Monday, September 02, 2013

Man of Steel is Super, Man! *WITH SPOILERS*


Oh, and this post turned out to be a tad longer than the last one, but don't worry: scientists are now fairly certain that reading more than 140 characters will, in fact, not kill you. Fancy that.

(This is the apologetic part of the review where I whine about whining)
First, something of a disclaimer: I did not grow up reading the Superman comics. In fact, up until recently, I don't think I had read even a dozen Superman comics. Like, in my entire life. This however does not mean that I'm not a fan. I did not only love the shit out of the Christopher Reeve Superman (I still do), but I also watched 'Superman: the Animated Series', 'Justice League' and 'Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman'. Religiously, in fact. I still glee in nostalgia whenever I hear one of those intros (or see Teri Hatcher, for that matter). So even though I may not be an authority on Superman, since I don't actually read the comics (much), I think it's pretty clear that I've got at least something to say about the character. I, like any other fan, do want to protect this hero's legacy. This does not mean, however, that I will moan and groan about every little thing that is not exactly like I remember it from my favorite incarnations of the characters attached to the mythos.

Man of Steel has proven to be controversial amongst critics, especially online. Why is that? Certainly not because this is a bad movie, because it isn't. It really isn't. There are some rightful criticisms, mostly given by people who don't regularly misspell the exclamation mark as a 'one'. But there is more going on than criticisms being based in set circles. What we are seeing here is little more than the pathetic howls of a jaded movie audience that only looks for downsides in movies because they just love to complain. Butthurt fanboys demanding that their personal pet peeves are taken care of. Some people simply don't want to see anything new of deviant. They live in fear of everything. Every single movie has minor flaws you can point too, but those flaws shouldn't matter on the grand scale. I too can nitpick about certain things in this movie, and I absolutely will, but that doesn't make it a bad movie by any means. It makes it human. Discussing these things is a fun exercise for fans, releasing our own visions upon the film. That, however, does not diminish the director's vision in any way. Just to clarify: this is not about people with actual arguments. This is aimed at those who have the balls to call a movie 'bad', based on nitpicking alone.

