Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Deification of Superman

Since I was kid I have loved Superman. My first memories of the man of steel were watching the afternoon reruns of The Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves on WPIX channel 11 out of New York City. The stories were campy, the acting was not impressive, and the plots were simple: Lois and Jimmy get into trouble and Superman comes to the rescue. Superman stood for truth, justice, and the American way. As a kid it always bugged me that no one could figure out that Clark Kent was Superman. I mean he's surrounded by newspaper reporters whose jobs are based on getting the scoop and finding the inside dirt on what's going on, and yet a pair of horn rim glasses fooled the lot of them. But it didn't matter. As kids we loved it. We wore mom's bath towels for capes, jumped off the back of the couch, and flew threw the air even if only in our immaginations. Then something happened when I was 11 years old .... Superman became a movie!

Christopher Reeve brought the character to the big screen. His bumbling manner as Kent was a better cover then just a pair of glasses. He made you believe that a man could fly. The special effects were beyond the old TV show and the characters were rich with humor and complexity like Margot Kidder as Lois Lane and Gene Hackman as Lex Luther. The first movie did so well along came a sequel and then a third and finally a fourth. While Reeve was excellent in the first two installments, he became "preachy" in the final two movies. Supergirl was a super flop and so the man from Krypton went away until he was resurrected for TV in Lois and Clark and then Smallville.

This summer the man of steel was set to return to the big screen with new actors and new energy for a new generation. Owning the first movie on DVD as well as 30 episodes of the original TV show I was excited and made plans to take my boys. Off to the multiplex we went with anticipation and wonder.

The lights dimmed, the previews rolled through, and then ..... the theme music with the words Superman Returns blazing across the screen.

The basic plot was simple to follow. Superman (Brandon Routh) has been gone for 5 years and returns to find that life has changed and Lois (Kate Bosworth) is engaged and is a mother. Routh's haunting resemblance to Reeve was only surpassed by his portrayal of Clark Kent with the same bumbling manner that Christopher Reeve brought to the character. Bosworth in my opinion was a better Lois Lane than Kidder but Kevin Spacey as Lex Luther was missing the wit, charm, and ego given to him by Gene Hackman in the first two movies.

My boys loved the special effects and the action scenes but as the movie flowed I became more and more unsettled. Gone was his American identity. He was now a global hero. But what became more and more disturbing was the fact he was no longer being portrayed as an alien who looked human and had greater strength but now he was deity. He was god. Lois Lane, in his absence, had written an article entitled the World Doesn't Need Superman. In a scene where the two are reunited she says, "The world doesn't need a savior." To which he responds, "but everyday I hear them crying out for one."

As he flies away broken hearted that Lois has moved on he hovers over the world (actual scene) with his out stretched as if he were on a cross and he hears millions of people calling out to him (praying) for help. When Lois and her son find themselves in danger, Superman comes to the rescue but not before we witness an amazing fete of strength from the five year old boy as he throws a grand piano across a room to kill a man who was going to hurt his mother.

Lex and Superman face off and Luther gains the upper hand by stabbing him with kryptonite. Our hero ends up in the hospital. When a nurse goes in on the third day to treat him ... he's gone leaving nothing but an empty bed and a sheet in hs place. We then see him in the home of Lois and her fiance kneeling at the bed of our little super one. Yes. Superman has a son. Lois, espoused to another gives birth to Superman's heir. As the caped hero kneels he whispers into the sleep ears of his off spring, "The father is now the son and the son will become the father."

....if you have seen me you have seen the Father...

I left the theater sickened and saddened. There was nothing hidden about what the Director was infering. Superman is no longer just one who is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound ... he's now god.

As the world falls further from the truth and becomes more and more a post Christian society it is now time more than ever to be shinning lights of the true gospel.