(Jonathan Ryan posting for Jen Schlameuss-Perry.)
For a year or two now, I’ve been wanting to write about a song that I love, “Waiting for Superman” by Iron and Wine, but I didn’t know what I wanted to say. As it happens, I had some time off a few weeks ago and finally got to see “Man of Steel,” and that song just kept ringing in my ears. If you haven’t heard it, take a listen:
The song (though not the least bit related to the movie) really captures the feel and the kind of heaviness of the movie (a general, and in my opinion, valid criticism that several friends have made about DC hero movies). Most of the movie is a sort of waiting for Superman—Clark is waiting to find himself, the viewer is waiting for him to find himself and the world, while not really knowing it, is waiting for him, too. Everyone needed him to be Superman, including himself. He was burdened by not knowing or living what he was meant to be—as Jor-El says, “…an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”
We’re never happy when we’re not living our potential—Clark was no different. Sometimes, being what we’re called to be isn’t especially pleasant, either. Ask the Prophet Jeremiah. His calling was a total bummer. He didn’t want his job when it was given to him, and he didn’t like it when he was in the midst of it…or when he got killed for doing it. But, it was, in his own words, “like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in his bones. I grow weary holding back, I cannot.” (Jer: 20:9) He had to do it. “Man of Steel” had that sort of quality—that reluctance mingled with necessity. His journey to becoming Superman wasn’t joyful for him—he even watched his father die rather than reveal himself.
When he was discerning what he should do, Clark went to Church, and he had a useful conversation with a priest (which, as a Catholic, I really appreciated) who doesn’t tell him what to do, but offers perspective on faith. And when he finally decides how he should handle Zod’s threat to the Earth, he does it with conviction and even love, but not lots of joy. Lois questions him about why he is surrendering to Zod and he responds, “I’m surrendering to mankind. There’s a difference.” The action he takes is surrender; he offers himself, maybe as a sacrifice, to the people of earth. He doesn’t know how it will go, and he seems to be resigned.
The “S” on Clark’s suit means “hope” on Krypton. He is a source of hope. He is a source of help. But, his hope seems to be something of a burden—at least at this stage in the game. Maybe when he meets Batman he’ll cheer up. I guess he would be the cheery one in that relationship. Ultimately, I liked “Man of Steel” and I’m interested to see how they develop his character in the upcoming “Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.”