Man of Steel - A discussion with myself
A new Superman movie’s a-brewing. How awesome is that?
If you care about this film, I'm sure you have one of those all the time too.
A Superman fan knows frustration like few others. It took twenty years to get another film off the ground after the flop that was Superman IV: A Quest for Peace. There were several attempts during that period, but a period marked only by frustration and horror is a period not worth thinking about. Then Bryan Singer swooped out of nowhere, and the nightmare ended. We could feel it: Superman was saved. 2005 was a magical year, during which I thought I was seeing the perfect Superman Project unfurl before my eyes. Come July 2006, I was sitting in the theater, certain to the brim that this would be THE Superman film.
It wasn’t. I liked, it, but for the life of me, I couldn’t help thinking I should have liked it much more. Much, MUCH more.
Cut to August five years later, and we’re seeing new Man of Steel set pics on Facebook every week. I love the cast, especially Amy Adams. I miss the trunks, but I can live without them. I’m very, very excited.
I just can’t. Help. Worrying! Could it be the experience of one disappointment after another with Superman Returns and Green Lantern? Or maybe the endless exposure to negative comments on the web? The fact of the matter is that every time I think of MOS, my head becomes the arena for a battle of the standpoints.
Concern #1: Henry Cavill the actor.
Ever since he was announced, I’ve been gaying up my browser history with all the videos I can find of him, interviews as well as acting reels. I’m still waiting to be impressed. He’s very prone to some bad acting habits, like licking his lips before reacting, stuff like that. I’ve even read an article where he was categorized as “the weak link” of the Tudors cast. And when I saw him playing a part in an old horror film – Hellblazer something, I think it was – he had “guy I want to see die” written all over him. Yeah, he was THAT guy. Will he be any good?
Rebuttal to self #1
Don’t be a douche. What are you, an acting coach now? Charisma just oozes out of Cavill, you can see it in every interview. He’s a nice guy; easy to talk to; intelligent. That just can’t be said about everyone. Aren’t those a must in a Superman performance? His build, his face, his voice – all perfect for the hero. Besides, he’s a more experienced actor than Brandon Routh was, and you liked his performance. Cavill seems to take himself seriously as an actor, which is good because if you don’t trust your talents, no one else should. A handful of Youtube clips are just not the right way to judge someone’s acting ability.
P.S. – You lied. You said you hadn’t been impressed yet, but you have. There was that role he played in that episode of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries. He just nailed it. You actually forgot you were watching future Superman and totally bought him as the pompous, deranged, druggie boarding school prefect. So there.
Seriously, people, he’s awesome in this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZQO6VrGJCI
P.S. II – Doesn’t soaking up on video interviews defeat the purpose of having Superman be played by an unknown? You’ll get used to Cavill the guy, and you won’t be able to buy him as Superman.
Concern #2: David Goyer’s script.
Goyer. The writer of Batman Begins and story guy for the most complex and masterful of all superhero films, The Dark Knight. But also the writer for Kickboxer 2, Blade 3, and Jumper. Forget that: director of The Invisible and The freaking Unborn! Yikes. He’s a hit-and-miss guy at best. How good can his script actually be?
Rebuttal to self #2
Uh, you said it yourself just now: “Writer of Batman Begins and story guy for The Dark Knight”. He’s never better than when he’s paired up with Nolan. If only that were the case here… wait, it is! Batman Begins showed a true understanding of the character. The Dark Knight showed that a superhero film can actually be much more than the sum of its parts. And he masterminded the Blade franchise, which helped jumpstart the modern superhero film genre. He’s had failures as well as hits, sure. But his hits have been effing industry-changing homeruns.
Concern #3: Christopher Nolan’s involvement.
Chris “can-do-no-wrong” Nolan. There’s no substantial reason to doubt quality when he’s involved. The question is, how involved is he? Oh, he’s the “godfather”, how cute! By that, could they mean WB’s so desperate for the state of Superman that they throw a morbidly obese check Nolan’s way, offer him the sweetest contract possible, as well as all the creative control in the world for his future films, in exchange for the measly task of simply hiring the bozo who will actually make it his problem to direct this film?
Rebuttal to self #3
That’s pessimistic, even for you. Look, Self, whatever the terms of his participation, Nolan’s a pro. And pros do their job. His job is to see to it that this film is any good. That’s something he can do quite capably. Nolan’s all about the intricacies of story, the themes, the meaning of it all; the whole shebang. Even if this film is a disappointment, it will have a bottom line of competence simply because of Nolan’s involvement. Plus, everyone’s got an ego. His must have a rather healthy size. His pristine reputation is also riding on this, so I predict he’ll be wanting to uphold the good Nolan name.
Concern #4: Zack Snyder.
