This past weekend, I went to see the much anticipated new movie Man of Steel, and I get it. I get the controversy about the messianic references: sent by his parents from his hostile home (planet) to escape a certain death and saved from his space capsule (see basket) and raised by foster parents (see Moses), and later he meets his real father in a spiritual vision who tells him of his fate to save his kind/mankind, that it took him 33 years after wandering around the country doing very little of significance, save help a few fellows here and there, but incognito, before he emerges as a man of purpose, that he constantly questions his humanity/his duality, until he accepts his fate to fight evil.
I get it that the Christian community may be outraged about this parallel story to that of Jesus but then there have been several other entries from Hollywood that tell the same or very similar stories about The One, such as Matrix. We remain thirsty for savior sagas – they’re fun and keep hope alive – and that’s just what the “S” symbol means back on Krypton: “Hope.”
However, I was less bothered by any of the savior symbolism than by the extent of the use/abuse and sheer level of over-the-top destruction by weaponry that thread throughout the movie.
I am not a prude. I am a fan of movies about conflict. Sometimes I even like movies about war!
I anticipated that I would have a good experience seeing the Man of Steel and I paid extra to see it in IMAX 3D. Also, I must admit that I expected to see some super knockdown fights and other defensive methods that Superman is renowned for.
But I was also looking for a more nuanced psychological treatment of the fight for truth, justice and the American way. What I got was a war movie – a war between the forces of evil from Krypton using all their weaponry against the U.S. military – and, oh yes, there was Superman in the middle of it all.
All the guns were pulled out for this war. However, the filmmakers lacked imagination.
The space warships, alien weaponry and even their uniforms were really disappointing since Star Trek was just produced. That franchise just does it so much better-and with better lighting. Yes, the Man of Steel takes place in the ancient days of the 20th century but since I’ve already had to suspend judgment to accept the story line, the designers could have at least created weapons and spacecraft of polished stainless steel.
I’m familiar with the Superman story and have been a fan since my childhood. I was simply not prepared for the mayhem in this latest installment. I’m not trashing the movie. It is action-filled, has a few dramatic points, features a very good-looking Superman, a love element (Lois Lane with red hair) and nostalgia for the family farm: all the essentials for an authentic Superman movie.
Here’s my real beef: I initially planned to update you on the fate of Valor – remember, the gun that wrote to you a few months ago.
While watching the Man of Steel, it dawned on me that Valor’s message would get lost, perhaps forever, in the fever of contagious summer movies that feature weapons/guns of massive power and the glorification of war games featuring space aliens of all stripes: a man on a white horse who wears a mask, shoots silver bullets and hangs out with an Indian of dubious tribal origin; a gun wielding president defending the White House, to name a few.
The message being delivered after a long upstream battle is that Valor has found a higher purpose, at last. That’s right. Valor has been recycled – but not for any small or even industrial purpose. Valor is being sold as pieces of jewelry, some bracelets designed “to resemble a gun’s oval shaped trigger guard” or as cuff links and, in most cases, the proceeds benefit a charitable purpose such as police gun buy-back programs and anti-gun violence education.
It’s not a new idea, argues one of two such jewelry designers who are suing one another for the right to be declared the first to come up with it. Consider this defense she offered, from Isaiah 2:4, “And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares.” Think of what a wonderful gift Valor would make: a former instrument of death, now a thing of beauty, grace, style – and to benefit the greater good.
I’d like to think that the Man of Steel – you know, the one who, in the good old days, bent the barrels of guns with his bare hands – would really love what happened to this former gun.
Where is your Valor?
Antonia Williams-Gary may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org