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Author Topic: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet  (Read 1207 times)

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Thad

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I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« on: December 22, 2013, 05:40:09 PM »

Man of Steel is a Superman movie for people who hate Superman.
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Joxam

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2013, 09:01:56 PM »

I genuinely can't tell if you're knocking it or praising it.

EDIT: (I hate superman)
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Thad

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2013, 01:50:12 AM »

Spoiler alert for thing everybody with an Internet connection has already heard by now:

Superman mopes for two hours and then kills a dude.

If you want to talk about Superman's mass-media portrayals in general, replace "two hours" with "ten years" and hey, now you've also included Smallville.

It is a Superman movie with no bright colors, joy, happiness, or optimism.  It's a movie about fear and paranoia.  If it has a moral lesson somewhere, I can't suss out exactly what the fuck it is, because in the end Zod's "people must die for the Greater Good" morality is EXACTLY THE SAME as Pa Kent's.

I asked myself if maybe I'd have liked this movie if I'd never heard of Superman.

No.  If I'd never heard of Superman, this would still be one more fucking joyless slog of a superhero movie.

Would I have liked this movie if I'd never heard of Superman and also the last decade's worth of superhero movies didn't exist?

Well, it might have entertained me then.  But it would still be a movie with an incoherent narrative, a muddled theme, a bunch of visuals lifted from The Matrix, and dialogue consisting largely of "RAAAAAAARRRRGH!!!!!"

I never saw 300 or Sucker Punch.  Now I understand why people hate Zack Snyder.

Fuck this movie.
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Friday

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2013, 04:13:02 AM »

Hmm, coming from someone who didn't hate the movie (but was nonetheless irritated at Supes killing a dude, especially with how contrived the situation was) I was thinking that it's actually pretty hard to make Superman interesting.

The thing is, you have to maintain Superman's bright, optimistic outlook while at the same time giving him problems that require him to grow as a character. If everything always works out for the best because Superman can do anything, he's stagnant. (Yes, I know comic books are mostly stagnant. But even they have character growth at a glacial pace. Until they get rebooted for the nth time.) If everything is depressing and muted colors and Superman go blow up this world killing machine while another machine kills thousands in Metropolis, then it loses what makes Superman good: His underlying hope and positive outlook.

I think one of the few medias that got it right was The Animated Series and then Justice League; Superman's interactions with Darkseid (who is really the absolute perfect foil for him) forced Superman to go to a darker place, while at the same time not losing his spirit.

Of course, at one point Superman DOES try to kill Darkseid, but not because Darkseid has a fucking child set up in a Bond-laser table and SUPERMAN HAS TO OR ELSE LASER WILL KILL CHILD. He chooses to go after Darkseid when he could have just left, it's a pivotal moment in Superman's arc.

Of course, Batman drags him away and tells him off, rightfully so, and while Superman's retort leaves some room for doubt, Superman never tries to kill Darkseid again. He loses himself for a moment to his darker instincts, his friend (who struggles daily with that same problem) pulls him back, and he moves on.

Later he gives the world of cardboard speech but even then isn't trying to KILL Darkseid in some suicidal rage, he's just pissed off and realizes he can go full throttle because Darkseid can take it.

Anyway, I'm not really sure where I'm going with this other than I agree with you that Superman killing was total bullshit and TAS/JLA was awesome.
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Rico

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2013, 07:03:01 AM »

I think it was Mark Waid who summed it up this way: The world would have been better off if Kal's rocket never made it to Earth.

That's a really weird way to make a Superman movie.

(The longer version is worth reading)
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Friday

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2013, 11:34:38 AM »

Yeah, I actually read that article right after I saw the movie in theatres, and I agree with everything in it.

I don't know why I liked Man of Steel. It is, as both Thad and Mark have said, an utterly joyless grey and muted disaster porn flick. And I, as a rule, loathe disaster porn. I am so fucking sick of seeing New York and New York-alikes being blown up that it actually really negatively impacted The Avengers for me.

Amy Adams was an amazing Lois? But her little bright redheaded spot of wonder is adrift, alone, in the drab and cold wasteland that is Man of Steel.

I really can't tell you why I liked it. Maybe I'm dead inside or something.
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Zaratustra

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2013, 12:03:34 PM »

Because it shows Superman not as someone that doesn't inherently know how to do the right thing even if he wants to, and tries to do the best he can based on the conflicting advice of figures he respects and his own inner moral compass?

Thad

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2013, 01:36:58 PM »

Hmm, coming from someone who didn't hate the movie (but was nonetheless irritated at Supes killing a dude, especially with how contrived the situation was) I was thinking that it's actually pretty hard to make Superman interesting.

I thought that for a long time.  My view now is that he's not inherently any more difficult to write than any other superhero; there are a lot of shitty Superman stories, but there are a lot of shitty Batman stories and Spider-Man stories and X-Men stories and Green Lantern stories and 90% of everything is crap.

Superman BECOMES difficult to write when you declare the superhero genre to be a No Fun Zone.  When you try to turn every fucking character into Batman.  (Barry Allen appeared on Arrow a couple of weeks ago and my wife is already sick of hearing the "Why does every superhero need to have Batman's origin story?" rant.)

There's a fucking treasure trove of absolutely wonderful Superman stories.  Siegel and Shuster created him as, essentially, FDR with super-strength, trapping corrupt businessmen in their own unsafe mines and telling central American generals to duke it out among themselves instead of making their armies kill each other for no reason.  Nobody has the balls to write an explicitly political Superman anymore, except Grant Morrison, who got bored with it halfway through the second issue and started meandering into the crazy Silver Age stuff instead.

And that stuff is ALSO wonderful.  The Binder era, the transformations of Jimmy Olsen, Krypto and Supergirl and Kandor and that straight-up fucking CRAZY shit with Super-Horse and Superman shooting a tiny Superman out of his hand.

If you're going to make a movie about Superman being a dick, why can't it be a comedy?

The movie approached Superdickery in two places, and it wasn't very much fun in either one.  There's the bit where he wrecks the dude's truck, which is played for laughs but really just comes across as passive-aggressive and douchey.  And then there's the bit at the end where he wrecks the satellite, which they don't even TRY to play for laughs, just douchiness.

The thing is, you have to maintain Superman's bright, optimistic outlook while at the same time giving him problems that require him to grow as a character. If everything always works out for the best because Superman can do anything, he's stagnant. (Yes, I know comic books are mostly stagnant. But even they have character growth at a glacial pace. Until they get rebooted for the nth time.)

I've mentioned before that you can really trace the stagnation of superhero comics back to National nixing The K-Metal from Krypton.  It was a story Siegel and Shuster pitched which introduced a precursor to Kryptonite, which, in addition to taking away Superman's powers, also gave ordinary people powers.  (A scenario which would be revisited in Smallville, except more boring and mopey.)  Lois finds out Superman's secret, gains superpowers, and joins him as a partner -- no reset button at the end; this was going to be the new status quo.  National decided that fucking with the formula was too risky, so they put the kibosh on the story, and I think you can trace a lot of what's wrong with superhero comics back to that single moment.

I am so fucking sick of seeing New York and New York-alikes being blown up that it actually really negatively impacted The Avengers for me.

Chris Sims did a piece awhile back contrasting Avengers with Dark Knight and noting that, while Dark Knight is a hard slog and Avengers is a lot more fun to watch, Dark Knight is the more optimistic movie.  The Avengers win by beating and killing a bunch of dudes, while Batman wins by holding the line until the people on those boats can prove that even the worst of us are fundamentally decent.

(Holy shit.  I just realized that the climax of The Dark Knight is pretty much the same as the climax of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.)

MoS had neither Avengers' levity nor Dark Knight's optimism.  It's like if, I dunno, Batman had killed Harvey Dent on purpose and told Morgan Freeman fuck off, I'll spy on whoever I want and they should just trust me.

Amy Adams was an amazing Lois?

She really was pretty great.  Not the spunky Lois I'm used to (Delany is still my definitive version, Durance was one of the best things about Smallville, and then you've got your Margot Kidder, Teri Hatcher and, briefly and recently, Stana Katic), but she really nailed what the character is all about -- her tenacity, her courage, her intelligence, her strength of character.

There were a couple of things I liked about the movie.  Switching things up so that Lois figures out Clark Kent is Superman before she ever meets him is one of them.

Because it shows Superman not as someone that doesn't inherently know how to do the right thing even if he wants to, and tries to do the best he can based on the conflicting advice of figures he respects and his own inner moral compass?

Superman trying to figure out his place in the world is a perfectly excellent premise for a story, and all the Birthrighty bits where he's just living like a nomad, traveling the world and righting wrongs are really the high point of the movie.

But a Jonathan Kent telling him he should have let a busload of kids die just flat-out fucking sucks.  This is one of those cases where everything that people got concerned about in the trailer turned out to be absolutely, 100% the things that were wrong with the final product.

I mean, I can understand having Jonathan be concerned about Clark outing himself.  But it could have been done COMPETENTLY.

That conversation shouldn't have been "I dunno, maybe you should have let those kids die."  It should have been "You could have found another way."  THAT could have been the lesson Jonathan taught his son.  And then Clark finds a way to save him from the tornado without revealing his identity (well-timed burst of super-breath).  And then he finds a way to stop Zod without killing him (hands over his eyes).

