In Defense of Man of Steel’s Portrayal of Superman

From even before its release because of Rotten Tomatoes reviews, to the day of its release because of Superman snapping Zod’s neck, all the way to today, because its portrayal of Superman “isn’t Superman,” Man of Steel has been never been short of controversy. Save for its pre-production days, this Superman reboot and DC Cinematic Universe kickstart, has split the internet into two with said controversy. 

This has only made the announcement of other DC movies bittersweet news. On one hand, people are glad to finally be getting a Justice League film, but Man of Steel is the foundation for it, really? Batman is going get a movie with Superman?! But how are they going to be friends, this Superman is too emo!

Well, internet, I can’t really do anything about the fact that Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Vic Stone (Cyborg), and Arthur Curry (Aquaman, but ugh, that name is too relevant right now. Screw the Golden State Warriors) are going to all be in BATMAN V SUPERMAN. But what I can do is try to dispel some of your fears about Superman that have been brought to light by Man of Steel.

Don’t worry about Superman anymore. Everything that Man of Steel did can be fixed and made better for the sake of the DC Cinematic Universe. Everything is going to be okay.

Now, Man of Steel does have a ton of silly things, like the constant allegories to Jesus Christ, how Jonathan Kent died saving his dog that Clark could have saved in less time and all of that could have been avoided, to the cheesy dialogue like, “the world’s to big mom,”  yet Perry White can have some great things to say about how the world isn’t ready for aliens a couple of scenes later.

But that stuff is accompanied by really cool things like the opening scene where we actually got to see a bad-ass version of Krypton on the big screen, and a young Clark Kent struggling to cope with his differences from humans. Let’s not forget the action. Okay, maybe it dragged for a bit, and the destruction was unnecessary, but are you really going to tell me with a straight face that this wasn’t cool as shit???

I mean, that’s exactly what I’ve wanted from a Superhero film. A fight scene that can rival the panels of a comic book page. A fight that captures the epic scope of this universe’s powers. They don’t always have to be saving the world. There’s SUPER in superhero for a reason.

But enough about the film as a whole. Aside from what I listed above, the biggest problem people have with Man of Steel is how Superman is portrayed. Where do I even begin? Oh yeah, how about the “he didn’t do any saving!” thing.

I’m sure Clark will do a ton of saving in future films. People are literally ignoring one of the earlier scenes where he saves the crew on the oil refinery (or whatever that was), and when he saved the pilots from Faora. Sure, there wasn’t a lot of it, but he was trying to save an entire freaking planet throughout most of the film, for christ’s sake. I honestly hope Batman v Superman opens with him saving a giant group of people to shut these dudes up.

Then there’s the “SUPERMAN EMO OMG” thing. He didn’t do that much brooding throughout the film, if you’d open your eyes for a bit. I only noticed one scene where it bothered me, and it’s when he’s telling Smallville that it isn’t safe outside from Zod’s men. In that scene, and in most of the film, he’s too busy either figuring himself out, or saving the planet. Why would he be smiling through that?! Have you read Death of Superman? Yes? Well, are you mad that he wasn’t smiling throughout the beat down he took from Doomsday? Exactly my point.

I think some people forgot about the scenes where he was smiling and joking around for a bit. Okay, it was just after he got captured and was talking to Lois, but still, you get my point.

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C’mon man…

I expect him to be a little more cheery from now on. He doesn’t have to be acting like a freaking clown out there, but I see him being a little more chill. Except for when Batman comes in. He may be a little more than pissed when some dude with no powers dressed as a Bat tries to kill him. Just warning you now.

We’ve also yet to see Clark Kent, like, goofy Metropolis Clark Kent. I expect some laughs and awkwardness from that as well. There probably won’t be enough time in Batman v Superman, but just wait until Lois and Clark is a thing. She’s already got a sense of humor, so there’ll be some good times from watching them screw around (I mean, not like that, you dirty minded person…)

I’m actually imagining a back and forth between Clark Kent (reporter) and Bruce Wayne as we speak, and it’s fucking magical.

Some have also expressed concern over Superman being too much of an alien, and not.. you know, American, like he’s typically portrayed. I wouldn’t worry about this either. It’s definitely a valid complaint for the film, but it’s also a bit unfair. Man of Steel is about Clark finding where he fits in as a human. He’s 33 years old in Man of Steel, I’m sure there’s tons of partying and football games that were completely glossed over. I mean, there was a scene of him drinking beer and watching college freaking football!!! There was also a scene with him wearing a Kansas City Royals shirt. See what I mean? Hell, Clark says it himself at the end of the film, “I was raised in Kansas. I’m about as American as it gets.” I do worry that we won’t get to see enough of that until a proper Man of Steel sequel, since I’m sure Batman v Superman will have no time to waste.

And last but certainly not least, the most controversial of them all, Superman killing Zod by snapping his neck. I don’t know what to say. Are we really condemning the writers for trying something different? I mean, you people cry about how nothing ever changes with these characters, and how “they’re all the same.” I’d be a bit more understanding if this were to be a regular thing. If Superman goes around killing villains in any future DCCU film, then I take all of this back. That being said, he won’t.

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Let’s not forget that he did it to save that innocent family from getting cooked by Zod’s heat vision. They were about to be Metropolis grilled meat, and Superman did pretty much the only thing he could do. It all went by so fast, he was filled with adrenaline, and he couldn’t handle being responsible for the death of a family.

Superman was clearly distraught when he killed Zod. There’s no way that this doesn’t haunt him for the rest of his life, judging especially from the way he reacted. Don’t be surprised if we see the “no killing” rule annoyingly pushed upon us next film.

Oh, and one more thing, are people seriously complaining about him looking as if nothing happened in the scenes after he killed Zod?! It’s his first day at the Daily Planet and the end of the film, where there is literally zero time to get into his head. What, do you want him working at the Planet as an emo zombie? THE EXACT THING YOU GUYS WERE CRYING ABOUT EARLIER?! Jeez, it’s seriously a lose-lose situation with the haters.

Hopefully I’ve eased your worries about this version of Superman, even if only a little. I do agree with most of you guys, the Superman we got is a little lackluster, but the promise we got from him was far greater. There’s so much great times to be had with this version of Superman, if we could just give him a chance. It’s clear that two hours wasn’t enough, and hopefully he’ll put his doubters to rest sooner than later.

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