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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Man of Steel review: man of feel

Man of Steel green light Henry Cavill Diane Lane

Towers with ambition, swelled by sweeping philosophies about power and presence on scales both planetary and personal, beautifully balanced by a wellspring of wry tragedy.
I’m “biast” (pro): was intrigued by the trailer; have enjoyed most of Snyder’s other films

I’m “biast” (con): was a little worried about where Snyder might go; wasn’t sure Cavill could carry a movie like this

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Of all the many things I may have been expecting from a Superman reboot by Zack Snyder, a filmmaker who has taken us to new heights — with 300 — and new depths — with Sucker Punch — of stylized ridiculousness, it wasn’t this. There’s an honest, ardent majesty that no retelling of Clark Kent’s story has managed before… yet it’s paradoxically somehow soulful, too, as if the film were both large and small at the same time. It towers with ambition, swelled by sweeping philosophies about power and presence on scales both planetary and personal: What should you do with what you can do, and what if what you need to do alienates you from everyone else? But the wellspring of wry tragedy that beautifully balances that out keeps it from ever becoming pretentious or preposterous. We believe a man can fly… but also that he’s gosh-darn really torn up about not punching people who might be asking for it.

Man of Steel is surprising, in a truly gratifying way, too, in that it wholeheartedly embraces the science-fictional side of the Superman story. This is primarily a slow-burn first-contact tale: Clark Kent, aka Kal-El (Henry Cavill [The Cold Light of Day, Immortals], putting to rest my fears that he couldn’t carry a movie), takes the long way around in trying to figure out how to fit in with the aliens he’s stranded among, something he’s been struggling with from childhood, when his extraordinary abilities start to overwhelm him — one touching scene early in the film makes it plain that as a kid, he found what he is capable of far from “super”; it’s horrible and scary to him. (Cooper Timberline and Dylan Sprayberry as, respectively, the 9- and 13-year-old Clark, are wonderful.) Now, as an adult, he tries to hide, doing nasty, dirty jobs that call to men who don’t quite fit in anywhere else — he’s working on one of those Most Dangerous Catch fishing ships as the movie opens — but he can’t keep himself from using his powers to save people when necessary. (He’s gosh-darn really torn up about not helping when no one else can, too.) And humanity is forced to play quick-draw first-contact when General Zod (Michael Shannon [The Iceman, Premium Rush], burning up the screen as always), another last refugee from Krypton, shows up in Earth orbit in a terrifying-looking ship and demands the planet turn over the alien they’ve been harboring all these years.

Oh! And the preamble that takes place on Krypton and sets up the whys and the hows of Kal-El being sent to Earth — and particularly why as an infant — is rather magnificently science fictional in a way I was afraid movies had forgotten how to be. It’s grand worldbuilding that creates a truly alien environment and a truly alien civilization, but also a clear cautionary tale for us 21st-century humans about the generally bad idea of damaging one’s planet beyond repair and letting your culture stagnate. Kryptonian technology works as a cohesive whole, too, both as design — this stuff all looks alien, but it also all looks like it came from the same other place — and not as magic, but as science with its own rules and limitations.

But every time — every time — you’re tempted, as a wide-eyed geek, to wonder and gape at what is before us, Snyder’s emphasis or the smart script by David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Rises, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance), or both working in tandem, slyly undercut you and force you to see this with a fresh eye. It’s little, Pa Kent (Kevin Costner: Swing Vote, Mr. Brooks) trying to comfort his confused adopted son by explaining how special he is with an awed “You are the answer to ‘Are we alone in the universe?’” met with Clark’s “But I don’t wanna be!” — not a bratty whine but a plaintive wail of pain. It’s big, the power of first-contact imagery not in discs over a skyline but a buglike alien shuttle hovering near a Kansas farmhouse.

Man of Steel is so very matter-of-fact, in many ways: this isn’t a movie about spectacle and it’s barely an action movie; and though it has flashes of warm humor, there’s little of the lightness we’ve come to expect from Superman on a big screen (or even a small one). It’s serious — though never overly solemn — drama about fear and smallmindedness, about figuring out what to do with our potential. The villain Zod is never truly villainous, only tragic, too, because he cannot see past what he thinks his limitations are. Even when it does become, in its finale, all about spaceships over a city and mass urban destruction — demons of 9/11 are all over this part — there’s the quirk of the tragic about us in it. The obvious Jesus metaphor is hit upon a few times throughout the film — Jor-El (Russell Crowe: Broken City, Les Misérables) explicitly states that he’s sending his only son sent to Earth to inspire humanity; Clark notes that he’s been on the planet for 33 years. And when all eyes start to turn to Superman with reverence after the climactic battle with Zod, which all but levels Metropolis, it’s hard not to see the “He saved us…!” awe as ironic: we only needed saving because Kal-El came to Earth in the first place; he drew Zod to us, however inadvertently. (It was too much tinkering with the natural order that doomed Krypton and its people, too. Too much interference is not a good thing.)

There’s so much more to love here, including Amy Adams (Trouble with the Curve, On the Road) as Lois Lane and Diane Lane (Secretariat, Jumper) as Ma Kent, both tough, smart women whom Clark relies on — his mother, always; Lois new in his life. As with almost everything else in Man of Steel, they are traditional aspects of a familiar story that are reinvigorated here, made more real and plausible than perhaps we’ve ever seen them before, with lives of their own that stretch beyond Clark’s. Everything here, in fact, stretches beyond what we’re given, potential glimpsed but not yet wholly satisfied. Like what we’re told the sigil on Kal-El’s chest means: it’s not an ‘S’; it’s the family crest, and it means “hope.” There’s tons of hope here, but it’s not yet fulfilled, for Clark has only just awakened to himself and his potential. There’s hope not only for him, but for us, that the inevitable sequel will still have some story left to tell.


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Man of Steel (2013)
US/Can release: Jun 14 2013
UK/Ire release: Jun 14 2013

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated SFSH (contains science fiction superhero)
MPAA: rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language
BBFC: rated 12A (contains moderate violence)

viewed in 3D
viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • Patrick

    How would you rate this compared to Superman Returns or dare I even ask: Superman: The Movie?

  • This has such a completely different tone to those films that it’s almost impossible to say this is better than that or vice versa.

  • Liam

    Glad to see someone who has decided to not compare this to other films – most on RT are slating this due to lack of humour and depth – I can’t wait to see this tonight at the IMAX in Edinburgh UK

  • Frances

    Fabulous review! Did you get teary-while watching it? I did. And oh, that Clark Kent secret identity reveal was just perfect for me. The entire thing was perfection.

  • I didn’t get actually teary, but some scenes are very moving. Much more so than I would have expected. Almost everything between Clark and Pa Kent, for instance.

  • Jonathan Roth

    This seems to be an incredibly polarizing movie on the aggregators. Looking forward to seeing it now. :)

  • I’m so happy to read this review! You’ve given me a little more enthusiasm for seeing it that was lost after watching all the negative reviews roll in elsewhere. I DO wonder why so many people aren’t liking it, though. What you describe sounds fantastic.

