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Man Of Steel

Friday 31 May 2013, 11:05

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

Superman is about to return to our screens in Man Of Steel. I'm hoping it's going to be a great movie but how will it deal with the crucial matter of the super hero's strengths and weaknesses?

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    Comment number 1.

    I agree with you saying that superman needs to be weak. however the character of superman is in the name, he is not supposed to have any weaknesses and while this is great for kids it will ever create a good superhero film, though I will see the film to see if they have changed my opinion. the weakness will also have to be quite a big weakness, this is what they failed i the spider man films, i don't have much sympathy for an emotional teenager, but it might also be due to the fact that spider man is a weak character.

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    Comment number 2.

    I think there are two ways to approach it: either you limit how powerful Superman is and the drama comes from the possibility that he can be hurt or destroyed. Or, and I suspect this is how Nolan/Goyer have approached it, you make him incredibly powerful, but mine his God-like powers for drama with regard to how us puny Earthlings view and deal with him.

    The idea of an extra-terrestrial showing up and demonstrating that – if he wanted to – he could crush us all and destroy our cities, is an interesting story to tell. The oft-shown image of Superman in cuffs, surrendering himself to the authorities when he could easily escape, suggests that this is a theme they are exploring in the film, and it's a different take that I'm looking forward to.

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    Comment number 3.

    The invulnerability, to my mind, explains why Superman has always been naff. DCs only great character was Batman - and only after it had the Dark Knight re-boot to bring out the inner conflict that beautifully played on the hero/anti-hero dichotomy. It is this human darkness that makes the character great. Marvel nailed this with nearly all of their great characters (even Thor became weak without mjolnir - and Tony Stark had that bullet lodged too close to his heart) and it was somethign DC never managed to do.

    Superman may be the oldest comic book character but all of the incarnations and portrayals have been as flat and colourless as the cahracter. No one can root for someone who is all powerful and all good.

    I've never been a fan - and won't be going to watch the film.......

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    Comment number 4.

    Can I ask those of you more in tune with the Superman character mythology what you thought of Smallville. I thought it was an interesting take on the superhero myth as not only did we see Clark Kent learning what his powers were but the implications on those around him all while facing up to his destiny which he at times fought against.

    As for this version I think it will come down to the script and to put forward a hypothesis, Superman's love of humanity and his ability to feel must be also magnified so replicating the physical aspects of the character which is where the drama could be created.

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    Comment number 5.

    To me, if anyone can make Superman both believable and vulnerable, it's Zack Snyder. If you want proof of this, see Watchmen again, which I still think is Zack Snyder's underrated masterpiece. I know you hate it, Dr. K, and yes it has problems, but what Zack Snyder captured in Watchmen was making the superheroes more like real people with real psychological problems. Even the god-like Doctor Manhattan, with all his powers, had weaknesses with not being able to connect with humanity anymore. Also, Rorschach is another perfect character, because he fights for he believes to be justice, but he just sees the world in black and white and uses that to fuel his twisted sense of morality. Watchmen was the perfect film that demonstrated that being a superhero makes you lose touch with the outside world and shows the cracks in that armour.

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    Comment number 6.

    The Good Dr. says: "I deliberately try to avoid that stuff in advance of watching movies, so I can see it fresh, see it as it's meant to be seen."

    With 21st century blockbusters you can no longer maintain that is the case. With up to half of Hollywood movie budgets spent on marketing, not just traditional marketing but also manufactured controversy with the aim of becoming a viral news story, the way film makers and producers intend you to see their films is everything but fresh. A movie is meant to be seen by viewers who are pre-immersed in its campaign buzz.

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    Comment number 7.

    While it is undoubtful that there are nowhere near as many great Superman stories as there are Batman, people who say that Superman is boring solely because of his invulnerabilities is obviously not a comic fan! There have been many great stories told in comics, they are just few and far between due to the difficulties people have in coming up with such stories.

