Saturday, July 18, 2015

Bread And Circuses

I haven't ever been to Comic-Con, though it certainly seems as though it would be a place for me to hang out and soak up my brand of pop culture. I didn't go again this year, which seems like such a shame, what with all the superheros and Star Wars flitting about San Diego last week. Instead, I stuck around the house, watching the press releases and photos that came across the wire and waited for those "surprises" that nerds like myself wait for all year long. There was this moment, when a trailer for the new Batman versus Superman movie was "leaked." This was the kind of event for which I had been hoping.
Then I started to reflect on it. What was this movie really about, after all? I have become resigned the notion that every so often the super-authority of Superman has to be challenged. Not by bad guys, but by a good guy. How else could you explain Spider Man taking a pop at Supes? As it turns out, it was all just a misunderstanding and the two of them ended up palling around in Metropolis for a while after it was made clear who the boss really was.
That wasn't the case with Frank Miller's Batman. In The Dark Knight Returns, Bruce Wayne wants to knock Clark Kent's block off, secret identities aside. It made me think about all the different superhero fights that I had imagined in brackets throughout history. Superman always ends up with the top seed. The only way to beat the man from Krypton? Allegory.
In Miller's Dark Knight, and apparently in the new movie, Superman is suspect because of his power and authority. He is not of the people. He is above them. Superior. Bats is of the people, even if his alter ego who lives in stately Wayne Manor is not. Both men fight crime. That whole truth, justice and the American Way thing. Like political parties. Both of them working for the betterment of society, but their methods sometimes differ. Ideologically, they want what's best for Gotham and Metropolis and the tri-state area. They don't always agree on exactly what that looks like.
In the meantime, while these caped crusaders bash each other about the face and head, hoping to change their opponents' point of view, Lex Luthor watches and waits. He's the one who stands to make money off this deal. And if Superman and Batman are beating each other up, evil geniuses who don't care about global warming pause while counting their money for just a moment and wait for the spectacle outside to continue. Or maybe it's just a comic book.

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