Man of Steel

Superman - the greatest superhero of them all

Is there anything you obsess over?  Anything that, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, should that topic come up in conversation you’re suddenly captivated?

I have a couple of things like that; music, Jesus, my girlfriend (you’re welcome sweetheart), but there’s one that many people will immediately realise is missing from that list.


Yes, ever since I was a little boy, Superman has been number one.  My parents let me watch the original Christopher Reeve Superman film when I was a kid and I was hooked. 

I’d buy the comic books, watch the old George Reeves black and white TV series, watch the cartoons, wear the uniform to the shops, pretend to fly around my house – just about everything I did was, in some way, related to Superman.

So when I headed off to the cinema to watch the latest Superman movie, Man of Steel, it’s pretty obvious that my anticipation levels were high.

Oh, who am I kidding?  My anticipation levels ranked somewhere between this and this.

Yes, I was half excited, half nervous, half freaking out and half expecting the greatest experience of my life.

Anyone who’s lived for more than three minutes will know immediately that this is too much pressure to put on, well, anything.  That doesn’t stop us doing it all the time though, and that’s what I did this time.

Inevitably, the film was a bit of a let down.  My chief disappointments were as follows: 

1: It seemed like the film had attention deficit disorder.  If there wasn’t an explosion every two seconds it seemed like a massive change in pace.  I couldn’t even tell what was happening most of the time just because there were so many fireballs in my face.

The ending was also very long SPOILER ALERT.  I mean, after we went through the final battle and the bad guys were transported back to the phantom zone, I thought that was it.  Then Zod emerged from the rubble and it was on again like donkey kong.

2: It was VERY sci-fi.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love sci-fi.  But the thing I liked about the recent Batman films was that it seemed plausible.  Nothing was ever so unbelievable that it made you chuckle.  In this one, there’s a tonne of aliens, huge spaceships, carbon fibre computer life forms, living etch-a-sketches and a giant tentacle made out of some silicon component.  That’s a lot to handle!  A bit less over-the-top sci-fi would’ve been preferable.

3: Now this is the big one.  In fact I almost feel this one needs its own column but I’ll spare you.  ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT – he kills the bad guy.  This breaks one of the most fundamental golden rules of Superman – he doesn’t kill.  In fact, he doesn’t just kill the bad guy – he snaps his neck.  Pretty brutal!

Now, the first two objections I can handle.  They’re more nitpicks from someone who’s a little bitter that the film wasn’t the greatest moment of his life.  But the killing bit?  That’s still not sitting right with me.

I could probably have handled the killing scene (I mean, how else was it going to end, really?) if there was a bit more remorse, self-doubt, and admission of failure from Superman.  Now, we got a hint of that.  He screams out in agony and gets a hug from Lois (played superbly by Amy Adams).  But then it cuts away and it’s life as usual.

I hope for the next film (and yes, they’re rushing production of it for 2014) they show Superman struggling with the fact that he killed Zod.   How will that affect him?  How does he recover from that?

All that said, there were some bits I really liked in the movie.  How Lois knows his secret from the beginning is great and makes sure the whole ‘how does she not know it’s him just because he’s wearing glasses?’ debacle will never eventuate.

Also, the feistiness and freshness of Lois and Clark’s interactions were terrific.  It was a little playful and fun.  Which is precisely what Superman should be – fun.

While Batman is the Dark Knight, Superman is often referred to as an overgrown boy scout.  He’s good through and through.  He’s the sunshine while Batman is the night.

Overall I do like the film.  I saw it again and liked it a lot more after the second viewing.  I just hope the next film goes a little lighter of the explosions and a little heavier on the fun.

However, let me balance all this with the enduring memory I have of the film.  After Superman has gone toe to toe with two super-villains and the fight’s ended in a stalemate (and the entire town has been blown to pieces) some American troops walk in and find Superman still standing.

They hold up their rifles (like that’ll work) but Superman doesn’t attack.  The commander, remembering Superman paused in the middle of the fight to rescue two helicopter pilots, says boldly, “This man is not our enemy.”

It’s Superman’s compassion that’s earned the confidence of the troops.  His overall sense of good that separates him from his rivals.  And that, my friends, is what Superman is all about.

Perhaps it’s Batman who can sum it up better than anyone else.  The caped crusader once said of Superman in a comic book: 

“It is a remarkable dichotomy. In many ways, Clark is the most human of us all. Then...he shoots fire from the skies, and it is difficult not to think of him as a god. And how fortunate we all are that it does not occur to him.”

Well said, Batman.

Well said.


garrett said…
nicely said. and batman is full of wisdom.

looks like the next superman movie will be a superman vs. batman one leading up to jla.

i think theyll follow a stream where they're not best buds. quote: “I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you...” that's Batman to Superman after an almighty smackdown.
David Maher said…
I think MoS's main problem was that it tried to fit too much in. There were some parts that were aching to be explored (esp. Jonathan Kent, played superbly by Kevin Costner), but then it seemed time for another explosion.

The neck-snapping incident also appears more controversial, since this was employed by Wonder Woman - Superman stealing someone elses move?? The necessary plot device was also there to send Zod back to the Phantom Zone.

My other problem was that this did not all feel like a Nolan or Snyder movie - where was Nolan's gravitas, or the Snyder's slow-mo coherent action?
Dylan Malloch said…
Thanks for the comments, guys.

Garrett - the problem I have with the Batman smackdown is that it came after Green Arrow got invovled and shot him with kryptonite dust.

Really, that's the only way Batman would beat Superman, with kryptonite.

And Dave, I agree. i would've loved to see more father/son stuff. Like their disagreement in the car - that could've been looked into way more, but then the tornado came.

Actually, that also cpuld've been interesting. Clark being haunted that his last words to j.Kent were along the lines of "You're not my real dad."