man of steel





Welcome to our Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Roundtable. 

There hasn’t been a film this decisive since perhaps, Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel, which we discussed in depth HERE.  In this roundtable, we discuss the film, the mythology of the characters and the DC Cinematic Universe.

Participating this time are:

  • Vito Delsante, comic book writer/editor
  • Erin Maxwell, FOG! columnist/entertainment journalist
  • Peter Briggs, screenwriter /upcoming writer/director, Panzer 88
  • Elliott Serrano, Chicago’s Top Geek/comic book writer
  • Josh Hadley, FOG! contributor/podcaster/critic/archivist 
  • Lenny Schwartz, FOG! columnist / playwright/screenwriter
  • Josh Latta, cartoonist/rabble rouser
  • Atlee Greene, FOG! columnist/wrestling & MMA enthusiast/podcaster
  • Clay N Ferno, FOG! columnist/publicist & promoter/podcaster
  • Brian Saner Lamken, lapsed comic journalist/writer/artist
  • Andre Bennett, former FOG! columnist, filmmaker, RPS enthusiast
  • Elizabeth Weitz, FOG! contributor/consulting editor
  • Steven Segal, FOG! columnist/former film critic

Hope you enjoy, beware of spoilers and be sure to add your two cents to the comments.



MAN OF STEEL - Roundtable Discussion over at Forces of Geek (ft. Peter Briggs, Writer of Hellboy!)

Hi There,

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

Hope you enjoy, beware of spoilers and be sure to add your two cents to the comments.

Stefan Blitz 
FOG! editor-in-chief 

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]


EARTH PRIME TIME: MAN OF STEELThe latest Superman (Henry Cavill) movie, Man of Steel has had a polarizing effect on fans and comic creators. While everyone was looking forward to the reboot of the franchise, and hoping for Christopher Nolan‘s (writer, with David S. Goyer) influence to give us a Superman and a Metropolis that melded with his vision of Gotham and Batman. Director Zack Snyder (Watchmen300) gave us something different. He shuffled the card deck around to move away from the 35-year-old Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve version of Superman to give us a different and unintentionally destructive Clark Kent. There are things to criticize about the movie, but as a fan of a wide swath of Superman stories throughout the years, Man of Steel sets the stage for a DC Cinematic Universe that can rival The Avengers movies across the street.

This isn’t my first review of the Man of Steel, but one written after reading other criticisms and listening to podcasts all around the Internet. Please check out Steve’s insightful critique atADAPATION NATION on this very site. I’ve seen the movie twice, once at the Boston preview with press and excited contest winners and my fellow podcasters. The second was a Sunday matinee, in 3D this past weekend.

Though the movie has been out for two weeks, I will present this column as having spoilers.

For my fresh out the cinema, and non-spoilery review, please go here.


The cinematics are specatacular in this superhero movie. Perhaps the best yet. While aping parts ofInception and The Avengers and Transformers 3 at points on the scale of big city fights, with glass and brick exploding everywhere, we are still given what we come to expect from a sci-fi movie with cutting edge CGI. Standout features of how the movie looks are the techno organic society that makes up the Krypton homeworld of Jor-El (Russell Crowe), Lara-El (Ayelet Zurer), and Zod (Michael Shannon). Costume design, including the muted but textured Superman ‘armor’ seemed spot on to me, and the Zod/Faura battle armor was a highlight of the overall design.

The bad Kryptonians are all in black, (likeTerrance Stamp and co-horts in Superman I and II, but have more than a skintight bodysuit to protect them from Superman.

All of the Kryptonian ships, armor and Phantom Projector scenes are redesigned from the ground up, and make for space scenes that rival last summer’s Prometheus and both of the recent Star Trek films.

Man of Steel - Jor-EL and Krypton

Man of Steel - Jor-EL and Krypton

A critique of the film is that this is more of a sci-fi film than it is a superhero movie. I can understand that, but laying the foundation for and growing attached to the doomed planet of Krypton makes for better Superman stories.

He is an orphan, can never find his real home, but has his adoptive parents (and Lois) on Earth to care for him.

