Individual Heroism Essay

Viewing American Heroism from Superman Movies WU Qiong (China International Intellectech Corp. , Beijing, 100022 China) Abstract: Viewing the American heroism as an essential part for social development, this paper reveals how Superman movies explain the American heroism and how they impact the audiences. Among five Superman movies, Superman: The Movie is a remarkable terrific film with great story and acting. For the most important part, this movie introduces clearly about the American heroism.

Superman movies reflect the idea of American heroism including mission and achievement of hero, goodness of soul, individualism, self-confidence, defender, strength, and courage. With the examples, the paper explores the American heroism in Superman movies and the influences of them on the audiences. Key words: superman; American heroism; movie; society : I0-05 :A :1009-5039(2011)08-0373-03 As an important form of mass media, movie not only is an approach of art presentation, but also reflects the society and the spirit of people. Meanwhile, this kind of media form also influences the human behavior and thinking.

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Among all topics talked about in these movies, heroism is a permanent and popular theme for both the audience and the producer. Superman is one of the most famous topics in the American film history. The heroic spirit of this American hero has influenced people for generations till now. 2 American Heroism From heroic epics of Anglo-Saxon period and chivalries till now, the history of heroism is as long as the history of literature. No matter how different of the ways to present the heroism, four important elements existing in the heroism culture are concluded in this paper.

They are: the theme of the justice victory; the enemy of strong but always lose in the end; the spirit of optimism and bravery; the plot of romance and complication. However, America is a “new world” and she has her own perspective of heroism besides the traditional heroism. European heroism culture had greatly influenced American culture. Compared with the European countries, the United States is a young immigrant country. And its culture is also young as the country. It has land expansion constantly, and the power of the country has risen quickly from the independence day of this country. We choose our heroes from among those who exemplify the values that we, as Americans, uphold, which reflect our admiration for both dissenters and traditionalists, for those dedicated to helping others and those who act alone, for traditional role models and for innovators who break the common mold. ” Emerson, the 19th century’s premier thinker on the subject, extracts several characteristics of the hero: sincerity, persistence, intuition, austerity, bravery and virtue. He then defines a hero as a person of extraordinary achievement, courage, and greatness of soul.

Although modern American heroes have the various appearances and the different background, essentially, only one format for the “American hero” takes shape in our heart. The format is that the American heroes who held the belief as God’s chosen few as themselves. The heroes portrayed in the culture whether the “Yankee” or the cowboy, the white people who explored the West or the American soldier who fought overseas all have the similarities: goodness of soul, individualism and absolute self confidence, achievements. Heroism goes deep into the Hollywood movies.

In fact, Hollywood is a crucial part of American culture. Almost every year, 1 The Relation Between Movie and Society Movie is one of the most powerful forms of mass media both in art and education. The filmmakers make use of the light to catch the shadow of the performers and the filmmakers also make use of their light of wisdom to catch the shadow of real life. ‘Primitive cinema presents events but provides little or no “reading” of them. Events speak for themselves without the intervention of a narrator or narrating presence which attempts to read or to interpret them for the audience.

Stories are told, but they are told directly; the camera does not read events but merely records them instead. ‘ For example, most of the silent movies such as Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Time (1936) had recorded the industrial revolution and reflected the real life of people. The filmmakers mix their point of view in the movies together with the issues. On the one hand, movies emphasize the positive personalities and things to the public. For example, movies celebrate and commemorate the great personalities or leaders, such as Chou Enlai (1st Prime Minister of PRC), and Martin Luther King.

Also on the other hand, movies reveal the negative side of the society to the public, such as The Sea Inside (euthanasia issues), Requiem for A Dream (drugs issues), Schindler’s List (the Holocaust), Edukators (young people rebellion against the capitalist world), etc… Thus Balazs, a classical film- theorist said: Our eyes are in the camera and become identical with the gaze of the characters. They see with our eyes. Herein lays the psychological act of ‘identification’. :2011-05-25 : (1983-) , : , , , ? 373 Overseas English 2011 8 there is a well -known movie talking about heroism as its theme topic.

There are numerous such movies: The Ten Commandments in 1956;Ben-Hur in 1959;Spartacus in 1960; Apocalypse Now in 1979; Born on the Fourth of July in 1989; Forrest Gump in 1994; Independence Day in 1996; Mission Impossible in 1996; Saving Private Ryan in 1998; U-571 in 2000; Pearl Harbor in 2001; The Day After Tomorrow in 2004; World Trade Center in 2006 and so on so forth. Also some famous comic heroes are well -known on the big screen such as Superman, Batman, Robin, Spiderman and X men. All these movies expressed the theme of heroism in the American way. One could imagine its insights and grand scope to be inspiring and instructive for the later reflections that were to shape the concerns that became the American Museum of the Moving Image. As in along the lines that society shapes the individuals who shape society, we have here no less than “media shaped culture”. ‘ 3 Supeiman and Its Reviews Since 1970s, five Superman movies have been produced. They are Superman: The Movie in 1978, Superman Movie in Movie in 1983, Superman :The Quest for 1980, Superman Peace Movie in 1987 and Superman Returns in 2006.

