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Some Thoughts Concerning Man of Steel

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I'll apologize in advance for my rather belated ramblings on this topic, but for some reason I've been rather obsessed with this film as of late. I've been watching some clips of it on Youtube, and I've also been thinking about buying some of the Movie Masters figures. With its arrival today on DVD and Blu-ray, I guess my interest is at an all-time high, and feel as if this film desereves a little more discussion than it seemed to receive upon its release in theaters.

 

I've had some time now to digest the whole thing, and I wanted to share my thoughts on why I think Man of Steel is so awesome and epic, and why it doesn't necessarily deserve the criticisms it's gotten:

 

First of all, many have made the observation, as I had initially, that MOS is devoid of any humor or light-hearted moments, that it seemed to take itself way too seriously. The only one I can think of that's even remotely funny off the top of my head is the bar scene at the beginning of the film, and even that one is understated. After pondering the nature of the story and what they were trying to do with it, it seems appropriate to have a more serious tone for the film. Any humor I think would undermine the themes of world domination, catastrophe, xenophobia, and alien invasion, and make it all seem a little silly, like when James Bond makes a quip about a villain when he explodes or any Schwarzenegger character when he takes out a bad guy. There was no forced comic relief in the film, and in retrospect that's a good thing. Now many fans will compare, and understandably so, any current and future comic book movie to The Avengers, and that film did have a few funny moments, but they weren't due to some bumbling comic character or inappropriate comments. They came mostly from the character of Iron Man, and most of us will agree that we all went into that film knowing he was gonna be a funny smart-@$$ that would provide some levity just because of the nature of his character, not because there were some funny lines written for him for levity's sake. So I feel as if the "serious epic" feel of the film was entirely appropriate, even enjoyable. Because let's face it...Superman's a god-like character that looks like you and me for all intents and purposes, yet he was raised as a human being, with all of the complicated nuances and emotions that come with being so.

 

Secondly...I feel as if playing the part of General Zod may be Michael Shannon's break-out role, although I understand, after a little research, he's apparently been acting for several years. I was completely unaware of who he was, but I just love the role he played. Terrence Stamp's portrayal of the would-be Kryptonian dictator/world dominator is still, of course a classic, but you have to admit, his role was campy at times and unintentionally humorous, as memorable as it was. Shannon's Zod is all business, with no tounge-in-cheek moments of buffoonery. I'm just fascinated by his portrayal. He strikes me as a cross between Darth Vader and Colonel Quaritch from Avatar...he's just got that no-nonsense military leader aura and delivery about him. That, paired with his over-the-top, single-minded devotion to Krypton's survival by any means necessary, makes him fascinating to watch as a villain. He almost steals the show from the heroes, just like Heath Ledger's Joker did in The Dark Knight. I just can't get enough of watching that character. It's made me an instant Michael Shannon fan.

 

Third, I understand that this film has gotten a lot of flak for the scenes of destruction, as if it's almost a disaster flick. Well, here's my take on it: Superman is only one man, even if he is a super-powered humanoid alien. He could have tried harder to save more people, to limit the destruction, but at what cost? The annihilation of the entire human race? He truly had much bigger fish to fry, as it were. The fact that he single-handedly destroyed the world machine alone should absolve him from any collateral damage his fight with Zod may have incurred. Besides, many if not most of the buildings I think had been evacuated, as had the Daily Planet. I just don't think as many people were killed as most critics would have you think. The only time I thought Superman's actions may have endangered others was when he plowed through Smallville with Zod while pounding on his face, when he caused that gas station to explode. But even then it seemed as if no one was injured, amazingly enough. And time and time again we see Superman saving all kinds of people throughout the film, so it's not as if he's mindlessly fighting and causing wanton destruction with no regards to innocent bystanders. Having said that, unfortunately there will always be collateral damage in times of war and battle, no matter how careful and/or precise the combatants may try to be, and I will agree with the notion that Superman could have tried harder to take the fight to more remote areas to limit casualties, but maybe it was impossible with so many adversaries confining him to any given spot. That's the thing you have to consider...how much running and leading-away can you do when Zod and Co. are pounding you and threatening the safety of others. It'd be mighty difficult if not impossible I'd imagine, especially for the novice hero Kal-El. After all, this was his first outing as a supehero, although he seemed to slip into the role very easily.