(This is the usually essential part of the review where I instead give a quick synopsis with commentary)
Man of Steel is not just the kind of superhero movie we all know and love, complete with all the drama done well, but it is also a surprisingly good sci-fi movie. The film opens on Krypton, and you totally believe it. The only weak point on Krypton that I can think of right now is the way the animals are animated, they definitely look like CGI and the designers seem to have forgotten that the gravitational pull is greater on Krypton, so flying animals should at least have a gigantic wingspan, or something like that. On the other hand, they were generally well designed and even more importantly, they where there! They took the trouble of showing us Krypton, complete with landscapes and wildlife. Previous incarnations seemed very studio-y. Before seeing the film I wasn't at all happy with the fact that this film was yet another origin story, but this film handles it so well, that all of my former objections about that point are completely out of the window. So yeah, I'm pretty damn enthusiastic about this movie. Of course, that doesn't mean there aren't some hijinks going on every once in a while. Jor-El, for example, is a supreme kicker of ass. This is weird, since everyone on Krypton are genetically engineered for their jobs specifically. Jor-El is a scientist. So what's up with all the ass-kicking then? Where people expecting a lot of fistfights in the Kryptonian labs? He should not be able to kick even the tiniest of butts, yet he's friggin' Bruce Lee somehow. Moving on. On Earth we see an adult Clark, essentially being an anonymous Superman, becoming an urban myth wherever his deeds are done. Wanting to just be human, but refusing not to help people. He is, as his mother had foreseen, an outcast. Yet he never stops helping earthlings, no mater how bad they may tread him. A glance into Superman's famed ideals, of course. In a scene in a bar we see Clark being humiliated. To show the audience his grace, he walks away, not beating the guy to Pluto. To show the audience his humanity however, we see that he did take some revenge in the form of playing yathzee with the guy's truck. Character established. Clark and Lois discover the spaceship in ice almost simultaneously, and this is where they meet. Right off the bat, there are no secrets regarding his identity towards Lois. Inside the ship he is able to upload Jor-El's consciousness into the ship's mainframe. Jor-el then tells him about his Kryptonian decent, and how their demise came to be. Interestingly enough, the turning point for Clark in this conversation, the moment where he fully becomes Superman, at least in spirit, happens off screen. It kind of reminded me of that scene in Chaplin's The Great Dictator, where the camera pans away from the action, and instead shows an innocent bird, able to fly, but caged. Seems like a bit of a stretch, but the filmmakers might have had this in the back of their heads too, since after this, Superman learns to fly. When he returns to Smallville and tells his mother he found his ancestry, we are treated to some striking acting by Diane Lane. She is happy for him, but in the blink of an eye she has found the fear of losing the title of mother to some degree. Now that Clark knows where he came from, will he still consider himself to be her true son? The dilemma of the moment is immediately apparent in her eyes, perhaps fueled by Lane's own motherhood. She is one of my favorite characters in the film, not in the last place due to Diane Lane's acting. To the religious, she might occasionally even remind one of Mary. Yes, that one. Then they learn about Zod's arrival, when he broadcasts a warning to the entirety of Earth. Well, to everyone who owns a television set at least. So here's hoping that Jor-El's son didn't turn out to be an North African nomad, I guess. Actually, now that I think of it, Clark did live quite a nomadic life for a while, so if the broadcast happened then, me might have put the whole world in danger, just by not owning a TV. Zod tells Earth that Superman is among them and that he should be turned in, or they can all zod off, I guess. I know that was a terrible joke, but it had to be made. Anyway, in all this mess, you'd expect him to go to the nearest Kryptonian spaceship and consult his space dad. He'll know what to do. But in an enormously human act, he doesn't. He doesn't console the alien about the alien. Instead he visits a priest, a mere human. Why? Because even though he never felt truly one of the humans, he now evidently feels more human than alien, and he turns to a human, a follow human, for help. Nothing the priest says actually changes Clark's actions, which is fine, because that's not why he's there in the first place. He needed to confine to a human, before potentially sacrificing himself for the sake of the human race. After this there is a bit of a military part of the film. In it, Lois and Clark have a talk in an interrogation room. Adams and Cavill have great chemistry here. They do in the entire film, but especially here. And when Superman stands up and talks to the General trough the two-way mirror, pure awesomeness happens. It's scenes like these that remind you even more why Cavill is such a great Superman. However, I must say that from here, we are rapidly moving towards the end of the awesome part of the film. There is still a cool scene inside Zod's ship where Superman has a dream you will remember (it's that skull thing from the trailer). But as soon as they go outside and fight, things quickly start getting quite Roland Emmerich -ish. The entire third act has very little emotional content, and gives us destruction porn instead. It's like suddenly watching a completely different movie. It's a shame, really. I would love to see how the movie would have ended if the characters actually got a change to develop into a satisfying conclusion. But alas, it was not to be.

Characters and actors.

When I first heard Henry Cavill was going to be Superman, I didn't really know what to think about that. Having watched some episodes from The Tudors, I knew he could act but I also distinctly remember being disappointed by his young age and boyish looks. Luckily, I was wrong. Dead wrong. Henry Cavill plays a superb, believable, 'human', and yes, very manly Superman with all the right motivations and morals. His epic tale mirrors that of the classic heroes of Greek and Judeo/Christian -mythology while not steering away from the very human emotions that plague him as a result. So why then do so many people have such a tepid view of him? I think it is because at many times he seems to be merely a pawn in a much bigger game. He does not call the shots. In other words, nearly all of the plot changing decisions are being made for him, which is not a common place fo
r a protagonist to be in. He is a god among men, and yet he is being obedient. That of course isn't really a bad thing. Especially since it sets a nice contrast between him and Zod & co. (A fun bit of trivia: Cavill was supposed to play the titular character in Superman Returns, but was dropped when Bryan Singer was hired to direct the film. Although he was initially upset, he told Huffington Post he “could more accurately represent this incredible character” because he has more years of acting experience under his belt now. He is also the first non-American to play the character)

