She is scared.
Before, there was nothing. Now… she is terrified. Like the crisp snaps of applause reverberating around a jazz lounge, mini rockets desperate for flight, she has suddenly become aware. And still, not quite. Struggling to awaken from a foggy dream that she doesn’t even remember slipping into, hideous creatures surround her on all sides. Demon horns and deathly halos, jagged mouths and obscenely white teeth.
Her world of miracle has become a haunted house.
A hall of horrors.
A spinning, endless night.
The girl is scared.
And we are scared with her.
For of course… the girl is the Comic Book Industry.
We bite our nails in dismay. Silly consumers and believers that we are. We never imagined that the fashion show of comic beauty would degrade into this aggrandized, defamation of her splendor. A ring of organized prostitution, stripping her of virtue even as it sells her form to the highest bidder. Our safe haven has become the treehouse that the bullies took over. The heroes that inspired us have become dark glaring things. Idolized monoliths, sheathed in fearfully grim fatalities that render them indistinct from the shadows we need saving from.
Heroes aren’t heroes anymore.
The truth-stranger-than-fiction has moved in to evict the fiction altogether.
Her reality is coming undone at the core.
The little girl is scared.
To say that we want a good Superman is an understatement. The truth is… we NEED a good Superman. In the ideal world, it’s practically impossible to get Superman wrong. To portray him incorrectly. To divorce his legacy from his nobility.
But ohhhh that troublesome gap, stubbornly stuck between “practically” and “impossible.” See, humans have always needed an icon. Regardless of the liberal rhetoric we may conjure about being our own gods and sources of goodness, there is an inherent awareness within all of us that we are not good enough to be the barometer. The measuring stick. That there is a Greater Good outside of us from which all true, untainted Goodness flows, and which we have graciously been allowed to be a part of.
Which is why we will always have this instinct to look to someone or something to inspire us. To remind us of the Greater Good that presides over us. Of the Goodness that flows all around us, humbly offering tainted, parched souls a drink. And so, perhaps without knowing it, the world awaited a magnificent injection of hope at the announcement of “Man of Steel.”
It didn’t come.
At least, not for most.
And Batman V Superman was the mallet driving the stake home.
We were alone, it would seem. Robbed of, arguably, THE most iconic, light filled, hope inspiring, incredibly powerful superheroes ever created.
But then Season 2 Supergirl happened.
And in fits and spurts around the globe, dead hearts exhumed their faith filled cadence.
Superman is here.
He is strong, but not so strong that you forget to root for him. Sure in the back of your mind, you’re thinking that Superman ought to be a little stronger or faster than he seems, but all of that is petty fantalk better spent in lively debate with friends. No, we are captured- enamoured- by his way with civilians. How the burden of being Superman does not weigh him down into some Nietzsche imbued depression. Being Superman is not easy. But it IS a pleasure. It is worth it.
Wow. A Superman who… actually enjoys his job. His double lives. He does not live for ease. He lives for purpose. And beyond that, we get to witness the credibility of his outstanding nobility in the way the government treats him.
With immense respect. It is an honor to be in Superman’s presence. And, of course, he organically makes you feel like he is the one honored to be in your presence. People TRUST him. He’s ladened with incredible power, sure, but Superman has never been like the others. For every single Justice Leaguer, their backstory is their present story. Their past a crucial element in the crucible of their identity. Except Superman.
He’s just a servant.
Not of man.
Not of abusive ideals.
But of good.
Like Mother Theresa, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr… all great people, all legends, all SERVANTS. And respected because of it. And even though each of them had enemies, the enemies were very specific. By and large, the people themselves- the ones receiving the beautiful life poured out on their behalf- had great love for each of them.
The girl is a little less terrified now. She knows there are still monsters in the dark… she knows there are still unwitting people in powerful places who just don’t get it… she knows that the new saviors remain largely undiscovered… she knows all these things… but her schizophrenic pulse has nearly leveled out.
Because HE is here.
Superman is a big hearted servant, who intentionally chooses the road less travelled, and finds fulfillment in living out his purpose rather than using his dynamic power to contrive contentment in ease.
This is the Superman that Supergirl gave us.
This is the Superman we deserve.