I feel like every post I write now involves Superman. So here's another:
I'm reading Superman: Birthright for the first time. My understanding of this story is that at the time it was published Birthright was supposed to be the updated canon Superman origin. Except there's Infinite Crisis and DC's bullshit of changing everything every couple of years. You can throw out the first 10-12 pages of Birthright right away because of its depiction of Krypton. Krypton is finally the Donner crystal world in every media incarnation of Superman currently. Is Birthright still Superman's canon origin or is there a newer version that's canon? For that matter, is everyone else's origin altered after Infinite Crisis? (I read 52 and I know that had origin pages at the end of the early issues, but frankly, I forgot the details.)
Take Batman. Does the current Batman know Joe Chill killed his parents or not? I may have this backwards but the post 1985 Crisis Batman didn't know who killed his parents. Nolan's film brought back that it was Joe Chill and Bruce Wayne knew it. Is that right? Regardless, Batman Begins is now what I personally consider canon for Batman. It's the widest seen and accepted origin story of Batman now. And I know I'm in the minority and that Maggie Gyllenhaal is a better actress, as far as I'm concerned, Katie Holmes is Rachel Dawes, damn it.
Speaking of "damn it", that's my main beef with Birthright at the moment. Superman casually tosses "damn it" around. Does he kiss his adoptive mother with that mouth? Martha Kent should wash his mouth out with soap. It may be a petty thing but I firmly believe Superman shouldn't swear, not even damn. He's above curse words. Superman doesn't lower himself to cusses. Clark on Smallville may be a dick, but I don't think a swear word has ever escaped his lips in seven seasons. He was raised right.
I don't know about the original plans for Birthright, but when it was being published it wasn't supposed to be the definitive origin. I don't remember the exact details, but at the same time Birthright was coming out there was a story running in the Superman titles that basically said that every version of Superman was the real one and none of them were. It was right before Infinite Crisis brought back the multiverse and it tied into that somehow.
I thought they changed the part where Batman knew who killed his parents, though. For a while it was Joe Chill, then DC changed it to where it was just some unknown thug. The idea behind that was that if Batman knew who killed them, he'd just go take care of them and then there'd be no need for a Batman since he'd avenged his parents. They could have changed it again, I wasn't reading between Hush and when Morrison started writing.
During Zero Hour there was a stupid retcon where Batman somehow came upon Joe Chill's apartment the night his parents were killed, and Joe was passed out drunk, thereby casting doubt as to who killed his parents.
I don't think it was ever brought up again, probably because someone realised how insignificant Batman knowing who his parent's killer was in the grand scheme of things.
"Tattoos are the mullets of the aughts." - Mike Naimark
Just about any character can be credible in the hands of the writer that wants to use them in an interesting way. Paste Pot Pete almost beat Cap in a Silver Age story, but for the timely appearance of Sharon Carter.