Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: Superman

Every time one turns around these days new Superheroes are popping up. With new movies like Thor, Green Lantern, and Captain America we can sometimes find ourselves feeling a little outnumbered by men of steel. Especially when you're as behind on the classics as I am.

Somehow, the night my family chose to rent Superman I was not at home. I suffered patiently for years thereafter, for having already seen it everyone else wanted to move onto new, exciting films, and Netflix has a grudge against putting anything I wanted to watch available instant view. (This is very similar to the fact that if the local library ever has a movie I want it always vanishes from their shelves the day I arrive to check it out.) That is why I love Spiderman, hate Batman and yet knew nothing about the one superhero you couldn't miss: Superman.

Netflix at long last took pity on me, and I finally met Clark Kent in person. I got to watch Superman, Superman II, and Superman Returns. I started on Superman IV and quickly realized that the reviewers who said the series went downhill were very, very right.

So the first Superman movie was pretty good. I got rather confused more than once though, but managed to blame everything on the fact that it's a comic book. Clark Kent is a little too perfect, a little too invincible, and not quite bright enough. I didn't quite understand why he needed an alter ego, when everyone knew of his existence already. (Contrary to Spiderman who had to live an ordinary life because he had an ordinary life to begin with, Superman had the freedom to fly around and just be Superman.) I don't understand what he sees in Lois. I've never really liked her name, and she screams entirely too much. And I didn't really figure out what was going on at the end, or why the mere sight of Kryptonite had such an effect on him.

There's an interesting logical problem, Kryptonite is part of the planet Krypton, right? So... Superman's race lived there. So how can it be dangerous? The planet was made of it. If it's that dangerous, no one could live there... right?

Superman II
I actually liked this one better than the first one. The stakes were higher. Dangerous criminals who can equal Superman's strength; there's some real conflict for you. Not to mention they had pretty cool costumes. Superman's decision to give up everything for love, I love that. But... why was that required? It wasn't very well explained why he had to become human. And then he becomes a total wimp. Even without his superpowers he should be able to defend himself.

The interesting logical problem in this one is the final battle at the end. The bad guys start picking on the citizens, and of course Superman should have known they would. So why did he lead them away to some place deserted from the get go? He should never have allowed them to choose their own ground.

Superman Returns
I found out about this one and thought: Aha! It's new. Modern movie standards to the rescue. No stilted dialogue or unbelievable plots. This is going to be good. I was quite disappointed. I did, however, really, really get involved in the scene where he get's beat up by the bad guys. It was... intense. But then the resolution just kind of flopped and the entire thing went back to being lame...

Interesting logical plot hole of all plot holes (and a major spoiler): the child who's supposedly his son could only have been conceived when he was human, which means the child can't be a superhero because of the entire plot of Superman II!

Overall Thoughts
He has the most beautiful name. Kal-el. And what do they call him? One of the cheesiest names ever, Superman. The only person who uses his real name is his holographic parents. Kal-el. Just say it out loud a few times and you'll start to wonder why they didn't use it more...

Despite being a perfect gentleman and the ideal man I really don't like his morals.

There's entirely too much worship going on. Worship of Superman, worship of the government, etc, etc.

When I'm all grown up and rich and famous I want to produce my own version of Superman. In the meantime I must content myself with fanfiction; something I never thought I would ever write.

(Or what I think the story of Superman should be.)

He has never been truly happy.

He's tried of course, he's pretended. Even as a child something was calling to him, telling him he was different; he would never belong.

He's an alien, so far from home. His world is destroyed, his people are gone, and he is so very, very alone. He struggles to reconcile his past, his culture, with the ordinary world he's grown up in. He's young and ill-equipped, and feels positively inadequate for his position. He's shy and uncertain, and when around the girl he adores he's positively clumsy. He wants to explain, he wants her to help him. He needs her to fill the emptiness he feels, to take away the horrible aloneness, but he can't.

Krypton is gone, shattered into a million million pieces. Parts of it keep drifting down to earth, reminding him of what he's lost. A bit of metal, a few criminals, shadows of his father's name; the father he never knew. He tries to escape it all, to leave it behind. He tries to abandon what the crystal showed him. The world was fine before he came, it will continue without him as it did before.

He is so weak, so helpless. Nothing feels right. Nothing fits. This is not what he had hoped it would be. Even as he realizes he cannot escape who he is he knows that he cannot abandon what he has become. The people count on him, they look to him for protection. He cannot leave them alone now, he cannot abandon them. He has failed, he has betrayed them after giving them a false sense of protection.

He returns to his godship, to the cold emptiness of the stars. He swears he will not abandon them again. He will not betray them. They thank him, they worship him, but he shakes it off. He wishes they would not. He is nothing but lonely, afraid, and empty. He turns away from them, still smiling, and flies off into the night. Only then does he hide his face and weep, giving up everything he loves and desires for duty that has been pressed upon him. He will protect the earth.  


  1. What Superman needs...is the Doctor. Yep, I don't know if you intended it to be read that way or not, but that's what I saw.

  2. Well, I wrote this the same day that I was informed I needed to start writing Doctor Who fanfic, so I suppose I had it on the brain. Actually though, they are very similar in a lot of ways. I'd like to see someone do a serious Superman/DW crossover sometime.