[2006-07-03] Superman Returns

I watched this movie over the weekend and was somewhat disappointed. The special effects were decent and more natural than in the original series of movies, as was to be expected, but the plot just had so many holes and the acting was so so-so that I was wondering how Bryan Singer and Kevin Spacey who gave us "The Usual Suspects" could have also given us this.

The New Yorker's Anthony Lane has written a far more eloquent critique of the movie than I can ever hope to write, but I would add that Brandon Routh is also about as good-looking as Christopher Reeve and is unfortunately about as wooden an actor. Of course, they are still nothing compared to Keanu Reeves when it comes to having a consistent lack of expressions throughout a movie. Perhaps having a chiseled good-looking face implies that your facial muscles are in a permanent rigor mortis.

There are some things that I would never understand about superhero stories. For one, why do they always have the same villain in story after story either as the main villain or as a willing aide to the main villain? Superman has Lex Luthor, Batman has the Joker, the X-Men have Magneto, He Man has Skeletor, etc. Do fans never get tired of seeing the same villains bugging their superheroes in episode after episode? Do they never wonder that if their superhero is all he is chalked out to be, why he is not able to get rid of this villain for good? Are they in fact aware of this irony and actively relish it?

Another thing that bugs me about superheroes is the need for almost all of them to have a mild-mannered alter ego. Why? And why can't other people recognise them in most of the cases? Clark Kent as the alter ego of Superman is particularly worrisome - does the addition of spectacles so change the facial appearance of a person that even someone close to them, like Lois Lane is to Superman, is unable to recognise them?

Yet another thing that really irritates me about superhero stories is the mess that all the hundreds and thousands of stories and story branches create. Again, Superman is the perfect example of this mess. Are there Supergirl, Superboy and Krypto, the Superdog, or not? Does Superman have a son or not? Has Superman died or not? Et cetera. What is the canonical Superman storyline?

Finally, why do most superheroes wear their underwear outside of their tights? What is it about superpowers that affects their sartorial sensibilities? In our college, a mild form of ragging involved the seniors making the freshers wear their underwear outside of their trousers, tying a bedsheet or a shawl around their neck as a cape and making them run down the corridors of hostels screaming "I am Superman!". Some of my friends would also remember our batchmate, who is now a banker in Bombay, running through the corridors of our hostel one night in an obviously inebriated state and clad only in an underwear and a bedsheet tied around his neck screaming "I am Superman!".

(Originally posted on Blogspot.)

Other Posts from 2006