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10 October, 2007 / Erik

Superman Declares War on Reckless Drivers

In an early Superman story, around the first year of publication, Clark Kent sees a friend hit and killedsuperman004.jpg by a motorist. As Superman, he vows to take care of the situation. Thus beings the story that is a perfect tale of that early version of the character. Superman immediately bursts into a radio station and hijacks the broadcast to announce his war on reckless driving. Instead of initiating social programs or an unprecedented military build up, the Metropolis Marvel uses his powers to teach the city a lesson. He destroys cars in an impound lot. He puts a used car dealership out of commission for selling vehicles in poor condition. The early days of the character found him crusading in loud, outstanding ways. Superman is not nearly so headstrong these days.

Which is the problem with Superman Returns. I know why the film is so dour. Bryan Singer wanted the film to show a Superman off his footing. His uniform is muted in color. He never smiles. His whole world is wrong. The catch: Superman does not mope for long. The character keeps going after so many from those can-do days of the 1930s have passed into vague memory is precisely because he smashes through walls without regard for the insurance premium. Singer’s concept for the character is not inspiring or strong. Even though Luthor’s scheme was obtuse and poorly plotted, the Kryptonite Shiv was the perfect weapon to show the modern Superman is all too human.

Beyond that, though, Superman doesn’t seem to enjoy being Superman. From his earliest four-color adventure, he’s reveled in his abilities and enjoyed what he can do both as himself and for others. In his most recent film outing, we don’t really see that.

However, is that just Singer’s clouded vision or indicative of where the Man of Tomorrow sits in the public psyche. Have we become so jaded and ill-tempered that we can’t accept Superman at full strength? For ten years, producers attempted to film the Death of Superman. Do we have a wish to see the concept not just test, but broken completely?

Or is no one daring to contemplate a full-force Superman film, where the Man of Steel gives his all to save the world from a threat too big for even him to take on? Strangely, it’s a classic plot for the character that has never made its way to big budget movie-making.

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One Comment

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  1. Tim / Oct 11 2007 12:24 pm

    He makes the rest of us look bad. So we degrade him instead of embiggening ourselves.

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