Superman, at least as an engaging character, died in 1978 when the movie came out. I was a teenager at the time and as such, my attention was directed far more toward Wonder Woman than the Man of Steel. Don’t get me wrong. Truth, justice, and the American way were all laudable goals but none of them could hold a candle to a chick whose anatomy defied gravity and who enjoyed tying guys up with her golden lasso. Still, I went to see the Superman flick and left the theater shaking my head in disappointment.
To be honest, I enjoyed most of the movie. Christopher Reeve, who could not only walk but fly back then was well suited to the title role and Margot Kidder was still on her meds, making her a competent Lois Lane. The biggest problem I had was the Superman character was lame from the get go. He had way too many powers. As long as he steered clear of kryptonite, he could save the world without breaking a sweat.
This does not make for exciting storytelling. When you think about it, the only real challenge Superman ever faces is arriving in the nick of time to stop the forces of evil. In the 1978 film, even that was thrown out the window.
If you recall, Big S missed a crucial deadline, allowing Lois to get buried alive and leaving her dead as a stump. No matter, he just spun the earth in reverse to make time move back to the point where Lois was still breathing.
If you think this just ruined the movie, think about what it did to the Man of Steel’s work ethic. When you schedule gets that flexible, the tendency to procrastinate increases and after a while, your whole life goes to hell.
So let’s move ahead 23 years. It’s September 11, 2001, shortly before noon. Superman is lying in a bed littered with empty Cuervo and Donald Duck orange juices bottles. He wakes up and rubs his eyes. There are 48 messages on his answering machine but his head hurts too bad to deal with them just then. He turns on the TV and sees what everybody else saw that fateful day.
“Well, fuck me with a speeding bullet,” he muses. “This is going to get a lot worse until it gets any better. I’ll do the time-reverse thing and fix all this shit when I’m in the mood.”
The world is still waiting.