It’s time to talk about the merits of criticism and how it pertains to the much divided Man of Steel film. Although I loved the film it was not without its flaws. I didn’t much care for all of the Jor El exposition nor did I care what a military woman thinks of Henry Cavill‘s hot body. Though I should point out, there is a big difference between a flaw in the film and Man of Steel not fitting your version of the character. It is not only irresponsible but it is misleading to give a superhero film a bad review based on your disdain for their interpretation. Christopher Nolan‘s Batman is not my favourite, but his renditions are still some of the best crafted superhero films of all time.
It’s time we look at what this film (Man of Steel) is and not what it isn’t. Film reviewers need to take a step back when it comes to intellectual properties. We can not judge these films on who that character has been, only what the filmmaker is trying to convey. Ask yourself: Does this film achieve its goals? and Does Henry Cavill portray the personality of Clark adequately? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, then maybe it’s not such a bad film. This film wasn’t trying to be lighthearted but that doesn’t change that Superman is a lighthearted hero. No more than Batman: The Brave and the Bold changes the broody nature of Batman.
One point of contention seems to be the death of Pa Kent/Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner). This is one common criticism that I partially agree with. I do think Pa/John was underused in this film. We should have spent more time with Pa in order to fully understand his decision. It would have been more provocative to let Clark save Jon while sacrificing Martha and the others, providing Clark with a stronger lesson before the ending to put the needs of others before his own.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that by having Lois Lane involved in Clark’s origin, it takes away the charm of their relationship. If so then we gained a much stronger female character out of that change. This Lois is the determined woman who will do anything and everything to get the right story.
If that means she’s not as gullible, then so be it. The determined reporter is Lois’ defining characteristic NOT being Superman’s girlfriend.
A lot of critics and fans alike are concerned that this version of Superman doesn’t do everything in his power to avoid collateral damage. In defense of the film, at no point in the destruction of Metropolis do we see people, we see mainly buildings. Since film is primarily a visual medium, we can only assume that what is present is what we are shown; No one yelled for help while Superman and Zod crash though buildings.
Would it be nice to have a few moments where Superman is helping people? Yes, but just because we don’t have that scene doesn’t automatically mean they wiped out half of Metropolis.
Now for the most controversial moment in the film. I understand the shock and awe of seeing –of all heroes Superman, execute a villain. In the context of the story I feel it works, the scene challenges Superman in ways that have gone unexplored in previous films and this scene isn’t just about Superman killing the villain. At this crucial moment in the film Clark finally has to decide what kind of man he’s going to be: Human or Kryptonian?
Superman does not kill Zod out of revenge, rather Clark bares the burden that can only be his, to save humanity. Putting Superman in any other situation would have been too easy and would just be another scenario where he wouldn’t have to make this kind of decision. Bottom line, in the story that Superman writers Zack Snyder & David Goyer set out to tell, his actions were valid and in character; Kal El is Atlas it’s his duty to carry the weight of the universe.
These characters have been changed drastically over their 70 plus year history. Siegel & Shuster used to have Superman break into apartments and beat up abusive husbands. Otto Binder‘s Superman adopts Jimmy Olson and burns his Father’s Day gift.
Who are we to say, what Superman would do? If Superheroes truly are our modern mythology then they should change to represent the times we live in. More than any hero, Superman shines brightest in the darkest times.
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About Will Cox
Will grew up in Palo Alto, California reading comics and watching cartoons. Currently an aspiring cartoonist, he thinks comics are a truly unique medium, where pictures and words compliment each other.