So the theater was absurdly loud. Why do they do that? In my defense I had to mimic the poster of young Clark Kent, overwhelmed and huddled down, hands pressed to his ears.
That’s my worst dislike, though it hardly relates to the actual fantastic Man of Steel film.1
- Absurd amounts of metropolitan collatoral damage may be old hat to us, but not for Clark Kent. I wish we’d seen him express some shock at what he and other Kryptonians were able to do to the place — before he decided such destruction was inevitable.
- It would have been fun to see more of him experimenting with his powers, especially given this kind of villainy. What trick works? What trick doesn’t? Well, that didn’t work. Try something else. Ah, it worked this time. That would have also given the battles more ebb and flow — rather than a grand-finale 45+ minutes of near-constant wanton destruction with onscreen death tolls surely in the tens of thousands.
- Lingering shots. I would have enjoyed so many of those. Instead the film kept denying me. Oh, what’s that fantastic creature Jor-El is riding; may I see more? Denied. Wow! At last our hero is flying! Let’s see more of that, please. Denied.
Those are mild criticisms, by comparison to my overall enjoyment of the superhero film. What then of this other criticism I’ve heard?
It goes something like:
Superman always makes the right choice, every time. That’s what makes him Superman, that he has inner power of character, not just his external powers. But in Man of Steel, he steals X, does Y as retaliation for someone’s bullying, and is finally even forced to destroy Z. This does not make a good hero.
Agreed: it does not make a hero. Some onscreen exploration, through dialogue or even reaction shots, would have helped (see mild criticism 1, above).
However, I recognize the criticism of you-can’t-have-a-hero-do-that. It’s often leveled against Christian novels that try to push things a little.
- This flawed hero should be allowed to curse. No, you can’t do that, ever.
- Shouldn’t this romance have some more realistic sexual tension, though not enough to tempt most readers, even if the characters successfully resist it? No, that’s not allowed.
- Can I see more of this character’s honest struggles with God, even shouting at Him with the Author-endorsed honesty of the Biblical psalmists? Denied.
So I have no issue with showing Superman as a flawed individual, with a heart not necessarily of steel, on his hero’s journey.
Show him in the sequel when he’s accepted his father’s call and now being a full-time hero, making these kinds of shabby decisions, and then I might have an objection. Because yes, unlike Batman, Tony Stark, The Hulk, or any other hero, Superman is most interesting when he is almost always making the right choices. Then you can see how he fares against villains, or even victims, who do not.
However, those who fault the prototypical hero’s onscreen choices might also consider his behavior in Superman II, both the original and The Richard Donner Cut (2006), in which Clark Kent, arguably strangely world-weary, surrenders his superpowers and sleeps with Lois Lane.
And I’m sure those more familiar with the character outside his screen adaptations (these are my limits!) can share more about the original comics’ precedents.
- A few mild spoilers ahead. My fuller review will likely come this Thursday. ↩