The Hero’s Journey of Superman will commence soon
The abyss of pain calls for regrouping, rebuilding. As I bite down, trying to fight through the agony, I remember that I did not give a complete picture of how the Monomyth applies to probably one of the greatest mythical heroes of the modern age (especially as Richard Donner tells it):
It is personal.
I took on this pain, so my father would have the will to live, to even become my father in the first place. (See
for the personal connections)
I will admit this selection is probably not an obvious one. This scene from Superman III is near the middle of the movie, and is not especially set up well for a Monomyth interpretation by other story elements. I think it is easier to understand, however, from the ideas explored in the previous movies.
The original challenge and temptation was the love of Lois Lane. In both her discovery of his identity and his decision to become mortal as she, it was a Refusal of the Call of sorts. Although his return to the Fortress of Solitude (see Superman & the At-One-Ment With the Father) led to atonement with Jor-El, Kal-El was not fully reconciled with his dual roles as Superman and Clark Kent. Having failed the original challenge, another Ordeal was required.
The junk yard fight had a physical element: a human-synthesized kryptonite did not weaken him in the same way as the true fragments of his home world. Instead, it left him vulnerable to mortal vice. Perhaps this is one element why Superman has been compared to Christ: Kal-El had not fully experienced mortality until briefly succumbing to its fallibilities and shortcomings. And it is not Superman who triumphs, but Clark Kent, who subsumes him; and then the Transformation is complete, as Kal-El is fully ready to be champion of the people of Earth.
Deleted scene from Superman Returns, 2006.
In Superman II, Kal-El experienced Transformation (forsaking his powers for the love of Lois Lane) and Atonement and Gift of the Goddess (returning to the Fortress of Solitude to receive his powers again from the last spark of Jor-El).
In this scene, Kal-El (Superman) revisits the Abyss– the destroyed world of Krypton, before the Return (returning to Earth to resume his role as Superman) and a repeat of the Monomyth cycle (reconciliation with his own son).