Kal-El AKA Clark Kent AKA Superman AKA AWESOME!!!

SupeYou knew this was coming, Pete. I’ve seen Man of Steel twice already. I will see it at least one more time before I’m done. It’s that awesome. So this is my super-spoiler-y review, not of the movie (but no promises), but of the character himself. And if you haven’t seen the movie yet, get off my blog and run to your nearest theater. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Now if you’ve read this blog before, and we both know you have, you know I’m not a DC fan—I can’t do Kangaroo Boy or Scissor Lad or Rhamphorhynchus Girl (+10 points if you know what a rhamphorhynchus is). And come on, we all know Aquaman is just a telepathic Sea World trainer with an orange shirt. For me, the names were just too wacky, the continuity too fluid, and everybody was so damn good! I like my characters with a little bit of flaw and internal conflict. The only one I really dug was Batman’s crazy ass and that’s cuz he had real problems.

But truth be told, I always dug Superman.

Yes, he’s the bright blue boy scout. Yes, he got a bit overpowered and could do every damn thing. Yes, his entire story hits us over the head with its Jesus Christ allegory—we get it: a father’s only son, sent to Earth with untold powers, destined to save humanity from itself. That little fact is so ingrained in the Superman mythos that the S on his chest is the world’s second most recognizable symbol. Number one is the Christian cross.

But at the end of the day, I ran around with a towel for a cape and imagined the strength and heard the John Williams score in my head, heralding my arrival. I always wanted to be super. Which is why I was so excited to see Man of Steel. It looked like we finally got to see Superman be Superman.

And the movie delivered! This Superman hit so hard he needs Rick James’ publicist (I’m Rick James bitch!). Does it cover the basics? Let’s see, faster than a speeding bullet? Check—the trailers show airplanes laying down heavy fire and my man cuts to the side in a flash. Is he stronger than a locomotive? They hit him with whole train! Did you hear me? Picked up a train and threw it at Superman! But he walked away so I guess that’s a yes. Can he leap tall buildings in a single bound? Well, Superman wouldn’t be Supe if he couldn’t fly, right?

But this wasn’t your everyday-let-me-swoop-in-and-save-the-day Superman.  This is “what if Superman showed up today, doing what he can do, and then somebody like him came to get him?” That’s what this movie is. Critics complain that the movie was too somber, too weighty, that it eschewed the heart and folksiness of the original flicks with Christopher Reeve. Whatever. I say if you want Christopher Reeve, I can point you to a lovely boxed set. I might even suggest you pick up a copy of Somewhere In Time for an extra helping of Reeve. This ain’t that. This ain’t your daddy’s Superman.

It’s not that it lacks heart; it’s that making it easy you to relate to Supe ain’t the focus of this movie. It’s about Superman being able to relate to us. See, here’s the thing: no one ever really addresses that it might be hard to be Superman. What? Yea I know, me too. Dude, you can fly, are bulletproof, shoot lasers out your eyes, kiss someone’s memories away and, no matter what happens, your hair is ALWAYS magnificent! What’s tough about being Superman?

Not being human. Not knowing who you are. Not knowing what you are. Not knowing how the world will perceive you once they find out who you are and what you can do. Not knowing how to draw the line between savior and citizen. Being scared of yourself. Being alone.

Superman Returns tried to touch on it, tried to show that being Superman is hard. In one of only 3 parts of that movie that I enjoyed, Superman told Lois that he can hear everything, that she said humanity doesn’t need a savior but that everyday he can hear them crying for one. It was an interesting, and underdeveloped, take on the character. Man of Steel takes it a bit further and let’s us know there is a toll taken on the individual. It’s not just capes and tights; it’s choices and the consequences of those choices.

And that is what the movie, and the character, are all about. Choices. He can’t stop being Kal-El, the last son of Krypton anymore than he can stop being Clark Kent, the farmboy son of Jonathan and Martha Kent. That’s who he is. The choice, though, is to be Superman. To choose to take on the role of savior, to choose the obligation and the solitude such a role requires. What Man of Steel shows us is that choice is hard.

And that is the internal conflict I was hoping for.

I’m gonna close it out with a couple things:

  1. My girl, ED Martin, is a mad DC fan. I’d love her to weigh on my stuff here
  2. Sub-commander Faora Ul is the BUSINESS! Your girl is nasty! As much as I love Superman, Faora put his ass in check while eating waffles at an IHOP! Alright film executives—first, thanks for reading my blog! I have a couple ideas to pitch you! Second, the last couple years have given us Katniss, Merida, Hermoine, and the Black Widow—it’s high time for Wonder Woman. Enough of this “female superheroes carry a film” bullshit.
  3. Whatever you do, DO NOT fuck with Superman’s mama

Tell me what you think below! And if you haven’t seen the movie, here’s a little something to wet your whistle:

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New Heaven Falls Blog – CHECK IT OUT!

