A Fact-Check for the Four-Color World

Monday, July 17, 2006

Superman Returns

What follows could probably be considered a **SPOILER**, but it's a pretty minor one.

I finally saw Superman Returns earlier tonight. Great film.

Enough about that. So why am I mentioning it here? Because there was a small, but significant, legal blooper tossed out a couple of times in dialogue. I wish I could say that I was the first to write about it, but some quick Googling shows that a handful of scattered posters beat me to the punch. Such is the downside of waiting three weeks to see the movie.

Twice it's said that the reason Lex Luthor is no longer in prison (despite being given a double life sentence) is because of Superman. It's said that when Lex's case was on appeal, the appeals court called Superman to testify, and when he didn't show, the court expressed its displeasure by reversing Lex's convictions.

The error is this: appeals courts don't call witnesses. They review the evidence that was presented in the lower court, and they hear new arguments from attorneys for both sides, but there are no witnesses called to the stand like during jury trials.

So when Lex got his case up for review, the appeals court would go over Superman's testimony from Lex's trial, but they wouldn't call Superman, or anyone else, again.

Now could the other things Lex mentions (e.g., Superman not reading Miranda rights) have been what helped Lex out? Probably not. Superman's not an agent of the state, so the same restrictions don't apply to him. As far as Miranda rights go, those would only really affect the admissibility at trial of any incriminating statements that Lex made after he was taken into custody. And I don't think a court would need a confession from Lex to convict him for the crimes he's committed on the big screen.

Since I also mentioned a non-legal matter back in my Batman Begins review, I'll mention one thing in this movie that stuck out to me. When Lex shows off the maps of his master plan, they appear to illustrate a rising sea level. He even mentions the displacement of water that will happen. So if the sea level is going to rise, killing "billions," then why do the maps show it rising only along the Atlantic coast, while remaining the same along the Pacific? (And if I'm remembering those maps wrong, please say so.)