In just twenty four days (well 21 days for me :D), THE most anticipated movie of the year will arrive in theaters. There have been few movie events in the past decade, but for me, THIS would count as the one of the biggest one to date. In preparation for Man of Steel, I’ll be posting various Superman-related posts in the next three weeks. Stay tuned for posts from Michael @ It Rains… You Get Wet, Terrence @ The Focused Filmographer and Bubbawheat @ Flights, Tights and Movie Nights in the coming days and weeks!
Superman and Me
I have been a fan of Superman all my life. It’s perhaps not a surprise to most of you if you’ve been following my blog for some time. A throng of superheroes have come and gone in the last three decades since I saw Superman: The Movie for the first time. In fact, the number of comic-based films have quadruppled in the last ten years and there’s no end in sight, but for me, the Kryptonian hero shall always be my favorite.
If you ask me why that it, I don’t know where to start really. I mean, I was far to young to know the cultural or social allegory of the time, that the hero was created in the context of the Great Depression in the early 30s by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. After all, I was in preschool when the movie was released. But somehow, it appealed to me and was way more indelible than any other movie I had seen in my youth and perhaps since.
I wish I could find it, but I remember seeing a photo of me in my family album dressed in a Superman outfit that my mother must’ve bought me. One of my aunts who was living with my family at the time often told me how much I was so in love with Superman that I wore that suit often and I had gone to the theater a few times to see it. Now I don’t remember that part, but I definitely remember renting Superman I and II repeatedly when I was a teenager.
No surprise I included Richard Donner’s movie in the Films That Define Us blogathon back in 2010. And this is what I said:
This is the first movie I saw a the theater… and I think I’ve gone more than once. I remember my uncle finally buying me the VHS as I kept renting it over and over again. This is probably what makes me love the superhero genre, so even if the technology looks dated now, it’s got all the ingredients that makes this one stand the test of time: the perfect actor to play Superman, a rousing score and epic, memorable scenes that truly made us believe that yes, a man can fly!
Of course the ‘flying’ thing is truly a fantastical element in and of itself. The first time I saw Superman fly, in the iconic chopper rescue scene that never fails to render me awestruck and teary-eyed, there’s such a huge rush and excitement. Even in so-so Superman movies and shows, the moment his feet leaves the ground and wooosh!!! Up, up and away he soars to the sky, it always leave me giddy like a school girl.
He chose goodness
I know a lot of people think Superman is boring because well, he’s such a goody goody, a model of piety that even Lois made fun of him when he asked Perry White to transfer half of his Daily Planet salary to his earthly mom Martha Kent in Smallville. “Anymore at home like you?” She asked. “Uh, no, not really.” Clark replies. No, there isn’t of course, well, not one from a planet called Krypton anyway.
The Biblical allegory of Superman as a Christ-figure is more than obvious. JK Muir’s splendidly-perceptive review of Superman: The Movie said it best:
… Superman: The Movie lyrically captures the mythic, spiritual nature of the long-lived Superman legend… Jor-El (Marlon Brando), an Elder God-figure, sends his only son (a Jesus Christ surrogate…) to Earth to walk (and fly…) amongst humanity. Immaculate white and gleaming, Krypton is a visualization of an extra-terrestrial “Heaven,” a world far in advance of our own. But just as Heaven faced an insurrection in the form of Lucifer, so does Krypton quell an insurrectionist named Zod… one who is cast to a Hell-like dimension (The Phantom Zone) for his crimes…
Ok so God the Father and his Heavenly realm was never in any danger so it’s not like He sent Christ as a ‘refuge’ for His Son, but the pronounced parallel is Kal-El’s love for humanity. So to me, the fact that the Kryptonian luminary epitomizes GOOD doesn’t make him boring at all. In fact, it makes him utterly fascinating as he’s such a rarity… a being who’s SUPER because he not only epitomizes perfection on the outside with his external powers, he also represents inner goodness we all aspire to. Superman has all this power at his disposal, and really, he could practically do anything he wanted. After all, what does he owe us earthlings anyway? Nothing. We can’t expect him to protect nor save us as we don’t even deserve it, but yet, he takes it upon himself to be our savior.
He’s not without his share of tragedies, after all he not only lost his parents but his entire home world of Krypton, if that’s not ‘excess baggage’ I don’t know what is. But yet he doesn’t wallow in self pity and spend his days sulking or rebelling against his adoptive parents because he feels ‘entitled.’ I love how Mr. Muir puts it:
A real hero can still choose to take to the skies instead of lurking in the shadows, or seething in the dark of night.
I may not be able to relate to Superman with all his superpowers but power is a relative term and each of us has a certain degree of power and the choice to use that power for evil or for good. So in that sense, I can surely aspire for greatness, to be inspired by his heroism and altruistic notion. Superman has always been about hope and I’m sure glad Man of Steel will be so as well. As you’ve seen at the end of the second trailer, Superman tells Lois that the ‘S’ on his chest means hope. So long as there’s tragedy and misfortune in our world, hope shall never go out of style.
