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Lions Roar : May 2014
as a Kid, i never really got into comic books. We just didn’t have them around. But now, as an adult, I have an unabashed enthusiasm for superheroes and superhero movies. As silly and over the top as they can be, they speak to me on a deep, aspirational level. They’re like my emotional kryptonite. I am moved by the tough, selfless, against-all-odds determi- nation of Batman and touched by the youthful courage of Spi- der-Man, but I have a special weakness for Superman. It’s not about all the things he can do—it’s how perfectly he embodies his function. I know that some people didn’t like 2006’s Superman Returns, but there is a moment in the film that defines the character in a way nothing else can. Superman flies up into the atmosphere, stops at that line between blue sky and dark space, and closes his eyes. And he just listens. Going Full Superman When we think of the Man of Steel, all sorts of powers come to mind: flight, heat vision, near-complete invulnerability. But we often overlook his greatest power: selflessness. koun fRanz on why he and his son aspire to be superheroes. PHOTOByTHEAUTHOR In that moment, he is Avalokiteshvara, the embodiment of compassion, who hears all the cries of the world and responds with a thousand outstretched, skillful hands. Superman makes a choice to find this vantage point, hovering between the world he protects and the perfect, unrestrained freedom of space, and he listens. Then, in a flash, he turns and speeds toward Earth, toward one of the millions of cries he just heard, to respond. We cheer for him, and we know as we watch that this is not his first time to come to this place or to listen in this way. This is what he does. It’s all he does. The beauty of superhero stories, for me, is that they invite us to identify with the superhero, to imagine ourselves with those burdens but also with those capabilities. When I watch Super- man, I allow myself to be Superman; when I watch Batman, I let myself become him. When the stories take us to their inevitable SHAMBHALA SUN MAy 2014 17