Red "S" on a blue background.
When I was a little kid, I used to have a pair of Superman pajamas.
I stopped collecting American comics, habitually, a couple of years back. I could cite numerous individual reasons that I stopped collecting specific titles, but when you get right down to it, they just have a bad way of doing things. When an ongoing story isn't tied to any particular writer, the ebb and flow of good and lousy authors is just going to lead to irregularities, continuity, and characterization issues. Batman can be interesting one year, campy the next, and just downright bad the one after that.
But the -idea- of superheroes is something I have never lost interest in.
The idea of -Superman-, however, I had. For quite awhile. He has, at the core, a somewhat overbearing personality, a kind of arrogance, and a tendency to deal with problems with brute strength. He never faces moral dilemmas, he never has to sort right from wrong. He's Superman. He's always right. Sometimes he irritates the fuck out of me.
So it puzzled me when I watched the teaser for Superman Returns and felt myself nearly coming to tears. I couldn't figure it out. I don't -like- Superman. He's annoying. He's boring. He's a dick.
So why did I like this trailer? Why was I -moved- by this trailer? Well, from a technical perspective, it has excellent music and stirring imagery, there can be no doubt of that. But this was something more basic; something that I didn't know how to put into words at the time. It had to be something primal; ingrained into me from childhood. Something that was -part- of me.
Superman helps people.
As soon as I put together those three simple words, it was like a rush of emotion surging up from my heart. My chest tightened up and I felt inspired, tense, excited. Like all the troubles of the world have melted away, and I could be an idealistic kid again, wearing blue pajamas with a red "S", and a blanket wrapped around my neck. Superman isn't about always being right, or being arrogant, or brute force, or any of the things that writers have characterized him with. He's about ideals. He's about believing in something and giving everything you have to it. He's about helping people and trying to make the world a better place. Superman helps people.
The world is a hard place. People are dying for no good reason in parts of the world most of us will never lay eyes on. The human race is hurtling headlong towards an energy crisis that will lay a social and economic collapse on those of us who live long enough to see it. Hatred, bigotry, and intolerance permeate us all, despite the fact that we all come from a common ancestry. We're all human beings. We all share a world and a genetic legacy with one another. We use terms like "honesty", "human rights", and "tolerance" to represent a code of conduct out of common respect for that very fact. To disregard these ideals is to ignore the very origin of who we are; what we are.
Superman is more then a character. He's more then an example to be followed. He's a symbol of faith in the human spirit. He's not to be looked up to for what he does or says, but why.
That means something to me. Whether or not the movie is good or not, I don't know. I'll go see it and decide then. But for now, I can only say that the trailer succeeded in reminding me of something that we all forget far too often.
Superman helps people.
And helping people is important.