Superman – Medium Remediation Essay Example
The medium in which a particular story gets published is extremely critical for its success. A medium determines the manner in which a particular character from a story communicates with its viewers or readers. The effectiveness of the story as well as the cult status that a character enjoys in the public is also fully dependant on the media in which the story is first published. Each time a media remediation takes place; most themes from the original media are either completely changed or modified in order to fit a number of criteria. In case of Superman, the character first appeared in a comic book under the title of Action Comics in 1938 and was a thirteen page feature. The plot was simple and succinct in line with the times. Thereafter, the movie was released by Warner Brothers almost forty years later. (IMDB)
This essay will examine the movie Superman (1978) and the first Action Comic (1938), in which Superman made his appearance. Further, the essay will start by comparing and contrasting the remediation between the movie and the comic book, followed by the remediation between the movie and a hypothetical video game on Superman and ending with a remediation between the comic book and the video game. In doing so, the essay will also reflect differences of audience, context, technology, and even the write or creator each time a remediation is examined.
Movie and the Comic Book
The Superman movie starring Christopher Reeves leaves a more vivid and lasting impression on viewers. Unlike the comic book, the movie spends a lot more time on Superman’s childhood that brings about a higher level of detailing of that particular aspect of Superman’s life. As the movie proceeds, one realizes that the process of remediation has ensured that the movie has very little of the comic book story in it. This change in the plot becomes essential for the movie to function well. Had the writer incorporated the story from the comic features without any changes, the movie would appear as if it were a 1940 flick made forty years later.
For instance, the scene where Lois boards the helicopter that malfunctions as a result of a cable getting sucked into its propellers and Superman saves her from imminent death is not featured in the comic. (IMDB) Similarly, other scenes in the movie such as Superman rescuing Air Force One or rescuing a cat from a tree are scenes that are nowhere included in the original comic book. Likewise, in the comic book, the kidnapping of Lois by Butch and her subsequent rescue by Superman does not figure in the movie. (Action Comics)
There are many reasons for such a marked variation between the comic book and the movie. Firstly, the comic book was published in 1938 when it was not very common for people to travel by helicopters and, as a result, the comic book themes are deliberately kept simple. Likewise, a number of technological themes shown in the movies brought about differences between the movie and comics. Secondly, the audience had changed in 40 years since the publication of the novel. If the writer of the movie had kept the theme as simple as the comic book, the movie might never have gained the status it enjoys to the present day. One should also remember that most of these movies are remediated from books with a commercial viewpoint. It is this viewpoint that also requires the storyline to incorporate suspense, technology and such other points to make the movie an interesting one. The context of the movie had also completely changed since the publication of the comic book. Lastly, the authors and story-writers for both the features were different, which naturally reflected the very divergent storylines for the same character of Superman in two different media.
Thus, in sum, the comic book and the movie are markedly different due to the altered perceptions and tastes of the audiences as well as the changed contexts and technologies.
Movie and a Video Game
If one would make a video game from the movie, the creator of the video game would have to change the storyline in a manner that would fit that particular format. One should remember that the context of the video game format is that it is an interactive two way medium, unlike a movie or a comic book that is a one way medium. A video game creator would therefore have to modify the storyline to suit the game-player who would, in this case, be the primary audience. Also, the story line, technologies and the graphics would have to be adapted to the modern game-playing audience.
For instance, a video game creator would have to introduce levels and create separate storylines for each level. Depending on the difficulty levels, the game writer would have to introduce themes ranging from Superman’s birth and his life progression in various levels followed by Superman’s roles in various incidents. So there could be task or assignment dedicated levels. In such cases, the game writer would have written stories that may not have featured anywhere in the movie. In short, the game writer would have to be innovative and original with the content in the game as well as the introduction of new characters in the video game at various stages. Therefore, at more advanced levels in the game, the game writer could consider introducing Superman’s tryst with diabolical villains who have the latest gadgets and technologies at their disposal.
In short, if one compares the movie and the hypothetical video game, one would understand that the process of remediation has left very little content from the movie in the video game. The reasons for this are similar to the previous remediation. The technologies have changed, and so have audiences and the underlying contexts since the movie was released. If one were to make a video game considering the same story line and the sensibilities of people as they viewed the movie in 1978, the whole thing would bomb very badly. It should, therefore, come as no surprise if the ‘video-game’ world where Superman lives in would be smart, futuristic and technologically more advanced than the world that the movie depicted.
Comic Book and Video Game
If one were to consider the remediation from the Superman comic book to the video game, one sees an even larger content gap as compared to the one between the movie and the video game.
In most cases, it would be prudent to use very minimal points from the comic book and rely a little on the movie. In this case, one would be better off using only the first page of the comic book that talks about Superman’s birth and his growing up years as well as sporadic episodes from the movie. However, an overreliance on either the movie or the comic could prove disastrous for the video game. Therefore, the creator of the game must ensure that the content stays divergent from the other two media.
In the video game, the phases of Superman’s life from the time he was born on Planet Krypton to his transition to Planet Earth and his initial growing up years could form the base of the video in the form of a narration. Subsequently, initial levels could be added to the game to orient the game player to the nuances of the game and to incorporate story lines better. However, as in the previous remediation, the entire series after that would have to be modified completely. These changes would help a game player relate much better to this hypothetical video game than to the original comic book that was written at a different time and for a different audience.
The reasons for this are multifold. While the original comic book still has some demand from comic book enthusiasts, at least three or more generations have passed since the book was written. The audiences today are more demanding, especially when it comes to video games that are all about high quality graphics and a catchy storyline. The adventures of Superman mentioned in the comic book, therefore, do not seem to be adventures in the modern context. As most of us today have played much better games with better themes and storylines, it makes sense that a Superman video game would be thoroughly original and share as less content with the original comic book as possible.
A Superman video game that is derived from the comic book must have a combination of catchy story lines, high tech gadgets, possibly different cities and playing environments (even different planets). The comic book and movie themes could be incorporated, but given the target audience, the modern context and the technologies that we are exposed to, it makes more sense that the writer must keep his content original and tuned to the modern times.
One must understand that the process of media remediation is fraught with changes. There are times when even entire plot of the story could be realigned to fit a particular media format as in the case of the Superman movie, which retained extremely miniscule aspects (only the initial aspects) of the original comic book story. Likewise, a hypothetical Superman video game would have very few aspects common with the movie and even fewer aspects common with the comic book.
Such a change not only becomes essential, but also mandatory, in some cases, given the varied audience, context and new technologies that have arisen since the original print. Further, since the writers of the movie plot or the creators of the video game are different from the original writer of the comic book, some variation becomes inevitable. Therefore, when the remediation takes place from a comic book to a video game or from a movie to a video game, the changes in the plot and characters are extremely profound.
“Synopsis for the Movie Superman – 1978.” IMDB. 2014. Web. 13 Apr 2015.
“Superman.” Action Comics. 1 June 1938. (PDF Facsimile Copy)
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