Friday, May 20, 2011

Look, Up in the Sky

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Superman! I'm sure I didn't have to finish that phrase. Just as I'm equally sure that I didn't have to hyperlink his name. If you don't recognize the name, then this blog post is not aimed at you. But what I do want to address, briefly, is one of the reasons that I love the Man of Steel - what he represents. Sure, I like his powers, his cape, the fact that he wears glasses in his secret identity. But in a much larger sense, Superman is the ultimate symbol of hope. And that's why I love him. He's not a hero because of a deep secret or because of a hidden trauma; he's a hero because it is literally the right thing to do. It's how his parents raised him, and he is a living example of what everyone could be if they chose to.

To illustrate this point, I will share a recent moment on Smallville that really worked for me. It showed how the writers of the show really understand the character, and I have complete confidence in their season finale when Clark puts on the suit. The following exchange is between Clark Kent and his mother Martha, when Clark is wondering if he should reveal his face as a hero.

Martha: What's real is your strength and integrity and compassion. As long as you remain honest to those things, it doesn't matter what you wear or what name you go by.

Clark: So, you're saying I should become that hero and step into the light?

Martha: Clark, you are the light.

This exchange perfectly illustrates the true nature of Superman. He is not one standing at the head of the path, the man who has stepped into the light and allow others to line up behind him. He is the light in which all the others are bathed, and the other characters of the DC Universe

There is a reason that Superman's intro starts with the hopeful phrase "Look, Up in the Sky!" We look up to him, we aspire to be like him, and we know that if we had powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, we hope we would use them in the service of good. There is no reason for him to be a hero, and yet he is one. He does the right thing, simply because it is the right thing to do.

Podcaster Michael Bailey expressed the opinion that Superman is like religion. You either understand him and you get him, or you don't; and if you don't understand the appeal of Superman, it can't be explained to you. And it is something that I completely understand. And not just because I wear glasses.

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