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  1. #1
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    Default Does Man of Steel (2013) misunderstand Superman?

    I see a lot of people say that Zack Snyder misunderstood Superman in Man of Steel but I disagree and certainly understands superheroes better than most film makers. To be MoS was a “reconstruction” of Superman and superheroes

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    Extraordinary Member Jackalope89's Avatar
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    I didn't much care for his take on Clark or the Kents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackalope89 View Post
    I didn't much care for his take on Clark or the Kents.
    What is the issue with the Kent’s they were the most human take?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dboi2001 View Post
    What is the issue with the Kent’s they were the most human take?
    They were no more nor less human than the Smallville take or several others.
    This is what courage looks like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Powerboy View Post
    They were no more nor less human than the Smallville take or several others.
    I haven't watched Smallville but typically Pa Kent is basically a Moses figure who knows exactly what to do for Clark. In MoS he was very much a man who doesn't know how to approach this situation. But he reinforces the theme of the movie and that is Clark has a choice to who he wants to be, but he has to be mature enough to decide his fate

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dboi2001 View Post
    I haven't watched Smallville but typically Pa Kent is basically a Moses figure who knows exactly what to do for Clark. In MoS he was very much a man who doesn't know how to approach this situation. But he reinforces the theme of the movie and that is Clark has a choice to who he wants to be, but he has to be mature enough to decide his fate
    Of the ones I've seen, the oldest 1940s serials are pretty much irrelevant because we see the Kents for maybe one scene.

    In the 1950s show, we only see the Kents in the first episode. We don't see Pa say anything in particular. Ma simply encourages him to use the great gifts he has been given to help the world.

    In the Donner movie, Pa doesn't know what to tell him but does know he should keep his powers a secret and definitely not show off.

    In Lois and Clark, the Kents probably get the closest to being sage-like advisors although, from what I've seen, they mostly guide him to make his own choices and he realizes that's what they did.

    In Smallville, they are good parents but they have their flaws.

    They all have one thing in common: a fear of Clark being discovered and taken away.

    With M o S, it's just how it's presented. Jonathan unsure whether Clark should have let some kids drown got a gasp of shock from the audience when I saw the movie in the theater and I don't mean a gasp of shock in a good way. And Martha saying he didn't owe the world anything which is technically true but far from using your unique gifts to help people. It comes across as if Clark goes out and helps people not because of his parents but in spite of them. In the theater, people were groaning and shaking their heads.

    It can still work. Clearly, Superman can have parents that are not perfect and still develop his same ideals since he goes out and saves people regardless of what his father tells him. Lots of comic stories have played with things like "What if Superman landed in Russia?" or in Germany in the early 20th century. This is more just "What if he didn't have ideal foster parents?" Even that isn't fair because the only difference between his Kents and Donner's is that it's a vastly more realistic world and his father knows how people will react to him.

    M o S is very much a Superman for our time with ridiculous ethnic bigotry masquerading as a concern for illegal immigration. A living atomic bomb is not going to be welcomed with open arms.
    This is what courage looks like.

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    Astonishing Member Robanker's Avatar
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    Snyder just didn't have the optimism the character is known for and portrayed the Kents in a way that is essentially antithetical to them as people. More than anything, the one lesson the Kents teach Clark is that good people get involved, no matter what. Snyder's Kents argue that Clark should look out for number one and only help if he feels like it because he owes nothing to nobody.

    From right there, he misunderstood pretty much every character on screen. There's having to grow a character into who they're meant to be (which isn't accomplished because this already had a sequel in mind) and then there's just misunderstanding them. Clark gets involved and he doesn't question if he should help. That's why he's Superman. He has every reason not to help, but does and is a good person. Having him wrestle with "should I save their lives" isn't about growth anymore, it's just outright not the character.

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    Ultimate Member SiegePerilous02's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robanker View Post
    Snyder just didn't have the optimism the character is known for and portrayed the Kents in a way that is essentially antithetical to them as people. More than anything, the one lesson the Kents teach Clark is that good people get involved, no matter what. Snyder's Kents argue that Clark should look out for number one and only help if he feels like it because he owes nothing to nobody.

    From right there, he misunderstood pretty much every character on screen. There's having to grow a character into who they're meant to be (which isn't accomplished because this already had a sequel in mind) and then there's just misunderstanding them. Clark gets involved and he doesn't question if he should help. That's why he's Superman. He has every reason not to help, but does and is a good person. Having him wrestle with "should I save their lives" isn't about growth anymore, it's just outright not the character.
    I think the Kents actually do want Clark to help people. The "maybe" is really Jon himself not buying what he is saying, and struggling between his desire for Clark to do the right thing and protect his kid. And we see his actions later that he himself will jump in to help people. It's just that the execution is a little muddled. The tornado scene in particular would have played better if they got kid actor to film it instead of Cavill. And BvS offered a chance to give us some more scenes and clarification, but instead Martha says "fuck 'em all." And Jonathan shows up in the dream for his "all the horses drowned and I left my cake out in the rain and I will never have that recipe again" or whatever the hell that was.

