When I was a child, my father and I sat through the original Christopher Reeve Superman movies. That’s plural, because by the time I actually sat down to watch them, I was about the same age as Nathan and they had just released Superman III, with the original Superman movie being released a few months after I was born. Now that I’ve effectively deepened my legendary status in nerdom and properly aged myself, I do have a point…
As long as he behaves himself, Friday nights are usually the evenings I spend with Nathan. My wife generally takes advantage to try and get some extra work in so that she can have her weekend, so Nathan and I will usually watch a movie, crash on the living room floor with sleeping bags and enjoy some snacks. As I mentioned, it’s all contingent on him behaving himself throughout the day. But everything had gone reasonably well yesterday, so we sat down on the couch and discussed what movie we would watch.
Much like the joke about couples never being able to pick a restaurant, Nathan is notorious for never making a choice but declining any offers I make. Last night, I asked if he’d like to watch a Superman movie. He nodded enthusiastically and I started to search my streaming services for one we could watch together. None of the original Christopher Reeve movies were available, so I opted for 2013’s Man of Steel.
Comparatively much more violent than the originals, considering the actual fights, punching and battles scenes involved, some may argue that such a movie wasn’t the most appropriate for a 6-year old. But I was then caught by surprise as Nathan learned a significant number of important lessons throughout the movie. And I’m going to share those lessons with you now. I should probably point out that sitting through an entire movie is something of an amazing accomplishment for Nathan. So, there’s that. Moving on…
If you’ve never watched Man of Steel, proceed at your own risk, as there will be spoilers. That being said, I have a great appreciation for the movie, since it steers away from the typical depiction of the all-powerful and invulnerable Superman in favour of a hero who actually feels and who can be affected/harmed by significant opposition. The movie starts by showing the birth of Kal’El, followed by his being sent out amongst the stars by his parents before the total destruction of Krypton. Although any Superman fan is well aware of Krypton’s destruction, it made for an interesting piece of the story to actually SEE some of the storyline, rather than the typical movie with the red and blue suit stepping into the frame within the first fifteen minutes.
As Superman’s parents place him in the rocket and say their heartfelt goodbyes, I glanced over at Nathan and noticed he was red-faced, red-eyed and had a single, fat tear rolling down his cheek. I asked him if he was alright and why he was crying. he responded, “I’m sad…” When I asked him why he was sad, he explained that those parents had to send their baby away and they would never get to see him again. He also pointed out that the baby would never get to know his parents. I was caught off guard with the emotional and mature response he provided. I don’t mind saying that it was extremely uncharacteristic of him.
As the movie progressed, there are a couple of scenes that reached Nathan and we discussed them. The first was when Clark Kent is working in a truck stop restaurant as a bus boy and tries to intervene against a trucker who’s harassing a female waitress. When the trucker confronts him, Clark chooses to walk away. Nathan asked why Clark didn’t just beat him up, as he was obviously stronger than the trucker. This gave us the opportunity to have a talk about how just because you’re stronger than someone else, doesn’t mean you should exercise that strength against them.
The next scene came when we flash back to Clark’s teen years and he gets shoved to the ground and taunted by a group of bullies. Clark sits there and ignores their taunts until they depart. He’s helped to his feet by another classmate and as he releases the steel post he was braced against, we see Clark’s hand has imprinted on the steel. Nathan was blown away at the level of strength and asked why Clark wouldn’t fight back and beat up the boys, since they started it and he should defend himself. I explained that Clark showed restraint, which can often be a more valuable quality than a show of force. Especially in light of the fact that he managed to de-escalate the situation by avoiding a fight.
There were a number of other scenes but honestly, I’ve made this post long enough at this point. I often say that knowledge and wisdom can come form the most unlikely sources, and last night effectively proved that point. What started out as an evening of movie-watching fun proved to be an evening of important life-lessons for my young son. We still had fun and enjoyed the movie, but a little growing was done at the same time. Not too shabby, for a Friday night… ☯