SUPERMAN RETURNS

 

What Is It?

If comic books are America’s mythology, then Superman is our Zeus. He has been immortalized in every medium imaginable, but none so memorable as the films of Christopher Reeve. Now, Director Brian Singer takes his team that made X Men 1 and 2 so great, and brings back the Man Of Steel.

Here we find out that after Superman 2, our hero (Brandon Routh) went into space for years looking for remains of his home planet Krypton. This doesn’t matter at all, the point is, he was gone in the story like he has been gone in our lives, and our theaters, and now he is back. Of course the timing is great, because Lex Luther has also returned from his latest stint in jail. Now, in this tribute to all things great about the first 2 films (including a couple of plot references, the John Williams Theme music, a borrowed line, and borrowed footage to bring the late Marlon Brando back as Superman’s deceased Father) it’s once again time to “Look! Up in the sky….”

How Super Was It?

When the opening credits started, accompanied by that music, I was transported back to 5 years old. I remember all the grandeur and magic that was the Superman Mythos. Here it was again, and without losing one ounce of power from what I remember. If you have seen the original, and fear that it is more built up in your mind, they have compensate for that here. If you haven’t seen Superman before, this movie will make you wonder why you waited so long.

Beyond looking great, it flowed very well. It is interesting enough to keep going without having to blow something up every 5 seconds. It reminded me a lot of the “Incredibles” in this aspect. The acting? Kevin Spacey as Lex Luther seemed to have walked through the comic book on his way to the set. I would have liked to see more of him, but it wasn’t over done the way every comic book movie tries to recapture the Jack NickelsonJoker Experience“.

Yes, some of the best parts are in the trailer (especially the Lex Luther “come on, say it” line) But if you like the trailers, you will not be disappointed by the full product.

With all this great packaging you also get some ideas to think about that go a bit deeper than “Good vs. Evil” and “I wish I could Fly.”

As summer movies go, this has it all.

Is it Super for kids?

If your child is not scared by people in bloodless danger and is not prone to tie a bed sheet around his neck and jump from the second story window, then the visuals should be no problem. They do cut off the phrase “Holly Sh…” with a gun going off. (And yes, the big gun gets aimed at the big S on his chest.) Sadly, there were no explosions when Jimmy Olson took the Lord’s name in vain upon seeing Clark for the first time.

You can check the Super web page Screenit.com for a break down of everything that is on the screen.

There are some themes that may be harder to deal with. Lois Lane  (Kate Bosworth) has a son,  (Tristan Lake Leabu) and is only engaged to the dad. (James Marsden) This is not presented as even an issue. It also seems, despite her new relationship, she is actually still in love with Superman.

A bit weirder than that (BIG TIME SPOILER) the kid is found to be Superman’s son. Though it is never stated in this movie, it is alluded to that their relationship in the first 2 films brought forth this child. In Superman 2, Clark Kent gives up all his power to marry Lois. Then after realizing that the world needs him, he gives up his selfishness and dons his tights once more, using a Super kiss to make Lois forget there nuptials. I’m not sure that this explanation is better than the kid being a super love child.

Then….

What about Super Spiritual Issues?

If you have seen the ads, you have been prepared for this too. It has often been pointed out that Superman is the only son of his father in the sky who has come to save us. His fathers name is Jor-El (in Hebrew – Jor – the awe of El-God) and the name of the son is Kal-el, which in Hebrew means “voice of God.” He is then raised by a family that is not his own. All of this has been talked about and speculated upon, (in Godspell , Jesus himself wears a Superman shirt.) But here the movie brings the idea to the forefront.

First Lex Luther explains that he wants to be Prometheus, the Greek myth who brought fire to man, thus giving them technology. He leaves out the fact that Permethius “stole” the fire, which he also emulates. When it is pointed out that Lex is not a god, he retorts “Gods are selfish beings who fly around in little red capes and don’t share their power with mankind.”

We find out that the Article Lois Lane is winning the Pulitzer prize for is entitled “Why the world doesn’t need Superman.” The discussion around the article all explicitly surrounds the idea that the world does not need a “Savior”. (Superman’s answer to this could be equated a bit to a heavenly vision of the workings of God. Paul, John and now Lois.)

If this was not obvious enough, Superman flies through the sky remembering the words of his father “Even though you have been raised as a human being you are not one of them. They can be a great people Kal-el, they wish to be, they only lack the light to show them the way. For this reason above all, there capacity for good, I have sent them you, My only son.”

(Do we have a capacity for good? Do we want to be good? Do we need to be given an example of good to be good, or do we need to have our evil removed by sacrifice to provide for Jesus to indwell us and be good through us? Romans 3:10-12 & 8:6-7 or just read all of Romans.)

Toward the end (Spoiler) Lex Luther attacks Superman with a shard of Kryptonite, stabbing him in the side.

Of course (Bigger Spoiler) when Superman chooses to throw the Kryptonite laden land mass into space, thus saving America, he does it knowing it will kill him. As he drifts away from the land mass, his legs fall and his arms extend in the pose so familiar to church and movie goers.

Though at the time, it is unclear how it will end (Huge Spoiler) Lois finds the empty room that once housed the dead son of Jor-el.

What Is Your Super Recommendation?

Well, the movie is great, but there is more to a movie than how well done it is and how much fun it is to watch.

This film does continually raise the question “Do you need a savior?” and that is a question that more people need to be asking. In the film, those who say “no” are either homicidal men focused on greed, or Lois trying to hide her own need from herself.

Now, I don’t think it is offering a literal man in blue tights as a savior, and it does use a lot of Jesus symbolism. So the question becomes, are they pointing back to Jesus, or are they using Jesus and Superman to tell you to keep your eyes open for the next savior to come around. I don’t think that it goes far enough in either direction to give you anything more than to say “you need some sort of savior.”

I would be just fine with this if (spoiler) we were not dealing with this bazaar love triangle and pseudo divorce/dead beat dad thing.

Yes, Christ used the story of Jonah as pointing to His own death and resurrection, but Jonah’s negative actions are condemned in the story. The hardest thing about this movie is the morally ambiguous actions of Superman when everything else he does is categorically “good.”

Then there is the idea that we could be good, not by dealing with sin, but simply by being inspired by some one who is good.

If you are going to bring your kids, I would read the “spoilers” or see it first, and be prepared to discuss the issues this film raises and only sometimes resolves.

Still, if one of your friends have seen it, maybe he will have a question that you can answer with the Answer Himself. For that reason I would welcome this return.

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