Thoughts on Superman: The Myth

I remember seeing Superman on the big screen for the first time. It was kind of exciting to be able to watch a comic book character come alive. And there was an element of shock and awe that the “big league film producers” decided to take the kids world of comic books seriously…seriously enough to produce a major feature film that starred Christopher Reeve and Marlon Brando, no less!
That was 1978. Now we live in the Golden Age of Comic Book Films and the screen is awash with these characters.
We have explored the dark side of Batman at length with “The Dark Knight”. And the world was astounded when “The Avengers” became the  third Highest Grossing Film of all time, surpassing Titanic and Avatar. Comic book characters proved they are here to stay. And now we have another Superman.
Superman is, from what I remember way back when we read the characters only in comic books, a character that lent itself to creating multiple universes.

1.There was a small bottle he kept in his Fortress of Solitude that contained an entire city from his home planet of Krypton. The people were all futuristic marvels. I believe his uncle may have even lived in the jar-Kandor was the name of the mythical city. So there were opportunities to create storylines just from that one idea-the city in the jar!
2. Of course, there was a Super Girl and a Super Dog eventually created in the course of the series. These also created multiple storylines.
3. In later years, they tweaked his ties to planet Earth by using sensational titles like, “Superman Gets Married!; Superman has a Baby! Or Superman Dies!” All of these plot twists came and went as we traversed the perils of Superman within the pages of the comics.
4. The Fortress of Solitude: What a wonderful name! This was the place Superman went to “get away from it all”. It was somewhere in the frozen tundra of the North, the Arctic would be a likely guess…. where only he could survive. He would go there to think and to meditate, I suppose, as the name implies.
5. There was one comic-book episode that always stood out in my mind. Scientists invented a ray gun that would make violent criminals into infants, and they would be raised again to fit into society and conform. This was a comforting thought that showed us even as kids there was at least one creative way to magically solve many of the problems in our society.
Unfortunately, the ray gun doesn’t exist and Superman is not real. So we are faced with the problem of re-creating the fictional Superman character to accommodate each passing generation with higher technological advances and fewer glimpses of the simpler time from whence he came into existence on Earth.

And now, we are learning to live with a new paradigm. The fast-paced modern world wants to see Comic Book Storyboards come alive every few years. So it comes to pass that the younger audience, not familiar with the world of comic books, sees this superhero with fresh eyes. And, of course, the movies make a lot of money for Hollywood. Therefore, we are going to see more of Superman and less of George Bernard Shaw’s “Man and Superman”. That is a fact.

Published by

MLJ

Author of "6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village", Ms. Johnson continues to blog on film and publishes a newsletter plus the Flipboard magazine 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies. Her book is currently available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Degrees-Film-Future-Global-Village/

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