Movie Reviews: Man of Steel and Iron Man 3… and Man of Steel Was Better

Man of Steel:  If there was one movie was I really looking forward to watching this summer, it was Man of Steel.  Though I have been critical of how people write Superman shows/movies in the past, simply because they fail to write for him in a coherent manner, I’ve always liked the character a lot.  He’s freaking Superman, after all.  I was excited to finally see it, and though it was not perfect, I thought it was a pretty decent attempt to capture the mythology of Superman.  I know some reviews were mixed, but I actually liked the movie.  WARNING:  DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU DO NOT WANT SPOILERS.

Things I liked:

-I know that, most likely, many “purists” will gnash their teeth over the changes made to the Superman story, changes such as the fact that atmospheric conditions that mimics Krypton’s weakens Superman and not its radioactive debris (kryptonite) or that Lois Lane already knows his secret identity before he starts working for the Daily Planet.  He also flat out kills General Zod at the end, which may make some Superman fans freak out because Superman isn’t supposed to kill anyone.  However, I think, for the most part, the changes made a lot of sense and were appropriate for a modern audience.

First of all, it’s downright stupid that Lois of all people can’t recognize Superman because of a pair of glasses; it’s still stupid that even random people can’t, but we can let that go.  It’s just no longer believable, though, for someone who is close to both Clark Kent and Superman to be fooled by that trick.  It’s ridiculous and I’m glad they got rid of that nonsense.  Even the TV show Smallville knew better than to do this; in that show, Clark moves so fast in his rescue attempts that no one can see him, which actually makes a lot of sense for Superman.

Secondly, I know that comic book nerds may throw a hissy fit that Superman snaps Zod’s neck because that breaks his “code” or something, but let’s be honest here:  The only reason comic book writers enforce such a code on heroes is so that they can use villains later.  The only way they show heroes killing anyone is in those “dark” parallel universes where they go stark insane and try to dominate the world.  It’s frankly a really lame attempt to give an excuse why Superman or Batman bend over backward to save a villain’s life when that villain goes on killing thousands of people.  Superman killed Zod because A) Zod was trying to roast some human beings who, mysteriously, were too stupid to get up and move out of the way and B) Superman knew that Zod would never stop and that no human prison could hold him.  He didn’t want to do it and he obviously mourned that he had to, but it shows that Superman is capable of making difficult moral choices.  Killing is not a pleasant thing, but saving the lives of innocent bystanders and the whole planet is a good reason to take a psycho’s life.  It added some much needed realism to the boy scout image of Superman.

-Henry Cavill did a good job for the most part.  He definitely looks like Superman and I enjoyed his more mellow, thoughtful take on Superman than the typical boy scout Superman.  Unfortunately, I don’t think they wrote that many interesting lines for the guy, so his dialogue was rather bland.

-The action scenes were extremely well done, and the one thing I really liked about them is that they did by far the best out of anyone so far of actually capturing the sheer power, scope, and speed of superhuman fights.  In past Superman movies or animated movies, they often do a poor job capturing his speed, and even in other superhero movies such as the Avengers, you don’t really get the sense that guys like Thor are moving all that fast and hitting all that hard.  I was so glad they made Superman and his Kryptonian enemies actually move at superhuman speed throughout their fights.  The destruction and chaos they caused made sense given their abilities.  Some people may complain that it made the fights hard to follow, but I was very glad they did that, especially given my criticisms of how most writers fail to believably portray superhuman powers, especially Superman’s.  There was something very epic and raw about it that outperformed everything that Marvel has done so far.  The fight in the air between Superman and Zod was about 10,000 times better than the one in Matrix Revolutions.

-I think Snyder did an excellent job exploring Krypton and its culture more.  It gave more significant back story to Superman and gave a better explanation for his suit and cape (its actually pretty standard garb for their culture and not some cheesy suit).  He also did a good job portraying Kryptonian technology, for the most part.

-I’m soooo glad that Superman is fighting superhuman villains.  I’ve said it many times now:  Lex Luthor is not a believable villain for a modern audience for a guy like Supes.  Luther was referenced in the movie via Lexcorp Easter eggs, but it seriously gets on my nerves how they make a mere human being, however smart he is, be a constant thorn in Superman’s side.  Superman has genius level intellect as a Kryptonian, access to Kryptonian technology that is thousands of years more advanced than Earth’s, and has all of his super powers of strength, speed, flight, etc.  Dumb ploys like Luther shooting two nuclear missiles at once like in Donner’s Superman shouldn’t work on him.  It’s stupid, as this clip accurately shows:

If Lex Luthor is in the next movie, they better write sensibly on how he’s actually a threat.  If they make it as dumb as all the previous Superman movies, it’ll be quite disappointing.  Bring on Brainiac and Darkseid instead, or freaking Doomsday.  By the way, Lex Luthor is basically DC’s Iron Man, except he’s a bad guy… and even with his combat suit, Superman should be able to crush him easily if they write with any sort of coherence.

-The Christ references were interesting, though one of them was cheesy (Supes floating away from the Kryptonian ship in a “cross” position).  They made him 33 years old, which is about when Jesus was crucified.

-This is related to the fight scenes, but this movie did a much better job in showing how awesome Superman’s flight is.  Except for some cheesy floating around, they showed it to be… well, superhuman.  Good job there.

-Russell Crowe was a great Jor-El.

-I think they did a good job showing how Clark still did not have complete control of his powers even in adulthood and was still learning.  He still struggled to use his heat vision all that well and he didn’t use his cold breath or super breath once.  It gives us something to look forward to, I guess.