    I like the idea the trailers seem to be pointing towards, that we would fear a man with such power. I just really hope that they don't go too far into the angst and isolation that Kent would feel, sure have him start that way as a kid, just remember the character is nicknamed "The Big Blue Boy Scout" for a reason. The fact that an alien has more humanity than most humans i've always loved.

    Besides, surely saying that he needs the threat of being harmed to make a story interesting is unimaginitive?

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    Comment number 8.

    I totally agree a Superman film needs to address his vulnerability, and that is the reason why pretty much all his big screen incarnations have failed. Another factor is the casting of the man himself, Donner's film has its flaws but the casting of Christopher Reeve (RIP) was nothing short of a miracle since his naivety and gentleness mixed in with his determination made him Superman and the Donner's film a benchmark in the genre. Obviously story and script has to count for something, and obviously spectacle plays a major part and if these factors are probably integrated and balanced, then a good film may come out of the the process. The problem with Bryan Singer's Superman Returns was the fact that he was hanging onto the nostalgia and world of the 1978 film and in 2006 audiences had then already made the move to more complex comic book films.

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    Comment number 9.

    In my view Superman's greatest weakness isn't Kryptonite. It's not magic. It's not a stronger Kryptonian.

    Superman's greatest weakness is knowing that he can't save everyone. Exploit that, and you've got a great Superman story.

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    Comment number 10.

    Surely the fun with Superman is the novelty of a super being who can lift the unliftable, freeze lakes, turn back time and fly? Maybe discussing it further is simply over analysing it. Maybe constant reboots and remakes are not about getting the mythology of superman right but merely about trying to recapture or milk something that was once easily profitable as well as fun.

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    Comment number 11.

    Sometimes miss the point with Superman. Yes, he has super powers, by virtue of being a Kryptonian , but what defines him as a character, a person, and a hero, is his upbringing on Earth. He could conquer the planet if he chose to, yet instead serves it. It is the conflict of character between Kryptonian and Earthman, between superpowers yet humbleness of character, that define him and that is where your hook comes to approach him as a character. Clark/ Kal-El is the real person, Superman is the 'mask'.
    No such thing as a character thats too powerful anyway, just lazy writing. Most of the heroes in Greek, Roman, Norse, Indian etc mythology were hugely powerful, yet their stories still resonate today.
    No reason Superman can't do the same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Not sure, I think Dr. Manhatten is a better Superman than Superman. The point is, a superman would not be understandable by humanity, which is well represented by Dr. Manhatten who is constantly operating out of the realm of people (with his girlfriend the only real link he has remaining to humanity). I think Superman is a spin on this: His upbringing makes his Supernatural abilities alien to him as much as others and that's the key to his story. But imo Unbreakable does a better job of such a spin and explaining it. What would make a superman story more interesting is Superman's necessity to never let any human know or see or experience his supernatural powers but still use them to effect the sort of changes he needs to do. The tv series Merlin goes down this route with Merlin always hiding his magic (because Arthur's dad outlaws all magic in Camelot) and I think that is a rich source of interesting situations of super (natural) power but with it's own logic of limitations?

    The usual is showing Superman coming to terms with being different and his innocence being put to the test by people manipulating his powers and whether he will turn into a monster to fight other monsters or be able to retain his humanity that he derived from his human upbringing in Kansas as farm boy? Throwing in monsters with enough powers to even up his own super powers or showing the difference between a lawful good superman and chaotic evil enemey who'd trash life with the press of a button that all the superpowers in the universe would not be able to avert is another way to even things up or at least show that power by itself is not enough.

    The trailers look more like a computer video game with a FPS speedrun and early film with people shouting "nerf Superman, he's too OP!!" and getting their request then living to regret their own small-mindedness ie a bit like capturing and putting a magnificent Lord Lion in a cage at the circus when he should be at the top of the food chain in Savannah keeping the evil Hyena population under control.

    I much more looking forward to Sin City sequel which manages to look like a comic book converted into a movie. One reason I might be a bit suspicious of "Man Of Steel" really concerns the re-leasing of the rights every 10yrs by making a new movie, I'm not sure if I'm right about that? But overall yeah Superman is OP!

