Three Simple Changes That Would Have Fixed Man Of Steel

Love it or hate it, Man Of Steel seemed to split audiences and critics alike. GodzillaKart says it didn't have to be so!

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By GodzillaKart - 7/7/2014

There is no question that Man Of Steel is one of the most polarizing comic book films ever made. Its fans hail it as one of the best ever in the genre while its detractors accuse it of ignoring the core of what makes the character Superman special. I am going to propose three minor changes to the film that, had they happened, would have fixed Man Of Steel.
 
I can already hear the angry chorus of fans “MOS doesn’t need any fixing!”.  To be clear, what I mean by “fixing” is simple changes that would not alter what seems to be the core of Snyder/Goyer’s vision, but would alleviate most of the complaints of those who did not like the film.

As most of you know, and full disclosure for those who do not, I was one of the many Superman fans who walked into MOS with incredible excitement and anticipation, and left utterly disappointed with a hollow feeling in my heart. It took me a while to identify why the movie missed the mark for me because most of it IS good. Heck, most of it is absolutely fantastic!
 
The core issue for me, and for most it seems, who are down on the film is that Superman didn’t seem morally exceptional. Yes, he saved people when the opportunity arose and saved the entire planet in the finale (although it could be argued that was out of self interest as Kal himself had nowhere else to live). There were other scenes, however, where his apparent lack of concern for human life actually disturbing. They have been well documented and argued, so I won’t repeat them here. Instead I will explain how the three worst offenses could have been remedied.
 
1. The first is the tornado scene. The scene starts with Clark, played by Cavill, arguing with Pa Kent about whether or not Clark will take over the family farm. The scene is confusing from the start because Clark is arguing like a bratty teenager but Cavill is at clearly at least 25 years old. The scene ends with Pa Kent sacrificing himself so Clark’s powers stay secret. The effect of this is that Clark ends up looking like an immature, cowardly man, selfishly letting his father die, while Pa Kent ends up looking like a strangely overprotective parent who would rather sacrifice his life instead of letting his adult child make decisions for himself. It has been suggested that Clark is supposed to be 15 or 16 in this scene. If that is the case, using Cavill as Clark was a terrible mistake. Cavill is a huge man in his 30’s. Trying to pass him off as a teen was an impossible task doomed to fail from the start.


The solution would have been to have Dylan Sprayberry, the actor who played the thirteen year old Clark in other scenes, play Clark in this scene as well.  He may have been younger than Snyder wanted, but trying to make him look a bit older would have been far more successful than trying to make Cavill look younger. Would the scene have been perfect? Probably not. Pa Kent’s sacrifice is strange. It would, however, have made the scene work emotionally and made the sacrifice understandable, if questionable.


2. The second scene is the one leading up to the battle in Smallville. General Zod, trying to find the Codex, is threatening Ma Kent for information. Superman zooms in, tackles Zod, flies him through a grain elevator and into downtown Smallville, causing a 7-11 gas station to explode. Although Clark didn’t seem to intentionally mean to hurt anyone or take the battle to town, he did. The responsibility for the resulting destruction is arguably his. Although this doesn’t make Clark evil, it makes him careless and irresponsible. Those qualities mixed with Superman level powers make for a very dangerous being indeed. Like Lenny in Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men, Clark apparently lacks the mental and emotional capacity to handle his physical strength.  This is not the Superman many fans expected.


A good fix would be to have Clark take Zod out to a corn field for a good pummeling. Zod momentarily gets the upper hand, notices the town, and takes the fight downtown, perhaps to exploit Clark’s weakness of caring for humans. We could have had a moment where Clark’s expression shows he is worried for the people in town. This whole thing would have required no dialogue and would have taken 5-10 seconds.  
 

3. The final and worse scene is in Metropolis right after the world engine is destroyed. Superman has just save Lois who fell out of the plane before it crashed into the Kryptonian ship and caused a black hole to form (she was somehow falling while everything else was being sucked into the singularity, but whatever). They land, kiss and Lois says “They say it’s all down hill after the first kiss”. Clark responds “I’m pretty sure that’s only if you are kissing a human”. This is an absolutely horrible scene. Forget for a second that their kiss feels weird as they don’t really seem to have had time to develop feelings for each other. The real problem is that neither of them seem to care that tens of thousands of people have just been killed. On top of that, Clark’s lack of concern for the people killed because of his fight with another Kryptonian is highlighted by the fact that he makes a joke about Kryptonians being superior to humans! I found this scene to be truly ghoulish. Like that moment in a murder mystery when you discover the character you trusted is actually a sociopathic killer.


The solution would have been for them to land, look around in horror at the destruction, and embrace. Not only would it have expressed Clark’s concern for humans, it would have established Clark and Lois developing a real connection, instead of forcing one with an ill-placed kiss.

