Man of Steel

Woah, mama. Man of Steel.

Since the whole point of this blog is being a year behind the times, I’m no stranger to repeating the sentiments of others, or being beaten to the punch. But even with that, I am pretty darn late to the party on this – this hasn’t only gotten detailed analyses from the usual nerd suspects, but from some of my fellow feet-draggers and whiners like Doug Walker and Matthew Corey, folks whose analysis usually comes with the full benefit of hindsight…more hindsight than li’l ol’ me, at any rate.

And so, I’m in the rare position of having the last word on the subject. And I’ll use the first words of that last word to tell you about a little comic book series called Tangent Comics.

It was a short-run DC Comics project in the mid-90’s, spearheaded by writer Dan Jurgens, a man who, like all comic writers, has a name uncannily like that of a baseball player (I mean it, it rolls off the tongue – “Jurgens takes a couple of steps off the bag, waiting for the 2-2 to Claremont”…whatever). The point of the endeavor was to completely reimagine the iconic DC characters like Superman, Batman, the Flash and so on. The revamped characters were completely different in backstory, appearance, and superpowers, and yet still remained true to the ideals and ideologies of the original characters. As an example, Superman was a tough, black beat cop with superintelligence who constantly struggled to keep his power from corrupting him, but like the original he was a “big, blue boy scout” who stood for truth, justice and the American way.

Please make a video game, or an animated series, or something out of this guy – just so we could have Terry Crews as Superman!

Which brings me to Man of Steel. It runs completely counter to the concept of Tangent Comics: The titular character definitely has Superman’s backstory. He has Superman’s powers, and (kinda, sorta) Superman’s appearance. But he doesn’t do a whole lot of Superman things – no secret identity, no serene and clean-cut ubermensch demeanor, no rumination on the huge power he wields, not even any crime fighting!

Which, if you think about it, shows the problem with this new, darker, realistic take on Superman: that there’s not many new ways to do a darker, realistic take on Superman. It’s pretty much universally agreed that the best version of the character outside the comics are from Richard Donner’s original Superman movies. There, the whole point was that the corny, bright red-and-blue, straight-out-of-the-Silver-Age character of Superman was completely at odds with the modern world, and the audience viewpoint character of Lois Lane has an arc centering around her realization and acceptance of this.

Now, not everything in the Superman movies holds up today, and there’s some corny stuff to be sure, but there’s a reason that the last movie’s biggest problem was that it tried to be the first two all over again. From that standpoint, you can see why Man of Steel would distance itself from most of the popular incarnations of the character (not just the movies but the animated DCAU, the polarizing “Smallville” TV show and so on). But again, the problem is that beyond that there’s not a lot of new ground to tread, and so the story constantly struggles for direction, message and emotional impact.

This holds true even down to the movie’s cinematography – quite a lot of the pivotal scenes are nauseating handheld shots to add to the realism factor, and the darkened chiaroscuro filter added to almost every single scene doesn’t work when you’re not filming at night, like they were for most of the Dark Knight movies, which this film is pretty much a tribute to.

Now, the movie wasn’t a complete failure – it definitely had some interesting ideas for updating the well-known origin story – but it certainly felt like it from many fans’ perspective. You’d think that the first reaction would be to replace the creative team (who consist of a man who’s directed anywhere between one and four good movies, and a screenwriter whose most critically acclaimed sole credit was a vampire-battling sequel) with people who wanted to balance the new vision of Superman with the old, but instead the sole major creative change will be to give Batman top billing in the sequel, which doesn’t sit right with me.

Think about it – Batman, a self-proclaimed “rich kid with issues”, is bailing out Superman, the most powerful, well-known, and iconic character in comics. The guy who’s entered the international lexicon for power and capability. The guy who’s had adaptations in every conceivable medium, right down to pop songs…

Oh Superman, where are you now

Now that everything’s gone wrong somehow?

The Men of Steel, these men of power

are losing control by the hour!

…well then. Carry on, I suppose.

We start out on Krypton, with Kal-El being born. This is done with no medical assistance whatsoever like most future birth scenes, but this gets justified later so it’s okay. New father and old grumbly-guts Jor-El is a busy man, what with being the foremost scientist on Krypton, and so he leaves the baby in the care of his Buckyball butler (hey, don’t leave those around your kids!) to go yammer to the Council of Elders.

