Kal-El AKA Clark Kent AKA Superman AKA AWESOME!!!
You knew this was coming, Pete. I’ve seen Man of Steel twice already. I will see it at least one more time before I’m done. It’s that awesome. So this is my super-spoiler-y review, not of the movie (but no promises), but of the character himself. And if you haven’t seen the movie yet, get off my blog and run to your nearest theater. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Now if you’ve read this blog before, and we both know you have, you know I’m not a DC fan—I can’t do Kangaroo Boy or Scissor Lad or Rhamphorhynchus Girl (+10 points if you know what a rhamphorhynchus is). And come on, we all know Aquaman is just a telepathic Sea World trainer with an orange shirt. For me, the names were just too wacky, the continuity too fluid, and everybody was so damn good! I like my characters with a little bit of flaw and internal conflict. The only one I really dug was Batman’s crazy ass and that’s cuz he had real problems.
But truth be told, I always dug Superman.
Yes, he’s the bright blue boy scout. Yes, he got a bit overpowered and could do every damn thing. Yes, his entire story hits us over the head with its Jesus Christ allegory—we get it: a father’s only son, sent to Earth with untold powers, destined to save humanity from itself. That little fact is so ingrained in the Superman mythos that the S on his chest is the world’s second most recognizable symbol. Number one is the Christian cross.
But at the end of the day, I ran around with a towel for a cape and imagined the strength and heard the John Williams score in my head, heralding my arrival. I always wanted to be super. Which is why I was so excited to see Man of Steel. It looked like we finally got to see Superman be Superman.
And the movie delivered! This Superman hit so hard he needs Rick James’ publicist (I’m Rick James bitch!). Does it cover the basics? Let’s see, faster than a speeding bullet? Check—the trailers show airplanes laying down heavy fire and my man cuts to the side in a flash. Is he stronger than a locomotive? They hit him with whole train! Did you hear me? Picked up a train and threw it at Superman! But he walked away so I guess that’s a yes. Can he leap tall buildings in a single bound? Well, Superman wouldn’t be Supe if he couldn’t fly, right?
But this wasn’t your everyday-let-me-swoop-in-and-save-the-day Superman. This is “what if Superman showed up today, doing what he can do, and then somebody like him came to get him?” That’s what this movie is. Critics complain that the movie was too somber, too weighty, that it eschewed the heart and folksiness of the original flicks with Christopher Reeve. Whatever. I say if you want Christopher Reeve, I can point you to a lovely boxed set. I might even suggest you pick up a copy of Somewhere In Time for an extra helping of Reeve. This ain’t that. This ain’t your daddy’s Superman.
It’s not that it lacks heart; it’s that making it easy you to relate to Supe ain’t the focus of this movie. It’s about Superman being able to relate to us. See, here’s the thing: no one ever really addresses that it might be hard to be Superman. What? Yea I know, me too. Dude, you can fly, are bulletproof, shoot lasers out your eyes, kiss someone’s memories away and, no matter what happens, your hair is ALWAYS magnificent! What’s tough about being Superman?
Not being human. Not knowing who you are. Not knowing what you are. Not knowing how the world will perceive you once they find out who you are and what you can do. Not knowing how to draw the line between savior and citizen. Being scared of yourself. Being alone.
Superman Returns tried to touch on it, tried to show that being Superman is hard. In one of only 3 parts of that movie that I enjoyed, Superman told Lois that he can hear everything, that she said humanity doesn’t need a savior but that everyday he can hear them crying for one. It was an interesting, and underdeveloped, take on the character. Man of Steel takes it a bit further and let’s us know there is a toll taken on the individual. It’s not just capes and tights; it’s choices and the consequences of those choices.
And that is what the movie, and the character, are all about. Choices. He can’t stop being Kal-El, the last son of Krypton anymore than he can stop being Clark Kent, the farmboy son of Jonathan and Martha Kent. That’s who he is. The choice, though, is to be Superman. To choose to take on the role of savior, to choose the obligation and the solitude such a role requires. What Man of Steel shows us is that choice is hard.
And that is the internal conflict I was hoping for.
I’m gonna close it out with a couple things:
- My girl, ED Martin, is a mad DC fan. I’d love her to weigh on my stuff here
- Sub-commander Faora Ul is the BUSINESS! Your girl is nasty! As much as I love Superman, Faora put his ass in check while eating waffles at an IHOP! Alright film executives—first, thanks for reading my blog! I have a couple ideas to pitch you! Second, the last couple years have given us Katniss, Merida, Hermoine, and the Black Widow—it’s high time for Wonder Woman. Enough of this “female superheroes carry a film” bullshit.
- Whatever you do, DO NOT fuck with Superman’s mama
Tell me what you think below! And if you haven’t seen the movie, here’s a little something to wet your whistle: