Man of Steel was like the Notebook of dick flicks. Complete with aliens, a buff superhero and enough glass-shattering destruction to bring New York to its knees, it’s easy to see why the lads were bursting with anticipation. That didn’t stop the suspension of disbelief, or my dry laughter at the god awful script. Yet, as Superman would say to his cynics, ‘always believe.’
Having enjoyed Iron Man 3, The Avengers and the Dark Knight, I was easily coerced into accompanying my boyfriend. There’s something about the comic book remakes that bring us back to the original excitement of Hollywood action films – surely even those reluctant viewers can’t help but get suckered into the knuckle-biting thrills?
[Spoiler Alert] Man of Steel begins gently– we see Superman’s struggles to conceal his powers and to fit-in despite realising his alien roots. It was emotional and he makes a fine fisherman … [drool]. The character is very much three-dimensional at this stage, you can’t help but fall in love with him – both girls and boys, apparently.
Perhaps it’s because Superman is a comic book character, perhaps it’s because he’s really an alien, or perhaps I was just sitting too close to the cinema screen – but the further the story progresses the weaker the suspension of disbelief became. From the moment his disproportionate obedience reaps the death of his ‘father’ – the scene in which he refrains from saving his dad, who stupidly returns to the car to save the family dog before being swept away by a tornado – the pointless melodrama had me tittering to myself. Overt heroism is uncomfortable, especially when it is totally unnecessary.
The script didn’t help matters – you can blame its comic book origins all you like, but in a two and a half hour feature film you at least need a three-dimensional script. ‘Take cover, it’s not safe’, sounds sexy when ordered by a stern looking meat-head in a kinky skin-tight suit, but when there are aliens tearing up a small town and military helicopters nose-diving around a red caped superhero who is being launched in and out of buildings as though they were made of matchsticks, I don’t think it quite cuts the grade. Similarly, the intern who manages to free herself from the rubble of a New York skyscraper following a terrifying attempt to alter the earth’s atmosphere – seemingly inspired by the Dubstep music scene – asks stupidly, ‘Where did the alien’s go?’ Who cares? Run for your life you fecking idiot!
I get the love of rip-roaring action and destruction – like when little boys use their action men to blast through lines of miniature cars or build sandcastles to blow them to smithereens – but the battering that Manhattan received in the final scenes was so over the top, I found it boring. Watching Superman smash through glassy buildings and splintering entire lengths of skyscrapers was thrilling at first, but it soon became repetitive. When will Hollywood tire of blowing up the Big Apple?
It was great that Lois Lane was portrayed as a serious journalist in Man of Steel, but still surprising that her budding romance with Superman wasn’t sexed up, at all. All in all it struck me as overtly moralistic and a bit too conservative – adding to that nagging two-dimensional feel. Can we really connect with a superhero who is so morally superior that he sheds his human impulses – either to save his father or bone Miss Lane? The Guardian ran a great article on Warner Bros studios’ targeting of Christian audiences as the film ‘explicitly compares Superman to Jesus’. In hindsight, perhaps this is why it was so hard to sustain belief.
From someone who is relatively new to the realm of superhero movies, do go and watch Man of Steel because it is gripping, action packed and does exactly what it says on the tin. Lads love it because it is another two hours of over-the-top macho fantasy in which they can indulge in their own superhero dreams. Just don’t watch it too closely. Believing is a case of mind over matter, ignore the bits that make you scoff or cringe and that €10+ cinema ticket should be worth your while…