Superman is not a rampaging brute led by his emotions, like the Hulk, or even a warrior who loves a good fight and can lose himself in the thrill of battle, like Thor. Superman is interesting in part because he is the most powerful person in the room, but his strong sense of morality, responsibility and protecting others leads him to operate with a careful restraint. I like the idea of him having a learning curve where he realizes these things, but it should have happened before his mid 30’s.


The scene that probably got the most attention didn’t deserve it. Superman snapping Zod’s neck was not only understandable, but dramatically powerful. He had no choice, as there was no way on Earth to contain Zod. Putting Superman in a no win situation was brilliant. It would have been more powerful if Superman had been established as a caring, moral person.


Well, there you have it. My take on how to fix Man Of Steel. Sadly, Snyder doesn’t have me on speed dial.


Agree? Disagree? Think I need to stop putting Jamesons in my Cheerios? Let me know below. And, if you actually happen to like what I said, please hit the red glove!

 

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Gusto - 7/7/2014, 8:54 AM
I loved MOS.
But, those aren't bad suggestions.
Especially the kid/tornado part.
kinghulk - 7/7/2014, 8:57 AM
good suggestions but i think the best thing they could have done with the whole tornado scene is cut it from the film, that was probably the only scene i did not like in the film the rest of the film was good.
sikwon - 7/7/2014, 9:15 AM
I concur! Agree! Support this message! I didn't hate MoS but I didn't love it either, for all the reasons you stated plus having Lois forced down our throats. I get the Supes learns from this experience and that he was supposed to be green and somewhat conflicted but it was poorly done. There was very little of Superman taking an extra bit of ass whipping because he was trying to protect humans. There was no moral character establishment. Being from Kansas seems to be all the moral background he needs. No matter how many times I watch it, the tornado scene is pointless and detrimental to both characters and the story. It sucks to say but Goyer was bound and determined to have Pa sacrifice himself in some noble way in front of Clark. Better would have been for Zod to kill him when he arrives at the farm. Then we get a rage filled Superman that creates the kind of damage that he does in the movie. Then he would truly have an action/emotion/decision to look back on and grow from (like Peter and uncle Ben). They were only a few scenes, but you're right, they defined the character in a negative way.
blackandyellow - 7/7/2014, 9:23 AM
4. A Lois/Faora lesbian scene.
Minty - 7/7/2014, 9:26 AM
Agreed with all three of these.

1) I strangely always find the tornado scene emotional but also see how ridiculous it is. The film suffers from little moments like that where it tried to be dramatic and left a few too many plot holes.

2) Perfect solution to set up what was the best fight scenes of the film.

3) God I hate that kiss. Should have skipped that scene entirely. It was always gonna get a sequel, save the kiss for then.

Great read man. It's still a good film, it just could have been great...
GodzillaKart - 7/7/2014, 9:28 AM
@B&Y: Yeah! And talk about creating a moral dilemma for Clark!
Insomnia - 7/7/2014, 9:35 AM
While i do agree with you that the movie had problem, i can't honestly say if your solotion would be better or worse, since something that feels great on paper (insert a namw of some popular book) , does not mean that it is gorgeous on film and wise versa.
AlphaAndDecima - 7/7/2014, 9:35 AM
Three things I had no problem with MOS.
cipher - 7/7/2014, 9:38 AM
Okay, three things:

1)Thumbs up, dude.

2) Your avatar.. what am I looking at, exactly? I've been tilting and turning my head like a bloody idiot tryin' to make it out.. and I'm pretty sure 90% of the blood has rushed to my noggin' in the last ten minutes, so I feel like an even bigger idiot for not figuring out something that is probably obvious. And I'm kinda dizzy now.

3) No. No man should ever stop putting Jameson in his Cheerios. It's blasphemous.
GodzillaKart - 7/7/2014, 9:42 AM
@Cipher: It is a close up of the model that came in this box:

Klone - 7/7/2014, 9:42 AM
Number 3 exactly. The destruction levels are fine if they ever did anything with it to develop characters or have them acknowledge it or ask big questions, etc. [frick]ing hell, he was NOT Superman in that scene.
GodzillaKart - 7/7/2014, 9:47 AM
@Cipher: And thank you for helping through that moment of self doubt and weakness. Everyone needs a good enabler from time to time.

