Thoughts on ‘Man of Steel’

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Disclaimer: I’m assuming the only people interested enough to read this have already seen the movie. So, spoilers. This isn’t a review as much as it is some general thoughts about the movie and it’s reactions. 

I always knew Toby Ziegler was going to save the world.

I enjoyed Man of Steel. I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed as a fan of comic books. I enjoyed it as a fan of comic book movies. I enjoyed it as someone who has never once in his life considered himself a fan of Superman. In fact, that’s probably why I liked it so much. I’m not a fan.

I will concede however, that like pretty much every critic has pointed out, the fight scene at the end is entirely too long and CGI-ish. My response to that, however, is it’s a Superman movie. What on earth were you expecting? He has every Superpower. EVERY SUPERPOWER! Of course fight scenes are going to be outrageous.

What was great about the movie, in my opinion, is it created a three-dimensional Superman. A lot of people who are fans of the Christopher Reeve movies (at least the first two, because most of them have somehow convinced themselves that Superman II isn’t as ridiculous as III and IV) probably won’t like this one because it’s about a completely different character. Superman has evolved so much since the 1970’s that the two movies really have no business being compared.

I liked that the film embraced the character’s sci-fi roots. I think a lot of people forget that Superman (at least the most modern incarnation of him) is first and foremost a story about an alien. You can always tell who a superhero is by his villains. Batman’s villains are always emotionally damaged psychopaths. Spider-man is always fighting deranged scientists. Superman is always fighting aliens (with the exception of Lex Luthor, who usually enlists aliens to fight for him anyways). The reality is, superheros are always just fighting other versions of themselves.

I can definitely see why someone would be disappointed. If they came into the movie  expecting someone doing an annoying Gene Hackman impersonation, this film is probably quite a shock. The only thing I would tell those who thought this one was a little too sci-fy-ee is, wait until they pull out Brainiac. Or pretty much any other Superman villain for that matter. It gets a lot weirder than General Zod, trust me.

I loved the music. Even though I always knew deep down that Superman can’t die, there were moments when I thought he might, just because of the intensity of the music. Hans Zimmer. My goodness.

I absolutely loved that they actually made you care about this guy. You care about his earth family. You care about his Krypton family. The best moment of the film, in my opinion, is when Zod throws Clark’s mom, and ‘ol Kal-el zips in to punch him repeatedly. There is so much pent up angst up to that point. Clark has been bullied most of his life, without allowing himself to fight back. Finally, he gets to let loose on a bully who can take it. It’s a great moment.

A lot of the critics I’ve read who didn’t like the movie seem to have  a thing against Zach Snyder. I don’t know why. It might be a legitimate thing. I’ve never seen one of his movies, so I could care less about him. I will say, however, that if this movie is any indication, critics who claim he is the Michael Bay of comic book movies are misusing the insult.

You see, Michael Bay is a terrible filmmaker. But he is terrible because he’s bland. He’s not terrible because he’s too weird, or pretentious. In fact, his movies aren’t even really embarrassing. The reason everyone hates him is because we know his name. He’s not the kind of director who deserves to have name recognition, but he does. So we hate him for it. Who’s fault is that? Ours.

Zach Snyder is not bland. It’s true he seems to have  a penchant for too much reliance on action, but he is definitely a filmmaker worth noting. Love it or hate it, the the direction of Man of Steel was interesting.

In fact, I advise everyone to read this fascinating piece about Snyder in The Atlantic. It helped me contextualize some things going into this movie.

It will be interesting to see how the studio reacts to some of the criticisms. I remember when Batman Begins came out, there were plenty of criticisms (people on the internet seem to forget that. They imagine everyone loved begins as much as TDK. They didn’t.) and some of them, I think, had a negative effect on the subsequent movies. Namely, people complained that the way Nolan shot Batman’s fighting style was too confusing. It was choppy and unsettling  That was the point. That was the whole point. And people complained about it, like, a lot. One of the greatest Batman moments of all time is when the bats shows up at the warehouse and takes down the whole crew of drug smugglers. It was a beautiful scene, and everything a fan of Batman could ever hope for. There were hints of that type of stuff in TDK and Rises, but nothing to scale of how Nolan shot it in Begins. What a shame.

I hope they make more Man of Steel movies, and I hope they only listen to the good criticisms and avoid the nonsensical ones that gain popularity for no understandable reason.

Like this guy at Entertainment Weekly, who didn’t like the ending. He didn’t like the fact that Superman killed the alien determined to destroy the earth. He seriously thought Superman should have let the family in the museum die instead. Die. The family. Because Superman doesn’t kill people.

I quote: “And then there’s the thing that happens at the end of Man of Steel that was so ill-conceived and poorly handled that you almost start to wonder if anyone attached to Man of Steel knows what makes Superman so special.”

This is the moment where a writer, who I’m assuming has never actually read a Superman comic (his article points out a bunch of things he thinks are interesting re-imaginings of Superman’s origins in The Man of Steel. Many of which can actually be found in the comics) begins to tell everyone why this movie gets Superman wrong.

He complains, understandably so, about how the ending drags on with its overbearing fight scene between Supes and Zod. He doesn’t like the fact that “this is the kind of movie where the climax has to feature the hero and the villain punching each other.” (I mean…wha…like….like every action movie ever? By “this kind of movie” is he implying action movie? Is he seriously complaining that this movie is an action movie? I don’t get it.)

Then he lectures the filmmakers for ruining the film by having Superman kill Zod (which Superman has actually done before. For heaven’s sake google this stuff before you complain about it.) and then finishes it all off with a terrible interpretation of the message of the The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises (he also claims Nolan critiqued the “fist-fight ending” in TDK. Maybe so, but Rises and Begins both end with a fist-fight. So, whatever).

So, again, the filmmakers created a dilema for Superman. A family is about to be incinerated by an alien that has already destroyed most of Metropolis and came close to eliminating mankind. He shouldn’t have killed him though. Who knows what he should have done, but he shouldn’t have killed him, I guess.

And then there’s this Daily Beast piece that doesn’t make any sense. He says it’s a failure, but he also says it’s better than Superman Returns, but then he says maybe it isn’t. So … there’s that.

It absolutely baffles me that Superman Returns had a better response from critics. That movie was terrible. Legitimately terrible. No one actually liked it. Not even the critics who claimed to like actually liked it. It’s Kryptonite real estate plot was far crazier, and more annoying than any drawn out Zod v. Supes battle could ever aspire to. It was boring. A movie about a super hero with every imaginable super power was boring. Super boring, if you will. It was supposed to be a sequel to Superman II, which was preposterous (Lois Lane had her memory erased at the end of II, so she didn’t remember they got to “know” each other. In Returns it’s revealed to her that she had Superman’s baby. That should have blown her mind. But it didn’t. Because that movie was stupid.) and it provided the filmmakers with an excuse to be obnoxiously reverent to the Richard Donner films.

BATMAN.

(P.S. – my wife hated it.)

I know who should play Teddy Roosevelt

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So I’m reading the TR biography by Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex. It’s awesome. I have a hard time focusing though because I keep wondering who should play TR whenever that planned bio pic is made.

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Rumor has it Leo DiCaprio was attached to play him when Martin Scorsese was going to direct. I like Leo, but that would have been a huge mistake. I think I’ve figured out exactly who needs to play him though…

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I feel like Tom Hardy could do it. I’m fine with the fact that he’s not American. If only for the fact that he looks like him (at least more so than any other actor I can think of) and he’s a charismatic presence on screen. Like TR needs to be.

I’m open to other suggestions, but I feel like no other option can beat out TH for TR.

What do you think Teddy?

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