Now, I thought Superman said that flying was the safest way to travel, but here we are six minutes later, and Air Force One is approaching Metropolis International one engine short. And it was the best one, too; this is the one where if you lose it, everybody just gives up and doesn’t want to fly in an airplane anymore.
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.