I’ve never been a huge fan of Superman. He’s been an iconic figure in American pop culture for a century. I’ve seen episodes of the George Reeves series, the cartoons, read some of the comics, watched an episode or two of Louis and Clark, Smallville, and the Justice League, but Superman just never did it for me as a character.
Then recently, a new phenomenon of gritty reboots came about. Suddenly, there were attempts to psychoanalyze Superman and give him more down-to-earth qualities. We have comics that explore his feelings of loneliness and isolation. We even have one of the most memorable monologues about him in Kill Bill, Volume 2.
Maybe this is why I’ve developed a teensy bit of an inkling of interest in Superman. Because now he’s not just a clever re-imagining of a Biblical figure, with a new superpower every time he appears on the screen or the page, but he’s a person you or I might actually be able to relate to. Until this recent phenomenon, I could only relate to Batman and Spiderman, alternately. Now, Superman is a lonely, isolated person from another planet who has to conceal his true identity from a world that only really loves him for the person they think he is.
Man of Steel finally embodies this new era. It’s not the super gritty reboot that it was billed to be. There are some darker elements, with a greater emphasis on Clark Kent’s journey to discover who he is and why this life has been forced upon him. But actually, a lot of the upbeat and optimistic themes of the original Superman are still there. This is just a more realistic take on how difficult it would be for a boy from another planet to adapt to life on this one.
A lot of the criticism seems to come from the fact that there is a lot more collateral damage and innocent casualties in this movie. Honestly though, if the special effects and the technology needed to create them was available in the early 80’s, do you honestly think that the original Superman movies wouldn’t have included these aspects? Innocent people die in the midst of a war zone all over the world, so it only make sense that a newer Superman movie, made with all of today’s advancements in special effects and cinematography, includes a city getting ravaged beyond all belief in the midst of a fight between two super-powered beings.
If I had seen Man of Steel first, long before I was ever exposed to the phenomenon of Superman, I might have actually been a fan of the character much sooner. As is, this does make me excited to see Batman vs. Superman, in spite of the negative reviews I’m already aware of.