Superman Screenshot of the Day
The Ruby-Spears' Superman, which premiered in 1988, a year after “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” died at the box office ($15 million, U.S.), is closely tied to the Christopher Reeve movies. We get the John Williams' score and Lois hanging from a helicopter. Clark is clumsy. The first time we see Superman and Lois, they're flying through the air a la “Can you read my mind?” Plus Clark/Superman even looks a bit like Christopher Reeve.
As for the above screenshot? It's Superman's reaction to one of my least-favorite and most laughable conceits in entertainment.
In the show's first episode, Lex Luthor, the CEO of LexCorp, creates the Defendroids to stop crime. There's some indication that he creates both the crime and the crime-stoppers, but he creates the latter so Metropolis will turn on Superman. Which is totally what happens. The Defendroids stop some “Mad Max”-type yahoos in the park and Luthor appears to hail them and dismiss Superman:
Lex: What has Superman done? Oh sure, he arrests a few jaywalkers and muggers. But do you feel safe at night?
Then an apartment building erupts in flames and the Defendroids save some children in the white-hot spotlight of the press, while Superman saves an elderly couple around the corner, unnoticed. When he's spotted by a TV reporter, she, and the crowd, surge upon him:
TV reporter: Well, Superman, how does it feel, knowing that with THEM around you’re no longer needed?
CUT TO: Angry faces of crowd.
Man in crowd: Ha! We’ve got the Defendroids to help us now!
Woman in crowd: Yeah! We don’t NEED you anymore!
CUT TO: The above screenshot.
Oh, how sharper than a serpent's tooth to have a fickle populace.
The whole thing is so absurd. Angry? “Ha!”? “We don't NEED you anymore”?
Sure, you can make arguments for why everyone in Metropolis turns on Superman so suddenly and viciously. Maybe they feel guilty because they've relied on him for so long. Maybe they're sick of relying on him and now, now that they don't have to, they can finally vent their frustration. No one likes to owe anyone anything, particularly unpayable debts, and humanity owes nothing but unpayable debts to Superman. So the knives come out.
But what is this conceit really about?
It's Hollywood's view of us, the movie-going, TV-watching population. We flit from show to show, movie to movie, star to star. What's revered today is a joke tomorrow. We don't NEED you anymore, David Cassidy, Fonzie, ALF. We don't NEED you anymore Mel Gibson, Winona Ryder, Kevin Costner, Arnold Schwarzenegger. We don't need you anymore, “Friends.” CUT TO: David Schwimmer, looking like the above.
The point: This conceit is almost never true in the context where Hollywood places it (as above). But it's always true in the context of Hollywood entertainment. Because in Hollywood, you're only as good as the last crime you stop.