I went and saw “Man of Steel” at midnight on Thursday, June 12. To be perfectly honest, I suppose I wasn’t as excited as I could have been for the midnight release of a comic book movie. Prior experiences with Superman in the theater had left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Fortunately, with a brand new outlook on everything, I pushed ahead and waited.
While the people behind me were loud and obnoxious as all get out (You are not funny if you tell your jokes really loud and nobody likes the person that brings a beach ball to a movie theater.), I focused. This was the start of something. This was going to be DC Comics grand opus to their cinematic movie universe. Or, at least, as close to it as they could possibly get.
So, the movie began.
Then, the movie ended.
And I was completely blown away. Mouth, agape.
Over the last few days, I’ve let myself take in all of the reviews online or the discussions with customers in the comic book shop. I heard their views and thoughts and all sorts of randomly thrown together opinions. (I’m looking at you, internet message boards.)
Nothing I’ve heard about the movie that was less than positive hurts my views on it. I still think that it’s one of the best comic book movies I’ve seen in years. Because everything could be perfectly handled in a follow up or with just a simple talk.
That’s not to say that I haven’t heard great things about the movie. In fact, overall, for every person that said that they were not a big fan of it, there were four others that said they loved it. People will be torn by it, but you know, there has never, and I do mean NEVER, been this much buzz and excitement around a DC Comics movie that didn’t feature Batman in well over twenty years.
Green Lantern came and went and no one wanted to talk about it but just keep reading the FAR SUPERIOR comics.
Superman Returns was not all the hype pushed it up to be.
We don’t talk about Catwoman.
Love it or not, I adore the amount of excitement and discussion that this movie generated. In no small part to main star, Henry Cavill. While I’ve only partially experienced his acting chops in HBO’s “The Tudors”, this gentleman brought it to the big screen. He made an impact that I think will have long lasting ramifications on his career and the world of DC Comics as a whole. He was completely believable as the stranded outsider, wandering from city to city, keeping his powers in check.
When he needed to, though, he could present pain like never before. There is a particular death scene in the movie that I doubt would have had the emotional impact on us if not for Cavill. So, he’s my Superman.
Another aspect that I thought was phenomenal was the intensive fight scenes. Fortunately, and finally, they gave Superman proper villains to fight in a movie. You would think this would have been more common featuring the most powerful being on the planet. But no, they never went there.
Man of Steel had me on the edge of my seat, gritting my teeth, waiting to see what would happen. Kryptonians are not new movie villains (Christopher Reeve’s Superman fought him in Superman 2), but they have never been more fierce. I think this is the perfect time, since the advancement of computer effects finally allow the villains to appear as deadly as they act.
The thing that many people I’m sure will argue until the end of time will be the so-called “darkness” that movie brought. Some could argue that this was not the Superman that they grew up with. The one that stood for Truth, Justice, etc. That this Superman is not him.
No, he’s not.
That’s an easy argument, though.
The book that I was planning on reviewing this week, which somehow devolved into a partial “Man of Steel” review, was “Superman For All Seasons”, written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Tim Sale. The last time I talked about this writing duo, they gave us “Batman: The Long Halloween”.
“For All Seasons” is this creative pair’s visit to the beginnings of the Man of Steel, exploring his importance all the way up to his present. They give us the classic Superman. The outsider Clark Kent growing up in Smallville to the awkward, mild-mannered Clark Kent that went to the Daily Planet, leading straight into the perfection-iconified Superman.
Is iconified a word? I think it would be. Yes?
The point is they gave us a beautifully rendered Superman beginning his career and continuing it all the way to his present. He was perfect from the start, knowing right from wrong and able to handle the most difficult of tasks. Fighting. Winning. It’s a beautiful book, on par with the best Superman stories ever written. Ever.
That’s not the “Man of Steel” Superman.
The “Man of Steel” Superman must stumble and fail because he’s not our hero yet. That’s not to say that he doesn’t win. Sure, General Zod and his evil Kryptonians activate a World Engine that nearly wipes out Metropolis, but its purpose was meant to destroy the planet. The fact that our newly minted Superman could stop this is proof that he has the chops.
While the movie was called “Man of Steel”, notice how it was not called “Superman”. Because throughout the movie, he’s not there yet. He has to learn. To grow. To become the icon that we all want him to be.
That takes time.
Soon, though, and with another dynamite movie, we’ll follow him into the sun.
Next Week: We take a break from all the super heroics again and look at something a little smaller. What if Jesus Christ was reincarnated? And became a reality T.V. star? “Punk Rock Jesus”, next week! Check it out!
In addition to writing for the column “Comic Matters” for the Tucson Citizen, Bobby Acosta is also a 5th Grade Elementary school teacher, employee and frequenter of Heroes & Villains Comics/Game Store, and explorer of the importance of comics. He recommends each and every comic he writes about.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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