We get a good look at Krypton here, and it wasn’t what I was expecting given the more serious tone this movie was going for in all the pompous ads and out-of-focus trailers. It looked more like pre-golden age science fiction space operas – your Lensman and your Buck Rogers and such. Weirdly-colored skies filled with spaceships trading laser-gun fire, buildings that look like ancient metallic trees, and Jor-El riding a dragon. For a while, I thought that Zack Snyder c/o Christopher Nolan had put one over on all of us, and this was going to be an all-out, old-school, hammily acted, cartoonishly plotted spectacle with modern CGI (and in case you can’t tell from my love of the Marvel movies, I would be down as all get out for this). This tone continues as Jor-El parks his dragon and addresses the Council, who are wearing preposterous outfits, which make them look like they’re about to be used to power some sort of old-timey electric torture device.

Jor-El explains to the Council of Batteries that Krypton is dying and opens some serious plot holes, but he’s interrupted by General Zod. And he turns the tongue-in-cheek Flash Gordon knob up to eleven. Michael Shannon is one of the lesser-known actors here, but he’s a veteran of everything from Shakespeare to Michael Bay, and he’s the one making the most effort to entertain the audience no matter what. He accomplishes this by reading every line like he just ate something really spicy and is bellowing for a glass of water while trying to breathe as much as possible.


At his introduction, I immediately thought of Eric Bana in the Star Trek reboot – another intense, growly alien who shows up to kill the hero’s spacefaring father just after he’s born and will be that hero’s first enemy later. As the movie went on, I found its storyline mimicked that of the new Star Trek to an absurd degree, with the single change that Kirk and Spock are combined into one person – an irresponsible Midwestern farmboy with a heart of gold who’s also an alien child of two worlds who needs to use his superhuman abilities to learn to be human.

But for now, Zod just shouts at Jor-El until he has to fly away in his dragon, whereupon Jor-El goes to find some sort of magic skull that shoots beams at the newborn Kal-El as he’s put in his crystalline space-crib and shot off to Earth. This is a very involved plan, and it makes you wonder what he would have been doing instead if the Council of Batteries had agreed to his plans to evacuate Krypton.

In fact, pretty much everything in the movie up to then is forgotten as Jor-El says some hushed trailer-fodder lines as Kal-El blasts off, and then exposits that Kal is being sent to Earth to save everyone on Krypton, or maybe to lead the people of Earth to greatness, or maybe both, or maybe neither. What’s certain is that General Zod bursts in and growls some more as he has a fistfight with Jor-El, because now that we’ve gotten that boring plot stuff out of the way it’s time for shouting and punching.

Zod wins the fight when he stabs Jor-El, but he Council of Batteries is alerted, and they sentence Zod and his friends to go into a black hole for thirty years while his planet is destroyed…just like Eric Bana in Star Trek! And speaking of which, guess which lighting effect gets overused to hell and back in the movie?

You win! You guessed it!

Okay, we’ve now finished the unusually long prologue of the movie. It was entertaining and set up some interesting story points, but quite a few of them contradict each other or never get any resolution, and a lot of the sweep and action was pretty pointless. Again, when your aim is to do things differently from the best, you’ll end up doing something worse.

The real story of Clark Kent starts with him rescuing people from a burning oil rig in the middle of the sea, disguised as a newbie on a crab trawler. After some more effects-driven white noise he passes out and falls into the sea, staring at us like we need to be saved, in his Jesus Christ Pose.

As he sleeps, he remembers moments from his childhood. You see, this story is being shown partially through flashbacks. Why? Because non-linear storytelling is a trademark of producer Chris Nolan which hasn’t been done before with Superman, and that’s enough for the writers. But because it’s also the wrong way to do Superman, all the flashbacks will be in strictly chronological order and will be finished by the middle of the story, and so the only real reason to do it is to have as much action in the movie as possible. Remember those things in old movies like “restraint” and “raising the stakes”? Judging from his oeuvre, Zack Snyder certainly doesn’t.

But anyway, there’s the matter of the actual flashbacks themselves. The first one is Clark as a child, discovering his super-senses Jerry Lewis-style, and needing the help of his parents Martha and Jonathan Kent to control his powers. This is good, emotionally affecting, well shot and will pay off in a clever way later, and as such I don’t want to talk about it.

For anyone who’s made a joke about using X-ray vision for perverted purposes, this is not for you.

The next one is when he’s older, and saves a bunch of kids who were bullying him. They think that Clark was sent by God, and Jonathan Kent is disappointed in Clark because of this. This is sort of weird when you remember that if you go by the movie’s symbolism he was absolutely sent by God, and it’s even weirder when Jonathan starts changing his counsel for Clark every other line. He never really nails down whether or not he wants his son to be happy, the world to reject its alien trespasser, his foster son to accept his entire foster planet, or maybe all of those, or maybe none. Say, both his fathers are acting pretty similar!

