Man of Steel, Film of Bismuth

So I finally got around to watching Man of Steel. Saw it a few weeks ago on DVD. I can conclusively say that there never has and never will be a good live action Superman movie.

Now, admittedly, I have not seen Superman Vs. Richard Pryor or Superman vs. Nuclear Proliferation, but to quote Tommy Smothers, “I’m an American, I don’t have to see something to know it’s stupid.”

So, why “Film of Bismuth”? Because Bismuth is really cool looking, shiny and neat, but will totally crumble and come apart when handled less than lovingly.

Man of Steel is a very shiny film. So shiny and CGed and explosiony and over the top action filled, you’d think it was by Zack Snyder or something. Wait a sec… Lots of mindless action and violence. And multiple extraneous shots of baby weenis. Which I can’t help but think is the creator’s homage to Watchmen and the many complaints about Dr. Manhattan. But that was at least an R-rated movie and a naked adult.  In no universe can I imagine letting kids see Man of Steel, which is a damn shame, because there’s nothing more All-American than Superman (unless you think he’s a Zionist plant).

One of the biggest crimes Man of Steel commits, however, is being insufferably boring. The film felt much much longer than its run-time, and a lot of the super action just didn’t feel like it was going anywhere. There were plenty of great times to end the movie, but somehow it managed to keep going.  This is exacerbated by the fact that we’ve seen this all before. You can polish a Zod, but it’s still Zod. While it may not have been as cheesy as Superman II’s Zod, it really didn’t bring ANYTHING new to the table except for sparing us Gene Hackman’s insufferable Luthor*. Superman Returns may have been awful, it may have been an unnecessary sequel to Superman II**, and what new things it brought to the table seriously and dangerously undermined the character of Superman, but at least it raised the specter of dealing with a bastard son which is something we can all pretend we didn’t see coming.

But Zod? Really? I kept waiting for Zod to do something different from what he did in the old movie. Or from his DCAU Expy. And at least the DCAU version set things up differently, even if they played out pretty much the same. Snyder proved himself the king of super-hero-pre-title-flashback-montage with Watchmen (one of the few parts of the movie that holds up after repeated watching). Why can’t Superman movies just start with a montage of Krypton exploding, Supes growing up on the farm, Pa Kent dying, and Supes discovering the Fortress of Solitude in a montage during the opening credits? Hell, even throw Zod getting his butt kicked into the montage, since that’s apparently such a freaking staple of the character that they had to make two movies about it. I’d say “Give us something new! Give us Braniac! Give us Darkseid! Heck, even Metallo! At least we haven’t seen them!” but the truth is, I’m sure that those movies would be just as god-awful as all of the rest of them. So don’t. Don’t make any more live action Superman movies, because you just can’t make a good one.

*:It’s not Hackman or even Puzo’s fault that Lex Luthor hadn’t been interesting since he stopped being a mad scientist and wouldn’t be interesting again until he was a mad scientist CEO.

**:Why did they use 70s Luthor after we’d all come to know and love the 90’s possibly black DCAU interpretation of the 80’s interesting evil CEO Luthor? I mean, Kevin Spacey’s a fine actor, but just imagine what a talented black actor could have brought to the role.

5 responses to “Man of Steel, Film of Bismuth

    • The only thing that would’ve made Captain America better were if it were even more WWII-y than it already was and kept Red Skull his golden-age unambigiously Nazi (none of that silver age hydra nonsense!) self.

      • I’m not really familiar with Cap, his rogue’s gallery, or his career in comics, but watching the movie made me think, “there’s an unambiguously good guy who doesn’t want to kill but does it because the situation can’t be peaceably resolved.” It didn’t feel like “heroic bloodshed,” it felt like “I did what I had to do,” without sacrificing any of the heroism or optimism.

        I haven’t seen CA2, I hoesntly don’t remember if it’s come out or not. I’m not sure if I’d be interested in a post-Avengers Captain America.

        I remember saying, “I wish they made Superman movies like this.”


      • Truth be told, I’m not either. I’m more of a DC person (I just like their characters better). Way back when, Captain America was just a dude fighting Nazis, and Red Skull was just a horribly disfigured SS Commander or something. They had to make up new bad guys for a lot of folks after the War. But yeah, Captain America was really well done, and other than the way that Nazis suddenly became HYDRA, it didn’t have a lot of the super hero movie schlock that could’ve easily ruined it.

        As for Man of Steel, I feel like it tried to be as dark as the new Batman movies, but instead just coated layer after layer of brooding and atmosphere on top of typical super hero schlock. No amount of Hans Zimmer was going to make the stuff happening on screen look any less cheesy.

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