Superman's story is an iconic one. The tale of an alien from a lost world raised on Earth to become its greatest heroes one that inspires across all forms of media -- and now Netflix is suggesting that the Man of Steel's origin story may be one secretly told in the film Punch-Drunk Love.
Over on the Netflix Film Twitter, the streaming giant posted a thread with their evidence that Punch-Drunk Love is secretly a weird retelling of the Superman origin story. They break down their evidence into eight tweets of "evidence." You can check out the full thread below.
Ok, so hear me out: What if Punch-Drunk Love is secretly a bizarre retelling of the story of Superman? Here’s some supporting evidence (thread): pic.twitter.com/P2mEoqRqOJ— Netflix Film (@NetflixFilm) February 18, 2019
For those unfamiliar, Punch-Drunk Love is a 2002 romantic comedy-drama written by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The film follows Barry Egan (Sandler) a man with severe social anxiety who ends up set up on a date with his sister's co-worker, Lena Leonard (Watson). Barry and Lena immediately fall in love, but their relationship is quickly complicated by attempts of thugs to steal his identity and extort him. It's admittedly an odd premise and one that on the surface that doesn't seem like anything that would have any similarity to Superman. But that's where Netflix's "evidence" comes in.
According to Netflix's thread, Barry's constant retreating to a stolen piano for comfort during the film is an equivalent to the Fortress of Solitude, his exhibitions of hidden strength -- including breaking an "unbreakable plunger handle" is proof of super-human strength, and Barry's manipulation of a Healthy Choice meal promotion to obtain a million frequent flyer miles is a stand-in for the ability to fly. There are also some other little references in the film that could point to a Superman origin as well. Lena's name is very close to the name of two Superman love interest, Lois Lane and Lana Lang while there's a mention of the tell-it-like-it-is radio personality DJ Justice -- potentially a nod to the Justice League. Barry also has seven sisters in the film, potentially a reference for a star cluster named Pleiades and a sly reference to Barry coming from space.
The thread also goes on to reference the final image of the film, which is Barry, who is dressed in blue as he is the entire film, and Lena, dressed in red, sitting together at his piano. Perhaps the most interesting observation, though is that the film's "villain", The Mattress Man (Hoffman) is depicted wearing what appears to be a long black cape -- giving some definite General Zod vibes.
It's certainly an interesting theory, but it's also important to note that Netflix's thread is far from the first time fans of Punch-Drunk Love have made the association between the film and Superman's story. On Reddit's Fan Theories sub five years ago, a user going by "RyanDesmond" posited the same theory with much the same evidence while another fan made a similar video in 2013 suggesting the same general themes.
To the best of our knowledge at the time of this article's writing, Anderson has never given any indication that Punch-Drunk Love deliberately contains Superman themes. That said, it makes for an interesting way to approach to viewing Punch-Drunk Love, a film for which Sandler was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor -- Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
What do you think? Is Punch-Drunk Love a secret Superman origin story or just a quirky, surreal love story? Let us know what you think in the comments below.