Warning; there be spoilers ahead!
I am, for right or wrong, 100% a product of my generation. Depending on which particular source you use I’m either the very last year of Generation X or the very beginning of Y. Probably more X than anything though as I never liked house music, never really liked rap music, but, I had long hair and listened to Alternative bands. When I was very young my mother ironed on patches on to my flared jeans or corduroys from where I ran holes through them on one of many big wheels I had. I roller skated to Madonna, The Bangles, hell, even Howard Jones!
So now that my bona fides are laid out; I have a story to tell.
Last night was date night for the Kleiman family. On these very rare occasions through a special alignment of the Sun and stars, the wife and I manage to find a babysitter AND have enough cash on hand to go out for dinner and a movie. Frankly, its a big deal and it doesn’t happen often so I like to make damn sure they work out nicely.
Dinner was at our usual sushi place, Yakitori Sake House in Boca, and it was awesome. Its always awesome there. Why? They fly fish in from Japan. The chef goes out of his way to make damn sure what he uses is fresh. They use the best locally sourced fish. I’ve been eating sushi almost as long as I’ve been alive. I know what I’m talking about here and this is the 100% hands down best I’ve had. EVER.
That wasn’t the problem.
No friends, the problem came after.
In 1978, one year after I was born, there came a movie that promised “You’ll believe a man can fly!”
Maybe you might remember it?
Yeah, Ok. I know, “Superman: the Movie” was hokey. But I’m ok with it! Remember when Superman rescues Lois Lane from the falling helicopter?
Superman : “Its ok Miss, I’ve got you!”
Lois Lane: “You’ve got me??!! Who’s got you?!”
Yes, I know Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor was a moron. Yep, the whole Superman’s girlfriend dies and Supes doesn’t like it so he flies around the planet REALLY REALLY fast backward so he can reverse time is just as stupid as casting Marlon Brando as Jor-El.
But all that’s forgivable. Why is that? Because of the fun and energy of the movie, because of the care Mario Puzo gave the writing. Because, I believed a man can fly, and that man was Christopher Reeve.
Enter the Man of Steel.
This is not my movie. This isn’t my Superman. I don’t want to jump on the “lets compare movies” bandwagon, because, well, its not necessary. The origin of Supes is the same no matter if its comics, TV, or movies. Jor-El puts baby Kal-El into a ship, because Krypton is gonna go boom in some way or another, and promptly sends him across the known universe to Earth, whose residents are mostly harmless but in need of some Kryptonian leadership…
Jor-El is a bit of a schmuck.. All that smarts and technology he can’t make a ship thats bigger than a Graco stroller..
Anywho, Supes arrives on said Planet Earth and goes about the business of being Superman and Clark Kent, normally.
Not the Man of Steel guy…No. Nah Uh. This guy who I shall name Super Emo, yeah, he’s a horse of a different colour. And not in a good way.
Super Emo is first presented as a Greenhorn on a crab boat presumably in the Pacific fleet. You have the standard helicopter establishing shot of the tiny boat plowing along the great and roiling sea and frankly the only thing I felt was missing was Mike Rowe’s voice over work to establish the Budweiser Crab Count. Something goes wrong on said crabbing vessel and a huge crab pot damn near falls on Super Emo. Not a big deal right? He’s Super Emo, won’t hurt him… Except Super Emo is “rescued” by another fisherman… Thats right, Super Emo can’t move out of the way in time and is pushed by a human….Oy.
Next sequence, Super Emo is in the Pilot House of the crab boat….. while Sig Hansen (I’m just kidding…it was Edgar!) has somehow managed to pull up to a burning oil rig. Now we’re not talking slightly on fire, no sir, its fully engulfed in flames!! How the hell did Edgar miss the damn thing burning that long as to be surprised by its existence?? Wholly bad eyesight Batman!
Super Emo flies off the boat and goes to everyone’s rescue. Good Super Emo! Thats what ya supposed to be doing! So what does he do next? Fly off to Metropolis? Maybe visit the Caped Crusader in Gotham?
Fuck no! After swimming a bit, Super Emo goes to pout it out at a restaurant as a waiter.. Oy Vey.
Die Uber Mensch is slinging potatoes at a greasy spoon!
