May 022014

I rarely watch action movies anymore, I think due to old-age fussiness, but this weekend, my husband convinced me to watch Man of Steel. I enjoyed the plot, I like Amy Adams, and the John Travolta who played Superman wasn’t bad. Russel Crowe is insufferable, and as far as plot went, it didn’t touch me deep down inside as I think a Christ-centered narrative should. But it was still a watchable movie…mostly.

We call my younger son “Hulk Smash.” My natural reflex these days is to breathe deeply whenever he comes up the stairs after playing in the basement because he is sure to have wet hands (still dripping from the toilet bowl) or be carrying a pile of dirty clothes or half of the pieces to my contact lens case or have heaven-only-knows-what from heaven-only-knows-where sticking to his front. I have learned to sense the sounds of destruction. If the quiet is oppressive, he’s found his way into the bathroom. If there is thumping, that’s usually a small wooden chair he’s been trying to break the floor with for a year now. If there is a sharp smacking sound coming from far away, he is throwing toy cars onto the table in his room. I can tell which room in the house a noise is coming from and I can distinguish the sounds of each door opening. He’s okay to open the laundry room doors and his bedroom door and even his sister’s, but, too often, I hear the bell-like ring of the front doorknob doing a quarter turn or of my bedroom door with its soft thump as it hits the frame.

The movie begins with a scene from the planet Krypton, which is about to self-destruct. The Kryptonites have been unwise with their use of the planet’s resources and the ground begins to sway, break apart, fall into the miasma (swish swash gulp). Next comes Superman’s journey to the Arctic to find out about his past, which has always confused me for multiple reasons, but, at any rate, he went there and found his father’s projected consciousness and decided to take him and half of the tundra (crumble crumble rip) away with him. All well and good, and then along comes the bad guy and, rather than leading him out into the quiet countryside to continue their disagreement, he takes him right into downtown with all of those tall buildings that he likes to leap in one matchless bound (groan tinkle crash).

Before settling down to watch this movie, I spent a full day watching my little boy fling his fork and plate across the kitchen after every meal, break his sister’s small rocking horse by throwing it off the couch, pluck the leaves from a potted plant that I was silly enough to think would look darling on the kitchen table, do a pull-up to the counter with his solid little muscles, and carpet the floor with scratch paper. He is a child of destruction, messes, and unconcern. After he pokes a hole straight through a fresh loaf of bread, I’m the one who has to cut around it when the kids want a sandwich. After he breaks the CD drive on the computer, my husband is the one who has to try to repair it (unsuccessfully). After everything he does, this little man walks blithely away, swinging his arms and scanning for the next domino on the brink of falling.

The problem with this Man of Steel movie is: who is going to clean up this mess? When Superman rips into skyscrapers with his laser vision or he and the bad guy collide into semi trucks and throw each other through windows, glass splintering all around them, where is the giant Mom in the sky with her broom and vacuum? That’s the point where my head was in my husband’s shoulder. Superman doesn’t turn around and offer to use his super strength and super speed to help clean up and no one seems to mind, as Superman walks away unscathed, that Metropolis is a city-sized mess of bricks and glass. They’re just grateful they survived.


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