I’ve been stuck on jury duty for the past 2 days. So far its been a laugh riot, but the real revelation has been my rediscovering of “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman” via the netflix app for my iPhone. My sister and I used to watch this show faithfully during it’s original run in the 90’s. I was really young then, and my memory of the series was scant at best. I decided to give it another shot, and I’m really glad I did. The show didn’t reinvent TV and it’s very evident that their special effects budget wasn’t more powerful than a locomotive, but it’s been a fun ride through the first few episodes. The performances by Teri Hatcher (Lois Lane) and Dean Cain (Clark Kent/Superman) really ring true with the DC mythos. Also of note are Lane Smith as the indomitable Perry White, and John Shea as the not so bald Lex Luthor.
As beloved as all heroes are, it has often been said that they would be nothing without the dark yang to their sterling yin. For example, imagine Batman without the Joker or the Riddler. While the character would still be viable, many of the stories that cemented Bruce Wayne’s status in our hearts would not be possible. This is certainly true of the relationship between Superman, his unfaltering good nature lending itself to classification as a “boy scout”, and Luthor, a personification of the evil that humans are capable of. While other villains have tragic back stories and powers beyond comprehension, Luthor boats only a “genius level” intellect” and a firm belief in the American dream. He is a self made man, and has worked his way into a position of power in Metropolis. Massive structures throughout the city bear his namesake, a towering testament to his wealth and might. When Superman soars in and upstages him, Luthor’s jealousy manifests itself in a fanatical devotion to the The Man Of Steel’s annihilation. Outwardly, his hate is justified by the threat Superman poses to his ideals. Luthor states that mankind can achieve great things with the appropriate amount of drive, and they do not need any other worldly help in doing so. Superman’s presence breeds complacency, he believes. With him on earth, why would a mere man wish to achieve at all? An interesting viewpoint, but it is not Luthor’s sole motivation for Superman’s destruction. His worries about mankind’s reaction to Superman are derived from his own feelings of jealousy. No matter how great his body of work, his actions never granted him
Messiah status in Metropolis. At it’s core, Luthor’s megalomaniacal tendencies are a result of envy. He can never be as powerful as Superman, so he must destroy him. He makes a conscious choice to follow those emotions down a dark path, and for that, he has become one of the most hated and revered villains in comic book history, but he is also the single most relatable. Everyone who has ever picked up a Superman comic, hummed John Williams iconic film score, or referred to something that vexes them as “my kryptonite” shares Luthor’s envy of Superman. We all want to caress the skyline at tremendous speeds, stand up for what is right, and punish what is wrong. Superman will not waver when it comes to his morals. He does not kill,
torture, or frighten for our admiration, he merely exists the only way he knows how. His great power was bestowed upon him, he did not choose it. Had he lent himself to evil, forces of good would not stand a chance. He could enslave a planet without breaking a sweat, but instead he uses his power to protect those who cannot protect themselves. His life is one long struggle, but it is a struggle his brings upon himself. It is that unflappable sense of justice that we envy most of all. At our darkest, the red and yellow “S” with a solid blue background is a constant reminder that even the mightiest of us struggles on a daily basis. Our battles take place on the ground, we are vulnerable to cuts and bruises of all kinds, and we may not be able to see what’s behind the door in front of us, but it is our hope for the triumph of good that we have in common with The Man Of Tomorrow. Hope keeps us divergent from the path Lex Luthor has chosen. That same hope was sparked in my heart the first time I saw Christopher Reeve pull aside his dress shirt and tie, and it was strengthened by Dean Cain scooping up leads and Teri Hatcher on a weekly basis during my childhood. Though that series ended it’s run over a decade ago, my belief in good triumphing over evil no matter the odds is something no Lex Luthor can ever take away from me. However insurmountable an obstacle may seem, I believe I can overcome it, even if it takes more than a single bound.