Good films make me think about more than just the film. I said it in my review & I’ll say it again. I really liked Man of Steel. There seems to be some common complaints specifically about the ending of the film I try and wrap my head around.
In the Defense of Zod:
Zod was a military leader. He was not a scientist, nor was he a society planner. He was a conqueror. Zod believed his main purpose was to insure the survival of Krypton. Then why didn’t he go along with Jor El’s plan? Because he didn’t view the human race as something worth keeping. Why didn’t he just find a planet maker & Genesis ship on one of the outposts & go live a happy life? Because he like Jor El knew that to start over meant he need the genetic make-up of Krypton. Jor El believed it would live through his son & his descendants. Zod was impatient. He recognized the value of Earth as a new Krypton & there was no reason to move on. Zod was genocidal, homicidal and in the end suicidal. More reflection on his final scene causes me to believe a brilliant military strategist would only do what he was doing for one possible outcome.
In the Defense of Superman:
This is a bit of a stretch. Superman’s choice at the end was not only driven by Zod’s actions but it also encompassed the mere presence of another Superman on planet Earth. If he had defeated Zod, there is not a cell on the planet nor a weapon that can stop him. The handcuffs on Superman illustrates this. Superman could not send him through the phantom zone, that ship sailed. Another light stroke that was alluded to was during one of his final monologues, Zod reiterated he was military trained, while Superman was raised on a farm.What could you have possibly learned on a farm that could make you defeat me? I’ll tell you: Zod was telling Clark what he needed to do. When an animal on a farm is a danger to the other animals, it must be put down. Zod’s attack on the family at the end was driving that point home.
In Defense of the filmmakers:
It was Zack’s decision to kill Zod rather than send him off to the Phantom Zone & an uncertain fate. This adds to the complexity of the story rather than alleviate it. It is also better storytelling. A theme that Zack wants to drive home with Man of Steel is Xenophobia: the fear of aliens. Before the original 52 in DC comics Wonder Woman (I know not an alien) snapped someones neck and killed him, this sent waves of fear & anger through the whole DC Universe & the fanbase. Zack borrowed this from the comic for a reason & I’m sure we will see it play out in the sequels. Any character who is invulnerable to outside attack must face internal conflict to make the character layered. Now that Superman put Zod down, most will look at him in horror and say that’s not the Superman I know. Superman will struggle with this, so will the world. It was brutal and that was Zack’s choice. But consider the alternatives. In Superman 2 Zod, Ursa & Non were all killed by Superman & Lois AFTER they were stripped of their powers. A few chuckles & hugs later things were back to normal. They could have incarcerated all 3 EASILY. But no one cared the film was fun light & humorous in parts. What other way could Superman put Zod down? Most other ways I think of are more brutal than the way he did it. It was tough to see the boyscout do what he did, but this is a new Superman for the 21st century, maybe not so much for the kids anymore. He is not a Superman for the real world he is a Superman for a serious world.
Finally through Man of Steel’s ending the director has paved the way for Lex Luthor to have the most rational & understandable argument for destroying Superman. Fear. Most other Lex incarnations has left the question Why’s he out for Superman so bad? Whether it be Crime, Revenge, Distraction, the constant rivals have had the Supervillain always wanting to destroy the Boyscout. Now with Zack’s ending not only can they pit a paranoid billionaire genius, who probably lost a lot of money in the destruction of Metropolis against a hero who might just actually kill Luthor, they may have Luthor gain the support of the people in his paranoia. This alien might kill me, the stakes are now higher than dealing with the boyscout.
I went in knowing pretty much the story line. The Superman myth is a bit too well known not to & if Zod is your bad guy well you can fill in his back-story to match. Let me say that I really enjoyed the film, and aside from a few directions the storytelling took I think it’s the best I’ve seen this year.
