I miss Superman. You remember that guy, right? Showed up for the first time back in 1938, bright red and blue costume, would eventually have a fly red cape, sported a yellow belt with his red underwear on the outside? Loved that guy. He went through some changes through the years, even found a way to get himself killed, but that was one righteous dude. Remember he was played in the popular media outlets, by George Reeves, Christopher Reeves, Dean Cain, Tom Welling and Brandon Routh for a minute? Also a positive, generally upbeat confident cat. He certainly was something. Even after DC kind of rebooted everything with their New 52, Superman did go through some changes, he didn’t seem so bright anymore and he started wearing his underwear on the inside, which looks weird, but he was still a generally positive guy. But something has happened with the cinematic Superman. Director Zack Snyder has turned this guy into a dark, brooding, aloof, somewhat insecure, indifferent weapon of mass destruction. And I don’t think this is a good thing.
In Man of Steel, which I generally did enjoy, that Superman admittedly didn’t look very familiar to me. He was always in a crap mood, he was unsure of himself, and prone to mad bursts of anger. And he never had that good sense to the fight away from the people. But hey… it was an origin story and I figured the dude was just learning the ropes, though most of this stuff seemed like it would be common sense, but I’m not a super powered alien from Kansans, so what would I know? But I knew with this new movie, ‘Dawn of Justice’, with some seasoning under his belt, a Superman I recognized would emerge. That did not happen. In fact he became less recognizable than ever.
What exactly does this Superman stand for? Truth, Justice and the American Way? I don’t think so. I was waiting for a moment in the movie where Clark or Superman would tell me or demonstrate to the audience what he was all about, but I’m not sure that ever happened. Every other character had an opinion on what Superman represented… Batman viewing him as a violent threat to the existence of humanity, the senator seeing him as a threat to democracy, Lex Luthor seeing as an empty god figure, his girlfriend seeing him as a kind and gentle super powered person who makes questionable decisions, his Earth mom seeing as someone who doesn’t owe anybody a damn thing, the dude with no legs seeing him as a violent extremist, his dead Earth dad thinks… dang, I don’t what the hell Kevin Costner was talking about in that scene… even Perry White has his own thoughts about the character, but what does Superman think? What does he represent? What does he fight for? Outside of Lois Lane?
I was really looking forward to Superman’s Capitol Hill speech because I was thinking ‘Finally! He’s going to lay it on the line for us”, but nope, the director thought that would be a good place to blow something up before Supes could utter a word, almost as if he’s afraid of allowing Henry Cavill to speak. When I think about it, how many lines did Cavill actually get in this movie? I know he had fewer lines than Bruce Wayne, probably less than Lois and Lex as well, and maybe even fewer than Holly Hunter’s senator who bowed out halfway through. Not good treatment for the character in what was supposed to be his alleged sequel.
Even the Injustice Gods version of Superman stands for something. Yes, he’s an ultra-violent, murderous, despotic totalitarian dictator… which we kind of got a peep of in another out of place dream sequence by Bruce Wayne using his new clairvoyant super power, but that Superman at least believes he’s doing this thing for the greater good. There are two times in the movie where Superman kind of says something, once on his girlfriend’s balcony where he was moping and depressed yet again, and then right before he foolishly flew off to Jesus sacrifice himself to dispatch with Doomsday. Both speeches were short and had very little impact.
And it’s not like I hated ‘Batman vs. Superman’, in fact there were some things that were great in this movie… underdeveloped Wonder Woman in battle was nice to see, but mainly Ben Affleck’s sociopathic Batman and Jeremy Irons sardonic version of Alfred was the best thing going in this film. The thought of Ben Affleck directing himself in a future Batman movie is making my palms sweaty. It helped that this Batman stood for something, to point that it was pretty much his movie.
Now I have heard Internet Comment Guy make mention that ‘This is a Superman for Our Generation!” I hear you young ICG, but that doesn’t make it any less sad. There’s more than enough darkness and sadness to go around, I personally would’ve preferred a Superman who remained a beacon of light, hope, optimism, and an ideal that we all can look up to, even if that ideal is unachievable. A character who uses his considerable power to always do right, and even then have it not be enough on occasion and observing how he moves forward henceforth. You know, like not letting his Earth Dad die in a tornado. Hopefully Superman can be rescued from the evil clutches of director who hates him, and the studio that inexplicably has allowed this to happen, because Superman deserves better.