Lois Lane.
Amy Adams absolutely rocks as Lois. As much as I love the Richard Donner Superman, Margot Kidder's Lois would have been fired from the Daily Planet pretty quickly. This Lois however feels like a real, true reporter. She has great wit. There are only a few little things that could have been done differently. For example, even though the military is very present in this film, there isn't even a mention of her father, General Sam Lane. That's a bit odd, but not an error in any way, so we'll let that one slide. I love her role in the plot. I love that she knows that Clark is Superman. She's honest and comes to function as a confidant for Superman. Lois Lane represents heroism in everyday life, she is humanity. Amy Adams conveys this well. Her acting has been called flat, but I really don't see it. She even looks like Lois Lane, except for her hair. What exactly is up with that? I mean, I know it's shameless nitpicking to the highest degree, which must seem like great hypocrisy after what I said in the introduction, but her hair being the wrong color is the only thing keeping her from being the perfect Lois (going by looks, Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven is how I picture the essential Lois, by the way). Seriously, this one, little, easy to fix thing. But I know, it's nitpicking, so moving on.

This would've looked more like Lois, but whatever...

Jor-El is of course the 'man' who set it all in motion. Played by Russell Crowe, he comes across like a respectable man, a natural mentor. Crowe's underacting has struck many as 'flat', but I see it as nothing less than powerful. Especially when reciting Grant Morrison, I think the shoes of Marlon Brando are filled well. His voice is so compelling, that it's easy to miss when he makes decisions that might not be in everybody's best interest, because you just naturally believe everything he says. In retrospect, he does make a few decisions that need some explaining, however. For example, why didn't he make it possible for Kal-El to upload Lara's consciousness to a spaceship mainframe too?

Martha Kent.
My favorite performance is probably Diane Lane's. Her Martha Kent is by far my favorite incarnation of the character, which says a lot. She brings a lot of humanity to the role, as well as a realistic deviance. Every word Diane Lane speaks hits home.

Lara Lor-Van (I know that's actually her maiden name, so don't even think about commenting on that)
Way too short, yet memorable performance by Ayelet Zurer. Lara is an incredibly important character to the mythos, which is why I'll never understand why it took so long for an memorable live-action version to appear. Think I'm exaggerating? Imagine even one live-action Lara besides the MOS version, right now. Most readers won't be able to do it. So in a way, Lara has now finally been given a face for the general public. On the live-action front that is, the Animated Series already established an awesome Krypton storyline.

Paul Dini kicks all sorts of ass.

Jonathan Kent.
A surprisingly cold figure. He is set in his ways and morals, and will not weaver. His deviance is as strong as his Martha's. In the comics, he dies of a heart attack. Giving Clark a bitter reminder that there are still stings he cannot fight. In the film, there is a slightly different end to Jonathan's life. He gets caught in a tornado while preforming a rescue himself. Clark can save him, but Jonathan does not want him to use his powers like that out of fear that the government will take Clark away, or something of that nature. When asked by Clark “What was I supposed to do, just let them die?” about saving a schoolbus, Jonathan coldly answers “Maybe”. Now that his own life is in peril, he stands by his morals, and signs to Clark not to save him. Clark obeys and lets him die. A very powerful scene.

General Zod.
General Zod (played by Michael Shannon) is not as strong as Superman. He is stronger. Not only is he from Krypton, he has also been a military type for his entire life. Superman on the other hand had just begun his work as Superman and grew up on a farm. That's quite a difference. The only advantage Superman has is that it takes a while to get used to the earth's atmosphere. Which is useful, but of course that does die out, so there isn't a heck of a lot of time for Superman to defeat Zod, he'll be too powerful if Superman wastes too much time. So far the character. The actor, Michael Shannon, definitely has his moments, but he is constantly on the verge of overacting, sometimes even crossing that line. Not that odd maybe, when your predecessor is famous for yelling “Kneel before Zod!”, but his facial expressions get borderline silly sometimes.

Mr. Angryface McPout, ladies and gentlemen.

Perry White.
You'd be hard pressed to find any actor that would fit this role better than Laurence Fishburne. The guy's perfect, that's all I can say about it, really. I mean, what's more to say? It is very rarely that you see an actor fitting his role so perfectly. Someone give the head of casting a medal.

Jimmy Olsen.
There is no Jimmy Olsen in this movie. At first this seemed like a major flaw. After all, Jimmy is Superman's best pall! How could a Superman movie just gloss over that? But quickly I realized that he might be in the movie after all. Since this is a origin story, Superman does not yet work at the Daily Planet (except at the very end) and thus has not met Olsen yet. We however, may have. I would not be surprised if the actor that will play Jimmy Olsen in the sequel (and I'm pretty sure he'll be in that movie) can be seen as an extra in the Daily Planet. That's right, he might be under our very noses this entire time. I know what some of you are thinking right now, “Don't you know that Jimmy Olsen is now Jenny Olsen?” Well, actually, that was just a rumor. That character is actually called Jenny Jurwich (played by Rebecca Buller ).

