A POST-MODERN SUPERMAN
So I just got back from seeing the new Superman movie and I must say that I was not overly thrilled with this new rendition of the superhero.
Now, one thing I have to say first is that I think Richard Donner's Superman of 1978 is probably the best superhero/comic book movie of all time and is the greatest representation of the Silver Age Superman (the Silver Age not the Modern Age. The Modern Age began in 1986 when John Byrne reinterpreted Superman in his landmark Man of Steel work following Crisis on Infinite Earths. Ironic, isn't it that both Byrne's stuff and this movie are both called Man of Steel?).
That being said, we come now to the new reboot of Supes with this year's Man of Steel and I found it to be a little strange on a couple of levels that are emblematic of the times we live in and the movies that are now being made (especially summer blockbusters).
My main problem with the movie is that this is the first Superman movie where he is not embraced. In this movie he is distrusted and labeled the Other. Maybe they are preparing the way for Lex Luthor in the next movie, whose modern interpretation hates Superman due to his alien heritage and espouses the values and accomplishments of humanity. Luthor's argument is that we don't need Superman; it should be human beings who lead the way to a better future and that he (Lex) is the best example of this due to his superior intelligence and striving to be as physically fit as possible (Dr. Doom over in the Marvel universe is similiar as he wants to conqueor the world because he believes he is the best-suited human being to lead the world, not out of a desire for conquest like historical figures such as Attila the Hun or Ghengis Khan).
To me, this is a very post-modern view of Superman that doubts that humanity would embrace a hero who selflessly wants to protect and instead would question his motives.
Naturally, I expect that doubt from Batman because he's paranoid. But all of humanity? I don't buy it.
Its the same problem I have with the X-Men in the Marvel Universe when the writers just assume that everyone will be prejudiced against mutants and against them because they're different. That may have played in 1965 but in 2013, I don't buy it.
But I digress.
Back to the movie.
One good thing about this movie is that it did make a point of highlighting that he is Clark Kent, not Superman (he's only called Superman once or twice in the whole movie). He grows up as Clark Kent and doesn't find out who he is until half way through the movie but once he does, he doesn't put on the dopey Clark Kent persona of the Silver Age. Superman IS Clark Kent. Clark Kent is not his secret identity, it is who he is. Superman is the superheroic, costumed identity of Clark Kent. No matter if he is in costume or not, he is always Clark Kent.
This differs from Batman who is always Batman. Bruce Wayne is the public, shallow persona he puts on when not fighting crime in Gotham. Bruce Wayne is an act. Essentially there is no Bruce Wayne. He died the night his parents were murdered and Batman was born.
Interesting Sidenote: From what I hear, Batman is gonna be in the next Superman movie and so is Lex Luthor with the rumor being that Wayne Enterprises and LexCorp are going to team up to rebuid Metropolis after the devastation of Zod and Supes' battle but Lex's motives are not pure and he hatches a plot to take over Metropolis (or something) and is stopped by Batman and Superman and Wayne Enterprises takes down LexCorp leaving Lex with nothing.
But I digress again.
Back to the movie.
As with a lot of summer blockbusters, there seemed to be a lot of massive devastation in this movie as well as a lot of CGI. I find all the devastation very disturbing (ever since 9/11) and the CGI is usually just not done very well and definitely won't age well on-screen.
Also keeping with summer blockbusters, the music in this movie was largely just pounding drums over ominous chords lacking all nuance and orchestration. Where is the grand score that Superman deserves ala John Williams score for the 1978 movie (which is one of the greatest scores of all time).
Now I did think Henry Cavill was ok as Clark/Supes and Amy Adams was better than I expected as Lois Lane. But where was Jimmy Olsen? And why is Perry White now black? If Perry is played by a black man, shouldn't he be named Perry Black to distinguish him from the comic character?
(Just kidding!!! I guess if Nick Fury can be black, so can Perry White)
And did it bother anyone else that Superman killed Zod (rather brutally, I must say)?
And is it just me, or did Superman yell a lot in this movie?
All in all, Man of Steel was a mixed bag but in this post-modern world, I guess this is the best we can hope for.