5 Reasons Why Man of Steel Was Actually Incredible
The current situation: Man of Steel has a rating of 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes; a public opinion lower than many human rights violations, such as Spiderman 3, Tremors 2 and 3 and even Superman Returns (need I remind you that that is the movie in which Superman abandons his bastard son for five years to go to space).
You can’t lead a horse to water, but I am at least going to try to assemble a simple aqueduct system for said animal because Man of Steel was the Superman movie we have been waiting for.
THE FIVE REASONS:
1. The action is ridiculous(ly good)
Ah yes, the sound of half of the readers angrily exiting out. Mind you, I did not put this first on this list because I am prioritizing action over story or adhering to some other facet of my obvious”MICHAEL BAY DURRRR” agenda. I put it first because the action in this movie literally and conceptually reached heights never before attempted by a Superman film, finally showing to audiences the god that Superman essentially is, the devastating foes that only he can face and the truly awesome powers they possess. Nobody wanted to see another movie about Lex Luthor doing something not unheard of in a James Bond film (again, let me remind you that his “diabolic” plan in Superman Returns was MAKE A NEW CONTiNENT AND THEN SELL THE LAND”). Superman is THE superhero. Man of Steel exhibits a foe that was a true threat to humanity, a foe that only the granddaddy of all superheroes could fight in a battle of proportions that no other superhero film could even compare to. Furthermore…
2. We see how bad Big Bad can be
Critics have pounced upon the total carnage found in the last act of Man of Steel, many calling it “disaster porn”. This argument drives me up the wall and refuses to let me back down. I was extremely aroused, so I would hardly call the porn a disaster. Furthermore, in The Avengers, a portal in the sky opens up, allowing an army of aliens to invade New York. While certainly a fun and smartly-written ride, not once did I legitimately feel as if the Avengers were not in control, and the thought that the whole world was at risk was absolutely distant. In Man of Steel, as Zod’s massive terraforming machine pounded away (quality porn) at the heart of the city, I honestly thought “Holy shit, they’re not gonna destroy Metropolis, are they?”. I did not doubt for a second that Zod possessed the power to destroy humankind, let alone Superman, who clearly was still a rookie.
3. Superman wasn’t perfect… YET
According to David S. Goyer, writer for Man of Steel and The Dark Knight Trilogy, “…people feel like Superman would be fully-formed, but this is about him assuming the mantle of Superman. He’s still very much a green Superman.” Not three days pass between the moment Superman first takes flight and the final showdown in Metropolis. The audience is shown a Superman before he becomes the Big Blue Boy Scout, not a different, stupidly “gritty” Superman altogether. His powers are difficult to control and still underpowered compared to Zod, and he must throw his entire being at him in order to save Metropolis. Critics argue that since the movie is indeed a movie and as its writer, Goyer could have had Superman fly Zod out of Metropolis and fight him in an unpopulated location as opposed to causing the enormous amount of collateral damage that they did. Aye, he could have, but he decided not to. The point was to cause damage. Superman is not perfect yet, and the film is pointedly a story about first contact and the effects therein.Not to mention that this leads directly to setting up Lex Luthor for a Dark Knight-esque sequel, in which Superman must answer for the havoc he wreaked upon the city and face his arch-nemesis who is using his corporation to capitalize on the destruction.
4. Superman kills a guy
The most controversial point of the movie: Superman breaks Zod’s neck in order to avoid further destruction. “But Superman doesn’t kill!”, the critics shout, before discovering that it is no longer 1970. This is not the Christopher Reeve Superman, the cartoon Superman or the god-damnit Brandon Routh Superman. This is a different continuity, and Superman has yet to become the paragon of good that we know him for. I do not recall such a wild public backlash when Batman opted to not save Ra’s al Ghul from his imminent death in Batman Begins, despite the fact that doing so literally goes against the reason he exists as a superhero (HE FIGHTS CRIME BECAUSE HIS PARENTS GOT KILLED IN FRONT OF HIM). That is because that trilogy was a different continuity from the comics or other movies, and Batman figures his shit out. Also, Superman has killed before in the comics when forced to. Not only that, his killing of Zod was the final point in his character arc, choosing to ultimately save humanity by killing the very last member of his race. You can’t blame him. This is some heavy shit.
5. This is some heavy shit
Critics have also slammed Man of Steel for its “dark, gritty tone” that clearly is the weird Digimon-card collecting little brother of the Dark Knight. This movie is not a “dark” take on Superman, it is a “realistic” take. And it very overtly collects Pokemon cards.
Both of Superman’s birth parents die as well as his adoptive father, his species is annihilated and he is feared by the people of the planet he calls home. To see Superman slinging one-liners to an fro during this apparent summer laugh-out-loud comedy romp would yes, lighten the tone, but destroy the emotional weight of the film. I like my beats fast and my Superman’s comical reactions to death and chaos down low.
Strictly from a business standpoint, it also makes sense that DC is aiming to establish a different brand identity from the Marvel films. Marvel films are fun, blockbuster-y thrillrides that arereleased in an almost episodic format. Note that the past two DC films that have attempted this not only failed to stand out in the saturated superhero ecosystem but were also terrible (Green Lantern was a giant phallus, and need I remind you that Superman Returns TAKES PLACE AFTER THE SECOND MOVIE OF A FOUR-PART SERIES FROM THIRTY YEARS AGO I MEAN HONESTLY WHO PITCHES AND EXECUTES AN IDEA LIKE THAT). The Dark Knight trilogy changed the game, positioning DC films as these epic cinematic monoliths that provide the audience with two and a half dollars of bang for their one buck.
Man of Steel 2 has already been confirmed by Warner Brothers. I fear that due to the unjustified lukewarm reaction to the first film, the second will not soar to such monetary heights without a Dark Knight-level of uniform good press upon its release. Man of Steel delivered a very physical opponent that tested Superman’s strength, but Man of Steel 2 needs to offer an intellectual foe that questions Superman’s morals and integrity. This will align him further with his famous values as well as provide strong thematic chords to pluck over the course of the film. Lex Luthor has been perfectly set up, and who else could provide such an ideal antagonist. He can hate Superman for all the damage he has wrought, and Superman will be forced to prove himself not only to the fictional public but again to theatergoers, showing us again why a red letter “S” is not only a symbol of hope on Krypton, but in our world too.
Talk to me at @kylevorbach.
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