    I plan on taking my son. I’ll make sure to tell him not to expect another Avengers or Thor. He loved those.

  • Tron5000

    I agree on almost all counts. Absolutely loved this movie and can’t wait to see what comes next.

  • Impossible? Pfff… I’ll say it: Man of Steel is the best, most earnest, competent, and thoughtful version of Superman ever filmed for movies or television.

  • Karl Morton IV

    Ooohhh, I am glad you enjoyed it! Everyone I know who caught a mid it show last night has been moaning about it all morning. I really don’t get the “not enough jokes” complaints. Ah, well. I’m looking forward to it again! :)

  • Man of Iron

    The “not enough jokes” nonsense comes from all the zombies who laughed in the theater at the ridiculously overwhelming stupid-empty-easy humor packed in Iron Man 3.

  • There’s really people saying that? That’s just stupid. I don’t go to a movie like this for humor. Apparently, some people do? Non-geeky people, perhaps?

  • Karl Morton IV

    *shrugs* Sad bastards, says I.

  • mdm

    I give it a D+. The casting was excellent, Cavill and Adams have great chemistry, and I liked the score.

    Everything else positive I can say about the film I have to add “but [negative thing that mostly negates the positive]”. Even, e.g., the gorgeous visuals and effects–“but the film was so leached of color that even in 2D Superman’s suit might as well have been dark gray”.

    All that said, it was sit-throughable. I was entertained until the lights went on and my brain re-engaged.

  • I wouldn’t deny that. But the best, funniest, most wisecracking, screwball comedy version of Superman you could not say. :->

  • RogerBW

    This is really interesting! The consensus of other critics I read is definitely coming down hard on the side of “the spectacle is well-done, shame about the acting and script and general drabness” (though some of them don’t like the spectacle either). I wonder if they’re too far into the groove of the modern, Marvel-style superhero movie to enjoy one that does things a bit differently.

    Though I will admit that I think the “S” thing reeks of fanwank.

  • Bluejay

    Totally agree. This was a magnificent movie, and the best Superman story committed to film so far.

  • Bluejay

    In the context of a “realistic” story, how the film treats the “S” is the only way that makes sense, I think. Better than a literal “S” childishly plastered on his chest to announce his superhero name (which would have been presumptuous if he’d thought to name himself that, which isn’t the case in the film).

  • teenygozer

    Interesting review. I wasn’t planning on seeing this film but now I think I must.

    Unless I’m mis-remembering, the “S” meaning “hope” first happened on Smallville. Not a good show (and often frustrating to me because it could have been a great show with a little re-write and some decent howrunners) but it had some clever ideas in it and when it was at its best, it could be a good and very modern take on the Superman mythos. I wonder if Snyder et al took Smallville as an influence at all?

  • Karl Morton IV

    The scene in the barn got me. *snif*

  • I liked it, but was bothered by the wanton shredding of TWO cities during the major fights. If I had my Executive Meddling powers, I’d have made it so that Superman would do his utmost to drag those fights off the streets and away from civilians as best he could.

  • The idea of the S-shield being a family crest was from the Christopher Reeve movies. Brando’s suggestion, believe it or not. By the Birthright miniseries comic book, they had retconned the symbol into word-meanings, which was about the same time as the Smallville series.

  • Jim Mann

    That bothered me a bit. Had he tried to escape the city and fly out over the ocean, Zod, who was chasing him, not trying to take the city, would have followed.

  • Jim Mann

    I liked it quite a bit, but thought it had the same problem as Iron Man III and Star Trek: the final battle(s) go on for too long.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I liked it a lot, but I completely understand anyone who doesn’t. I loved Cavill and Adams in the roles as much as I had hoped I would. I really felt like the level of destruction was out of proportion with the rest of the story (and it’s a Superman movie, so think about that for a second). I’m really kind of done with Snyder. He does a fine job, but his vision of modern film isn’t something I want to watch anymore, and would love to see just about anyone else direct the sequel.

  • MichaelM

    PLEEEEZE. With ALL the richness that exists in the Superman universe, they had to recycle Zod?? Boring. Been there, done that.

  • Bluejay

    * Spoilers*

    Actually, I’m not so sure about that. Right before their final brawl, Zod tells Superman something to the effect of “I’m going to punish them. You destroyed Krypton’s future, now I’m going to hurt these humans you love so much.” It seems to me Zod was just as likely to stay in the city and wreak death and destruction as payback.

  • Pa Kent ruined the movie for me with his over-protectiveness of Clark’s abilities. Did you ever see “The Sweet Hereafter?” How many people in that town would have been thankful for a Clark in their midst? Would Smallville look like “The Sweet Hereafter” if Clark listened to his dad’s advice? Would he have been able to live with the consequences of keeping the secret? I was filled with disgust at this element of the story and it damaged my enjoyment of the film immeasurably.

  • Seriously. It’s only a movie about Superman barely fending off the end of the world. Where was Rex Reed’s cameo?! I’m glad that Clark’s mom likes his Supersuit, but I’d rather that compliment come from a pimp.

  • Definitely not enough Rex Reed in this one.

  • I agree. Pa Kent is like that in every version of the story. Not everyone can be so perfect as Uncle Ben.

  • I’m sure the next one will have Toyman in it. Don’t worry.

  • Blame the economy. Hollywood takes “bang for your buck” seriously.

  • He was doing his best just to barely not get his butt kicked. He was treading water. He could probably barely think, let alone strategize.

  • Some critics pan the film for not having more “origin” scenes. I think the filmmakers made this in a large way for the fans, and assumed most of them had some exposure over the decade that “Smallville” was on. I applaud their choice.

  • d mighty

    Mary Ann (or anyone else), I know this type of question isn’t in your wheelhouse, but would you recommend this for a 5 year old boy? I promised my son months ago to take him, since he loves superman, but i did not realize it was pg-13. he’s typically not scared by superhero violence, but has only been exposed to the animated variety so far (superman or batman: the animated series, et al).

    We’re watching the Avengers this weekend, and i figured that might be a good barometer. Is it comparable or more violent/darker?

    I’d hate to go back on my word, but would be willing to play bad cop if you all felt it was inappropriate. besides, i got my father’s day tie already… :)

    Thanks.

  • imran

    i really liked the movie but:

    lois lane did not feel like lois lane.

    pa kent dying in the tornado for no reason was stupid and i was like what??? really? come on.

    the whole kryptonian air compsoition and gravity makes him a normal human was too childish. i was hoping someone would introduce a genetic engineering or nanomachines kind of concept which enables superman to use solar energy to fly and be strong and shoot lasers etc.

    also it would make more sense for them to have such powers on a much weaker level like jumping high or gliding and relatively high strength in their planet too but a weak dying star so they optimized their processes to use as much of that energy as possible for optimizing themselves so when he gets abundant solar energy on earth his powers multiple 100 times…. but making them look and act completely human on krypton just doesnt make sense to me.

  • There’s some intense and realistic disaster stuff that is reminiscent of 9/11, and while we don’t actually witness the death of Pa Kent, we see him just before it happens, and he knows it’s coming. And so does Clark, who watching and not helping, because of some complicated thematic issues that might confuse a little kid (“Why isn’t Superman helping?!”)