Klone - 7/7/2014, 9:50 AM
The fact some people have defended number three says it all.
Pending - 7/7/2014, 9:56 AM
That third one yeesh! What was the director thinking? He made Lois and Superman look like major douchebags.
GodzillaKart - 7/7/2014, 9:59 AM
@Klone & Pending: Yeah, the third one was the worst offense. Some of my other minor gripes with the film wouldn't have mattered so much if these three changes had been made.
RedNTheHood - 7/7/2014, 10:19 AM
SauronsBANE - 7/7/2014, 10:21 AM
Good article! And I couldn't agree more about this: "The core issue for me, and for most it seems, who are down on the film is that Superman didn’t seem morally exceptional. Yes, he saved people when the opportunity arose and saved the entire planet in the finale (although it could be argued that was out of self interest as Kal himself had nowhere else to live). There were other scenes, however, where his apparent lack of concern for human life actually disturbing." Practically hits the biggest issue in MoS right on the head.

1) I definitely had an issue with scene...but I'm not so sure having the younger actor play Clark would've changed anything. That scene had a lot more mind-boggling ethics and mixed messages going on than the relatively meaningless detail of what age Clark was supposed to be, IMO. It seemed a bit weird to have Cavill arguing like a teenager, I'll admit, but there's MUCH larger problems in that scene.
SauronsBANE - 7/7/2014, 10:24 AM
Pretty much agree with points 2 and 3...though I'd argue that Snyder shouldn't have had such a hard-on for destruction in a Superman movie in the first place. People tend to forget that Snyder and Co are the ones to put Superman and Zod and the rest of the characters in these situations, and so it's more worthwhile to actually look at the FILMMAKERS intentions rather than trying to figure out the actions of fictional characters as if they were real.

Why did Snyder feel the need to put so much emphasis on destruction and death and a lack of focus on Superman's morality in MoS? It certainly had no bearing on the actual plot, because none of the characters even acknowledged any of that. I think they did it because it was "cool" to blow up a CGI city and town, and not because it made the characters any richer, deeper, or more meaningful. And they probably thought making Superman into a "cubscout" is so old-fashioned, and the only way to make him "realistic" is to make him gritty, conflicted, and morally grey.

I like the points you brought up GodzillaKart, but I feel like they only scratch the surface of the problems in MoS. When you look deeper at the intentions of the filmmakers, more disturbing flaws start showing up. Haha as George Costanza once famously said: "It's like an onion. The more layers you peel back...the more it stinks!"
McNyagano - 7/7/2014, 10:26 AM
"The core issue for me, and for most it seems, who are down on the film is that Superman didn’t seem morally exceptional. Yes, he saved people when the opportunity arose and saved the entire planet in the finale (although it could be argued that was out of self interest as Kal himself had nowhere else to live). There were other scenes, however, where his apparent lack of concern for human life actually disturbing. They have been well documented and argued, so I won’t repeat them here. Instead I will explain how the three worst offenses could have been remedied."

Well said.
McNyagano - 7/7/2014, 10:30 AM
@SauronsBANE1

"I feel like they only scratch the surface of the problems in MoS. When you look deeper at the intentions of the filmmakers, more disturbing flaws start showing up."


You're right. This is how far as I got when doing an in depth analysis of the film. It was way longer than what I posted lol

http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/Edwardo2K14/news/?a=89696
GodzillaKart - 7/7/2014, 10:30 AM
@SauronsBANE1: Thanks for the comments. I agree that even with those changes, it wouldn't be the Superman movie I wanted...but it could have been the Superman movie I accepted. CA:TWS proved that you can have a boyscout character live in a morally grey contemporary world and stay true to the principles that have defined the character.
SauronsBANE - 7/7/2014, 10:40 AM
@McNyagano, Wow, from what I've read so far it sounds great! I'm definitely going to take my time to read through that when I get the chance, but holy crap...the comments are just full of people verbally abusing you haha. There's something about this movie that triggers ridiculous emotional reactions in people, and it makes it so much harder to actually talk about it without having it turned into another flame war.

@GodzillaKart, Yeah I see what you mean. I think MoS would've had to be overhauled completely in order to get the Superman movie a lot of us wanted haha. I agree 100% though, Captain America absolutely proves how a modernized Superman movie SHOULD'VE been like. That's not a bad consolation prize at all!
GodzillaKart - 7/7/2014, 10:45 AM
@SauronsBANE1: "this movie that triggers ridiculous emotional reactions in people, and it makes it so much harder to actually talk about it without having it turned into another flame war"

To be honest, that is half the reason I wrote this article. I wanted to discuss my ideas without dealing with the screaming hoards. Once that starts, it's often impossible to discuss objectively...and to be honest, I'm not above being sucked into a flame war.
Jollem - 7/7/2014, 10:48 AM
MoS > iron man 1-3 :D
pesmerga44 - 7/7/2014, 10:51 AM
@GodzillaKart

I like your suggestion with the tornado scene it would make a lot more sense for the way the scene goes down for Clark to be a teenager it just makes more sense. I always thought another way the scene should have been shot is that a man is hit by flying debris and knocked out and Clark is the only one who can carry him to safety. John is then forced to go back to save the dog and the scene ends the way it was originally.

