Friday, June 14, 2013


I've been on radio blackout for a while.  Why?  Got married.

And what was the first birthday gift given to me by my wife?  Walmart premiere passes for our new, 7-member family to Man of Steel.  I also got a T-shirt with a super S emblazoned on it, which I of course wore to the event.

I believe in Superman.

So great is my faith, in fact, and semi-idolatrous, that we pulled the kids out of Baptist church camp 16 hours early so we could all make it to the premiere (WARNING:  spoilers ahead).  Which is why I must write on the ground as all the self-righteous heretics out there cast stones at this marvelous, spell-binding new version of the comic book character franchise.  Let he who is without sin leap over the nearest tall building with a single bound.

The summer night my parents, family and friends sat in the Rolling Hills Twin Cinema in Greenville, Texas to see the first Reeve version in 1978 impacted my soul with a force equivalent to that of Episode IV a year earlier.  But Superman: the Movie was different.  Although I would absorb more of Lucas' Expanded Universe over time, the visuality of Superman burned itself with heat vision into that kinetic part of my consciousness.  Superman represented raw excitement.  For years afterward, I ran around the house with long pieces of cloth tied around my neck, until I finally outgrew them for a driver's license.  Whereas Star Wars may have conveyed information and meaning into my imagination, Superman supplied the energy.

So when the Man of Steel trailers began to hit, I - and I suspect many millions of others - felt a shudder that a Snyder-Nolan reboot of the character could in fact provide us all with the best of both worlds (to borrow a phrase from the new movie).  After all, we were "just about American as you get" - we aren't from a galaxy far, far away.  We crave meaning here, now.  And the ability to whup our enemies via the Jetstream.

And Snyder,, delivered.

The movie is just as strong as its hero.  Acting, effects, writing, themes, etc.  There is only one minor plot flaw in that Zod's world engine seemed to straddle Metropolis at random during terraforming.  No real reason is given as to why he didn't choose Tokyo, Gotham or London, other than that it's a Superman movie.  But this is easily forgivable.  I have determined that all the roughest reviews thus far are coming from late middle-age critics at dead media who long for Reeves & Reeve's sap.  The Superman of their youth is that brightly-colored, sugary character who first appeared in an actual Technicolor cape in the late 50s.  Their "energy" is the pixie stick; mine is the PowerBar.  Therefore, it follows that the Snyder-Nolan-Cavill version with gravitas (that is successfully achieved, contrary to MSN) is going to be rejected by these nostalgic wimps.  I would also argue that the Snyder-Nolan version is more in keeping with the spirit of the Depression-World War II Superman.

Which brings me back to the religious nature of following our hero.  Quite unlike the late 70s and early 80s when Superman was just for kicks, the coverage of Man of Steel has made many overt, direct references to the parallels between his origin story and that of the Lord Jesus Christ.  As part of the Walmart premier night event, we were subjected to a cold-water featurette at the beginning.  But one salvageable comment from it comes from Kevin Costner who says, "We all are looking for someone who can fix everything."  Indeed.

One of the more well-crafted themes of the filmmakers, I think, is their stark portrayal of bureaucratic blockage, be it the Council of Kryptonian Elders, the U.S. Army or The Daily Planet.  Laurence Fishburne's Perry White is a lawsuit-at-the-ready old media editor who congratulates himself for protecting the public from what he thinks they can't understand; Harry Lennix' General Swanwick is a jerk of an officer who could be a Zod-in-waiting.  As the faces of control, all I could think about in these scenes was our President.

Superman and Lois Lane war against these bureaucracies as much as they do an extraterrestrial threat.  In other words, they are trying to save mankind from the big outer space zap as well as from itself!   Yet this is the craving we have as spiritual beings.  This is why Superman has endured for 75 years as a superstory.  Kudos to the storytellers here for highlighting our superneed.  I, at least, believe I have a need.