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I Was (Sort of) Wrong About Man of Steel

Updated on May 1, 2014

I've been watching Man of Steel a lot since it's debuted on television a few weeks ago and I have to admit that the more I watch it, the more something that's been buried inside of me has risen to the surface since the movie opened last June. Don't get me wrong, I still love the movie. I love the actors, the action, the story, and its potential future. However, something hasn't sat right with me for nearly a year and I recently discovered what it was after seeing the ending again for what feels like the hundredth time.

It goes back to my love for the old school Superman movies of yesteryear with Christopher Reeve and Bryan SInger's attempt to revitalize that version of Superman in 2006 with Superman Returns. Collectively, I call the original 1978 Superman, Superman 2 (Richard Lester Theatrical Version), and Superman Returns the Richard Donner trilogy. Even though he was fired, Richard Donner's ideas were the basis for Superman 2, and Superman Returns was a pseudo reboot/sequel/homage remake of the original movie. Since Returns eliminated the continuity of Superman 3 and 4, Returns serves as the final chapter of a trilogy of movies based on Richard Donner's work. The common thread with all those movies was that when they were over, I felt good. I had a smile on my face. My favorite superhero had gone through an adventure worthy of his stature. He did so in Man of Steel as well but there was one problem, when the movie immediately faded to black with Hans Zimmer's amazing score blasting through the theater speakers, I didn't have a smile on my face. I eventually got one after I kept talking about the great things done in Man of Steel, but something still felt off. I had chalked it up to my displeasure towards the completely fabricated criticisms of Man of Steel, but I finally hit it after watching it again. Man of Steel had a heart problem.

Now, Man of Steel absolutely had a heart and soul. The problem that I have discovered is that it didn't have enough of a heart and soul. I still think the ridiculous criticism of Superman killing Zod, the FIGHT sequences causing a grossly overestimated number of deaths, the criticism of Pa Kent's death, the lack of humor, the idea that he didn't care about saving anyone, and the assertion that Superman was a coward the entire movie as ridiculous as ever. Now I believe that the movie suffers from a heart problem because we don't see Superman believe in or connect with the people he defended. In the original movie, he sits down with Lois Lane and tells his story after he revealed himself to the world. That gives Superman the ability to connect with the people and tell them who he is and what his mission is so the people understand where he's coming from. Through his words and actions, the people can trust him. In Man of Steel, that doesn't happen. Halfway through the film, Lois wants to tell his story and Clark doesn't let her do it. Once he dons the suit and spends the entire third act of the movie fighting off the invading army of General Zod, there's no aftermath. There's no connection with the people. There's no hope from the public shown for the future. There's just endless destruction and then he's gone. The destruction is not the problem. The problem is that we don't see the aftermath of that destruction.

In my opinion, the movie should have been extended by another ten minutes so we could see the media and the public's immediate reaction to Superman's arrival. We could see them talking about the pros and cons of it all until Superman goes to Lois in Metropolis and finally allows her to tell his story, a la "I Spent the Night With Superman" from the original movie. Once his story of who he is, why he's on Earth, why he defended the humans against his own people, and why he will always defend the people of Earth against any and all odds is revealed, the final scene of Clark arriving at the Daily Planet could've been filled with him hearing the people talk about their excitement for Superman, he could've seen people with their eyes glued to the newspaper reading his story, and heard people talk about the future with Superman in a positive light. That would've given the ideas of the movie the proper conclusion. We never see Superman really get over his apprehension towards the human race. He's afraid of us most of the movie, then we see him fight aliens, then he leaves. There's no aftermath. There's no connection established with the people. THAT is the true problem with Man of Steel. I still love the movie, but I now have to dock it a star from my original review because of this revelation.

I truly hope that Snyder, Goyer, and newcomer Chris Terrio rectify this problem in the next movie or else the the sequel, the Justice League movie, and the entire future of the DC Cinematic Universe could face serious trouble. We need to see Superman's connection with the people. We need to see the hope he symbolizes come to fruition. We need to see EVERYTHING that makes Superman the legend that he is. Man of Steel was a good and highly interesting start to this new saga, but something about it was left unresolved. It should've been resolved at the end of the movie. Since it wasn't, it needs to be resolved in the next film or else this series could take a turn for the worse and find further rejection from the fanbase. The creative team behind this isn't stupid, but i hope they don't ignore that problem. They can't afford to.

New Rating:

4 stars for Man of Steel


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    • Titen-Sxull profile image


      4 years ago from back in the lab again

      Admittedly upon re-watching the movie I don't dislike it as much as I did when I first saw it however I still think its a bland and desaturated movie that is only fun for all the wrong reasons (making fun of Zod's over the top laughable performance for example).

      I do think the almost complete lack of humor robs the movie of what most comic book movies, even previously Nolanized ones, do the best, which is blending the serious with the silly. In a comic book movie this is a particularly important balance because no matter how much gravitas you attempt to add at the end of the day you still have a silly guy in tights trying to thwart a villain.

      There are also serious problems with the pacing and structure and characters, we spend very little time getting to know Clark/Superman as a character. Yes we see what his two Father figures have to say to him about his destiny and we do get a little bit of his conflict in trying to choose a path that honors both men but we see very little of what this does to him as a character because, as with many origin stories, we have to have a rushed final conflict with the villain. How few scenes did we even have to characterize Clark, we see him at so many different stages of his life that a clear picture of the character never comes out. I can only think of one major scene, where he maliciously destroys a truck because of a douche in a dive bar... and of course that scene where he basically declares himself above the law and justice of us puny mortals by destroying an expensive spy satellite (is this supposed to make him more of a brooding badass? STOP TRYING TO MAKE SUPERMAN INTO BATMAN!)

      The movie has a heart, but it is a weak heartbeat, ultimately mediocre and overshadowed. Superman should be a joyous colorful movie, instead we get Saving Private Ryan levels of desaturated color.

      Obviously I'm not going to talk you out of your love for the movie, but while I don't hate it by any means it just feels, stunted, it has potential, as Jor-El says about the human race, it strives towards an ideal, but it stumbles and fails to achieve the levels of greatness so many other super-hero movies have.

      Michael Shannon's performance as Zod was great though, Bill Shatner levels of over-acting. Interesting hub, even though I firmly disagree, thumbs up!


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