And besides, what is Ricky supposed to get out of this incident? What lesson has he learned? What lasting advantage has been bestowed upon him?
The problem that Clark Kent, alias Superman, is supposedly trying to deal with is that young Ricky here is being bullied by his classmates. They don’t want him on their bowling team, for a very good reason: the kid has no skills, and brings nothing to the organization.
If the miraculous intervention on Ricky’s behalf makes it appear as if he has suddenly and temporarily acquired an inhumanly destructive right hook which blows bowling pins to fragments, then what? Even if this moment of triumph, which he did not earn and does not deserve, imbues him with masterful confidence heading into his next time at-bat, he still sucks at bowling and that deficit has not been corrected.
And as for the bullying, if you think that the only problem the other kids have with him is his bowling skills, then you need to take another close look at Ricky.
Continue reading Superman III 4.19: Still About Bowling
Now, the first thing that I’d like to point out is that Superman III is extremely judgmental about the consumption of alcohol for the purposes of adult refreshment.
It’s something that only the baddies do, and they do it performatively to show how bad they are. At the beginning of the seduction-of-the-innocent sequence, Webster makes a big show of accessing his enormous in-office liquor cabinet, and giving Gus a drink. Later, Gus uses Brad’s interest in thirst-quenching beverages to gain access to the company computer. And what is the last straw for Dark Superman, when you know that he’s really gone rotten? He goes to a bar and has a drink.
So I think that’s important context to establish, before I present my analysis of the film’s anti-Brad agenda.
Continue reading Superman III 4.14: King of the Prom
So obviously there isn’t an actual news story in Clark Kent going back to Kansas for his high school reunion. How could there be?
This is a man whose entire life is newsworthy. Just the fact that he exists is a civilization-stunner on its own, upending everything that we know about aviation and muscle mass, among other things. He’s constantly monitoring the world around him to detect the slightest hint of calamity, and then dives straight towards it for a photogenic rescue, full of human interest. He is everybody’s favorite news story, twenty-four hours a day.
So where is the news angle on a brightly-decorated high school gymnasium in a state that, for Superman, is literally flyover country? The only headline that I see in this room is Hayseeds, Appleknockers Have Pleasant Rube Reunion, and that’s not going to make much of a dent in newsstand sales in Metropolis.
Continue reading Superman III 4.12: Mission: Smallville
It was bound to happen; it’s how these tall tales work. When you’re telling stories about the strongest man in the world, there’s a natural narrative pressure to make him even bigger and stronger and more unbeatable, over time.
Paul Bunyan, the mighty fabled lumberjack of the Northwoods, started out as seven feet tall, able to chop down tree after tree without stopping for rest. As the legend grew, Paul soared to forty feet tall. In the later tales, Paul could fell a tree just by shouting at it, and his bootprints created the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota.
The same thing happened to Superman. In 1938, he could pick up an automobile; in 1940, he demolished a house with a single blow of his fist; in 1943, he hit a baseball so hard that it circled the globe; and by 1949, he could crash a couple of moons together to make a sun for a distant planet that didn’t already have one.
So when it’s time for him to relax, he can’t sit around and watch TV. He needs to do something spectacular, and if that means creating a creepy private exploding wax museum, then the rest of us are going to have to come along for the ride.
Continue reading Superman 1.27: House of Wax