In Defense of Man of Steel
Now, if you’ve a regular reader of comics, whether you read DC or are a heathen, you probably just did a double take, spat out your drink, emphatically yelled “WHAT?!” or possibly even cried, perhaps praying for my “lost soul”. Some of you might still have enjoyed the film, as I obviously have, but you’re a far cry from being convinced that it’s “The Greatest Superman Origin Ever Told!”
Some of you are even laughing to yourselves. In particular, the pretentious twats among you. “What a moron. This idiot probably has never read a real Superman story, like All-Star Superman, or Whatever Happened to the Man of Tommorow or Superman: Birthright. And you would be wrong, because I read All-Star, and it was trash compared to the stellar animated adaptation, which I’ll probably end up reviewing at some point.
So here’s how we’re going to go about this. I’m going to take a look at every part of the film most people have criticized, and then point out how it’s not only a good part of the film, but are in fact the best choices the director himself, Zack Snyder, could possibly have made.
Lois and Clark
“Wait one goddamn minute, Lois Lane knows Clark Kent is Superman?! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!”
Lois Lane, the Hottest Scoop in the history of the world, is a fucking Pulitzer Prize winner. She is the journalist to end all journalists. It is an insult to her intelligence that anybody would insinuate she could not realize Clark and Superman are the same dude after having face-to-face encounters with both of them on a regular basis within a short period of time. Besides, her knowledge of Clark’s identity from the get-go opens up a wide variety of story opportunities which the current DC Universe, aside from moronic Brainiac invasion storylines, meticulously refuses to exploit.
For example, in this film, Lois is a badass motherfucker who went to the arctic, found an alien, went on an alien mothership, uploaded a sentient virus to the mothership and escaped from the mothership full of genetically-engineered super-soldiers.
And then she banished the mothership full of genetically-engineered super-soldiers to the Phantom Zone. Like I said, badass motherfucker. So I think we can all conclude that Lois knowing who Clark is will only bring awesomeness to the DC Cinematic Universe.
The Metropolis Apocalypse
A lot of people have complained about the level of destruction shown in this movie. I have absolutely no idea why this is a complaint. They’re fucking KRYPTONIANS, they are the closest thing to physical gods you will find in comics, aside from multiverse fuckery. It would have been ridiculous if the city hadn’t been destroyed. General Zod and his soldiers were quite literally bred to wage war. Pair that with the standard Kryptonian powers of flight, strength, being able to survive nuclear blasts and good old heat vision, as well as some nice, reliable terraforming machines which work by smashing the planet with gravity waves, and you have a recipe for mass destruction.
But that isn’t the main issue. The issue that most people have is that Clark “never tried to move the action away from the city,” except that’s a completely false premise seeing that Clark punched Zod into fucking space. And then Zod punched Clark right back down with a Wayne Industries Satellite. So this entire debate is utter bullshit.
So, onto the next point of contention?
The Neck Snap
“He’ll have to admit this ruined the movie! Superman doesn’t kill people, this scene was ridiculous!”
Except that operates on the false premise of this movie being a Superman story. It is not. It is the story of Clark Kent, a man from a far away world, and how he becomes Superman. Clark, in a moment of desperation, killed the last member of his species. And after that moment, he thought one thing. “Never again”. This is the defining moment for Clark, when his No-Killing Rule is born in a baptism of blood. I have no doubt that in Dawn of Justice, Batman is going to call Clark out on how he dealt with this situation. You’ll notice that the title of the next film isn’t Batman vs. Superman, it’s Batman v. Superman. And this is an important distinction, because v. as an abbreviation for versus is notably used solely in legal cases, and implies more of an intellectual battle than a physical one.
And this doesn’t just tie into the issue of the Neck Snap, it ties into Jonathan Kent not being an encouraging force for Clark in his youth.
In most continuities, Jonathan Kent is the main inspiration for Clark to become a hero and help people. That is most certainly not the case here. In this case, Jonathan Kent, while still a loving father for his son (If you didn’t cry when you heard the line “You are my son”, you have no soul), is encouraging his son to hide his abilities. He says it might have been better if he let a school bus full of children drown.
Worst of all, he made Clark stand by and do nothing as he was killed by a Tornado.
But this is not a problem with the movie. In fact, it is the film’s greatest theme. The theme of whether we should be ruled by our fear. Whether we should hide, out of fear of what others will think of us, or whether we should act in spite of fear. Whether we should act to help those who need us, who can’t help themselves. Jor-El sent his son to the planet Earth not just because the death of their world was imminent. Rather, because he thought that his son would inspire humanity towards greatness. Man of Steel posits that Jonathan, consumed by fear, was wrong. That humanity is better than fear, than anger, than hopelessness. That in our darkest hour, there will always be a beacon of hope to lead us to the light at the end of the tunnel.
And the thing about Man of Steel is that no other Superman origin except maybe Superman: Earth One has covered (and that story is shit anyways) the theme of how humanity will actually react to having Clark show up. I think it’s a theme that should be examined more often, I think it’s a theme that Man of Steel drove home in spectacular fashion, and I believe that this main factor, along with side bonuses such as the Hans Zimmer score, the visual effects which showed Kryptonians as never before seen on the silver screen, and just being a new, intriguing take on the character, are why Man of Steel is the Greatest Superman Origin Story Ever Told.