, one fan named Alex Bledsoe didn’t take too kindly to the moment, instead take the opportunity to criticize the movie as a whole. Oliva, though, was quick to defend his choice by saying it wasn’t respectful to troll someone else’s work and Bledsoe later apologized.
There have been many different versions of the Superman character over the past 75 years, and there are obviously going to be differences of opinion. Everyone is entitled to their favorites and that includes Superman movies, yet criticizing someone else’s thoughts in order to make your own is not the right way to go about it.
Ever the gentleman, Oliva followed up his rebuttal by sharing the Superman 75th Anniversary Animated Short he released with Snyder and Bruce Timm a few years ago, saying: “I also did this so if you would like to pick your favorite era I will happily share it with you!” There was no follow up from Bledsoe, but Oliva then took the opportunity to remind everyone he doesn’t have the luxury of telling the same classic story again and again:
“Being a fan is great. You can root for the version you love and jeer the ones you don’t. As a creator I need to see beyond that and tell stories that appeal to me. That may not jive with the public opinion, but without pushing there is no growth for both the character and the creative team behind that character. If no one ever thought outside the box, we would not have Alan Moore’s Watchmen or Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns or Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman. These are just a few of many other stories that went outside the norm of what the public perception of what a superhero is. And we are all the better for it. :)”
Oliva also kindly reminded everyone, “We all have our favorites. Just because you don’t like a particular version does not invalidate it nor ruin the character. But my post was to celebrate the character’s 79 years.” As we get further into the future and away from all these classic character’s origin stories, we should expect for their journeys to adapt and change with the times. As long as it remains in the spirit of the original and captures the minds of a whole new generation, then in essence a story has served its true purpose.