Friday, July 14, 2006

Superman Returns, Part 2

After some reflection, I decided to give Mr. Mansfield's comments on the previous post some face time instead of answering them in the comments.

WARNING: SPOILERS!

He said:
But what did think of the suggested negatives in the film: (1) removal of "American Way" as part of what Superman stands for, (2) his selfish choice to leave Earth for five years, (3) his illigitimate child with Lois Lane, (4) Lois is shacking up with her boyfriend. I'm not so conerned about #1 since he does save the USA at the end regardless of what Perry White says, but 2-4 seem to me to be real sticklers. I don't like these elements of the storyline and feel they unnecessarily demean the Superman mythos. I didn't like Superman's decision in Superman II to selfishly give up his role as earth's hero so that he could be with the woman he loved. Nor did I like the "one night stand" between the two of them. And now, all the negatives of S2 are continued in Superman Returns. People can say that these developments make Superman "more human," but Superman is supposed to lead by example, and to me this Superman does not do that. What are your thoughts?
All right, fair enough. Here's my response. 1. I found that to be slightly off-putting. The liberality of the film industry leaked a bit there, didn't it? But given Perry White's character it actually fits perfectly. As a newsman, he's after what sells, and "truth, justice, and...all that" is what sells papers in Metropolis. I also don't buy the "international hero" junk. More likely they're after international dollars, and "the American way" isn't a very big commodity overseas these days. 2. I don't understand why you call this selfish. Supes may be many things, but he is, fundamentally, someone separated from his home and family. He is similar to many adopted and foster children in this way--he desires to know his roots. He had the opportunity to find out what happened to his home and family, and he took it. That's not selfish--that's the action of a person who cares deeply about his family, from which he has been separated. I submit to you that it is Lois Lane and the rest who are the selfish ones. Especially Lois. What claim do they have on Superman? None. He does not kowtow to Lois' desires, nor should he. Lois had it right the first time--the world does not need a Superman. Only by God's grace do they have a Superman at all. They have no right to make demands of that grace. 3. & 4. I think it is good that they show the consequences of Superman II. Lois has been and probably always will be this paragon of feminism, and in this movie she is suffering the effects of such a lifestyle. It is shown to be bankrupt and unfulfilling. Lois longs for a proper relationship with a man, and that is glaringly obvious all throughout. Even with her boyfriend, she wants all the trappings of a relationship and none of the responsibility. The bankrupt feminist mistake. Supes, on the other hand, illustrates something I've been wishing would be shown. He is not the paragon of virtue everyone makes him out to be. Underneath the suit, super powers, and alien biology, he is still a fallen creature in need of redemption. Sin is inevitable for Superman, inevitable. Even leaders sin, and now Supes can show us what redemption looks like. But somehow I don't think the filmmakers will do that. I think they'll glory in his fallenness. I have to conclude by saying that I did not intend to approach Superman Returns with this mindset, nor will I in the future. Once I read some of the reviews (the non-spoiler ones) out there, I was pretty down for a bit. Then I decided that I didn't care what anyone else thought, it is just a movie and I'm going to make up my own mind. Politics and inane moralizing would be benched for two hours and just allow myself to see the movie as a movie. But I did notice clearly all of your above items but the second. I go to or rent a movie for enjoyment and relaxation, not to ponder the theological value of film. I watch a lot of movies and enjoy many while recognizing it is not these that I receive edification from, but from the Lord. Until the "Christian" movie industry gets its act together and starts producing movies of quality and Biblical fidelity, we need to stop expecting an unbelieving world to produce things enjoyable and edifying to believers. Such things only come from the hand of our Lord. That being said, I'm ready for Spider Man 3 to hurry up and get here.

2 Comments:

Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

I think you're dead right ... we had to see the consequences of superman II, and I think Singer delivered that very well

7/14/2006 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Here's my thing. I have a 25 year old beef with Superman II. And you can't have Superman Returns without Superman II, so you can't discuss one without the other.

Here's what I said in my review:

I did not care for the personal themes in Superman II. It wasn't merely Superman and Lois lane engaging in unmarried sexual intercourse (something that had never taken place in the comic books), it was the personal choice that [Mario] Puzo [the writer of the screenplay] had Superman make. Here was earth's protector choosing to give up his powers and abilities to have a normal life with the woman he loved, Lois Lane. Maybe that's a romantic decision for some, but then and now, it seemed like a very selfish and unheroic choice. It was a choice seemingly made on impulse without thought for the rest of humanity. It was a choice made without wisdom. I could never imagine the George Reeves' Superman making such a choice for Noel Neill (the television Lois Lane).

I realize the movies are entertainment, and I understand that to over-analyze them is to take out a lot of fun. However, particular social and moral messages were portrayed in Superman II and Superman Returns. As much as I like the films, I can't pretend that the messages aren't there. And I believe it's important to respond to them.

If you like, you can read my review at http://homepage.mac.com/rmansfield/thislamp/files/060629_superman_returns.html

And my friend Andrew Wells addressed the iconoclastic issues of the movie, also posted on my blog at http://homepage.mac.com/rmansfield/thislamp/files/060709_superman_iconic.html

7/14/2006 10:56:00 PM  

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