Man of Steel - General Zod

Zod is the key to pushing this movie into hyperdrive. Those of us fans of his creepy masochistic (former) Agent Van Alden in Boardwalk Empire project similar feelings onto his evil motivations for both characters. Van Alden sneakily breaks the rules if it benefits him to do so, and this Kryptonian general is following his military objectives to continue to perpetuate the Kryptonian race at whatever cost. It is not his fault he was born this way!

A gripe I have about the marketing for this movie was that with all of the trailers leading up to the release, there was not enough Zod.

If attempting to make a darker storyline appeal to a more modern audience, why not party with ad campaigns based on the villain? The viral video campaign of Zod taking over the airwaves was pretty bad-ass and comic book-like, so kudos for that.


There are plenty of jump cut scenes with Ma (Diane Lane) and Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) dealing with a super powered son in the non-linear narrative of the film. Costner nails being a protective father and the generous, kindly and hard working man that lives up to our expectations, rivaled only by our recent memory of John Schneider in the role. This Smallville, KS main streets look more like any old small town street (NH for example) and less like the eponymous television show version. The Kent Farm looks mostly like every other version we’ve seen before but also like Superman/Batman Apocolypse, the farmhouse and barn are both destroyed in a gigantic fight. Looks like Clark has a weekend project coming up!

Smallville and Metropolis are just background in the movie, not necessarily ‘characters’.

Gotham, however, in the Nolan films is a dark lady, and Krypton is an alien world that we don’t get to know well enough!

Kent Farm - Man of Steel

Kent Farm - Man of Steel

Henry Cavill is much more of a bulked up larger than life actor than his predecessor Brandon Routh was in Superman Returns. His story after leaving Smallville leads him to be a fisherman and a wanderer, hiding his powers until the time is right.

Our traditional Superboy turned reporter storyline is ditched in favor of a Bruce Banner wandering from town to town vibe.

This is not a tack I’ve seen before, but it works here in service of the story. The Daily Planet action comes later for Clark as Lois Lane has discovered his secret identity way before he works for the Planet. Lois (Amy Adams) in this movie has her hands in the action, another shining example of how different this movie is from every other iteration. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White really worked for me, love that guy and he’s a more realistic editor than J.K. Simmons as the cartoon of J. Jonah Jameson was in the Spider-Man film series (though he was equally brilliant).

Man of Steel - Perry White

I have tried my best not to be as enthusiastic about this movie just because it stars Superman.

My first step in super-humility was paying attention to what critics are saying, but mostly what people who have had a role in Superman’s history had to say.

Mark Waid (Superman: Birthright) has both a short and long form version of his criticisms at theThrillbent Blog. Some of his Birthright elements are integrated into the dialogue and main beats of the story and he’s a ‘proud-papa’. He also says, “It’s a good science-fiction movie, but it’s very cold”.

Lois, Clark and Faora-UI - Man of Steel

Lois, Clark and Faora-UI - Man of Steel

Our pal MC Chris (see below!) didn’t like the Jesus allegory stuff (agreed) and has a great review at his tumblr. Our favorite quote (sic), “Go see it, it’s long as fuck, so if you see it at midnight when you come of theater it will be dawn. ” truth.

Ever been an obsessive comic book fan, needing to collect them all?



MAN OF STEEL (review)

Review by Clay N Ferno


Produced by Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, 
Emma Thomas, Deborah Snyder
Screenplay by David S. Goyer
Story by Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer
Based on Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, 
Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, 
Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Russell Crowe
Warner Bros. / PG-13

Superman, though not in the title, and only spoken once in the movie has returned in Man of Steel.

Starring Henry Cavill as Clark/Kal/Superman, Amy Adams as a smart and engaging Lois Lane and Michael Shannon as our villain, last seen in the comics or Superman II,General Zod of Krypton.

Kevin Costner is an earnest, sensitive and sensible Jonathan Kent, Kal’s adoptive father with Diane Lane as Martha Kent by his side. Laurence Fishburne stars as the Daily Planet’s Chief, Perry White.

The film opens on doomed planet Krypton, Russell Crowe as Jor-El helps deliver his son to Lara Lor-Van played by Ayelet Zurer. 

With a cast like this, we can’t go wrong, right?

I tend to love almost everything superhero related and this movie was no exception. After cramming in a Dark Knight trilogy over the weekend, I was well prepared for this Man of Steelscreening. To be honest, I thought the bridge would be there for me like the Timmverse versions of the characters. Batman first. Superman second. One dark. One light. Similar vibe. I was happy to be half correct in that assumption. This is a modern looking film, and perfect for our time. Snyder and Nolan are different stylistically, and I appreciate that.

Having Christopher Nolan as a producer did inform the look of Metropolis somewhat, and the collective success of Dark Knight did get the wheels turning for Superman. I’m happy this all worked out the way it did.

They tell a different sort of origin story with pacing, flashbacks and nonlinear jumps in Man of Steel. Breaking the predictable pattern was welcome, and allowed for more time spent on the story of Krypton as a planet and it’s fate. Zod and Jor-El open the movie fighting and it is this fight over the fate of Kryptonians and their last son that drives the plot. 

Krypton is an organic alien planet filled with strange rounded spaceships, elaborate birdcage steampunk costumes, and Giger-esque (or, more recently and to the point, Prometheus) settings and ships. The time we spend on Krypton is delightful, and much different from the crystalline palace of Brando’s Jor-El.

They’re doing it right with the Houses of Krypton and the General Zod-ness of Krypton just before the explosion. The “S” seal of the House of El is in tact and standing for “hope” in Kryptonian (‘borrowed’ from Mark Waid’s Superman: Birthright). Zod seems to have another pentagon-shaped sigil on his chest, not exactly a “Z”, more of a horseshoe tilted 45 degrees. Heck, I’m no translator! The Kryptonian letters are also different from that of Smallville and comics versions. Spend half a day over at if you are curious. 

It couldn’t be Zod without The Phantom Zone exile, The Phantom (Zone) Projector and some bitter allies. He’s got that in a bad-ass Faora (sorry, Ursa fans, a new/old girl is in town—and she can fight!).

On Earth, as Clark grows up he’s initially freaked out by his powers until he grows older and starts to roam the world, TV-Hulk style (or JMS: Grounded style, for the snarky). All the while he chooses to do good, save people and shun bullies. 

Ma and Pa Kent do their best to protect the young boy Clark from revealing his secret before the world is ready and there are great moments of father son bonding between Jonathan and young Clark (Dylan Sprayberry). Jonathan assures Clark that people are afraid of what they don’t understand. 

Missing Smallville pals? Don’t worry, you’ve got Pete Ross and Lana Lang keeping Clark company…and perhaps his secrets? You know Pete is always gonna keep his lips tight. Smallville varsity football kids even pick on Clark with the traditional maroon and yellow jackets. Go Crows!

Slight spoilers, though don’t expect many from this review. Lois has figured out Clark’s secret before she’s even met him through the doors of the Daily Planet. He saves her as they both are investigating an ancient Kryptonian scout ship on the North Pole (Fortress of Solitude?). It’s a different Lois, and as I think she also likes pink very much, Amy Adams brings an intelligence and powerful female to her performance. Lois is in the middle of the action and helps take down the baddies in the end. We don’t get the feeling that she’s putting herself in harms way to bait Superman’s enemies or to be saved. Lois is willing and able to fight with her wits against a Kryptonian army, and that’s respectable.

Origins of Kryptonian births, and how Krypton found Earth are revealed by Jor-El’s consciousness projection when near Kryptonian tech. Much more than the ghost head of Jor-El in the Reeve films, this Jor-El walks and talks and interacts with both Kal and Lois. He’s not alive…but his spirit or memory or virtual reality is very much a real being. This expansion of the relationship Jor-El gets to have with Kal makes it more direct than previous ‘man behind the curtain’ interactions (Smallville, Superman I, II). 

After donning the costume (sorry ladies, no red undies!) Jor-El coaches Kal on flying, or at least using his powers to the full potential. It’s tough not to recall both Spider-Man movie versions as Superman first takes flight like a klutz and crashes through a mountaintop. 

