The Man Of Steel

I saw The Man Of Steel on the weekend, like a lot of other people. It was an enjoyable film, and set itself apart from the Superman we know from comics, movies and television. Working within its own framework, The Man Of Steel does a good job of showing where Superman came from, how he is who he is and what that does to those around him.

Man Of Steel poster 1Let’s discuss the points that strike a chord with comic fans and moviegoers alike: be forewarned this will be full of spoilers. The biggest issue the film raises is Superman killing Zod. Everyone knows Superman doesn’t kill, right? Right? Well, perhaps comic book and cartoon Superman doesn’t but those parameters aren’t introduced in the film, and within the context of the story and the framework established Superman does what needs to be done to save people’s lives.

That being said the ridiculous final battles that destroy half or more of Metropolis must have killed tens of thousands of people as multiple buildings are toppled, plus the massive destruction of the World Engine, the Kryptonian terraforming device. Frequently throughout the film we see Superman saving innocents again and again, whisking them out of harm’s way. At one point Superman is fighting Zod through the air and into space, from what I can tell just so Zod can hit him with a satellite, but somehow fall right back into Metropolis and continue the largest, longest and dullest metropolitan destruction sequence.

Superman, after he surrenders himself to the U.S. army to be handed over to Zod as a selfless sacrifice, reveals his age to be 33. Other than the Christ reference this brings up I don’t see much point to it, but perhaps that is the point.

A group of Kryptonians with the same powers as Superman, trained from birth for combat, can’t defeat one man. The film tries to explain it away because he’s had all this time on Earth to learn to control his abilities, but within their combat suits they seem to have no control issues. With no concern for harming civilians they’re willing to trash whatever it takes to kill Superman, so how he wins is a mystery to me.

And then there’s the whole issue of why these prisoners of the phantom zone are put in stasis cocoons and then put on a ship to spend 300 cycles there. It looks like three devices in space open up the portal to the phantom zone, so why is their prison ship equipped with a phantom engine? For that matter why has Krypton’s technology stagnated for 20,000 years since their race for colonization? And why is everyone flying around on ships on Krypton but Jor-El is flying a dragon? What’s with every future civilization wearing black and crazy looking bulky armour?

Not to dwell too long on the abyss lest it dwell in me, there are lots of things that were great about the film. Lois Lane was great: very human and a fully developed character.  It makes complete sense that Clark Kent is a brooding and muted character, as he was raised to keep his abilities hidden lest he deal with humanity and their fear of the unknown. Each house of Krypton having a crest and that being the Superman symbol works really well, and every Kryptonian wearing a similar suit is nice. I know Superman’s costume needs a cape, but it doesn’t fit with the Kryptonian clothing, and I keep thinking of Edna screaming “no cape” from The Incredibles.

Superman is the straight man of the film, the sounding board that lets those around and influenced by him to rise above and achieve. Perry’s rescue attempt for a coworker comes to mind, plus Colonel Hardy’s ultimate sacrifice to eliminate the enemy ship. As the film repeats Superman is as a god and thus serves to inspire. Good stuff all around and well worth seeing.

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Scott VanderPloeg
Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at AE Index and eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans.
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6 Comments

  1. The movie to me just went through the hoops, with nothing truly inspired and effects, blah. I vehemently disagree with casting. Lois Lane was atrocious, no chemistry with Clark. Perry White, was poor choice. Was there a Jimmy Olsen? Better movies this year- Oblivion (everyone should go see it), Ironman-3 (not by much)…lets kist wait for Ilysium, Pacific Rim, and The Wolverine (that one I’m psyched for).

  2. I saw this earlier today and I’m in agreement with most of what Scott and many others are saying about this flick. I think there was just too much story for the 2 hour time frame. The whole thing felt rushed with many details glossed over.

    I thought the cast was great, even Cavill who concerned me based on his lame performance in the Immortals. At times it looked like a cheesy sci-fi flick. I felt the Kryptonian tech wasn’t believable and made no sense but with so many hi-tech films this year, I can appreciate the challenge of being different or original.

    I honestly think this would have been a “ground breaking” movie if they spent more time on the front matter and characterization. In fact, I would have been happy if they didn’t show Superman in costume till the very end, having finally come to terms with who he is. But who are we kidding here… this is Hollywood, a lot of stake holders and very high expectations. Summer flicks are about blowing things up… so it is what it is.

    Despite the commercial pressure of trying to make everyone happy, there were some very artful moments which felt fresh. This film’s got a pretty low rating on Rotten Tomatoes but only because expectations were high.

    I guess the big question for us comic fans is… Is this film good enough to set the wheels in motion for a future JL movie? I think it is. Man of Steel is not a perfect movie, but as a commercial property catering to the mindless masses who are looking to zone out from their mundane lives for a couple hours, I’d say it more than delivers.

    Is it worth $12 bucks? Amy Adams running around in a skirt… YES.

  3. I’ve got very low expectations for Wolverine. The effort is there but the formula is all wrong. There’s no depth to the character and he’s become a comic book version of Freddy or Jason.

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