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Excavating the FutureArchaeology and Geopolitics in Contemporary North American Science Fiction Film and Television$
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Shawn Malley

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786941190

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786941190.001.0001

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(p.112) Chapter 6 Smallville
Excavating the Future

Shawn Malley

Liverpool University Press

For 10 seasons Smallville (2001-2011) remodelled Superman for audiences growing up with Clark Kent in an age perhaps uniquely defined by insecurity. Clark's struggles to understand what the audience infers is his pre-determined destiny are shaped within social realities very different from those of his comic book progenitor's. The show very smartly establishes tensions between good and evil not in terms of moral benchmarks but through complex exercises of power. Archaeology is an important vehicle for Smallville's revitalization of the Superman mythos. As a decade-long excavation and reinterpretation the Kryptonian's coming of age as the guardian par excellence of national and global security, a mysterious blend of artefacts, expeditions and ancient aliens are crucial sources of contestation and education for the young superhero. Through archaeological reference, education and exploration, the show sets up a flexible framework for responding to current crises in terms that resist the binaries under which such antagonisms are rendered in so much of the popular rhetoric circulating in the American geopolitical imaginary.

Keywords:   science fiction film and television, archaeology, geopolitics, Superman, Smallville, national security

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