Superman Day

I saw a brief post earlier today, announcing that today is Superman Day, in recognition of the man from the planet Krypton. I smiled. I have fond childhood memories of this particular superhero, however I had no intention of writing about the Man of Steel. Guess what? I’ve thought about Superman most of the day.

Superman Day

Superman Day was created by DC Entertainment on June 12, 2013, in honor of one of the world’s most famous superheroes and two days ahead of the release of the film “Man of Steel”. Henry Cavill put on the red cape in that DC Universe reboot.

Superman was originally created in 1933, by writer Joe Shuster and artist Jerry Siegel, with a featured role in Action Comics #1. With his blue suit, red cape and stylized S on his chest, Superman soon became one of the most recognized figures in the world. He was awarded his own line of comics in 1939.

Superman Day

For the next 79 years, Superman would continually save the world in comics, movies, and television shows. George Reeves portrayed the hero on television from 1951 to 1958. Christopher Reeve brought the Man of Steel onto the big screen in three films, from 1978 to 1983. Dean Cain played the dual roles of Clark Kent and Superman in the New Adventures of Superman, airing on tv in the 90s, while Tom Welling played a young Clark Kent for ten years in the series Smallville. Brandon Routh played Superman in one film in 2006, before Henry Cavill stepped solidly into the role in 2013. He continues as Superman, most recently starring in the first Justice League movie.

Superman Day

Although the series ended the year I was born, I watched George Reeves as Superman, in reruns, throughout my childhood. However, it was through comic books that I really got to know the character. I’d pick up a new comic on Saturdays, for a dime or 12 cents, climb a tree or seek out one of my hiding places, and read about the adventures of Superman, Lois Lane, Batman and Robin. By my teen years I had switched to Archie comics, but as a kid, hands down my favorite stories featured the caped man from Krypton.

That’s what I’ve thought about today. Why was I so drawn to Superman? What was it about him that captured my interest?

I believe my fearfulness as a child caused me to gravitate toward larger than life heroes. But it was more than that. Superman had two identities…human looking Clark Kent, and Kal-El, who came from another planet, sent to earth by his parents before Krypton was destroyed. Clark was raised by human parents in a small farming community. But he knew he wasn’t human. He knew he was other. His life was divided between pretending to be someone he wasn’t and using his gifts and abilities to save the world.

Superman Day

Perhaps as a child I both identified with Superman’s duality and felt sympathy that he had to hide so much of who he was. I hid who I really was too. I envied Superman his abilities to fly, exhibit incredible strength and use x-ray vision. Me…I struggled with living in dual worlds. The veil between this world and the spirit world was extremely thin for me. I didn’t want to see what I could see or hear what I could hear. I wished I could leap over buildings and fly instead!

I learned important lessons from the Man of Steel. Superman taught me that no one is who they appear to be, and that good wins over evil and that people can be fooled by a disguise as simple as a pair of glasses. It bugged me that no one seemed to see that Clark was Superman. As an adult, I realize that people see what they want to see.

Superman embodies the best in humanity, although he is not human. He displays strength tempered by compassion. He offers to others without expecting anything in return. He faces adversity and emerges stronger. And in many ways, in spite of Lois Lane, he lives as a solitary man. Those are all traits I appreciate about Kal-El.

The red S on the blue uniform doesn’t stand for Superman. It is a symbol, a coat of arms for the house of El. He says, “It’s not an S. On my world it means hope.” Hope. Turn it upside down and it represents Resurrection. I like that about Superman most of all. I’m glad there’s a day to celebrate this hero.

Superman Day

Movie Review: Justice League

My sister Linda and I enjoyed an afternoon movie yesterday. The new release, Justice League, has been on our list of movies to see for a couple of weeks. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to take in this fun film from the DC Comic universe.

Justice League features Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Henry Cavill, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, and Ciarán Hinds. This action adventure film was directed by Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon. The movie has a PG-13 rating, for intense action and violence, and has a run time of 2 hours.

Shortly after the death of Superman (Cavill), alias Clark Kent, the world tips into shadow. For Lois Lane (Adams) and Clark’s mother, Martha (Lane), it is a time of grieving for the man both loved. For Bruce Wayne (Affleck), Batman’s alter ego, there is remorse and regret, and a recognition of the sacrifice Superman made. He is also acutely aware of how desperately the world needs the man from Krypton.

Because a powerful enemy has returned to Earth, to claim the mother boxes denied to him eons ago. These three cubes, which emit a destructive energy, were separated after Steppenwolf (voiced by Hinds) was driven from the earth by a unified force of heroes…Amazons, Aquarians, men and legends of old. Two of the boxes have been guarded for thousands of years by the Amazons and the Aquarians. The men of that time buried the third box to protect it, and it has only recently been discovered again. The current generation has no knowledge or remembrance of what the box is.

Batman and Wonder Woman, also called Diana (Gadot), agree that they need help to combat this new threat. The boxes have awakened since Superman’s death, and they have called Steppenwolf back to Earth. He has transformed humans into a legion of demon like creatures. His intention is to destroy the planet.

