So, like millions of geeks, former geeks, movie fans and regular people I went and saw Man of Steel on opening day. I went to the first showing Friday morning (not to be confused with the midnight show, I’m too old for that). Be warned, there will be spoilers in this post. Read ahead at your own peril if you haven’t seen the movie yet.
There were many things I liked about the movie, things that they got right. They even showed Lois being an actual reporter, chasing down leads and such. I liked that his parents, his Earth parents, were foundational to him being the good man he is. They especially hammered that home with Jonathan Kent. I liked that they made Zod more than just an unreasonable evil. Don’t get me wrong, he was evil. He even knew he was doing, and had done, things which are wrong. He was sorry he killed Jor-El (sorry, I warned you there were spoilers). He thought that he was doing what is necessary to save his people. A noble cause, yet the “ends justify the means” nature of his methods are unacceptable. I wasn’t happy that they tried to imply he could do nothing but the man he was due to genetic engineering. I don’t buy that, men make choices and those choices affect their future self and choices (a sentiment echoed by Jonathan Kent so maybe they weren’t trying to say that only that Zod felt that way).
There was much I didn’t particularly like though.
First, while I realize that people want spectacle in movies, particularly superhero movies (thanks Marvel), the amount of destruction that is leveled upon Metropolis (though they never call it that so is it Metropolis?) is on far too great a scale. It took New York more than a decade to rebuild in the wake of 3 fallen buildings. Literally a square mile looked like it was completely leveled with probably half the cities building damaged to a great extent by the battle between Superman and Zod. The city would be down for decades. Smallville had similar levels of damage (compared to its size). I just don’t think it was a good choice seeing how the city will exist in the next film. It has to.
This is a small point but he got his costume way too easy. It was just there. It was either packed in a ship that left Krypton thousands of years before any of the characters existed, or computer Jor-El fashioned it from… something. I don’t know how it should have come about but my favorite explanation for the suit was done in the novel, “It’s Superman” by Tom De Haven. It’s not my favorite Superman story but I like how the costume came about.
I disliked that Lois, from the get go, knows who Superman is. She knows about him before he is Superman. I know why they did it and it actually worked for the story just fine. I still don’t like it.
I actually didn’t mind Superman killing Zod in the end. He’s got a history of doing that. It was clear he had to do it and he clearly didn’t want to and he had massive amounts of remorse for what he had done. My problem is, outside of Lois, Ma Kent, and the Colonel he didn’t seem to care much about any people dying. With all the destruction he caused in the fight with Zod he never had to shield anyone. Maybe it was all evacuated but it wasn’t clear.
However I really didn’t like the way they portrayed Jonathan Kent’s desire for his son to remain hidden. I get wanting to protect your son. However the Kents are why Superman is not a dictator. Pa’s suggestion that perhaps Clark should let people die if saving them would expose his secret was a horrible choice. Had it been a springboard to discuss how to do what he can do without exposing himself would have been great. I even get him sacrificing himself to keep Clark’s secret but to suggest a busload of kids should have died to protect Clark does not seem like a very Pa Kent thing to do. Not to me anyway.
All in all it was a good first shot, one I think they can build on well. I would like to see some of this addressed though as it’s important to get Superman right. He is the archetype for all superheroes and he is the best of all of them. He could rule but chooses to serve. He has immense power that he chooses to use for others and not for himself. He does what everyone should want to do but that which I fear few of us would given the chance. That’s why it is important to get him right.
At least it was better than Superman Returns.