Off Topic: “Man of Steel”

Man-of-SteelDecided to take a break from gaming and enjoy the holiday a bit to go to a movie.

I was a bit reticent to see this latest retelling of Superman on the big screen. The last attempt, Superman Returns, was a bland tale that was relatively low on action that I would nickname it, Superman: The Motionless Picture. While director Bryan Singer did well on X-Men and X-Men 2, he lost his mojo for Returns–likely because the movie seemed like there was some anvilicious message in it. That, and the film tried too hard to be a better continuation of the 1978 films.

The only reason I dragged myself to see this new film has a name associated with it: Christopher Nolan. The same guy that brought a realistic but enjoyable Dark Knight Trilogy of films wasn’t at the helm for this Superman film, but his production company headed the venture, and his influence with the script was clearly present.

So, what did I think of the movie?

I liked it. Superman was portrayed realistically and enjoyably. The character was close enough to its comic book legend, the story background from Krypton was primal and engrossing, and the acting was very good. I enjoyed Amy Adam’s Lois (neither quite damsel nor action girl), and I liked how the storyline took a page from Marvel on the xenophobia our society would have in reality if someone like Superman would appear.

The story is filled to the brim with action. Notable roles include Henry Cavill, who did quite well as Clark, as well as Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner as Clark’s fathers in a potent nod to the need for strong fathers. Lovely Diane Lane was stripped of her usual Hollywood glamour and (along with the actress that portrayed Kal-El’s mom) also sent a great message to the power of motherhood.

Seems that this summer is a time for re-dos. As with situations of a previous Star Trek film making its way into Star Trek Into Darkness (yet to be seen, but I know the plot), we get a retelling of General Zod. Contrary to his 1978 movie version, you can understand where this Zod comes from as he is simply not doing terrible things just to be terrible. He truly cares to save Krypton, however flawed his reasoning. Michael Shannon is dark, determined and a great foil for Superman.

The only element of the film I didn’t enjoy is something often glossed over in most of the comics but shouldn’t have been ignored in a “Nolanverse” film. Superman’s fights bring amazingly catastrophic destruction on a level similar to having ten 9/11 attacks with several collapsed buildings and the untold deaths that come from this. The movie ends without any mention of having to rebuild half of the city, nor how the populace feels about Superman’s presence. Personally, I’d be very fearful of being “saved” by Superman if he came to town. I’d find a bomb shelter right then and there. (In contrast, the end of The Avengers lampshades this similar destruction levied on New York City briefly as news reports roll in.)

I don’t want to spoil the film further, but if you still felt unsettled by Returns, go enjoy Man of Steel. Like The Dark Knight Trilogy, this will not uphold certain comic book precepts as, like in Batman Begins, people seem less, uh, stupid. Lois figures out who Clark is in the first 30 minutes. It’s not a story of Clark as Superman, but a story of people who either become better–or worse–because they learn, quite abruptly, that they are not alone in the universe.

(Update: Added a link to a website that calculated hypothetical damage and deaths based on Chicago or NYC as analogues for Metropolis. We’re talking deaths, injuries and missing in the millions, here.)

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ddomicki
    Jul 06, 2013 @ 09:29:12

    I recently went to see this movie myself. I did not like it, as I found it full of crazy action, destroying New York, while completely lacking the bits from the originals, Clark having to hide his identity while working at the Daily Planet. I didn’t like how they focused the whole movie around the fighting, and only gave us bits and pieces of back story to explain things. I thought the story was bad, and they seem to have solely focused on deatructorama and special effects. I too was wondering how he could care so little about the people around and the buildings he was destroying, and I dont see the city recovering easy from something like that.

    I haven’t read too many of the comics, but I did see the 3 original movies and Super girl, followed Lois & Clark and for a while Smallville.

    • teachersyn
      Jul 06, 2013 @ 11:53:56

      Yeah, I agree. As entertainment, I enjoyed it. But there’s a dissonance that struck harder for you but less to me as I expect comic book themes to deal with things like this. It’s that the Nolanverse movies don’t do the fantasy elements of the comics that made the destruction TOO real to where the genre gets seriously deconstructed. See http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Deconstruction to see what I mean. Real-life consequences in the movie are, uncharacteristic to Nolan’s work, completely ignored.

  2. Kavatch2.0
    Jul 08, 2013 @ 10:24:37

    The only problem I had with the movie was the fact that supermans powers are explained as his cells mutating from the suns radiation over the course of his life, But Zod and his guys come down and get super after five minutes? Fuck you inconsistent movie writers you ruin more and more of my theater goings every year.

    • teachersyn
      Jul 08, 2013 @ 13:03:31

      I think it was more than that. Clark’s body was more adjusted over time as is tradition to the comics. Sure, initial exposure gives Kryptonians powers, but stronger and more controllable powers was the key that seemed consistent enough in the movie.

  3. Daniel Haughton
    Jul 08, 2013 @ 17:48:58

    I look at it this way… Superman in this movie has a choice. Kill millions to stop Zod or let Zod kill billions. In a realistic take on this character, there is no middle ground. If Zod wants to keep the fight on the planet, HE CAN. So taking it “outside” (the atmosphere) isn’t really an option. Taking it outside city limits isn’t necessarily an option. Controlling the fight isn’t easy when your opponent has far more combat experience than you do, even if you have more experience with the power set you’re both using.

    Also, Superman likely hasn’t had time to process what’s happened. Look at Stark at the end of The Avengers and Stark in Iron Man 3. He’s gone from kicking back and eating calmly to post traumatic stress disorder. The same applies to the rest of the world. If the destruction is as widespread as has been said (I haven’t seen the film) then the only way to view the fight safely while it was going on was from orbit. And given media and spy satellites today, it likely was.

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