Welcome to our second 2013 Summer Movie Roundtable series. This time we’re covering the reboot o of the Superman franchise, Man of Steel, written by David S. Goyer, produced by Christopher Nolan and directed by Zack Snyder.
There’s no question that the panelists were very passionate this time out. Superman and his mythos are a unmistakable part of our culture and the reactions to the film have been extremely mixed.
Joining us this time are:
- Vito Delsante, comic book writer/graphic novelist
- Peter Briggs, screenwriter, Hellboy/upcoming writer/director, Panzer 88
- Jess Nevins, bibliophile, writer, celebrated annotator and pop culture scholar of the 21st century
- Todd Sokolove, FOG! columnist/co-host of Beware of the Babylon podcast
- Elliott Serrano, Chicago’s Top Geek/comic book writer
- Apathy Babcock, FOG! contributor/media maven/sommelier
- Clay N Ferno, FOG! columnist/publicist & promoter/podcaster
- Marvin C Pittman, FOG! columnist/mild-mannered news editor
- Brian Saner Lamken, lapsed comic journalist/writer/artist
- Frankie Thirteen, former FOG! columnist, filmmaker, RPS enthusiast
- Elizabeth Weitz, FOG! Managing Editor/novelist
- Steven Segal, FOG! columnist/former film critic
- Rich Handley, author, Timeline of the POTA, Lexicon of the POTA, A Matter of Time: BTTF Lexicon
Do you think that in Man of Steel, the character of Superman represents “hope”?
Vito Delsante: It does if you believe that hope can come in the form of rebuilding after a disaster. I think, if anything, the character that best represents hope is Zod. He’s got a higher purpose, one that almost makes him sympathetic. Ok, maybe Steve Lombard, who is pining after Lois…he has hope, too.
Peter Briggs: He does, because the filmmakers have Jor-El tell us he does. So it must be true.
Does he demonstrate it? A bit. Not much.
But, as Vito says, Zod better represents the embodiment of that. What’s interesting is that Zod wants to perpetuate the existence of the Genesis room thingie. Everyone else is banging on about being scared that Zod will only let the warrior bloodlines perpetuate. I didn’t hear Zod say anything to that effect.
Or maybe he did. Zod’s dialogue, third act especially, was so bland and “Wmah-Hah-Hah!”, I think I zoned out once or twice.
Jess Nevins: No, unfortunately. I felt like that was a dropped subplot, almost—the film made the point and never followed up on it, in either action (what represented hope in Superman’s actions and behavior?) or words.
Maybe they are setting it up for the sequel?
Todd Sokolove: The S on his chest might stand for hope, but in this film he was sent to the wrong planet. Earth feels without hope in Man of Steel.
There’s no sense that Superman will be there to save the day, because he’s not yet really there for everyone. Any of his heroic feats in the movie are played off as part of his superpowers’ learning curve. There’s way too much tragedy in the film for hope. I agree with Jess that it’s set up for the more traditional Superman in the next installment.
Elliott Serrano: I would like to say that “hope” is the ideal that Superman wants to embody but has yet to figure out how. The reality is that it was an idea that got lost between the script and the screen. I agree with Todd that there was too much tragedy in the film for it to be hopeful.
The audience is expected to be blissfully ignorant of the number of lives that were lost during the battle of Metropolis, so I guess Snyder had the “hope” that his CGI video game climax would provide the necessary distraction to keep them that way.
Apathy Babcock: I am going with Todd on this. I was really disconcerted while I was watching this movie and it took me a few days to let it really sink in that Superman lets people die.
And he kills someone.
We may not have identified all the people who died as characters, but with the mass destruction in the city, let’s face it, there was a body count. A casual body count. That Superman never really even took a moment to acknowledge or be sad about. And the messaging was crafted to him by his father felt less hopeful than it did a bummer.
Clay N. Ferno: I’m with Jess — here’s to ‘hoping’ Superman will be more heroic in the next film, as he grows into the role. I did enjoy the movie, but thought that the “hope” line from Superman: Birthright (Mark Waid) was a great easter egg for Superman fans, though not an overarching theme of the film.
[Read more at FORCES OF GEEK]