Movie Discussion: Man of Steel
Warning! This entire discussion contains spoilers for Man of Steel.
An alien child is evacuated from his dying world and sent to Earth to live among humans. His peace is threatened, when other survivors of his home planet invade Earth.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: David S. Goyer (screenplay), David S. Goyer (story), Christopher Nolan (story), Jerry Siegel (Superman created by), Joe Shuster (Superman created by)
Actors: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane
Release Year: 2013
Matthew Preston | June 26, 2013
Minor spoiler alert
You bring up a good point. Is there anyone left that doesn't already know Superman's history? From a writing standpoint, I do appreciate seeing a new take on it, but it is more of the same. I really liked how it was presented in this film though, through flashbacks and story telling. What I was worried about was how quickly they'd move through the plot, resulting in a hurried, almost summarized feel like the first Hunger Games movie. Man of Steel is properly paced and uses the bleak, monotonous personalities of Kryptonians to move things along.
Originally I had read that Warner Bros. shotgunned a new film due to their Superman rights contract soon expiring. However, some web research now shows that Warner Bros. has won lawsuits giving them ownership of the franchise (Google has several articles linked about this). I'm guessing we'll see at least a trilogy of these, probably similar to the Dark Knight.
Scott Hardie | June 29, 2013
My fears were unfounded: The movie's handling of the origin story was deft and brief, reducing it to a few flashback scenes, and the "dark" Superman didn't especially look or feel that way. It was a more realistic Superman tale than we've seen in the past, befitting the influence of The Dark Knight, which shared several major creative collaborators with this film.
I'm still not convinced that Zack Snyder was the right choice to direct this film, as he tends to indulge in orgies of CGI destruction with no sense of the human stakes involved. 300 was wall-to-wall action that let him explore his bloodlust in depth, and in his other films he seems to hold back his urges for as long as he can but eventually gives in. The insane final act to this film seems hell-bent on topping every recent summer blockbuster for sheer volume of annihilation: Experts estimated the damage to Metropolis at $750 billion, much higher than the roughly $160 billion in damage done to New York at the end of The Avengers, with a death toll of 129,000 people. I couldn't stop the nagging voice in my head from insisting that this chaos was wrong, wrong, wrong for Superman: He would do everything in his power to direct the battle away from populated areas, out to sea or into space, rather than participating so freely in the demolition of a major city. If I were the writer, and Zack Snyder was determined to show this ending, I would have at least written in a moment or two where Superman tries to divert the battle away and Zod brings it back. (There was a moment where the battle briefly went into space and the men clobbered each other with a Wayne Industries satellite before falling back into the same city to punch each other some more, but that felt like an eight-year-old taking over the script and imagining unlikely turns for the battle to take.)
The IMDb trivia page is unusually fixated on Henry Cavill's physique, but I agree, he looked amazing. At least IMDb could be counted on to point out the casting coincidences that typically command its attention, like how both of Superman's dads were once Robin Hood.
I would appreciate some clarity on the final scene, where Clark Kent joins the Daily Planet and nobody seems to recognize him, although they all have semi-knowing smirks that suggest they do. The conundrum isn't just the usual problem that glasses alone make for a lousy disguise. (I read somewhere that the comics canonically established that one of Superman's many powers is a kind of hypnotic suggestion that magically prevents people from recognizing him with the glasses.) The problem this time is that his identity as Kansas farm boy Clark Kent seems to be revealed to virtually everyone in the movie at some point, so how could he possibly join that news staff under that name, and with zero credentials I might add? If we're supposed to take it from the final scene that everyone knows who he is and they're employing him anyway, I would have liked a more overt indication of that. (Also: Wasn't the Daily Planet building destroyed, being a block or two away from ground zero?)
Minor nitpick: Right after Detective Stabler sacrifices his life to collide his jet with Zod's ship and destroy the villains and prevent Earth's destruction, the Daily Planet intern looks at Superman in awe and says, "He saved us!" Um, Superman helped, but other people contributed more to the cause.
It's been said that this movie lacks humor, but I did chuckle when the "143 days without an accident" sign was knocked down at the construction site.
Matthew, you mentioned plans for future films. From what I understand, this is intended as the beginning of the "DC Cinematic Universe," to replicate some of Marvel's success. The recent Batman series is definitely concluded and they have no choice but to reboot it, and the Green Lantern film was such a disappointment that even Ryan Reynolds said it kind of sucked. There was talk of starting with a Justice League movie and then spinning off into solo franchises rather than the other way around, but there's no way that they would attempt another re-introduction of Superman again so soon. Henry Cavill and his hyper-manly torso are sure to return in both series.
Scott Hardie | June 30, 2013
During General Zod's global broadcast, was anybody else bothered by the fact that it was night on opposite sides of the planet at once? This sets aside how strange it is that Mongolian sheep-herders up in the hills have a large TV, and how strange it is that the entire Daily Planet staff (even the interns) is still at work after nightfall during summer.
Evie Totty | August 25, 2013
I didn't notice that. Bad Snyder! Bad!
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Scott Hardie | June 3, 2013
Originally, I was skeptical about this movie, for two reasons:
1) Does the world want a dark Superman tale? The character embodies goodness and virtue. Let Batman occupy the shadows. Spider-Man 3 knew that its hero was essentially sunny, and it made ridiculous, campy fun of the idea of Peter Parker being "dark," and yet The Amazing Spider-Man tried anyway, in vain, to pull off a dark version of the character.
2) Does the world want to be shown Superman's origin yet again? After seventy years of comic books and newspaper strips, six major movies, four television series (two of which, Superboy and Smallville, explored Superman's early life in extensive detail), and countless other appearances in various DC-related media, I'm pretty sure that every man, woman, and child in America is by now thoroughly familiar with how Superman grew up.
Having seen trailers and commercials, I have become much more interested in seeing the movie. It seems to be at least a little concerned with what the character means in a contemporary context. It's too early to say, but I have a feeling that it may turn out like how Doctor Who has come to be portrayed in recent years, as a nigh-invulnerable god among mere mortals. Plus, the movie looks great, and should be fun, "dark" overtones or not.
Kelly is a longtime fan of Superman, and she used to work in an industrial park next to DuPage Airport, just outside our hometown. Our friend Ryan is a longtime fan of Superman, and last I heard, he still works in an industrial park next to DuPage Airport. Imagine our amusement to learn that scenes in this movie were filmed at an industrial part next to DuPage Airport.