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June 21, 2013

Man of Steel: Kneel Before Clods (Part 2)

I don’t want to write this post anymore.  I don’t.

I don’t like this movie.  And the more I think about it, the lower my opinion of it goes.  I have to wonder what the mindset behind its masterminds entailed -- you know, what they were saying to each other in roundtable discussions or pitch meetings, or whatever.  I don’t have a problem with them saying things like “Let’s make a new Superman movie”; in fact, I would love to see a new movie, one that earns and deserves universal praise.  But the more they add to that statement, the more problems start to pop up. 

“Let’s make a new Superman movie,” they might say.  And then someone will pipe in and go, “Let’s make it a reboot.”  Okay, that I can deal with, because as much of a stigma that word has, sometimes it’s necessary and even beneficial.  But it just gets worse from there.  “Let’s make it a reboot for the modern generation.”  And “Let’s make it a reboot for the modern generation, because the old Superman movies just wouldn’t cut it in today’s world.”  And “Let’s make a darker, more realistic reboot for the modern generation, because the old Superman just won’t cut it for today’s world and audiences.”  It’s one hell of a slippery slope.

That’s not exactly a fair, one-to-one representation of what goes on in the minds of executives and creative-types, I know.  But I hope you’ll forgive my cynicism when Man of Steel, at its basest, is exactly what I described…and comes out of the gate with one leg in a bear trap and the other on fire.  All they had to do was make a movie with good characters, good action, and a good story.  That’s all they had to do.  But they didn’t.  And that really puts me in a bad mood.

And my mood’s about to get a whole lot worse.

WARNING: More spoilers, I guess.  But whatever.  I’m gonna go to bed for a few thousand hours to sleep off this headache.  You guys probably should, too…whether you’ve seen the movie or not.

All right.  Let’s get another brachiosaurus out of the room.

If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would like an Iron Man movie more than a Superman movie, I would have laughed at you.  If you had told me I would like a Batman movie more than a Superman movie, I might have slapped you.  As I said, I don’t know anything about Superman -- but that doesn’t stop me from liking the character.  I like the concepts.  I like his persona.  I like what he stands for.  Is he “boring”?  In the eyes of many, yes, and I can understand why; I don’t necessarily agree, but I understand it.  Is he hard to write?  No doubt; granted I’ve never tried, but just thinking about the circumstances makes me realize that there are a lot of challenges that someone would have to overcome.

Superman is a difficult character to get down in any medium (video games especially).  It’s hard, but it’s not impossible.  It has been done before.  The nature of the character has been preserved in many places in many circumstances; I know about Superman from the cartoons, and because of it I KNOW what it means to write Superman, and BE Superman.   Injustice: Gods Among Us gives us a better understanding of the character times two: in one universe we’ve got the good Superman who’s exactly what you’d expect of the big blue Boy Scout and more; in the other, you’ve got a Superman who, while playing the role of the villain, still has more than enough of that heroic spark, has circumstances that let you understand his fall from grace, and offers some genuinely shocking (but impressive) moments when he’s pushed past his limit.    

And now look at Man of Steel.  The number one complaint I’ve seen from reviews all across the board is that going dark and gritty doesn’t work for Superman.  It doesn’t.  Know why?  Because that’s not how you do Superman.  Superman has, in more ways than one, across as many avenues as there are stars in the sky, infiltrated the public consciousness.  Even if they don’t know what in the world an Infinite Crisis is supposed to be, there’s an inherent ideal to this character that has to be honored.  Even if there’s a creative vision, if you’re working with an established, decades-old property, you have to be very, very careful.

They weren’t careful here. 

4) Superman is a non-entity in his own movie.
I think the word of the day here is “glimmers.”  Yes, glimmers.  That’ll do.

I’m not so biased as to declare that Man of Steel gets everything wrong.  It doesn’t.  It gets a lot of things wrong, sure, but not everything.  I mentioned the flying scene in the last post, and I stand by that; it’s the one scene that gives us something special, some glimpse into what it means to be Superman (and by extension, make a Superman movie).  It’s the scene that got me the most hyped and the most excited, more so than any of the fights at the tail end of the movie.  And frankly, if we had more of those scenes -- of flying, and the triumph therein -- I guarantee you I would have had a better opinion of the movie.  And so would plenty of others.

Part of the problem here is that they stick too closely to a fundamental rule without deviating from it.  “The past is what makes us who we are”; we’ve all heard that, or a variation of it, in our lives at one point.  And it’s a fair rule.  But in the context of a movie, or any work of fiction, there are problems.  Events that happen in the story’s present will almost always have a stronger effect than events in the past.  This is part of what helped The Avengers, arguably; all of the events you needed to know about these characters were A) in their movies of origin, so we could hit the ground running (and even then there was only so much that needed learning), and B) in the context of the movie’s chief events, developing them immediately in the face of newfound threats, challenges, and especially interactions with one another. 

Man of Steel heavily employs flashbacks.  Heavily.  It’s to the point of excess, which is a problem in itself…but on top of that, they tend to come right out of nowhere (prompted by Supes noticing something that reminds him of a past-tense vignette, a la Lost Odyssey).  They’re flow-breaking, for one thing, and worse yet none of them proceed in a logical order.  It’s something that could have worked, maybe, but a logical progression of events in this case would have worked a LOT better; if Supes’ character development -- and how he became the man he is today -- is supposed to be linked from one event to the next, why play Hungry Hungry Hippos with those scenes?  Why take them out of order?  What was so wrong with showing us Supes’ past in one go, instead of breaking up the pieces and scattering them throughout the movie?

And the pieces themselves have…issues.  One of the most notable examples is when a young Clark first activates his X-ray vision and super-hearing on accident; understandably, he freaks out and runs away.  He locks himself in a broom closet at school, and when the teacher tries to open the door he scorches her hand by laser-eyeing the doorknob.  (Still waiting for an explanation on how that works.)  Eventually, adoptive mom Martha Kent makes it onto the scene, ready to consul the young Clark.  As you’d expect, she asks him what’s wrong.  Clark’s response?  “The world’s too big,” or something to that effect.

Uh, what?

That doesn’t really seem like the kind of dialogue a ten-year-old would use, especially not in that situation.  I know they were trying to set up certain themes, but given that it’ll be a good twenty years before the very concept of Superman pops up, it seems like some pretty misfit dialogue.  Doubly so when, again, you consider the situation.  Wouldn’t it be a lot more appropriate for a ten-year-old boy to shout out “Mommy, I can see through people”?  Even if he got calm enough to remember that he had to keep his powers a secret, why is it so necessary to say that specific line, if not to hammer in the themes of the movie and Clark’s internal struggle?

There’s a severe lack of subtlety throughout the movie, not just in that scene.  And I think I know why.  See, I’ve been thinking about the movie for a while, and I have a certain theory in mind: if you were to get a hold of the script and count the number of lines each character had, I would wager that Clark/Supes would have the least of the main characters by a pretty wide margin.  I know that sounds like a game-breaker (and in many ways it is), but there are ways around it.  If Supes’ lines managed to be powerful and meaningful, they could compensate for the lacking number.  More to the point, Supes is a man of action; so, if he manages to leave an impression with nonverbal communication (body language, facial expressions, etc.), or impresses us with some action unique to his abilities (the flying scene), we’ll be better off.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  What does Superman do in this movie besides have his big punch-up with Zod and pals?  Well, he has a big punch-up with the World Engine (which I swear is too similar to the “Up yours!” scene from Independence Day to be coincidental).  But what I needed to see more of -- and others, in kind -- is charisma.  Heroes will always do the right thing in the end, but how they do it, why they do it, and their mindset before/while doing it is vital.  It’s what separates Superman from Batman, and Batman from Spider-Man, and Spider-Man from Iron Man.  And it’s an element that, once again, is missing here.

