If I Did It – Man of Steel

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Here at Biff Bam Pop!, we can be pretty critical of the movies, television, and comics we love. I know I’m guilty of it. It’s easy to criticize, but the question is – could I do it better? Now we present the first in a new series, If I Did It, the brainstorm of editor-in-chief Andy Burns, where contributors tell how they would do things differently in work they disliked.

Meet me after the jump for my first If I Did It… a film about which I have had a lot to say in the past, and not a lot of it good… Man of Steel!

Pa Kent

Kevin Costner is inspired casting in this role. I honestly can’t think of anyone today who would make a better Jonathan Kent than Kevin Costner. Let him be a dad, let him make up for being such a shitty son in Field of Dreams. And that tornado death nonsense, red pen that garbage right out. We all know the real Clark would have saved his dad. Let him. The theater audience would be cheering.

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Clark Kent

Speaking of the real Clark, Superman is Clark Kent. He was born and raised in Kansas by the Kents. Let him be Clark Kent. This alien creature from another planet nonsense has to go. He is an all-American boy. Let him (or his parents) develop the mild-mannered schtick to blend and hide his powers but don’t treat him like a freak. The real Superman enjoys being Superman and helping people, let him! Don’t be dopey and politically correct, Superman fights for truth, justice, and the American way, and by American way, I mean what’s right and good about America. Stop reading into things what’s not there!

Smallville

I do kinda dig the concept that the people of Smallville protect our hero from outsiders. Let that be his weakness. Remember when Zod, Ursa, and Nom discover his weakness in Superman II? It’s the bit where Zod says something like “He cares for them,” to which Ursa answers, “Like pets?” Let the baddies’ short excursion to Smallville here in Man of Steel be the reason they move the battle to Metropolis – he has more friends/pets there.

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Jor-El

Zod doesn’t kill Jor-El in my version of this movie. Sure they can tussle, fine, but nobody dies. It just spoils one of the most iconic images of the Superman legend. Jor-El and Lara holding each other as their son rockets away and Krypton dies. More than any other image of the origin of Superman, this is the one that sums it all up – the sacrifice for their son. Otherwise, as written in Man of Steel, it might as well be an outtake from the Expendables franchise.

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Like Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe is fabulously cast. His chemistry later in the film with Lois Lane is wonderful. Why not take advantage of this great actor, and the character’s ability to interact from beyond the grave, and put him with Superman? Let father and son have a moment or two. It would go a long way toward making the soulless Henry Cavill a bit more likable than he is through most of the flick.

Zod

Like Costner and Crowe, Michael Shannon is inspired casting. He is an especially creepy and dangerous Zod. I would have liked more of the twitching, maniacal, enraged and insane Zod we got toward the end of the film than the calm but menacing one we saw through most of it. And while I don’t agree with the exact plot device, I do like that Zod thinks he’s doing the right thing. Villains, who see themselves as the hero doing what they think is right (Luthor, Doom, Hitler), are the most dangerous villains of all.

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Emergence

The idea of aliens coming to Earth and demanding a refugee be delivered to them is a dicey moral conundrum. The dilemma becomes more vexing when that refugee is just an innocent who means the earth no harm. But what if Superman exists beforehand? It’s easy to hand over a stranger, but what if it’s announced that the refugee is the guy we all love who has saved us all, stopped criminals, and rescued kittens from trees? Harder decision isn’t it? Superman needs to appear first.

Phantom Zone

I like the idea that Clark inadvertently leads the villainous Phanto Zone criminals to Earth, there’s more guilt that way. I really like that they have a ship, technology, and weapons – and that there’s an army of them. They don’t just have all of Superman’s powers, outnumber him, but also have advanced weapons from Krypton as well. This ups the ante considerably. Talk about a baptism by fire. I also like the idea that it takes some time for the Kryptonians to adjust to Earth. This presents a timetable for danger. Superman only has so much time to stop them before he has a super powered army on his hands.

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Support

There’s not much to see or do in Man of Steel with Superman’s supporting cast other than Lois Lane. To care about them, we need to see more of them. In things like this, where we know all the characters, it’s too easy to care about a character because we think we know who they are, and have for years. For instance, I like and care about Perry White, but do I like and care about Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White? Maybe if I saw more of him, I might.

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I know I’m in the minority, but I liked Amy Adams as Lois Lane and wanted more. Her performance is on target, but the writing was not up to snuff. Give Adams something to really work with and I think she would shine. Similarly I wanted more Perry, more Steve Lombard, more Pete Ross, and yes, even more Jenny Olsen. I also wanted more Clark Kent (any Clark Kent), as mentioned above.

Superman

Henry Cavill is a good actor, but man oh man, he needs to loosen up. The thing I heard most, and felt most myself, about Man of Steel is that it lacked (he lacked) heart, and soul. Superman smiles, he has warmth. Kids look up to him. He is rarely grim. He is an icon, a symbol, and yes, like it or not, he fights for truth, justice, and the American way. Superman is not just a superhero, he is the superhero.

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And he doesn’t kill. That scene where Superman kills General Zod infuriates me so much. Superman couldn’t turn Zod’s head? Cover his eyes? Fly him into deep space or somewhere far from crowds? As I said in my review and several times on The GAR! Podcast, Superman would have found a way not to kill Zod – that’s why he’s Superman!

Conclusion

And that’s how I would do it. I might also add more Easter eggs though. The only official one is the LexCorp truck in one scene. I would have added more, to let the viewer know, even before the advertising blitz for Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, that this was indeed the DC Cinematic Universe. Maybe a Wayne Enterprises sign, a mention of Central City, and maybe a thought beast or two on Krypton. And less disaster porn, so much less disaster porn…

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One Reply to “If I Did It – Man of Steel”

  1. This is a good post. I actually really liked the film but I still see your points. The supporting cast needed more development, superman could have smiled, granted they didn’t give him many chuckle moments. And the last fight went on a little too long, fun to watch though, reminded me of the cartoons when I was younger.

    I will disagree about the killing of Zod though. Nearly every encounter with Zod results in Zod being killed. He has and continues to kill people in the comics. Even in Donners Superman 2 he kills the 3 of them, granted he doesn’t snap their necks. But it was his only opportunity to end the fight. He can’t take him anywhere, because Zod is as powerful or even more than superman. If he tried to lead him away from the city why would Zod go? He said his plan was to kill the people Kal El loved, so he”ll just stay and kill everyone in the city.

    Looking forward to Batman V Superman?

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