Long ago, in a time not so different from ours, a small kid was given two comics by his busy father to shut him the hell up and pre-occupy him. In a busy supermarket, in the South Bronx, this five year old clutched two comics. One: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” the other “Action Comics.”
Feeling awfully let down by the void he felt reading the Turtles in a half shell, this young boy read the “Action Comics” issue, and he read it again. This, my friends, is the day his obsession with comics began, and this is the day his sheer obsession for Superman began. That boy was me. And now you know the rest of the story…
I’ve written about Superman before, but 2006 was a great year to be a Superman fan, folks. Love him or hate him, Superman buffs were spoiled by Warner Bros., and we took it with pride. DVD Releases by the barrel fulls, and the return of the man of steel surely set forth a memorably year of the “S.” And if you saw the DVD Gift Guide, you could already tell which release I suggested for the readers.
Granted, many will argue that “Superman Returns” was not good, but I beg to differ. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Any film that dismisses “Superman III” and “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” deserves a second look. “Superman Returns” was a treat if you were a fan, and Singer seemed to revel in giving the fans nods and finally delivering the film we’ve wanted all along in the midst of constantly halted production from Warner. It had its flaws, sure, but I enjoyed it and replaying it for the third time has had no effect on its entertainment value.
While Bosworth’s performance as Lois Lane is wooden, and the overall resolve of the plot is abrupt, there are so many wonderful scenes of pure subtlety that do not hold our hands or attempt to be flashy. This film relies on the visual emotions to get its story across and not sound. Most acting is done through the eyes and face, and Singer shows that with flying colors by painting a more epic vision of Superman sans the camp. I’m sure we’ll be able to see Superman throw down with a megalomaniacal alien in the tentatively titled “Superman: The Man of Steel,” which Singer promises will deliver more action.
And who can forget the “Superman Ultimate Collection” which, excluding the utter screw-up from Warner on “Superman III,” is quite possibly one of the best DVD releases in the last five years. Every edition of every Superman film included in that special tin warrants constant replay. The transfers are excellent, and the films still retain their entertainment value, whether it’s an afroed pimp reveling at Superman’s suit in “Superman: The Movie,” or Clark Kent watching Lois serve food in “Superman Returns.” And let’s not forget the “Christopher Reeve Superman Collection” which also manages to please those split on “Superman Returns.”
I highly look forward to watching “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut,” and the endless extras and documentaries. And in the midst of this onslaught of Superman, there was merchandise like books, and comics, video games, wonderful statues (I can’t afford), and the releases of the “Justice League” series, and the underrated “Superman” animated series, all of which are worth a watch, by far.
Then there was “Look, Up in the Sky!” a wonderful documentary chronicling the origins of Superman from bald super villain, to hulking murderous vigilante, right down to his current incarnations. “Look, up in the Sky!” was an informative tribute to fan exploring the start of the character, to the inception of Singer’s film, with interviews with people like Geoff Johns, and Stan Lee. And there was “Hollywoodland,” another bio-pic, about the last days of Christopher Reeve before his mysterious death which is being received with numerous accolades, and mixed reviews from the lot of critics around the country. But there were our caveats.
“Smallville” just continues to drag on like a wounded dog with awful writing, consistently terrible acting from Welling, Kreuk, and Durance, wholly inconsistent storytelling, and a fifth season outshined by the truly excellent “Heroes,” which would make you a Nazi if you haven’t seen it by now. What started out as a creative re-telling has become an awful retread with the story of Superman now taking a supporting position in exchange for more screen time for Kruek. And we suffered through another “for the sake of argument, Superman is Christ” scenario with the novel “The Gospel According to the World’s Greatest Superhero.”
In spite of that, 2006 brought many fans out of the wood work, and what with a planned epic of the early days of Krypton, and the sequel to “Superman Returns,” which is now in the works, we’ll surely see another year like 2006, soon. I’m looking forward to it.
And if you haven’t seen “Pan’s Labyrinth” by now, you’re missing out.
Happy New Year!