Now, first off, I have not seen Man of Steel yet, and I’ve heard mixed reviews from both those who review for a living and friends and colleagues.
I am seeing the movie on Monday, with my dad (my Superman) and I aim to enjoy it but I know and expect flaws. I plan to return and say more after I see it but I wanted to share two items in this post.
First, yesterday a friend of mine, James, sent me a link that had been sent to him. It was entitled “Why Superman Sucks” and was posted to Esquire.com’s blog area. The author, Stephen Marche, honestly grasps at the straws that most people do when they try to benign or belittle something – they limit the scope of their focus to cherry-picking contextual quotations that seem to fit their argument and fail to see the bigger picture.
If you are curious to read what he has to say, here is the link to the article:
It’s obvious that this person has a preoccupation with fascism, perhaps he is a zealous libertarian, who knows, but Superman was originally conceived as a “socialist” hero of the working class. In addition, fascism is an argument one could make for any superhero, but that, again, misses the point. Because, if they are fascist, then so is God. Chew on that a bit, mull it over.
Ultimately, in the words of Shaun Treat (a professor, friend, and comic book scholar) he “misses the point”.
Now, writers, such as Grant Morrison represent those who “get” what Superman was meant to be to those who read him. He says this as much in the opening of his book Supergods, where he discusses the potential of the superhero and its impact on society, saying that they (superheroes) are “not afraid to be hopeful, not embarrassed to be optimistic, and utterly fearless in the dark [and that] the best superhero stories deal directly with mythic elements of human experience that we can all relate to, in ways that are imaginative, profound, funny, and provocative” (xvii). He even goes on, to specifically reference how Superman helped him overcome his fear of nuclear weapons. He notes, and I paraphrase, I didn’t need Superman to be real, I just needed him to be more real that “the bomb” (Supergods). This, right there, is what the critic in that article missed.
So, let me refute that article with one that is nice, and short, and on the mark:
Superman does not suck, he can save lives. He inspires. Stephen Marche appears to be too easily ensnared by the current zeitgeist of superheroes as “flawed and dark” to realize that though this version, the Man of Steel version of Superman may fall short, the ideas and values that Superman embodies at the core are ones that are hopeful, and represent the very best that humanity has to offer and to aspire to.