I’m going to be very blunt right now, I’ve never wanted to be a father. The idea of having screaming kids running around and crap filled diapers to take care of never appealed to me. I honestly can’t think of any young male who would want that. Well, a sane one anyway. But nonetheless, my wife is pregnant, mostly because I’m not the type of guy who is going to deny my wife of something I think most women want. Over the past 5 months the fear in me has been growing, I have felt out of control of my life because of this huge responsibility. It has felt like an impending freight train, and I hear the horn getting closer every day. But on April 16, I was given a calm and beautiful moment of lucidity from an old friend. His name is Superman.
I grew up loving Superman, he was my favorite character in any form of fiction, and still is. I was 4 when I first saw Superman: The Movie with Christopher Reeve, and that is when my fascination with the character started. I think Christopher Reeve’s reassuring smile and acts of good in the movie made me feel safe, and I loved the idea of being able to fly. My journey as an artist started at that moment as I started drawing Superman, and constantly requested coloring books with DC characters in them. I would color all the drawings of Superman first, then Batman, onto The Flash, and down the line. Two of my best childhood memories also include the character. Getting the Super Powers Superman figure is one, my Mom gave it to me on a day she came home from work just because. And it hangs in my synapses because it was better than any Christmas or birthday I can remember. Another time I wrote a letter to Superman addressed to The Daily Planet, and got a letter with an autographed picture back. I was beside myself, and of course I now realize that it was just my Mom who did it, but how cool is my Mom right? I have continued following the character all through my life, with the obvious lapses in high school but rediscovered my old friend in 2003. I gobbled up all the comics I could get my hands on, and a few years later, was excited with the prospect of a new Superman film. How did that go? Let’s just say if I saw Bryan Singer in the street, I would at least tell him to suck a bag of dicks. I know, not classy, but it’s not a punch and he isn’t worth the jail time. As you can imagine, I’ve been viewing this new film with a huge amount of trepidation, but this last trailer sealed the deal for me. I cannot wait for this film.
It’s going to be nice to have something to point to comic enthusiasts, Batman fans in particular (who like to drop their pants and defecate on Kal-El) as an example for why Superman is awesome. We absolutely need him now, especially in light of recent events. I have been looking at the world as it is now, while thinking about the world I grew up in, and it has been one of the many reasons I feel fear as a father. This world has become exponentially more sick and chaotic; psychopaths shooting kids at school, shootings at movie theaters, bombs at marathons for God’s sake. It comes as no surprise to me that Batman is as popular as he is, he comes from a world of psychos. It can even be argued that he himself is a psychopath. A character who inhabits a world as black and desolate as Batman’s would thrive now because of the parallels to our own. The nihilistic and mad nature of his world is beginning to bleed into ours, and it is truly frightening. Right now, we need the absolute antithesis to fight the disease of despair, and Superman is the ultimate symbol of hope.
Now I know what you are thinking, “He’s an alien God blah, blah, blah,” Ok, I get it. You aren’t an alien with god-like powers, and neither am I. That isn’t the part that gives one hope or is relatable Superman’s story is actually very close to that of Batman’s, he just decides to approach how he deals with it in a very different way. Both lose their parents, and gain new ones. Both are isolated and alone, but find purpose. Both could choose a path of destruction, but choose the path of good. But where they divide is approach. Superman is a symbol of hope to us, he is an example of how we could better our species by just acting like him. He is kind, thoughtful, constantly thinks of the greater good. You can get the sense of this from the trailer as he voluntarily gets handcuffed and goes in to a military base to expose himself to the world. He could break through the handcuffs no problem, but he respects humanity and human life. And that is key to his character. His ultimate weakness is not Kryptonite, or magic, it is his love of humanity. That right there is why Superman is absolutely relevant, and will always be relevant. We have lost the value of life. When there are people being slaughtered in our streets, we need a huge morality check. When our President comes on T.V. angry he didn’t get legislation passed, but a few days before didn’t show the same anger when lives were lost, we need someone to remind us all of the value of life. Through his strength, Superman reminds us of the fragility and preciousness our lives, and in turn, our loved ones. He reminds us we have potential, and that we could accomplish so much if we just lay aside our hubris.
What really spoke to me in the trailer, and the Superman Mythos, is how important fathers can be. There is a part in the trailer where Jonathan Kent reveals to Clark his true lineage, and the exchange choked me up. When Clark says “Can’t I just keep pretending to be your son?” and Jonathan replies “You ARE my son.”, it makes me tear up because that is the father EVERYONE wants. He gives him unconditional love, no matter what. That is the father I want to be, and I plan on being that for my daughter. Jor-El makes the ultimate sacrifice for his son, his love is what saves baby Kal-El, and in turn his love saves humanity on multiple occasions. And like all fathers, Jor-El’s hopes and dreams live through Kal-El, and his legacy is the son he gave to Earth. The story of Superman can teach men how to be great fathers. The story of Superman can teach men their children are more than someone who depends on them, they are their legacy.
I cannot wait to share these stories with my children, and I cannot wait to be a father now. I have hope for my kids, and I will do my best to raise them to be my legacy, and to be heroes in their own right. I urge you to watch the trailer again, with everything I have just explained in mind, and see if it doesn’t paint it in a different light. And may I also suggest Superman :Birthright, it is a graphic novel that really touches on the greatest themes of Superman. It is a story on how love and hope can conquer and save us all. You just have to not discount the Man of Steel on you pre-conceived notions, and look deeper. Thank you for taking the time to read this, it is very personal to me.