New York Comic Con played host to a panel celebrating all things Superman in 2013, the year of his 75th anniversary. Warner Bros' Gary Miereanu moderated the panel, with guests representing Superman in his many incarnations across media.
DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio was first to take the dais, followed by Molly Quinn, who voiced Supergirl. Mike Carlin, who oversees much of DC animation joined, Paul Levitz, Bruce Timm, and "a surprise guest or two" was promised for later.
After introductions, Miereanu started with Man of Steel, the Superman film from earlier in 2013, mentioning the DVD/blu-ray coming November 12, 2013. A video clip from the extras featuring several of the actors from the film talking about what Superman means to them and the origins of the film's story was shown.
After the clip, Miereanu asked the panel what the process is when they're redeveloping Superman each time in different media.
DiDio said, "When we were reimagining him for the New 52, we talked for hours about this. It's the ultimate immigrant story, and that's the essence of the character."
Carlin mentioned Lois Lane, and loved specifically in Man of Steel that he liked how she was actually smart enough to figure out his secret identity. As far as reimagining him, it's a matter of "giving new fans aground floor to start from." Timm said it's always tough when the reboots or reimaginings are going, not reintroducing everything in one fell swoop.
Asked what grabs them about Superman, Quinn started saying "he's a perfect role model for humanity." She loves the inherent goodness. "He chooses good, even when it's the more difficult path. It's not about the superpowers, it's about the human condition."
Carlin's first encounter with Superman was thanks to his mother, an avid comic book reader. "I got my tonsils out when I was about two years old, and she gave me a pile of Superman comics to look at while I had ice cream. So Superman means ice cream to me!"
Levitz called Superman "the essential comic book character." Timm's first encounter was as a kid, watching a black and white TV and saw George Reeves flying, and that was something that he just had to see more of.
DiDio said, "to me, he's always been there. My first Superman comic I accidentally took from the barber shop! It seems like he's always been part of my life, so now being involved in guiding his life is an amazing transition."
The "alien" nature of Superman was absolutely a message that "assimilation is good," said Levitz, as his creators were immigrants struggling to feel at home. Quinn liked that in Man of Steel.
Miereanu asked what they think should be people's first Superman comic, and Quinn jumped in first saying, "The New 52 Supergirl is actually a great introduction to her character and to the whole nature of those superheroes."
Levitz agreed and said "I think people should always come in on the newest, current stuff," but added that he loves the Dini/Ross Superman from the mid-nineties. Bruce Timm recommended All-Star Superman as his top choice.
With multiple people involved in animation on the panel, they struck up a Superman animation conversation. Carlin said that seeing him actually come to life, hearing a voice and seeing him in motion is something they can't match in comics. Levitz added that "hearing the voice, hearing the confidence in it makes you feel protected." Timm said that confidence makes Superman "seem like a really good dad." Quinn said "his voice just screams protection, it's awesome."
Carlin told an anecdote about a set visit years ago on the Lois and Clark TV show, where there were a bunch of kids that day, while Dean Cain was in the costume. "It really works, the kids thought they were looking at Superman, and they all felt instantly safe and close to him."
An animated short by Bruce Timm and Zack Snyder will be on the Man of Steel blu-ray, and they premiered it at the panel. Superman runs off the cover of the original Action Comics #1, then moves through various styles and forms over the year, coming off other comic book covers and panels as he interacts with characters from his 75 years, even getting punched by Ali, all the way through to the New 52 and Man of Steel incarnation. The clip drew huge applause and cheers.
The clip will also be airing on the DC Nation animation block, Carlin announced. "It's loaded with Easter Eggs," Timm said, "but the worst part was not being able to have everything. But we did try to throw in as many easter eggs and artists that have made him who he is. It's 75 years of Superman glory."
The fan Q&A started with a fan asking for the panelists' reactions to the final choice Superman makes in the end of Man of Steel. Timm said while it's controversial, "it made sense to me, they totally made it work." Carlin said "it didn't bother me, but I do hope they'll adress it in the next movie."
A fan asked "for such a bad-ass character, why does he have such a limited roges gallery, especially compared to Batman." DiDio said that's a major concern for them with Superman and Wonder Woman both, and something they're actively trying to fix at DC Comics. Timm said "it's better than the 40s when all he did was punch fat guys in business suits."
The big meta story to Superman, Levitz said, is "that we all have power, we all have abilities, and it's what we do with them. Might doesn't make right, it's what you do with your power."
Timm, reflecting on his animated series, said he wishes he could go back and tweak Superman in the first season of Justice League.
Asked what the panelists think about Wonder Woman and Superman being together now, DiDio said he really likes it because it hasn't been done before. "But it's not at the expense of Lois Lane, we love Lois. It's her 75th Anniversary, too. We have big plans for Lois Lane in 2014, and who knows, her name can look just as good on the title of a comic as Supermans, can't it?"