room for superman?
Superman is scheduled to make a comeback in 2006. In the wake of the recent “back-story” Spiderman and Batman movies some critics are asking if there is room for an Übermensch “overman” (Superman). It certainly will be interesting to see how the character of the Man of Steel will be developed. In the last few years Superman’s cultural currency has been in recession. He’s too perfect. Too strong. Sometimes we even get the sense that he is acting when he is Clark
While Superman was in recession, Batman and Spiderman have held greater cultural currency. The most recent Batman and Spiderman films both offered glimpses into what and who shaped them; the struggles of their lives, etc. In a class I was teaching recently we spent a few minutes contrasting Batman with Spiderman.
Emerging culture seems to be exploring the tension between these two cultural icons.
Batman is self-made. And his power comes from acquiring tools and mastering skills. His bat-belt is loaded, the bat-mobile is unrivaled on the road. He is a glorious example of the integration of the human being with technology, making him virtually indestructible. He may be the ultimate “modern man.”
Spiderman is an accident. He didn’t seek out his role it just happened. And the question before him is what does it mean for me to live fully into who I am. What is this Spider-sense, can I learn to trust myself in community.
One of the great questions of postmodern culture revolves around our understanding of the “self”. Who am I? Where does my identity come from? Does identity come from the belt about my waste, does it come from living into my spider sense, is it socially constructed? How does God revealed in Jesus Christ and in the power of the holy Spirit participate in the co-creation of human identity? Can Batman and Spiderman learn to dance together and take off their masks? How and where does Superman fit in?
BTW – it was Si Johnston who got me thinking about Spidy and Batman.