-I like how the people of earth actually tried to defend themselves but were just completely overmatched by the Kryptonians.  I’m looking at you, Avengers, where six random people and the NYPD had to fight off an alien invasion all by themselves, and yet Ironman (with human technology) and a dude with a bow and arrows could actually own all the aliens.  *Facepalm.

Things I didn’t like/needed work:

The story was okay but moved way too briskly, and I think that, despite how long the movie was, they tried to cram too much into it.  It started out well in Krypton, but then it shot out like a cannon.  The next thing you knew, Clark already had his Superman suit and then he had a girlfriend.  Everything just felt really rushed, as if Snyder was too bored to tell the story and just wanted to get everyone to the fight scenes.  Because of that, there was no real sense of loss when Jonathan Kent died, no sense of relating with Clark’s struggles to fit in, and no overall attachment to Clark’s background which I think is important.  While I’m glad Clark got to fight some superhuman baddies, I think maybe the first movie could have spent more time exploring Clark’s background and him mastering his powers.

-General Zod was better than the Zod of Superman II, which was just corny as crap (though I wouldn’t have minded a tongue-in-cheek “KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!” line in this new movie), but I think the actor could have done more with the character.  I think he did a good job making Zod a bit more sympathetic, as the audience can see that he’s not just some crazy megalomaniac but someone who really wants to protect his people, but he still devolved later on into a madman.  His dialogue often vacillated between dull and disinteresting to overly crazy.

-I like Amy Adams, but I didn’t quite buy her Lois portrayal.  Lois needed to be a lot more defiant, self-assured, and aggressive.  She’s also supposed to have black hair, but that’s not that big of a deal, frankly.  The bigger deal was that she just didn’t seem like an important character.  Not impressed, but it’s not totally Adams’ fault.

-The way Jonathan Kent died was pretty silly.  Not only did the movie move too fast for us to really care, as I stated above, he just sat there and let himself get swept away by a tornado.  Even the supposed reason of protecting Clark’s identity was goofy; all Clark needed to do was slowly back away and then use his super speed to go save his dad, and he’d move so fast that no one would be able to see him.  So that was just… goofy.

-I liked and understood many of the changes they made to the Superman mythos, but I wasn’t that big of a fan of the new kryptonite, where Kryptonian atmospheric conditions messed him up.  Look… if he gets superpowers from the sun and can fly in space, he can handle a different atmosphere.  There needs to be something unique about the atmosphere that harms him, like how kryptonite’s unique radiation harms him.  I’ve never been a fan of the use of kryptonite by most writers, but it makes more sense than the atmosphere stuff.

-edit:  Oh, and one more thing… do they really expect us to believe that Kryptonian technology did not significantly change in 18,000 years?  Holy crap.  That’s more like Star Wars, where technology stays pretty constant for thousands and thousands of years, but it doesn’t really make sense.

Anyway, this post is getting freaking long, so I’ll end on Man of Steel with this:  I think it’s easily the best Superman movie ever created (cue old people freaking out that I said it’s better than Superman I) and I liked it a lot more than some other popular superhero movies.  It still had its flaws, but overall, I liked the direction Snyder took with it and I hope for bigger and better things in a sequel… and maybe even in a Justice League film.

Iron Man 3:  I’ll be short with this one:  Honestly, I didn’t like it that much.

-Robert Downy Jr. remains funny, so that’s good.  Sometimes the dialogue overall though seemed too… forced in its rapid speed and pseudo-witty nature.  Also, I wasn’t a fan of his whole post-traumatic stress attacks.

-I absolutely despised the fact that Iron Man can take hits from Thor and alien technology but many suits get owned BY HUMAN FIRE FREAKS.  Dumbest logic ever.  Like atrociously stupid.  The villain in Iron Man 3 was greatly disappointing, and whoever wrote this garbage should be slapped in the face.  By making so many suits, they devalued the mystique and power of the Iron Man suit, especially since many were destroyed by these stupid fire guys when one suit helped take on an entire freaking alien army.  Which one is it?  Is it some absurdly overpowered suit (despite made by a human with earth materials), or is it just a combat suit that some human super-soldiers can rip apart?  Idiots.

-Iron Man gave a kid an Iron Man weapon.  Okay.  That’s safe.

-Tony Stark lets his house get blown up… but then calls a million suits at the end who could have helped him protect it and not risk the life of Pepper.  Did that make sense?  Uh… nope.  He even KNEW he was in danger because he publicly challenged them and gave out his address.  Of course, since everyone already knows he’s Iron Man, wouldn’t they already know his address…?

-Remember, the Avengers exist now.  If Tony Stark was killed, as the public thought for a moment, you think S.H.I.E.L.D is doing to just sit there and not doing anything about this Mandarin character?

-When the president is in War Machine (or Iron Patriot), it’s apparently nonfunctional.  But then Rhodes rescues him and puts on the suit… and starts using it.  Uh huh.

-Stark blows up probably millions of dollars of Iron Man suits for… what exactly?  Not sure about that either.  What’s he going to do when more aliens show up?

I’ll stop there.  Basically, Man of Steel >>>>> Iron Man 3.  Sorry, Marvel fanboys.

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2 thoughts on “Movie Reviews: Man of Steel and Iron Man 3… and Man of Steel Was Better

  1. well the reason why the fire people were able to destory all the iron man suits is because titanium (which is what they were made of ) melts at 1600 C and the heat the extremis soldiers generated was 4000C

    • I think Tony’s suits are made of some alloy of titanium, which could change its melting temperature. Nonetheless, going up to 4000 C would cause a host of effects on the surrounding environment that were not shown… but, in any case, such are comic book stories ;). Sometimes Superman dodges bullets and other times he gets hit by big lugs who take swings at him.

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