I also agree that the kissing scene over Ground Zero is an absolutely horrible scene and makes Clark and Lois to be heartless monsters. You have the ash covered survivors crawling out of the rubble and you have Superman making out with Lois Lane making a terrible terrible joke. I don't understand at any point in production someone ANYONE didn't stop to ask why this should be in the movie.

I think you should add in one more the final scene where Superman kills Zod. Even though this has been said before it still needs to be said. This also has nothing to do with the actual event of Superman killing Zod I am over that. The issue is what happens immediately after he kills Zod with his apparent shock and grief over killing Zod. This fails for two reasons one being it was never established Superman doesn't kill or that he is even against killing and two some say he is sad over killing the last of his race but that is also wrong. Never in the movie do we get any kind of clue he is against killing no flashbacks with John or Martha nothing. Snyder and Goyer used their preconceptions of what they think the audience knows about Superman and as a director/writer that is lazy. The film is full of exposition they could have thrown in a small scene somewhere in all the flash backs to set this up. Also like I said some people argue Superman is sad over killing the only other Kryptonian. Except earlier in the film when Zod is flying the scout ship full of Kryptonian embryos and pleads with Clark not to end the Kryptonian race Clark says they had their chance and kills all the embryos with his heat vision. This completely contradicts with some people's theories about why he is so sad about killing Zod or maybe Superman is just a really fervent believer in the Pro Choice cause and really didn't see those embryos as being alive.

Either way good write up these changes would help fix a number of problems with the movie.
ChuckV - 7/7/2014, 10:54 AM
Good article, @GodzillaKart, three points that ruin the movie to me, as i've tried to explain in other threads.

Can't wait till BvS: DAWN OF JUSTICE triggers MORE ridiculous, emotional reactions in people, as it's sure to do!!!
Pending - 7/7/2014, 10:58 AM
@GodzillaKart

Yeah, any competent director or writer would've taken that moment to have Clark process all the destruction and death that had just happened, having him break down in front of Lois or having him search the rubble for survivors (because apparently he cares for human life) and finish taking care of Zod. It's only after he kills Zod that he finally breaks down which is a big WTF? compared to everything that happened beforehand but that inappropriate forced kiss seemed more important to whoever was in charge.
Sunnyd - 7/7/2014, 11:00 AM
I liked MOS but those are solid suggestions.
More importantly though would be what blackandyellow suggested, guess we will have to wait for the X rated spoof for that scene :)
pesmerga44 - 7/7/2014, 11:01 AM
Oh and one last change the movie should have made was to drop all of the forced and contrived Jesus references. They were glaring and it was like Snyder and Goyer were using a wrecking ball to pound it into us with this metaphor.
Klone - 7/7/2014, 11:10 AM
Everything between Nya, Sauron and Fart is pure win. This film is a sin.
Klone - 7/7/2014, 11:11 AM
Have you ever noticed how MoS zealots only target the STUPID MoS complaint articles? The intelligent ones they avoid like a plague. Similar thing happened with Sauron's TASM2 article.
Klone - 7/7/2014, 11:12 AM
The Jesus metaphors I blame Snyder for. The very notion of Jesus metaphors is something I hate and it's pseudo-depth so we can blame Goyer for that but the way the Jesus metaphor scenes were specifically directed with done terribly!
AsgardianHobo - 7/7/2014, 11:21 AM
Good movie and good suggestions.

Great article GodzillaKart!!!
FastFlames - 7/7/2014, 11:24 AM
I agree with you GK. And i think the film was meh, pretty good. No where near IM1 or Cap:TWS tho
GodzillaKart - 7/7/2014, 11:24 AM
@pesmerga44 & Pending: I agree with the comments about Superman breaking down after killing Zod. The contrast between that and his lack of concern at the human death was odd.
GodzillaKart - 7/7/2014, 11:25 AM
Thanks AsgardianHobo!
shabat - 7/7/2014, 11:43 AM
Good list. I liked the movie very much, but I definitely agree with these points.
GreenArrow1941 - 7/7/2014, 11:43 AM
Oh hell yeah the famous brooding contest, this shit is going to be good.
GreenArrow1941 - 7/7/2014, 11:44 AM
I disliked Man of Steel both as a movie and Superman movie, but yeah I agree on those points althought I could think of a few more that could help.
GreenArrow1941 - 7/7/2014, 11:47 AM
"I agree with the comments about Superman breaking down after killing Zod. The contrast between that and his lack of concern at the human death was odd."

Yeah I didn't understand that either. I mean wait your going to cry about Zod yet you didn't cry about all those people that died instead you kissed Lois ? Holy shit, give me Batman instead. The movie felt heartless to me, just nothing there for me to love.
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