Saturday, June 22, 2013

Superman, Superman, Superman

Honestly, I never really cared for DC, I always preferred Marvel. Something about the relateable Spider-Man and the band of misfit X-Men spoke to me. I'd take Namor over Aquaman, Iron Man over Batman, Hulk over Superman... on and on, down the line. With movies, it's the same way. While I thoroughly enjoyed the whole anarchy theme of Dark Knight Rises, I'd honestly prefer a huge, action-packed Avengers to a space opera Green Lantern, and am looking forward more to even the Ant Man movie than I am the next DC one. Maybe it's the nostalgia feeling I get, since Marvel always seemed for kid-friendly, and so it appealed to me more when I was a kid.

I especially never cared for Superman. Maybe it was because he's invincible, his only weakness being some stupid rock. Maybe it was because he was so in-your-face popular, it seemed like the cool counter-culture thing to do was to not like him. Or maybe it's just that whole "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" thing. It reminded me too much of Hulk Hogan's "Say your prayers and take your vitamins" super baby-faced advice to all "the little Hulkamaniacs". I instinctually fled from the overly moralistic slogans that just seemed uncool in every way imaginable.

I tried to get hyped for the Man of Steel movie, I really did. I went the Sunday before to Sears and got their Special Edition All-Star Superman #1. I went on Comic Book Wednesday and bought the new Superman Unchained #1 and got the FCBD Special Edition All-Star Superman #1 (which is the exact same book as the Sears one, just with a different cover). Everyone else was excited about it. Wal-mart, of course, cashed in. Even some conspiracy theorists were using Superman as analogy for the NSA.

Superman Unchained #1 was pretty cool. I learned some neat things about Superman I hadn't really known before, like that his cells could get overloaded with solar energy and maybe explode and kill him. It also had the super gimmicky but kinda awesome fold out poster that was part of the story. I'm not sure if this made it worth the extra dollar on the cover price, but Jim Lee gets an A for effort.

So I went and saw Man of Steel the Saturday of opening weekend in a sold out theater. To sum it up, in a word: meh. It was alright. They had some big over-the-top fight scenes between Kal-El and General Zod and a couple of his commanders, a la Goku vs Frieza or Neo vs Agent Smith. But I've seen all of that before. How did General Zod and his cronies get on par with Superman, anyway? I also learned some more interesting science-fictiony stuff about Superman, which was kind of cool. Now his one weakness isn't just Kryptonite, but even being exposed to a Kryptonian atmosphere drains him of his powers. I like how when he first learned to fly, he started out jumping, and then kinda willed himself up into the air, just because he felt like it. I also liked the first part where they showed some of the politics on Krypton. But, really, it was just another superhero origins tale, interspersed with a lot of lens flairs, hairy chests, and ways to avoid calling him Superman.

I think the real problem was that it was a superhero movie for grown-ups. I use my four-year-old son as a litmus test. He can sit in his room and quietly watch The Amazing Spider-Man or The Avengers over and over, non-stop, all day. But I took him with me to Man of Steel and he was squirming through the whole thing. I've heard it said that this Man of Steel movie was to begin a new cycle of bright superheroes over dark ones and jump start the whole comics industry, possibly even ushering in a second Golden Age of comic books (see Grant Morrison's take on Iain Spence's Sekhmet Hypothesis). But if Man of Steel couldn't hold the attention of my four-year-old, I seriously doubt it will be remembered in the annals of comic book history as anything more than another Superman reboot movie.