    You know your child best, but if I were a parent, these would probably give me greater cause for worry than the superhero violence.

  • Bluejay

    What MaryAnn said. I would also say that while there’s a lot of violence in The Avengers, the physical brawling in Man of Steel feels (to me) much more visceral and intense, and not depicted so lightly. *spoilerish?* There’s a stabbing, and a puncture wound that needs to be cauterized. A couple of characters kill a couple of other characters with their own hands (i.e. more graphically than death via lasers or explosions). And you might need to talk to your kid about some of Superman’s decisions. 5 years old seems a little young to me, but of course it’s your call. :-)

  • Robert P

    lois lane did not feel like lois lane.

    My impression as well. I suppose there’s nothing saying she can’t have a cute pixie look and button nose but…

    the whole kryptonian air compsoition and gravity makes him a normal human was too childish

    And it’s not part of the lore is it? I was under the impression that it’s the difference in the suns that made or unmade his super powers.

    also it would make more sense for them to have such powers on a much weaker level like jumping high or gliding and relatively high strength in their planet too

    If I’m not mistaken in an early incarnation of the comic Kryptonians *were* shown as a race of super-people.

  • Robert P

    I’d give the movie a conditional thumbs up, despite having a lot of problems with it, mostly because of the excellent SFX. In contemporary superhero films CGI allows the fight sequences to be like those in the comics. I liked the look of the Kryptonian world. Russell Crowe was superb as Jor-El.

    The various Pa Kent speechifying seemed dumb and contrived. Maybe Clark should have let a busload of his classmates die? What?? We see kids who perform CPR show up on network shows, a kid doing what he did would attract attention. Someone would have been in touch with major media within the hour. If some little assclown tried to bully him, certainly he could have taught the kid a lesson without killing/crippling him.

    Pa Kent’s death – why, *why* would you task your son with essentially limitless power with escorting his mother – who wasn’t crippled – a few steps to the bridge while you ran into the path of the tornado? Why wouldn’t Clark say – “No Dad, I’ve got it” and go after the dog? In the time it took for the business of him telling Clark to stay put to unfold any strapping young son could have run over and helped him.

    The original notion of – an older – Pa Kent dropping dead of a heart attack makes a lot more sense, still gives us the Clark-powerless-to-help-him moment…instead of a Clark standing there with his thumb up his nose moment.

    My biggest problem is who they picked to play Superman. Henry Cavill seems to be a decent actor, and he’s obviously put in a lot of time at the gym but he just doesn’t look the part. He’s *too short* for one thing – I don’t believe the claimed 6’1″ and even if he was that’s still too short, he’s got this short even if well defined jawline. Christopher Reeve *looked* like Superman (though if I were film emperor I’d have had him put on even more muscle) in a way that none of the tv and film Super-actors since then have.

  • imran

    why did they speak english on krypton? if they didnt and we were just shown so to make us understand without subtitles then how was Jor El’s uploaded intellicege able to converse with Clark?

    Why can superman fly since he has no other telekinetic abilities. Is there some anti-graviton producing ability in his dna?

    why doesnt the kryptonian environment look like it has more gravity than earthy while they say many times in the movie that it had more gravity

    why was superman not able to fly before the suit and why on his first flight it was unstable? who taught him? surely not Jor El as he never flew on Krypton

    why was lois lane invited to a military site and she didnt have to sneak in?

    how the clark manage to get employed by a military contractor without any background checks?

    why didnt zod just hold lois and martha kent hostages and threaten to kill them if superman didnt let them extract the codex? as an experienced trained general you would expect him not to take any risks and realize the morality in clark and use it to his disadvantage from the start.

    why do they look like humans? evolution cannot produce any other type of intelligent beings? or are all humans kryptonians from a thousands of years old colonization?

    etc etc etc

    just becuase a comic book’s back story worked in the past and no one bothered with these questions doesnt mean todays audience will not ask these questions.

    the movie was brilliantly made and so much better than that crap “suparman returns to be jealous of lois’s new husband and finds his hybrid alien child with asthma” story. BUT unlike other “better” superhero movies like The Dark Knight or Iron man or even Avengers, it was not believable enough for me. i didnt like captain america too much but the movie was certainly a lot more believable.

    Thor can fly because he is a supernatural magical being so he doesnt have to make sense.

    Superman is an alien, not a god or a weilder of magic, so he needs to be believable.

    to me, this movie would have been better if it answered all hese questions and was more of an origin story and unveiling Zod at the end to set up the sequel which would be a battle between him and Zod’s army

  • imran

    pa kents death by tornado was the stupidest thing. after that the movie wasnt the same for me. self righteous suicide by someone who told his son when he was young that it was better to let other kids die than to show his powers. what? really? thats the kind of teachings that make people great helpers of mankind? movie had too many flaws to get the ratings and reviews its getting. movie was really enjoyable but people are blind to the flaws of this movie for some reason

  • Jonathan Roth

    I just wish the beautiful world wasn’t filmed on a shaky-cam with such quick cuts that you could never actually see it. It’s like touring the Museum of Modern Art in a golf car with three flat wheels at high speed.

  • LynchmomVT

    What the heck? The film broke the #1 Superman rule: Superman does not kill. I don’t mind getting creative with a story to give it a new and updated twist but, really, I hate it when films mess with the core principles of a character.

  • Bluejay

    why did they speak english on krypton? if they didnt and we were just shown so to make us understand without subtitles then how was Jor El’s uploaded intellicege able to converse with Clark?

    There is at least one attempt to address this in the film: When Zod broadcasts his ultimatum on the world’s TV screens and iPhones, his message shows up in different languages around the world. So, apparently, Kryptonians have some means of making themselves understood to other beings in their native language.

    Why can superman fly since he has no other telekinetic abilities. Is there some anti-graviton producing ability in his dna?

    Apparently so. When he kneels down and touches his fist to the ground before launching off, the ground around him rumbles and the pebbles around him shake. Possibly he’s generating an anti-gravity energy field? Also, in the final fight, Zod strips off his armor and reveals that he too can fly; his armor stops short of hitting the ground and just floats a few inches in the air. Again, seems like a gravity-cancelling field.

    why was superman not able to fly before the suit and why on his first flight it was unstable?

    It’s not the suit that enables him to fly. It’s just that Jor-El gives him the suit, and at the same time says something like “You won’t know what your limits are until you test them.” So Clark is encouraged to discover his flying powers and puts on the suit at the same time; a nice coincidence, and a powerful visual. (The Donner film did the same thing.) And of course a first attempt at flying wouldn’t go perfectly; it would be more unrealistic if it did!

    why do they look like humans? evolution cannot produce any other type of
    intelligent beings? or are all humans kryptonians from a thousands of years old colonization?

    At some point, even in a modernized version, the story has to honor some canonical things, and one of them is that Kryptonians look like humans, so that Superman can look human. (Of course the problem of human-looking aliens, with faces and two arms and two legs etc, isn’t limited to the Superman films.) Convergent evolution, maybe? ;-)

    Your question about humans possibly being descended from Kryptonians is an intriguing one. Remember that when Clark first enters the scout ship that crashed on Earth 20,000 years ago, he sees four pods; three have skeletons in them, but the fourth one is empty. What could have happened there? Sequel possibilities…

    Thor can fly because he is a supernatural magical being so he doesnt have to make sense.