One of the biggest problems I have with film-making today is that, the box office is make or break on opening weekend. A way filmmakers have tried to sway moviegoers to their seats opening weekend is to entice them with a mystery. Whether it’s a plot point, a villain or any big reveal. Film-makers usually leak enough speculation & then deny, deny, deny, to drive ticket sales for those of us who have to know right away. I’m looking at you Star Trek into Darkness. Much of the storytelling is created to hide or substantiate a mystery that isn’t necessary. It’s really not an effective way to build a fan-base. Everyone knows that they are being deceived, and the reveal is anticlimactic. Straight forward story-building is always a better bet. Wrath of Khan did it, Superman did it, and Man of Steel did it. We knew who Clark was where he came from & who the villain was, move on, no mystery needed, just tell the story Thank You.
The first part of the film really reshapes moviegoer’s view of Superman’s planet of Krypton & his father Jor El. Less over-acting scientist/prosecutor more action-man scientist. This Jor El rides dragon-flies & swims into the matrix baby battery fields to grab a skull of ancient Alice, all while there is a massive war brewing. The movie throws you right into adventure which I really enjoyed. It took me somewhere I had never been before and made it exciting.
Side Note: Krypton seems to have an overabundance of magnetic shavings.
& the males on Krypton seem to dress up and down more than the ladies.
Zod is introduced and I have to say Mr Cumberbatch I sympathized with Shannon’s Zod more than your, well, your character. After Indiana El gets the artifact and smashes it into fairy dust, which fuses with wait SPOILER ALERT Kal El. He is sent on his merry way to Earth, via black hole travel.
Zod is captured sent into a black hole & Krypton explodes, like Jor said. (I guess we can call him Jor since they shorten Kal & his mom’s name) Notice Kal’s ship doesn’t make the confusing baby-in-space for a few years trip (not needing fed changed or burped) It also eliminates Kryptonite (in which the filmmakers made a conscience decision to do) If it does arrive on Earth in a sequel it will be EXTREMELY rare.
We then get some Deadliest Catch footage and an unneeded scene where a deckhand saves Clark, right before Clark kicks some major Oil Rig fire ass (he does) Flashbacks ensue to show the emotional aspects of growing up, being bullied, saving buses (usual stuff) .
Lois Lane, Perry White, Jenny Olsen (yes Jenny) & Steve (I think) were all unnecessary for this film. They are newspaper reporters whose only function in the film is to point out how flipped out we would be if we knew aliens were saving school buses among us. Move on. Lt Gada seems to have found a job ding exactly what he was doing in Battlestar Galactica, staring at a computer screen & telling the audience and ignorant Generals whats happening outside. Everyone who looks at computer monitors is inherently smarter than the people who actually live the events. Lois discovers Clark sneaking around a mountaintop and easily follows him up some huge mountain and into the “clamshell” spaceship formally known as the Fortress of Solitude. Clark discovers a very unwelcoming robot and the pods HAL ejected in 2001 but SPOILER ALERT (One is open???) Hmm can’t be Jesus that ships been in the ice for 18K years or so. (Maybe we should ask Lt Gada) Prometheus much? Lois takes a few shots for spaceship & garden and assumes that the spitting droid is photo ready. The bad robot throws her and injures her, Clark recognizing she has internal bleeding says it’d be good if we close the wound in her skin by cauterizing it rather than treat the internal injury that is gushing blood. After dropping Lois off in a pile of snow Clark flies the ship to a safe distance also ruining the mountain top drilling platform, which was probably abandoned, yeah probably abandoned.
The next sequence is Jor’s holographic interface basically recapping the first 1/3 of the film. Lois talks to Perry about her experience…kinda
Side Note: you updated most of this film but still had the Daily Planet newspaper? Newspaper?