Anyway, in the next scene we meet Lois Lane. She’s probably the most consistently written of any major character – a tough and professional journalist with a softer side to her (read: Margot Kidder without the jokes), and Amy Adams is definitely a good choice for the role. Lois is investigating a top-secret Arctic research mission, presumably hoping to get some snapshots of a horrible, homicidal shapeshifting alien. And she gets her wish, after a fashion: She finds Clark and follows him as he uses his laser vision to burn through the layers of ice to find an ancient Kryptonian spaceship.

Clark shows up and narrowly saves Lois from death, dumping her back at the secret research base and flying off in the spaceship. As Lois goes back to the Daily Planet in Metropolis and gives a pointless cameo to Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, Clark explores the spaceship. Now, this is Henry Cavill’s first opportunity to actually do some acting in the whole movie (a third of the way through), and he makes the most of it: He’s not a bad Superman at all. The problem is that he gets so few opportunities to do Superman things that he’s almost wasted in the role.

When the movie came out, Gillette ran an asinine ad campaign asking “How does Superman shave?”

And even now, his moment in the sun only comes after Jor-El shows up as a hologram recreation so perfect you begin to see why the put a big blue “H” on Arnold Rimmer’s head. In the exact same role as Leonard Nimoy in the new Star Trek, he shows Clark a cute little Buckyball slideshow and tells him to discover the full extent of his powers and help humanity, as well as several other confusing and self-contradictory things about destiny, hope and history. But soon enough, Clark is whizzing through the skies in has all-new, fancy-lookin’ Superman suit.

Now as someone who pays attention to costume design in movies, I’ve been seriously invested in the question of whether or not the many changes to the iconic tights and cape are for better or worse. I’m definitely on the latter side of the argument. People are trying to make it an issue of not having the red underpants, but that really speaks to the larger problem – that the costume doesn’t have any color balance whatsoever. Take a look at a chromatic simplification of the original costume compared to Man of Steel’s:

On the right there’s a striking and memorable arrangement of primary colors – the parts of the costume are clearly demarcated, and there’s lots of chromatic variety in the various pieces of the suit. I’ve never liked how the sleeves just sort of end as opposed to the cool gauntlets Batman and Wonder Woman have (which is one thing Man of Steel’s costume does better), but overall it’s a really great look.

On the left side, though, it’s not exciting at all. Mass of dull blue on top, mass of dull red on the sides and bottom, logo with just a hint of dull yellow. Not memorable, not eye-popping, not…super heroic. For a quick note, I’ll say that I take issue with this in the Dark Knight series too – I never liked how Batman’s costume was just solid black all over, but I’m much more forgiving toward that because of how well Batman Begins justified every single piece of his arsenal, including the suit.

Anyway, Clark decides to fly all the way back to his home in Smallville. He comes home to Martha Kent just in time to find her talking with Lois Lane, who has tracked down Superman in the space of less than a single day thanks to her bored voiceover. She wants Superman to share his story with the world, but he protests that the world isn’t ready yet, and backs this up with a story of how Jonathan Kent killed himself rather than let Superman reveal himself to the world.

Besides noting that the heart-wrenching dead parent moment occurred at exactly the same point in the story in Star Trek, I’d like to compare this scene to its counterpart in the original film. The death of Jonathan Kent in the original movie was a perfect example of the mix-and-matching of genres Richard Donner used to introduce the world to the superhero movie: It contained elements of espionage thrillers, campy action movies, Shakespearian sci-fi, big-budget disaster movies and more. The scene in when Jonathan Kent dies suddenly of a heart attack while playing with his son, though, feels right out of To Kill A Mockingbird. Old-timey leading man Glenn Ford really sells his final words as he reminds Clark that his superpowers shouldn’t stop him from being humble and compassionate, and John Williams’ musical accompaniment is… well, John Williams’ musical accompaniment.

Meanwhile, current-timey leading man Kevin Costner continues to portray Jonathan Kent as dour and inconsistent in Man of Steel, dumbly ignoring his son’s anger at not being allowed to help people at all, before he dies for no reason in a comically powerful tornado.

Seriously, tornadoes just do not look like that. I’d expect a shark to appear floating in a tornado like this.

