Right and wrong, good and evil…the lines are kind of blurred these days. It used to be that being on the right side was a simple matter of perspective and action, but villains in popular culture these days tend to be more nuanced than that.Take the Superman of the Injustice universe. He’s pretty much the Man of Steel that you’ve grown to love over the years, only he happens to have a Regime that enforces his vision for the world behind that infamous smile.
Maybe that’s why Injustice: Gods Among Us and its sequel Injustice 2 has a such a great villain in Superman, because he genuinely does believe that he’s still the hero of his own story. It’s a role which got fleshed out brilliantly over the course of several years in the Injustice comic books, which writer Tom Taylor kickstarted by forcing Superman into a no-win situation.
His wife Lois Lane, unborn child and most of Metropolis dead thanks to the machinations of the Joker, Superman did what any living solar battery powerhouse would do: End the Joker once and for all, crossing a line that he never came back from as he descended further into tyranny over the course of the first year of the Injustice comic books. A plot twist that earned Taylor plenty of hate from the internet. “There was a lot of anger and a lot of nasty messages just showing up on my phone,” Taylor said to Glixel.
he wants to keep everybody safe
And honestly, it’s not something I wanted to do, but I think for this to be believable – for Superman to turn evil… You know, Ma and Pa Kent gave this guy values that aren’t easily broken – that aren’t easily tainted. It wasn’t just Lois’ death that drove him here; it was a gradual decline. I never wanted to have that one moment where suddenly he snaps, and suddenly he’s a bad guy.
It just didn’t fit. And the other thing is, we had to make sense of the fact that he wanted to take control of the world, and really, it’s just a perversion of who he is – he wants to keep everybody safe. There are still readers who believe he’s absolutely right [laughs]. But it’s really just about him wanting to keep humanity safe and protect it from itself. It’s his values, then stepped up a notch. And similar with Batman.
Was Superman wrong though? Minus the bits where he lobotimised Captain Marvel, shattered Ganthet of the Green Lantern corps and pretty much replaced the every government of the world that didn’t play ball with him. “Look, maybe, you know, statistically under Superman’s rule there are probably a whole lot less wars and a whole lot less death – he even had an environmental bit,” Taylor explained.
But the thing is, freedom was gone. Regardless of any of that, it was a dictatorship, and it was a person in power who can implement that power and take out the small guy at any point in time. So, yes – much like most dictators; much like most people who speak well and occasionally mean well or are just very loud and entertaining – there are people who will buy that vision. There are people in the world who are sad to see him gone – sad to see Batman’s group take him down – who feel that they were safer under Superman’s rule.
And I think that’s one of the things that resonated with people – nobody is exactly right in this. Not one side is the right side. There are shades of gray throughout Injustice, and people can see points of view regardless of who they’re backing. Sometimes you go, “Yeah, Batman, he was an absolute dick there!”
This all comes to a head in Injustice 2, depending on the side you’ve chosen of course, but that sequel truly does understand the World’s Finest relationship between the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight. It’s captured beautifully in one final scene before the two have their ultimate battle, which I won’t spoil here. Either side you stand on however, Clark Kent makes for one hell of an antagonist.
Especially when you understand the reasoning behind his fall from grace.
Last Updated: June 5, 2017