Can Superman travel back in time?

Superman (Superman: The Movie

I, like many men that are 30 going on 13, have always had an affinity for superheroes, and in particular, superhero movies. There are so many reasons why this genre of movie appeals to me, but what I enjoy first and foremost is the notion of fantasy set in reality. Among my favourites are The Watchmen, Batman (the original and the Dark Knight), and X-Men.

I must admit, there is a certain inherent fallacy to the notion of fantasy set in the real world. Some stories, like that of Star Wars, avoid any real world association, as they are set far from the world we know in both time and space. Fantasy set in reality presents an internal conflict for the viewer: “Do I just go with the fantasy and ignore reality, or do I go with the reality and question the fantasy?”

While the first option allows one to achieve the escapism that such films offer, my mind has trouble turning off completely, and I tend to walk a line somewhere between both options. A premise such as that of The Matrix avoids this issue, as it offers a compelling reason for why the rules of the universe, the laws of physics, need not apply.

While nearly any sci-fi movie, if analyzed carefully enough, can be criticized for taking liberties with science, the award for “Most ridiculous violation of the laws of science in one scene” must go to the climactic finale of the first Superman film. [As an aside, the award for “Most consistently false science throughout” may be shared by Armageddon and Independence Day.]

Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against Superman. The mild-mannered reporter, Clark Kent, is perhaps the most iconic alter ego of any Superhero, as he is the exact opposite. Also, as the origins of Superman exist somewhere else in the universe, I am more forgiving as to why this being can fly, be indestructible, have super strength, cool things with his breath and heat them with his eyes.

The original Superman film is excellent as a whole, with Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor as a worthy adversary for the Man of Steel. And, for a film made in the late seventies, the special effects are exceptional. It is a shame then, that the climax of the film is so unbelievably ridiculous. Yes, even when compared to the central notion of an alien sent to Earth, where he develops superhuman qualities due to his proximity to our particular star, the final scene of the film is preposterous.

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