The caped offspring of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster was born in Cleveland, one year before the start of World War II. Building on a wildly successful comic book career, the phenomenon known as Superman went on to star in seventeen cartoons, six movies, and numerous television series. This June, concurrent with the release of a new film, “Man of Steel,” he will turn 75. He is a true icon, which is why it might surprise you to learn that I have some advice for him. I won’t lie to you. Writing this letter was even more difficult than asking Carrot Top why he thinks he’s funny. But suddenly I realized: “This is Superman we’re talking about. He gets it.”
Below is what the Man of Steel will find on his laptop when he wakes up in the morning.
Dear Superman, AKA Mr. Kent,
While many individuals with considerably less physical stamina than your own continue to work into their eighth and even ninth decades, I would like to suggest, un-PC though the notion may be, that you retire. That’s right — hang up your tights and give them to Goodwill. What’s more, I want you to take Batman (73) and the Green Hornet (74) with you. I’ve heard good things about DC Farms (“Resort Living in a Kryptonite-Free Environment”), and according to Yelp, there are a slew of lovely retirement homes for the superheroically inclined. I’m sorry if this offends you and I know many will accuse me of ageism. “74 is the new 71,” they will scold me. The truth is, I have no problem with a person working until his dying breath if that’s what he so chooses. The difference is, you folks aren’t normal people.
You see, we all want to be heroes, but when we watch you guys in the movies, you set standards that are completely unrealistic. For example, I live on a hillside in Los Angeles and there’s this really cute woman who lives next door. Say there’s an earthquake and the mountain starts to crumble above her house. Of course, I’d want to push the earth back into place like you did in the first Superman movie because then she’d have to sleep with me, right? But what are my chances of being able to do that? Less than you flying commercial, I’d say. My point — and know that I blame the studios, not you –- is that seeing one superhero movie after another makes us feel powerless – like we humans are incapable of anything approaching heroism. Sure we’ve got the cops, the firefighters and the first responders, but what about a guy like me, who spends forty hours a week selling term life insurance?
My mom and dad always say that the movies in their day were about real heroes who didn’t have to fly to make a good impression. They showed me “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart. Of course, that dude got to see what the world would be like if he’d never existed (chump change to you, a pretty big deal to us Normals), but even so, I felt like I had something in common with him. Sure, my 3D glasses didn’t work and the sofa didn’t rumble, but it was kind of satisfying to imagine that under the right circumstances, I could be him. You know, I’m thinking that maybe your big special effects blockbusters make us forget about the story – – that we leave the theater saying: “Man, that guy’s face exploding was awesome!” rather than “I wonder how I could be a hero?”
Lately, I’ve been seeing a bunch of those independent films. I really liked that one “The Sessions” because the lady was really cool about sex and slept with the iron lung guy. I think they were both real heroes, don’t you? The truth is, I’m sure that movie will stay with me long after “Man of Steel” fades from memory. You’ll say that’s not fair since I’ve only seen the trailer, but did a sixth Superman movie really need to be made? Geez, you gotta be set financially…
Once again, I mean no disrespect. You and your superheroic cohorts have all done stellar work, and we admire your longevity in what can be a very tough and fickle business. Regardless, you now need to step aside and give some screen time to characters like me. Well, not exactly like me, but close enough that they give people like me hope that it is within our power to be better. Lastly, I want to say, and maybe this is just me, that I think it’s nice to be able to walk out of a theater feeling a little inspired, rather than a little deaf.
Thank you for your time, Superman, and know that I will always appreciate your fighting for truth, justice, and the American Way.
Best regards, A Fan