Peter Fenzel, John Perich, and Matthew Wrather overthink Man of Steel, the latest reboot of the Superman franchise.
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The only other comic book film that I can think of opening with a character birth was the first Blade film from 1998.
To further the Jesus story, I found the choice of Laurence Fishburne as Perry White interesting. I kept thinking of him as Morpheus guiding Trinity (in this case, Lois Lane) and her interactions with Neo (Superman).
Not quite a comic book film, but the new Conan movie begins will a kind of jaw-dropping shot of the fetal Conan being nicked in utero, while, his extremely pregnant mom is fighting in a massive battle. Ron Perlman then births him via caesarian so she can hold him and name him before she dies. I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie, but wow, that was a badass scene.
One thing worth pondering is the notion that the idea of the Superman suit was intended to evoke awe and inspire humans; it is very much a costuming choice. I feel like other incarnations of Superman tended to portray the suit as a happy accident, as Clark came upon the crest of the House El and some red, blue, and yellow material which was in his ship, and fashioned a suit from it. However, modern retellings have Jor-El very much aware that if Kal were to emerge draped in traditional Kryptonian black, he’d be viewed not as an inspiration, but as a conqueror. But the bright hues of red and blue, regal and heroic, are more apt to impress the (primitive) human population, and aid Kal in his destiny.
How do we feel about Jor-El the stage parent, who professes to want his child to forge a destiny of his own, but seems ever-willing to stack the deck?
Jor-El’s whole worldview is seriously problematic — all his talk about having no choices because of his genetic engineering, when in fact it’s him, not Kal-El, who is doing all this crazy outside-the-box stuff. It’s like how hippie parents expect their children to rebel even more from their grandparents, rather than turn it around and become conservative.
Did other Kryptonians at this point have natural sex? Because if Jor-El and Lara-El were the first Kryptonians to raw-dog it in thousands of years or whatever, that’s a pretty big indication to me that this idea of sacrificing himself and dedicating his own work to the next generation and betterment of others isn’t what Jor-El is about at all.
When I saw that suit, I was just thinking about the _gall_ of that guy. He even picked out an outfit. With a cape! A CAPE!
Does he think of no one but himself and his own grandiosity?
I was just thinking: isn’t that suit on the ship that crashed on earth like 20,000 years ago? So that was even more prescient of Jor-El: anticipating that his son would find that ship, that it would be intact and able to replicate the suit that he apparently designed for Kal, all while his planet was facing imminent doom. Actually, the idea that Jor-El is playing fashion designer while Krypton burns suddenly makes him even more douchey.
What can we say about the summer of 2013’s two very different Christ figures — in one corner, the Man of Steel, and in the other, Yeezus?
I’mma let you finish, but Jim Casey was one of the best literary Christ figures of All Time!!
I really wish I could have been on this podcast (I was still watching the movie at the time). First off, I have a deep love of the original Christopher Reeve Superman films, so it’s hard for me to have an open mind. I found this new film to be very well done in a lot of parts, but it ultimately left me cold. I think some of it is the grim tone and the scale of the devastation. The death toll dwarfs any of the Batman films, although very little of it is actually seen directly. And the killing of Zod seemed strange to me. I’m not some comic book purist who can’t stand the idea of Superman killing under any circumstances, but I am a guy who likes to have something to cheer for. I want my super heroic crowning moment of awesome. I wanted a skyscraper to be about to crush a thousand people, and then Superman saves them by putting a huge cruise ship in the way at the last moment. What are the moments where you could cheer for this Superman? What did he do that took your breath away?
So that’s a matter of tone. But I think some very basic issues of motivation are also needlessly muddled. I agree with you guys that Russell Crowe’s character seemed like he’d been through a few rewrites too many. What is his plan? He goes through a lot of trouble to encode the Codex in his son’s DNA. Does that mean he wants the same thing that Zod wants, recreating the species on Earth?