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    Comment number 13.

    @12 Having Superman hiding his powers would be interesting but would be a big change from the core of his character (not always a bad thing but taht tends to be in the eye of the beholder!) as one of his main purposes is to be symbol, and inspire humanity to be better.

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    Comment number 14.

    to be hoenst superman is and all ways will be the ultimate character and he does have weakness and its allways convenient to the plot, for examplekrpytonite was one but in one iteration which this is based of he isnt but his powers arent as godly as the other iterations i dont see a problem here plenty of people have been able to defeat hjim without krptonite, (it has been done cant remeber storyline) also guy going on about smallville that was what inspired this movie as the tv show only showed his origin and then his adulthood but smallvile and this film show him growing with his powers leading into his exile

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    Comment number 15.

    the fact that its alien and not meta(despite popular belief superman isnt naturally strong, hes stong only in comparrison cause his homeworld meant he can pick up and jump 100 times his own body weight, and height. he isnt genetically like that its the fact that hes alien and the authorites no matter what he does witht he powers know hes alien and a threat and he goes willing(although look at the new 52 origin story of AC and hes a right D-head) shows that he wants to do right and stop evil but he might be the bigfgest evil of them all. and he knows that about himself as the only thing that stopped him going evil was who adoopted him and where he landed(as the red sun comics show the alternate reality if hed been raised for mother russia(although he should of still retained the kryptonian hope symbol instead of the hammer and sickle, maybe incorporate it?))

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    Comment number 16.

    I think there's one name missing here that is a shining beacon of hope that Superman will indeed have some very decent limitations - David Goyer. Let's not forget that, Chris Nolan deserving of the respect that he receives, is not the only one who made Batman brilliant!

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    Comment number 17.

    The histogram of Zack Snyder's career is an interesting one:
    - Made a worthy remake to Romero's 'Dawn Of the Dead.'
    - Made an overdressed CGI borefest with '300.'
    -Redemmed himself with the overlooked 'Watchmen': one of the best comic book adaptations in the last ten years; in all versions.
    - Ruined his reputation with a silly animated Owl flick, followed by the abominable mess that was 'Sucker Punch.
    So now, hopefully, under Nolan's watchful eye, we shall get a Superman movie to disinfect the memory of Singer's boring, over-referenced 'Superman Returns.'

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    Comment number 18.

    Interesting subject matter indeed here, for me the best interpretation of the 'Superman' mythology has to be M. Night Shymalan's 'Unbreakable' which so many people forget is actually to all intents and purposes a superhero origins story with clear parrallels to the original superman comics. Throughout that film the main character David Dunn (expertly played by Bruce Willis) is shown as a flawed, vulnerable man coming to terms with not only the discovery & limitations of his new found abilities after a freak accident but also the troubles of everyday life (failing marriage, father-son issues) as well as detailling what might be his own personal 'kryptonite' towards the later stages of the film. It's an absolutely brilliant superhero origins story that has its champions (Quentin Tarantino, Chris Nolan) and certainly one of the more substantial 'Superman' interpretations of recent years, if Man of Steel can perhaps reflect some of the brilliant groundwork laid out in Unbreakable then i'm sure it'll be a winner in my book!

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    Comment number 19.

    I think Zack Snyder's greatest strength, and also his greatest weakness is being loyal to the source material, hence his Superman won't be without his vulnerable side. I was always impressed by his retake on Dawn of the Dead. It showed him to be some one who understands what made the orginal so appealing and was able to put a fresh spin on it. I think Man of Steel is in pretty safe hands, even if part of me suspects Richard Donner's original will still shine as being the best.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Superman; Star Trek; Hangover 3; Iron Man 3; Kick Ass 2; Great Gatsby 3D...

    Is this a film blog for film fans or a multiplex blog for the McDonalds brigade? Me thinks someone's caving in to pressure from above and going for bums on seats here rather than what the greater film world has to offer.

    Am I right? I'm not wrong.


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