The Geek Life: Celebrates Supermans Birthday -

The Geek Life: Celebrates Supermans Birthday

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The Geek Life: Celebrates Supermans Birthday

Our Favorite Man of Steel

By Robert T. Trate     February 29, 2012


The Geek Life is a weekly look at what is going on in the Geek Culture. Movies, Comics, Books, Video Games, and TV Shows encompass more than just release dates and reviews. This week the Geek Life Celebrates Superman’s Birthday.
In 1938, Superman first came onto the scene. His mark has undoubtedly been felt upon not just pop culture, but the world. To many he is a symbol of truth, justice, and the American way. For others he is an overgrown boy scout. For this Geek, Superman is first and foremost Christopher Reeve.
I was only three years old when Reeve put on the blue tights for the first of four times. He was more than just an embodiment of the hero. He took the mantle of Superman to another level. It was everything to him and it reflected in his work. Always the hero, Reeve never played the villain and didn’t do anything to tarnish the image of the Man of Steel. Today, many of our movie superheroes are just actors. They are nothing more than thespians playing a role. I often wonder if Chris Evans looks at each script and thinks, “Would Cap want me to do this?” The role, much like the one of Superman, is bigger than the actor. This, however, is a discussion for another time.
Since February 29th is considered to be Superman’s birthday, I thought I would share with you my favorite Superman movie moments.

A Look back at Superman

The part of Superman is a tough one. In casting, the studio has to essentially find two men. Superman is, after all, the real identity whereas Clark Kent is the disguise. Christopher Reeve embodied both so perfectly that to this day our image of both Kent and Superman originates with his portrayal. Does anyone think of the Superfriends’ Superman or Dean Cain from Lois and Clark as their Superman? No.

A Look back at Superman

Many of us were overjoyed when Warner Brothers and Richard Donner got back together and released Donner’s cut of Superman 2. Despite the audition and screen test scenes I don’t think I am alone in saying I didn’t care for it. I often Geek out for director’s cuts and alternate versions of films (Aliens and Blade Runner being two of my favorites). This new cut left me wanting Richard Lester’s version all the more. The biggest gapping hole was no Clark and Lois at Niagara Falls. The first movie established these characters. We know they cared about each other and now it was time to see that on screen. These scenes also gave Reeve the chance to really shine as Kent. When he put on the blue suit he was the Man of Steel, but take it off and who was Clark? We saw this in spades that when Kal-El was stripped of his powers. Reeve truly delivered an alien who had to face what it means to be human.

A Look back at Superman

Superman 3 has its warts (boy does it ever) and I’ll not deny it. From the very get-go this was not going to be Superman or Superman 2. However, it does have two bright shining moments. The first is Reeve’s Superman swirling down the drain. The darkness is still a bit light, but the anger and frustration when Superman sees himself in the mirror comes out through Reeve’s eyes. The villain(s) in Superman 3 are another joke and nothing that offers any sort of big confrontation. The final moment and big confrontation in Superman 3 is the Kent vs. Superman Junkyard Brawl. Clearly outmatched, Kent has no way of defeating the Dark Man of Steel. It is his triumph of the spirit that prevails and that moment re-enforces Reeve forever as the one true Superman.
Sorry that this week’s Geek Life didn’t feature a visit to a movie location, me battling a giant crab on a mysterious island, or how I found yet another awesome collection of movie soundtracks on LP. With it being a very unique day on the calendar I thought I would salute one of my all time favorite movie characters on what is observed as his birthday. And thank you, Christopher Reeve, for making us believe that that man could fly.
The best way to end this Geek Life is to press play below:

Robert Trate writes three weekly columns for Mania: the DVD Shopping Bag, the Toy Maniac, and The Geek Life. Follow Robert on Twitter for his for Geek ramblings, Cosplay photos and film criticisms.


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jedibanner 2/29/2012 8:02:48 AM

To each it's own but me, I preder the Richard Donner's version of S2 and the way it's done is more serious, makes more sense and has less of the cartonish stuff then what was released.

And I still like the 3rd one (always a fan of Richard Pryor).

redhairs99 2/29/2012 8:53:12 AM

 True I see Reeve as my idealized Superman, but I still love Dean Cain's turn as Clark and Superman.

I also have to disgaree with you on the Superman and Clark as the disguise comment.  Personally, I like to see the dynamic as Clark Kent is who the guys is.  Superman is the disguise he wears that enables him to use his powers to help people but still can maintain his home life whether it's with his parents or with Lois.

The values that Martha and Jonathan Kent instilled in him as a boy is who Kal-El is.  It's the reason he wants to use his powers to the benefit of mankind and not to enslave them.  This is probably why I like Dean Cain's turn so much.  His Clark was not overly clumsy and simple, but he was different enough from his Superman persona that we suspend the disbelief of hiding under a pair of glasses.

