Today is my birthday! I am six years old today. Which is a very good age to be.
Happy birthday to me! As a special treat today, John took me into Manhattan to see the real Superman Returns (following my embarrassing error of yesterday) and it was quite the best birthday treat a little stuffed bull could have. As I am only celebrating my sixth birthday today, of course I could not have seen the original Superman on the big screen on opening night in 1979, but John was there of course and told me this new sequel to the two original films made him feel like a little kid again from the moment that familiar "da-da-da-da!" Superman march theme came over the THX speakers.
Enough people in the comics blogosphere have reviewed this film in full so well, so I shan't in length aside from commenting on two things that caught my attention:
1. Like the original Superman, Superman Returns featured some fantastic scenes of high adventure superhero-style (the space plane rescue had me at the edge of my seat!). If there was any mild disappointment it was that there were not enough of this sort of scene in the movie: I did want to see Superman performing more super-feats. Like the original movie, he lifts and strains and rescues but we never see him throw a punch. And that's what leaves me even more eager for the sequel: if Bryan Singer follows the pattern and produces as fantastic a knock-down punch-out spectacle as Superman II in Superman Continues to Return, why that will be the best movie ever!
2. A little more mature thought than just "punching stuff is cool" nowafter all, I am six and it is time to put childish things behind me. (Except for comics. And Lego.) One of the things I liked best about this movie was that it gave us back, in a lyrical and moving portrayal, something that is such a vital part of the Superman mythology in our minds but which we do not actually see anymore: the pain of Clark's love for and his distance from Lois. Think about it: it's a cliché, but one of the greatest elements of Superman is that his necessary double life keeps him from the woman he loves. But we don't get that element in modern Superman comics (I'm not arguing with that; I like Lois and Clark to be married in DC Universe continuity). We don't see it in what is arguably the best Superman reprint comics this year: The Showcase Presents: Superman paperbacks, because those are chock-full of Superman actively keeping Lois at a distance and in some cases cruelly tricking or punishing her for being a little snoopy-pants. These stories are fun to read, but that ain't true romance, oh no. The Superman animated series had some clever and sweet Front Page flirtations going on between Clark and Lois, but little of the sad distance that Clark felt. We really haven't seen this theme since the early years of the Lois and Clark TV series and the post-Crisis Superman comicsyet this theme of heartbreak and longing is as essential and familiar to the Superman mythos as a bald guy hoisting a big green glowing rock. I liked that Lois's new boyfriend was brave and generous and not a jerk; that would have been a hackneyed way to paint him. (And hey, after losing in the character interest stakes to Hugh Jackman for three movies straight, it was nice to see James Marsden actually get the girl for once). I'm hoping this theme is developed and continued in Superman Keeps on Returning Again, because sure, I wanna see Superman hit things. But I also wanna see him find that the one true center of his universe is not an exploded green planet, but a spunky prize-winning reporter.