So, in the midst of all the heroes and villains, DMFRHs and random stuff, you might have missed I wrote a book. I’m actually writing a series (whaddya know about that?!) that deals with Angels and mankind and God and ideas of faith, obedience, free will vs choice, and love and duty. Heavy stuff, huh? So I made a brand new blog called Falling From Grace, where we can discuss the weightier themes in the Heaven Falls series and leave the villainy over here. Today marks the first post of the sober stuff and it’s all about Disobedience. Check it out and drop a comment on the blog or let’s hash it out on the Facebook page.

As a note of thanks for supporting my many endeavors, I leave you with the Bartles & Jaymes guys–I think we share the same sentiments:

C

Hero Highlight: IRON MAN

Iron ManGuess what I found? A posting schedule! Yeah, funny things, those pesky schedules, they actually tell you what you’re supposed to post and when. Never been a schedule fan so bear with me.

If you remember back a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, we were, for the first and probably the last time, I was doing the A to Z Blog Challenge and we were looking at some heroes and what their true villains were. We’d looked at the Avengers as a group (still my favorite movie right now…until Superman comes out), at Batman’s crazy ass, Captain America and his relationship with time, Don Draper’s mad mad world, ET and his retarded self, Foghorn Leghorn—the big ass chicken, Carl MF Grimes from The Walking Dead, and Hawkeye, the most useless archer ever. Then life got in the way.

Now we’re back and we’re looking at the man and the suit, Tony Stark AKA “I am Iron Man.”

I should start by saying I’m a big Iron Man fan—I have comics from the 80s when people thought it was both sexy and wholly heterosexual for buff men to run around in mesh half shirts. I’ve been with ‘ol Shellhead during his depression, his alcoholism and his Armor Wars. I thought the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark was genius. I own all the movies and have seen Iron Man 3 3 times (though I’m pissed about the Mandarin). Once I run the race, I’m gonna get an Iron Man tattoo (haven’t decided where). I’m an Iron Man fan.

But as a hero, the Iron Man suit (or prosthesis, as it formally called) is only as good as it’s pilot. And Tony? My man got problems.

In the comics, Tony Stark is plagued by a deep insecurity caused by his relationship with technology. In the movies and the comics, Tony is injured on a battlefield and depends on an electromagnet to keep a cluster of shrapnel from trying to burrow its way into his heart—the only thing that changes is the locale (in the comic, it’s Vietnam; in the movie, it’s Afghanistan). His very life depends on the reliability and efficacy of technology. After seeing the depravity of humanity and blah blah blah, Tony becomes something bigger than human—a technological superhuman.

Iron Man is different from other superheroes in that he’s manufactured. There’s no gamma radiation, no Super Soldier serum, no spider bite, no birth from an alien world with a red sun, no extensive martial arts training and seething revenge-based impetus to fight crime. Iron Man is a suit; Tony Stark is just a man. Anyone can wear the suit. James Rhodes can wear the suit and be Iron Man (and has). Pepper Potts wore the suit. Shit, even Happy wore the suit and he’s the chauffeur. Anyone can be Iron Man.

In The Avengers, Cap asks the most pertinent question of all: “Big man in a suit of armor. Take that off and what are you?” See, this is where the insecurity sets in. While the quippy response was great for laughs and elicited a nice head nod from Scarlett Johanssen’s sexy tail, there is a whole lot of truth to this. And it’s the whole point of Iron Man 3: there has to be more to the man than the ability to make a suit. Otherwise, you have another Doctor Doom on your hands.

What it comes down to is a moral center. Spidey has the whole “with great power comes great responsibility” thing couple with Uncle Ben’s death. Superman has his middle America earthly father to guide him. Batman has the senseless murder of his parents burned into his psyche. But Tony Stark? This is what he’s lacking. In the comic, he has an unfortunate injury in an unfortunate war and capitalizes on his escape to become something bigger, something greater. The movies pick up on this and use both his imprisonment and his relationship with Pepper to give him that moral compass but, the truth is, Tony Stark is and remains a shallow guy. And he knows it. In fact, Iron Man 3 was about this very idea.

Like I said, I’m an Iron Man fan and the truest statement the movies ever made was in Iron Man 2 when he told Congress, “I am Iron Man. The suit and I are one.” For Tony Stark, the challenge is making the man measure up to the hero and becoming someone worthy of wearing the suit.

That’s my word. See ya on Tuesday for another installment. Next we’re gonna be talking the Justice League.

Guess Who’s Back!

I’m going to Hell. I already know it.

