Welcome to the second part of this two part series, Why I think Man of Steel didn’t work. Hopefully, even if you enjoyed the film, you can see where I am coming from. Let’s get this ball rollin’.
Part 2: What I Didn’t Like About Man of Steel
Let me start by saying that I really wanted to love this movie. Despite the initial misgivings I had, I really thought this was going to be the best film of the summer. After that third trailer was released, I was hooked. This trailer here:
Honestly, I still watch that trailer and it makes me want to go see the movie again. It is an amazing trailer. You know what’s missing from that trailer, though? A memorable musical score. The Hans Zimmer score is not epic. I know a lot of people out there like it, but it is not the soaring anthem that John Williams wrote. Listen to this:
And now, listen to this:
While the second piece is still very well done, it is not sweeping; it is not epic. It is not what a theme for Superman should be. It does not raise your pulse and inspire you to do great things like the Williams score does. I understand that the filmmakers were rebooting the Superman franchise, but you wouldn’t dare remake Indiana Jones or Star Wars without their iconic John Williams score. No matter how you feel about Superman Returns, at least Bryan Singer acknowledged the fact in his film that the theme does most of the character work. Brandon Routh didn’t have to try very hard when he had a soaring theme behind him.
That being said, the John Willams score would not fit in this film. Which brings me to the tone. This film was simply too dark for a Superman film. While the darkness fits with a character like Batman, a character who lives and operates in the darkness, Superman lives and operates in the sun. The dark, muted colors are not appealing for a Superman film. The suit needs to be brighter. It needs to be a symbol of hope, and bright colors are that symbol. The dark, muted colors of the suit did not sit well with me, whether they were Kryptonian body armor or not. This does not create a character that I feel cares about us; instead it creates a character that cannot be trusted. Never once in the film did I feel like Superman could be trusted as a symbol of peace and safety. As a protector. As a savior. And I feel this all had to do with the muted suit colors.
Now, these couple of nitpicks I could have dealt with if the film didn’t go places that made me shake my head in wonder. These particular scenes begin when Superman begins battling Faora in Smallville. Faora and some gigantic, nameless hulk of a Kyrptonian attack Superman in the streets of Smallville. Superman tells the inhabitants that it’s not safe and to get inside and lock the doors. He is then promptly punched through that building. What happened to the people inside as the building collapsed around them? They were probably killed in the falling debris. Does Superman stop to wonder and help them? Nope. He punches one of the villains through another building, which presumably, had more people hiding inside. You see where I’m going with this? He never once stops to try to help the citizenry. He never once tries to get out of this small town to an unpopulated area, like say, the cornfield that is a block away . . .Nope, they duke it out in the middle of the street, civilians be damned.
Of course, the fight then shifts to Metropolis where instead of punching Kryptonians through feed stores and five and dimes, they are punched through skyscrapers. In a terrible lack of compassion, Snyder and crew have Superman fight in the middle of downtown. Needless to say, a big chunk of the city is leveled in spectacular style. This begs the obvious question. How many people were feeling for their lives when the Kryptonians toppled the buildings? How many people were killed?
In Superman II, when Superman was facing Zod and crew in the heart of Metropolis, when Superman saw what was happening and that lives were at stake, he fled. He took the fight to his Fortress of Solitude, away from humanity. He actually cared for the people he was trying to save. In Man of Steel, Superman is a protector of sorts, but doesn’t seem to care about the people. If he did, he would have taken the fight elsewhere; to the desert, to the moon. Anywhere there would be no people to hurt. This was one of the biggest problems for me, but no the biggest.
Oh no, the biggest problem was that Superman broke the golden rule of the character. He does not kill. EVER. And yes, that golden rule is broken in this film when he snaps Zod’s neck. Yes, the film makers tried to put him into a no win situation where he was forced to make the ultimate sacrifice and kill Zod to save innocent lives. I understand that. It felt lazy, though. Where was the snappy, clever way to end the battle without that neck crackin’? The film really needed it. Despite his initial scream of grief after being put in that position and doing what needed to be done, the film moved on and finally introduced Clark Kent, reporter for the Daily Planet. So, there was no lasting impact on him, huh?
The film completely lost me when Superman snapped Zod’s neck. While I would have had trouble accepting the destruction of Metropolis and the loss of thousands of lives, I could have dealt with it if there had been a clever way of stopping Zod. Instead, they turned the boyscout in blue into a killer brute. Hell, even with as dark as Nolan’s Batman films were, they never broke Batman’s cardinal rule, which is the same as Superman’s . . .they DO NOT KILL!
After talking to friends who have seen the film, I have felt like I was in the minority for not loving this film. Then I came across this piece, written by Mark Waid. Waid is the author of Superman: Birthright, a highly regarded Superman comic. Click the link below to go to his review:
After reading his review, I feel that I am not alone. The same problems I had with the film, he did as well. It is a pretty good read, so click over and check it out.
- Man of Steel (2013) review (bizzammovienews.com)
- Why I think Man of Steel (2013) didn’t work part 1: What I liked. (SPOILERS) (bizzammovienews.com)