Thursday, November 09, 2006


This evening Jamie and I headed down to the Bob Bullock Museum's IMAX theater for the final showing of Superman Returns, in IMAX 3D. I was a bit surprised to see the handful of people who also showed up, including one little Superman in his red cape (which, of course, warms The League's heart). It may have been my fourth time to see the movie, but it was Jason, Jackbart and Reed's first time, so I had tried numerous times to explain to Steanso (who loves his action movies) that this was not so much an action movie, and would not contain a lot of fighting.

Anyway, it was great to see the movie again.

But I also realize that I may be reading the movie a little differently than some of my fellow movie-goers. I like to think I'm fairly familiar with Superman, so maybe I'm reading too much into the movie, but I also think I'm allowed to stand by my reading of the movie.

ESPECIALLY within the comics, Superman's powers and vulnerability to Kryptonite do not always follow some strict, mathematical guideline. It's one thing to say "Superman can lift tremendous amounts of weight". However, it's noteworthy that in his first appearances, Superman was lifting cars, but by the early 1960's was re-shaping planets from a sphere to a cubical shape to accomodate Bizarro (him do opposite of all earthly things...). Similarly, Superman's weakness to Kryptonite often takes him down for the count immediately, while other times it merely weakens him. It depends.

I think what you have to know is that for many Superman fans, you don't put metrics on Superman. Superman is not about what you cannot do, he's about what you can do. His powers, abilities and weaknesses ebb and flow with the story, changing to fit the story or to demonstrate that he's Super enough to overcome his weaknesses to rush to the rescue of the person/s he's fighting to protect (see Superman travelling through time in "Superman: The Movie" in order to save Lois).

Just as Batman is a human who performs the impossible in the name of justice, so Superman is more than an arsenal of powers. He's a tall tale, a myth and an icon, both as a character and as a superhero. The point should not be: he can't do that. The point should be: He is Superman, and he can do what it takes to save the day, even if its the impossible. Especially if its the impossible, even for him.

SPOILER LADEN COMMENTARY: "Superman Returns" is not about Superman battling Lex Luthor. It is about Superman combatting the knowledge that he is utterly alone in the Universe. After discovering his home planet is, indeed, wiped from memory. His isolation is heightened by his feelings of abandonment by Lois when he discovers she has built a family in his absence. It is the discovery that he has a son (see the seaplane sequence) and the confirmation that Jason is his son (see the Lois Hospital sequence) that provide him with the means to continue the never-ending battle, even as Luthor perverts and twists the one small token he has of his home world against both he and the world he's trying to protect.

I read "Superman Returns" as a movie about a guy who discovers he is not alone in many ways (note the word "alienation" appears in the Scrabble game at the beginning), and does the impossible so that he can be there for both the ones we know he cares for and the ones he's learning to care for. If Superman suddenly lifts a huge rock of Kryptonite at the end of the movie, you can't say "well, he can't do that", you have to say "why can he do it? what's different now?" And if you aren't sure as to the beats in the story, check out the movie on DVD (coming in late November).

After four viewings, I still like the movie. It's not perfect, but I think its a movie that I've picked new clues from with each viewing, and will continue to enjoy with more viewings.

Aside from the movie, not much going on today. I'm still hip deep in long boxes as I prepare to put the comics in their future storage locale in my office closet. For good or bad, in doing my organizing, I uncovered about a long-box full of unorganized comics I'd quickly packed before leaving Phoenix.

Jamie is going to the comic shop with me now on a weekly basis, which is great fun, but I am waiting to see if she discovers some comics she wants to read all on her own. We don't need to spend the extra money, but I am curious to see what titles she gravitates towards. So far, Wonder Woman, some Teen Titans, she seems to pick up some 52, but I think Ultimate Spider-Man is still one of her favorites. Should I introduce her to Firestorm? Some other "kid on the learning curve" book like Blue Beetle? I'm not sure. I don't read enough Marvel to make comment, and I don't get to spend enough time at Austin Bookms to direct her toward any indie comics.

Anyway, hope you all are doing well.

No comments: