For many decades Superman was the lone superhero who could escape the ghetto of comic books into other realms of popular culture. From the Fleischer cartoons in the 1940’s to the 1950’s television show to the Christopher Reeve movies the last son of Krypton represented comic books well. But now that every other big budget movie is based on a comic Hollywood can’t figure out how to get Superman right. Warner Brothers made a snoozer with 2006’s Superman Returns and the only good thing about their latest attempt Man of Steel is they didn’t sully Superman’s good name in the title.
Superman has a classic origin. An alien from the planet Krypton, his parents sent him to Earth right before their homeworld is to explode. Found by Ma and Pa Kent in Smallville, Kansas and christened Clark Kent, he learns a strong moral code and sets out for the big city of Metropolis to become a reporter/ superhero who stands for truth, justice, and the American way. Simple and succinct Superman at his best is cheesy and fun. But in an attempt to make Man of Steel grim and gritty like the far superior Batman movies they got lost and forgot Superman is a guy who flies around in his underwear.
In the 1980’s DC put out a comic book with the title, Man of Steel. The creator behind it, John Byrne, made Superman a good natured boy scout who always did the right thing. If only the movie Man of Steel paid the slightest attention to the source material. In the new movie Superman doesn’t hide his secret identity, they alter the fate of his father figure so it steals directly from Spider-man, and they couldn’t even bother to get Lois Lane’s hair color right. But worst of all they make Superman a murderer. Maybe it’s subtle commentary that the character who stood for the American way is boring, humorless, fascist, and without a thought in his mind, but those qualities sure don’t make for an entertaining movie.
Everything that I loved about Iron Man 3 is absent in Man of Steel. All the wit and morality and character development are replaced with fights and special effects and awful dialogue. Even worse is the ending reveals the entire movie was an appetizer for the sequel they’ve already started work on.
In these reviews I try to avoid revealing plot points, but I’ll end my panning of this garbage with one minor spoiler. One of the few attempts Man of Steel makes at being clever is the idea that the big S on our hero’s chest doesn’t stand for Superman. His logo is instead a symbol from Krypton.
It means schmuck.