Personally, I would have liked it better if Russell Crowe turned out to be the real bad guy, or at least on the same page as Zod. They both want Krypton to be reborn on Earth. That was always the plan. It’s not that Russell Crowe loves the idea of genocide, it’s that he will accept it as the only way to save his species, because he’s been genetically engineered that way. I kind of like that idea that each Kryptonian doesn’t really have free will, because they are all bred for something specific.
So Superman’s mission in this film has to be to REJECT both his dads while still making them proud. In terms of Jor-El, he has to say no, we can’t save Krypton by destroying Earth. Jor-El would be proud of this in a way, because he WANTED his son to have free will. That includes the free will to REJECT HIS OWN PLAN. And I think having to turn his back on his dad’s dream (and maybe destroy his computer ghost himself) would be a really powerful scene, a great metaphor for a guy finally growing up and making his own path.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Kent wanted his son to live a normal life. Sure, he talks about his son finding his purpose, the reason he was sent here. He ALSO talks about his son taking over the family farm, and I think THAT’S what he truly wants. So Superman needs to say no, I’m not going to be a farmer, but I WILL keep my identity a secret.
So yeah, that’s what I wanted. A story about a guy without purpose who is looking for his father to show him the path, but eventually realizes that he has to live his own damn life. And honestly, that’s kinda the story that we get, except it’s a little muddled in the telling. But I could see that unfolding in the sequel – Jor-El (still around in computer ghost form) is telling his son what to do, and Superman has to say no.
The difference between Jor-El’s plan for Earth and Zod’s plan for earth is the fate of humankind. Jor-El doesn’t supply his son with terraforming equipment, so presumably his plan is for Kal to recreate Kryptonian society on earth alongside human society. Zod’s plan is to terraform Earth into a simulacrum of Krypton, a predictable result of which would be the extermination of the human race.
Another predictable result of Zod’s plan would presumably be the loss of his godlike powers (they even mention that Kal will be depowered in the vicinity of the Planet Engine since it is creating an environment similar to that of Krypton), making it one of the most idiotic in the history of stupid villain plans. Sure Kryptonians seem to have a prolonged adjustment period (or not so prolonged, it seems like Zod gets over the whole “hostile atmosphere” thing in about fifteen minutes) but coming out the other side you get insanely awesome abilities. I’d call that more than a fair trade personally, it’s kind of surprising no one in his crew mentions that.
I guess you could argue that as Military Caste, there’s an extent to which they don’t want the powers, because they consider themselves pretty badass without them, and with them, a random kid with no formal training is able to match and defeat them. Thus, it’s more “honorable” to restore Krypton and de-power the Kryptonians (over which they still hold physical advantages) than allow Kryptonians to proliferate on Earth out of caste, and with powers, to boot.
Zod’s original plan and his final plan are different. In Zod’s original plan, it’s not clear how many lives he intends to attempt to save — whereas Jor-El’s plan only involves saving the life of his son — everybody else dies.
And yeah, the planet engine was stupid.
Good point. I should have said it was Zod’s second plan of three (the third one apparently being “kill everyone on Earth, starting with Kal”).
I would imagine that Faora-Ul (Zod’s second in command, and according to IMDB his wife) might be less sanguine about the loss of her superpowers since, aside from Kal, she’s the only person who actually seemed to enjoy having them. True, she expressed her enjoyment by slaughtering soldiers, but still.
Given that Faora-Ul and the other Kryptonians didn’t die on screen I hope she gets her own spinoff. She was a fun character to watch (if, again, you can hold aside the fact that she’s casually massacring US Army personnel).
Yeah, but Zod’s plan fails because it was based on eugenics and genetic engineering. Presumably, if the Kryptonians decided to evacuate and reproduce naturally (heresy!), they could’ve established a colony on any hospitable world, using the terraforming tech. Zod’s (admittedly bred into his DNA) singular focus on resurrecting Krypton and being viewed as its savior was his undoing there.
I really like the “Jor-El as co-villain” or at least “Jor-El needs to be rejected” ideas. Both are stronger than what the movie actually came up with.
