CULTURE SCHLOCK– By Darren Garnick
May 25, 2006
In case you were wondering exactly how many minutes you have to wait until “Superman Returns” hits the theaters, check out the countdown clock at www.bluetights.net.
Another way to learn that Krypton’s favorite son is about to re-enter our lives – whether we see the movie or not – is to take a stroll down the supermarket aisle. Six weeks before the official release date, the Superman “S” is emblazoned everywhere.
The Quaker Oats company, for example, offers “Limited Edition” boxes of Superman Life cereal, Superman (Captain) Crunch cereal, Superman Four Cheese Pasta Roni, and Superman Chewy Granola Bars with Superman Chocolate Chips.
The pasta is actually shaped like the Superman logo, but the two cereals only feature a chintzy representation of he “shield” outline without the “S.” Even more of a sham are the so-called “Super” chocolate chips, which are covered in red and blue candy coating. The generic color pattern by itself could easily symbolize Spider Man or the nation of France.
So if you’re going to shell out big bucks for the Superman license, why settle for such lackluster visuals? Why aren’t Captain Crunch and the Quaker Oats Guy wearing leotards, capes and matching go-go boots? Instead of pouring milk, couldn’t they be taking a few bullets off the chest?
The bigger question is WWSD? What would Superman do — if he were real?
As a superhero who chose the noble profession of investigative journalism, Superman built up an impeccable reputation for honesty and integrity. I believe he would be far more selective with his endorsement deals and choose only the products he personally uses.
I tasted those cereals and granola bars. They are not worthy of the Man of Steel. It’s like the creative departments of the big food conglomerates have been on strike and someone took a Magic marker and wrote the word “Superman” on the regular packages.
As someone who considers “Superman II” with Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman one of my 10 favorite movies of all time, the watering down of Superman’s image insults me. They can slap Spider Man and the Hulk on as many incongruous products (i.e. dishwasher detergent, dental floss, car mats, etc.) as they wish, but don’t crew with the son of Jor-El.
My feelings aside, a quick check with some of America’s most die-hard Superman fans indicates no hints of a looming consumer backlash.
Steven Kirk, of Eagle Rock, Calif., is certainly a prime candidate for Kryptonian citizenship. Not only did he propose to his wife Vicki at a Hollywood wax museum dressed as Superman, he also is currently raising money to save the Iowa boyhood home of 1950s Superman actor George Reeves.
“Superman’s “S” shield logo is money in the bank, almost as recognized around the world as the Christian cross,” says Kirk. “And it’s never lost its luster.”
“On a scale from 1 to 10, how likely is it that I’ll pick up a product with the Superman logo on it and put it in the cart? 10. Always 10,” he adds, noting he already has purchased Superman Cap’n Crunch and Superman Life cereals.
“I also picked up a box of Superman Pasta Roni. I’ve never bought, or even been tempted to buy Pasta Roni before, but hey, now it’s “Pasta Roni! Now with 100% More Superman!”, so in the cart it goes.”
Megafan Jeff Germann, who runs both SupermanGiftStore.com and http://www.SupermanCollectors.com, enthusiastically welcomes the new boom in Clark Kent-blessed food.
“I have more items related to Superman in stock than anyone,” he boasts. “… I am not there yet, but my goal is, “If it’s got an S, I got it!”
Consider the Superman granola an appetizer for the main course: the film on June 30. If Germann’s hunger is representative of the comic book community, Warner Brothers will soon be singing “ka-ching, kaching!”
“People have been waiting for 20 years to see Superman on the screen again,” he says. “I think the people who created the latest trailer played on this perfectly. It ended with Clark Kent popping in through a door and asking “You wanted to see me?”
“Of course, we want to see you. Where have you been?”
I miss Superman, too, Jeff. I really do. I’m just concerned about his future.
Superman has already died once in the comic books, but his life is in jeopardy again. This time he’s facing a deadly enemy he might not be able to defeat so easily. It’s called Overexposure.
Darren Garnick’s “Culture Schlock” column runs every Thursday in Encore. Story tips and comments are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On The Net…
For more information on the First Annual George Reeves Memorial
Festival, June 16-18, in Woolstock, Iowa, visit
For a second-by-second breakdown on how long you need to wait to see
“Superman Returns,” check out www.bluetights.net.
For the latest scoop on Superman collectibles, visit www.SupermanCollectors.com.