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Kevin Smith, the acclaimed New Jersey filmmaker and comic-book aficionado, was introduced to Superman as a youth in Red Bank. Who better to talk about Man of Steel, the latest film about the superhero, which flies into theaters this weekend?
“My first comic was Superman Family Vacation,” Smith says. “My dad bought me a copy from a spinner rack right around the time the first Superman movie came out.”
Fast-forward a few decades. With a new Superman movie on the horizon, Gillette approached Smith and other experts to participate in a promotional campaign, inspired by an image of a bearded Clark Kent (Superman’s mundane alter ego) featured prominently in the Man of Steel trailer. For its “How Does He Shave?” campaign, Gillette wanted to know how the invincible Superman would trim his stubble.
Sure enough, Smith hatched a theory based on Superman’s rocket ship, the one that carried the infant superhero to Earth from his destroyed home planet, Krypton. Smith says Superman could craft a razor from the rocket’s debris, and because of Superman’s susceptibility to Kryptonian technology, the material would be perfect for touching up the sideburns of steel. “What could hurt a Kryptonian?” asks Smith. “Something from Krypton.”
Smith, who owns Red Bank comic shop Secret Stash, jumped at the opportunity to get involved with “How Does He Shave?” not only because of his personal history with the superhero, but because of the iconic aura that surrounds Superman. “He’s the first. He’s been around for 75 years. He’s as old as some of our grandparents – he’s outlived some of our grandparents. He is what we would want to be if we could be anything in the world,” Smith says. “And he flies! Who wouldn’t want to fly?”
Which of Superman’s powers would Smith like to have? “Hands down, flight,” he replies. “Think of the money you would save on gas alone. I don’t live in a world where bullets are flying at me, and being invincible might make me a little mouthy.”
We had a few more questions for Smith:
NJM: Who’s your favorite Superman villain?
KS: Brainiac. He’s not your typical moustache twirling bad guy.
Lois Lane or Wonder Woman?
There are many versions of Superman, known to insiders by names like Post Crisis, Pre Crisis and the New 52 Superman. Who would win in a fight?
Post Crisis. He’s got the wisdom and strength of his predecessor, and the stones to wear his trunks on the outside of his tights. If you’re a superhero and you don’t have a mask, you’ve got to wear your trunks on the outside.
What is the all-time best creative team that has ever worked on Superman, and the best Superman story ever told?
Alan Moore and Curt Swan, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow. Curt Swan was the premier Superman artist. He gave him his signature spit curl, and played Superman as the benevolent God that would turn toward the reader in a given panel and wink.