And yeah, I know I harp on this a lot, but I get pissed at people who think for some reason Superman isn’t allowed to make us happy. There’s rationalizing behind it, but really it’s a fear move, because people are afraid to step up and stand up to that legacy.
I know we’re not supposed to talk about Smallville, but they took that approach, ratcheting up the “controlling father who wants his son to rule Earth as a god” dynamic to the point that they almost had to use Zod to temper it. In the movie, though, I think it would undercut the way he was drawn as heroic in the opening scenes to reveal that he was genocidally misguided as well. I think he more wanted to foil Zod’s eugenics plot than preserve the potential for a New Krypton in his son’s hands. Plus, with his consciousness uploaded via Krypto-USB, he could easily pull strings from beyond the grave.
I was kind of bummed that Jor-El had a backup online and ready to go, but didn’t backup Lara as well.
Yeah, the Superman story is really about a guy who wants his dad to solve all his problems and tell him what to do. I wanted to see him rebel a little. Sorry dad, I love you, but I choose the humans.
Oh, and I was also disturbed at how closely the plot resembles Transformers 3. In that movie, Sentinel Prime, a great scientist, has a plan to recreate Cybertron, but it required destroying Earth. Needless to say, Optimus Prime, who has been hanging out on Earth for a while, won’t let him. Actual dialogue:
Sentinel Prime: I bring you Cybertron, your home, and still you choose humanity!
Optimus Prime: You were the one who taught me freedom is everyone’s right!
Yeah, I noticed the Transformers 3 parallel. I believe the Time Lords also attempted to do something similar on Doctor Who (with Timothy Dalton playing the “Zod” role).
One thing that I’m holding out hope for in the sequels is that Kryptonite is created as a result of the terraforming, and they are residual elements scattered worldwide that Lex Luthor spends considerable resources tracking down and mining, in order to assist the military that wants to control Superman.
Well, now kryptonite can be a gas. It doesn’t have to be a glowing green rock.
I don’t think I share that interpretation. While I agree that “the harsh Kryptonian environment” is a richer rationale for de-powering than “the Red Sun,” the ship merely restored Kal and the rest of the Kryptonians to “human” levels. Though the initial shock seemed to mirror the effects of Kryponite, Kal eventually did seem to adapt, and then he was just susceptible to basic torture techniques. However, with Kryptonite, there’s no adaptation; exposure to it weakens and ultimately kills him. So I think there’s still room to introduce Kryptonite proper into this new cinematic universe.
Sure there is. But they could also “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer” it (also with Lawrence Fischburne) — and run away from anything that seems too camp and comic-booky, making even giant purple helmet guy a grey and impersonal monster.
What I’m saying is that there’s still room to introduce Kryptonite, but there’s also room to just ignore it and not use it if they think it will disturb the serious tone they are trying to achieve with these movies.
Kryptonite is hardly something they need to “run away” from because of its “comic-booky” nature. It’s just a radioactive rock that can kill Superman; it doesn’t exactly hit the camp levels of “Bat-Shark Repellent”.
Heck, Kryptonite is so well accepted by the popular culture it’s entered into the common vernacular. Saying that something is your “Kryptonite” is the equivalent to saying it’s your “Achilles Heel”.
“Mushrooms grow on dead things.”
Sorry. Had to quote Warren Ellis there. It felt appropriate.
The woman under the rebar and rubble? That’s Jenny Olsen. They flipped his/her gender for the film.
One thing I found interesting was that Lara-El (Jor-El’s wife) actually got lines and a bit of personality. Even more so than Martha Wayne, Lara-El is a blank slate in every rendition of Superman’s story I can think of. So her getting any development was welcome. I did think it was odd that Zod didn’t kill her for her part in the “heresy” of birthing Kal-El. Maybe he was just in a rush to shoot down the ship.
Which, thinking about Lara-El, I think there were more female characters with speaking roles in Man Of Steel than in the whole Dark Knight trilogy. Is that Synder’s influence trumping Nolan’s? Or more just an acknowledgement that women play a fairly major role in Superman’s supporting cast? Because Pa Kent is often killed off, leaving Clark with Ma Kent, Lana Lang, and Kara (and sometimes Lois) as the people who know his secret identity, and often get a lot more spotlighting than Perry and Jimmy. Aside from Pa, there’s pretty much only Batman as a male secret keeper for Superman. Although Pete Ross was one here.
