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What if Superman had landed in Kabul instead of Kansas?
Looking to duck out of life for a couple of hours, I recently cart wheeled in to the Jerusalem’s Globus Binyaney HaUma movie theater, where I saw – in delicious 3D – Man of Steel. This latest resurrection of the Superman franchise proved to be a thoroughly entertaining experience – a perfect popcorn movie.
While sucking down my second bottle of Fuze Peach Mango iced tea, my sugar-coated brain began to rummage manically for the secret behind Superman’s enduring appeal. For some, Superman is a great hero, fighting crime and injustice wherever he goes. To others, he embodies all that is great about the United States.
But what would have happened had the baby Kal-El not landed in a field in Smallville, Kansas? How would Kal-El’s worldview, values, super powers and ultimate destiny have been affected had his scientist father plugged in a different set of coordinates into the ship that brought the future Clark Kent to our fair green planet?
A few alternative endings to the Superman saga:
1) The Fifth Beatle: There’s no evidence to suggest that Clark Kent can carry a tune. However, the Superman character came into existence in 1938, making Kal-El a contemporary of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. What if Superman had landed in Strawberry Field – a Salvation Army children’s home in Liverpool, England? His incredible physical prowess could theoretically have been honed into becoming the world’s greatest drummer or guitar player.
Not too sure about the harmonica, though.
2) Dream of Californication: Having been discovered and adopted by a Kansas farmer and his wife, Superman was imbued with a strong moral compass. But what if Krypton’s only survivor had landed behind the famous Hollywood Sign, located in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains? Without strong Midwestern values to ground him, Jor-El’s naïve only son may well have wandered into the pornography capital of the world: Chatsworth, California. Clark Kent’s super physique would have been put to good use but that name would have go.
How’s about On Golden Blonde starring… Hank McCrackin?
3) Live from Kabul: Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent, is a reporter for the Daily Planet for the convenience of receiving late-breaking news before the general public, hence providing an excuse for being present at crime scenes. Now, had the ship carrying baby Kal-El landed in Kabul, Afghanistan, isn’t it just possible that Khalid Al-Kindi(not too many goat herders named Clark residing around these parts) would have signed up with one of the Al Jazeera Network’s many Middle-Eastern based bureaus?
After all, why should only truth and justice in Metropolis be defended? What about the divine rights and harems of sheikhs and mullahs?
4) Running Drugs at the Speed of Light: If the baby boy from a dying planet had landed in Medellín, Columbia, would he have grown up to be Carlos Quintana, ruthless member of an organized network of drug suppliers and smugglers that operated in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Honduras, the United States, as well as Canada and Europe during the 1970s and 1980s? Kal-El’s super-hearing could conceivably have been used to detect tapped phones; X-ray vision may have come in handy in spotting wired government informants and super-speed would have been essential in out running right-wing paramilitary groups and rival cartels seeking to dismantle the Medellín.
Can you just imagine Superman on a cocaine binge?
5) Leap of Faith: Did Kryptonians believe in God? Superman’s religious affiliation is never defined. Having been found in Kansas, he was raised with a solidly Protestant upbringing by his adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent. But what if Kal-El, son of Jor-El and Lara, had reached not Smallville but Tzfat (Safed) – the most mystical city in all of Israel. It’s not clear how Superman’s abilities affect his thought processes. But just as Tzfat marked a turning point in the life of Rabbi Karo, author of the last great codification of Jewish law – the Shulchan Aruch – perhaps the quiet and tranquility the city is known for would have inspired Kolby Kagan to learn and write and think.
Concentrating all his super powers on intellectual pursuits, isn’t it likely that Rabbi Kagan would have been able to leap over all contradictory Halachic interpretations in a single bound?
Well, dear reader, I sincerely thank you for having allowed me the pleasure of emptying the contents of my kaleidoscope mind.
And to all a good night!
Gidon Ben-Zvi is an accomplished writer who left behind Hollywood starlight for Jerusalem stone. After serving in an IDF infantry unit for two-and-a-half years, Gidon returned to the United States, where he embarked on a twelve-year run of half-baked careers and misguided educational pursuits. Today, Gidon is happily entangled and the mildly unhinged Ben-Zvis aspire to raise a brood of children who speak English fluently – with an Israeli accent.