Afterwards, there’s another scene at the Daily Planet that exists for two reasons: To give Laurence Fishburne say a few more lines, and to have one of those lines be a repetition of the constant refrain of “Humanity isn’t ready for the knowledge that they’re not alone in the universe.”

Well, you know what? In the very next scene, humanity gets the knowledge that they’re not alone in the universe, in the most blunt and obvious way possible: A robot voice taking over every electronic device in the world and saying “You are not alone”. It emerges that thanks to Clark’s fiddling with the Kryptonian ship, General Zod and his buddies have come out of their black hole after a long exile, to exact revenge on the son of George T. Kirk…er, Jor-El. They threaten to destroy the planet unless Clark turns himself in.

Well, the world appears to be amply ready for this: People react about as rationally and pragmatically as you could hope for – capturing Lois Lane due to her known reports of alien encounters, calling for anyone with information on Superman to come forward, and otherwise proceeding as normal. Meanwhile, Clark’s shows he is the real person who’s not ready for this – he has some more unnecessary flashbacks and goes into a church as he wonders whether or not to give himself up.

Now, I haven’t really talked about director Zack Snyder a whole lot in this discussion, and that’s because it doesn’t have his directorial stamp on it – no highly-stylized lighting and set design, no freeze-frame action scenes, no more unnecessary CGI than usual. But it looks like he’s trying to legitimize himself with this movie, and in particular with these scenes of Superman’s dark night of the soul. The flashback I mentioned is set in a lush field and has enough jittery shots of the Kansasian flora to make it look like a Terrence Malick film for a few seconds – which appears to have been the exact intention. And as for classing up the actual substance of the movie, Clark goes to a church just so they can have his head in dutch-angle double profile with Jesus in Gethsemane, as he talks to a priest similarly twinned with a crucifix. It is, to coin a phrase, the hammiest of fistedness imaginable.


But Clark eventually does decide to give himself up, and talks to the military about why he’s allowed himself to be captured, saying that he accepts that the natural response to anyone as powerful and unknown as he is would be to fear him, but he’s willing to accept it. The problem with this is that he never comes to the conclusion that he should try to change that – he never seems to make the leap from “People shouldn’t be afraid of me” to “I should try to stop that fear”.

Now, I did my homework before seeing this movie – read quite a few popular Superman comics which this was based on. And this calls to mind a moment in Superman: Secret Identity – a tale of a normal boy in a normal world who just happens to be named Clark Kent, and who ends up mysteriously gaining Superman’s powers. He’s hunted by the government, naturally, so his first response when he finds this out is to go directly to the agents tracking him and telling them point-blank “You don’t have to worry about me, all I want to do is help people.” It feels like this version of Superman doesn’t even care about being accepted by the world, which makes no sense given that lack of acceptance is the only reason Jonathan Kent was so unwilling to let Clark expose himself.

But there’s no time to explore these important central themes of the movie when there’s aliens to appease. The military escorts Superman to Zod’s spaceship, but Zod also demands that Lois Lane go on the ship for no reason whatsoever – no, seriously, no reason. In fact, the very first thing they do to her is to throw her in the brig, because she’s not important at all to them.

Meanwhile, Clark, the person with actual business on the ship, enters the Kryptonian atmosphere and is hit hard by the loss of his powers. Zod is as growly and loud as ever, though, and so takes the opportunity to explain his plan. You see, remember that magic skull that was beamed into Superman as a baby? It turns out that this contained all the information and stored genetic codes of everyone on Krypton, so Zod wants it to create a plague that will wipe out everything on Earth, where he will create a new population of Kryptonians with the huge terraforming machine he found in the black hole – oh yeah, did he mention that? ‘Cuz he has a huge terraforming machine that he found in the black hole.

Yeah, it looks just like this. Hey, hold on a minute…

And once we learn that he has this, his plan stops making sense. When I was doing my aforementioned comics-reading homework. I wanted to learn more about Zod, since all I really knew about him was from the movies. And as it turns out, this also applies to the comics – Zod was, like the Riddler and Alfred, a relatively minor character in the comics until a popular adaptation made him famous among normal people. But in the comics, Zod began to get some definition in a long story arc called New Krypton, where he leads a bunch of rescued Kryptonians who use their technological know-how to build an entirely new planet. And the fact that neither Clark nor Zod immediately thinks of this solution shows how thin the framework of this plot is.

Speaking of paper-thin excuses for action scenes, remember Lois Lane, who’s on the ship for no reason? Well, she uses some mojo leftover from Superman to activate the Jor-Ellogram. He starts droning reams of exposition as he breaks her out of the brig and tells her how to defeat Zod. She manages to break Superman out, and he flies them down to Earth. This was a pretty nice action scene with some creative stuff in it, but I don’t like how many hoops we had to jump through to get to it.