Oh and did I mention that Super Emo is a killer?
Yep, thats right, he’s killed!
Why none other than Jonathan Kent! Yep, thats right folks! The very same Jonathan Kent that took his alien ass in, fed, clothed, and supported instead of you know, giving the little shit to Area 51, that Jonathan Kent!
Super Emo, Ma and Pa Kent get caught on the freeway while Super Emo is raging on Pa Kent for being, you know, decent, when out of nowhere a twister comes for the Kent family.
Super Emo, with Pa Kent’s permission, lets Pa be taken by the tornado on a one way trip to the Land of Oz, lest it be found out that Super Emo can move super fast… Oy Gevalt!
At this point, I’ve had it with Super Emo and its not even an hour into the film.
By the way, its not all bad. The Brit playing Super Emo, when given the chance, actually seems like he can pull off being Superman. But, for whatever reason, he’s never allowed to really shine. Harkening back to the ’78 version, one of the things that made Reeve’s Supes so special was that “aw shucks, I’m just doing my job” routine he had whenever he saved the day. Super Emo is never allowed to do that. But he could, if the writers and director wasn’t so damn busy trying to demolish Metropolis! Henry Cavill projects that warmth and kindness, but Super Emo is, well, he’s kind of a jerk!
Did I mention that Super Emo is killer?
Yep, he’s killed not once, but twice!
New Hotness Zod, not to be confused with Old and Busted “kneel before” Zod, comes all the way to Earth from the Phantom Zone in a ship full of his cronies. Remember when I said earlier that Jor-El is a schmuck? The purported greatest scientific mind on the planet Krypton sends his only son away in a teency weency spaceship. New Hotness Zod breaks out of the Phantom Zone, repurposes the Phantom Zone Projector, and turns it into a star drive….. Jor-El, biggest dumb smart guy in recent memory.
A small course correction on Jor-El:
His name is: Jor-El, Commander of the Armies of the North. General of the Felix Legions. Loyal servant to the true Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife – and he will have his vengeance, in this life or the next.
Yep, Russell Crowe is playing Maximus, again. But that’s ok. We all like him as Maximus. But, unlike Maximus, Jor-El is a bit of a defeatist schmuck:
Super Emo: Why didn’t you come with me?
Jor-El: We couldn’t, Kal. No matter how much we wanted to. No matter how we loved you. Your mother, Lara, and I were a product of the failures of our world as much as Zod was. It’s hard to explain.
Hard. To. Explain. Hard to explain? Zeit nicht meshuggah?! New Hotness Zod figured it the fuck out!
Again, this isn’t the failure of Russell Crowe. This is the writers doing a shit job!
Getting back to Super Emo,
Did I mention he’s a killer?
When all is said and done, at the near end of the movie, Super Emo breaks New Hotness Zod’s neck.
Not cool. Not cool at all. New Hotness Zod was doing his job. He was bred to do it. Its all he knows. All that drives him. Super Emo takes offense and snaps his neck. This by the way while thousands upon thousands of people in Metropolis are essentially slaughtered by Super Emo and new Hotness Zod and Co fighting through the streets. They topple building after building….3000 died in the World Trade Center. This was that on a city scale…all done by Super Emo the Killer.
Fuck Super Emo. He’s a product of this generation’s inability to play nice. He’s a 41.3 million dollar reminder that we need to no longer ONLY believe a man can fly, but that he can do it while destroying everything in a gritty and realistic manner. There’s no hope presented with Super Emo. Only despair.
Thank you, no. I reject this gritty, hyper realistic, cold, murdering version of Superman, and return myself to the comfort, wonder, and awe that used to be Superman.
In closing I leave you with this short bit of dialogue from Superman: The Movie:
Clark Kent: Excuse me, Mr. White. I was wondering if, if, uh, perhaps you could arrange for half my salary to be sent to this address on a weekly basis.
Lois Lane: Your bookie, right?
Clark Kent: My what?
Lois Lane: Don’t tell me. He sends a check every week to his sweet, grey-haired old mother.
Clark Kent: Actually, she’s silver-haired.
Perry White: Yeah. I’ll see what I can do.
Lois Lane: Any more at home like you?
Clark Kent: Uh, not really, no.
Lois Lane: I didn’t think so.