Superman is just too dour to be the hero we all envision.  Sure, he’ll save people with feats of superhuman ability, but he and the movie are so morose about it you’d think that he regrets saving them.  There’s no charm, no energy; if the intent was to make Supes as dull as the naysayers claim, they succeeded.  The level of differentiation between “what is my purpose in life” Clark and “what am I supposed to do with this power” Superman is negligible at best.  Without that spark of a character, Superman’s arc and his role in the movie feels token; it feels as if he’s going through the motions, and not much else.  If someone asked you to chart out Supes’ character development, you could maybe do it, but not without some major difficulty, I’d bet.  Or without making it a mostly straight line. 

To be fair, there are moments that give Superman a bit of color -- two that I remember well, at least.  The first is when he’s in the army’s custody, handcuffed and being watched by a bunch of untrusting officials.  Supes knows that it’s about to hit the fan, though, and as such he snaps the cuffs effortlessly and engages in casual conversation.  The second is near the very, very end of the movie, where he smashes a drone and confronts some more army dudes -- but rather than rage at them or tell him not to observe them, he just explains calmly that they’ll never find him, he’s on their side, and “he was raised in Kansas; he can’t get any more American than that.” 

I heartily disagree, but I appreciate the sentiment.

Why there wasn’t more of that in the movie is one of life’s greatest mysteries.  Now, in the defense of the movie it’s very possible that there’s more stuff like that in there, and I’ve just forgotten about/overlooked it.  (It has been a week, and I’ve only seen -- and will see -- the movie once.)  But here’s the thing: if the movie wanted to satisfy me on that level, I shouldn’t have to struggle to remember more.  Superman should be exploding off the screen and rewarding audiences intellectually, emotionally, and viscerally.  If he’s not -- if the best impression we have of him is that he’s a lonely, tortured soul -- then something has gone wrong.       

And I think I know how they went wrong.   

5) Jonathan Kent and the Galactic Tornado.
I know what you’re thinking.  “Voltech, I can buy you claiming that Superman is marginalized in his own movie,” you say, stroking your chin in the hopes of nurturing the seeds of a soon-to-be beard.  “But if that’s what you believe, then the question remains: who is the star of the movie, then?”

And to that I say…there isn’t one star.  There are three.  This isn’t a movie about The Last Son of Krypton.  This is a movie about The Last Short-Sighted Scientist Dad of Krypton That Stumbles into Godhood, The Last General of Krypton Who is Now Destined to be Associated with a Four-Word Meme, and The Last Adoptive Dad of Earth Who Sacrifices Himself in the Dumbest Way Possible. 

The script calls them Jor-El, Zod, and Jonathan Kent, but I like my names more. 

I don’t have as much of a problem with Zod as the others; since he’s the villain, it’s only natural that Zod gets his share of the spotlight (and he is the best character in the whole thing, if you ask me).  The problems arise thanks to the well-intentioned, but ultimately harmful efforts of Supes’ two dads -- and the writers at large, by extension.  It’s thanks to these two characters -- and Martha Kent, to a lesser extent -- that the Man of Steel ends up getting hamstrung.  Ignoring the fact that they have a bad habit of speaking in platitudes and pontification (seriously, I got flashbacks to Cloud Atlas -- and that’s not a good place for a superhero movie to go), they tend to give Supes volumes of “golden nuggets of truth” in the hopes of molding him into the man they envision.

Here’s the problem I have with that approach…and it’s one independent of their habit of pounding in their teachings and the movie’s ideas with all the subtlety of a skyscraper-sized jackhammer.  All too often it feels like Superman isn’t the one coming to his decisions and making his choices; it feels like he’s just doing it because his dads tell him what to do.  If Superman had decided to follow through on Jor-El’s plan to revive Krypton, then that means that all the problems that I “outlined” last time would have come to pass.  And the fact that he barely offers any resistance to the idea, or asks his biological father any important questions, means that at the moment Supes is little more than a sycophant, even though he has every right to ask questions.  It certainly doesn’t help that The Holographic Ghost of Jor-El of Christmas Past from the Future probably talks more with Lois Lane than he does with his son.

But as bad as Jor-El may be, Jonathan Kent has it worse.  At least with Jor-El, you can maybe see that the writers tried to show him in a negative light.  But Jonathan is pretty much supposed to be the perfect guy -- someone who knows exactly what to do and when to do it, and ends up being more saintly as a result.  He’s the one dishing out truth-bombs to Clark, he’s the one telling him about the facts of life -- and his alien life, to the best of his ability -- and he’s the one giving him advice that, in hindsight, is only there to make Clark more likely to angst about how to use his powers.  It bloats the movie and distorts the character, offering dreariness to a story that should have very little of it, if any…and certainly not as aggressively as in this movie.

With that in mind, there’s one scene in particular that really gets to me.  At one point in the movie, Supes and Lois meet before Jonathan’s grave.  “Oh, okay,” I thought to myself.  “So Jonathan died of natural causes, but his teachings live on.  I can buy that.”  And I did…and then the movie leapt into a flashback where teenage Clark starts chewing out his father because of [INSERT APPROPRIATE ANGST-RELATED TOPIC HERE].  But before they can reconcile…boom!  Tornado out of nowhere!

Clark and a bunch of Smallville townsfolk are in the path of an incoming tornado, and if they don’t do something soon, they’re all toast.  Well, technically they’re toast anyway, since being anywhere near a tornado -- regardless of whether or not you touch the infamous funnel -- is pretty lethal.  And they’re toast since they decide to hide under an overpass, which a three-second Google search will tell you is not a good idea.  And they’ll be toast anyway since the tornado is coming at them regardless, meaning that unless they move -- which they’ve stopped doing at the moment to gawk at the destructive power of nature -- that thing is going to fling cars right into somebody’s face.  Cyclos would be amused.

But of course, it gets dumber.  Jonathan has Clark scramble and hide with the rest of the Smallville townsfolk on the road, while the main man springs into action.  “Action” in this case being -- wait for it -- saving a dog that was trapped in a car.  He succeeds, of course, but not without great harm to himself.  The tornado comes right at him, and he doesn’t have time to escape. Clark decides to spring into action instead and save his dad, but before he can move, Jonathan holds up a hand and tells him to hold his position.  And as a result, the Kent patriarch disappears within the tornado, never to be seen again.

Yes, you read that right.  The tornado rushes right over him.  He doesn’t even move, or show signs of being affected by the thing.  He just stands there waving, and sacrifices himself because…because…why, exactly? 

I’m sorry, but it’s the stupidest scene I’ve watched in a while.  (And think about what I’ve seen recently; yeah, that’s saying something.)  It completely falls apart on a logical level, and not just because of the whole tornado science bit; why Jonathan would let himself die to save a dog instead of getting help from Superson is a mystery for the ages -- especially when his “heroic act” means making a widow out of his wife.  I know they were trying to go for symbolic and thematic importance, but it’s just all wrong; if the idea was that Clark wasn’t ready to be a hero yet, wouldn’t saving people from a tornado (his father most of all) be the chance he needs to prove himself? 

Why are we acting like Jonathan did a noble thing?  Why are we supposed to believe that he imparted some valuable lesson on us all?  Is it because he got spirited away by a tornado?  If so, why?  And why would Clark just stand there and let it happen?  Why didn’t Jonathan let Clark save the dog and any other stragglers while Jonathan took care of the hard part and made sure the townsfolk were okay, something that someone as inexperienced as Clark wouldn’t have been able to handle -- and with a tornado on the move and throwing debris and cars left and right, wouldn’t that just mean Clark would use his powers in front of people anyway?  How is that different from him shoving that bus out of a lake when he was a kid -- or busting up that harasser’s junk years down the road?  Why?

Jonathan Kent isn’t allowed to be anything more than a morality dispenser to Clark in this movie.  The same goes for Jor-El.  That’s two father figures in one go, and two father figures who take huge amounts of focus away from Superman…you know, the title character.  I can buy them being influences on Clark, but they just take it way too far.  They’re the stars of the show on accident, imparting wisdom while stripping their boy of free will; they’re turning him into a character without letting him be one himself.  When those characters are hardly characters in their own right, then the character ends up becoming even emptier.  No amount of science-defying tornadoes is going to change that.

But as bad as those two might be, there’s still…

7) Go home, Lois.  Just go home.
I think that there’s a certain irony to the presence -- if not the mere existence -- of Lois Lane.  It’s something that’s clearly (and horrifically) evident in Man of Steel; in her early scenes, Lois is quick to make herself out as a tough-as-nails, no-nonsense lady.  It’s done with some particularly cringe-worthy dialogue -- Lois mentioning dicks so casually in a conversation gave me PTSD flashbacks to DmC -- but in all fairness, she’s proactive as she tries to figure out who Clark really is and how to get her message out to the masses.  The irony comes in when you realize that all that tough talk doesn’t account for much when she’s inevitably pitted against superhumans and global disasters.  That’s doubly the case when Lois has to go from an unintentional rival to Supes to snogging partner within a two-hour time frame.  (Or however much time passes in this movie; chalk that up as another flaw in the movie, given that even the human characters have a knack for teleporting here and there without much explanation.)

It’s inevitable for Lois to end up out of her element, considering that the same thing has happened in…um…you know…everything else.  But for a movie of an expected caliber, with an expected pedigree, you have to admit that keeping Lois’ role so consistent with what you might see in the forties doesn’t do anyone any favors -- especially since they completely altered Superman for their purposes.  Granted you expect Lois to be saved by, say, a raging Kryptonian robot, but that’s all right; at that point in the story, she’s still necessary to the plot and to the characters.  But the longer the movie goes, the more and more you start to realize that Lois doesn’t have any reason to be near the action.  At all. 

She’s pretty much only there to fall out of stuff so Supes can catch her.  There are at least two instances of this, with one of them being a complete slap in the face of reality; the good guys make a black hole to stop Zod’s machine, and while lots of machinery and debris start flying upward toward the hole, Lois falls down regardless.  I guess she’s got the density of a large moon.  Also, I guess we’re just supposed to ignore the fact that plenty of other people died in the same instance, and Superman had to ignore untold dozens of others dying in the same moment to save one person instead of many.  But I guess getting a kiss made all the rampant death and destruction worthwhile.

It’d help if Lois actually did anything important, but she doesn’t.  She bumbles her way into finding out Clark’s secret (boy, does that take me back to the days of Smallville), and shortly after that -- i.e. the minimal character development that results, if one can even call it that -- her role in the plot is effectively over.  But the movie would have you believe she’s useful, merely by way of putting her in more scenes.  Zod demands that Lois gets brought aboard the ship alongside Supes when he surrenders himself, because…reasons.  So you’d expect Lois to be a key player in helping Supes escape the ship, whose Kryptonian-suited air leaves him crippled.  But in reality, she does very little.  All she does is plug in the Codex key dealie-bopper to upload Jor-El, and he immediately does all the work for her; the hologram removes all the guesswork from saving Supes, and she’s little more than a fleshbag following his orders.  Superman ends up saving himself, and Lois runs to an escape pod so she can -- according to Jor-El -- give him instruction on how to save the world.  Riveting.  Also, I love how Zod gave a pitiful human a gas mask so she could breathe, but not his fellow Kryptonian.  And I love how he doesn’t even do anything with her besides have a thug tug her by the arm. 

That’s bad enough, but it gets worse (as it so often does).  The movie doesn’t just pretend that Lois is useful, but practically starts forcing her down the audience’s throat.  Jor-El’s plan involves turning the ship Clark came in into a makeshift bomb, and dropping it on the baddies’ mean beam machine.  Ignoring the fact that they shouldn’t be able to get anywhere near it in the plane they use -- if not because of the gravity distortions, then because of the tentacles that nearly tore Supes in two and/or the defensive array of Zod’s ships -- Lois is there, on board the aircraft, because…because…I have no clue. 

I really have no clue why she’s there on a dangerous military operation, because she’s a civilian and a reporter and a troublemaker and I don’t think she’s even wearing armor.  What does she do on the plane?  Uh…she pushes in the Codex key dealie-bopper, but it doesn’t even go in all the way and some scientist has to do it AS EPICALLY AS POSSIBLE (which means not really).  So basically, Lois’ job could have been done by a monkey, and even then she fails to do so.  Why didn’t she tell anyone about how to work the machine before they took off on a mission that not only threatened their lives, but had the world at stake?  Oh, I know why.  So she can fall out of the plane and resist spaghettification by the black hole, because Clark swoops in and saves her.  And so she can kiss Clark once her feet are back on the ground.


You see this?  You see this, people?  This is exactly why I didn’t want to do this post.  I knew this would happen, but I just had to go on anyway and open my big stupid head.  I should have just left it alone, but now that I’ve cracked it open, I’ve realized something.

I don’t just dislike the movie.  I don’t just think of it as a disappointment.  I hate this movie. 

And you know what?  It takes some real effort (or lack thereof) to get me to hate something.  Do you know how badly you have to screw up to make me hate something?  Do you?  Here’s a fun fact: it’s not all that hard to impress me.  Just put up some good effort, watch your step, and make good use of your time.  That’s it.  That’s all I really need.  Mistakes are forgivable, and missteps can be ignored if there’s something interesting to latch onto.  You don’t have to make a masterpiece.  Just make a good story.

This is not a good story. 

All right, we’ve got a few points left.  Bear with me here; it’s going to come to an end in the next post.  Promise.  Till next time, then.  Maybe you should consider heading to IHOP or Sears in the meantime.

…Boy, I sure miss Smallville.  At least they had Stride gum.


  1. Oh, I've heard about Red Son. That's one that sounds pretty interesting; I'll have to look into that one of these days. I haven't heard of Irredeemable until now, though, but that sounds like a good one, too...and a frightening one, at that.

    Man, the world of comics is so extensive. It's more than a little scary.

  2. I fucking hated Smallville, myself. I didn't like the teenage angsty approach to the Superman mythos.

    But anyway, I sort of get your problems with the movie, though I'll disagree on two things: Superman's representation and Lois' role in it. First off, I thought it was a good idea tha Superman was Superman the entire way through it. I like how Clark kent did not appear during the story, showing us hust the Man of Steel himself, though I have to agree that the movie needed a WHOLE LOT more superman in it. And yes, giving Lois Lane a bomber by virtue of her just knowing Supes is kinda dumb.

    Secondly, the main problem with the movie was that the cretive team tried to give it more...political depth than it ought to. I like how they handled the parental troubles of the Kents with their alien god-child and I thought the movie should have focused futher on Superman's adventures and his distance from humanity (by virtue of his superpowers).

    But unfortunately, the movie HAD to be about a) politics and alien nazis and b) setting up the world AND the character AND the cast of thousands. Man of Steel tried to do 6 things at once and couldn't pull it off.

    But the fight scene was fun, if woefully unacceptable.

    Lastly, I think Zod wanted to Xeno-form Earth into Krypton, because he is ze ReichsFuhrer of Krypton und vished to restore Krypton's old glory, because zat is vat totalitarian fascists do, I guess. But the truth of the matter is that the movie needed a global-scale threat, which could have just as easily been set up by zod just letting his super-powered crew loose across the world to tear shit up. Just saying.

  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-ClbidO7m8

    But seriously. This is what happens when you take a ridiculous superhero too seriously. It's a gut wrenching game of Telephone where the result is composed of more bandaids (there to cover the cracks) than substance.

    I guess one could (and I plan to take this approach when I see it) watch it with a billion grains of salt and just think of it as an alternate universe superman in the same vein of Injustice. However. We've been spoiled of late... and gotten exposure to a set of surprisingly great movies for the whole Avengers cast.

    Justice League movie? Ha. Make a good Wonder Woman and Aquaman movie, then we'll talk DC. Aquaman because he's the weak link... and if you can impress with that. You can impress with anything. Wonder Woman... well. DC shot themselves in the foot. The big three of the Avengers are men. And Superhero comics have a comfort zone there...

    Wonder Woman is a part of the JLA 'big three' and her movie track record is worse than Supes... and that's saying something.

    P.S. Chapter 3 of my I Hraet You GC is up. It'll be the last one for a while, but I'll be going back to it. Promise.

  4. Ah, I was hoping someone would catch the reference. Good man.

    You know, I never would have thought of the movie in terms of Telephone gone awry, but that kind of makes sense. Movies (and games to a similar extent, I'd bet) have plenty of people working on them, and I'd assume it's only a matter of time before something gets lost in translation. From what I can gather, Snyder, Nolan, and Goyer are the big names that worked on this movie, but I'm having a hard time figuring out who -- if anyone -- is most responsible for making...well, this. Then again, it might not really matter; the end product's a mess, and playing the blame game won't change that anytime soon.

    It's funny, though; I went into Injustice expecting that to be a dark and gritty story that took itself too seriously, but if you ask me, it captured the spirit of the comics better than Man of Steel ever could. Something has gone awry when a game featuring lines like "Time to kick my own ass!" leaves a better impression on me than a multi-million dollar movie.

    Well. Let's see what they do with Aquaman.

    That aside, I saw the IHY chapters you posted; I just read them on my tablet, and (it being woefully inadequate for leaving comments, IMHO) I just decided to hold off on saying anything about them until you had the full set uploaded. But it's good stuff, make no mistake; it always warms my heart to see wrestling so lovingly introduced into a tale.

    Take all the time you need on your end. I'm not (too) obsessive when it comes to...well, anything. Just go at your own pace, and I'll be happy whenever the chapters appear.

  5. Smallville is an interesting beast, in my experience. I know it's not actually -- what's the word I'm looking for? Ah, yes -- GOOD. But it's still kind of a guilty pleasure of mine. I don't know what the writers had in their system, but whatever it was, it made for a hell of a lot of goofy sequences. Witches! Bees! Cool guys not looking at explosions! HnnnnnnnnnnngggggSUPER-SEX! (On multiple occasions, no less.)

    I'll give you Superman's representation, since if nothing else he DID do stuff besides having big punch-ups with the baddies. I can't overlook the fact that Supes did some real good, even before he got the suit; saving those guys on that oil rig is a fine example. And I suppose there's only so much Lois can do in a movie featuring superhumans, so trying to make her look useful is a "necessary" evil. She could have been better, but I'm guessing she could have been a hell of a lot worse.

    Honestly, though? Maybe it's just because I don't really have an eye for politics, but I never really tried to align Zod and his crew with any less-than-savory parties. Yeah, I can see the interpretations (yours and others across the net), but it's like you said: this is a Superman movie. A superhero movie. There are things that I want to see, and there are things that I don't care about. If they'd given me more of the former, I would have had a better opinion of the movie. I guarantee it.

    Of course, the same goes for your idea of letting Zod and his crew zoom across the planet. A global threat could have added SO MUCH to the movie, but alas...such is life.

  6. If you're looking to cleanse your pallet of this, which I very much think you are, then here are some recommendations. If you're looking for a good, self contained Superman story with an actual decent twist, then I suggest Red Son, which is an Elseworlds comic about what would have happened had Supe's ship crashed in Soviet Russia rather than the USA.

    For a rather dark, but in my assessment good deconstruction, see Irredeemable. It's a story about someone who basically has Superman's power set, but they snap, and snap HARD. The story basically centres around the world trying to fight back, and also investigating how it got to this point.

    The first is a short read at three issues, while the second is 37 issues. Both can be found ... around, if you look.