Knowing that Superman has escaped, Zod decides to put his “Kill Earth with a magic skull” plan into action, and flies over to Martha Kent’s house in Smallville to search for this magic skull. As Zod shouts at Martha Kent, Superman flies in and just starts whaling on Zod, over and over and over again as they both fly through various product placement logos.

“I hate you so much I won’t let you enjoy these fine 7-11 products! Or these delicious IHOP breakfasts!”

This is a fine example of a good idea that fails in execution. The core concept of this is that Superman hasn’t become the completely honest and upstanding citizen we know, and so having him be more brutal in combat builds off this while also being an opportunity to have huge, visceral spectacles (side note – visceral spectacles are actually useless for anything). The problem is that there’s too much focus on this spectacle than on the artistic reasons for it, to such a degree that the reason gets lost in the shuffle.

After the punching subsides for a bit, we get another intriguing and new idea – Superman breaks Zod’s spacesuit, so he’s hit with the full force of having super-senses for the first time. Superman gloats that he’s learned to focus and control his powers, but Zod hasn’t and is overwhelmed. I like this so much because not only was it foreshadowed earlier, but it’s also payback for when Zod tortured Superman aboard his ship. In fact, I’d be pretty happy if this was how Zod got dispatched, especially since we wouldn’t have the next scene.

This next scene is a three-way fight in the center of Smallville between Superman, Zod’s goons, and various army men. It lasts almost 8 minutes from start to finish – about a fifteenth of the movie, which is a whole lot to waste on completely empty action. Things go on, and on, and on. People fly into each other and the impact does not affect them. People shoot, or punch. Occasionally, they scream. At one point, General Elliot Stabler shouts a command into a radio. And on the visual side, a thing or things will occasionally blow up. More likely than not, it has some sort of easily visible logo on it. Picture this cycle repeating fifteen or sixteen times before Zod’s goons have finally had enough and fly away, and you’ll have a pretty good picture of the antepenultimate fight of the movie.

Yeah, that’s right, I said “antepenultimate”. There’s a half-hour of movie left, although not nearly a half-hour of story. And so as Zod goes back to his ship, he learns that the magic skull which will let him reconstitute all of Krypton was actually destroyed, and its contents sequenced in Clark’s DNA. Zod makes it his mission to kill Clark and bring back has body, forgetting that we specifically saw some of Zod’s goons taking blood samples from Superman just a few scenes ago. I guess the director and screenwriter weren’t the only ones to completely forget that this movie contained anything but mind-numbing destruction and action.

While he’s on the hunt for Superman, he orders the terraforming of Earth to begin, and so the huge squid-like ship starts to shine a deadly beam of light into the center of the biggest city we’ve seen in this movie… sound familiar?

At least Star Trek had the decency to do it in the middle of the San Francisco Bay.

And on that note, the Star Trek ripoffs hit their peak here, as Superman figures out he can use the stuff that put our shouty villain in a black hole for thirty years to put him back there once and for all. Superman goes to the Indian Ocean, where the big blue terraforming beam has punched all the way through the planet. It takes some generic exertion faces, but Superman’s able to overpower the laser and save the planet.

But meanwhile in Metropolis, things aren’t going well at all. Zod’s ship is destroying huge swaths of Metropolis, where we see thousands of people and objects being smashed into pieces by huge shockwaves. And every so often, we cut to a few seconds of Laurence Fishburne and Doug Stamper running away from it. It gets to be comical how a few shots of Fishburne’s serious face are suppose to lend emotional weight to the incomprehensibly vast amounts of violence on display.

Also, remember General Elliot Stabler and the military dudes? They’re still here too, and they have to shoot a missile at Zod’s ship to activate the black hole. Lois Lane is with them because she has to end up in Metropolis somehow – I wouldn’t really have a problem with this normally, but I can’t take the whole military subplot seriously when General Stabler belts out a Wilhelm Scream as he sacrifices himself to create the black hole, or when Lois Lane escapes this singularity when Superman tethers her to the ground. This goes right back to my point that Superman doesn’t do any Superman things – he has to stay on the ground and keep Lois Lane from flying away, instead of flying toward Lois Lane to rescue her from falling. It all looks pretty cool, but at this point watching all the fighting has started to get physically draining.  Luckily, things appear to be wrapping up. The ship is destroyed, all the surviving characters show up, Superman makes out with Lois Lane…

Grumble grumble Larry Niven grumble.

