The importance of Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel"

Why Superman must return the right way...

Next summer, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel will finally hit theaters, thus giving Superman yet another opportunity to win back the crown as the world’s best superhero. Many people have speculated why Superman fell out of good graces with fans and let characters like Batman, Spider-man, and Iron Man steal his thunder. Some have said that his core concepts of “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” have lost their zeal, as displayed in Perry White’s line during Superman Returns (“Truth, justice, and all that stuff”). Some have suggested that it’s Superman’s near invincibility, which has created somewhat of a lack of potential danger during his many adventures. Whether it’s that he’s too powerful, too invulnerable, or too perfect; I think they’re all somewhat right, but mostly wrong. I’ll explain…

Since Sam Raimi’s Spider-man hit theaters back in 2001 and broke records on opening weekend, comic book superhero movies have been an annual occurrence, and each character that was displayed on the silver screen was instantly transformed into a more recognizable pop culture property; simply because Hollywood has a much farther reach into the mainstream than the comic book industry. So, it was only natural that the world’s “first” superhero get his proper due, and out came Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. If there was one thing (among the many) that especially pissed off the CBM fans that saw the film it was that Superman, throughout the entire film, did not throw a single punch. Returns received a general sense of disappointment from audiences, and thus propelled Superman to the bottom of mainstream superheroes. Superman had his chance to reclaim glory, and blew it.

So, what was the reason for this overwhelming feeling of disappointment? Many claimed it was the disjointed, “pseudo-Richard Donner Superman sequel” vibe the film gave off. Others pointed to the odd idea of Superman having a son with Louis Lane. Most fans just wanted to see Supes duke it out with some super-powered baddie in all of the technological beauty that modern-day CGI effects are capable of; and not a single soul got that. Superman in Superman Returns = All saving, no fighting. Superman has arguably the most powerful of super powers amongst commonly known comic book characters, and all he did was lift stuff up.

Now, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is poised to hit theaters this summer, and every Superman fan out there is holding their breath. We just want to see the Superman commonly seen in the source material. I always tend to think of Dragonball Z’s Goku as sort of the Japanese version of Superman. Both characters are aliens from a different planet that look human, both crash-landed here as small children, both have immense power, both came from dying civilizations and are among the last few of their kind, and both grow up to protect Earth from evildoers from their home planet and beyond. The one aspect that I would love to see nailed in Man of Steel that Dragonball Z got perfectly is the concept of the hero’s anger. Goku is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, much like Clark Kent. When he’s not saving the world he has a fairly normal life, and would go out of his way to help anyone who needs it. However, if you piss him off enough, he will rip you in half…literally. It’s not just blind rage either (like Hulk early in his superhero career), it’s a controlled rage, and it’s always directed at a character that can hold their own in a super-powered, super heroic battle. Queue the arrival of General Zod; Dragonball Z translation: Vegeta.

This, in my opinion, is the reason the character of General Zod was chosen as the main antagonist in Man of Steel. Like Vegeta, Zod shares a history with the story’s protagonist, and can act as a catalyst in the formerly “normal” life of the alien trying to fit in with society. On top of all the drama Zod can bring to the story by reintroducing Krypton into Superman’s life, he’ll also be able to punch him through a friggin’ building. This will be able to both bring drama into the story and the much needed action. Thus, we may finally get the modern Superman movie we’ve been waiting for; and if we don’t, than we might as well forget about seeing a Superman movie in theaters for a while. There’s no doubt that any story involving a dude that can fly, shoot heat rays out of his eyes, run super-fast, and blow freezing air out of his mouth will create a hell of a huge budget; and Warner Bros. may not want to keep flushing money down the toilet without any real payoff. So, this is it. Man of Steel needs to get it right.

Now that we have a second trailer (that was pretty friggin’ amazing), those of us that are looking forward to Man of Steel have much more of a reason to do so; however, great trailers do not always represent great movies.

Richard Donner (and whoever directed Superman 3 and 4), we love what you did with Superman (or at least our parents did), but it is time for us fans to move on. There are so many great Superman stories that have been told throughout the years, and it’s time we get to see one of those stories adapted to the big screen with a unique style and direction. We enjoyed your “Blue Boy Scout,” but we’re ready to see a more flawed Superman; one we can relate to, one that has red, glowing eyes when he gets really pissed off. It is time for Man of Steel to usher in a new era of cinematic Superman storytelling…and no, it won’t include throwing plastic-wrap “S” shields or giving mind-wiping kisses.
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