Superman is, for all intents and purposes, Jesus. He is exemplary character we humans can look to and get a sense of optimism and hope. Superman’s message is that of unity. But there is always massive amounts of contention among his acolytes whenever a new version of his backstory is presented. When Zack Snyder presented a different rendition of Superman in Man of Steel, the masses rose and cried, “Heresy!”
There is no correct Superman. Superman is a fictitious character with no basis in reality. But Man of Steel doesn’t agree with a preconceived notion some people have as to what Superman can or cannot be. Superman must be a perfect soul. He must be as pure as a white lamb. So when Man of Steel showcased an imperfect Superman, a lot of people lost their shit. This new Superman didn’t perfectly match the interpretation of Superman they’ve been reading off of thin paper sheets their entire life.
The thing is, Man of Steel hits all the important points that define Superman. Kal-El is sent from an alien planet to Earth with the goal of being a beacon of hope. Kal-El grows up in relative anonymity learning a rustic trade. Kal-El gets into his thirties makes a huge splash. Kal-El grows too powerful and the government is afraid of him. Other aliens show up on Earth. There’s some punching. The end. That’s how the New Testament ended, right?
So know we know that Man of Steel hits all the major story points. What about the attributes that make Superman Superman? The consensus of opinion decrees:
- Superman can fly.
- Superman is invincible to man-made weapons.
- Superman is an alien from Krypton but was raised in Smallville, KS.
- Superman is faster than a speeding bullet
- Superman can perform miracles like x-ray vision and shooting lasers out of his eyes.
- Superman is white.
Of course there are always purists or naysayers who quibble about the minor differences. There may be a few purists from the olden days who still believe Superman can’t fly and only jumps really high. But those folks are zealots who stuck in the past.
When the story of Superman was first uncovered, it was a relatively simple tale of a perfect being doing perfect things. Superman had it all. The world was flawed, but he wasn’t. But stories get old and people get bored. Changes must be made to keep the attention of the masses.
But any change to a gospel is dangerous. Quibbling about the minor differences can eventually lead to religious wars. Differences tear people apart. What is cannon to some may not be absolute truth to others and any change to Superman is an attack on the morals and beliefs of differing opinions.
Keeping that in mind, let’s explore some of the major points of contention old believers have against Man of Steel.
Superman would never kill Zod!
Oh? He wouldn’t? Not even when Zod has made it abundantly clear that every human on the planet must be murdered in a revenge plot against Superman? That seems like an awfully silly time to hold yourself to an unbreakable rule… but rules are rules. Humans are dead now.
Man of Steel is the first Superman movie that actually required Superman. The entire Earth is under attack. All humans are going to die. Batman ain’t gonna be able to do nothin’ to stop it. We finally got stakes great enough that needed Superman in order to overcome.
Clark would never let Pa Kent die!
Clark could have saved Jonathon Kent had Zack Snyder not wanted to show the audience that Clark never listened to his father. In a 2.5 hour movie we are unable to witness every moment of Clark’s life. We do know, however, that Pa Kent has been telling Clark to keep himself hidden from the world. Humans are not ready. Humans are fickle creatures who react poorly to things they can’t understand. Pa Kent may not have been right… but judging by how a huge amount of people are turning out to vote for Donald Drumpf, I’d say his assessment of humans isn’t too far off.
Pa Kent knew Clark could save him from the tornado. But the love for his son, and the fear of humanity drove him to keep Clark away. And Clark listened. Clark trusted him. This is what the story industry calls character development.
Clark loves his father and is going to listen to him. All of Pa Kents teaches have been instilled in Clark’s mind. Clark is learned one end of the spectrum on Earth. So when Clark meets his real father who tells him to be Earth’s savior, we get a well-balanced Superman who actually understands humans.
Imagine if Pa Kent always told Clark that he was the best coolest guy ever and nobody is better than him. Superman would have been a huge dick.
There are real flaws with Man of Steel.
A whole bunch of them. You are left with plenty of questions like:
- Why did Zod want Lois Lane on the ship beside giving her an opportunity to learn how to defeat them? I’m guessing the reasoning was that Zod wanted access of her knowledge of Kal-El. But they were already reading Kal-El’s mind. What were they going to gain from Louis that they couldn’t get from the source?
- Why did Superman leave Lois out in the arctic after leaving with the ship? He straight up killed her. I mean, maybe he blew hot breath all over her and that was enough… I don’t know. That part bugs me.
- Why was there so much product placement? Have you ever been anywhere in the United States? The whole damn country is covered in product placement. You don’t think they have IHOPs in Kansas? Maybe they should have used Perkins instead.
- How does Superman still have a secret identity when the IHOP guy obviously knows who he is and there was a ton of alien wreckage at the Kent farm and the police even dropped Lois off at the Kent farm while Superman was there talking to Ma Kent? You don’t think somebody has connected the dots? Yeah that one is kind of dumb and I hope Batman v Superman addresses it.
- Why does the CG look so goofy sometimes? Perfect CG is hard to do and really expensive. Big deal. It still looks cool.
- How did Superman walk on water, cure the sick and turn water into wine? I don’t know. It’s science fiction.
Every movie has issues. Just relax and enjoy spectacle. You don’t have to love Man of Steel. You don’t have to accept this new Superman as absolute truth. If the movie isn’t for you, it’s not for you. But if you’re stewing over Zack Snyder ruining your beliefs, remember: It’s just a story.