So how did Superman's absence and return affect the world? (open spoilers)

Yesterday, I took my young nieces to see The Devil Wears Prada. The younger of them decided she wanted to see Superman Returns instead, and since I felt her cousin was old enough to be left alone in a theatre but the younger was not, I saw the movie again. Watching it, a few questions for my fellow Dopers sprung to mind: not plot holes as such, but things I wished had been explored in greater length in the movie.

In no particular order:

So what was the thrust of Lois’ Pulitzer-prize winning article, anyway?
I have an inkling what it might have been. Around the time the first movie was released, Elliot S! Maggin wrote a few Superman novels. In one, Lois Lane interviews a sociologist* who has written a book contending Superman is retarding the Earth’s social development. The sociologist asks Lois what she would do if she were trapped in a cave-in a diamond mind in South Africa and no one knew where she was; sheepishly, she admits that she’d wish Superman would hurry up and rescue her, as she has a deadline to meet. The sociologist points out that the whole world things this way because of Superman’s presence; because Superman acts as Daddy to population of Earth, the impetus for social change and growth has been removed. This, it occurs ot me, might have been the point Lois made in her editorial; I’d have liked to have Lex quote from it, either in his first scene on the boat or when he’s haranging the captive Jason & Lois. Anybody else have a better concept?

How did the world react in the first days or weeks of Superman’s absence?
It’s pretty clear that Superman told no one except his mother that he was going. I can easily imagine days of sharply-increased death rates in Metropolis, in particular, because people had gotten used to being reckless because the big blue boy scout was around. But once it sunk it had he had disappeared, then what? Were pretty girls hurling themselves off the Metropolis verision of the World Trade Center in hopes of bring him back? Were there cult leaders exploiting the void his absence left? What?

How did religious leaders react to Superman’s return?
We’ve spoken before about Superman’s Christ-like role in the movie; for me the single most overt moment of that in the movie is when Parker Posey sings “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” on the day after the shuttle accident. Kitty can’t be the only person who thinks Superman=Jesus. What does the Pope say about this? Billy Graham? Jerry Falwell?

Just a few random thoughts for you to chew on, Teeming Millions.

I’ve only seen the movie once, but I didn’t get that impression at all. What leads you to that conclusion?

It’s an intriguing thought, that Superman might be retarding social development. Certainly the Metropolis emergency forces would prefer to have him around, I’d think. There might have been a crime wave after the bad guys realized he’d left; certainly some people would die in fires, tunnel disasters, shipwrecks, etc. who otherwise would probably have been saved.

In “Watchmen,” by comparison, it’s pretty clear that Dr. Manhattan’s presence has emboldened the U.S. in its foreign policy, and Nixon presses his advantage against the Soviets to the extent that they feel a lot more confident in invading Afghanistan and pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war once Dr. M. decides to weekend on Mars. Dr. M’s earlier intervention in Vietnam, and the subsequent U.S. triumph there, also distorted the political process, as the 22nd Amendment was repealed in its afterglow and Nixon could run again and again and again.

I can think of several Presidents since 1938 who would have been quite tempted to use Superman in a way that was - purely by happenstance! - politically-advantageous to them.

I thought he promised the president he would never leave, and this was after a couple weeks (days?) absence in Superman II.

Then off he goes for FIVE YEARS??

Because not even Lois knew where he had gone or why. If Lois’ first question in the interview (and my, wasn’t she PISSED that he had come by for PR rather than personal reasons) was “Where did you go?” then it’s pretty clear he left without warning.

What does the asterisk point to?

The superhumans-retarding-human-growth these is also touched on in Kingdom Come, where one character makes the disturbing point that, in a world of these beings with powers and abilities far beyond mortal men, what’s the point of even haven an Olympics? Why show the best a normal man can do (and Bat man is NOT normal) when that level of physical skill is feeble in comparison to, say, Wonder Woman on her worst day?

Why have weightlifting competitions when a robot could do better? It’s about competition between humans, I don’t know about wonder woman, but lots of the other don’t qualify.

And I suppose the Pitch-a-matic 5000 was just a modified howitzer…

My poor proof-reading skills?

In case anyone had read the book and was as anal as I am, I was going to note that the person Lois interviewed was actually one of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Though the sociologist was a real person and his work and opinions were his own, the Guardians decided to send one of their number to make the world world in general–and Superman in particular–got the point emphasized to them properly. In short, the Guardians thought there was some merit to the sociologist’s argument. But I decided not to bother and so removed that bit from my original post–but overlooked the asterisk. :smack:

Here’s some things that I don’t understand:

When Supes shows up at his mother’s house after 5 years, you see him watching the Iraq War on TV the next morning, and yet, no one asks him, “Where the hell were you on 9/11, you bastard? And why weren’t you around when they were claiming there were WMDs in Iraq? You could have proved that there wasn’t any and saved us from this mess that we’ve found ourselves in!”

Next, if Lois didn’t remember that Clark and Supes were the same guy, then how did she know that Supes was the father of her kid? (And it’s pretty freakin’ obvious when Lex asks her who’s the father of the kid, that she knows Supes is the daddy. And even if she didn’t know that Supes was the daddy until Jr sends the piano flying, then she’s gotta be wondering, “When the hell did we do it?” I mean, I’d be pretty pissed if some hot chick showed up one day with a kid and proof that it was mine and I couldn’t remember doing the nasty, I can only imagine what a bitch it must be to squeeze out a pup that you can’t really explain how it got planted in you.)