    Actually, in the movie version, the Asgardians are not supernatural gods but an extremely advanced alien civilization, with technology so far ahead of ours that it looks like magic. Your criticisms could apply to that movie as well: Why would an alien race look human? Why would they speak English?

    BUT unlike other “better” superhero movies like The Dark Knight or Iron man or even Avengers, it was not believable enough for me.

    Man of Steel has several plot holes; fair enough. But if you think those other movies don’t have their share of implausibilities, I recommend that you go to YouTube and look up the “Everything Wrong with [Movie Title]” series by CinemaSins. I don’t think MOS is noticeably less believable than those other films. And I’m willing to forgive implausibilities if the story is otherwise compelling, as MOS was to me.

    Good points on some of your other questions, though.

  • Bluejay

    lois lane did not feel like lois lane.

    What is Lois Lane supposed to feel like?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    While it was certainly inelegantly written, I didn’t see it as a “thumb up his nose” moment so much as a moment of choice. Jonathan made a choice to die rather than expose Clark, Clark made a choice to obey his father.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    …just becuase a comic book’s back story worked in the past and no one bothered with these questions…

    Dude, I have to ask: where have you been the last, oh, 75 years? There’s no one answer to any of these questions*, they tend to vary with the writers at the time, plus there’s a great deal of both fanon and fanwank about them. But there are answers out there. But I also have to ask: how do the answers affect the story? Superman will always be indistinguishable from a human, will always know how to fly. How does knowing, in specific (if inherently hand-wavey) detail, how these work affect the progress of the story?

    Superman is an alien, not a god or a weilder of magic, so he needs to be believable.

    Leaving aside the rather odd notion that aliens have to be “believable”, funny you should mention this. In most versions of Superman canon, magic (both divine and arcane) are among his only weaknesses.

    this movie would have been better if it answered all hese questions and was more of an origin story and unveiling Zod at the end to set up the sequel which would be a battle between him and Zod’s army

    What you’re describing isn’t a movie, it’s a 120 minute exposition dump. Even the 1978 version spent nearly half it’s running time on Lex Luthor’s real estate scheme.

    * the ones relating to the basic origin of superman, not plot points of Man of Steel.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Remember that when Clark first enters the scout ship that crashed on Earth 20,000 years ago, he sees four pods; three have skeletons in them, but the fourth one is empty. What could have happened there? Sequel possibilities…

    One of the tie in comics that came out in the weeks before the release of MoS address some of this.

    SPOILERS for anyone who thinks they might still read those:

    One of the passengers on that particular scout ship was Kara-El, aka Silver Age Supergirl. In the MoS continuity, she’s Kal-El’s ancestor, not his cousin. In the comic (which I’ve only read a synopsis of) she survives landing on Earth, and battles another Kryptonian here.

  • Robert P

    The film broke the #1 Superman rule: Superman does not kill

    I wondered about that but I haven’t followed the comic in a long time and don’t know what aspects of the classic lore they might have tinkered with over time. Didn’t Superman kill Doomsday in the “Death Of Superman” story from a while back?

    That bit of business at the end with Zod was silly. Why not just put his hand over Zod’s eyes? Or poke him in the eyes? Or….any number of other things it seemed he could have done given that he’d just knocked Zod all over the map numerous times up to that point. And Zod could take all that punishment but could have his neck snapped?

  • Robert P

    Why can superman fly since he has no other telekinetic abilities. Is there some anti-graviton producing ability in his dna?

    If I’m not mistaken in the original story line of the comic he didn’t actually fly but made huge leaps – “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”. At some point this was made into flying.

    Regarding his flying, to the best of my knowledge the phenomenon of gravity isn’t fully understood. And I don’t think it’s understood why atoms have the structure they have. Why do electrons uniformly occupy predetermined shells, in predetermined numbers depending on what they’re an atom of? Why do they stay in their shells? Where do electrons, protons, neutrinos, photons come from? He isn’t human, perhaps someone with a structure that’s fundamentally different at the atomic level could have anti-gravity and motive capabilities?

    why was superman not able to fly before the suit and why on his first flight it was unstable?

    Well, that one’s easy. The same reason you couldn’t walk or ride a bike the very first time you tried.

    why didnt zod just hold lois and martha kent hostages and threaten to kill them if superman didnt let them extract the codex?

    Because it wouldn’t have led to spectacular fight sequences.

  • Robert P

    What is Lois Lane supposed to feel like?

    Hasn’t she been uniformly been portrayed as a statuesque brunette? Lana Lang is supposed to be the redhead, yes?

    Actually in an earlier day Diane Lane might have made a good Lois Lane. Ditto a younger Angelina Jolie.

  • Bluejay

    *Spoilers* (though it’s been spoiled by now for anyone reading the above comment)

    I can see where you’re coming from, but I personally thought it was a bold storytelling choice that makes Superman’s character arc much more interesting. He was presented with a no-win situation (or at least what he perceived, in the heat of the moment, as a no-win situation) and had to make a morally fraught decision and live with the consequences.

    For me, what’s important is Superman’s reaction right after the kill: he’s really torn up about it, he just killed the last living link to his own people, and it clearly doesn’t feel like a victory to him at all. If the filmmakers are smart, they’ll make this the reason for Superman’s no-kill principle in future sequels. (Principles should come from somewhere, after all. Batman’s “no guns” policy stems from the shooting of his parents; Zod’s death could be the moment that inspires Superman’s rule.)

    Also, you must have hated the ending of Superman II, in which Superman takes away Zod’s powers, crushes all the bones in his hand, and tosses him into the abyss, presumably to his death. Oh, and beats up a trucker out of vengeful spite. ;-)

  • Bluejay

    *spoilers*

    And Zod could take all that punishment but could have his neck snapped?

    Why not? He and Superman have more-or-less equal power. Two regular human beings of equal power can brawl and beat each other up and be capable of breaking each other’s necks.

  • Bluejay

    I hadn’t really thought that Lois Lane had to be a particular physical type.

    I really liked that she was portrayed in this film — finally! — as a really competent, take-no-bullshit reporter who knows how to track down a story, who doesn’t just scream and dangle from helicopters, who doesn’t have spelling problems, and who actually seems like she would deserve a Pulitzer Prize.

  • Robert P

    Then they should be able to draw blood, knock out teeth etc. just like with human street brawls. Toe to toe street duke-it-outs between humans are typically very short affairs.

  • Robert P

    I hadn’t really thought that Lois Lane had to be a particular physical type

    There’s a history of a particular physical-type both in the comic and following from the comic playing the part on tv/film. The “real” Lois is a tall brunette. Lana Lang has red hair.

    It wasn’t the worst aspect of the film but I definitely noticed it.

    I don’t think the Margot Kidder Lois was portrayed as helpless or incompetent, she just got into some tight spots, as I recall partly because of her bullheadedness.

