Kathleen Parker
If you haven't seen "Superman Returns" and want to be surprised by the latest, if somewhat obvious, story twist, don't read this column. Otherwise, consider yourself warned.

Much has been written about the scriptwriters' decision to delete Uncle Sam from the Superman triune: truth, justice and the American way. In the latest version, Superman represents "truth, justice and ... all that stuff," as Daily Planet editor Perry White puts it.

Some critics have been deeply offended by the extraction of American exceptionalism from this quintessentially American superhero and take it as yet another manifestation of lefty Hollywood's self-loathing. Both the scriptwriters and director Bryan Singer have explained that they were after a more international hero, sent to Earth to save not just America but the world.

This new Superman may not be strictly American, but he's still unmistakably Western and terribly, terribly modern as he ... (last warning to turn back) ... sires a son. Think "Da Vinci Code" meets "Mr. Mom."

Before leaving Earth for five years in a mysterious exit unexplained to anyone, Superman and gal pal Lois Lane hooked up, as they say. Apparently Superman, like his dorky doppelganger, Clark Kent, is clueless when it comes to men and women, and failed to block certain speeding bullets from reaching their natural destination.

Voila. When he returns to save the world, he finds that Lois has a 5-year-old son, Jason, and is living with - but is not married to - "the father," Richard White. Perky Jimmy Olsen explains that, well, you know Lois! She just can't bring herself to consider marriage. All that yucky commitment and stuff.

But having a kid out of wedlock is the superwoman way in Metropolis, as most places these days. Who needs a man? Or a Superman, as Lois posits in a story that earns her a Pulitzer Prize.

Even though women may not need men, children need a father, as even Superman's revisionists seem to believe. Thus, Lois allows fiance White, a lesser editorial light on The Planet staff, to serve as male role model. While Lois is busy saving The Planet from prosaic headlines, the domesticated White plays Mr. Mom, providing food and asthma medication for the understandably anxious tyke.

Unburdened by the muscular masculinity of his nemesis in romance, White is the modern gal's dream guy - sensitive 'n' supportive while acting as head cheerleader for his beloved's career. And though a tad uneasy about Lois' obvious affection for the man in tights, he nevertheless ... understands.


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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