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Man of Steel

May 13, 2013

superman-sadIf you know me at all, you know that I am fascinated (you say obsessed, I say fascinated) with Superman (however, you can stop giving me Superman memorabilia for Christmas, birthday, or any other occasion), but I don’t know if even those who know me best know exactly why. Sure, it probably began as the power fantasy that all superheroes are. When you’re young and feeling powerless, when just the natural elements of your life seem so vast and frightening (to say nothing of those who have to deal with real fears, such as illness or abuse), it is comforting to believe that someone out there is protecting the innocent and it is empowering to imagine that you could be that person if you only had the right tools, those tools being super-strength, super-speed, flight, heat vision, etc. But that was never the only thing that drew me to Superman. The ability to overpower your enemies is useful, but it can be used by any half-wit and it can be used in the service of any agenda. What really connected me to Superman was that all those superpowers could be boiled down to courage, to the concept of truth, justice, and the American way. I understood instantly and implicitly the meaning of this mantra, at least as to how it pertained to my understanding of the world, and it resonated with me from a very young age through to adulthood. Even now, as a man pushing 40, I would be rightly accused of being idealistic about those words (maybe even immaturely so). I am an unabashed disciple of truth (about the world and, especially, about myself, which can be extremely difficult). As another of my heroes, Carl Sagan, said “Better by far the hard truth than a reassuring fable.” And justice, for me, is a level playing field, it is a clear sense of right and wrong, it is fighting for the innocent and the powerless and against those that would use their power against them. As for the American way, I’ve never believed that this meant “America, right or wrong.” I believe that the true American way is the struggle we are constantly fighting to be better than our natures, to help the causes of truth and justice and equality, not just for our citizens, but for the world, to constantly reach for the ideal of America. These are grand ideas and unrealistic, but worth striving for. If we stop reaching for the unrealistic, reality becomes a sad and lonely and destructive place.

The truth is, I fail at these things every single day. I let untruths slide by (both from others and myself), I don’t fight hard enough against injustice, I excuse all too many of the things done in our country’s name.  Hell, I don’t do something as simple as giving a dollar to a homeless guy because it means the inconvenience of having to dig in my pocket to pull out my wallet. Some of this is because we live lives filled with so many distractions, good and bad, that it is hard to look outside of ourselves.  Some of it, much of it, is because I am weaker than I would like to be. But I try, and part of the reason I do is because a little boy saw Superman save another little boy when he fell into Niagara Falls (that’s a scene from a Superman movie, in case you didn’t know). It may be silly for a man my age to draw inspiration from a comic book character, but if that’s the case, I’ll go on being silly.

All of this was just a preamble to the latest Man of Steel trailer, which you should watch immediately because it will knock your socks on your ass.

The tagline for this trailer should be: You will believe a man can cry, and that man will be me.

One other quick thing, a recommendation. One of the best Superman stories I’ve read is a graphic novel called Secret Identity written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Stuart Immonen.  If you have any interest in the character, I urge you to read it. It deals very clearly with all I’ve stated above.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Kathy permalink
    June 14, 2013 5:34 am

    Ahhh, so that’s why! 🙂

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