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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

What do Superman Returns & The Da Vinci Code have in common?

BIG-TIME spoiler alert ahead … not that you wouldn’t guess it within the first reel.
Both Superman Returns and The Da Vinci Code play off the notion that Christ is mortal — or mortal enough to spawn heirs.
There’s been no outcry, no protests, no picketing over Superman Returns (unless you count complaints that Kate Bosworth is no Margot Kidder and Brandon Routh is no Christopher Reeve). And certainly there’s no good reason to protest the movie on religious grounds, but then, why protest Da Vinci Code either? What they have in common is the subtext of divinity versus humanity. Where they differ is in the seriousness with which they appear to raise the issue — although I would argue that Da Vinci Code is no more serious, in its genre way (and certainly no more high-minded or realistic) than Superman Returns.
In the case of SR, perhaps the kind of people who protest this sort of thing are mollified that Superman is just a comic character, not a JC stand-in — despite the fusillade of JC references that are hurled onto the screen like meteors aimed at Metropolis. Jor-El (the holographic Marlon Brando, referenced in a pane of Fortress of Solitude flat-screen-TV ice) gave his “only son” that humankind could learn to be just a little bit nobler. Director Bryan Singer’s Superman hovers, Christ-like, in space, where he spends his nights filtering out the babble of the world’s prayers like a messianic antenna. He decides which prayer to answer, and in what order. The central dilemma of Superman, and of Superman Returns, is how to prioritize.
And yet, Superman Returns is about social ineptitude. Superman returns from a five-year walkabout in space, and Lois is so furious at his lack of social grace — he never said goodbye — that she’s channeled her rage into a good-riddance essay that has won her a Pulitzer. The essay probably doesn’t mention what she hasn’t really discussed with her new boyfriend, either — that she spent a night with the Man of Steel. She slept with her source!
Full disclosure: I’ve written a Lois Lane comic, (a 5-page story within Superman: Secret Files & Origins) and did a rewrite on a Superman script. Should that make me more inclined to like or dislike Superman Returns? Dunno. I doubt the success of the movie will influence sales of my little comic one way or the other.
But if I were a religious protester, one inclined not to see the forest for the trees, I’d protest this movie’s depiction of Clark Kent, not of the savior Superman who answers the most desperate prayers. The human in him knocks up a girl, leaves without saying goodbye, and doesn’t pay child support. What would Jesus do?

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One Response to “What do Superman Returns & The Da Vinci Code have in common?”

  1. Peter G says:

    Right on Jami! Geez, and it all bored the hell out of me, too. Guess that’s what happens when you hit the audience over the head with messianic references. Warner Bros and DC owe us big time! Pray they don’t copy the storyline in the sequels like they did with this super crap.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon