Recently Man of Steel director Zack Snyder made a comment about how some fans still “cling” on to the Christopher Reeve Superman fillms. I don’t know if that was the wisest thing for him to say.
But I totally agree with him.
I knew that this would happen. I thought about saying something similar before Man of Steel was released, but I didn’t want to upset the vast majority if the people going to see the film. Then again, no one actually reads this, so there was never any danger of me being accused of feeding the trolls.
I am sure that a lot of parents who took their children to see Superman in 1978 grew up watching the TV series that starred George Reeves. Some kids, such as myself, watched the reruns every afternoon. I am also sure that a lot of those parents were hoping to recapture happy moments of their youth.
In a lot of ways, Superman was a bit of a throwback to the 50s era of comics and the TV version of the character. We kind of needed that optimism and hopefulness instilled by Superman since we weren’t that far removed from Vietnam and Watergate. Much like Star Wars the previous year, it was a case of the right movie at the right time.
As a fan of comics and comic book films, I owe a lot to Superman for not only making me believe a man could fly, but also for kickstarting the big budget superhero film genre.
That being said, that era has passed us by. If people really wanted that type of Superman film they would have gone to see Superman Returns. But then again, it wasn’t a very good film. Brandon Routh made a very good Superman, in my opinion, but the script let him down. The basic idea for this film was to continue the Superman story that was started in the films oh so many years ago. Pardon the pun: it didn’t fly. It was a bit too old fashioned. It was also a Superman film where he didn’t punch anything.
Then everyone complained that in Man of Steel Superman punched everything. There were complaints that the fictional city of Metropolis was almost totally destroyed, and yet no one seemed to care about the destruction of Manhatten in Avengers.
I’ll let you ponder that one a moment.
Then there was a huge outcry when Superman killed Zod in Man of Steel, yet no one seemed to mind when Superman killed Zod, without remorse, in Superman II.
Some people complained that Man of Steel was a bit dark–I disagree with that assertion. If anything it was realistic. If you see realism as pessimism that is your problem. How would you expect the general population, much less the government and the military, to react to an alien coming to Earth demanding that they hand over the alien that has been living here for over thirty years?
The idea that at any point in time the US government would be happy to an alien be its defender is Pollyannaish at best, and delusional at worst. If you have read Flashpoint, or have watched the animated film The Flashpoint Paradox you know what I am talking about. For those of you who haven’t, here come the spoilers: In an alternate timeline Kal-El’s spaceship wasn’t found by the Kents, it was found by the US Army. They then locked him away in an underground bunker, where he stayed until some of the other heroes broke him out. It’s one of the best parts of the story.
Think about this for a minute: Superman first appeared in Action Comics in 1938. So, let’s say he was in his early thirties, that would mean that Ma and Pa Kent found Kal-El just after the the Twentieth Century began. They would have had a horse and buggy. I don’t even know if they would have had electricity.
In Man of Steel, Clark was said to be thirty-three years old, so the Kents would have found him around 1990. He would have been eleven or so on September 11, 2001, and knowing all we know now, can you blame Jonathan Kent for wanting Clark to keep his abilities a secret for as long as possible?
Another thing to think about is that Man of Steel wasn’t really a Superman film; in a way it was “Superman Begins.” He was more or less Clark Kent in Kryptonian clothing battling against soldiers who have been trained since birth.
When the 1989 Batman film was announced a lot of fans were overjoyed that we were finally getting the live action Batman we needed. In my opinion it took until the Dark Knight Trilogy before we got the films we actually deserved. But that’s another story. So why is it that so many Superman fans beholden to an old TV series and film series when so many Batman fans want to see the comic books come to life?
In the interview, Zack Snyder went on to say that there is nothing that Superman did in Man of Steel that he hasn’t done in the comics. The thing is that the vast majority of the people who go to the movies don’t read the comics, which is kind of sad.
A lot of these same people who complained loudly about Man of Steel are the first to blow up Twitter when someone drops a spoiler from the Game of Thrones books which were written years before the television series, but they haven’t bothered to read them. Then there are those who have read the books and get upset when the TV series makes changes as with last Sunday’s episode, which I will not spoil for those who haven’t had the chance to catch up.
It’s a doozy.
I say all that to say this: if Game of Thrones is supposed to remain faithful to the source material, then what is the source material for Man of Steel if not the comics? Yes, in a way, the Superman TV series of the 50s was faithful to the comic books, although I somehow doubt that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster ever included a panel that showed Superman ducking when the bad guy threw a gun at him.
But I could be wrong.