WARNER: Minor spoiling ahead.
I am at odds with most of the known universe when it comes to Superman Returns. I thought it was a good movie, if only because it demanded that we ignore Superman III and Superman IV. But there was one particular moment I hated:
Frank Langella’s Perry White is ordering his editors and reporters to dig up as much about Superman as possible. Every section of the next edition had to focus on Superman somehow, even business, lifestyle, and health. When he gets to politics, he tells his reporters to find out whether Superman still fights for “truth, justice… all that stuff.”
Long story short, I wasn’t too thrilled with the “all that stuff.” It minimizes and mocks “the American way”, which is the traditional (though not the original) code Superman claims. “The American way” might be a little bit aw-shucks-hokey, but that’s Superman: he’s super-strong, he can fly, and he’s hokey.
Anyhow: there’s a scene in Man of Steel in which Superman destroys one of General Dollhouse’s multi-bazillion-dollar surveillance drones. General Dollhouse defends the surveillance by saying, “Look, we’re just trying to protect American interests.” I thought for sure that Superman was going to fire back with some pablum about not being so provincial or narrow-minded, or about a being a good citizen of the world or some crap like that.
Instead, Superman says, “I grew up on a farm in Kansas– that’s as American as it gets.”
Great moment. All that was missing was flying the Stars and Stripes back to the White House and winking at the camera while flying into space.