  • Robert P

    beats up a trucker out of vengeful spite

    He gave a redneck bully a long overdue smacking around. My problem with that bit of business was that they made “regular” Clark a complete wimp. I would have written it so that he cleaned the trucker’s clock without having to have his superpowers even if he took a few lumps in the process – finding strength in his character and sense of what’s right.

  • Bluejay

    He gave a redneck bully a long overdue smacking around.

    A redneck bully whom he very well knew didn’t have an ice cube’s chance in hell of fighting back. The Zod and redneck moments in Superman II are examples of Superman hurting/killing people whom he knows full well have no superhuman powers.* And that, to me, contradicts the spirit of Superman more than the anguished decision to kill an equal out of perceived necessity.

    *Contrast those moments with MOS, in which Clark consistently refuses to beat up on bullies, even when they humiliate him (though at one point he does take out his frustrations on a bully’s truck).

    I like the way you would have rewritten that scene.

  • Bluejay

    True. I suppose, in a big summer action movie, reality only goes so far. I don’t recall Batman losing any teeth in his fights with Bane, either. ;-)

  • Bluejay

    There’s a history of a particular physical-type both in the comic and following from the comic playing the part on tv/film. The “real” Lois is a tall brunette. Lana Lang has red hair.

    You’re right that there’s a history. I guess I’m not particularly attached to it.

    On another note – should we take it as a sign of social progress that no one seems to be complaining about Perry White’s casting? ;-)

  • Robert P

    A redneck bully whom he very well knew didn’t have an ice cube’s chance
    in hell of fighting back.

    The trucker picked on people *he* didn’t think could fight back – i.e. a bully.

    I just watched the clips on YouTube. The trucker Rocky was a prick who didn’t give a rat’s behind about anything but what he damned well felt like doing – including imposing himself on Lois’s space. He wasn’t stand-up enough to have a fair fight, sucker-punching Clark on the way out of the diner. Clark was too naive to be on guard. He did display gumption, getting up and facing Rocky again but got blindsided again. Lois displayed gumption too, jumping on Rocky herself.

    Rocky got a well-deserved taste of his own medicine. Clark even gave him a free shot. Clark never hits him. Rocky hurts himself punching Clark, gets spun around on a chair, sat down in his food and shoved down the diner counter to a relatively gentle landing on the pinball machine. No blood was drawn. Clark said he’d pay for the damages, which Rocky didn’t after the first fight per the dialogue.

    Zod as you’ll recall in that film was a megalomaniac who was going to enslave mankind whom he thought he could ride roughshod over.

    Both got what they deserved.

  • Bluejay

    Both got what they deserved.

    It’s not a question of what they deserved, but of whether it’s in character for Superman to commit those acts.

    In Superman II, both characters’ comeuppances happen when they have no superhuman powers — at the hands of someone who knows this, and is further aware that he himself has enough strength to reverse the earth’s rotation. The power imbalance, for me, is just outrageous. I agree that the redneck got his just desserts, but also felt that it was small and petty of Superman to track him down to do that, instead of just brushing it off. (I prefer your rewrite, with a non-powered Clark holding his own and winning a fight on equal terms.) As for Zod: once he lost his powers, what need was there for Superman to kill him? Why didn’t he just haul him off to jail along with Luthor? (Yes, I know that in the revised Donner cut there’s footage of the Kryptonians surviving and being arrested, but the “official” theatrical version is edited to give the impression that they died.)

    So, again, my problem is with the power imbalance. Zod’s death in MOS takes place under significantly different circumstances.

  • Robert P

    Every act that Superman performs is with a power imbalance – that’s what makes him Superman. He performs these acts to right or stop wrongs. He never does anything in a predatory manner. Rocky only got the treatment he got because of his behavior. Not petty at all. Obviously Clark wasn’t the only one he’d given similar treatment to. This was a career bully who was in serious need of a butt stompin’. What he got was actually pretty mild.

    I just watched that final scene with Zod and his henchmen. Not obvious to me that they were sent to their deaths, that they couldn’t have been retrieved by Superman at his convenience, which apparently is what one version of the film had happen.

    Superman actually only deals with Zod who he tosses against the wall, subsequently sliding into the crevasse. Non falls because he tries to fly to attack Superman but discovers he no longer has super powers. Lois decks Ursa.

    Even if they had been killed, the obvious justification is that given the opportunity they would do the same thing again.

    It seems to me Zod, particularly the MoS version is very much patterned after Adolph Hitler. Hitler espoused essentially the same rationalization, he did what he did for the “good” of the fatherland. He rose to power through violent means, those who opposed him and those who he deemed unfit were killed.

  • Bluejay

    Again, it’s not about whether Rocky deserves it. Rocky seems like really, really small fry to me. Yes, there’s a power imbalance anytime Superman stops non-powered human criminals, but they’re criminals. Rocky is just a douche. Superman seems to have humiliated Rocky not as an impartial lesson on how to treat others, but as payback specifically for humiliating Clark earlier. It feels personal, and it feels vindictive. At least that’s the way it plays to me.

    Even if they had been killed, the obvious justification is that given the opportunity they would do the same thing again.

    They’ve lost their powers. They’re effectively normal human beings. They’re no longer immediate, imminent mortal threats. If it’s justified for them to be (at least hypothetically) killed in that condition, because “they’d do it again if they could,” then you’re saying Superman would have been justified in killing Luthor (who had previously fired missiles at civilian populations) or any other non-powered criminal who wanted to take over the world.

    Regarding MOS Zod: Are we arguing about whether his death is justified? I sense we’re in agreement that it is.

  • Robert P

    They’ve lost their powers. They’re effectively normal human beings.

    For now – there’s nothing to say they couldn’t have regained them. This is more parallel with Hitler – he was once jailed for treason. That’s where he wrote Mein Kampf.

    Contrast those moments with MOS, in which
    Clark consistently refuses to beat up on bullies, even when they
    humiliate him

    Which I thought was dumb along with the rest of Pa Kent’s philosophizing as per comments I’ve made elsewhere. Clark could & should have given them a restrained whuppin’.

  • Karl Morton IV

    I thought that was pretty clear too – Faora flat out says it after the Smallville smackdown as well. Half the people I know who hate the movie claim that none of that happened, though. *shrug*

  • Karl Morton IV

    For what it’s worth, my take on the tornado thing was that Pa waved Clark off because he had a HUGE FRAKKING TORNADO in his face (see Moore, Oklahoma) and no reason to believe Clark could survive something like that. Pa doesn’t know that Clark is Superman, remember – he never read the comic book. Pa acted like my Dad would have – “look after your mother” – and Clark, in spite of a flash of teenage rebellion moments before, fell back on obeying Pa instantly when the chips are down because he was his dad. Clark was just about to tear out and get him, but Pa held up his hand, Clark hesitates – ‘cuz Pa told him to – and Pa died. Clark’s reaction was as much GODDAMMIT, WHY DIDN’T I IGNORE THE OLD MAN FOR ONCE as it was blinding grief. Made it all MUCH more nuanced than just , “Awww, that’s really sad.”

  • Robert P

    should we take it as a sign of social progress that no one seems to be complaining about Perry White’s casting?

