A few more thoughts on “Man of Steel”

28 06 2013

by AngryPanda

The following was written by a friend on facebook. I didn’t think of any of these things but I did not see the movie out of an “American” perspective. My own review/ramble about the movie is here.

Spoilers ahoy: thoughtful response to why so many people are uncomfortable with the new Superman: Man of Steel movie.
Superman is, at his core, a symbol of America. He represents our hopes and values and ideals incarnate. Specifically, he tells us that we can “save the world” without collateral damage (or at least, minimal collateral damage) and that when we intervene in atrocities, innocents do not die. Superman does not kill. He CAN’T kill.
But we do. And they do. Sometimes we level a hospital to kill a terrorist, or raze a retirement community to eliminate a Nazi who somehow escaped justice and survived this long. We can turn a blind eye to this because it happens far away or long ago or both. Metropolis, however, is neither far away nor long ago–it looks like us, here and now. Seeing it reduced to a smoldering crater in pursuit of a supervillain, with countless innocent casualties, is hard for us to accept. We would rather have the fairy tale of a magical ubermensch who somehow does not kill anyone, even accidentally, in his single-minded pursuit of justice. Not even the genocidal bad guy.
Superman is the lie we tell ourselves, masquerading as hope, because we have the luxury of doing so. Not everyone is so lucky.

Reading this it does seem to make sense. I read an answer that this version of Superman has been gone for a while, as he has killed before, like in the Justice League cartoons but I have to say that seems part of the same thing. It had been an alternate universe and once he had snapped he immediately ruled the world. That could be part of the same comforting lie. “If we weren’t such good guys we’d just rule you all ’cause we totally could.”

Interesting for me is that I think this made Man of Steel better. This version of Superman had real integrity and a man like him would not break because he was forced to do one bad thing. While Superheroes are inherently childish the idea of Superman’s fight for good never having any victims seems needlessly naive. If having to kill even once would destroy his ideals and believes then he had no strong convictions in the first place. Its more like someone playing at being a hero as long as luck is with him and giving up on it once the harsh reality hits him. A Superman who can reluctantly kill if he has no other choice and while deeply regretting it go on being a hero seems like a much stronger person to me and a major step up in character development from the increasingly thin cardboards both Superman and Batman have been developing into over the last decades.






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