The Rookie Reviews: Superman Returns

Please note: This post contains plot spoilers to the movie "Superman Returns." If you haven't already seen it and wish not to know what happens in it before there's butter flavor on your fingers to go with it, you may want to not read beyond this point.

Name a story with more in-your-face, in-your-space Christ references and Messianic imagery than Superman, and I'll buy you lunch. This is the classic hero-who-saves-the-world-from-its-fallen-nature flick, and so it was promised to me, and so I went to see it last night.

What's playing right now is a very postmodern interpretation of Superman. Good characters (like Lois Lane) have serious flaws and wrestle with whether or not the world even needs Superman. The Man of Steel himself is a conflicted character, frequently seeming to ask if what he does for the human race really benefits them-- in fact, there are moments when the audience is forced to think "Why is Superman making it worse?" They're valuable questions, but as is typical with postmodern anything, they're asked too often and the answers proposed by the story get questioned just as much, so all the angsty chest-beating never actually benefits anyone.

Lex Luthor doesn't come across as quite evil enough to be Superman's nemesis; in fact, all the characters give off this vibe of having the events of the movie act on them, rather than really causing any of them. I never felt truly drawn in by the story; the script is weak and the acting doesn't do anything to redeem it either.

In my most cynical moment, I was summarizing the movie in the following three lines:
Lex Luthor: I have discovered the secret of Superman and I will now rule the world!
The Audience: Yeah, yeah, we knew that part already...
Superman: Look at me! I can fly! Kiss me, Lois!

The main worthwhile question in "Superman Returns" is "Does the world need a savior?" As Christians, we know the answer to this-- its yes, we do. But Superman falls way short of what that savior should look like, and we won't be doing our mission any favors by using this movie to advance the point.

1 comment:

Esther said...

Interesting. I'm waiting for it to come out on dvd. I hadn't heard the best things about Superman Returns, so I decided not to see it in theatres.

Superman is supposed to be, well, Superman! That's sad that he's not quite as he ought to be. The one thing I really hate about comics is that everyone who works in them thinks it's cool to have angst. Superman was like the one non-angsty character out there and that's what I like about him.