Finally, MoS continues the Summer 2013 trend of no genre movie being able to resist commenting on drones. “You don’t need to monitor me. You should just take a leap of faith and trust me,” said Superman, unintentionally adding a splash of NSA commentary.
Lara-El is basically Queen Gorgo from 300, who appears to be a sort of Snyder Ur-Character — the woman who projects strength through silence, hair, bone structure and excellent posture.
The gender stuff in this movie is very Snyder-ish, especially the way the women are shown mostly through close-ups of their eyes, while Cavill’s body is objectified and fetishized — like how the suit has additional fake muscles to layer on top of his real muscles. Snyder has always been a little “William Blake Meets Prison Bros II” in how he seeks to at once venerate, exploit and abuse this hyper-male body with which he seems so obsessed.
I haven’t seen Sucker Punch, but I suspect if I had it would offer additional insight on Snyder’s sexual phantasmagoria.
Queen Gorgo also projected strength through gutting a traitor (and rapist) on the floor of the Spartan assembly in a quite satisfactory fashion, complete even with a ironic call-back.
Admittedly she did have very good posture, hair, and bone structure in that scene too.
Lara-El is actually given lines and personality in Mark Waid’s Birthright graphic novel too. In fact, in that story Jor-El is the one who has the “I can’t go through with sending him away” breakdown and she is the one who is resolute and convinces him to keep going with their plan.
One thing I’ve found curious is the reaction to the big fight at the end. This isn’t the first time Superman’s killed someone. It’s not even the first time he’s killed Zod.
And if they want it to be a true origin, if they make that the birth of his code against killing, I’ll buy it.
I also found it interesting to parallel this post 9/11 Superman with the post challenger Man of Steel series by Byrne.
Because the killing was unearned. Yes, from a legal standpoint he had every right to kill Zod. But the morality we expect from Superman is beyond what we’d consider “reasonable.” And given that this is a reboot, we don’t get to impute all the good deeds done by previous Superman incarnations. THIS Superman didn’t demonstrate his willingness to push himself to the limits to protect civilians, not did he perform massive acts of heroism to prevent casualties from the myriad skyscraper collapses, tsunamis, and explosive shockwaves resulting from his fights. So sure, he killed Zod to prevent the murdering of about 15 people. That makes him our standard action movie hero, not Superman. Superman aspires to do that thing without killing the villain, and the Superman who did kill Zod did so only when pushed to the brink, and with considerable weight on his conscience.
Sure, what’s done is done, and one can only hope that future installments of Man of Steel show him wrought by guilt, and trying harder to be the Superman that he’s supposed to be, but part of what makes Superman so admirable is his moral core, shaped over the course of his upbringing, and ability to effortlessly do the right thing WITHOUT having to work at it. Right at the outset, we saw him cross the line, without the film doing a good job of defining how far that line went.
And sure, in this era of war and terrorism and torture, maybe it’s unrealistic to want a hero whose morality is a relic of simpler times. But that’s kind of what Superman affords us, a virtuous symbol of hope, of strength, and of virtue, which we can’t achieve, but we aspire to anyway. By making Superman as powerful as he ever was, but not as morally pure, the movie transforms that message of a messianic figure who falls from the sky to save us, into a reflection of what it would truly be like were a Kryptonian raised in America; we get god that *is* one of us. Realistic? I suppose, but the goodness of Superman is something we just buy into, and the more you’ve bought in, the more you feel like this aspect of realism betrays the concept.
One of my favorite sayings about Superman is from my friend Brandon, and while it’s a bit backhanded, I think it captures something important about the character that wasn’t really in this movie.
“Superman always wins by being marginally more clever than his adversaries.”
