Steel in our Spines? Or Between Our Ears?

It’s time for a movie review, as I watched Man of Steel last week with some friends of mine. So, first, the movie, and then the rambling. Warning: here there be spoilers.

Here’s what I liked about the movie: The plot was innovative in a way that didn’t tear apart what made the original good while avoiding making the movie a retread of previous Superman movies. The action scenes were pretty good, and I didn’t mind the massive fight at the end. This Superman’s flaws humanized him while still making him not a colossal jerk, and I thought that his adopted father’s caution regarding his abilities was warranted and realistic. General Zod, the villain of the piece, at least had a motivation beyond “Poweeer! Unlimited power!”—and his plan made sense, based on his previously established character. Lois Lane was also a bit better than just a damsel in distress.

That being said, the movie had some problems. First, plot holes. To start with, after the Kryptonian machine’s destruction, wouldn’t the Earth still be in a whole heap of trouble, given that it had a hole drilled through it? Also, why was that world engine thing still functional? There are three nuclear-armed states within missile or bomber range of its location in the Southern Indian Ocean, not counting the probable American nuclear submarine. As to its self-defense capabilities, they all seem to be very short range. Then, there’s the question of how no one outside the town ever heard of “That Clark Kent kid” who pushed a bus out of a river. While I suppose the Kents convinced everyone to keep quiet, having that explained would have been nice. Then, regarding characterization. Lois Lane does a bit more than just exist to be saved by Superman, but she doesn’t do a lot more—although, if we end up with sequels, at least she knows that Clark Kent and Superman are the same person.

Also, a lot of people like the messianic overtones in this movie. I don’t, and here’s why. I’ve honestly never liked Superman as a character, largely because he tells a story that is nowhere close to being true: a man with godlike powers won’t use them to become a god. Superman in particular, more so than most superheroes, influences people to believe that absolute power does not corrupt absolutely. This is not a good thing.

However, this does point to something that’s kind of important: people want there to be a savior, a messiah, someone to get humanity out of the muck and mire it’s in. They’ll look for one wherever they can find one. Even in fiction. Even in other human beings and the organizations they set up, which are all part of the same muck and mire.

On a slightly lighter and heavier note, at one point a young female officer says to the main general regarding Superman, after a somewhat heated discussion between the latter two: “I just think he’s kind of hot.” While an amusing nod to one of the reasons women will go to watch the movie, after a bit of thought I realized that, in a world where Dzhokar Tsarnaev has fangirls who want to have his babies, that remark is far too relevant to how many people approach the world.

That scares me a bit.

Also, the movie was, if not worth ten bucks, within spitting distance of being so.

‘Til next time,

Lowell Van Ness


3 thoughts on “Steel in our Spines? Or Between Our Ears?

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