In Superman: The Movie (1978), the little Kal-El (superman) had been sent to the earth by his real parents (father named JoeEl) before their home planet Krypton was destroyed. After Kal-El had landed, he met his stepparents Jonathan Kent and Martha Kent. Kal-El got his name as Clark Kent by his stepparents and grew up as a “super man”. He worked in The Daily Planet as a journalist with the identity of Clark, and was fond of Lois Lane (his colleague in the Daily Planet) who was beautiful and hard working.

With two missiles, Lex Luthor, who declared himself to be “the best intelligent criminal” person, planned to induce a big earthquake in the San Andreas Fault, which will result in the western coast of California sinking into the ocean. That would turn the desert land he had just purchased into coastal property, making Luthor a very wealthy man. Superman became the number one person who Lex Luthor wanted to uproot. Lex Luthor used a meteorite from the planet Kryton to arrest superman in his basement when the missiles were going to hit their targets.

However, Lex Luthor’s plan didn’t work out. After getting rid of the meteorite with the help of Lex Luthor’s beautiful partner, Superman resolved the catastrophes, such as rail broken and flood. Using the extra capabilities, he saved many people’s lives including Louis Lane. At the end, Superman captured Lex Luthor and Otis (Luthor’s another partner), and delivered them to prison. The world was safe again. In Superman , General Zod and his two awkward attendances who had been immured in the fantasy zone by Jor-El(the real father of superman)break out from it and came to the earth.

They wanted to rule the world and kill superman for revenge. In the Superman movies, they introduced the natural disaster such as California earthquake, the puzzle that the computer era brought to our daily life (Superman ) and the menace of nuclear arms during the Cold War (Superman ). Those were problems people faced with during the seventies and eighties in the last century in America. People underwent those difficulties. They didn’t know how to handle those problems because some of the problems were caused by the nature and others were wholly 374 ew subjects to them such as the computer and nuclear arms. As a classic representation of Superman movies, Superman: The Movie is applauded for its high qualification in both story and acting. This paper mainly talks about the American heroism based on Superman: The Movie. In 1970s, the Americans, as a nation, desperately needed someone or something to look up to after Kennedy assassination, Vietnam and Watergate. In 1978, they are Donner and Reeve who brought Superman: The Movie out in light, embodying the myth of the character as well as making the spiritual dependence of Americans.

Superman is an imagined fantasy. However, this movie reflected the ideas that people had during that certain period. In Superman: The Movie, we can notice the complete heroic characteristic of this number one role such as mission and achievement of hero, greatness of soul, individualism and self -confidence, defender, and courage, etc. Superman has a mission in life since he arrived at the earth. Before his stepfather died, he said to Superman “you are here for a reason. ” Now the audiences know the reason is to fight for the truth and justice in the American way.

Superman inherited his heroic personalities from his father Jor-El. In the beginning of the Superman: The Movie, we saw a white haired man, dressed all in white, wearing an “S” on his chest. That is Superman’s real father Jor-El, Marlon Brando. This same sign as the ones on Superman’s chest means they have the similarities in the character. Jor-El was one of the best scientists on Krypton. He upholds justice and punished the criminal. Jor-El was portrayed as a God image in this movie. God sent his son Jesus Christ to the earth to save the masses.

Jor-El also sent his son superman to the earth and let his son to protect and help people on the earth. To heroes, missions equal great achievements. The harder missions they have, the greater achievements they will accomplish. In heroic Terminator movies, the terminator, portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, also bears the mission of protecting the survivor of human from the chasing of the robots who come from the future computer empire. Superman does have dual -identity. On the one hand, he is the most admirable super hero who always comes out in the dangerous moment and works for peace.

On the other hand, he is Clark Kent, a zilch, who is timid, myopic, working class, and socially maladroit. Every time when superman stood in front of the masses, there would be a disturbance. So the only way of showing his high moral and good qualities, like intelligence, integrity, and industry to the audiences is through the identity of Clark Kent. Within high moral is the prerequisite of a man who could be named as a hero. In American heroic movies, heroes do not always wear the magnificent clothes surrounded by the flash bulb and looking arrogant.

They present their good qualities such as sincerity, persistence, austerity, bravery and virtue and greatness of soul. In American Heroism, humans bearing those good qualities with extra-achievement are proclaimed as heroes. The goodness of soul is a universal characteristic of heroes. In the American heroic movies, the heroes such as Rocky in Rocky movies, and Rambo in The First Blood, also bear that goodness of soul. In Superman: The Movie, the individualism and self -confidence are emphasized together. Superman always helps the public and saves their lives by his own capability.