I too am not a huge fan of Donner's Cut of Superman 2.  It has some strengths but there are a few points that keep me from liking it more.  First (and this isn't too big of a deal) they reused the stupid turning the world back on it's axis gag from the 1st.  True this was the intended ending to Part 2 and was only used for the end of part 1 because the studio demanded the change for a bigger, more fantastic ending.  The major issue I have with Donner's Cut is that Clark returns to the diner at the end of the movie to beat up the guy who beat him up when he lost his powers.  The problem is that Superman turned the world back on it's axis and therefore the guy never actually beat up Clark and Clark never lost his powers.  Now, Clark goes to the diner and beats the crap out of some random dude who has never met him before.  That just isn't something that Superman would do in my opinion.  

All that said, Happy Birthday Kal-El! You have been and always will be my favorite of all super-heroes...a shining beacon of hope in an otherwise dark world.  Thanks for all the great adventures in various incarnations over the past 74 years!

goldeneyez 2/29/2012 9:44:29 AM

 I like Christopher Reeve as Superman.  I think to my generation he probably always will be the true Superman.

As far as the Superman is the real person and Clark is the disguise, I've seen it portrayed the other way as well Superman the disguise while Clark is the real person.  I think they went this route more so in Superman The Animated Series.  I think in Kill Bill Vol. 2, Bill gives the speech to Beatrix about how Superman is the real person and Clark was the disguise as far as how Superman viewed humans (bumbling idiots).  I think both are valid takes on Superman because the Superman mythos is so big it can be viewed from a lot of different angles.

redhairs99 2/29/2012 9:50:48 AM

 Agreed, goldeneyez, I won't begrudge anyone for liking either take.  But I will disagree with them all the time.  It's all personal preference.

monkeyfoot 2/29/2012 2:08:26 PM

I agree that which interpretation of Supes you like is a personal choice. Just as you can like a superhero charcter through many versions created by different writer/artist in the comics, so too you can like the different screen ideas of them. For Batman, I like TAS, probably most of all, but I also like aspects of Tim Burton's and Chris Nolan's. For Superman I kind of lean towards the Dean Cain and hisTAS one alittle more in that I'm of the "Clark is real" and the Man of Steel is just the job/calling.

Still, I do have a love of the Donner/Reeve's version as well which is lovingly capped off with Singer's Superman Returns. Yeah, I said it! I liked SR! I love the concept of Superman as the Space Jesus sent by the near divine Kryptonian father to not only save us but to also stand as the example for us to shoot for in our lives as what we can and should be.  And Singer's fanboy version served as the perfect endcap to that idea of Superman.

Wiseguy 3/1/2012 5:04:14 AM

Happy B-Day Supes. I wish we could turn the clock back on you.....

I hate the version you refer to monkeyfoot. I just hate how overtime they always keep building Superman up. First, his dad was just a scientist agreat scientist but only that. He shot his son to earth only to give him a chance to survive, not to save earth or mankind.

I don't mind him being a boy scout, that was because of his traditional mid-west upbringing by the Kents.

Anyway all this revisionism or retconning is what has made Superman less than super as time goes by. He wasn't meant to be omnipotent, immortal and unflawed.  And Jor-El sure as hell wasn't a god.

monkeyfoot 3/1/2012 7:54:00 AM

Wise, yeah the Jesus concept for Superman isn't my view. For me Clark is the midwestern raised farmboy who eventually learns his origins and creates the Superman identity to help people. But the Donner/Reeves version was a great idea and worked perfectly for the first couple of movies. And also that was how he was being done in the comics all that time. Clark was the bumbling character he put on while the super genius Kryptonian living among humans was the way he really was. 

millean 3/1/2012 7:56:15 AM

I love me some Christopher Reeve, but he absolutely has played a villian before.  I remember watching Above Suspicion (yes, had to Google that title) where he plays a cop who suffers an injury leaving him paralyzed (the irony there is creepy), and yes, he turns out to be the bad guy.  I never will forget that movie because I had such a hard time coping with Superman being the bad guy.  :(

I say Clark is "real", yet he is the one wearing the disguise.  I can't think of another superhero who wears a disguise in real life (though I am sure there are some out there).  That is the opposite of Batman, where Bruce is the disguise, but not the one wearing it.  I always loved that comparision showing the differences between the World's Finest heroes.

The Donner cut of Superman 2 was a LOT better to me than the original.  I wish we could have seen Donner's complete vision for both movies.  (However, I will admit that I never cared for the backwards spinning globe - that was just stupid, regardless which movie it was in).

Good article.  Makes me more anxious to see the upcoming Man Of Steel.  (Hope they do big blue justice).


karas1 3/1/2012 8:02:34 AM

redhairs, whether or not the guy in the diner actually beat up Clark in the revised reality, he was still the kind of bully who would do such a thing and the idea that the depowered Clark was/would have been his first victim is absurd.  He had the personality of a supervillian without the powers.  He deserved a little chastisement.

millean 3/1/2012 8:04:54 AM

By the way, what is the status of the Superman lawsuit?  Last I heard, DC had the character, but they were going to lose the rights to his origin story or something ridiculous along those lines after 2013.  Did they ever settle, or is that still the case?  Somebody please set me straight!

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