Caution: Potential spoilers. Like many others, I saw "Superman Returns" a short while ago. Unlike others, however, I didn't really enjoy it, and I struggled with why. I thought about all the inconsistencies in the film - how Superman can both hear and have his cape blow in outer space (where there's no air to do either), how Superman can
save a man from falling off a building, and save an entire airliner, suddenly, both of which would kill the victims involved, or fly Lois Lane around at high speeds without her even blinking or squinting from the wind.
That's really not my issue with the film, I've concluded - it goes to the heart of the superman story itself.
Disclaimer: I have only seen the Superman films, not read the comic books.
From what I understand, the following is a over-simplified summary of Superman's history:
1. Superman's father, Jor-El, was an astronomer, who both calculated that his home planet, Krypton, was going to be destroyed, and also discovered that Earth was an inhabited planet. (I'm aware of the parallels to the new discoveries in the 1920s, when Superman first appeared, to the discovery that Earth will someday be destroyed, and the discovery of distant suns at that time)
2. Jor-El placed his only (baby) son, Superman, in a spacecraft, and pointed it towards Earth. It crash landed on the Kent's farm, and Superman was raised by them. (I'm aware that the creators of Superman were Jewish and claimed this was the modern equivalent of the Moses myth).
3. Superman has powers on this planet, Earth, that he would not have had on Krypton. Supposedly, he draws strength from Earth's sun, which gives him superpowers such as x-ray vision (foiled only by lead - also a scientific discovery from pre-Superman), heat vision, an ability to fly, ability to lift large objects, bullet proof, and speeds faster than a speeding bullet (did I miss anything)?
4. Superman becomes weak when exposed to Kryptonite, which exists only on Earth in meteoric form from his former home planet. At least those pieces that survive the atmosphere, that is.
So here are my questions, most of which have to do with Kryptonite.
1. We're gonna need a bigger spaceship. Was Jor-El certain that Earth would be hospitable to Superman? Wouldn't he have created a capsule big enough for the whole family? If he wanted to ensure the survival of Kryptonians, wouldn't he have put a baby girl in there also?
2. Maybe we don't even need a spaceship. Can Superman fly through space, or not? In every film, there are scenes of him flying out of the Earth's atmosphere (so, presumably, he doesn't need to breathe - maybe he could be Aquaman also, then?). In one movie, I think it was Superman II, he even flew around the Earth enough times to reverse its rotation, and in another, (Superman III?), he flung criminals from Krypton into the Sun. So why, then, in this movie, does Superman
return after five years in a spaceship?
3. Why does Superman have superpowers? There's reference, I think in the first movie, that the Earth's "yellow sun" gives Superman's cells great power. Did Krypton not have a sun? Does the color of the sunlight make a difference? What is it about Earth's sun that makes superpowers, anyway (and that didn't exist on his homeplanet)? If he's indistinguishable from humans in every other way (I mean every other way - see number five below), then why would he have superpowers without the corresponding large muscles, less mass, or other changes compared to humans?
4. Why would Kryptonite affect Superman? This has to be what bugs me the most. If Kryptonite are fragments from his former planet, Krypton, then he should thrive when exposed to his home planet, not get weak and die, correct? Was there something about Krypton aside from the explosion that would have made him and his family weaken and die, had the planet not exploded? If anything, Krypton should be a substance that strengthens Superman, not kills him.
On a related subject, if Kryptonite truly does weaken him, then why, in this most recent movie, is he able to lift an entire CONTINENT made out of Kryptonite into space, and throw it into the Sun? Wouldn't the Kryptonite make him too weak to accomplish the task?
5. How could Superman father a child with a human? I read a paper when I was a kid about how the velocity of any Superman sperm would be the equivalent of a bullet, and anyone mating with Superman would die instantly. But consider this - even if conception takes place, if the baby has superhuman strength
(as the child in this movie did)
, wouldn't the kicking during pregnancy basically either destroy the mother's internal organs, or kick through the uterine wall? Never mind that Superman is basically an alien from another planet, with, presumably, a different bio history than Earthlings. Does he have DNA? Considering how different starfish and octopi are from trees and buffalo on this planet, how different should Superman, being from another planet, be?
Can someone please explain any of this to me? Suddenly the Superman I knew and loved makes no sense to me.