    I’ll officially complain. I’m not famous for my appreciation of political correctness. Laurence Fishburne was cast in that role to be black. It was token casting to appease the “hey, how come no main character in this film franchise is ever black??” crowd.

    It goes along with this trend of pointedly casting a black actor in the “genius” role.

  • Bluejay

    We just philosophically disagree, then. :-)

  • Bluejay

    *groan* Let’s have this discussion some other time. Or you can have it with someone else.

  • Robert P

    Out of curiosity I looked into it. Zod rather than being merely an invention for the movies was a very prominent character from the Superman comics, originating in 1961. Per the Wikipedia article he’s regarded as one of SM’s greatest enemies. Including him seems pretty much mandatory.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Zod

  • Robert P

    the final battle(s) go on for too long

    Holy different strokes Superman… Action sequences are most of why I go to a theater to see movies like this and pay extra for 3D.

  • Robert P

    The wanton destruction is *why* they stage the battles in cities, which I believe is how it’s done in all superhero movies. All the crashing about underscores and amplifies your perception of the energy being expended.

  • Robert P

    The film broke the #1 Superman rule: Superman does not kill.

    As a follow up I discovered that Superman executed Zod in an early 60’s story line from the comic.

  • Robert P

    whether it’s in character for Superman to commit those acts.

    Since we started this discussion I discovered that this comes directly from the comic lore – Superman executed Zod in a storyline from Zod’s first appearance in the early 60’s.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Zod

  • GoodApprentice

    Oh my. I read this review right after watching the guys at RedLetterMedia tear the movie a new one. Now I don’t know what to think. Maybe I’ll wait a couple weeks so I won’t have to fight the crowds to see this in the theatre.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Well your first mistake is going to Red Letter Media for a review. They don’t do reviews. All they do is tear movies new ones. And not even in clever ways. And no, just because the internets creamed their collective shorts over the Phantom Menace videos doesn’t actually make them insightful.

  • Robert P

    I wasn’t previously familiar with RedLetter. Watched part of their review. The movie has a lot of flaws though I found some of what they had to say wasn’t accurate.

    Movies like this will never stand up to serious scrutiny. If you like splashy SFX go see it. Definitely pop for the 3D.

  • Matt Clayton

    I think you conveniently forget that if Clark outed himself (had he saved his father)… the intense media scrutiny would be much worse. Plus, Pa Kent wanted his son to live a normal life… there’s some things in life that can’t be altered no matter what happens.

    I think that’s why that scene divides people. People who ask “why didn’t he save his dad”? forget the point of it. Same with Superman killing Zod at the end… Zod forced his hand. You see the anger, regret and sadness in Cavill’s face during those scenes.

    And MAJ, there’s plenty of fodder a sequel can go on. For example, Lex Luthor could actually turn the people against Superman because of that incident. And so forth. But the film stands on its own too.

  • singlestick

    Great review. I agree about the science fiction and alien invasion tropes in the film. They work very well. Also agree that all the Super parents were very good, on Krypton and on Earth. But the film almost goes overboard on the Clark as alien outsider almost afraid of his own powers, so much so that I did not buy his transition to Earth’s savior. And I agree with some that the film’s biggest failure is to turn Superman into Space Jesus with a license to kill. I’ve read some comic geeks even admire the massive destruction (and presumed loss of life) that takes place as Superman battles Zod and his minions as what would “really happen” if gods battle. But this simply does not work. And if Superman can kill Zod (whose vulnerability here is a lame, convenient plot device), then why not kill Lex Luthor and any other villain he next encounters.

    But this not only violates Superman’s credo, it disrespects the memory of the original creators of Superman. Jerry Siegel’s father died as the result of a robbery. Siegel and Shuster could have, but deliberately did not, create a vengeful superhero. A Superman who is a law unto himself could never be trusted by mere mortals.

    On the other hand (and less heavy), I really liked Henry Cavill and Amy Adams. Fishburne was largely wasted and really had little to do here.

  • Bluejay

    And if Superman can kill Zod […] then why not kill Lex Luthor and any other
    villain he next encounters.

    But note the immediate aftermath, and Superman’s own reaction to what he has done. If this movie is basically Superman Begins, then Zod’s death could be the reason why Superman (in the future) chooses not to kill. In terms of character, a virtuous no-kill policy is boring if it’s shown to be part of the hero’s moral code from the beginning, fully-formed and unchallenged. I think the film took the riskier and more rewarding route of showing how Superman gets there — by showing how much killing costs him.

  • singlestick

    That Superman might choose not to kill in the future because he feels bad, as opposed to adhering to a moral code, only increases the problem that the film makers created for themselves. And it’s not just that he kills Zod; the film implies a callous disregard for life during the battles with the other Kryptonians. You have to severely suspend disbelief to accept that all the buildings destroyed during the long fight were empty.

    The other weakness of the Superman Begins argument is this: imagine a rookie cop who kills scores of innocents his first day of the job and who decides on his own to kill a disarmed suspect, even though he goes on to defuse a bomb. He would be thrown off the force. This attempt to create a “more realistic” Superman just falls into new problems. No government or country would harbor an invincible near deity who could decide on his own whether to kill an opponent.

    On of the things that made Superman an enduring hero for 75 years is that he exercised his powers with restraint by using his intellect and wits, bound by a moral code, to avoid killing anyone. It’s also noteworthy to consider the blatant allusions to Jesus in this film. Only here, we have Warrior Jesus who is willing to kill for our benefit. I just don’t think it works. In the universe of the film, since this is the first time that Superman has appeared in public in full glory, no human being could be sure that he might decide that they did not deserve to live. And if he made such a decision, who could stop him?

  • Bluejay

    the film implies a callous disregard for life during the battles with the other Kryptonians. You have to severely suspend disbelief to accept that all the buildings destroyed during the long fight were empty.

    What makes you think we’re meant to believe they’re empty? I assumed, while watching the film, that thousands of people died. I didn’t get the impression that the film wants us to be okay with it.

    imagine a rookie cop who kills scores of innocents his first day of the job and who decides on his own to kill a disarmed suspect

    For the metaphor to work, the suspect wouldn’t be disarmed. He would be armed, he would have already taken thousands of lives, and he would be threatening to kill even more innocent civilians in the immediate vicinity.

    This attempt to create a “more realistic” Superman just falls into new problems. No government or country would harbor an invincible near deity who could decide on his own whether to kill an opponent. […] since this is the first time that Superman has appeared in public in full glory, no human being could be sure that he might decide that they did not deserve to live. And if he made such a decision, who could stop him?

    These are excellent points. I don’t think the film is flawed for having raised these problems; I think it’s better for having raised these problems. Superman talks twice to the human general about the issue of trust: In the holding cell, he tells the general “You’re afraid of me because I’m powerful and you can’t control me; but that doesn’t mean I’m your enemy.” And at the end, he destroys the general’s spy drone, telling him something like “You’ll just have to trust me to help out in my own way, and I’ll just have to trust you.” But is trust without accountability enough? That question creates, I think, a terrific opportunity for the sequel to explore: How do we know we can trust Superman?* And I wouldn’t be surprised if Lex Luthor shows up and raises the very points you’ve raised in order to turn the people of the world against him.

