Superman played a big part in my childhood. My brothers and I watched in black and white and were enthralled no matter how many fake walls George Reeves smashed through to rescue Lois and Jimmy. The effects were definitely low-tech, but the stories were exciting. Every kid in our neighborhood donned a safety pinned towel as a cape at one point or another (and some for a lot longer than might have been appropriate, but that’s another story). Despite being a girl and a writer at heart, Jimmy Olsen– in all his journalistic glory–held no fascination for me. Neither did Lois Lane. I wanted to be Superman, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and beat the crap out of the bad guys. Years later, I felt sad reading about Reeves’ suicide. I was shocked that Superman could die so tragically–and alone.
Christopher Reeve is Superman
Christopher Reeve took up the mantle next, in my world anyway. There were others before him, but it was the 1978 movie version that next caught my attention. Even way back then, it seemed strange to me that such a man would live on the periphery of society, alone, preferring his Fortress of Solitude to life in the big city. I understood it, I wanted one of those, but it still seemed odd. I guess I was sorting out my own Cave Dweller tendencies in an era when clubbing was the thing to do.
A Man Apart
Superman seems to me the ultimate Cave Dweller, a man alone and apart from not only his own race but from the inhabitants of his adopted planet. Mark Dykeman in an article in Psychology (12/2/07) called him a “metaphorical introvert”:
Getting away from the physical world and getting closer to inner thoughts and feelings gives us strength. That kind of mental stimulation gives introverts our inner power and strength. It’s like tapping directly into the power of the sun. Superman was famous for having built a Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic, a place that only he could find and enter. Guests were generally not permitted in the Fortress. It was his place to unwind, relax, and get away from it all, kind of like a teenager’s bedroom, only much bigger and filled with even cooler stuff. Read more
Sound familiar? Maybe Ice Cave Dweller would be more accurate.
Tom Welling’s Superman in Smallville spent very little time with people despite having quite a few friends. Seems like every time I tuned in, he was out in the barn tinkering with this or that. I liked Welling’s Superman. He had all the earmarks of a truly great Cave Dweller: intelligent, crafty, fast-thinking, tough and compassionate–and alone. And I liked that we got to see his loving and supportive parents, an important but short-lived aspect in the earlier movies.
I’m anxious to see what this next incarnation of Superman will reveal about the cave dwelling tendencies of the coolest of super heroes. I’ve purposely not read much about it so that I’ll be pleasantly surprised–or not– when I go to see it this weekend. Two more days and I’ll be slinking my way to the back row of the theater, armed with popcorn, Good n Plenty, and high hopes for a great movie.
Just for fun!
It’s been my experience that the older you get, the better your powers of invisibility.