When it comes to superheroes, I’m an unabashed Superman fan. I know it’s not “cool” to be one, but it is what it is.
That’s why I watched Superman Returns opening weekend in 2006 with the siblings, hoping for something awesome. That was the first and last time I watched it. I didn’t like it at all. It wasn’t the worst movie I had ever seen but considering that this was meant to introduce Superman back to the movie audience after Christopher Reeve battled Nuclear Man in Superman IV*, I thought that the filmmakers were going to deliver a coherent superhero film to humanize one of the strongest superheroes depicted in comic books… which didn’t happen.
Therefore, I was trying to keep my excitement contained for the new Superman movie, Man of Steel even though the early buzz was good because I didn’t want to go through the heartbreak that I experienced in 2006. Considering also that the director Zack Snyder’s resume includes Watchmen, the only film I ever truly wanted to walk out of a movie theater for, I kept my expectations in check.
The site Rotten Tomatoes shows aggregate reviews of movies so I got a bit worried as Man of Steel‘s collective reviews put it in the 70s percentage-wise, which then sank into the 60s, and settled in the high 50s, firmly out of the “Fresh” rating and into the “Rotten”.
I still watched it of course and was quite surprised because, folks? Man of Steel is a good movie. I don’t know what critics want or were expecting but I was happy with the latest foray into bringing my favorite superhero to the big screen. I thought Henry Cavill made for a pretty good Superman and I liked Amy Adams as Lois Lane as they wrote the character to be what Lois Lane is supposed to be – an investigative journalist who is good at what she does. Also, I wasn’t sure how they were going to play out the whole “who knows what” secret identity thing but I was quite satisfied with the method in which they chose to deal with that.
I know the movie wasn’t perfect. I have some of the same issues as others – that some of the action scenes went on too long and that there was too much CGI. At one point, my mind wandered from the destruction unfolding on the screen to if the insurance policies for the buildings in Metropolis covered “super powered beings wreaking havoc”. Having said all that, Man of Steel is a great start to rebooting Superman for the big screen. There was even applause at the end of the movie when I watched it. That doesn’t happen too often anymore.
I think the problem that some may have with Superman comes from automatically comparing this to the Batman movies by Christopher Nolan, especially since he was one of the producers of the movie. One review I saw called Man of Steel “Dark Knight Lite”. I don’t think that’s fair because Superman and Batman are two completely different characters. The identity of “Batman” stems from violence where “Superman” comes from Clark Kent trying to fit in with the world, reconciling how different he is from everyone else, and what would happen if anyone found out about what he can do.
As an aside, anytime anything Superman comes along, the speech that David Carradine gives in Kill Bill 2 makes its way across the internet, which it has done this time around too:
Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he’s Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red “S”, that’s the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears – the glasses, the business suit – that’s the costume.
The issue is of course that it doesn’t work that way. Clark Kent is who he is, someone from another planet with seemingly invincible superpowers, raised in Smallville, Kansas by parents who instilled him with a sense of morality. He’s always Clark, that’s not his alter ego. Sure, the glasses are an accessory but without the upbringing he had as Clark Kent, there wouldn’t even be a Superman.
This version of Superman is the one I’ve come to know through the comics, animated series, and TV shows and that’s why I appreciated the Clark Kent/Superman in Man of Steel. Here’s hoping this movie does well and we get to see more of this Superman on the big screen.
*Even though Superman IV: A Quest for Peace isn’t really a good movie, I saw it more than one time because, for some reason, it didn’t register to me that the movie was bad when I was younger.