Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Superman Returns

For Valentine's Day my wife gave me Superheroes and Philosophy, a nice collection of thoughtful essays on the philosophic questions and implications explored in the superhero genre. Since the world has seen rise to "Buffy Studies" and mountains of thoughtful discussion online about fantasy-driven pop culture, the book seemed about as square as Clark Kent. But it still managed to give me new appreciation for Superman, which led me to throw Superman Returns into the Netflix queue. (Warning: spoilers follow.)

I was tempted to call this post "Superjesus," were it not for the Australian band by the same name. Of course you need a little Christ imagery for a Superman movie . . . what self-respecting movie doesn't have a little Christ imagery? But this movie made it a full-time job, outstripping even The Matrix Revolutions in its blunt persistence to push the savior theme, almost to the point of sacrilege. I suppose its a credit to the film that it made the otherworldly awesomeness of Superman's power quite real; we can't help regard him, not as a turbo-charged man, but as a kind of god.

Thankfully, the new installment to the franchise was extremely careful not to tinker with the Superman mythology, lest they anger the fans for whom he really is a god. They kept the original music score, without the least attempt to dress it up: just clear honest horns and strings. Superman's look is scrupulously returned, with only tiny modifications to the texture (is that a leather cape?) Clark Kent as superdork is also preserved, maybe even more convincingly than before.

And, the liberties they do take feel a little off. Kate Bosworth looks like Lois Lane, but with almost all the sweetness and innocence extracted and replaced with worldly cynicism. It's dramatically useful, proving that god-like powers are not enough to keep a woman happy, but in the end we, the audience, do not fall in love with Lois, which is critical for making the whole thing work.

I was also somewhat uncomfortable with the notion of Superman as SuperCuckolder. How can the man who "never lies" participate in the ultimate deception, letting another man believe he is the father of your child?

The real hero of the movie is Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor, who brings every positive evolution imaginable to the role, and a welcome relief to the pristine uprightness of Superman. Villains always get to have the most fun.



Post a Comment

<< Home