He’s not like Batman, where he’s either miles ahead of the bad guy the whole time or else starts way behind and then has to use his vast intellect and experience to turn the tables — Superman’s fights are usually dynamically matched to near-parity, and then he breaks the stalemate by doing something kind of sort of surprising, but not really mind-blowing — like luring the bad guy into a lake and freezing it with his breath, or tricking the guy into punching him for so long that he forgets to stop a reactor from overloading or something.
Superman winning because he is marginally _stronger_ than the guy he’s fighting is boring. It’s sort of a Mighty Joint situation (Belinkie-originated term that references the movie Revenge of the Nerds, where Booger saves a flagging party by lighting up a giant doobie — but not after waiting for two boring hours to pass for no reason) — Superman could have broken Zod’s neck at any point, and if he’d done it sooner, he could have saved a lot more lives.
The suspense in a Superman fight is that Superman is quite smart, but he’s not super-smart, and when he’s fighting, he’s usually doing a lot of things at once. It’s not the most straightforward thing in the world for him to find a game-breaking opportunity to neutralize a supervillain that the supervillain does not anticipate and counter and that also manages to preserve the lives of all the innocent bystanders around him.
Since the final battle is in a train station, I think a better way to finish off Zod would have involved using a train — it would have been “marginally more clever” than Zod, it would have maybe been a little less brutal, and it could have been a reference to him being “more powerful than a locomotive,” which would have pleased me a lot.
I think both Madiq and Fenzel are hitting the supernail on the head here. Killing Zod feels both mildly wrong and anticlimactic, not to mention unnecessary. I think it’s telling that Zod says flat-out, minutes before “Either you kill me or I kill you, there’s no other choice.” And sure enough, he’s right. In a way, he wins by making Superman come down to his level. The filmmakers are clearly trying to say something there. Maybe it’s that this new Superman CANNOT be a boy scout, because the stakes are too high. He has to be willing to get his hands dirty in order to be a hero. (Don’t forget, these writers also gave us The Dark Knight, in which Batman has to be willing to be the VILLAIN in order to be the hero.)
But Fenzel, I like your ending a lot more. Zod is right when he says that he’s a trained warrior, and Superman is just a farm kid. If they are equally strong, Superman shouldn’t be able to win. But what Superman DOES have is knowledge of Earth. He should be able to exploit the environment to win. It isn’t satisfying when Superman just yells and wins by being a tiny bit stronger than the other guy (that’s a Hulk solution to a Superman problem). There needs to be just a touch of creative problem-solving that gives him the edge.
I honestly might feel differently about the whole movie is he had taken Zod out in a fun super-way, without killing him, and then got one moment to hit a super-pose in front of the awed citizens of Metropolis before flying away.
“But what Superman DOES have is knowledge of Earth. He should be able to exploit the environment to win.”
Eh, that doesn’t really work. What is there on Earth to exploit against a Kryptonian going mad? Driving him into an ocean? Knocking him through a mountain? If he knew there was something that actually caused a natural weakness on Earth, then I’d agree. But as it stands, there’s nothing there to exploit. No special effects that he could know about that would give him some sort of special advantage.
There was the Kryptonians natual weakening and disorientation upon being exposed to Earth’s environment (could have even worked with the whole head-pulling stalemate in the train station) but the film already wasted that idea earlier on to almost zero story effect.
There was the wasted gambit about Clark, by virtue of spending years on Earth, being able to better manage and sort out the cacophony of super-hearing. But unfortunately, a few scenes later, Zod had already adapted. Even still something like that, where Clark’s knowledge about how his powers worked (and their limits), as well as their interplay with Earth’s environment and physics, could give him an advantage over Zod in a fight, and a means to defeat him.
Two examples: Using a lead-based dust cloud to conceal where his attacks are coming from. Luring him somewhere where a bolt of lightning might weaken him.
