Sunday, April 30, 2006


I should be more psyched about Superman Returns. I should be counting down the days until it comes out. I should be stalking the theatre, demanding to see posters and props from the upcoming film. Given that I revered the Christopher Reeve films from the seventies and eighties, one would think that I'd be salivating at the relaunch of the franchise.

But perhaps that's part of the problem -- my love of the original films, that is. They formed the nucleus of my childhood. All four Superman films implanted something into my DNA that cannot be replicated or reproduced twenty some odd years later. That's what I'm realizing.

The new Superman movie will, I'm sure, rock. It even incorporates footage of Marlon Brando from the first picture, which is kind of cool, kind of scary. Because that fact, coupled with the fact that the new Superman, Brandon Routh, looks disturbingly like Christopher Reeve, makes me worry that the new flick will do nothing more than trade on our collective nostalgia for the earlier films. (Hell, the preview even features John Williams' original score, intact. Do I want to hear that again in Dolby sound? Hell yes. Does it scare me that the directors' are whoring out, in a sense, our collective goodwill from the first film? Hell yes.)

There's nothing wrong with nostalgia. I love it. Rewatching the original films makes me feel like an eight-year old again. But a new Superman should be just that -- new. When I watched the George Reeves' series from the 1950's as a kid, I liked the fact that it was different from the Christopher Reeve ones. (And am I the only one who finds it supremely, well, odd that the two major Supermans of the twentieth century had almost identical last names? I mean, what are the odds of that? 'Reeves' versus Reeve'. I don't know; I find it kind of cool, anyways.)

Everybody looked different, talked different, acted different in that old fifties show. It was old and odd and unique. The Superman mythos is valid enough and strong enough to sustain itself amidst a variety of different interpretations, from comic books to novels to cartoons to movies. (The same with the Batman character. The forties serials, Adam West's comedic version, Tim Burton's impressionistic rendering, Christopher Nolan's psychologically viable interpreation -- they're all great.) The various composions of Superman in various media are variations on a theme, that's all.

I worry, though, that the new Superman flick will not only be a variation on a theme, but a replaying of the theme itself, if you catch my drift. I'm sure the special-effects will rock. I'm sure it will tell the tale of Krypton's last son in a fresh, offbeat way. I hope that it's new enough to entice younger children into worshipping the Superman legend, and entertain us older geezers with a subtext of maturity and responsibility.

I guess I'm saying: I don't want the Christopher Reeve films, redone. If I want those flicks again, I'll tie my old Superman cape made by mother around my neck and fire up the DVD player, and lose myself again, and forget for a moment, that Reeve is dead and gone, that Margot Kidder went crazy for awhile, that a man can't truly fly. (Though watching those films, I do I do I do believe it is so...)

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