    The move is not a reconstruction because it doesn't just straight up present Superman with all his convictions and sense of fun in a crowd pleasing, triumphant movie which the character desperately needed. It is confused in that it has Jor-El say Clark will lift up mankind and they will join him in the sun, but ends on a down note where Clark has to kill the villain in a traumatic manner after Kryptonian 9/11 and follows up with Batman of all people plotting to murder him in front of an audience that includes children. I guess Jor-El should have said "that will be five movies from now after you unwittingly bring down cosmic horror on them a few times."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robanker View Post
    Snyder just didn't have the optimism the character is known for and portrayed the Kents in a way that is essentially antithetical to them as people. More than anything, the one lesson the Kents teach Clark is that good people get involved, no matter what. Snyder's Kents argue that Clark should look out for number one and only help if he feels like it because he owes nothing to nobody.
    Not optimistic? What do you call the ending then? And they never tell Clark to only look out for himself, quite the opposite. Throughout the movie Pa Kent tells Clark he is going to change the world. And yeah Superman should only help people if he wants to. Clark should not be a slave to the earth. All Martha was saying is that he isn’t indebted to the earth and it should be his choice which is he wants to be a hero. It’s a great theme. We just expect Superman to do the right thing just because but what if he doesn’t want to be a hero? In the end Clark does choose to be a hero because of him and himself alone

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robanker View Post
    Snyder just didn't have the optimism the character is known for and portrayed the Kents in a way that is essentially antithetical to them as people. More than anything, the one lesson the Kents teach Clark is that good people get involved, no matter what. Snyder's Kents argue that Clark should look out for number one and only help if he feels like it because he owes nothing to nobody.

    From right there, he misunderstood pretty much every character on screen. There's having to grow a character into who they're meant to be (which isn't accomplished because this already had a sequel in mind) and then there's just misunderstanding them. Clark gets involved and he doesn't question if he should help. That's why he's Superman. He has every reason not to help, but does and is a good person. Having him wrestle with "should I save their lives" isn't about growth anymore, it's just outright not the character.
    Wow.

    It is only now that I see just how far the pendulum of individualism swung in Zack's vision. AND how it poisons the other characters. Now I see why in his eyes Wonder Woman would say screw humanity and walk away and do nothing.

    It only further enforces my opinion that Zack is a great visual resource but is not good as an architect for the DCEU. If they had gotten to a point where they were going into Elseworlds take, he would be great to explore a selfish, edgelord version of the characters. But I am not interested in a Booster Gold acting Superman, an uninterested, heartbroken WW, or a Punisher in Batman drag further saddled with envy issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Powerboy View Post
    They were no more nor less human than the Smallville take or several others.
    I'd argue quite a bit less. I like Costner, I like Pa Kent; this one was weird and inhuman, and his choices were all...not just wrong, but alien, as though Snyder has no idea how real people act. As far as I'm concerned, Snyder at best is either a second unit director or a senior effect supervisor, but he doesn't have what it takes to be a successful director. But in answer to the OP question, yeah, Snyder doesn't have the first clue either that his vision of Superman doesn't match up with what most people think, or that there are in fact other views at all; though I think he's gotten an education since. So yeah, he does "misunderstand" Superman from that point of view.

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    Quote Originally Posted by achilles View Post
    I'd argue quite a bit less. I like Costner, I like Pa Kent; this one was weird and inhuman, and his choices were all...not just wrong, but alien, as though Snyder has no idea how real people act. As far as I'm concerned, Snyder at best is either a second unit director or a senior effect supervisor, but he doesn't have what it takes to be a successful director. But in answer to the OP question, yeah, Snyder doesn't have the first clue either that his vision of Superman doesn't match up with what most people think, or that there are in fact other views at all; though I think he's gotten an education since. So yeah, he does "misunderstand" Superman from that point of view.
    So what would you do if your 13 year old alien son exposed his powers to a bus full of kids? Go “Wow great job son i’m so proud of you keep using your powers”?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dboi2001 View Post
    Well about the codex in the Snyder cut of JL Superman comes back to life because of the codex so blame Whedon on that
    Ok.