@ Kristopher, when I talked about using the environment, I really meant the manmade parts of the environment that Zod simply doesn’t know are dangerous. Zod, for instance, doesn’t realize that trains often go down train tracks. Superman could fly into a train tunnel and pin himself to the side, then watch as Zod plows right into a freight train going 100 mph in the opposite direction. I’m imagining Clark using knowledge like “wires carry electricity” and “gasoline explodes,” really simple stuff. Admittedly, in this movie the Kryptonians are SO powerful that it’s hard to imagine anything short of a nuclear device stopping Zod. In order to trap him effectively for the non-violent ending you either have to cast him back into the phantom zone or trick him into the Kryptonian lander where you can weaken him and imprison him.
The ideal ending to me would be Superman beating Zod via some sort of old farming or football trick Jonathan Kent taught him. I have no idea what this would be, but I like the idea that he wins BECAUSE he’s a child of Earth, not just because he’s a tiny bit stronger.
Well, by that measure, breaking Zod’s neck shouldn’t necessarily kill him, because Kryptonians exposed to a yellow sun have tremendous healing factors.
But yeah, one idea, answering Belinkie’s question — you could have approached the movie somewhat differently and offered some sort of foreshadowing of the eventual solution — like, for example, show a scene of Pa Kent teaching Superman how to shine his car, then show that Superman knows how to shine a car with his heat vision so that even his heat vision reflects off of it, then later show Superman shine a surface with his heat vision so much that Zod’s own heat vision reflects off the surface and hits himself in the eyes, frying his brain.
Or maybe in his youth Clark was fascinated by the airplanes that did crop-dusting and cloud-seeding near his farm — this in turn inspires him to learn how to fly — so, later, in the climactic battle, Superman has SVU guy use the airplane to seed the clouds with compounds from the Kryptonian ship, which come down on Superman and Zod as rain.
Then, in the rain, Superman and Zod gradually weaken, so that their punches hit less hard, but hurt more — until finally a Superman bleeding from the side of his mouth breaks Zod’s ribs, causing him to double over and say something defiant before Superman knocks him unconscious.
Or maybe Superman leads Zod down into a mine shaft and then they fistfight until their solar power runs out — at which point red-haired Pete and the people of his country town blow the mine and bury both Superman and Zod under tons and tons of rock — until Superman bursts out of the ground — he brought with him a battery powered UV mini-light that Lois Lane uses to care for a little plant she brings with her when she travels.
Or maybe Superman has a dog and the dog plays fetch with a Kryptonian hand grenade or something.
That last one is stupid, but you can come up with a lot of these.
Another way Superman could have “used the Earth” to win that has some thematic resonance with the rest of the story —
Zod has a device that increases the gravity of matter it fires on (let’s assume it works).
Superman lures Zod toward the World Engine to try to weaken him by exposing him to the Kryptonian elements — but instead Zod figures out that if he flies at Superman and allows himself to be hit by the gravity beam, his mass increases while his velocity stays the same — increasing his momentum and letting him hit Superman harder.
Superman could fly into the gravity beam and get “stronger,” but instead he stays out in the Kryptonian gasses, gradually getting “weaker.” Zod is really beating on him.
He arranges to be knocked down next to the main gravity beam of the World Engine, and Zod approaches him to deliver the coup de grace — Superman manages to stall him with conversation long enough that Zod’s gravity overcomes his strength — and, fist inches away from breaking Superman’s now fragile jaw, Zod is paralyzed, screams, and is pulled down by his own weight into the center of the Earth.
The movie ends with it unknown whether Zod is alive or dead, but with Superman making it clear that he’s not worried, because the Earth is made of strong stuff — or something like that.
Superman could also realize that all other Kryptonians are inbred, but he has both hybrid vigor and decades of exposure since childhood to Earth biology — so Zod could be vulnerable to a disease. We know from earlier that Lois Lane’s niece has a cold — Zod wants to use Lois Lane against Superman, and Superman feigns that he can do whatever he wants to him or to Lois, but to not hurt the child.
So Zod of course goes for the child, at which point he is wracked by uncontrollable fits of sneezing and coughing.
Alternatively Superman could be carrying around a baby blanket from Lois’s niece that he knows has germs on it, and during the fight manage to tie it to Zod’s costume. Then all he has to do is extend the fight until Zod is overwhelmed by the pathogens and agrees voluntarily to be sealed in cryosleep because otherwise they will kill him.
