#1. Focus groups.
Obviously, “Kneel Before Zod” is going to be the main theme of our re-education program, as we transition to a fully Zod-based society. It’s a simple message of global submission that everyone can understand. However, it’s not testing as well with all demographics, especially the elderly and the injured, who are having trouble getting into the correct kneeling position. It’s important to pay attention to the injured demographic, because there are a lot more of them now than there used to be.
Continue reading Superman II 2.38: A List of Things That Our Kryptonian Overlords Don’t Care About
Well, after centuries of stories assuring us that sacrificing something for true love is admirable and worthwhile, we finally have a movie that begs to differ. Superman II tells us that making sacrifices for love is selfish, and benefits bullies who try to take over the world. That’s why there are so many bullies currently running things. People need to keep that in mind.
Continue reading Superman II 2.35: Mainly About Hot Dogs
You have to be careful with stories, especially the big mythological ones.
If you leave them sitting around in people’s brains for long enough, stories become ideas, and then ideas become attitudes, which become worldviews. And that’s not a linear process, obviously. Your attitudes affect how you interpret stories, and how you choose the kinds of stories you’re interested in engaging with.
At a certain point, you’re not telling stories anymore. The stories are telling you.
Continue reading Superman II 2.33: Who You Callin’ Kleenex?
At this point in the blog, Superman II has two current plot tracks. In one thread, three powerful, untouchable people drop from the sky, and immediately start exploiting and gentrifying, destroying both the environment and the economy of a struggling rural town. Meanwhile, nerdy Clark Kent finally gets a date with the girl he’s been crushing on by revealing to her that he’s secretly rich and famous, and now he’s driving that point home by whisking her off to the ice mansion party palace that his dad built for him.
In other words, this is a movie about white people.
Now, obviously, that’s not unique for the genre. It turns out that big-ticket superhero movies tend to be produced by rich white people, so they’re usually about an individual or a small group of people who become immensely powerful, often from birth or by accident, who then battle the forces of disruption and social change, in service of the status quo.
And then there’s The Batman, which is all about how terrible white people are. And I have to say, it makes a compelling case.
Continue reading The Batman 94.1: This Would Be a Good Town Not to Be From
I grant you that life was simpler back then. In 1981, we didn’t have smartphones or streaming television, and the only computer I’d ever been in the same room with was a Commodore PET that could only run programs recorded on a cassette tape.
But even in simpler times, did we really need to be told in the instructions for a board game that you were supposed to “open up the gameboard and place it on a flat surface”?
Continue reading Superman II 2.19: Die Hard
Kryptonian Memory Bank:
Education Crystal # Three-Zero-Eight
Earth Culture (Section B)
Student Evaluation Form: Kal-El
As per Science Council guidelines, Kryptonian Memory Bank instructors are required to administer the following student evaluation form at the completion of this Education Crystal.
As a reminder, you will be evaluating the course that begins:
“Kryptonian Memory Bank, Education Crystal number Three-Zero-Eight. Earth Culture (Section B). Trees, by Joyce Kilmer of the planet Earth. I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree…”
Your evaluation will be sent to the Kryptonian Board of Education Crystals and will help us to improve the Education Crystal remote learning experience. Thank you for your participation.
Continue reading Superman II 2.17: The Curriculum
Okay, so we’ve currently got Clark Kent and Lois Lane locked up in a fuzzy pink honeymoon box, and we’re planning to keep them there until they make some progress on their relationship. It’s tough love, for sure, but they’ve spent more than forty years avoiding the obvious, and unless we do something about it, Lois is going to start throwing herself off of things again.
But this is a major turning point in the Superman/Lois relationship, and you can’t take that step lightly. In fact, in 1977 — a year before the first Superman movie was released — a panel of Superman writers, artists and editors were assembled to take part in a Super-Symposium.
It was such a big deal that they gave it four text pages in DC Special #5, asking the question: “SHOULD SUPERMAN MARRY LOIS LANE?”
Continue reading Superman II 2.15: The Symposium
Lois Lane is dead.
Now, you and I know that this is a comic book movie, and in superhero comics and other soap opera narratives, almost nobody dies permanently. Superman died in 1992, Spider-Man died in 2013, Wolverine died in 2014, and here in 2022, DC has just announced that in an upcoming issue of Justice League, they’re going to kill off all of their popular superheroes, and Zatanna. They always come back.
But Superman was the first comic book movie, and they hadn’t established any ground rules yet. The film has been ping-ponging from one genre to another, including psychedelic space opera, screwball comedy and James Bond villainy, and over the last ten minutes, it’s taken a strong swerve into disaster movie.
And if you watch 1970s disaster movies — The Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake, The Towering Inferno — then you know that there’s always one personable character who gets sacrificed, in service of the drama.
And Lois Lane is dead.
Continue reading Superman 1.98: Turn the World Around
The telephone trills.
It’s mid-November 1978 in sunny Los Angeles, and all four of the Warner Brothers, seated at their identical desks, reach for their four matching telephone receivers. “Hello?” they chirp, in unison. “These are the Warner Brothers.”
“Good afternoon, Mizter Brothers,” says the voice, in an imaginary Russo-Swiss-Mexican accent. “Zis is Alexander Salkind.”
Mr. Salkind is the executive producer of Superman: The Movie and the head of a bumbling, crumbling international crime syndicate, and he’s making a transatlantic person-to-persons call to make Warner Bros. an offer that they can’t refuse.
Continue reading Superman 1.94: The Shakedown
I want to check back in about the history of blockbuster movies, which I’ve been doing sporadically so I can figure out how they work. So far, I’ve talked about the first blockbuster, the 1912 Italian epic Quo Vadis, which set the bar for the kind of large-scale spectacle that audiences could expect from the high-prestige movies. We’ve also discussed the first American blockbuster, the 1915 Ku Klux Klan recruitment film The Birth of a Nation, which pioneered most of the foundational principles of narrative filmmaking, and also made the case for the continued oppression and second-class status of Black people in the United States.
And today, we’re going to look at Gone With the Wind, the flabbergastingly successful 1939 four-hour film epic about the death of the Old South, and… well, the birth of a nation, I suppose.
Continue reading Superman 1.87: The Other Movie About Black People