The flight? Just right. Hovers? Perfect. Floating parallel to the ground? OK, never seen that before, so you must be doing it right. Our imagination leaping from the comic page and the recollection of blue screen Christopher Reeve on a glass cube days are long gone. I would say a huge selling point to comic fans is that the powers are right. The Powers are Right. THE POWERS ARE RIGHT!  Heat vision, X-ray vision, impervious to bullets (and anything else) coupled with flight makes for great superhero moviemaking. Batman was all about the Tumbler and The Bat and Bat-Pod. Here, we can believe a man can fly…finally! Sonic BOOM!

Speaking of Spider-Man (both versions) Ma Kent and Aunt May have a lot in common. Probably hard to separate thinking about the history of other superhero movies while watching this one. Diane Lane is fantastic, and does not dote over Clark. She encourages him to reveal himself when the time is right.

Zod’s motivation is to take over the Earth and repopulate Krypton with stored DNA from a Krypton artifact. In the process he’d terraform and kill all humans. This is a standard story for a bad guy but the buildup from the opening sequence was way more satisfying compared to Nero’s motivations in the first Star Trek (2009). 

As a Superman fan, and one that doesn’t wish to spoil anything more than necessary for the purposes of this review, I have both praise and criticisms.

I applaud every effort to include major and minor fan service moments, characters, re-imaginings (Jenny Olsen instead of Jimmy, Kryptonian atmosphere affecting Kal instead of Kryptonite proper), LexCorp trucks and Wayne Enterprises artifacts. Digging deep into the history of Superman by keeping true to the main players is important and approachable. The new tone of the movie (a darker palette in set design and for mood) is a welcome update as well.

Let Donner be Donner. Let Smallville and Geoff Johns comics be those things. This is a new thing. Were this movie to take major liberties with Krypton, Kal and the Ma and Pa Kent dynamic I would be offended. Even Nolan’s Batman trilogy, a masterwork in my opinion, felt at times too based in reality. 

Man of Steel scratches the itch of a sci-fi fan in a modern film context while inserting the aesthetic of a news camera crew or reality show when appropriate. Big action here. Elaborate ships and Kryptonian armor texture the movie with fantasy. Inception and Avengers style of building destruction shows us just how real and elaborate CGI has become. Do I need to mention that the Hans Zimmer score is amazing? Though I wish I could have the movie at home now so that I can mash up the John Williams score with 10 minutes of Cavill flying scenes….for my own use!

On to the criticisms of the film, from a fan of Superman in all forms. I could have used a but more brightness on the camera settings. Though not every shot, I’m disappointed in the use of filters on some of the film processing. Hey, I’m no expert but my untrained eye was put off by the “Instagramification” of some scenes in the film.

Maybe this is the trend, a stylistic choice by Snyder, or something beyond my comprehension. To contradict an earlier statement somewhat, Nolan’s lens is more clean, crisp and cinematic. Some emotional scenes in this film were given a post production filter to break the scene visually from the action, but it took me out a bit. A small complaint on my part, really. Overall with visual effects and CGI, I still would give this movie 5 stars.

Superman doesn’t exactly stand for truth, justice, and the American way in 2013. In Man of Steel, Clark stands for what’s right, his family, and believing in himself to do good. I might be missing something in there but that’s the general idea. He’s only on his first ‘missions’ as a superhero, so he has growing up to do. My major (and for some, the make it or break it) opinion about his victory over Zod in the end had me asking these questions. What exactly does a 75 year-old hero mean in a modern context. Were curveballs thrown at the audience to see how much they can take? Is the world seen through “Instagram X-Pro II” colored glasses? I just don’t have the answer to that, except that for just 5 minutes of the film, I wanted a Christopher Reeve to be there in his red undies instead of the equally handsome Henry Cavill fighting off Zod’s newfound Earth-based uncontrolled heat vision.

This is Superman. You must see this movie in the theatre and enjoy an HD copy at home when the time comes. Just imagine the binge you can have with a Dark Knight Trilogy and Man of Steelmarathon. I may sidestep sleep and any social engagements to do just that again this weekend. If there is any doubt in your mind, Henry Cavill is Superman, he deserves the cape for the DC Cinematic Universe and fan drawings on Tumblr. I believe he can fly. Michael Shannon’s Zod is an assertive villain and worth watching every moment he is on the screen.