This is more of a cartoon or comic book plot than a movie plot, and it changes certain things about Super-Kryptonians (their immunity to all disease), but it would still be better than what they did.
Of course, it might be in poor taste to get Zod with what is effectively a smallpox blanket — but it was also in poor taste, if you think about it, to have a Superman movie end with a massive spinal injury.
At least I think Christopher Reeves would have thought so.
Pete, I love these ideas. I do like the idea of Jonathan Kent’s words of wisdom offering the solution. What about this:
In an early flashback, Pa Kent is talking to Clark about the bullies. Clark hates letting these guys “win,” and besides, he can’t even really pretend to be beat up. But Jonathan mentions that sometimes you can win by forcing the bully to make a mistake. The next time a bully picks on Clark, Clark says something to taunt him, then sidesteps when the bully charges. He flies right into a wall/mud pit/some unpleasant location.
So then late in the movie, Clark successfully lures Zod away from Metropolis. They fight their way across the world, slamming each other into the Earth’s crust, etc. Finally, Superman is sprawled at the base of a mountain. He looks tapped out. Zod hovers in the sky, ready for the coup de grace. He flies down, screaming at mach 10… and Superman darts to the side letting Zod fly through the rock into an active volcano. I don’t think the volcano would kill Zod, but it would sure help.
It’s not the most original tactic in the world, but it’s more interesting than what DOES happen.
I thought he was going to choke Zod out when he put him in that headlock. They clearly breathe since Superman was weakened by the air on Zod’s ship even if they can hold their breath for long enough to go flying in the upper atmosphere.
I’m not even sure it would have been possible to break Zod’s neck no matter how strong Superman is. They had just spent the past ten minutes punching each other through buildings.
Quote: “Maybe it’s that this new Superman CANNOT be a boy scout, because the stakes are too high.”
And I really wish they had not done that. The comics have addressed this, and Superman tends not to give in to the anti-hero trend.
In “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?”, when a group of antiheroes become popular, Superman reaffirms his ethos, including, I believe, a prohibition on killing.
In “Kingdom Come”, when the antiheroes gain traction, he retires.
It betrays, if not something essential to the character, at least something characteristic of portrayals of Superman that was the primary reason that I like him.
I am disappointed in this Superman, exactly for the reason you said: Superman is supposed to be a symbol. I do not know what he symbolizes in this movie.
I fear we are being haunted by a quote I’ll paraphrase from The Dark Knight, another Nolan movie:
He’s the Superman we deserve, not the Superman we need.
Which is a travesty: Superman is Superman because he is a symbol to ennoble. I do not remember seeing any of that in the film.
Jor-El: “You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive toward. No pressure, kid. Also I hope you don’t grow up to be a massive bully and abuse the god-like powers you’ll have since I’ll have no role in raising you at all.”
Hey guys, what was Jor-El’s plan for how Superman was supposed to find that long-lost Kryptonian ship? In the Richard Donner film, the crystal calls to him and basically compels him to go North. But in this film, he seems to find the ship mostly by accident – he just overhears some army guys talking and he has a hunch it might be interesting. It doesn’t seem like something his dad could have planned, does it?
I think Clark probably spent a few years traveling the world, and monitoring chatter with super-hearing, listening for anything involving potentially dealing with extraterrestrials. Luckily, because of his great sense of direction (enhanced senses and all) it was probably easy for him to infiltrate the military site through his guise as an arctic guide.
An alternative theory is that his ship gave him vague instructions to head to the Arctic for further information, but not exactly where, so he conducted his own search, still while monitoring chatter for any details that could help him locate something Kryptonian.
OR, Jor-El could have made the ship that BROUGHT his son there capable of projecting the hologram. Or at least put some sort of vague instruction in ship about how Kal should go North to look for answers. Just something that indicates there’s a plan. As it is, it seems totally plausible that Clark could have lived his entire life without hearing his father’s message.