Bruce and Diana separate to recruit three meta humans that they are aware of: Aquaman (Momoa), also called Arthur, who is an Aquarian living in the sea, a young man named Barry (Miller) who is called The Flash because of his ability to move extremely quickly, and another young man named Victor (Fisher), who is struggling to adjust after a horrific accident. His scientist father used the energy from one of the cubes, in an attempt to save his life. Victor was spared, but he is forever changed, more machine, or Cyborg, than flesh.

The five form an uneasy alliance. Each has something to overcome, a darkness within to purge before they can trust each other and save humanity from a greater darkness without. In the end, will they be enough? Is it possible that the same energy that saved Victor’s life, even while transforming him, might bring back the one hero they most need right now?

This was another exciting, action packed, super hero movie. Like its counterparts in the Marvel universe, the Justice League film was liberally laced with humor. The millennial Flash, with his many phobias, provides the most comic relief. However, all of the heroes got to reveal their comedic side. And dear Alfred (Irons), Batman’s faithful butler, father figure and longtime friend, anchors everyone while feeding them vital information.

There were moments when tears filled my eyes as well. These are flawed heroes, after all, learning as they journey. Batman is aging, and as as the only hero without a superpower, other than his ability to afford high end technology, he wonders how much longer he can keep up. Most have lost someone, or lost part of themselves. This movie is as much about the personal transformations of the members of the League, as it is about figuring out how to unite as a cohesive team.

For that reason, I enjoyed this film immensely. The new team members…Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash were welcomed additions and I look forward to their solo movies that will reveal more of their stories.

I have always been a Superman fan. As a child, the Man of Steel, with his pure heart, was my absolute favorite. I am glad to see him back. Batman has truly transitioned into the Dark Knight, but with a stronger desire to defend the helpless. He has become a more complex, and therefore, more interesting character. And this new Wonder Woman has at last captured my appreciation for her character. She is a Warrior with strong leadership qualities. I look forward to her further development.

Lois Lane delivers a great epilogue at the end of the film. “The truest darkness is not absence of light…but the belief that the light will never return. But the light always returns. Hope is real.” That’s the power of the Justice League, and of all good stories. The light wins. Hope is restored.

United, these guardians are so much stronger than they could be as individuals. The group hero pose toward the end of the movie was ever so satisfying…and promising. I await the next movie with anticipation.

Surrender 87: Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

On this glorious day, that celebrates Life, my sister Linda and I enjoyed the movie Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. This action packed film just released this weekend. I grew up reading comic books and especially liked the super hero stories. Superman was my favorite. I was excited to see this latest installment in the franchise. 

 

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice stars Ben Afleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Fishburne and Gal Gadot. The action adventure was directed by Zack Snyder and has a run time of 2 hours and 41 minutes. The film carries a PG-13 rating, for intense sequences and violence. 

Building on Man of Steel, from 2013, and the Batman lore captured over the last 27 years, this movie highlights the uneasiness the world feels with a hero as powerful as Superman (Cavill). After the near destruction of Metropolis, depicted in Man of Steel, some fear that Superman poses a threat. While most still see him as a symbol of hope and safety, others see his power as unchecked and therefore dangerous. 

  
Superman continues as his alter ego, Clark Kent, writing stories for newspaper editor Perry White (Fishburne), loving the women in his life, fellow reporter Lois Lane (Adams), and his mother, Martha (Lane). He’s torn between living a human life and saving humankind, between those who need him and adore him, even, and those who fear what he can do. 

Bruce Wayne (Afleck) with his long time trusted friend Alfred (Irons), is very aware of the controversy growing around Superman. Bruce dwells often in his darker side, haunted still by the death of his parents, choosing to live a secluded, solitary life. 

  
Although he responds to the call for help when it comes, by way of the bat signal that shines into the night sky, he sees himself as a glorified criminal. He is the Dark Knight, unafraid of using strong tactics to subdue or punish those who prey on others. 

A brooding rivalry grows between the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight, as each questions the motives of the other. Quiet warnings escalate to all out war between them. 

As they square off, a more ominous threat rises, as a manical young man, Lex Luther (Eisenberg), works on a dark plot that will not only destroy the city, but take out the two battling heroes. Help is available from a mysterious woman (Gadot), who is reluctant to reveal her true identity. 

 

Linda and I had great fun watching this movie! Yes, it’s long. But it didn’t drag along. The action and the building storyline fully engaged me and the time passed quickly. We skipped on large drinks from the concession stand for good reason! 

I love Cavill as Superman. And Afleck did an admirable job playing Batman for the first time. One of the things I appreciated about this film is that both heroes were portrayed with very human sides, in spite of the fact that Superman isn’t from Earth. They both have dark sides. They fight for justice. And they get angry, feel fear and frustration, and question who they are and what their purposes are. 

  

I’m delighted that this movie sets the foundation for the formation of the Justice League, a group of heroes that band together for the good of humanity. Doing a quick check on IMDB, I see a series of movies scheduled up until 2020, that will flesh out this story and bring years of viewing thrills. 

I know I’ll be there in the theater for each film, cheering on the good guys with super-human abilities and very human hearts and flaws.