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Why The Man of Steel Will Fail: A Doc Jon Editorial

on Thursday, May 17 2012 and posted in Features

The resident doctor of the Outhouse gives his diagnosis on the Man of Steel.  It's not a good one.

Oh, yes stalwart Outhousers, the movie is still more than a year away, there hasn't even been a teaser trailer, and there's only been a few official photos released, but when has that ever stopped fanboy bitching? Make no mistake about it the movie is going to suck, you can bank on that, and this is why.

Zack Snyder. Don't get me wrong, I like Zack (and yes, we're that close). He has a flair for using special effects and creating exciting scenes. I generally like his filmography. Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchmen, and Legend of the Guardians were all decent films. Some were certainly stronger than others, and some had real problems, but I was entertained by all of them and that's pretty much all I'm looking for in a movie. My hesitation comes in two forms. The first is Sucker Punch, his last film.

While Sucker Punch has eye candy as only girls in schoolgirl outfits killing steam-powered Nazis can provide, it had the narrative impact of a Michael Bay movie. It was certainly pretty enough, but it lacked substance, and this led to the action feeling flat. By the end of the movie, even the action scenes (as pretty as they were) held no interest for me because there was no emotional core to tie them together.

The second reason comes from Snyder's over-reliance on CGI (or computer generated imagery for the uninitiated). Snyder has a unique visual style, and one might argue that it's a strength. I would agree depending on the project, but Superman by his very nature is otherworldly. Adding huge amounts of CGI to the presentation can only ramp up that perception. The beauty of the Donner Superman (and the following films to an extent) was that Superman felt like he could be a part of our world. The tagline used for that film was "you will believe a man can fly" and it hearkened to a sense of wonder that drew people to the movie.

A videogame cutscene will not do that, regardless of how nicely animated it might be. Superman is character (possibly more than any other) that NEEDS to be grounded in reality. He is a god amongst men, but one that WANTS to be a man. If that connection is lost, either visually or thematically, then the character becomes lost as well. How do we know that Snyder will push the CGI edge? We don't. But the first teaser image of the Man of Steel certainly suggests it. It shows Superman with a cape that looks like it puts Spawn to shame surrounded by a destroyed bank vault as only computer painters can create.

The Villains. I guess it's a blessing that we're not going to get Lex Luthor in this film. I'm a Luthor fan, but he's been in 4 of the 5 modern Superman movies. The audience needs a break from the character, and it seems like Man of Steel may provide that. Instead, we get General Zod. Again. And it's all for one line. I kid you not.

The choice of General Zod has several perks. He has the same powers as Superman, but with a ruthless edge. He knew Jor-El, which allows some form of personal animosity. And he certainly provides a dark mirror to the Man of Steel, which is always a positive.

These are all good reasons, but they're not the reason Zod was chosen. It's all so they can use the "kneel before Zod" line, and have that nostalgic fervor during the trailer. This is all territory we've covered. It's been covered in the movies, the comics, and the Smallville show. Whatever tweaks they introduce to the character, it's still a character that we know, probably too well.

One day, it would be nice to see a character like Metallo, or Parasite, or Brainiac make it to the big screen. It's been 34 years since Donner began filming Superman 1 and 2. 34 years, and directors and writers and studios are still recycling the same 2 villains he made famous. It's time to move on, and Man of Steel isn't that movie.

The Dark Knight. Yes, Warner Brother's most successful superhero movie of all time is the main reason why the Man of Steel will fail. In a recent interview with the actor playing the young Clark Kent, he mentioned how the movie had a grim and grittiness to it akin to The Dark Knight.

Now, this kid may not really know anything about the tone of the film. Perhaps that's how he interpreted his scenes or the script, but it may not be indicative of what Snyder is going for. If it is true, however, it's a disturbing sign. There is no denying the success of The Dark Knight, but what works for a character like Batman will not work for The Man of Steel.

There were a myriad of reasons for why The Dark Knight was a success, and being grim and gritty was only a part of it. Movies like The Punisher and Punisher: Warzone are filled with the grim and are certainly gritty enough, but they don't rake in a billion dollars. It is not the catch-all criteria for making a successful film.

Cramming Superman into a dark and depressing world will not make the character current, or "edgy" (the buzzword that Hollywood loves to throw around). All one has to do is look at the Avengers to truly understand this argument. The movie is undoubtedly bright, and everything that we expect from these heroes. They are bigger than life, and the bright colors attest to this.

This doesn't mean that there isn't a fair amount of "grit" to the movie. In Avengers, We see Captain America wielding an automatic rifle, a city ravaged by the Chitauri, and the Hulk tearing through everything in his path. But it's not dark for the sake of being dark, and it's not trying to be The Dark Knight. If The Man of Steel wants to be like his depowered nocturnal Justice League buddy, this movie will fail.

Finally, this movie will fail without the red shorts. Nothing more need be said, bank on it.

So there you have it, the reasons why this movie will utterly disappoint. It's pure conjecture and fanboy bile, but that doesn't mean it's wrong. Remember, you read it here first.

Written or Contributed by: Doc Jon


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