Friday, June 14, 2013

The Boy in the Red Superman Cape

Superman! Superman! Superman! Superman! Superman! Superman! Superman! Superman!

Sorry, I had to get that out of my system.

To say I’m excited for the premiere of the Man of Steel would be an understatement. All I want in life is a good Superman movie to enjoy, and, judging by early reviews, this one gets the job done.

Daniel Ford as Superman
Anyone who follows this blog knows that I was Superman as a kid. I pretended to be a lot of characters, but none as passionately as the man in blue. I wore a cape well into my teenage years (yes, I’m admitting that shamelessly), my mother sewed a Superman “S” to a blue sweatshirt with matching sweatpants, and my mémère scoured stores to find me red boots.

I say Mickey Mouse pajamas call for a Superman cape.
My family had no trouble coming up with Superman stories from my youth.“You stopped being Daniel as soon as Clark Kent came into the picture,” my mother tells me. “I was always afraid you would try to fly off tall furniture, but thank God you were afraid of heights!”

My cousin Caryn said that I “always” had my cape on and she doesn’t know how it didn’t disintegrate. “You looked like a little cartoon version with your dark hair,” she tells me.

“Judy and I were hanging out in the basement at that little table and she hears you arrive at the house upstairs,” my cousin Carol said on Facebook. “She leans over, winking and says, ‘Daniel is Superman...just go with it.’ I thanked her for informing me and went with it.”

My red cape in all its glory.
Speaking of Judy, my cousin who probably spent more time with me growing up than just about anyone, wrote me the longest Facebook comment in the history of Facebook comments:

“The first cape I remember you having was the one that Velcroed to the shoulders of your pajamas, which never stayed on after the first few washes, and, man, did you get mad if it wasn't on. If I remember correctly your mom pinned it on for a while until you got one that tied around your neck. I remember when you first got that one you told me something like ‘this me being real Superman now!’. Whenever you came over to visit you would run into our house to find me. When you did, you would always have some Superman saying to announce your arrival like, ‘Here I am to save the day!’ or ‘Superman is here to help you Judy!’ I remember a few times when you were a little older you actually doing a bit pretending to be Clark Kent. You would put on a coat or robe or whatever was closest and pretend to go into the phone booth and come out as Superman. What made that funny sometimes was you could see your cape sticking out from under your coat as you did it.”

My red Superman boots.
Christopher Reeve will always be my Superman and I’ll always consider Superman II as the best superhero movie ever made. That flick was the first movie my older brother Tom saw in the theater, which has made him reluctant to fully embrace the new take on the character, as well as Michael Shannon’s General Zod. He hammered that point home by texting me every line Terrance Stamp had in Superman and Superman II.

I can’t really blame him. Even if you take out the nostalgia bias, nothing can ever top this scene:

My father loved reenacting that moment with us, usually with me as Superman. With respect to Shannon and Stamp, Kenneth Ford will always be my favorite Zod. “It was my favorite scene watching Zod’s hand getting crushed,” my father tells me. “And I wasn’t fake screaming when you guys did it to me.”

More evidence of my unabashed love for Superman:
  • I bought a Superman t-shirt as part of my back-to-school shopping in high school. The cashier said I needed to wear a white button-down shirt over it, an idea my mother quickly shot down saving me from potential ridicule. Of course, that didn’t stop me from wearing the shirt through college.
Me wearing said Superman shirt with my friend Sam (also a Superman fan)
  • Following my friend Spud’s wedding, a bunch of friends sat around watching Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Yes, the movie is awful, but I still maintain there is a nub of a great movie in it. It’s certainly more re-watchable than Superman Returns (The tagline of that movie should have been: “you’ll never believe a flying man could be so boring!”). The standout moments of that movie include: the villain bringing a woman into space without her dying immediately, Superman moving the moon out of orbit to block the sun (“Um, Superman, we kind of need the sun to grow food. Can you put the moon back? Thanks.”), and Superman being hurt by a fingernail. And yes, this was the nerdiest wedding reception ever and no one has any regrets. We also flicked back and forth to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom that does not age well at all. Kate Chapshaw might still be crying and screaming.
  • I have a Superman figurine from the 1990s on my desk at work. He has a Super Mullet.
Super Mullet
  • I ran the last mile of my first half-marathon listening to the Superman march from the original movies on repeat. I was certainly not flying, but it got me through to the finish line.

  • I’ve been trying to work this bejeweled Superman painting I saw in Manhattan into a story for work, but have so far been unsuccessful. So here it is:

I asked my nephew Jack who his favorite superhero was on a recent visit to Connecticut. He said Superman without a moment’s hesitation.

“He’s the best,” Jack said, giving me a fist bump and then blowing it up. He even came downstairs the next night just to show me he was wearing his favorite Superman pajamas.

My sister-in-law later told me that she was planning to sort through all of her kids’ old baby clothes to free up some space, but knows she can't part with a Superman onesie.

“Your mother got that for Jack knowing your love of Superman,” she told me. “So your kid will have a Superman outfit one day.”

While my superpowers may have never developed, I have hope for the next generation. And as the new movie reveals, hope looks like this:


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