This past weekend, Ronald Rowe and I joined forces once again for a one-two punch of film analysis — or in this case, a one-two-three, as my esteemed colleague’s triumphant return to Camp Campaign has allowed him to dedicate the upcoming “Winners & Losers” column to the film in question, in addition to his always-superb FlickRev review. Keep an eye out, folks!
Now … for my thoughts. And folks … I feel absolutely elated as I write this — the fact that I’m listening to John Williams’s classic Superman theme is of little consequence, of course….
The film,naturally, is Man of Steel — Zack Snyder’s reboot of the Superman legend. The fact that the film’s produced (read: supervised) by the always-superb (and almost certainly Right-hearted) Christopher Nolan had already given me a lot of hope for this picture (read my article on The Dark Knight Rises to help get a good idea as to why). But let’s be honest: most of us were ready for a fresh start, after the unfortunate Superman Returns.
What was wrong with that one, you ask? Well … aside from it failing to catch on as “new life” for the franchise — the simple fact is, it damaged the man of steel’s reputation. As Ron would tell you, that film gave us a Superman who: basically abandoned humanity in order to check out the ruins of Krypton (So you found a “graveyard”— sheesh, Clark, what did you expect to find?); came back to stalk Lois Lane for daring to “move on”, and has abandoned his dedication to “the American Way”. Instead, we got the PC-minded “Truth, Justice, and all that stuff“! I don’t blame the boys at Breitbart’s Big Hollywood for labeling that Superman as “emasculated”— and to be blunt, it paved the way for the comic wherein Superman announced he would relinquish his American citizenship, on the grounds that the American Way “just isn’t enough anymore”.
Well … thankfully, we don’t have that in Man of Steel. Instead, we have an ode to what makes a hero a hero … what makes a conflicted young Clark Kent, unsure of his place in the world, into a legend — an ideal, an inspiration to all. Meanwhile, he learns the value of hope — and faith.
Folks paying attention to the marketing of the film will note that Snyder is very eager to appeal to the Christian community — even going so far as to encourage pastors to give sermons on the parallels of Superman to Christ! And he has good reason for doing so: Man of Steel, probably more directly than any prior incarnation of the franchise, makes no bones about it. A loving father sending his only son to Earth, so as to inspire and ultimately save mankind … and that’s just the comics. (It should be noted that the old-old comics name Clark’s human parents Mary and Joseph.) In the film, Superman notes that he’s 33 years old — the age of Christ when he was crucified. And — parallel of parallels — he willingly offers up his own life so the world might be saved. (It isn’t full — but there’s too much for coincidence.) And that’s after we see him in church, gaining solace from a priest/minister!
Of course, this isn’t the faith blog — it’s a political blog. Thus, I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the profoundly pro-American Conservatism that fully permeates Man of Steel. Aside from Lois Lane going to a Matt Drudge-type fellow for help — there’s one of the most immensely respectful and patriotic depictions of the U.S. military in a long time. (I say one of the most, because of Captain America: The First Avenger.) Superman makes it a point not to resist or challenge them in any way — they are the good guys, and he treats them that way. (They quickly return the favor, to boot.) And in a vital, defining moment, when a general understandably wonders how America can be sure Superman will always be on her side, the man of steel shrugs and says, “I grew up in Kansas … I’m about as American as you get!”
Finally, Superman accepts his role as a hero when he resolves to trust people — to believe in their capacity to be inspired to do good — on their own. And that individualism inspires him, in kind, to proclaim that Earth — and America — is indeed worth preserving.