Wait a minute, that guy, over Perry White's shoulder. Are you guys seeing that? That could definitely be Jimmy Olsen. Is he? He might be. I think he is.

No wait, maybe it's that guy. That could be him. He doesn't work at the Daily Planet here, but he still can, in the next movie. Maybe he and Lois meet and there is conflict because of the interview or something like that. Could happen, right? Sounds plausible?

[PS: Haha, you clicked play, didn't you? Don't you feel like a complete asshat now!]

Lana Lang.
She may not have a huge part in this movie, but she's in there. And that's awesome, goshdarnit. Also, she seemed to have recognized Clark as Superman, so there's some possible conflict for the sequel.

The amount of ass kicked by this Kryptonian is almost beyond comprehension. She's at least as kickass as Zod. In fact, the film might have improved if she was the main villain and Zod was her lesser. I kind of want to see her as Wonder Woman now, but that's not going to happen because I highly doubt that Warner would use the same actors for different characters in the same continuity.

Dr Hamilton.
His role in the movie may not be that big, but the implications of him being there certainly are! Being a top dog/former top dog for S.T.A.R.-labs, he has become something of a Lucius Fox to Superman. But, there is more: S.T.A.R.-labs is actually responsible for DC character Cyborg. Who was not originally a member of the Justice League, but in September 2011, was actually established as a founding member of the league as part of DC's 2011 reboot of its continuity, the New 52. I am in general not the biggest fan or New 52, so the possibility of the upcoming (if everything goes well) Justice League movie being based in the New 52 universe does slightly worry me. But of course, this string of thought is getting way out of hand, and is full of wild speculation. The presence of Dr. Hamilton however, is overall good news. I just hope that if Justice League will have Cyborg, that they won't stick to New 52 too much. But again, that's all premature speculation.

Yes, there is some shaky-cam and there is some lens-flare. More than some, in fact. It can be annoying and sometimes even out of place (when people are just standing there talking, for example. The hell, you guys), but luckily there's not too much of it and it doesn't consume or ruin the film at all. Not the first two acts, anyway. The climax often looks more like a Roland Emmerich flick than it looks like the rest of the film. The framing seems a bit off at times, like the cameraman showed up drunk and his aim was slightly off as a result, but in the majority of the film it's fine. Some scenes, indoor scenes in particular, seem way to dark to me. The only building that I can think of that was well lit inside all of the time is the Daily Planet. But that's just how movies look these days, I suppose. Now, with that out of the way, let's talk about the rest of the cinematography, because it is beautiful. Especially the flashback scenes are a feast for the eye. The Smallville scenes in particular are like Norman Rockwell paintings in an indie flick. There are close-ups of objects loosely having something to do with the scenes, giving it a bit of a high-end documentary feel at times, while not being distracting. In fact, these shots draw you deeper into the scene, as they give a greater awareness of the character's surroundings.

Cinematographer Amir Mokri is the guy on the left.

Production design, costume design.
Man, am I divided about this one. A love most of the design, yet I can't get into Superman's getup at all. But let's start with the positive. I love Krypton and I love the costumes for Kal-El and Lara. They seem to be instant iconic stuff, especially Lara's getups (Jor-El's do seem a bit wrinkly at times). The whole of Krypton is thoughtfully designed, in fact. The family crests seem natural to that world, the spaceships actually look like the works of H.R. Giger, which of course is awesome. And have you seen the history of Krypton in Art Deco, as shown by that silver thing? What a stunning sequence that was! So, where does everything go south? At Superman's supersuit, that's where. And yes, I'm calling it the supersuit now, roll with it. I think it's a shame that absolutely everything must be dark and gritty now, it's the look of our times. But while this works perfectly for Batman, Superman shouldn't have to be forced to go dark too. He's Superman, he can be a bit corny, really, it's alright. I am not exaggerating when I say that the blue in his suit is often barely noticeable and looks like a dark gray instead. What a load of bullshit that is. And like New 52 Superman, he has lost his briefs. Unlike the New 52 however, his belt is not bright red and thus does not properly break up the unitard effect of having one overall colour (okay, so the New 52 suit isn't perfect at this either, but at least they're trying!). And the texture on the suit looks cool in the wide shots, but absolutely ridiculous in the close-ups. It looks terribly plastic and reminds one of the mats swimming pools got lying around to prevent people from slipping. Was this thing made with a 3D-printer? Is that what it is? And now I'm thinking about that 3D printed Dita Von Teese dress. Which actually makes it all better, so thanks about that, production design department, I suppose.