Madiq, I think you’re proposing the most charitable interpretation, but it’s still not very satisfying to me.
Barely worth mentioning, but I havent reached the end of the episode yet: the guy you described as “the guy from battlestar galactica” who isn’t Helo was relevant casting because he played Emile Hamilton on Smallville.
While I really really liked this movie, I can see why, at the same time, someone would be repulsed by this abrupt re-conceptualization of a cherished character. And let’s not fool ourselves, that’s what this movie is: no less than Frank Miller in 1986, Nolan et al have pushed the logic of having a god-like being in our midst to its grisly extremes. At any moment, I felt that the movie would exceed its PG-13 boundaries and go ‘medieval’. The violence, more than anything, served to show how precarious our existence is when we are caught between beings who pass through steel and concrete as if they were vapor. Two things that struck me hard and left an indelible mark:
1) Zod’s portrayal. There was never any doubt that this man HAD to die when the movie was over. Transcending the facile villainy so common in many comic books, Zod is a purpose-driven fanatic, one who is far more likely to commit genocide because he ultimately believes that his destructive actions emanate from noble motives. These are by far the most formidable enemies to stop since they are willing to die in the furtherance of their objectives. By Zod’s reckoning, if Earth’s people must die to resurrect Krypton, so be it. Unlike Luther of earlier films, venal considerations are absent. For this reason alone, Superman must overcome his high moral standards and do what must be done to stop this intractable foe. You simply don’t get that when your main foe is a hyped-up, real estate speculator.
2) The persistence of the past. When all is said and done, this movie is all about tying up the loose-ends of Krypton’s destruction; it’s all about blowback and unintended consequences. Earth is the last battleground of the Jorel/Zod feud that will alter or destroy the lives of many of its inhabitants — beginning with its adoptive son, Clark Kent. Many have bemoaned Superman’s lack of agency, that the exploration of his humanity is sacrificed for the sake of narrative-stifling options. I completely disagree. I think that Superman can only find his own self-identity (and therefore agency) when the past has been put to rest. And that only comes, appropriately enough, at the end.
Saw this article, thought of the Overthinkers:
I got into a slight spat with a friend that had seen it, while I still haven’t. And she was telling me the whole plan of eugenics and stuff, and I said, “What, did he think he was making a Republic or something?” I had helped this friend with a paper on Plato’s Republic, so she didn’t miss a beat- but she then thought I was lying to her about not seeing it, or that I had already been looking around the internets for stuff about it, because Clark is shown friggin’ reading it.
I’m not sure if that means I’m too much of a theory nerd, or if the movie was just too obvious about it. Or maybe her description was making it too obvious.
I still haven’t seen this, which is actually really upsetting me. Harrummph. But I’m getting behind on podcasts, so meh. Not that I dislike spoilers, but like I’ve said, I do better contributing if I’ve seen it. Oh well, so it goes.
Something tells me a director’s cut would be more like four hours. It’s Zach Snyder, c’mon, guys.
Somebody mentioned the fungus (can’t remember an y’all have already moved on), and my question is, did they actually incorporate the organic material of the planet into their technology? I’m reminded of the living spaceships in Babylon 5… Nothing like that, right?
So how about that military propaganda? Apparently those commercials for the Army that were going around with scenes from the movie were actually directed by Snyder…
Ah, and now Pete brings up the Plato-ness…
Maybe I missed something, but… Superman isn’t funny. As in, his character isn’t intentionally funny (on his part, I mean). I suppose he’d make some heroic puns sometimes, they were more like the sort of bravado-stance things superheros say before, in the middle, and after a fight. The closest to humor I recall from any other Superman canon I’ve become familiar with… usually involves something more awkward because he’s being nerdy or whatever, and the comedy comes out of how awkward he is. Any humor I’ve ever seen that has to do with Superman usually involves someone else, like Green Lantern or the Flash making fun of him and him taking it like a champ.
Can you, just, like, turn every superhero movie into a Greek tragedy? I haven’t laughed that hard in weeks. Perfect place to end.