Because that's the fundamental rule of aspirational children's fiction: when presented with an impossible dilemma, the hero finds a way to do the impossible, finds a way out.  That's the difference between Doctor Who and Torchwood -- the Doctor always finds another way, while Torchwood...well, Torchwood makes up stupid, ridiculously contrived children-in-peril scenarios that force its characters into doing horrible things and passing it off as something mature and edgy.

tl;dr the one with Richard Pryor was better.
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Bal

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2013, 06:40:33 PM »

I pretty much agree with Max Landis on this:

Regarding Clark
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Thad

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2013, 05:28:33 AM »

Yeah, nailed it.  I'll quibble about his assertion that Superman should have killed Zod in the beginning, but yes, if you put Superman killing people on the board as an option, then he's right, it's pretty stupid to wait until after he kills a bunch of people.

Finally got around to reading Waid's piece, too.

Quote
Superman wins by killing Zod. By snapping his neck. And as this moment was building, as Zod was out of control and Superman was (for the first time since the fishing boat 90 minutes ago) struggling to actually save innocent victims instead of casually catching them in mid-plummet, some crazy guy in front of us was muttering “Don’t do it…don’t do it…DON’T DO IT…” and then Superman snapped Zod’s neck and that guy stood up and said in a very loud voice, “THAT’S IT, YOU LOST ME, I’M OUT,” and his girlfriend had to literally pull him back into his seat and keep him from walking out and that crazy guy was me. That crazy guy was me, and I barely even remember doing that, I had to be told afterward that I’d done that, that’s how caught up in betrayal I felt.

I turned to my wife and said "Okay, fuck this movie."  And I went in KNOWING that was going to happen.

This is at home, of course; I can't imagine myself being disruptive at an actual movie theater no matter how infuriated I was.  But it IS the sort of circumstance where I might have let out an audible, involuntary groan.
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Zaratustra

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2013, 07:50:23 AM »

And then he finds a way to stop Zod without killing him (hands over his eyes).

Oh. Yes. Perfect. Then Zod BITES his hand. Then we can have the whole climax degrade into a mix of homoerotic grappling and The Three Stooges.

I HAVE NO IDEA WHY YOU ARE NOT A MOVIE DIRECTOR YET.

Lottel

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2013, 08:14:11 AM »

Zara should be a Spider-man fan, he loves moping and breaking necks enough.
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Cthulhu-chan

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2013, 08:45:51 AM »

too soon.
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Zaratustra

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #13 on: December 25, 2013, 08:59:52 AM »

LIES SPIDERMAN ALWAYS FINDS A WAY TO SAVE EVERYONE

even if he has to make a pact with satan and retcon his marriage

because he's a HERO

TA

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #14 on: December 25, 2013, 09:22:49 AM »

Exactly.

A hero can't learn from their mistakes, because a hero doesn't make mistakes in the first place.
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Royal☭

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #15 on: December 25, 2013, 03:49:09 PM »

This is fiction, guys. Superman could have sang the perfect F# major chord with his super vocal chords which would have made Zod weep and give up killing. Superman doesn't have to be an emotionally conflicted superhero who has difficulty making the right choice because that is all the other superheroes. Superman is aspirational, and when placed in a situation where everyone thinks killing is the only way out, he finds another way.

Oddly enough, when I watched the movie I felt like two writers had gone over the script, first one who really loved Superman, and then by David S. Goyer, a man who by all counts seems to really hate superheroes. What I did like was hologram Jor-EL, who seemed like he was the actual Superman, talking about the ability to inspire and protect people. This Superman just... didn't seem all the concerned about other people. I mean, he made out with Lois Lane on the ruins of a city if I remember (by the point Zod started exploding things I was drinking a lot of scotch). People seem to still carry around the air of embarrassment at superheroes that the first X-Men movie had, even after a movie with Kirby Hulk and Kirby Thor having a smashing competition. Hell, even the X-Men franchise itself finally admitted that the original comics stuff didn't make it turn red.

Thad

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #16 on: December 25, 2013, 04:15:36 PM »

Oh. Yes. Perfect. Then Zod BITES his hand. Then we can have the whole climax degrade into a mix of homoerotic grappling and The Three Stooges.

LIES SPIDERMAN ALWAYS FINDS A WAY TO SAVE EVERYONE

even if he has to make a pact with satan and retcon his marriage

because he's a HERO

Exactly.

A hero can't learn from their mistakes, because a hero doesn't make mistakes in the first place.

I see we've reached the part of the thread where everyone who disagrees with me is finding a strawman to attack rather than even attempting to argue the merits of anything I've actually said.  I think I've made my point.
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Mongrel

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #17 on: December 25, 2013, 04:35:42 PM »

I thought they were actually just chaining joke posts?

Well, maybe not TA so much, but I sure hope the rest of that stuff isn't intended to be serious.
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Royal☭

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #18 on: December 25, 2013, 04:56:00 PM »

What you may not have noticed is that people on this forum are sometimes completely, deathly serious while making dumb jokes. Weird, weird shit.

Zaratustra

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Re: I Don't Think We Have a Superman Thread Yet
« Reply #19 on: December 26, 2013, 06:55:10 AM »

Thad only concedes an argument to someone that writes a post longer than his.






he is undefeated
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