Man of Steel was a big thing for me. As you know if you have read my columns for like …ten minutes, I am an unabashed Superman fan. In a world with much “cooler” and “edgier’ heroes, Supes holds the number one spot in my pantheon of Superheroes.
Number two isn’t even close.
It’s Superman and all the rest.
So obviously I knew going in that I could NOT be unbiased about Man of Steel. I loved it before I saw a single frame of the film.
That was me going in. And for the most part, that was me coming out.
Man Of Steel IS an excellent film. It revitalized Superman for a modern audience and has re-launched a movie franchise that been dormant for far too long. Man of Steel is movie making on a HUGE scale. It made Avengers look like someone shot it in their back yard.
Henry Cavil looks someone lifted him off the comics page and brought Superman to life just to make the movie. He is the absolute embodiment of The Man Of Tomorrow.
Amy Adams is as close to a perfect Lois Lane as you could ever hope for. Plucky, dishy and tough as nails.
Russell Crowe, Kevin Kostner, Laurence Fishbourne and Diane Lane provide the same STAR power to the cast that Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman brought to Superman The Movie nearly four decades ago.
The movie set new June opening weekend box office records and has all but guaranteed that DC will be playing in the same live action sandbox as Marvel.
In every measurable way this film is a resounding success. I was not disappointed.
Are you sensing a “but” here?
Good…because there is a HUGE “but” coming.
You may want to stop right here because, while this has been all over the media, it IS a pretty big SPOILER.
Still with me?
OK..here is the thing.
I have a problem with that. And yes I am aware that Superman has killed in the comics. It was a mistake then too.
While I am perfectly fine with reinvention, making Starbuck a girl, a new time line for Star Trek, rebooting Bond and even “shudder” a male Slayer. I am less fine with taking a core aspect of a character and tossing it aside.
If Superman kills he ceased to BE Superman. He’s Wolverine or Cap, maybe even Jack Bauer. But he is no longer Superman.
This is the single aspect of Superman that cannot be changed if you are going to maintain that character AS Superman.
Superman killing is like Sherlock Holmes relying on instance rather than deduction to solve crimes.
Alex Ross in the seminal graphic novel “Kingdom Come” has Superman go into exile over this very issue. He cannot kill EVEN for Lois.
Alan Moore in “Whatever Became Of The Man Of Tomorrow” sums it up like this. Nobody has the right to kill. Not you and Not Superman. Especially not Superman. At which point Clark exposes himself to Gold K, wiping out his powers forever.
They got the essential nature of Superman.
Even as a piece of film making that scene was forced. It was a set piece specifically designed so that Superman would kill Zod . You could see it coming a mile away. The sequence was hundreds of frames too long. If Superman HAD to kill, as a film maker you need to set it up so that the audience never sees it coming.
(See the Red Wedding in the penultimate episode of this seasons Game Of Thrones)
Unfortunately Zack Snyder (while he does have a lot of talent) is about as subtle as a dock strike.
If you commit to making the choice that Superman must kill then there must be a life changing consequence to that act. What consequence was there for Superman?
Killed Zod? Betrayed all my beliefs? No biggie. Put on the glasses and cut to fade.
Not only did Snyder fail to maintain the integrity of the character, he did a piss poor job of bumping off Zod on the screen.
Does this destroy the film? Or Superman?
Nah. Far from it actually. Apparently this is the Superman a lot of people want. Just check out the box office.
Superman killing has spurred a LOT of debate.
Never a bad thing.
AND Superman killing has opened an opportunity for some compelling moments in the sequel IF the film makers decide to use it as a pivotal moment in Clark’s life that helps him to define himself going forward.
One thing’s for sure…this wasn’t your daddy’s Superman!