Thursday, June 29, 2006
Superman is Hercules, not Jesus, and Lois Lane is Still an Atheist
I watched Superman Returns yesterday, and it was really fun, really exciting, except for the obnoxious stuff.
The scope has changed. It's really heavy on the philosophical, the theme being, Does the World Need Superman (a saviour)? Lois' Pulitzer-Prize-winning article had the answer, but was it written as an independant, adult mother with a family, who has moved on romantically, or as an atheist who can take the world as it really is?
Lex could have been the ultimate human hero here, the man who killed God. The Prometheus who steals fire--if he weren't so bumbling and sweet. His evil is completely charming throughout the movie. I couldn't help thinking that a better script would have really said something important about what Lex was really trying to do here. He could have had a more complex relationship with Superman, but I suppose that's the territory for Smallville, which does that brilliantly.
Superman is seen in this film as a god, and one that lives on earth without permission. He may be a sweet hunk, but he doesn't belong any more than Jesus did. Superman is seen hovering above earth like a god, listening to the many screams/prayers, like Yahweh. Indeed, Superman is Jesus, but he is the Jesus of the religious mythicist: he is Hercules, Eros, and especially Atlas. (A hoot-worthy moment, to be sure.) He is the evolved God-Man.
Of course they don't expect me to believe that Superman, created by two teenaged Jews in 1936 is Jesus, do they? (Not to mention the director, Bryan Singer, who is also Jewish, and mentions that Superman's Origin is clearly Moses.) It doesn't stop there. I won't tell you why, but Superman is also Snow White and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. There are more nods to other films in this than Spielberg ever imagined possible. But I can't help but be charmed by the sweet actor's ability to become Christopher Reeve's shy, stuttering, glasses-pushing Clark Kent, complete with silly seventies hairdo.
Does Lois Lane still need Superman? (Legally, she does, but I won't spoil it.) Well, the movie might be a tad obnoxious, but be assured, the end is not a total sellout. Just a little bit. If you still cling to Superman for nostalgia's sake, that's good enough.
But does the world need a savior? Well, of course not. Does Jesus fly in and catch people who fall off buildings? If someone did that, wouldn't it kill them, anyway? Did Jesus save the astronauts on the Space Shuttle in '86? Did Jesus stop the World Trade Center from collapsing on all those bodies? Of course not. Superman would have. Superman is not Jesus.(Superman isn't a racist end-of-the-world freak, either).
As I said out loud, in the theatre, "Superman might be a God, but he's way better than Jesus. I never heard him once mention hell, or the Apocalypse." Superman is convenient, helpful to some of the people in peril. But when Superman was chatting up Lois, how many children died? For cripe's sakes, Jesus is The God. He could have saved them all. Superman is A god, not the god. But no, Lois was right. The world has what it has, and it still exists, no Superman, and no Jesus.
Oh, yeah. Brandon Routh is totally homo-rific, whether he's gay or not. But the movie's not gay.