Glass Onion is my favourite Superman film

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
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Glass Onion is my favourite Superman film just like Attack The Block is my favourite Spider-Man film. Some small spoilers as to why…


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Spoilers for Glass Onion lie head…

What does Superman stand for? What do his fans want the character to represent? And will they find it, quite unexpectedly, in Glass Onion?

To explain what I’m getting at, I’ll need to dip into spoilers for Rian Johnson’s new Knives Out follow-up. Hopefully you’ve been able to see this remarkable film in the cinema this week; otherwise I recommend checking it out on Netflix in December and then reading this post only after that. But first, a little recap of recent Superman sentiment.

The incumbent cinematic Kal-El, son of Krypton, is Henry Cavill. Very recently he talked up possibilities of shooting some new Superman projects and expressed his desire to capture some “hope, optimism, and joy” with the role.

Some might say this is a far cry from Cavill’s first turn under the S-shield and spandex, if not his subsequent appearances too. Many have criticised Man Of Steel especially, with its rendition of an angry, city-devestating, neck-snapping Kal-El, for ‘betraying’ the character’s comic book origins.

Several times now I’ve bumped into the very same exemplar of what Superman can – and, according to hordes of his fans, should – be a paragon of. It’s a single page of All-Star Superman #10, written by Grant Morrison, pencilled by Frank Quitely and inked and coloured by Jamie Grant, and it ripples back and forth across social media like an echo of one, extremely powerful, superheroics-shaped sentiment.

In this section of the comic, Superman overhears a cry for help and flies several miles to the side of Regan, a young girl standing on a rooftop. She’s considering the worst, but Superman tells her that, despite her fears, her doctor really has been held up, that she’s much stronger than she thinks, and that she can trust him. In the final panel of the page, they embrace. Talk about Superman landing a punch.

Something similar takes up many more pages in the Superman: Grounded story arc, published a few years later. There may also be many other examples I don’t know about. There’s more than enough potency here for several renditions.

These versions of Superman care. He’s there. He’s listening. And he’s going to do whatever he can to help.

All Star Superman #10

All Star Superman #10

To tell you how this relates to Benoit Blanc and Glass Onion, I’m going to have to spoil some things. Once again, if you have yet to see the film, I suggest you turn back now…

So. There’s a beautiful scene in the middle of the film. For several reasons it’s my favourite scene in the whole story. If you’ve seen it, you’ll remember the impact it has. This is the scene that makes this, for want of a better way of putting it, my favourite Superman movie.

There’s a character in Glass Onion – and I won’t spoil which one, again you’ll know if you’ve seen it – who finds themselves in a very bad place. Something truly terrible has happened, and there seems to be no justice to offset this tragedy even slightly. They’ve been so horribly mistreated it almost breaks my heart just to think of it.

This character has turned to Benoit Blanc for help. And how did they find him? A single line of dialogue suggests a truly beautiful answer.

“Google says you’re the world’s greatest detective.”

‘World’s greatest detective’ is an honorific that’s normally associated with Batman, I know, but in this context, I thought immediately of Superman.

The world portrayed in the Superman comics is special because of Superman. Need him, and he’s there. He’ll do the incredible thing you can’t do – however incredible, or even just something entirely simple but perfect, as demonstrated above.

The world of Knives Out and Glass Onion is special too. It’s because of Benoit Blanc. Google “world’s greatest detective” in your hour of need and up he comes. Find him and he’ll listen, and he’ll care, and he’ll help.

And, in the situation we see in Glass Onion, he’ll even go on to tell you that he needs you to help him. Imagine that! You get Superman’s ear and he tells you that, yes, he’ll put his superpowers to work righting your wrong, chasing your justice, honouring your loss, but he’s going to need you to help him out. He won’t be able to do it without you because you’re special too. He makes you believe you can do it – and so you can!

Glass Onion: Knives Out 2

Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc

Looking back at Knives Out, something entirely similar happens with Marta. Not in the same way, but with these two stories together, the Superman-status of Benoit Blanc has been confirmed for me. These movies happen in a world where somebody is going to search for the world’s greatest detective online in the same way a character might mutter “help me Superman” under their breath when they’re alone and defeated in Metropolis or Smallville.

For a mystery hound like myself, it was almost too exciting to see the great detective Benoit Blanc raised to the status of superhero – with all of the integrity and hopefulness you’d associate with Superman. That one line of dialogue, “Google says you’re the world’s greatest detective”, conjures up a whole world where justice and truth is just one sincere chat with Benoit Blanc away. It made my heart explode with joy in just the way that the best stories of Good vs Evil do. I was overjoyed that the light of Blanc’s world is an eccentric sleuth – my own idea of a movie superhero!

There are other comparisons between Blanc and Superman too, I think.

These are bigger spoilers so really don’t read on too far from here if you haven’t seen the film. I mean it!

There’s a swimming pool scene in the film in which Blanc’s attire show him being just as loosey-goosey about what constitutes outerwear and what are actually, you know, swimming trunks of some kind. Very Superman, right? Right? Okay…

I think the plot of Glass Onion was inspired more by Five Dolls For An August Moon than Superman, and by Rian Johnson’s desire to comment on reality even more than that, but the story definitely has a real Lux Luthor of a villain. Anagram fans will tell you that comparisons to one Mr Musk are woven into Glass Onion's character names – Elon brims with Miles Bron – but the craven, immoral entrepeneur-type has been Superman’s nemesis for more than eight decades now.

And what a great class of villain it is. Just as despicable and worthy of our contempt as the virtues of Superman and Benoit Blanc make those characters worthy of our aspirations.

Glass Onion is my favourite Superman film much like Attack The Block is my favourite Spider-Man film, or at least Spider-Man origin story, but maybe that’s a different story for a different time. Johnson has made a truly wonderful film here, and from the pivotal scene discussed in this post onwards, it’s something even better than that.

It’s still in cinemas now (at time of writing, at least) and will be streaming on Netflix from 23 December.

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