For Father’s Day, my brother and his wife took us out to see Man of Steel (though Dad decided to skip out).
I had been eagerly waiting for this day for about 2 years.
But before we get into Man of Steel (again, there will be spoilers. I’ll tell you where to stop reading, if you’re still with me), I wanted to just give a shout out to the under-appreciated Superman Returns.
I actually really liked Superman Returns (most of it). It was an ode to Richard Donner’s Superman I and II and I believe that’s why Brandon Routh was chosen to don the blue and red tights, because he looked a little bit like Christopher Reeve.
Though there weren’t that many action sequences, the few that they had were great and of quality. I have watched the plane crash sequence and the bank robbery sequence thousands of times. In fact, Superman Returns was on TV this past weekend, and I tuned in just in time for the plane scene and sat through that scene and the bank robbery scene. There’s a little boy inside of me that squeals with joy during those action sequences.
Outside of Brandon Routh, I did not like the casting. I felt Kate Bosworth made a horrible Lois. I felt that Kevin Spacey’s Lex was not the Lex I’ve grown to appreciate (I never liked Gene Hackman’s interpretation of Lex, either) and made Lex into a goofy, maniac, which Lex isn’t. Lex is a genius. A mastermind. Not a fool. (By the way, I think Michael Rosenbaum is my favorite portrayal of Lex from Smallville). But, other than that, it was a better movie than most people give credit for.
That brings us to Man of Steel. (spoilers.)
I guess Zack Snyder heard the complaints about the lack of action from the Bryan Singer’s rendition, because this was packed, I mean packed, with action. Although, at times the quality of the action wasn’t there like Superman Returns.
The cast was great. Amy Adams (red hair and all) made a great Lois Lane (she has now become my favorite Lois Lane, over Terri Hatcher who previously held that title from Lois and Clark). I loved Russell Crowe as Jor-El. I loved Jonathan and Martha Kent, even though I’m not a big fan of Kevin Costner. And, Henry Cavill is handsome. Very much so. I mean, like — “Geez. That’s not fair” kind of handsome.
But here’s the thing.
They may have fundamentally changed the character and essence of Superman. For the worse. (Last warning for spoilers).
Above all, Superman doesn’t kill. He just doesn’t.
He can. Because he’s like a god. But he doesn’t. He chooses not to. He always finds another way. Always.
So, the decision to kill Zod was an abrupt and jarring ending to the story. Yes, he showed remorse. But Superman doesn’t kill. Not even Zod. (And — Superman wouldn’t put people in harm’s way like that. He would’ve taken the fight outside of Smallville and protect the innocent civilians. Zod’s people wanted to fight him. They would’ve followed him if he went elsewhere to fight).
Yes, I can see that Superman was desperate when he pleaded Zod to stop (as Zod was attempting to kill innocent people) and Zod replied, “Never.” So yea, Supes may have felt the need to put an end to this forever and ever. And ever. But, you put trust in that Superman would find another way to end this madness. And when he snapped Zod’s neck, something changed in the mythology of Superman that Zack Snyder was telling.
I mean, there’s a reason why Bruce refers to him as a Boy Scout (not as a compliment). Because while Batman is willing to blur all lines for justice (expect for killing), Superman does not.
In an animated film, Superman vs. The Elite based on “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?,” he goes out of his way to prove the point to the Elite (group of superheroes) and the world that Superman’s way (emphasizing the point not to kill) is the best way to deal with villains.
When he killed Zod, I’m sure the writer’s and director wanted me, the viewer, to feel that there was no other option. But throughout his mythology, Superman always did find another option.
The moment Zod’s neck snapped, the essence and character of Superman changed for me. And it did for many others, as I have read similar thoughts and complaints. David Goyer is tapped to continue his version of Superman and write Man of Steel 2. And DC and Warner Brothers are hoping that this will be the doorway to introduce the Justice League, much like how Marvel did with The Avengers.
But, the Superman in this universe will have blood on his hands and murder on his conscience.
And, I honestly don’t know how to digest that.
The movie was great, though. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed every moment — up to the death scene. Now, I won’t be able to look at Cavill’s Superman the same, ever again.