    *And this would be a valid question even if Superman had somehow managed to neutralize Zod without killing him (how, exactly?), and reassured the world “Don’t worry, I never kill.” Why would we take him at his word? How can we guarantee he won’t go back on that word, and what would we do if he did? Again, in my view, not a flaw of the story, but an interesting problem for sequels to explore. I hope they do.

  • singlestick

    RE: What makes you think we’re meant to believe they’re empty? I assumed,
    while watching the film, that thousands of people died. I didn’t get the
    impression that the film wants us to be okay with it.

    It’s not whether the film wants us to be okay with it. Superman clearly causes some of the devastation himself by hurling Zod and his minions through buildings. He does this in Smallville and in Metropolis, seemingly without regard for the lives of the people inside the buildings. But then, he kills Zod when the bad guy threatens people in plain sight. This really makes no sense. And in a “realistic”: universe, Superman would be sued into the ground in hundreds of thousands of wrongful death suits, and held liable for the damage that he caused, to the tune of billions of dollars. It’s a tricky thing to try to bring a mythic character into the “real world,” and Snyder overplayed his hand.

    This Superman negates the idea of a Superhero. It is inconceivable that the survivors of this devastation would hold Superman to be blameless. And no government would embrace him (except perhaps some dictator). Any sequel would be the trial and conviction of Superman, followed by his swift exile from the planet if he did not agree to be imprisoned. By the way, the Avengers movie has some of these problems as well, but they clearly tried to dodge some of these potential issues. They also had enough guts to show injured people after the battle.

  • Bluejay

    Superman clearly causes some of the devastation himself by hurling Zod and his minions through buildings. He does this in Smallville and in Metropolis, seemingly without regard for the lives of the people inside the buildings.

    Well, to be fair: In Smallville, he tells the people in the streets to “get inside, it’s not safe here.” He saves a military pilot falling out of his plane, and another military man about to get killed by Faora. But yes, he also appears to unintentionally cause lots of casualties.

    And in a “realistic”: universe, Superman would be sued into the ground

    Well, there’s no more “realistic” universe than the actual real world. And in the real world, has the US, for example, ever been meaningfully held to account and made to pay for Hiroshima, Nagasaki, or any of the civilian casualties and damage incurred in all the wars it has waged?

    It is inconceivable that the survivors of this devastation would hold Superman to be blameless. And no government would embrace him (except perhaps some dictator). Any sequel would be the trial and conviction of Superman

    Except that Superman also saved the world from a Kryptonian terraforming process that would have wiped out all of humanity, for which a jury might be willing to grant him a little leniency. And the American government might (perhaps cynically) embrace him as its ultimate weapon, especially since he explicitly declared to the general at the end of the movie “I’m from Kansas; you can’t get much more American than that.” (Though I suspect that Superman views his relationship with the American government differently than the government does.) Again, these are points that a good sequel might follow up on. Do people blame Superman? What do governments make of him? Etc.

    We seem to be in agreement that this film presents a more morally complicated (and potentially troubling) version of the Superman story; it’s just that you find it appalling, and I find it intriguing. I think there’s room for this interpretation, among the many, many versions of Superman we’ve seen over the past 75 years.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Also, Lex Luthor can be incarcerated, or otherwise left alive but rendered incapable of further mischief. Goyer and Snyder made the deliberate choice to use up the traditional deus ex machina used to deal with Zod (The Phantom Zone Projector), and to not invent some other Kryptonian gadget cum plot device to allow Clark to beat Zod without having to kill him. i can understand objecting to this on traditionalist principle, but I can’t agree that it was bad writing. If anything, I feel like the detractors are upset because the conclusion wasn’t poorly written.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    And in a “realistic”: universe, Superman would be sued into the ground in hundreds of thousands of wrongful death suits, and held liable for the damage that he caused, to the tune of billions of dollars.

    IANAL, so how, exactly, would that work? That’s like suing a tornado. The idea of superheroes getting sued made for a clever conceit to set up The Incredibles, but even Brad Bird had the good sense to recognize that it would be the Government that people would have to sue.

    Anyway, Goyer and Snyder seem intent on exploring how the world might really react to the existence of an unstoppable superbeing among us. I suspect they would consider everything you’re describing as a feature, not a bug, of their story. As I’ve said, i can understand why one might not want to explore these ideas with Goyer and Snyder, but I also think that an appeal to tradition leaves us watching the same story over and over. And it’s not like Superman hasn’t always been painfully derivative.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Never, ever “pop for the 3D.” That’s like feeding the neighborhood cats: they’ll just keep coming back for more, and pretty soon they’ll start pissing on your stuff.

  • singlestick

    I don’t find it appalling, but I do think that Superman’s role in the massive death and destruction that takes place weakens the film considerably. I also think that the writers and director have painted themselves into a corner, and would be surprised to see them deal with any of this in a sequel.

    BTW, as a reader of comics and SF fan, I know what Zod was trying to do with the Krypto-farming (you can’t call it terraforming, cause Zod ain’t from Terra). But I don’t see how this would mitigate any wrongful death suit brought against Superman for the death and destruction that he caused or participated in. That he had “good intentions” is not really relevant.

    Raising the example of US wars only drags you deeper down the rat hole. The US didn’t declare war on Zod (government officials are notably absent in this film). Superman and Zod waged their own private war, with all of Earth as little more than ineffectual bystanders and victims. What tribunal could ever have jurisdiction over an all powerful Superman? And to refer to the other symbol that Snyder heavy-handedly uses, the US government became Pontius Pilate, giving Space Jesus up to General Zod, washing their hands of an intergalactic problem. Space Jesus fought back, perhaps deliberately allowing people to die to teach them a lesson that he is not a deity to be defied. This again makes it harder to find any trace of the friendly, heroic Superman in this mess of a movie.

    All that said, I understand how other viewers of the film not only enjoyed it, but found its themes and how they were developed to be satisfying. And a fictional universe in which many people intensely hate Superman because he caused the death of their loved ones, and in which other people worship him, is intriguing, but still too sour for my tastes, at least in a mainstream movie.

  • Bluejay

    you can’t call it terraforming, cause Zod ain’t from Terra

    Sure, but I’m calling it what Doctor Toby Ziegler Hamilton called it in the movie. ;-)

    Raising the example of US wars only drags you deeper down the rat hole. The US didn’t declare war on Zod (government officials are notably absent in this film). Superman and Zod waged their own private war, with all of Earth as little more than ineffectual bystanders and victims. What tribunal could ever have jurisdiction over an all powerful Superman?

    I was responding to your claim that in a realistic world, Superman would have his ass sued off for the deaths he caused. My response was: probably not, because in the real world, the entity (US) whose physical/military might comes closest to Superman’s omnipotence hasn’t been called to account for its collateral damage either. And your last sentence above (in bold) actually proves my point. If, as you say, no tribunal has jurisdiction over Superman, then who’s going to sue him for damages?

    Space Jesus fought back, perhaps deliberately allowing people to die to teach them a lesson that he is not a deity to be defied.

