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Thursday, May 02, 2013 

A terrible Injustice has been done to Superman in the new computer game

The Boston Herald wrote about the new Injustice: Gods Among Us video game and reveals that political correctness has triumphed in more ways than one:
When I was a kid, DC Comics provided a lighter, goofier alternative to the more serious, realistic world of Marvel. Superman, Batman and their super-pals are still kid-­friendly in the world of animation, but between Christopher Nolan’s movies and increasingly dark comics, DC has become serious and cynical.

That darker tone carries over to “Injustice: Gods Among Us,” a DC Comics-based fighting game from the people behind “Mortal Kombat.” “Injustice” replaces the chop-socky stereotypes and kung-fu mythology that make up the “Kombat” worldview with some of the most iconic superheroes of all time and then plops them down in a story in which Superman accidentally kills a pregnant Lois Lane and indirectly nukes Metropolis. Apparently, Superman, the embodiment of hope, is only interesting to today’s audiences if he’s an angry global dictator ravaged by angst or something.
Yes, from what I've discovered, that's exactly how the Big Blue Boy Scout is portrayed in this new game: as a villain, and it's stupefying. Some of DC's own staff were involved in the development, and it's clearly an extension of the mindset that believes in darkness they're obsessed with today. It also doesn't coincide well with the soon to be released movie, which unfortunately has a bleak viewpoint of its own too.

While reading about this though, it brought to mind another Street Fighter-inspired video game from back in 1994 based on the DCU called Justice League Task Force (also the title of one of the spinoff series of the times). I first read about it in a computer magazine (it may have been Electronic Gaming Monthly) but never saw it up front and forgot about its existence for a long time after. But if what I gathered recently is correct, this shouldn't be a surprise: it was a flop because the controls were too slapdash. Unlike several of the Marvel-based games that were made by Capcom for arcades, Sunsoft/Acclaim's was only made for Nintendo and Sega systems, and is equally notable for its lack of Green Lantern in the cast of characters. No doubt, much like the unfinished GL game at the time, this too was subject to interference on DC's part, possibly because they might've wanted Kyle Rayner to be in it no matter what the developers wanted, or because they knew that Emerald Twilight could put a cloud over everything and were clearly ashamed of letting anyone in the gaming world know what they were up to. That's what happens when they turn insular, I guess.

Another dooming factor may have been the use of a story throughout the whole game, in contrast to Capcom's Marvel-based products that limited theirs to just an epilogue for the different characters on the selection menu. The plot of having robots replace the heroes must've been considered a doozy too.

I once wondered why DC never licensed their products to a company like Capcom to make games similar to the Marvel-based games they'd made at the time, and I may have already answered my own questions: because unlike Marvel's licensing staff, DC's might have been less fair to the game producers, discouraging them from making one of their own. That explains why, unlike Marvel, DC didn't have many computer games of note based on their comics at the time, and those they did weren't particularly memorable.

But unlike Injustice, one difference is that the JLTF game didn't look like it was forcing darkness and unpleasantness down the players throats. Injustice is, as the game's profiling of Barry Allen attests, and it does not sound very appealing at all.

Update: it gets worse: as this post at DC Women Kicking Ass reveals, they just had to drag the old Killing Joke story into the mess. Really, what's the point?

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One has to wonder about the cynical worldview of comic book and video game creators. Were these people all abused when they were children, or what? Or maybe they just want to look cool, and grim cynicism seems terribly sophisticated to them. Or maybe it's just a question of tailoring the medium for its target audience: adolescent fanboys who think grimdark is cool and sophisticated.

I won't be checking out this game, to be sure. I'm sick of this grimdark, Civil War-style crap.

"Or maybe they just want to look cool, and grim cynicism seems terribly sophisticated to them. Or maybe it's just a question of tailoring the medium for its target audience: adolescent fanboys who think grimdark is cool and sophisticated."

I think that would be the clear answer, as cynicism sells, these days. Which is ironic, as there is too much cynicism out there. Even to make a heavy cynic like me want fuzzy-wuzzy bunnies and rainbows, instead.

Or, I guess the moral is "when did DC turn into Marvel?

2 things:

1. This is a game from Netherealm, the makers of Mortal Kombat. They wanted a story that would make sense for these characters to get into a fight. When DC made a tie in comic for it, it became a huge seller and still sells well. So you can't blame DC for the concept or the popularity.

2. There are a couple other DC games on the market and more in production that don't have the same grim worldview.

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