A couple times on this very blog I’ve mentioned what I think is the funniest thing I have ever seen: a handicapped hockey game. I know it’s wholly inappropriate. I know it sets a horrible example for my kids. I know I’m going to have to do a PSA on tolerance or some shit at my daughter’s school. Whatever. I’ve actually been pretty good about keeping this twisted sense of humor in check, like I’m at AA or something, until the temptation arises. Today, temptation reared her beautiful, hilarious head and I found something else to laugh at. I called my sponsor but she was giggling to. So, before I go down that road, let me tell about this hockey game so you can understand why what I saw today is so damn funny.

So gather round boys and girls, let me tell you about the hockey game that I saw that earned me a first class ticket to the gates of Hell. And by the way, some 20 years later, it is still as funny to me now as it was then.

It was a cold winter day in the frozen tundra that is the Twin Cities. I was in college but was home flipping channels on Cox cable (Minnesotans—remember that?). I came across a cable access channel and what I saw on screen made me pause. Now, you have to know that cable access back then was like free-for-all—so long as no one was naked, you could pretty much put whatever you wanted on TV for, like $99.  It was worth the pause.

The scene is the inside of a high school gym, all brown and cinderblock-y and we’re looking at the gym from the side, from the bleachers. And there is a crowd of like 14 people and there are announcers but I can’t hear what they’re saying because I see this hockey puck fly across the screen, like a good 8, 10 feet above the gym floor. What the hell? Then the camera focuses tight on the kid that hit the puck. He comes onto the screen and he plants his right foot, then his left and I see that one of his feet has a REAL THICK SOLE on the shoe. But only one! One leg is shorter than the other. Uh oh…I feel that grin start ease across my face and I settle back.

I’m riveted.

Camera widens and we pan to the left and I get the first real look at what I’m watching: of the 10 people on the floor, most of them are running around, a handful of them are in wheelchairs. Oh God…I instantly start looking for a videotape because I am confident no one is going to believe me. My roommate, Darryl, is home but he’s in his room and I’m calling for him. You have to know that when things get funny, my voice gets higher. So we’re on the left hand side of the gym and somebody hits the puck to the goalie WHO IS IN A WHEELCHAIR! Now, I don’t give a shit if you’re able or disabled, handicapped or handicapable—that’s not what’s funny. What’s funny is floor hockey is a fast paced game. It’s a fast, rough and tumble game. I’m struggling with anybody’s thought that the kid in the wheelchair makes the best goalie—THAT’S what makes this funny. But he’s wheeling back and forth, slapping the puck and hitting sticks (pack pack!).

“Darryl!” I am tearing up my living room digging for a tape and squealing. “Darryl!

He finally comes out, sees what’s on the screen, rolls his eyes at me and says, “You’re going to Hell!”

“I need a tape! Give me a tape!” The only thing I can find is a copy of a bunch of Michael Jackson videos taped from Video Vibrations and Darryl is a HUGE Michael Jackson fan (read Michael Jackson impersonator—long jheri curl and everything) and he won’t let me tape over them. And he’s bigger than me. A lot bigger. Fine. Whatever.

Camera pans to the right to follow the action and on this side, while the goalie is standing up, both of his wingmen are in wheelchairs. And of them is electric. This dude is for real scooting around, swiping at the puck like sskazzz pack! Sskazz pack! This is REAL! I am crying at this point, starting to have an asthma attack because I’m laughing so hard. Darryl is in full disgust mode—he secretly wants to laugh but I’m being so ridiculous and he can’t descend to my level.

Until they showed the ref.

This cat is in a wheelchair too, pulling himself around the gym with one foot with a sock on it. The other leg stops at the knee. And then I see that the short leg has a full size shoe on the end of it. Do you hear me? He has a size 9 sticking up from the end of his half-a-leg. When is that shoe EVER gonna touch the ground? I was done. Darryl made me turn it off. Then went into his room to laugh.

Truth be told, I’m laughing about it now. And perfectly fine with my eternal lodging in the underworld.

But I was good. I only tell that story at parties, relive it every so often.  Then today, I open up my Yahoo browser and I see trending in the news this two-word headline: “Amputee Brawl.”  I HAVE to click it. I have to. And this is what I see:

OK, two things: first, number 10 is FAST! I had no idea he would be that fast! Second, “that’s what I call a hit and run.”

I say all that I’ve said to say this: Welcome Back! Yes, life got tricky. Yes, we had some losses (Rocky) and some wins (a new puppy who doesn’t believe in sleep). But now I’m back and you’re back–we’re back! We got heroes and villains, DMFRHs and random jackasses–and we have a posting schedule.If you ever wondered what you might find here at Crooked Letterz, now you know. And knowing’s half the battle!

Catch ya on Friday!