 

This brings me to my next point, and that is the ready-made-hero nature of Superman in this film. In the original film, we see a more gradual development, with brief glimpses of his upbringing and struggle to stifle his powers. We see that in MOS as well, but it seems a little more fully realized. Both Jor-El and Pa Kent seem fully conscious of what Clark is destined to become. They both seem to know that he's meant to do great things and use his amazing powers to become a great hero. the only thing that's left to fate is the notion that when he's haphazardly sent to earth as an infant, Kal-El could have fallen into the wrong hands; what if some questionable couple or person had found and raised him with less than scrupulous morals? It's one of those "Elseworlds" scenarios we've seen explored time and time again, but thank goodness the Kents found him. And looking back on the first film, I guess Jor-El does seem to know that his son would potentially become a great hero to the human race, it's just that it's a little more apparent to me in Russel Crowe's portrayal, as if he was almost designing the whole thing, setting his son up for a great destiny, and that intrigues me, to think he designed the suit even and wanted to groom him for the role of savior and protector, as if he were fond of Earth and the human race in general, and he knew his son would take care of them and help shape their destiny. It was just a more hands-on take on Jor-El that I really liked, and I got a distinct "Obi-Wan" vibe off of Crowe, which happens to be my favorite Jedi, incidentally...

 

Finally, I've read some reviews that nick-name this film "disaster porn", as if it's just filled with popcorn-movie battles and explosions. Well dangit, that's what I want to see in a Superman movie. I'm one of the seemingly few fans that enjoyed Superman Returns; that film was like a love-letter to fans of the original films, but it was more about story and exposition, and not necessarily the fights and earth-shattering blows and superhuman feats of strength. The best part to me was the scene where Superman saves the space shuttle and jet-liner...he flies like a supersonic jet and plows unharmed right through airplane debris in mid-air. I just get goosebumps whenever I see that scene. But at the end of the day, that movie was ultimately one big teaser; it was just a taste of what a modern Superman movie could look and feel like, as if we were shown the potential of what was possible, but the modern Superman film was never fully realized. Bryan Singer seemed to play it safe, which was okay I guess. I still love that movie, but...I wanted to see Superman really cut loose with his powers. In MOS, we finally see an honest-to-goodness powerful and epic theatrical Superman, complete with adversaries that could go toe-to-toe with him in the form of other Kryptonians, namely General Zod and his cronies, that could match him blow-for blow in battles that would truly showcase his powers. I wanted to see train engines being thrown around, to see buildings collapse from the blows landed by superhumans. I wanted to see Cyclops-level eye-blasts that cut through anything and everything. But it was all tempered by Henry Cavill's down-to-earth (no pun intened), approachable, big-brother nice-guy appeal. He never came across as arrogant (no New 52 influence thankfully) or belligerent, and he seemed restrained when he needed to be and composed, stoic even, just as we would expect someone to be who had been raised by the wholesome Kents, someone with a conscience and moral compass. He remains the Superman we all know and love.

 

I just feel as if this movie hit every note perfectly and doesn't deserve the criticisms it gets. I realize that no film is perfect, but for what I wanted to see in a Superman movie, it was handled and crafted very well. I just hope the fanboy dream-film Superman vs. Batman doesn't unravel the dignity and nobility MOS established. Speaking of which, it just seems so jarring that DC went through pains to maintain a series of films with more ambiguous, cryptic, and sophisticated titles like The Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel, only to propose...Superman vs. Batman. *sigh* I just read the former titles in my mind, and I hear Ian McKellen's voice, then when I hear Superman vs. Batman, I hear that 33-year-old man's voice that sounds like he's trying to sound fourteen that does the toy commercial voice-overs. (lol)

 

Oh, and one more thing I thought was awesome...the whole "War of the Worlds" vibe I got from the arrival of Zod and his people. I mean, you know who it is, and you know what they look like, but we get to see their arrival through the eyes of Earthlings, and it's so realistic and creepy...right down to the flickering lights, creepy news coverage and footage of their landing, and Zod's spooky transmission. *brrr* It's sooo awesome...

