I’ve finally realized why Man of Steel makes me so angry.
Not because it’s a bad movie; far from it.
A few days ago, a friend of mine called me Captain America. I smiled from ear to ear. The idea that I’d make someone else feel that they’re talking to someone that idealistic and strong was one of the greatest compliments I had ever received.
When I’ve dealt with the darkness of other people in my efforts to bring a smile to their face, it’s been the stories like Dragon Ball, Fairy Tail, Arrow, and Captain America that have kept me going forward. Reminding me of why I was doing what I felt was right.
There’s a reason we tell stories as a species. There’s a reason that it’s actually even within the ballpark of justifiable to employ what amounts to a small city of actors, 3D animators, special effects artists, and experts in every part of film to throw these special effects extravaganzas onto the screen.
And it’s not just taking a break from mundane reality, or being stimulated by sights and sounds. Those are ancillary reasons.
We tell stories because they guide us to what kind of people we want to be.
Superman isn’t just a power fantasy. He’s something aspirational. His physical strength is an outgrowth of his idealism. There’s a reason the character captured the imagination of a nation struggling with the Great Depression, with World War II, with the Cold War. There’s a reason why areas that struggle with crime and poverty still find Superman to be a compelling hero.
When you have a Superman who doesn’t save the city, who violently punches the villain…
You lose that aspiration. Superman stops being something you want to aspire to be and starts being a creepy alien space god.
I have heard person after person say that their favorite Avenger used to be Iron Man or Hulk, but now is Captain America. There’s something compelling about having that belief in something good. Courage, loyalty, and the certainty to stand up for freedom and justice. Stand up against bullies.
Half in the Bag pointed out that kids don’t have Batman or Superman anymore.
I think adults don’t have Superman anymore either.