Friday, June 21, 2013

Saturday Night at the Movies: Man of Steel

Superman is my all time favorite super hero.  Those are the first comics I collected, buying them for ten cents apiece from a drugstore rack.

To my teen self he was handsome, he was romantic (though I always preferred Lana Lang over Lois Lane), and he always triumphed over the bad guys.  His heart was huge enough to encompass all humanity.  He was clever and always outwitted even the most brilliant opponents.

Superman had two sets of loving parents.  There was a terrible sadness inherent in his life at the loss of Jorel and Lara, and then Jonathan Kent.  The man who can do anything can't have what he loves most.

The Fortress of Solitude!  A place to go when he just needed to be alone and think or contemplate or solve some problem.  Everyone needs such a place.

Krypto and Supergirl!  Two beings who were like him, relieving the intense loneliness of being of a different people than the ones here who he loved and protected.

In this movie Clark is bullied throughout his life, the guy who is too gentle to fight back.  He lives drifting from low paying job to low paying job.

In his past is Kevin Kostner as a gruff laborer who does not accept Clark's abilities and he demands he hide them.  He wants Clark to stay his hand and not save others who are in danger, even himself, just to hide who Clark is. 

Ten seasons of Smallville's John Schneider, a warm, loving man who sought to protect his adopted son, but who always guided Clark to do the right thing, to make the choices that helped others even at the risk of exposing Clark's identity, that is the core of Jonathan Kent's character.  A generous decent man representing a humanity worth saving.

Martha Kent played by Diane Lane?  A straggly beaten down woman.  A fit mate for Costner's Jonathan but not the emotional core of warmth, strength and goodness that is Martha Kent.

Theoretically they did this because....?  They wanted to emphasize the otherness of Superman.  So Jorel and Lara and Krypton (which was awesome) get more screen time.  

Jorel as played by Russell Crowe is smart, swashbuckling, incredibly wise, and the man has a bright vision of Kal as someone who can lead the human race to greatness, even as his own world crumbles.

He has love enough for his son to send him away with the key to a future Kryptonian race embedded in his small body. Jorel is able to appear on earth to help guide his son intellectually, morally, strategically.

Enter General Zod, escaped from the Phantom Zone with his crew of evil unfeeling cohorts.  Bent on destroying Kal in revenge for his being imprisoned, and determined to harvest the future of Krypton from Kal's dead body.  Because that is what he was bred to do.

Lois Lane.  I've never liked her since my early comics days.  Selfish, nothing in her tiny head but getting the next story.  Played by many actresses in various repellent ways as befits the character.  Supposedly Superman is drawn to her beauty and bravery.   Only Teri Hatcher on Lois and Clark has made her appealing.

Until now, in a real surprise to me, Amy Adams plays a strong, determined Lois who is warm, loving, accessible.  Who you want to root for not smack.  She was able to be what Diane Lane's Martha was not, an embodiment of all that can be right with humanity.  She reaches out to this lonely, sweet super being and represents something worth saving at any cost. 

Henry Cavill as Superman is a surprisingly vulnerable person, determined to do the right thing just as he should be.  When he tells a general he is an American, and he grew up in Kansas, for heaven's sakes, we know he is in truth as much one of us as he is that other alien species represented badly by Zod.

All in all, a better reboot than I expected from previews.  I think they have a solid ground to build on.  Will we see Jorel again?    Why not send Zod back to the Phantom Zone with his cohorts instead of the old "snap"?  Let's have lots more of Laurence Fishburne's Perry White.   Rebuild the Kent farm so it doesn't look like it is so broken down, yech.

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