Wednesday, March 9, 2011

All Star Superman, Pt. 2

I wrote on the last blog how much I appreciated All Star Superman and said it was, due to its powerful example of Superman's humanity, the echo of Christ in his attitude and self-sacrifice, that it was a movie worth watching, right?

Eh - close enough.

I went a-hunting for OTHER reviews to see what they saw, see what I missed, etc.

I have NEVER seen such a broad spectrum of critiques - all the way from [essentially] "Awesome adaptation of Morrison's work!" to "Gahhhhh - what a hack job!" From 'lifeless' to 'teeming with drama and action!' From "Must Have" to "Don't Bother."

And I think, from those incredibly polarized comments, that I was dead-on about this being a very beautiful Christ-like allegory.

Let me explain. No - that'd take too long. Lemme sum up...

Heroes polarize people. They make you love them or hate them. You don't end up having a mild opinion about them.

And Christ was [and is] the Hero of Heroes, so He gets the most radically polarized opinions of his actions, especially in front of his enemies. Read John 7 to see what I mean. Look how many times they want to kill Him - and for doing miracles!

So if I am right about the REAL Jesus and about how human nature goes MAD when it meets him, any film that emulates His story should get a weird reaction - waaayy overboard for what it actually is.

That's what I keep seeing here: adoration and hatred, some 'agnostic' but many very vocal in their appreciation.

SPOILER ALERT - RUN AWAY
One thing about the Superman mythos is that Superman ALWAYS wins; even if he seems to lose, he comes back again. Crud, they even changed the definition of the power Invulnerability in the DC Heroes RPG so he could not die! [Note: in the DC Heroes RPG, your Body made you hard to be hurt, but Invulnerability meant you could recover from being hurt and just get back up, again and again, like a human juggernaut.

Feh.

The True End of Superman
We have been teased with "The Death of Superman" twice before in older stories.

One in the 90's where he is killed by Doomsday [and comes back two years later] and one in the 80's where he finally kills Mr. Mxyzptlk, who's revealed to be a trans-dimensional demon and definitely deserves it.

In penance for his 'crime', Superman 'kills' himself by going into his kryptonite vault and grabs the gold Kryptonite which permanently takes away all his powers and abilities. In a sentimental epilogue, he is found to be disguised and settling down to a normal married life with Lois Lane -and their super-strong baby! ;)

But in both cases, Superman's story is not TRULY ended; he returns at the end, as all serial heroes should.

Not in this film.


Lord, it hurts, if you are paying attention.


It's a bit of a shock.

It also wisely wraps up the mythos: an alien who got His powers by our Sun, who is dying BECAUSE of having too much of it, saves the world by returning what he was given.

Emotionally, we also see Luthor accept his new death penalty as right and just - and makes amends by giving back what he stole from the world - Superman. Yes, he's returning what he took, by giving Lois Lane [implied] the ability to have Superman's child.

The painful irony is that you, like Lois, buy into the fact that Superman is NOT dead - "He's fixing the Sun -and He'll return when he's done," she says.

And since we KNOW the sun could hold over 900,000 Earths [Jimmy Olsen told us earlier] -it may take awhile.

But it is a beautiful, heart-stopping piece of denial.

You can say [as any fan might] "Well, we KNOW he's gonna live - because he SAW his ancestors from the future and Lois even commented one looked JUST like her grandfather; so OBVIOUSLY they will get married and be together - and live 'happily ever after,' right?"

No. This 'prophecy' and foreknowledge is fulfilled by Lex's repentance and actions, not by the Man of Steel and His lady marrying at last.

Hmmmm.

You know what this is, don't you? I mean you know what happened here, right?

Superman - the Superman I grew up with, the one I and a thousand, thousand fans know - dies.

Heroically, as is perfectly fitting, but he dies.

We don't let that happen to serial characters - or if we do, we come off like a schmuck. Enough space is given for the myth to live on - for the legend to breathe - but I felt that I had watched the last chapter of the Superman legend in All Star Superman.

Folks, no one wants to watch the end of a hero, but dam', when you got to go, do it in style. Creators know how to do it; they are just afraid of losing a franchise to do it PROPERLY.

They ALMOST accomplished it in Babylon 5, when Sheridan called his ship in. The ALMOST did it in Star Trek VI when Kirk was nearly killed saving the President of the United Federation of Planets. [His later 'death'? Very unmoving, sorry.]

And yeah, the Superman franchise lives on, its true, but I got to say this.

If Superman is ever said to 'have died' THIS is the True Story of What Happened That Day, with Clark Kent writing his obituary just before saving the world as the Last Son of Krypton.

Thank you, Grant Morrison. Thank you, Dwayne McDuffie.

Amen.

R.I.P. Dwayne McDuffie. Lord knows you did one last great work before leaving us.

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