Man of Steel - Not My Superman

People have taken turns beating up on the Zack Snyder film Man of Steel. I’m coming in on this quite late, but now that I’ve got children, I find myself reliving parts of my life and then reflecting on them.

My daughter is a huge fan of Superman. (Full disclosure, she’s only 2 years old) As I think about how to further expose her to one of our greatest superheroes, I obviously took to the body of film work on the character. At no point did Man of Steel cross my mind as a film to view. Why I didn’t want to show it to my daughter, helped me to understand what I didn’t like about the film.

Superman is one of those characters that embodies an idea. The honorable boy scout, the powerful guardian but most importantly the uncompromising moralist to name a few. These traits combined are what gives us the ability to have light moments with the character. Watching Superman walk through a hail of automatic gatling gun fire without so much as a scratch on his suit is awesome! It fills you with joy, as the bad guys get theirs, but it makes you want to cheer at the top of your lungs for Superman!

I missed those moments in this new incarnation of the character. I missed the joy and cheer that came with the previous Superman films. The But beyond the joy that was lost, it was the loss of some of the central tenants of the character that really made it difficult for me. Nothing illustrates this more than the killing of Zod.

To understand why killing Zod is such a major problem for me, you have to understand my feelings on Superman. He’s not just any hero. He is an all powerful, unstoppable hero. His weaknesses are Kryptonite and the loved ones around him. That’s it. When someone this powerful is flying through your skies, it’s difficult to trust them. It’s even more difficult to believe they have your best interests at heart.

But that’s the beauty of Superman. His beliefs are uncompromising. And if you agree with his belief system, it gives us, the protectorate, the trust necessary to bestow upon him the role of protector. When Superman kills Zod, not only does he betray his belief system, but he also destroys the trust that’s been built with the people. If he’ll kill Zod, what’s to stop him from deeming others a risk worthy of killing. (I know this gets muddied with the whole Doomsday thing, but I submit that Doomsday was a mindless, non-sentient killing machine. The equivalent of a robot. You may have dissenting views)

With the murder of Zod, now Superman is not this symbol of hope, altruism and unwavering morality. He’s now this guy that protects us as long as we don’t step out of bounds. As long as we don’t cross the line that he’s set, we’re OK. But if our views differ, we may become dangerous enough to be killed, which limits his ability to be a completely trustable character, the way Superman in my view should be.

So that’s my 2 cents on the film. I plan to re-watch it again. I’ve also taken some of my friends advice and started watching the old Superman: The Animated Series cartoon, which is also on Amazon Prime if you’re a member. The show better embodies the way I want my daughter to think of Superman for the time being. When she’s older, I’ll let her make her own choices. :-)

comments powered by Disqus