No, I do not ask this question, in half-seriousness, because Superman’s arch-nemesis, in his present incarnation, is played by world-class nutcase and raging egomaniac Kevin Spacey, in the (very) disappointingly underwhelming “Superman Returns.” (You know a movie is in trouble when two dead people – Christopher Reeve and Marlon Brando – receive more applause during the reel of the film than does any scene in the film, and when John Williams’ rousing theme – played AS JOHN WILLIAMS’ THEME over the opening credits – is the highlight of the film).

I ask because of Luthor’s diabolical scheme in this particular film to take over the world. What’s the scheme this time, Lex? To rip out Superman’s sphincter? To blow up the New York Times Building (oh, wait – that’s Lex Coultor)? To suck the collective intelligence out of all of America, a la Jim Carrey in Batman Forever? (Good luck there. Try filling up a canister! And this is from the blue states!)

No, Lex’ scheme involves…… real estate (how apropos!) Luthor, having located Superman’s Fortress of Solitude in the most frozen reaches of Earth, has stolen a series of crystals from the forrtress. (He also has managed to pilfer a puny piece of kryptonite from the Metropolis Museum of Natural Historry). He discovers that the crystals, when launched as projectiles into the ocean…. have miraculous terraforming properties. The launch of one such crystal can create an entire mass of land off the coast of North America. Luthor deploys the crystal and this land mass is formed. (The movie is mum about how exactly the formation does not run afoul of the Second Law of Thermodynamics). Of course, as Luthor notes, as the land mass expands – as he projects it will – on to the North American continent, eventually, the North American continent will be submerged underwater (since, as he notes, two masses cannot occupy the same space at the same time. The guy quotes Prometheus early on in the movie; forget aobut him; he needs to brush up on his Archimedes).

In due course, the land mass is created, and North America begins to drown. Luthor begins to crow about how having formed the land mass will make him the richest man in the world (never mind that when billions of people die because of your accident, it might not mean very much to have that designation), because the North American survivors and the rest of the planet’s population will just be “dying” to live on his new continent, he says.

So what will this new world look like ten years hence? When it is formed, it is such a vast, empty wasteland that Marshall McLuhan would blanch at the sight of it. (Think of a pre-construction condo for which no one has signed up). But surely, Luthor has plans to, over the next ten years, spruce the place up a bit, right? Wrong! In ten years, the place will look as disgusting and will be as inhospitable as it is now! In short, not even the “We Buy Ugly Houses” folks would snap up a house on this hulking heap of junk. Not that this matters to Luthor – for he has remembered Scarlett O’Hara’s father’s famous dictum from Gone With the Wind – “land is the only thing that matters. It’s the only thing that lasts.” (Of course, Mr. O’Hara lived on Tara, not Scara).

Luthor has Muslim-like properties, I think, because he thirsts to render land inhospitable, much as the Muslims who want to drive Israel into the sea want to render Israel inhospitable. I wonder which the Muslims want more – the death of all of the Jews in Israel as an end in and of itself, or that death as a mere means to another end: the complete flotsamization of the Middle East.

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