Friday, April 8, 2016

Batman vs. Superman: Superman Needs an Agent

Iron Bat
I finally saw Batman vs. Superman!

It's not like Deadpool, it's not a slapstick comedy. And I'm okay with that. There are some heavy ideas in this movie worth discussing.

The opening was reminiscent of 9-11, probably an overused scene of smoke coming at people through skyscrapers. Batman saves a bunch of what seems to be sex workers and the cops get so freaked out that one almost kills another in an effort to gun him down. He needs a public relations man, maybe even department. I bet economist Robert Murphy would be the perfect man for that job (you'll see why below).

Superman does a toll in the PR sphere as well, agreeing to be investigated by congress and not foreseeing an explosion that killed everyone but himself. Not cool. That needs to be nipped in the bud. Maybe John Scalzi's "Agent to the Stars" could take on Superman as a client, but he's a fictional character and I'm not sure Scalzi has a firm grasp on how the publicly would truly react to certain revelations. Seeing Donald Trump's rise to power, I'm not sure I know either.

Back in 2006 Robert Murphy wrote an article called "Superman Needs an Agent" where he depicts how much good Superman could do if he capitalized on his efforts. Some of the jobs Bob suggests for Superman include:

1. Payload Delivery
2. ABM Defense
3. Emergency Response
4.Tectonic Repair
5. Weather Control
6. Oil Discovery and Drilling
etc etc

An "entertainer" and "hibachi chef" also make the list.

Instead we have Superman always trying to save Lois Lane, falling into the traps of the insane Lex Luther. But there are scenes where superman seems to be capitalizing on his abilities. He is seen pulling a huge ship, saving rocket cargo, and many other things that could be monetized.

Then enters legislators, who feel the need to take part in anything financially successful.... or, in the case of Superman, anyone who does good things on a large scale with their input.

"I'm not saying he shouldn't act. I'm saying he shouldn't act unilaterally," says Senator Finkle. Sure, okay.

The movie had some great dialog and wasn't full on mind numbing car chases (the ones that make me want to rip my eyeballs out, think Fast and Furious series). Many philosophical questions were asked. Is it possible to be a good person in this world? Or, as inferences by the person asking this question, is it possible to have incorruptible power?

Lex Luther asks the most powerful questions while talking to Superman. Let me preface this by saying that everyone treats Superman like a God. There was one scene where he saved a child from a fire in Mexico and everyone reached out for her -ostensibly, at first- but left their hands out in worshipful admiration while surrounding Superman. So in the face of the reverence that Superman inspires, Lex Luther says: The problem of evil in the world, the problem of absolute virtue" is that "if God is all powerful then he cannot be all good. If God is all good then he cannot be all powerful."

Luther himself is power that embraces the evil he claims is inevitable. Superman is power that is manipulated towards what seems like evil out of love. Love for his earth mother, Martha.

But Superman is no God and no matter how powerful Superman is, he does not have the omnipresence that makes Lex Luther's criticism of God, the problem of evil, so pertinent. Because if we admit that 1. evil exists in the world and 2. God created everything, then we must someone give God characteristics that would allow for evil. God cannot control everything. God cannot be present everywhere. God must limit himself to allow space for evil. Do we even have a God at that point, or do we have another superman?

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