Saturday, July 01, 2006

Truth, Justice and All That Stuff: Superman Returns

The Summer movie season has officially begun with the release of Superman Returns, the blockbuster that hit screens this past Wednesday. Having grown up watching the series, I felt compelled to rush out and see it. The fact that the newly cast Man of Steel was very dreamy indeed and in some ways resembled the late Christopher Reeve was also a plus. Yet, in my haste, I missed some warning signs that may have changed my mind…

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For a movie that is based on a comic book star who has for more than 50 years been believed to be an American hero and icon - and one that opens on 4th of July weekend - the movie lacked something a bit telling about it’s producers: anything American. For an American hero, the lack of references to the United States, absence of a single American flag and total lack of patriotic underpinnings was a bit disturbing, though the film did provide many throw backs to the original series in non-conventional ways.

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Truth be told, Superman Returns is a lot of fun, albeit a bit corny. Yet this corniness is part of what makes it so fun and funny. The movie reminds us that although this is a hero we have known - and who has not changed - for years and years, it is still a man in tights who flies. As has been reported in many magazines asking the question “Is Superman Gay?” Superman is a bit…. daintier than you may remember. Perhaps, a little lighter in the loafers. He’s not as masculine and far from as manly as you might remember, but he’s still a far cry from either members of the Ambiguously Gay Duo of Saturday Night Live. Yet, he is still faster than a speeding bullet, durable beyond comprehension and as strong as he ever was. As for Clark Kent – who did not enter into any phone booths this time around, much to my dismay - he is a lot nerdier than you might remember. This makes for an interesting viewing and provides some good laughs. At times it is just silly and at other times endearing. I found it very enjoyable (politlcal grudges aside).

The special effects are at times very gripping and at other times very clearly CGI. Superman, when wearing his tights, has an almost angelic glow that is obviously computer generated, but it helps to distinguish him from the geeky Clark and give a little more plausibility to the implausible idea that no one realizes that the two are one in the same. Though, be careful to note, there is one person who almost seems to…

Superman Returns is a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is a far cry from Spiderman on many levels, but still suspenseful and enjoyable enough to warrant seeing - if you can get past "all that stuff..." Let me explain...

When I left the theater, I couldn’t wait to call my dad, whom I feel obliged to call whenever I see some film we both watched when I was growing up (King Kong, Star Wars, etc.) Not expecting the response I would get, I called him to tell him that he would love the film. “You actually went and saw that movie?!" he said to me with a bit of hesitation and shock. “What do you live in a bubble out there in Washington DC? You haven’t heard about what they did with that movie?” I couldn’t imagine what he was talking about.

Of course, for those of you who are familiar with the news item, my dad was referring to the interview given by the writers of the film in which they defended their reasoning behind removing any American references to the American icon in the film. Yet, though the lack of American paraphernalia was obvious, I had missed the throw away line that summed it up. For those of you familiar with the man in blue tights, you may remember his catch phrase: “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” Well, I’ll let you read what the writers had to say about that (as featured in the NY Post article entitled “Man of Stuff”):

June 27, 2006 -- SUPERMAN'S motto, "Truth, justice and the American way," has been rewritten in the new "Superman Returns" to "Truth, justice and . . . all that stuff." Jeannie Wolf reports on Movies.com that screenwriters Mike Dougherty and Dan Harris wanted to avoid outdated jingoism. Dan: "I don't think 'the American way' means what it meant in 1945." Mike: "He's not just for Metropolis and not just for America." Dan: "He's an alien, from Krypton; he has come to Earth to be kind of a savior for this world, not our country . . . And he has no papers." Mike: "What would happen with the immigration laws we have now?" Dan: "I'd like to see someone kick him out!"

Sadly, an anti-American or liberal bias is to be expected from Hollywood filmmakers nowadays. However, one would think that given what an institution Superman is in this country that they would have given more deference to tradition. When dealing with iconic films like Star Wars, King Kong or Superman, you would think that the filmmakers would realize the need to take care not to go to far. (If you remember, in Spiderman 2, the filmmakers practically dedicated the film to this country, featuring a scene where New Yorkers rose up with great patriotism to fight back against Spidey’s enemies.) In this case, I’m sure many fans will see Superman turning his back on his roots and his country as nothing short of a sacrilege. That Superman no longer stands for the American way is a put-off beyond measure and one that leaves me wondering if I would have seen the film if I’d heard of this before.

So does the anti-patriotic take on one of the most patriotic figures from the last 50+ years warrant skipping out on this fun Summer film? For my dad, it will. And for other Americans, I suppose that is to be seen.

Superman is rated PG-13 for some intense action violence.

13 comments:

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Tim Rice said...

Right now, most of the world does not see the USA as being a land that practices justice for all. They see the published atrocities that some of our soldiers committed in Iraq and they see how we imprison so many at Guantanamo Bay without giving them due process. It doesn't give a good impression of American justice. So if Hollywood is marketing the movie to the whole word, it probably doesn't make economic sense to refer to American justice.

audrey` said...

Superman... reminds me of Christopher Reeves

Nunzia said...

I understand if from a marketing standpoint but I can't help feeling like it's a slap in the face. I really did enjoy the movie but it seems underhanded to me.

And I agree Audrey, he reminds me of Christopher Reeve too.

Tim Rice said...

I think I understand. From what I hear you saying the movie breaks some of our hallowed symbols. That's always disappointing.

clew said...

Hi Nan! I've been off-blog for a while but am making my way back. Sort of :). Just wanted to drop over and say Hi. Been thinking about you!

I wasn't impressed with Superman. :/

Godwyn Lim said...

Haven't watch Superman but sounds good with your cool review!

I just know we have a super God, His name is Jesus Christ!

Have a good week ahead sister:-) God Bless

Pia said...

hi, nan. missed yah!

Damian said...

I think the directors/writers were not thinking much along that line and to be honest I wish it was directed by someone else, maybe someone like the guy that did Spiderman.

Nunzia said...

It's true. When they had that line in the movie about whether or not the world needs a hero I thought... we are so fortunate that we have one!

Ryan S. said...

Superman is a secret communist KGB agent. ;-)

Don't trust him.

uncle joe said...

The Superman from my past was always the President's righthand man...
I still prefer the Batman though......

Anonymous said...

Was it anti-patriotic, or just non-patriotic? There's a difference. It wasn't as if Clark Kent kicked an eagle in the face.