Not what I meant by 'corny', but it's a start, I guess.

The story and modern-day mythology.
When growing up Clark displays the typical attributes of the messiah-child -archetype (Anakin/Luke Skywalker, Mathilda, Carrie, Harry Potter, Akira). Struggling with his powers, being the outcast. When ushered into manhood, we see our main character drifting in the ocean, slowly sinking low enough for sea creatures such as whales to swim above him. An allusion perhaps to Robert A. Heinlein's novel Stanger in a Strange Land? The basic similarities is the main character's backgrounds is not to be ignored in any case. The man from another planet, excelling far beyond their original selfs on Earth. Both were considered a menace on arrival, but grew into the messiah archetype. It should not be ignored however, that Valentine Michael Smith is actually born on Earth, but grew up on Mars, thus alienating himself from his original home planet. Stranger therefore follows the premise of Jungle Book more then it follows Superman. Our hero also shares similarities with Edgar Rice Burrough's John Carter character. Superman Through the Ages: The Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster Interview quotes Siegel as saying: “Carter was able to leap great distances because the planet Mars was smaller that the planet Earth; and he had great strength. I visualized the planet Krypton as a huge planet, much larger than Earth”. Remember that Superman didn't always fly. That feature was only added on request of the Fleisher Brothers back when they where animating the famous cartoon shorts. Before that, Superman simply made great leaps (“Leaps tall buildings in a single bound!”). The movie may have been referring to this in the scene where he first starts to fly: before he flies, he makes great leaps.

One of the fun things about superhero tales is that they often seem like religious tales, but without the hassle of an actual religion. Which, of course, places these stories straight into the 'mythology' compartment, and don't you deny it. Mankind has always told stories of the people they'd wish to be and, more importantly, to aspire to. We have always created heroes to serve as metaphors for everyday struggle on steroids, combined with a healthy dose of wish-fulfillment, and we will always do so. Man of Steel recognizes and celebrates this fact. There is even an inspirational speech towards the end accompanied by the footage of a little boy (Kent himself) running around like a superhero, with a red towel functioning as cape. Superman's martyrdom is that of Christ, Mithras, Krishna, and the likes. His tribulations are those of Odysseus, of Hercules. He is Apollo, he is Dionysus, he is Osiris, he is Horus. And so on.

Religious allusions.
Superman is a typical messiah archetype. Being a classic hero he bares resemblance to a lot of mythological and religious figures. None as clearly as the Jesus type though. Which of course, isn't in the least bit surprising because Jesus is the go-to tragic martyr in western culture (besides Superman, I guess?). Some people take issue with the allusions to religious figures (Jesus in particular), because it's cliché, they say. And they're right. And I don't care. Robocop is Christ too, does anyone care? Didn't think so. Cool is cool. Religious allusions are as fun to me as any other easter egg or type of symbolism. And they've been there since the beginning, by the way. As you may have guessed, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were Jewish. Supes and his dad are called 'Kal-El' and 'Jor-El'. 'El' is Hebrew for 'God'. So, after all this talk about it, I guess you want some examples. Well, let's start with the most iconic: the Jesus Christ Pose (and now you've got Soundgarden stuck in your head, you're welcome). There's one in Superman Returns, I thought it looked cool then and I still think it looks cool now. In Man of Steel there is one very early on when we first see him preform a rescue at sea. When he lies in water, reminiscing his past. Later in the film we see the main one, when he leaves the spaceship and before he flies he starts falling in the pose, just as he's about to save the world, mind you. The words spoken in that moment are even “You can save them all”. A bit in your face, sure, but cool and iconic none the less. Some have mentioned the virgin birth thing, but I'm not entirely sure about that, that can be a coincidence. The twist there is that Superman is the only one that is NOT immaculately conceived. One of the most obvious allusions to me was the fact that he's 33 years old when the main events of the film, and thereby his sacrifice, take place. For those of you who aren't getting it, Jesus was also 33 years old (during crucifixion, etc.). And then there's the church/stained glass thing. In a moment of uncertainty, Superman finds himself visiting a priest (or revered or whatever, I don't know), during their entire talk, we see a stained glass right behind him, depicting Christ. His adoptive father is a tradesman, his baby cradle kept in a stable, he has a devout female follower whose fate in him seems unshakable (yes, Lois is Mary Magdalene in this comparison. What? Why are you making that face?), he gets stabbed in the side... there are a lot of comparisons that can be drawn here, is what I'm saying. They may not all be intentional, but a whole bunch of them certainly are.
Superman and religious/mythological imagery go hand in hand. The Christ allusions must not be taken to mean that Superman IS Christ, however. He is a Christ-like figure, that's a different story. Superman, like Jesus, is drawn from Jewish myth (he's totally Moses too!) and has extended into the dominant religion of the western culture, including pop culture. It does so without too much offense to those not looking for these signs, but they certainly are there for those who are.

