Superman Returns

So, as I recouperated from helping my brother move furniture Tuesday night, I decided to go back and re-watch Superman Returns. Not everyone realizes that the Superman story fuses two divergent elements: the science fiction element, as Superman is an alien, and the mythological element.
Superman, you see, was set adrift in space by his parents when his planet was destroyed. The TV series Smallville plays up the Superman-as-alien theme, because it plays into the teen-angst of the program’s genre. Superman Returns, however, continues the mythical element, using Superman’s relationship to the sun to cast him as a Christ-figure.
Being set adrift as an infant by one’s parents–usually upon their death–is a very common element in mythology: one sees it in origin-myth of Rome, with Romulus and Remus; in the the story of King Sarkand of Akkadia; and with King Sigfried of the Thidreksaga and Niebelungenlied. Most famous today, of course, is the birth of Moses, who was set adrift and raised by the family of Pharoah.
Superman Returns updates Superman from Moses-figure to Christ-figure with a number of devices; the most innocuous of which is his twice-stated “I’m always around, Lois,” coupled with images of him hovering above the world, listening and rushing to save people in need. The imagery goes much deeper than that however: Lex Luthor’s shard of kryptonite is the Spear of Longinus; raising the island of Kryptonite is the bearing of the Cross toward Golgotha; he dies saving the world and returns. Of course, Lois/Mary Magdalene does not find his crypt empty (a nurse does), and I’m not sure how the son works into all of this (but then, I’m not sure how a son works into the Superman story at all), but the imagery is quite prevalent.
I’m interested to see if it is continued in Superman: Man of Steel.

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5 responses to “Superman Returns

  1. :O !!!!VERY interesting, G.P. Again, you make me ponder! I never thought of those parallels before… but I can see what you are saying!I don’t really know why, but Superman was never my fav Hero. I always loved Spidy and Batman and HULK!I got to see “Dark Knight” in the theater! Oh I LOVED it! Woo!!!

  2. I don’t like crowds either, G.P. We went on Tuesday night and the theater was still more full that I like.I was afraid you wouldn’t want to watch “Dark Knight” because you don’t like hyped up Hollywood movies! I am glad you are going to watch it! E-mail me after you do… lol, that is, if you have time or whatever. 😉

  3. Will do! By the way, since I’m thinking of the Niebelungenlied, I’d like to recommend Dark Kingdom: the Dragon King. This is a really good movie adaptation of the Niebelungenlied that didn’t get much attention when it was released straight-to-DVD in 2006.It’s interesting to see how much material Tolkien used when writing the Lord of the Rings!

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