Out of a list that included Duncan “my-dad’s-awesome-but-apparently-I’m-just-as-awesome-myself” Jones, Jonathan “my-upcoming-movie’s-trailers-are-amazing” Liebesman, Matt “Cloverfield-totally-ruled” Reeves and Darren Aronofsky (!!!) they went for Zack Snyder. Zack “Slo-Mo” Snyder. Zack “famous-for-style-over-substance” Snyder. Zack “I-probably-don’t-give-a-damn-about-tradition-and-will-reinvent-the-crap-out-of-this” Snyder. Yes. That Zack Snyder.
Rebuttal to self #4
Okay, first off, Zack Snyder’s no Michael Bay. Let’s get that out of the way (rhyme!). He’s actually tackled a variety of genres and managed to produce in each of them movies that stand out, movies that simply don’t fade away. The Dawn of the Dead remake. 300. Watchmen. He’s got a damn powerful creative DNA. Action directors come and go, but not many manage to turn their movies into “things”. You damn better believe 300 is a “thing”. What do I mean? “This is SPARTA!” is what I mean. Plus, no one can say he’s not a bold guy. Zack Snyder’s an audacious dude, and he takes chances. He had the balls to attempt a Watchmen adaptation, and managed to do it while actually pleasing a humongous section of the fan base, and even some folks outside that group. Yes, I’d rather please Roger Ebert than Richard Roeper (cinematically, that is). Plus, don’t deny that you were swept away by that film, and by some of the genius directorial decisions he took with it. Don’t deny you keep watching Dr Manhattan’s origin over and over. Don’t deny you almost shed a tear when you saw the moment in which he chose to reveal the WATCHMEN title card, thus revealing a pure understanding of the novel he was adapting. Don’t even.
Concern #5: Costner, Crowe, Lane, Fishburne… big names galore.
Mr Brooks. Nights in Rodanthe. Robin Hood. Anything after the Matrix. Those are the so-so movies that these great actors have been involved in. They’re in their big houses, smelling a decline in their careers. Then the phone rings. It’s their agents, telling them that WB wants them for one of those superhero films. Which one? Super-something or whatever. But it’s high-profile, so sure. Maybe I hang around rottentomatoes.com too much, but I can already sense some douchy critic accusing Kevin Costner’s acting of giving the impression that he only did MoS for the paycheck.
Rebuttal to self #5
Wow. It must suck to be you. Wait. I am you. Oh, God. Look, dude, you live in a cynical age, but please, PLEASE don’t let it get the best of you. Don’t think like that. People can be professionals. They can have a work ethic. They can take certain roles because their kids like the character, or because they were fans when they were kids. And even if that’s not the case, even if they do need a boost, even they do need their money… let the performances speak for themselves. Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Costner as Jonathan, it’s just the kind of thing that just years ago seemed like too good to be true. You got freaking Maximus Decimus Meridius playing Jor-El. Be glad.
Concern #6: Brainiac and Luthor.
I was all but certain they would use Brainiac. Why wouldn’t they? But when they announced Zod, I wasn’t THAT disappointed, because it occurred to me that they could be setting up Brainiac for future films. Okay, but what if they don’t? What if they use Metallo (meh) or Bizarro (bigger meh)? And what if they decide to completely leave Luthor out of it, one of the most important characters in the Superman mythos?
Rebuttal to self #6
Son, do yourself a favor and clear your head of ALL preconceptions you have for what this movie should do. You can expect it to BE good; but if you have a specific idea for what it should DO, you’re just going to be distracted as the movie throws at you one unexpected twist after the other… which is what it should do, ideally. As for Luthor… yeah, it would suck if he wasn’t in it.
Concern #7: The romance… or lack thereof.
Superman is an inherently romantic hero. He’s had Lois Lane by his side since his very first issue. As the first of all superheroes, his movie should exclude no aspect of the ideal portrayal of the romantic hero… including romance. But Snyder is no Singer. He will emphasize the crap out of the other aspects, but if he were to leave one thing out of this, it would be romance.
Rebuttal to self #7
You’re just going to have to wait and see. Better no romance at all than some tacked-on schmaltz, eh?
Concern #8: Too much fighting, not enough Superman-ness.
Superman is not just a cool fighting toy. He’s the messiah concept, applicable to the real, Zod-less world. He’s everything you see in Paul Dini’s and Alex Ross’ Superman: Peace on Earth. He prevents disasters, he acts against world hunger, he intervenes in domestic violence. Does Snyder know that?
Rebuttal to self #8
Wait and see.
Concern #9: Box office.
Superman needs to make a splash at the box office. Will he?
Rebuttal to self #9
Dude, the money’s not even for you! What do you care?
Concern #10: June 14 opening.
Green Lantern and Superman Returns opened in June and they failed to be hits. Is the month cursed?
Rebuttal to self #10
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