Perry basically tells her he doesn’t want to print stories about lil green men and she shouldn’t if she knows what’s good for her. He doesn’t ask her about the Matrix. Lois then gives the story to the crazy unreliable “internet” people and tells them to run with it. She also starts to track Clark down. She runs into Helo from Battlestar Galactica (Am I sensing a crossover or maybe they really want to drive home the Canada setting with Canadian actors? ) Along with a bunch of other people who Clark/Joe/Hunky-man-meat saved (great more alias’s)
Clark & Lois have their second date in a graveyard. Lois learns the truth says screw journalism and the rest of the world It’ll be our secret & Clark goes home to relive his worst flashback ever: Kevin Costner waiving goodbye.
Re Enter Zod & the gang. The fresh faced 30 year old Zod is now a fresh faced 60 year old. I’d think heavier gravity would be hell on wrinkles. So after the most successful viral campaign EVER Superman decides to surrender… after talking to a priest. Clark messes with the military a bit, before he is taken away by Zod and a Krypton woman. They also want Lois for some reason, still not sure why they wanted her? Superman’s blood is drawn SPOILER ALERT any time a hero’s blood is drawn and a point is made of drawing it you can bet a clone is in the works for a sequel (see alien 3) Bizzaro maybe? Clark is human on the spaceship Lois reboots holographic Jor and they take down some of the bad guys before she boogies out of there. (fun sequence) Magic computer Jor El reformates the ship to make it like Earth & Kal/Clark escape after learning that Zod wants to make Earth, New Krypton with Kal’s blood & the Matrix baby batteries we saw earlier. (We learn this from a pseudo dream sequence that dripped of Watchmen). Superman battles a bunch of Kryptons most wanted in Smallville. & the Military & Kryptonians pretty much level the town.* So as any Great Military leader does he starts the engine before he has all key elements in place. The Giant Spider (see Jon Peters/ Kevin Smith) is sent to The Indian Ocean where it reaks havoc on the landscape & some poor fisherman. Then Zod’s ship starts chewing up Metropolis (BAD) I mean it got to the point where we all said enough already this isn’t a Transformers film.*
* A side note: Anyone who follows me knows I don’t like when movies and tv kill children, to shock the audience into showing how serious they are. DC has a habit of doing this in their comics. Also they have a habit of the Superhero not saving the day but actually just coming in to clean up the riff raff after all the damage is done. Although Superman was working throughout the end sequence, the destruction in the film was pretty much desensitizing.
Well Supes & Zod go at it and in the end they alter the superman myth DRASTICALLY. Not by what he did but by how he did it. Screaming NOOOOO may or may not have been a nod to the end of Watchmen, but I kinda had the uneasy feeling in both films. After it was over I enjoyed it for changing the look and feel of the story up. Unfortunately I think they went the current DC storytelling root and alienated the young children viewers. Get it “Alienate”.
Things to note:
1. Kryptonian Science= Jor El Science= Broad sweeping assumptions based on no real science. Example: If you crash one black hole making ship’s drive into another it will transport all the bad out & close the door behind itself when it’s done.
2. Don’t tell me Kal’s blood went into the Phantom Zone, Zod could have brought it with him to the genesis ship. So there! Lex will pick it up in a sequel.
3. Terraforming Earth is like saying I want to turn the oceans of Earth into water. Terra= Earth. Kryptoforming. But you know that smart scientist had to tell the dumb captain & moviegoers what it meant. Meanwhile I was having trouble figuring out the Matrix baby batteries on the genesis ship, were they babies, shells, pods?
4. Sequel will probably have Lex & team-up Braniac or Bizzaro.
5. You went to great lengths to explain much of the science of the film but neglected to show aliens learning English.
6. What was Jor El’s plan? Was it Zod’s?
7. Was Man of Steel inspired by the Matrix which was inspired by Superman.
Creationism vs Evolution. On the surface, it eludes to the fact that science is defeated by a church going God fearing Superman. But if you look deeper, Kryptonians were created whereas Kal was born. Science enhanced him and he as the top of the food chain decided Krypton’s fate with the evolutionary credo, they had their chance to shine.