Superman for All Seasons
- Wednesday, June 05, 2013
That’s what’s selling tickets and therefore, to a certain extent at least, what the producers of MOS hope to sell again. Many have noted the dark palate of the trailers, the seeming hesitation to tout the name “Superman”—as though it had become a liability. Plainly, Warner Brothers doesn’t consider this Big, Blue Boy Scout as compelling as the down-and-dirty Dark Knight. When we add what Glen Weldon calls “spandex fatigue” among audiences and critics, we can see why Hollywood is holding its breath, hoping for a hit.
If the project is so iffy, then, why bother spending the big bucks? The trailers provide a big reason why this is still the greatest of super-hero of them all. As his father, Jor-El, tells him in voiceover, “You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble, they will fall. But in time they will join you in the sun.”
It’s not Superman the fictional character that endures, then, so much as Superman the ideal for humanity. As Weldon writes, “Unlike Spider-Man and Batman, he is not the hero with which we identify; he is the hero in whom we believe. He is the first, the purest, the ideal. As long as such traits as selflessness and perseverance manage to retain any cultural currency whatsoever, we will need a Superman to show us what they look like.”
I agree, but I would add a deeper reason for Superman’s endurance: the dream of immortality, of godhood. He isn’t simply the ultimate good guy; he’s the dream of glory coupled with righteousness. He’s the dream of joy that lifts us off the earth and sends us soaring through the clouds.
My mother had nothing but contempt for Superman: “Oh, Gary, that’s fick-tishus!” (I think the enmity began when her son flew through the kitchen window, requiring thirteen stitches.) She was right. But truth is stranger than fiction. We can’t get into Superman’s story. Wonder of wonders, the Son of God came into ours. Kryptonite can’t hurt us. But a whip and nails and thorns and a spear can do us a lot of damage, as they did to Jesus. Superman never dies. Jesus died—and rose again.
And herein is our hope, a snapshot of power and glory and joy that will one day fill the whole world. Superman is a shadow thrown by that light, a powerful myth whose source ultimately lies in the human condition and the soul’s desire. He is our hero, but not our savior. Praise God for the Savior!
Gary D. Robinson is a preacher, writer, and Superman fan. He is author ofSuperman on Earth: Reflections of a Fan.
*This Article First Published 6/5/2013
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