I still believe in Superman
Saturday, June 08, 2013 8:00 PM
"Look, I'm not Superman, OK?"
We've probably all said something like that at one point or another, right? It's typically when we've been asked to perform some seemingly insurmountable assignment at work, or perhaps when our schedules require us to essentially be two places at once.
The implication is, if indeed you were Superman, if you had his super strength, his lightning speed, his ability to "leap tall buildings in a single bound," then you just might be able to accomplish whatever interminable task that lies before you.
Well, I'm not Superman, and neither are you.
But we can dream, can't we?
For literally decades, every American boy has, at some point in his young life, pretended to be Superman. You know it's true. For generations now, going back to the 1930s and stretching to today, little boys have tied towels around their necks in a makeshift appropriation of the Man of Steel's flowing cape.
We've dreamed of being able to fly, soaring above fields and trees and skyscrapers.
We've dreamed of stopping bullets, lifting collapsing buildings, saving the day and getting the girl.
At least once, we've all dreamed of being Superman. Someone who's strong. Someone who's powerful. Someone who's fast and smart. Someone who's handsome and pure and noble and sincere. Someone who others look to for help in the most desperate of times.
We've all dreamed of being perfect, if just for a moment.
SUPERHEROES HAVE BEEN A PART of our nation's lexicon for decades. They first became part of the national consciousness through comic books, which exploded in popularity in the early-to-mid-20th century.
In the years since, superheroes have appeared in movies, TV shows and just about everywhere else, including on lunch boxes, pajamas, cereal boxes and T-shirts.
People were, and remain, enthralled with characters who can do amazing - better yet, impossible - things. While there are many today who still read comic books, in recent years superheroes rocketed to the forefront of American pop culture through movies.
The box office lately has been dominated by the likes of Batman, Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and many others.
This Friday, Superman - Big Blue, as he is often referred to by old school comic book fans - gets his turn, as the character returns to the silver screen in director Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel." Quite simply, the $225 million epic was tabbed as THE movie to see in summer 2013.It will be interesting to see how audiences receive the return of Superman. He's a little different than the screen heroes that enjoyed so much success recently.
Spider-Man is a wisecracking teenager and his alter-ego, Peter Parker, is full of angst and uncertainty. Iron Man is a narcissistic party boy with a drinking problem. Batman is brooding, vengeful and, quite possibly, a sociopath. The Hulk? Well, obviously the guy's got anger issues.
Basically, these comic characters are a reflection of who we are. Flawed. Conflicted. They desire to do good, but they also have their own agendas. They're cynical.
Superman isn't any of that.
He's earnest, forthright and fair. As it says when you flip to the opening page of one of his comics, he stands for truth, justice and the American way.
Superman is a symbol of what we used to be, what we wish to be and what we could be once again.
He was sent to Earth from his home planet of Krypton because his birth parents wanted him to have a better life. Through his assumed identity of Clark Kent, he was raised on a farm in Kansas, loyal to his beloved Ma and Pa Kent.
He later left the farm, got his education and headed for the big city, where he went on to do award-winning work for the Daily Planet newspaper. (A newspaperman. Even more reason to like the guy.)
When he's not working at the paper, he uses his super powers to thwart bank robbers, rescue people from train crashes, save the Eiffel Tower from being destroyed by terrorists and send super villains fleeing back to their lairs.
Oh, and he also finds time to win the heart of Lois Lane, the beautiful, brassy Daily Planet reporter extraordinaire.
Essentially, Superman is the ultimate immigrant story.
Alas, Superman remains a fiction. One of the great bedtime tales.
But, what we do have are real life heroes - firefighters, soldiers, police officers, EMS workers - who put their lives on the line to rescue others.
And we do have a savior - the ultimate savior - in Jesus Christ, should we choose a relationship with Him.
But in these uncertain times of terrorism, a volatile economy, escalating gun violence and more, I would say we need Superman - at least the idea of Superman - more than ever.
I'm not Superman. Neither are you. But we can all aspire to be great, to help others, to transcend our path in life.
Truth, justice and the American way. I still believe in it.
I still believe in Superman.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.