The Ultimate Immigrant
Now, later on, as I move to the United States to go to college, I soon identify with the Man of Steel because he too is an immigrant. No, I didn’t come from a dying planet like Krypton nor did I have adoptive parents in the US, but the idea of feeling alienated and an outsider in the community I live in is something I definitely identify with. Reversely, I was born in a Metropolitan City (Jakarta) and came to live in a small town in the US (St. Cloud, about 1 hr away from Minneapolis), but just like Clark Kent, I too have long come to love my ‘adopted’ country.
Superman is very much an American, but he’s also very much an alien. As they were raised by Eastern European Jewish immigrants, Siegel and Shuster perhaps also struggled with issues of immigration and assimilation as Clark/Superman does on earth. But through his struggles of concealing his identity and living a dual life – like many immigrants trying to fit in — Superman rise above all that and choose to be a champion for humanity, a citizen and protector of the entire planet Earth, not just United States.
Wanting to be Lois Lane
If there was a movie character I wish I could be for a day (or even weeks), it’d be Lois Lane. I mean, she’s a cool career woman with a spunky personality. She was the best reporter at the Daily Planet and lives in a swanky apartment in NYC even Carrie Bradshaw would envy. As if that weren’t enough, she doesn’t only get to interview Superman, she becomes the only woman who captures his heart.
Growing up, I had always wanted to be a journalist. Yes I even enrolled in a Mass Communications major and was intent on pursuing that degree with a focus in journalism. Well, after a few classes, I realized it’s not for me (I got into Advertising & Graphic Design) instead, but that goes to show how much the character from the Superman comics resonated with me.
It’s in the genes
Seems that my connection with Superman have began even before I was born. Back in 1974, my late father produced and wrote Rama, Superman Indonesia (perhaps the first Indonesian superhero movie ever – at least as far as I know). I actually have never seen the film on the big screen, the only token I have of that movie is this photo of the movie poster (I knew my dad used to do some poster illustrations too but I’m not sure if he did this one).
Now, even though it has the word ‘Superman’ in it, the story is quite different as it’s actually closer to The Greatest American Hero as a young paperboy named Andi is given a magic necklace by an old man he helped, which could transform him into a superhero. Veteran Indonesian actor August Melasz played Rama in one of his earliest roles. According to the Indo Wiki, the film can’t ever be Internationally-marketed due to copyright infringement of the use of the word ‘Superman’ [sigh]
Now if you’re curious about and wants to see a super cheesy, SFX-free superhero movie ( I mean, the entire movie’s production cost probably only amounts to Man of Steel‘s catering budget for a day, ahah!), someone actually uploaded the entire movie on Youtube!
When the actor and the character meets
My admiration for Christopher Reeve, who shall always be my favorite Superman, pretty much set the bar in terms of my Hollywood crushes. I’m glad I was able to separate fantasy from reality though as Superman is, in Lois’ own words, a tough act to follow 😉 But when it comes to movie star crushes, I guess Reeve sets the bar high. You never forget your first one, they say, and Reeve was my first ever crush. But not only that, he’s the ONLY actor I’ve written a fan letter to in my entire life, and he’d also be the last. I was in my Junior High, I finally did it with the encouragement from my late mother who also helped me write it in English. It took nearly a year to receive a reply, but I ended up getting not one, but two autographed photos from him (arrived separately).
Later in his life, Mr. Reeve himself suffered a personal tragedy when he was thrown from a horse in an equestrian competition in May 1995. He became a quadriplegic due to his spinal cord injury. I remember crying when I heard the news. But in the nine years that he lived with such an extreme physical disability, he became a champion for people with disabilities through the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. He was a hero even when he couldn’t walk, let alone fly, but then again, inner strength and courage is what truly makes a hero.
Speaking of actors playing Superman, I also had a premonition in regards to Henry Cavill. Back in 2002 when I saw The Count of Monte Cristo on the big screen, I distinctly remember whispering to my hubby when I saw the then 18-year-old Cavill came on screen that he could play Superman when he grows up. Now a decade later, imagine my delight when I first heard he was indeed cast!
Interestingly enough, the actor playing his father in that film, Jim Caviezel, was also considered by Bryan Singer to play Superman in Superman Returns. But reportedly, Singer was hesitant to cast Caviezel as he had just played the ultimate Savior in The Passion of the Christ.
It’s been a while since I’m THIS giddy with anticipation the way I am with Man of Steel. I was stoked for Superman Returns seven years ago, but nowhere near at this level. So I’ll end this post with this awesome featurette that talks about the characterization of who Superman as a ‘conflicted, lonely and lost person’ and ‘the most powerful but also the most vulnerable.’ I’m liking these themes here, which makes the message about hope all the more compelling.
Well lookie here!! Turns out that the latest Man of Steel trailer titled Fate of Your Planet was out the same time I posted this.
Oh boy, is it ever intense!! It made me reflect on just how much Supes truly love people of earth and how much is at stake against a ruthless enemy like Zod and Faora…
For every human you save we will kill a million more. – Faora
OMG! That quote made me shudder! I think it’s wise that they save the most action-packed trailer to last, starting with a more dramatic and emotive one first. This convinces me more that the movie’s gonna have a good balance of being action-packed and packs an emotional punch!
BRING! IT! ON!
Hope I still have your attention after all my personal rambling, ahah.
What are your thoughts about Superman and/or Man of Steel? Let’s hear it!