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Why the World Doesn't Need Hollywood's Superman

In a Superhero debate, my brother-in-law once complained, “Superman is too much of a boy scout, “He can do anything! I was done with him after I read a comic where he raced The Flash and beat him! If Superman is faster than the Flash, then why even have the Flash?”

I contemplated his argument for a moment and agreed that The Flash had been unfairly emasculated, but I retorted that he was missing the point on Superman all-together.

No one can deny that Superman has always been the most popular Superhero of all time. He has appeared in books, movies, television, and radio for three quarters of a century! Why? Why won't Superman go away? “Why do you like him so much?” asked my brother-in-law. My answer was simple. “Yes, Superman can do anything that he wants to but what makes him great is that he chooses not to.”

Superman could rule the world, but he doesn't. He could lie, cheat, and steal but he doesn't. He could turn a blind eye and sit on a couch watching MTV all day while people in the world suffer horrendous injustices, but he doesn't. He could be spiteful, self-serving, and immoral but he isn't. At least, he is not supposed to be. He works a full-time job as Clark Kent and then selflessly gives himself to the masses out of love for humanity. In essence, Superman portrays the flawlessness of spirit that our world sadly lacks and that is why we love him. Unfortunately Hollywood disagrees and has once again chosen to blemish something wholesome and special with an ugly flaw of humanity.

If you have not seen the movie yet and intend to watch it without having the storyline spoiled then read no further.

In Superman Returns we learn that Superman has been gone for five years. The story begins as he returns from his long journey into space searching for remaining survivors of his home planet Krypton. After a riveting rescue of the Space Shuttle and a passenger jet, the world welcomes him back with open arms. However, the world does not include Lois Lane. Lois does not appear to be as happy as everyone else and we later learn why. Lois now has a son. His name is Jason and he lives with his mother and a man he calls Dad who Lois is living with. “Why are they not married?” asks Clark. “I think she's still in love with You-Know-Who,” Jimmy Olson explains.

Lois resents Superman for leaving five years ago. Especially since her son Jason is also Superman's son. Apparently, Superman is all about truth, justice, selflessness, and impregnating single women whenever he gets the chance. Lois Lane on the other hand should not be so judgmental considering she is living with a man she is not in love with and more importantly, not married to, while also lying to her son about who his real father is.

For 32 years, I have tried again and again to understand the Hollywood mentality with no avail. They have created so many wonderful cinematic experiences for me but they never fail to add their touch of immorality (subtle as it may be) to almost everything they produce. In this case, for my hard-earned eight dollars I witnessed a morally flawed Superman which was painfully disappointing. Bryan Singer and Warner Brothers have done a terrible injustice to the fans of the real Superman. They just completely missed the point.

Superman's story is not about sex and it is not about flying, super strength, speed or the special effects that make it happen. It is about our need for something pure to inspire us and give us hope. In the original movie as well as the new one, Superman's father Jor-El explains, “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, I have sent them you, my only son.”

Some may appreciate the Christian overtones and Christ-like comparison of those words, and some may not, but no one can deny that those simple words perfectly explain the reason why the world loves the Superman character. He simply chooses right over wrong every time which makes him an example of purity for us and our children. It is because of this, that it is nice to have him around. Sadly, it is also because of this, that we don't need the new Hollywood version of him.

by Marcus Anthony Hoelscher
June 28, 2006

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