'Man Of Steel' Movie: Superman is Too Super to Be Interesting Film Hero
The results are in ... and Man of Steel is a bust.
As of June 13, the much anticipated Superman reboot rests at a 57% on Rotten Tomatoes; for anyone that doesn't know how rottentomatoes.com works, it means that the film is "rotten" or, in layman's terms, it sucks.
Man of Steel is the worst reviewed blockbuster of the summer, behind other sci-fi flicks, such as: Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness. Is it really that surprising that a movie about the character of Superman flopped? I'll be honest, I love Superman, I like him better than Batman. But it is just not possible to relate the only redeeming qualities of Superman to the silver screen. (See Superman III, where Richard "Godd***" Pryor was the antagonist.
1. Superman is Undefeatable
In order for Superman to be interesting, he needs to be given an ultimatum, a decision that he is forced to make that will have repercussions that even his god-like abilities cannot fix. The closest time that a Superman film has come to accomplishing this was the original Richard Donner's Superman, which forced Superman to choose between saving the world and letting Lois Lane, the love of his life, die. Of course, Hollywood, being Hollywood, erased the opportunity for Superman's hubris and god-like abilities to be limited by this one scene that we all remember so well.
In what seemed to be a touching moment for young Kal-El, turned into the biggest cop-out in comic history. Superman no longer has any consequences. If he makes a mistake, he can simply go back in time and try again, after all, Superman himself is invincible, so nothing can ever stop him from going back in time.
I know what you nerds are about to yell at me, "But ... but Kryptonite takes away Superman's power!"
Right you are geek, however Superman has a vast array of powers that don't even require him to even get near Kryptonite. He could just laser vision his way out of any debacle ... which would be very boring to watch, but makes for a frustrating viewing when you know that Superman just killing everyone from space is an option he has.
2. The Justice League is screwed
Any lover of comic books knows that the reason that Superman does not just "super" his way out of a fight, is due to his hubris, his belief that nothing can harm him. This does not translate well the film. It's hard to convince a moviegoer that Superman could ever be defeated, which does not make him that desirable of a movie character, if his god-like abilities make him boring.
Look at the Justice League, it's going to be hard to convince any film watcher that the Justice League needs anyone in it BUT Superman. Batman and Flash are cool and all, but Superman could do their jobs in a heartbeat; don't even get me started on Hawkgirl and Aquaman. That's the biggest challenge that director Zach Snyder (Watchmen, 300) and producer Christopher Nolan (you know who Christopher Nolan is) will face when DC Comics tries to unveil the Justice League movie in 2015.
Who is going to care about any struggle the Justice League finds itself in, when they know that Superman could bail them out at any moment? The three biggest names in the Justice League: Batman, Superman, and the Green Lantern, all have a lackluster history of quality films (yes the Dark Knight was awesome, but Batman and Robin was not). It's going to be hard to justify putting these characters together into one film, when they've historically failed on their own. Any Justice League movie will become a Batman/Superman love-fest, with Batman still being pretty superfluous with Superman in the picture. The other negative side of the Snyder/Nolan team up, is the fact that they both love to reboot characters into a gritty, mean, realistic world, which was never the point of Superman. Superman is all about optimism and victory, versus realism and grit. Superman does not belong in the same world as the Dark Knight and for good reason, he is not a conflicted anti-hero. He is uncomplicated and stoic ... which Nolan is not a fan of (see any Christopher Nolan movie ... ever)
One of the biggest strengths of Marvel's The Avengers, was the idea that the characters had to work together in order to overcome the antagonist, they were all too flawed to do it on their own; Thor was incapable of seeing humanity for what it was, Iron Man was plagued with extreme Hubris, the Hulk could not form a rational thought, Captain America was a man out of time, and no one cares about Hawkeye. Superman is: undefeatable, indestructible, and a god among men, so why do these heroes need to work together?
3. If you still aren't convinced of Superman's "over the top" powers, just watch these respected scientists (and Kevin Smith) talk about how he shaves!
When there is a well-funded marketing campaign that exists, solely, to determine how Superman shaves, it's a strong indicator that Superman may not be the most interesting character in the world. It's kind of sad.
Here is Dr. Mayim Bialik, explaining Follicle Denaturation Theory, to us mortal peons.
Here is Dr. Bill Nye (the Science Guy) discussing physics, relating to Superman.
The Mythbusters themselves weigh in.
Finally geek icon, and comic book store owner, Kevin Smith offers his hypothesis.
The saddest thing about all of these theories is that the comics have already described how Superman shaves ... and it is stupid. This quote from Businessweek explains it, "The problem for some fans is that Superman already had a somewhat well-known grooming technique: using a mirror to blast heat rays from his eyes to his whiskers."
There, he lasers his whiskers off. Superman is so insanely powerful, that the only thing that can hurt his hair is his own laser vision ... which probably accounts for why Superman's villains have historically sucked.
Superman, has very few good villains, because who is stupid enough to fight a god? Lex Luthor stood a chance with his stashes of Kryptonium but, as it turns out, the only reason Lex Luthor hates Superman, is because Superman was the, sort-of, reason that Lex Luthor went bald. That's it! There was no parent murder, or failed coup that set Lex Luthor over the edge, it was just the fact that he was forced to sign up for Bosley's Hair Treatment. Just take a look at some of Superman's other villains
There is Bizarro, who is just a dumber, stronger version of Superman, General Zod, or "bad Superman," or Jax-Ur, a guy who became a criminal because he blew up a moon. The downside of all of these villains are that they are boring, and excluding Lex Luthor and a few others, exclusively from Krypton. Superman would most likely do more to protect Earth if he relocated to another planet, to do battle with these foes, many of whom came to Earth just to find Kal-El (Superman).
Long story short, if you would like to go see a movie about a badass and interesting superhero, skip Man of Steel and go see The Wolverine when it comes out. You'll thank me for it.