 

I look forward to any agreements/disagreements, expansions, and or counterarguments, or even points I overlooked and/or failed to touch upon.

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My main problem with MOS is that I felt the Superman/Lois relationship felt very forced. I personally thought Superman had more chemistry with the bartender girl than Lois.

 

I can accept the "disaster porn" and collateral damage in the movie as part of Superman's inexperience and as a set-up for someone (namely Lex Luthor) to take advantage of the circumstances to make a name for himself in the rebuilding process and ride a wave of anti-alien hype.

 

One regret I have of MOS is that it effectively kills the Dark Knight universe and reboots Batman. (I would have liked to see a new Batman under the cowl with Bruce Wayne as his benefactor in another Nolan movie.)

 

PharmV

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Any humor I think would undermine the themes of world domination, catastrophe, xenophobia, and alien invasion,

 

Superman's a god-like character that looks like you and me for all intents and purposes, yet he was raised as a human being, with all of the complicated nuances and emotions that come with being so.

 

Speaking to that first point, those are a lot of big, weighty themes and yes, it did seem like they were trying to cram all of that into one movie. Maybe just pick one or two of those to tackle.

 

Also, it's been admitted by almost anyone involved in creating any Superman story that one of the biggest hurdles the character faces is being relateable to the audience. A little humor goes a long way to breaking down that barrier and it would have been much appreciated in this film. No, it does not have a Tony Stark-type character in it and of course you don't need one to have SOME kind of light haearted, humorous moments. Good writers can even find a way to do humor without it being campy or undermining anything your trying to do in a movie.

 

I'm not in agreement with a lot of your other points and that's fine but I will bring up something you didn't touch on that really bugged me about MOS:

 

The Pa Kent death was complete bunk. Clark would not STAND BY and watch a loved one die when he is fully capable of saving them! We've seen the scenario many times-loved one in danger, Clark has to figure out a way to save them...fast...without revealing his identity. He figures a way out of that situation all the time! And for the sake of argument...let's say he can't. Let's say there's absolutely NO WAY he can save the loved one AND keep his secret. Well then, by God, he says "to hell with it!" and saves them at the cost of revealing his secret to everyone! I think I remember the film's justification for Clark standing by and watching Pa die as being something like, "if they know about your abilities they'll never stop hunting you...they may even kill you". I guess that's a reason to go ahead and let a loved one die.....IF the only person you care about is yourself.

 

Yeah, I can't get past that one.

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Don't forget that Jonathan suggests that Clark should have let a bus load of school kids drown rather than expose his secret. These aren't even faceless stranger kids these are Smallville kids that Pa Kent would know personally. Small wonder the only time Clark listens to his father is to let him die.

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i too loved MOS. i totally agree about finally being able to see truely epic "super" battles. damn all the nay sayers...i hope to see a sequel or two from this.

 

i enjoyed superman returns, but i didnt love it. i agree on the "best part". i had goosebumps when SM landed the plane into the baseball field, sheetmetal buckling and all!!!!! that was one of the best superman moments ever imo!

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The Pa Kent death was complete bunk. Clark would not STAND BY and watch a loved one die when he is fully capable of saving them! We've seen the scenario many times-loved one in danger, Clark has to figure out a way to save them...fast...without revealing his identity. He figures a way out of that situation all the time! And for the sake of argument...let's say he can't. Let's say there's absolutely NO WAY he can save the loved one AND keep his secret. Well then, by God, he says "to hell with it!" and saves them at the cost of revealing his secret to everyone! I think I remember the film's justification for Clark standing by and watching Pa die as being something like, "if they know about your abilities they'll never stop hunting you...they may even kill you". I guess that's a reason to go ahead and let a loved one die.....IF the only person you care about is yourself.

 

Yeah, I can't get past that one.

 

Well, I'll admit I struggled with that one too at first. I think the beginning scene in Star Trek Into Darkness portrayed the more acceptable response to endangering those that are dear to us in favor of the bigger picture. After all, sometimes the needs of the few, or the one, outweighs the needs of the many, to contradict what Mr. Spock said all those years ago. But I've thought about why Pa Kent would be so protective of Clark in terms of hiding his powers from the world and maintaining his anonymity...were he to be prematurely exposed to the world and revealed what he was and could do, before he had a chance to mature, perfect his abilities, and ultimately perhaps defend himself, the military would have had him locked-down and subjugated in some Area 51-esque facility, subjecting him to procedures and/or experiments, thereby robbing the world of the protector it may need someday, and that day was when Zod came calling, with his plan to terraform the Earth to make way for a new Krypton, thereby extinguishing the human race. Pa Kent didn't necessarily know Clark was invulnerable, and/or he perhaps didn't know what the government was capable of doing to him. He seemingly did know however, as Jor-El did, that Clark/Kal-El had the potential to become a great guardian and the protector of Earth, and nothing could jeopardize that. Seeing it that way has helped me understand Pa Kent's comments and actions more. What an enormous responsibility, to know you were raising and guiding someone that may someday save the world. I guess I would have protected that at all costs too.

 

But yojoe...you do remind me of the creative ways Superman had to help or save people incognito in past films and shows, and that was always fun and interesting to watch. Wouldn't it have been cool to see Clark "disappear" at super-speed and grab Pa Kent as he was being lifted up and away, using the tornado as a cover? Yes, it would have been a miraculous father/son moment that would have been sweet, to see them both laughing at his amazing newfound power. But I just assume the tornado scene occurred before Clark knew he could fly, and any attempt to save Pa on the ground would have exposed him. So I get it when I look back and think about how relatively clueless Pa Kent ultimately was concerning Clark's disposition and why he was being so secretive and protective of him.

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Here's a thought for you. I went to Wally World to pick up a Man of Steel Blu-Ray this afternoon. Saw they also had Lois and Clark Season One so I got that instead.

 

That's it, make of it what you will.

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I need to watch this movie again.....when it first came out I saw it w/my gf, then my nephews came to town & I was going to take them to it. They were jazzed all week then they changed their mind & wanted to see Monsters College. Then yet again I went w/my girl's whole tribe kids & grankids we were set on MOS.....but instead opted for Pacific Rim (which wasn't too bad)......so the universe is keeping me away from MOS....I need to view it again and come back for my counterpoint DB haha.....super.gif

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I need to watch this movie again.....when it first came out I saw it w/my gf, then my nephews came to town & I was going to take them to it.

I offered to take my niece to see it. Mind you, this is a kid who has watched every single DC animated movie since Doomsday with me (after Flashpoint I'm gonna have to start screening them first), she's hooked on JLU, the Reeve movies (especially Supergirl), and basically anything else Supes' has appeared in.

 

Yet this junior diehard super-fan told me, "Nah, I like his real suit better."

 

From the mouths of babes.

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With me there's always about a 90% chance I'll buy a superhero movie when it hits DVD. I've got a few that a lot of people would consider stinkers (Origins Wolverine, X-Men 3, Daredevil, both Schumacher Batmans) but the sale week for MOS has come and gone, it's back to full price now and I'm probably not going to be picking it up. I'll go Redbox if I feel the urge to give it another shot. I'm pretty sure the elements that I had an issue with the first time around won't change upon a second viewing.

 

On the other hand, I'm probably going to pick up The Wolverine and give it another shot. I called it "slow" the first time around but it's entirely possible that my brain has been trained to expect a certain....over-the-topness....with the action in these movies. We certainly got it with MOS.

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Here's a thought for you. I went to Wally World to pick up a Man of Steel Blu-Ray this afternoon. Saw they also had Lois and Clark Season One so I got that instead.

 

That's it, make of it what you will.

 

Lois and Clark was a good show. I liked Man Of Steel, too. There's room for all Supermen.

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