10 April 2009

Onscreen History of Bizarro

Bizarro made his first appearance in the Superboy comics in 1958 . In most of his origin stories he is created using some sort of duplicator ray gone awry which generates an opposite of Superman - though he is actually more of a super powered idiot than a true villain. In other words, when he is out causing mayhem, he thinks he is doing good. He is usually identifiable by his backward "S" and backward speak, saying things like "me am Superman," and he often inhabits a cube shaped planet, Htrae or Bizarro World.

Over the years, Bizarro has had quite a few appearances on Superman themed shows. The character appeared as part of the Legion of Doom in the Challenge of the Superfriends animated series in 1978. In this depiction, Bizarro was actually a bad guy, but he would become his more lovable self as the years passed.

During the run of the Superfriends and then Super Powers Team shows, Bizarro made several appearances, eventually moving away to his cube shaped Bizarro world.

In 1985, Bizarro used the duplicator ray to make Bizarro versions of Wonder Woman, Firestorm, an Cyborg who caused no end of trouble.

In 1989, Bizarro made his first live action appearance on the Superboy television series.

True to the original comic origin, Bizarro was created when Superboy jumped in front of a duplicating machine. This deformed Superman, though not evil, needed to be stopped before he inevitably exploded. Green Kryptonite did not work, but duplicated White Kryptonite stabilized the explosion potential. In a later episode, Lex Luthor made a Bizarro Lana Lang to gain Bizarro's allegiance, but she eventually did explode.

In 1994, the Lois and Clark series episode "Vatman," featured a boyish clone of Superman who put the moves on Lois, and though called "bizarre," he was never actually dubbed Bizarro. This was kind of a waste. If they could do Toyman or frog-eating Lois clones, why not a truer version of The Bizarre One.

1997 saw Bizarro return to the animated medium in Superman: The Animated Series. In "Identity Crisis," Bizarro was created by Lex Luthor using Superman DNA as an attempt at making a controllable Superman clone.

At first, even the clone thought he was Superman and thought the real Supes was an impostor. Later, the clone started to deteriorate resulting in none other than Bizarro. I never really understood why his costume got so sloppy though, I guess it was a failed copy too.

This same version of Bizarro later appeared on the animated Justice League series, but he was mostly used as a manipulable henchman rather than a real bad guy.

Bizarro's origin was drastically altered for his 2007 debut on the Smallville season 6 finale episode "Phantom." In this telling, Bizarro began as an escapee from the Phantom Zone. He copied Clark's DNA becoming a "bizarre" version of the hero. Yellow sun, being Bizarro's weakness, caused him to appear with the classic angular face. Otherwise he and Clark looked the same except for opposite colored jackets. He and Clark fought, but he seemed to get along just fine with everyone one else, especially Lana Lang who unbeknownst to her seemed to prefer spending time with Bizarro than with the real Clark.

Bizarro tried to forge an alliance with Brainiac to overcome his sun weakness, but he was eventually defeated with an overcharge of Blue Kryptonite. I was a big fan of this version of the character. The campy take wouldn't have really fit into the Smallville universe, and though this guy had a different background, he had just enough in common with the comic version to justify the use of the Bizarro name (then again I wouldn't mind seeing ice-vision of fire breath). This take on Bizarro was fairly likable and demonstrated Smallville's strength at adapting classic Superman rogues into a more grounded world. It was a shame that the character was really only around for 4 or 5 episodes, but I guess sometimes less is more.

Now there is word of a Bizarro Superman script along with a review and (slight) possibility of a feature film. Although it might be a fun diversion, I don't think this is what the Superman franchise needs to get rejuvinated.

Lastly, this article wouldn't be complete without mentioning the classic Seinfeld episode "The Bizarro Jerry" that brought the unassuming villain into the mainstream.

Are there any big Bizarro fans out there? Who would you like to see spotlighted next? Comments are always welcome. Until next time, "Bad Bye."

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. The whole history of Bizarro. I never knew...