    Next you are completely misinterpreting the Kents. Martha wasn’t mocking Superman helping people. Rewatch that scene. She tells him to be whatever he wants to. Be a hero or angel or don’t be. Jonathan’s ‘speech’ on the mountain was simply reminding Clark there is good in the world. That you can make mistakes but not to let them haunt you. He also did not say saving the children was wrong but using his powers was reckless. And Jonathan never said “never become a hero”. You’re overlook a major aspect of the scenes you mentioned. Clark was still a kid at the time. In fact all throughout the flashbacks we see Jonathan telling Clark he is destined for greatness and he needs to decide what kind of man he will be. Jonathan is simply looking out for his son and he even tells him when the time comes he will either need to stand in front of the human race or not. Hell even Clark tells Jonathan he doesn’t want to be important because he’s just a kid. But nowhere does Jonathan tell Clark to not be a hero and at the end Martha says he did always see Clark becoming a hero
    Martha's tone wasn't supportive, it was unnecessarily theatrical until the last part about not doing anything. There are ways how parents support their kids into being what they want, neither Kent does so with the hero option. It's lab rat or hide, there is no third option. Helping him hide his gifts while being a hero never comes up, unlike with other Kent's. The Smallville kent's are not only supporting they constantly inform Clark on how he should hide his powers and help him do so when they're able to. Not with Snyder's films. At no point does Jonathan ever say he should be a hero or that saving those kids was right. He gives him a "maybe." Which is rough for a confused kid looking for guidance. The fact Clark is a kid during that is even more galling, they give him no helpful advice. All Martha does is help control his powers but nothing about using them to save people secretly or that being a hero is good. They can protect Clark without how they acted, which was frighten him into not sharing his abilities on pain of implied death and experimentation. It's all negative, no positives.In the strange scene Clark has with his father in B vs S, Jonathan's choice for a speech is comparing him being a super-hero to letting things die on the farm, conflating doing good deeds with equivalent exchange with death. Rescue x person here, y will die. It's bizarre. But the kent never help him be "great," the theme is stay hidden risk nothing. His father dies because of this. We never see flashbacks of Clark figuring out how he be a hero, he just is one day. His parents aren't a part in how he learnt to keep a low profile, he just does whatever. They don't give him advice on that.

    Superman does show concern during the fights. When he fought the kryptonians in Smallville he told everyone to hide. He also tried moving the fight away from Smallville but it’d end up back in the middle because Faora and Nam Ek are better fights. And in the Metropolis fight not only is the city mostly evacuated but he even throws Zod into space but Zod takes it back to earth.
    That's all he does, though. He's never given arc about it or speak to people about his opinions on that in depth. The movies never go into how he feels about people dying or being responsible for deaths. Even Zod's. In the Director's Cut of B vs S when a witness brings up about how Superman causes all he does is look sad watching tv, he never has a counter argument. We don't get into how he came to his opinions.

    Metropolis isn't mostly evacuated, it teas hours to do with a big city like that - which is why the tone and evoking 9/11 has a bigger impact in a film about Superman. Every building they go through has people in it. Except most of the fight takes place in Metropolis, and it's not like making people safe or saving property (which might fall on unlucky bystanders) is a top priority for him. B vs S overcomes that by getting Superman to fly Doomsday into space, which is the smartest action he ever did in Snyder's movies, and the movie winking at the camera that the area in Gotham they're fighting in is "empty." Superman himself never talks about it in strategy with anyone, no DCEU heroes do.

    Telling everyone to hide is not all he can do, it's the least he can do. He's Godzilla, he makes a mistake they get squashed like a bug.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dboi2001 View Post
    I see a lot of people say that Zack Snyder misunderstood Superman in Man of Steel but I disagree and certainly understands superheroes better than most film makers. To be MoS was a “reconstruction” of Superman and superheroes
    It's all a point of view about a fictional character, of course. But I don't think "superheroes" is a generic category. He may understand the essence of one character but not another. There also may be a huge dichotomy between his understanding and expectations of a particular character and another several thousand people's understanding and expectations. That's where the real problem is.

    Again: fictional character. Snyder's opinion of who Superman really is could be valid. But if it doesn't synch with half the audience, if half the audience leaves the theater hating it. there's a problem.

    If we were talking about some "small" movie, oh, well. But not something on the level of Superman.
    This is what courage looks like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dboi2001 View Post
    I see a lot of people say that Zack S nyder misunderstood Superman in Man of Steel but I disagree and certainly understands superheroes better than most film makers. To be MoS was a “reconstruction” of Superman and superheroes
    For as much of a point as was made about Superman’s S Shield meaning Hope, it wasn’t a very hopeful reimagining of the character imo. It started w. Pa Kent and his hide your powers at all costs/ppl will fear you/the Govt will take you away indoctrination of a young Clark. That’s not who Pa Kent is/was/has ever been.
    The guys in the movie literally chose to die in front of his wife and kid rather than let ppl witness an act of super heroism.
    Ma and Pa Kent instilled rock solid principles in Clark, a sense of humanity, and yes, hopefulness. They taught him that a person can be bad, but that ppl are good, and encouraged him to use his powers to help, while being careful as he did so.

    The other characters in the movie from the oppressive Kryptonians to the distrustful Military to the cynical Lois Lane, didn’t have anyone to bounce off of. Superman should have been the guy meeting all that negativity w. positivity. Standing resolutely against the invaders, politely telling the Military he’s there to help, and making Lois second guess her been there done that glass half empty way of looking at things.

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