    WTF? I can understand faulting him for not doing a better job of avoiding civilian casualties. But claiming he deliberately didn’t save people in order to teach humans not to fuck with him? You can’t possibly be serious. If you honestly think that’s a plausible reading of Superman’s motives in the story, no wonder you didn’t enjoy the film.

  • Robert P

    You don’t feel like the current 3D tech enhances the experience?

    Once upon a time 3D was a gimmick that didn’t work well but the newer 3D really enhances these splashy sfx films for me. I’ve gotten to where splashy sfx movies are the only ones I go to a theater to see.

    The first 3D movie I saw was “Spacehunter” – Molly Ringwald’s second theatrical film and the only Sci-Fi film she’s ever done. They were still using the Red/Blue glasses system that I believe was unchanged from the 50’s – a cheesy gimmick for what I recall as a terrible film.

  • Robert P

    But this not only violates Superman’s credo

    It turns out this event comes in modified form from the comic which I didn’t realize until looking into it as a result of debate/discussion related to this review.

  • BrianJKelly

    I completely agree – especially if Lex is the one who helped rebuild the city so fast (considering Lois is back to work so soon that Jenny is still an intern). Lex can position himself the real savior after some costumed alien destroyed a small town and a major city.

  • BrianJKelly

    Man of Steel II will start like Ghostbusters II: Supes broke from being sued and reduced to working kids’ birthday parties. ;)

  • BrianJKelly

    Yeah… deliberately allowing human citizens to die to make a point is more of a Michael Bay’s Optimus Prime sort of thing to do. I do think Supers should have done more to help protect the citizens of Metropolis, but considering he was facing a military tactician and lifelong fighter when Superman had never gotten into a fight until the day before, I’ll give him a pass at not yet being able to multitask. Now, if he doesn’t try harder in the next movie after learning the casualties of a mid-city super-fistfight, THEN I’ll have more of a problem with it.

  • BrianJKelly

    …and, like Hitler, Zod killed himself when his schemes failed, although in Zod’s case he committed suicide by cop.

  • BrianJKelly

    Maybe he has a magical mouth guard that goes with his magical knee brace, that works even when he takes it off. ;)

  • BrianJKelly

    I agree with someone’s assessment I’d read that after telling Pa Kent, “You’re not my real dad!” Clark stayed his hand to show his dad he trusted him and would respect his wishes after all.

  • BrianJKelly

    *guffaw*

  • BrianJKelly

    Yeah, and since Zod obviously wanted Supes to kill him, and was an experienced military strategist, I’m sure the loss of live was the POINT to goad Superman, not an accident or simple side-effect of the fight. Same with the “why doesn’t Zod just move his EYES if he can’t move his head?”… he cause his goal ISN’T to simply kill a few more people – it’s to force Supers to kill his Supes’ own soul the way he killed Zod’s.

  • BrianJKelly

    Plus, I feel that having more origin scenes WOULD make it more of a retread. We’ve seen most of this before. Let’s hit the high points plot-wise, and focus more on the emotional aspects than a point-by-point timeline.

  • singlestick

    RE: But claiming he deliberately didn’t save people in order to teach humans not to fuck with him? You can’t possibly be serious.

    A number of comic book geeks and others have talked about how much they enjoyed the fight scene at the end of the film, about how it was about what would happen when 2 gods fight, and tacitly acknowledging their pleasure at the idea that Superman and Zod would fight without regard to the impact of their actions on mere humans. But to sum up. The first part of the film featured an X-Man kind of Superman who grew up without friends, alienated and afraid of his powers. This was a valid and intriguing interpretation, but also one that left me somewhat distanced from the film, even though I liked the characters and the actors. It also made me wonder why such a character who was taught to hide himself away would ever even want to be a hero or try to save people. I still am not sure whether the film makers gave Clark sufficient motivation or even a psychological reason to try to break out of his shell.

    But the almost endless fight scene at the end of the film, and the killing of Zod was more problematic and unsuccessful because it pointlessly raised ethical issues that the film makers could not reasonably answer. And it was not simply that Superman did not avoid civilian casualties. There are scenes in which he flings Zod or another villain into presumably non-empty buildings. He had to know that there were people inside. This could be considered a callous disregard for the consequences of his own actions. This cannot easily be squared with the idea that Superman is a hero, or that he would be viewed positively by most of the survivors of his battle. But as I noted before, I will be curious to see whether any of this is addressed in a sequel, or whether the film makers will just pretend that everything is fine, and everyone loves Superman.

    But as I noted before, I can understand why others like the film. I think that they have to avoid more of the film’s self-imposed and unsolved problems to do so. Still, I am not sorry at all that I saw the film, and admired much of it.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    lol

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    No argument that the Jesus allegory is heavy handed in MoS (as it was in Superman Returns). However, it doesn’t carry as far as Pontius Pilate. Yes, the Government arrests Clark, but it’s Clark who makes the decision to meet Faora’s ship in the desert. And then, and this is important, Clark and the Government work in tandem to fight Zod.

    Pontius Pilate doesn’t show up in the Jesus story till near the end, very close to the crusifiction. MoS doesn’t get anywhere near the crusifiction. I except that’s being held off until the second sequel, which I hope will also draw heavily from “All Star Superman” and “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow”.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    You don’t feel like the current 3D tech enhances the experience?

    Not even a little bit. All it does is induce eye strain by trying to trick your eyes into seeing a three dimensional image, while still focusing on a two dimensional plane.

    Gods help me, I saw Avatar twice in 3D. The second viewing in 3D was because I figured I must have missed something about the 3D that made it special. It didn’t enhance anything. It never made me think I’m seeing a real scene in front of me. It wasn’t “immersive” – it was still waaaay over there by the screen. It was no more than a moving Viewmaster show. And it cost me an extra $3 a ticket. The best I can ever say about modern 3D is that, because it uses a polarization system rather than red-cyan anaglyph, my brain does eventually learn to ignore it. At least until the inevitable object is thrown at the audience.

  • Robert P

    Interesting. Avatar was the first 3D film I saw after avoiding 3D films for a long time since I’d never liked them and is what sold me on the current 3D.

    .shrug

    Maybe not everyone’s brain processes the image the same way.

    Disney World has some attractions with polarized 3D but I never felt they worked as well as the 3D in current films like Avatar and Man Of Steel. Giving the Wikipedia article a quick look I see there’s more than one way to create a polarized 3D image.

  • Silly me. I thought he was cast in the role because he was a good actor.

  • Bluejay

    Hey! I called it. :-)

    [Screenwriter David Goyer]: Also our movie was in a way Superman Begins, he’s not really Superman until the end of the film. We wanted him to have had that experience of having taken a life and carry that through onto the next films. Because he’s Superman and because people idolize him he will have to hold himself to a higher standard.

  • Dr. Rocketscience
  • Bluejay

    That question creates, I think, a terrific opportunity for the sequel to explore: How do we know we can trust Superman? And I wouldn’t be surprised if Lex Luthor shows up and raises the very points you’ve raised in order to turn the people of the world against him.

    Aaand I called it. :-)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwfUnkBfdZ4

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