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'Man of Steel': Why Superman endures

June 13, 2013|By Alexandra Le Tellier

Will “Man of Steel” become Warner Bros.’ next big superhero franchise? Certainly the studio hopes so, especially now that the “Dark Knight” trilogy has completed. But Superman fans are also invested, crossing their fingers that the movie, in theaters Friday, will soar.

In one of the many promotional trailers for “Man of Steel,” Superman’s biological dad Jor-El (played by Russell Crowe) reminds us of the story’s moral and why it still endures, even 75 years after its creation. He says: "Every person can be a force for good, free to forge his own destiny."

In a recent Op-Ed in our pages, Larry Tye, author of "Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero," took readers for a trip down memory lane.  

QUIZ: How well do you know the Man of Steel?

“He helped give America the backbone to wage war against the Nazis, the Depression and the Red Menace,” writes Tye of the Superman character. “He remains as intimate to kids from Boston to Belgrade and has adult devotees who, like Talmudic scholars, parse his every utterance.”

He goes on:

“Not just Superman but his rivals too were more than they seemed, and more than fantasy. Many were real-world menaces, which made the Superman stories timely and authentic. Superman stood up to Hitler and Stalin before America did. The Metropolis Marvel used his radio broadcast to expose the savagery of the Ku Klux Klan, and in his comic books, he took on slumlords and wife-beaters.”

Obviously, as long as there is evil in our world, the concept of a superhero like Superman will resonate. For Tye, that will be until the end of time.

“The more that flesh-and-blood role models let us down, the more we turn to fictional ones who stay true. With them, and especially with Superman, it is about the possibility — of getting the girl, saving the world (or at least Lois and Jimmy) and having it our way. Our longest-lasting hero will be with us as long as we need a champion, which should be until the end of time.”

You can read Tye’s Op-Ed in full here: “Superman, a hero with staying power.”


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Follow Alexandra Le Tellier on Twitter @alexletellier

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