He does not need : 2011 8 Overseas English anyone to revolve the problems with him together. Superman performs his first public heroics the first night after he went to the Daily Planet. Ripping open his shirt, for the first time revealing the family crest, the S in a pentagram that Jor-El wore on Krypton, he raced into a revolving door emerging as Superman, and leapt up, up and away to save Lois who had just lost her grip and fell from the helicopter crashing on the edge of the Planet building as spectators pointed and screamed. A blue streak caught her in mid -air. I’ve got you, miss,” said the polite superhero. ” You’ve got me! ” screams Lois. “But who’s got you? ” This question seems a little ironic. In the movie, when people saw him flying, they just thought that it’s a plane or it’s a big blue bird. Nobody got Superman because he has such extraordinary capability of flying. We can notice that this American superhero is a self confident individual but not the rescues team. As Superman made his way towards Luthor’s hideout, he was put through a number of constant tests…. bullets, fire and ice. He was such a brave man and he just went through it fearlessly.

In this plot, it hinted about the American Heroism that a hero is fearless in front of the troubles and goes through them bravely, then a stronger man both in mental and physical than ever before will appear in front his people. Superman is an ultimate strongman. He is entitled “man of steel”. He was in the tradition of the heroes who are legendary in different culture, from Samson and Hercules to Beowulf. These traditional heroes including superman fight against crime, tyranny and social injustice. They act alone as a survivor, bearing confidence in their heart. In Superman: the Movie the elements, good vs. evil and the protagonist vs. ntagonist, are clearly spelled out. Superman caught a cat-burglar who tried to scale the side of a building, and captured three robbers who had gotten away from police chase. He protected the public possessions from losing, and he also saved the lives of victims. When the Navy missile hit the San Andreas Fault, the nuclear blasted and produced a huge earthquake that Luthor had anticipated, and within seconds bridges shake, train tracks broke up and large dams cracked one by one. Superman resolved each catastrophe: he stopped a bus from falling, allowed a train to pass over his back, and prevented a flood when the dam broke.

In the series of superman movies, whatever the problems made by Lex Luthor or General Zod, Superman can always resolve them with his super power and intelligence at the end of the movie and protect his people on the earth. Wherever criminals came out, threatening the safety of life and possessions of public, superman might be there fighting against them to save his people. Death is the first thing we fight against with in all our lives. Not only in America, but also in the rest of the world, people call them heroes who use their efforts to protect and save the people’s life.

Superman is the great superhero in the American big screen since 1970s. In the Superman movies, they contain the resentment and love, pride and regrets. Being Superman is the childhood fantasy of every little boy and girl. He is an enduring emblem of the American dream, the young immigrant who comes to the United States, embraces the culture and makes something of himself and enriches his adopted nation. He is a classical hero in the modern age that fights criminals, rescues the helpless and has a sense of morals and justice as strong and unshakeable as he is.

We commemorate the spirit of superman. For example: Shark O’Neal, a famous NBA star has a tattoo of “Man of steel” (superman) on his right arm. He said the spirit of superman supports him to fight for the MVP in his professional basketball career. After Superman: The Movie was shown in 1978, a series of comic heroes were revised and put on the American screen such as Batman, Spiderman, The Incredible, and so on. The Super Museum, in Metropolis Illinois, features the life’s work of Jim Hambick who has been collecting everything dealing with the Man of Steel (superman) since 1959.

We have another way of physical commemoration of superman. “Celebrating 35 seasons, Six Flags Over Georgia, announces an astonishing, next-generation roller coaster of epic proportions, Superman – Ultimate Flight, the South’s only flying roller coaster. ” Roller coasters such as Ultimate Flight in Georgia are spread over the world (Texas, New York, Australia, Netherland and so on). Based on the DC Comics Super Hero, Superman is the world’s greatest superhero and a timeless American icon. The influences of the Superman movies are huge.

The directors and casts have created a great hero to the audiences and magnified the heroic qualities of Superman: individual, self-confident, goodness of soul, strength, courage, and so on. 4 Conclusion Movie, as a quickly developed form of mass media, reflects the life of people. At the same moment, our lives are surrounded by the effect of movies such as the dress, the fashion, the language, and of course the spirit. Heroism is a kind of spirit that people gain from their heart. This kind of vital force characterizes an individual with self -confidence and courage.

As conclusion, Superman movies enhance the American heroism to the public. They reflect the idea of American heroism and something happened during that period of time. American heroism includes achievement, individualism, self -confidence, courage, defender, and industry etc. Superman is a good model of American heroism because he has the personalities that an American hero should have. His good qualities have influenced many people in America or other places of the world. In this age of globalization and internationalization, he becomes the spiritual dependence of people.

The Superman movies advocate the peace and security of world to the audiences. The effects of Superman movies for their contribution to the world security and world peace are greater than for their entertaining function. References: [1] http://www. supermansupersite. com/coaster6. html. [2] Belton,John,American Cinema/American Culture[M]. New York: McGraw-Hill,1994. [3] Berson,Robin Kadison. Marching to A Different Drummer: Unrecognized Heroes of American History[M]. Westport,Connecticut:Greenwood Press,1994. [4] Sklar,Robert,Movie -Made America:A Cultural History of American Movies[M]. New York: Vintage Books,1994. : 375


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