Here's the pose in Superman Returns.

MOS has a few of these too...

Off to see Pontius Pilatus, Pontius Pilatus of Rome...


Jesus. We get it. You're Jesus.

About the action packed third act.
A common complaint about this movie is the wall to wall action. And I don't entirely disagree with it, the complaint I mean. The sheer scale of destruction reminds one of the destruction of Krypton, all the while this destruction is birthing the new Krypton. Or at least, it is attempted. So sure, there are good things to say about these sequences. Here's the thing, however: the epic action in the third act often leaves little breathing time in between scenes, creating the danger of a jaded and dulled audience at times. It's a common rule in film making: too much adrenaline = dulling, that's why there's such a thing as comic relief. It would improve the pacing of the movie if this sequence was heavily cut and the earlier parts of the movie had been given more time. Heck, trow in some more flashbacks in between scenes, make the whole movie driven by flashbacks, I don't care. Talking about flashbacks... (you are looking at the king of segues right now)

Storytelling trough flashbacks.
I've seen a lot of people on the Internet complain about the editing and continuity of the movie. Well, they must fiercely hate Batman Begins then. Also, do they not know what flashbacks are? It can actually be a great way to tell a story, as it can focus merely on the needed highlights of a character's past without feeling rushed at all. Imagine all the flashbacks back to back, right after the opening on Krypton. Not a pretty sight, is it? But put in a right narrative and kablamo, you have a powerful story, condensed by the power of flashing back. Thanks, David S. Goyer! I should also note that the flashbacks are by far the most visually beautiful parts of the movie. If the whole movie looked like that, I would not be the least bit surprised if it got nominated for an Academy Award for cinematography. And I would root for it.

Supes kills Zod.
I warned you about the spoilers. A lot of people have been taking issue with this scene. 'Superman does not kill' they say. Well, sorry, but that's a load of bullocks. Superman usually doesn't kill, but he has done it in situations where he really had to, and as you may remember, the situation in the scene was just that. It plays out like the classic moral question, only much easier: “You are Superman. A General that is at his least as powerful as you has threatened to kill the entirety of mankind, and the chances of you stopping him in the future are slim. He is also threatening to kill a family with his heatvision right now. You are holding him in a headlock, but he is able to continue regardless. The laser is closing in on the family, your choice now is to let the family die and letting the maniac that wants the wipe out humanity live, or you snap the guy's neck and save the day. Probably not only for the family, but the entire world might just be at stake. Would you snap Zod's neck?”. It is hardly the moral question or our time. Of course Superman's action here is completely justified and in character. I would not trust him with his mission if he would not have that sense of justice in him. "But his code!" you yell, not understanding how computers work, "he has a strict moral code against killing!". Well, since MOS chronicles the very beginning of Superman, maybe this is the faithful day he actually come up with and decided to live by that code in the first place. Didn't think of that, did you?

A common reaction amongst certain fanboys.