…and then Zod shows up. This is, I think, the straw that broke the dromedary of the audience’s patience. After two points where the movie could easily have come to a satisfying denouement, everything afterwards would feel unnecessary anyway. The fact that it’s nothing but more wanton destruction of human life and property is too much, though, and this became the impression that most viewers left the theater with.

Since the fight goes on for a ridiculously long time, I’d like to take a moment to say why this action-packed ending is inferior to that of, say, The Avengers. The real fundamental difference is that while The Avengers had eight unique characters who participate in the final battle in some capacity, Man of Steel only has two. Having multiple people fighting alongside each other allows for so many dramatic devices: Maybe we learn more about one character’s viewpoint on the situation compared to another’s, maybe we see two characters using their fighting styles to compliment each other, maybe we see one character cracking jokes and another angrily pointing out that there’s a fight going on. But when you only have one powerful shouty dude on each side, you can’t do anything remotely interesting but just have them punch each other.

At the end of the fight, we get the real capper: Superman defeats General Zod by…snapping his neck as he’s about to kill some people for no reason. This has become emblematic of the movie’s failure to stay true to the concept of Superman, and I’d like to put in my two cents on the major points most people have already talked about.

First off, people supporting this idea say that the point is to show that Superman is still young and unsure of himself, and the horrible trauma of this incident will shape him into the completely moral being that we all know. My problem with this, and the way that the killing is presented in general, is that we don’t see this at all in the movie. Take the Mandarin twist in Iron Man 3, that other polarizing divergence from the comic book – not only was this a huge deal that tied in with the themes of the movie and the Cinematic Universe as a whole, but it also let to quite a few scenes, jokes, and events that wouldn’t have occurred in the movie otherwise. In Man of Steel, Superman kills Zod, goes “DEEEAAAAAAAAHHHH!”, and the scene cuts away to stuff he would have been doing anyway had he just subdued Zod in some other manner.

All that nuance and thematic buildup that the proponents of this are suggesting need a lot more than “DEEEAAAAAAAAHHHH!” to back them up.

The other main point brought up about this scene is that there’s a precedent for this: Not only did Superman kill these same 3 guys in the comics, but he killed them at the end of Superman II after tricking them in the Fortress of Solitude. Well, I take issue with that because the first point just goes right back to the other argument – after killing the Kryptonians in the comics, Superman went into a long self-imposed exile – and the second point about Superman II is just a blind stupid thing to say. Let’s check up on the scene in question from that most reputable of film analyses, its Mad Magazine parody “Superduperman II”:

For reference, they’re called “General Klodd”, “Lox Looter”, “Superduperman” and “Lois Pain”.

Speaking of Mad parodies, let’s flash back to their first one ever – “Superduperman”, back in April of 1953, at the tail end of the Golden Age of comics. This was a surprisingly influential work – noted lunatic Alan Moore has cited its art style as the primary inspiration for that of Watchmen – but I don’t think anyone expected Man of Steel to be taking cues from it. And yet, sixty years plus one later, here we are at Man of Steel’s final scene:

“Nothing ends, Clark Bent. Nothing ever ends.”

And to top that off, what’s the central pitch for their next movie?

Well yeah, I know it’s Batman and not Captain Marvel, but my point still stands – and no one really cared a whole lot about Batman back then, anyway.

Yeah, Ben Affleck as Batman. That’s also a thing that’s going on. The decision to cast the guy from Gigli, Pearl Harbor and Dogma faced a lot of backlash, but my first response was mild surprise followed by an accepting nod. You see, whatever crap he might have done in the past (Dogma was pretty good, I’ll admit, though it’s no Good Omens), you have to admit that he’s pretty much on top of the entertainment world right now – not only is he have all but full creative control over whatever he’s in, but he’s using that to make serious Oscar-winning stuff. Don’t forget that when the guy was cast, his last role had been that year’s Best Picture.

I think it just goes to show that the superhero genre is now finally dominating the industry and culture of film the same way westerns did half a century ago. But that just means that people are making more and more superhero movies, and not necessarily that they’re all good. And you need look no further than the overall disappointing Man of Steel to see this.

TWO THUMBS UP: Quite a few of the updated ideas, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams

THUMBS UP: Michael Shannon, the redesigned Krypton stuff

THUMBS DOWN: The visuals, the decision to keep the creative staff on for the sequel

TWO THUMBS DOWN: The overload of destruction and lack of creative drive and commitment

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