Yes, I Still Believe a Man Can Fly

So… Man of Steel.

I liked it. I didn’t love it, but I liked it a lot.

First, the non-spoilery stuff:

I liked pretty much every casting choice. I think a few people were wasted, but hopefully they’ll have bigger parts in future movies. Henry Caville is Superman, AFAIAC. Nobody’ll ever replace Christopher Reeve for me, but I’m happy to have Caville do any number of these.

I disagree, strongly, with the people who say it’s soulless. It lacks the whimsy of the Reeve movies, but then, it also lacks the problematic slapstick. There are several scenes of joy/excitement, however. Maybe not as many as there could/should have been, but the movie is hardly dreary through and through.

I felt that some of the action sequences went too far. There’s only so much destruction you can wreak on a city before–even in a comic book movie–it becomes unbelievable. The Avengers pushed up against that line. Man of Steel… Well, leapt across it in a single bound.

And I do think it was lacking in terms of seeing Superman, well, protect people. There seemed very little effort made to acknowledge the bystanders in any of the massive throwdowns.

But in the final analysis, it felt like a Superman movie. I bought Caville as Clark, Amy Adams as Lois, etc. Wasn’t quite as happy with Zod, but that’s just because I have a fixed image of Zod in my head, and this wasn’t quite it. It didn’t not work for me.

The other stuff I want to discuss requires spoilers, so…

I’m… torn on the Jonathan Kent death scene. On the one hand, I get what they were going for, but on the other… It didn’t quite jive for me. Didn’t feel right.

The other thing that lots of people have a problem with is Superman killing Zod.

I… don’t actually object. And yes, I say that as a long-term fan of Superman.

Let me explain.

Superman doesn’t kill. Superman’s the one who always finds the third option. He’s the Good Guy with capital Gs. On those rare times he’s been forced, when there was absolutely no alternative, it’s stuck with him. It’s been traumatic. A big deal.

Let’s leave aside the whole "Well, the writers didn’t have to put him into a situation where he had no choice." Here’s the thing…

I don’t have a problem with it for the same reason I didn’t mind Peter initially hunting for Ben’s killer out of vengeance, and only later developing his sense of responsibility/justice, in The Amazing Spider-man; and why I didn’t mind Batman not saving Ra’s in Batman Begins.

Every one of these movies is about these characters becoming who we know them to be. They’re not movies that include an origin story; the entire movie is an origin story.

This Superman? This is his first outing as Superman. His first time trying to deal with anything even remotely supervillain-ish, let alone a small army of Kryptonians who want to destroy Earth and a leader who is determined to do nothing but kill people indiscriminately. This is someone who is still developing his moral center; hell, that’s the entire point of the movie. "What’s right for me to do?" "Who’s right for me to be?" It’s not even a subtext, it’s blatantly stated. (I.e. the priest scene.)

So yes, he killed Zod. No more phantom zone projectors; no Fortress of Solitude with a "depowering" booth. No kryptonite (yet, at least). No more machines to recreate the atmosphere of Krypton. Could the Superman of the comic books have found another out? Maybe, but this isn’t the Superman from the comic books… YET. I’m certainly having trouble seeing any other option, myself.

So the question becomes, what does this mean going forward. If the second movie ignores this completely or has him kill again, then I’ll be the first to admit I gave them too much credit, the first to be up in arms. But if they build on this, if this–not only him killing, but him killing the only other surviving Kryptonian–is built on in any halfway decent way, then I am absolutely fine with that being part of his development.

And no, this is not me counting on an unwritten sequel to "fix" a problem in this movie. What happened works for this movie. It’s not up to the sequel to retroactively make it okay, but to not retroactively fuck it up.

I’m sorry a lot of the fans are upset, truly. But for me… Yes, this is still Superman, and potentially the start of a good series. It’s not perfect, by any means (again, the disaster porn ending was too much), but I’m willing to put this on a level with Batman Begins, and see what where it takes us.

Edit to Add: Now that I think about it–though I may be putting more into this than the writers did, I dunno–I’m starting to wonder if Zod’s entire point wasn’t to make Superman kill him. "Suicide by cop," basically. He had no purpose any longer. No people. It was never taunting Superman with "I’m going to kill you and then kill all of them." It was always "I’m going to kill them, and the only way to stop me is to kill me." (No, those aren’t direct quotes or anything.)

Just a thought, and I realize I’m speculating about the motives of a fictional character, but… It seems like his actions at the end, while understandable if he just didn’t care if he lived or died, make even more sense if dying was his goal.

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