Saturday, June 15, 2013

Super Duper Superman

I was eight years old, walking home from school. Ran into another eight-year-old doing the same thing. The lad attended some hooting, hollering, tambourine-slapping, holy-roller church. He informed me that Superman was Satanic, along with the Beatles. It seems that Superman was an evil appropriation of the Moses narrative. Moreover, his name (Kal-El) meant son of God -- so, basically, Superman was Jesus in a cape. I scoffed. But, goshalmighty, the little shit was right.
Which brings me to director Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel." Clever Zack appropriates the science fiction side of Superman -- and his subtextual supernatural/theological side, too. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. But not if you're Superman. Krytonians, it seems, lack the sinful nature. And if you extend the theory, that's a neat definition of righteousness. Evil is a base being who usurps God's authority. Good is a godlike being who acts like just plain folks. Superman / Clark Kent is the alien among us -- and the American among us. The character proves what's right with Kansas. He has godlike powers. But he ain't in it for himself. He just wants to help. Evidently, Kevin Costner raised him right.
Snyder (again, quite cleverly) avoided making the movie that had already been made. He started off with a science fiction movie (beautifully visualized) that hit the alien origin of Superman hard. From there, he emphasized Kal-El's alienation on Earth. He's not a superhero, yet. He's a covert superhero, doing the job, but ducking the glory. But, when General Zod appears (a recycled Kryptonian villain from the Richard Lester movie), Superman steps up to the plate.
"Superman I" had the tagline, "You'll believe a man can fly."
This movie's tagline could be, "You'll believe a superhero can be good."
In this day and age, it's quite an accomplishment.
My apologies to holy-rollers everywhere.

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