June 25, 2018
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Why do we keep rebooting Superman?

AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures. | BDN
AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures. | BDN
This film publicity image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Henry Cavill as Superman, left, and Amy Adams as Lois Lane in "Man of Steel."
By Emi Kolawole, The Washington Post

Superman and a trauma patient seem to have something in common: resuscitation.  The “Man of Steel,” the name of this latest dose of cinematic defibrillation, is one in a growing line of attempts to bring Superman successfully back to the silver screen. But why do we, by way of Hollywood, keep doing this?

You can almost hear Hollywood screaming “clear!” over the red-caped hero this time around, hoping that the character with his American-as-apple-pie story will bolt upright and, with his superhuman strength, prop up the tentpole this summer. The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday gave the film one and a half stars (kryptonite for the discerning film goer) and offers a list of flaws in a particularly potent critique.

“It takes nearly an hour for Clark to don the iconic red cape and “S”-imprinted chest plate, which turns out to be not even the midpoint in a story that, with its back-and-forths, jump cuts and flashbacks and repetitively percussive action sequences, seems to have been filmed by an easily distracted child or sentient garden hose.”

But wait, screams Hollywood, as it cranks up the voltage, we can save him! (A sequel to “Man of Steel” is already in the works.) But why?

Why do we keep rebooting Superman, pumping more time, money and special effects (oh, the special effects!) into the franchise?  Perhaps it’s because many of us have a collective, reflexive love of the iconic American superhero, guaranteeing that at least a sizable portion of us plant our backsides in the seats. Or maybe it’s because the desire to reinvent a classic — to innovate and make the strongest, fastest man (okay, humanoid alien) stronger, faster and perhaps better — is irresistible.

Or, maybe it’s simply because we really, really like to watch epic fights with eye-popping explosions. I know I do.

Emi Kolawole is a writer for The Washington Post.

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