“The World doesn’t need a savior, Clark.” – Lois Lane ( Superman Returns)
Now, before you read this, just understand, I will get to a point somewhere along the line, so bare with me.
I recently binged every Superman movie since Christopher Reeve took to the skies in 1978. It is, without a doubt, one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. From Gene Hackman’s iconic take on Lex Luthor to the blue eyed, square jaw of Christopher Reeve. It’s why I will always harbor a hate for the Salkind’s, because, as their heart might have been in the right place, their writing skills were not.
It has been noted that they wanted more “slapstick” in the movies. In fact, one person said if they had gotten their way, the Superman movie would’ve ended up more along the lines of the 1960’s Batman and less of the heroic movie we view today. Unfortunately , they got what they wanted around Superman 3 by not only changing the heart pounding intro we all loved, but also by making it a Richard Pryer movie, guest starring Superman.
The thing is, even then, Christopher Reeve gives an outstanding memorable performance as he battles “himself” in a junk yard. The man WAS Superman.
To call Superman III better than Superman IV: Quest For Peace is like saying it’s not brain cancer, but its still cancer. The movie was so bad, rumor is Christopher Reeve flat out told Jon Cryer that “the movie will be really bad”, but still gave it his all. It wasn’t all their fault though. The budget was slashed, the writing horrific and most scenes were shot in such an order, they make absolutely no sense.
Superman IV killed Superman.
It’s criminal that Christopher Reeve gave us Superman The Movie, only to be used for the last time in a movie so bad, it had us believe Margot Hemingway could breath (and scream) in space.
Finally DC tried it again with Superman Returns, and if you think I’m going to trash that movie, you’re either too much nerd and you need to dial down your basement rage or you don’t know me at all.
Edit out the “superkid” and about 20 minutes more and you’ve got what SHOULD have been Superman III. Brandon Routh gives an excellent performance and strikes a near perfect image of Reeve in most scenes.
They also brought back the heart pounding credits.
The movie didn’t do what DC wanted it to do, so they quit making them for a while until they could finally gives us a darker, meaner and rougher around the edges Superman that no one asked for.
While there are some scenes that stand out, David Goyer, the man who brought you Blade Trinity and Kickboxer 2, thought he should make Superman more realistic, which he did, but in a way that made you feel when you finally met your hero and he says he’ll gladly sign your baseball for $40.
It’s no secret I have my thoughts on Man of Steel and if you can see through the grey tinted camera lens they used for the film to make it look edgier, you might see them.
That brings us to Justice League. While not a giant hit, it wasn’t bad, putting aside the villain who is about as C List celebrity as, well, as I am.
But! Somewhere along the line, they finally got Superman right. In fact, during one scene, if you listen closely, you can hear the famous John Williams score as Supes heroically shows up to save the day.
When you hear, “Look, up in the sky!”, they aren’t talking about looking for Superman. They’re saying , Hold your head up high. Take pride, because someone out there, up there, is watching over you, hoping for the best”.
Superman isn’t the Savior. He’s there to make you believe in something.
- Superman is the feeling you get when the Thailand kids were rescued from the caves.
- Superman is the feeling you get when you see your baby for the first time.
- Superman is the feeling a child gets when their mom or dad comes home from active duty.
- Superman is what you feel when you stop someone from tripping and they look at you saying, “Thanks”.
- Superman is that feeling when, even though you’ve lost everything or a decision could cost you it all, you still do what’s right in your heart, no matter what happens.
Superman is that feeling in your heart when it pounds loudly and the adrenaline rushes through your body while your brain adds “Everything is going to be ok.”
In Man Of Steel, Superman tells Lois Lane that the symbol on his trust stands for “Hope”, but it’s more than that. It’s stands for “Relief”. Relief in knowing everything is going to be ok, because for some reason, at this moment, life is grand. You can stand tall as you hear trumpets blaring in the background.
Superman isn’t just a man. It’s a feeling.
One the finest things ever written in the history of comics or anywhere else, is written by Garth Ennis and is the story of when Hitman, Tommy Monaghan, meets Superman on a rooftop. Superman quietly tells Tommy how he failed to save someone that day. A space shuttle was going to explode and he failed to save everyone. It’s also hit him especially hard because the man who didn’t survive, looked Superman in the eye as if to say, “Superman will rescue me.”, but he didn’t. He couldn’t.
Finally Tommy tells him the following:
“Lemme tell you the problem with America, okay? This could be the greatest place on Earth. It really could. You got all these different people comin’ here to get away from oppression an poverty, all lookin’ for a better life. But what do they do? They hang on to all the things that got ’em into trouble in the first place. They wanna go fightin’ the same wars and hatin’ the same people they did in the old world. They wanna be Italian or Greek, or Irish or Polish or Russian, or African or Vietnamese or Cambodian or whatever…So they hang onto alla’ that. They stick to their own kind an’ everyone stays suspicious of everyone else and for what..? Culture? History? What the hell is that, a bunch of stuff your folks said you hadda believe in all your life? Does that make it real? But you, man, you showed ’em how it’s done. You’re the classic immigrant guy who comes to the states sayin’ — okay, I’m from planet Krypton or wherever, but that’s all in the past. I’m starting over. I’m American. What can I do to help?”
Right now, things are bad. I won’t sugar coat it. Racists reporting on little girls selling water or swimming in pools, Nazi’s on the rise and America’s closest allies treating America like the new kid who came to school dressed in a dirty white tank top with chewing tobacco in their mouth. And that’s just in the 1st grade.
Which is why we need Superman now more than ever.
Maybe not even the man himself, but we do need something. We need something to rally behind. At this point, you’d expect I would say religion, and just like your guess on my love for Superman Returns, you’d be wrong again.
No, religion has too many “outs” at this point. There’s too many things to believe and disbelieve for everyone to find one page to agree on, when in all seriousness, Jesus’ main theme was “Don’t be a douchebag”.
I mean, really. Read that book. He’s just saying, “Don’t be a jerk.”, but a lot of people, somehow or another, are misinterpreting even that, so whattya gonna do?
You find what the Ghostbusters said when they needed everyone to be on the same page.
“We need something that everyone can get behind. We need …… a symbol.
Something that appeals to the best in all of us.
– Something good. – Something pure. “
And that’s what Superman is when you get down to it. It’s that smirk and wink when you’ve done something good. It’s a smile when you’ve helped someone up. It’s that feeling that, when your head hits the pillow, there’s no worrying about tomorrow, because you’ve got this.
We’re all Superman.
We just need to show it more.