Superman the American.
In the comics, 'Truth, Justice and the American Way' have long been replaced with a much more international sentiment. Superman is undoubtedly an American icon, but where Superman used to be a perfect reflection of the ideal American man with a twist, DC now tries to make him the ideal man, without one nationality, instead. They have been doing so for quite a while now, but never as strongly as in 2011's Action Comics #900, when Superman actually renounced his US citizenship. This was a clear message that Superman is standing ready, not just for Americans, but for the entire world. Whenever someone is in peril, nationality makes no difference. All of this makes it a bit surprising just how much the movie celebrates his Americanism, creating somewhat of a contrast with contemporary comics in that respect. We see the Stars and Stripes several times, the military plays up the patriotism and when assuring the General of his good intentions, Superman actually says: “I’m from Kansas, sir. I’m about as American as it gets.” None of these things are inherently bad or anything. Hell, I laughed at the Kansas remark. But these things, when taken into the light of the comics, certainly are a tad peculiar.


Lois knows.
And all credibility would be lost if she didn't. The fact that she does makes it possible for her to be a close confidant to Superman, which elevates her above most incarnations of the character in my opinion. The treatment of her character in the past has unjustly tied her name to the tiresome Damsel in Distress trope, well, take a good look at Man of Steel. There's no 'damsel' here. Instead we see someone that honors her integrity as a reporter, but also honors her integrity as a human being well enough for Superman's secret to be safe with her. How anyone could not love this character is beyond me.

Marry me!
Shit, did I just say that out loud?

Allusions to Justice League and other superheroes.
-Supergirl! When Clark is walking trough the spaceship in the ice, we can clearly see an opened, empty, pod. Who was is for? Well, Kara Zor-El certainly comes to mind! And where is she now? Something tells me that we'll see in the sequel. She was also the focal point of the prequel comic, by the way, read it here.
-That underwater scene that I said may be alluding to Stranger in a Strange Land could also be a Aquaman thing. Heck, Aquaman could even be behind the oil rig disaster, creating conflict in the future.
-Speaking of Aquaman, the codeword in the military command was ' Trident'.
-Remember that military woman that said she though that Superman was 'kinda hot'? Well, her name is Major Carrie Farris (played by Christina Wren), which sure sounds a whole lot like Carol Ferris, a Green Lantern character. In fact, that's the character played by Blake Lively in the Green Lantern movie. Now, I realize that the name isn't exactly the same and it could all still be a meaningless easter egg, or even a massive coincidence. How big are the odds though?
-There is a close-up of a satellite of Wayne Enterprise.

And finally, the part of the review where I trow in some more observations that I couldn't really place anywhere else.
-That guy that used to bully Clark, but turned around after he got saved totally recognized him during the climatic battle. That's going to bite him in the ass in the next film, I tell ya.
-In fact, a lot of people are going to know exactly who he is. All his former classmates and their parents, for example, will be able to figure out exactly who this Superman guy is. Heck, most of Smallville won't have much trouble connecting that Superman guy with the weird guy with the supposed superpowers from the Kent's place. I kinda hope that this is going to be an issue in the next film. Disbelieve can only be suspended for so far, you know.
-There is a satellite that gets knocked out of orbit in the climatic trowdown which bears the Wayne Enterprises logo. Foreshadowing that, holy shit, Batman will be in the sequel! Okay, it may have just been a friendly nod from Snyder to Nolan at the time. But still.
-The LexCorp logo show up a couple of times too, by the way. Most notably on the side of a truck that gets thrown around.

That's all, folks!
Because I had to seriously cut down this article, there will be a few Superman related articles in the future. Some of them might be (these are working titles):

  • Hopes and predictions on Man of Steel 2 (in no particular order).
  • The literary and mythological origins of Superman and his place in modern-day storytelling.
  • Superman and Nietzsche.
  • Lois Lane and feminism in western pop-culture.
  • Superman and Dr. Manhattan.
  • Superman's guilt.
  • Superman and Judaism.

They will not come right after each other, because this is not a Superman blog. I can promise you that there will be vastly different subjects in the meantime. If fact, I'm not even sure if I will post a Superman related post next week, so I'll just have to see for yourself.

See you next week!
-The Kryptonian Crayon

1 comment:

  1. I don't know what the hell is going on with the different fonts and sizes, but I'm working on fixing it.