Everytime I see a promo or a magazine cover or hear an ad for Superman Returns, I get a little melancholy. I just feel so conflicted about this new movie. It seems so wrong that the franchise should be resurrected when Christopher Reeve is no longer with us. It seems rather galling that there should be a new incarnation of the Man of Steel.
Maybe I'm upset because, having been born the year the first movie was release, Christopher Reeve is the only Superman I know. I was never a comic book reader, so my frame of Superman reference is basically the four movies. And regardless what one thinks of their individual quality, they represent my understanding of Superman mythology.
Oddly, I never had an issue with the television program Smallville, possibly because it dealt with something outside the realm of the movies or because when I watched it, I was more disturbed by my growing attraction to the anti-hero, Lex Luthor. Also, I found it comforting when Christopher Reeve guest-starred in a couple of episodes. It didn't seem so much as the passing of the torch, but rather the acknowledgement of a partnership.
The discomfort I have felt since I heard about the new movie only increased when I caught the cast presenting an award on the MTV Movie Awards and then commenting on a documentary about Superman on A&E. Brandon Routh - the new Superman - not only, despite brown eyes, reminds one of Christopher Reeve, but his voice sounds similar as well. It was a little creepy to hear a voice naturally echoing the timbre and cadence of a childhood hero.
I still haven't decided if I'm actually going to see the movie when it hits theaters. On the one hand it seems overly eerie, on the other like I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. It is, after all, only a movie and Superman is only a comic book character.
The irony of all this emotional turmoil is that Superman has never been my favorite superhero. I always preferred Batman, the self-made Caped Crusader dwelling in shades of gray, to the black & white certainty of the Man of Steel.