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“Keep an open mind.” That’s the thing I kept repeating to myself for days leading up to the day I watched Man of Steel. I carefully avoided all the spoilers, and from whatever comments made by other people, I tried not to let it affect my own judgment.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

There was a lot to be excited about in this movie. I loved Batman Begins. I liked 300 and Watchmen. So to bring Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder together for one movie, a SUPERMAN movie no less, nearly drove me out of my mind. I was slightly put off by the trailers that showed a darker costume and the absence of the trademark red briefs. I wasn’t sure I liked the hint of where this movie was going. In my mind you could change costumes of any other hero. Change Batman’s costume, no problem. Change Wolverine and the X-men’s costumes, no problem. Change the Avengers’ costumes, no problem. But Superman was a completely different thing. He was more than just a “superhero”. He was an icon, a flag, a symbol. You don’t go around changing flags just to be “cooler”. You don’t change the color of the flag to make it more “realistic”.

But I was ready to forgive that if I felt the story was good. I was ready to forgive a lot of things.

So I watched the movie and I enjoyed a large part of it. The Krypton scenes were amazing. Russell Crowe as Jor-El was an inspired casting choice. He was terrific in the role. I really liked this Lois Lane. (I didn’t like the one from Superman Returns). I had no problem with Lawrence Fishburne as Perry, although he had painfully little to do. Jimmy Olsen was Jenny Olsen? Also no problem. And wow, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha Kent? How time flies! I used to have such a big crush on Diane Lane when she was at Lonesome Dove. The whole thing about Clark roaming the world trying to find himself was very interesting. I liked it. I also really liked the fact that this was no stupid Lois Lane and that she was able to figure out just who Clark was early on.

When fights started I started to get a little disturbed. They were spectacular fights of course. Amazingly spectacular fights. I’m sure the filmmakers thought that us fanboys would go insane, specially those who complained that Superman didn’t punch anything in Superman Returns. I’m sure these punch freaks enjoyed a spectacularly orgasmic time as Superman punched things left and right.

When things started to blow up in Metropolis, the destruction was just punched into turbo. It was spectacle after spectacle of buildings falling all over themselves. The filmmakers probably thought it would be so cool. The problem I have with it is, recent history has taught us that when buildings fall down, there would be usually people in them. People that DIE. I know this is just a film, but nevertheless, it’s impossible not to think just how many people got trapped and crushed inside those buildings.

Remember Superman II? 2013 fans may look at that film and perhaps snicker at the cheesy effects of Superman and Zod fighting. But what that movie had that this movie didn’t is a genuine concern on Superman’s part as to the danger that the regular human beings were being exposed to. Christopher Reeve as Superman implored Zod about the danger their fight is putting the people. This Superman had nothing like that. He had no thought to bring the fight somewhere else, somewhere less populated where there would be minimal danger to people. No, he stayed to fight Zod in the city, and by the end of the movie, there’s a big flat crater surrounded by blocks and blocks of destroyed and pulverized buildings. How many died? Millions perhaps.

One can argue that Superman made the choice to saved the world and that the “few” who died achieving that would be acceptable.

See? Superman as I know him would never have played the numbers game. He would always choose to save everybody. That’s why he’s Superman. He does not make decisions like us. He makes the incredibly difficult decision to always do the right thing. He would have found another way.

That scene towards the end, it was the one that really broke my heart. I felt betrayed, and I felt genuinely hurt. I wanted to leave the cinema right then and there. To me, it was over. They brought Superman down to the gutter. They made him human. They made him make flawed decisions like us. They made him take the easy way out. Superman, the one I grew up loving and respecting, would never kill another being. He just would never. It doesn’t matter if it was on film or in the comics. He just would never do that. That’s the humans’ way. That’s our way. That’s what we do because our limited, flawed and morally damaged selves would always make us choose the easy, more convenient way out.

Superman is supposed to be so much more than that. He was someone who can show us a better way, someone who can show us how to be better human beings. This Superman betrayed all that and it felt like I was stabbed in the heart.

I walked away from the cinema angry, sad, and just deeply disappointed.

***************

I wrote my blog entry before I read Mark Waid’s commentary. It’s so weird we feel the same way about a few things.

Comments

28 Responses to “Man of Steel Broke My Heart”

  1. Robert on June 17th, 2013 6:06 pm

    Ngayon ko lang na realized yan bossing. Pagkabasa ko sa sinulat mo. Kagabi habang pinapanuod namin, paghanga, pagka mangha at nga nga lang ang komwnto ko. Pero pagkabasa nitong blog mo. Tama ka nga bossing. Kasi napagusapan din namin na bakit ang saming na damage, nasira parang ang hirap maging normal ulit ang buhay pagkatapos ng labanan. Agree ako sayo bossing!

  2. Ge De Jesus on June 17th, 2013 6:26 pm

    As a fanboy, masakit para sa akin ang hindi ko na makita ‘yung kung ano man ang nakasanayan ko nang makita kay Superman. Una yung costume, iba yung dating ng “red briefs”. Pangalawa, ‘yung “curl” sa buhok. Pangatlo is ‘yung will niya na walang dapat masaktan na tao lalo na pag may kalaban. Maraming namatay sa version na ito. Nakaka-disappoint. Hindi Super.

  3. Angela on June 17th, 2013 6:42 pm

    Aww, that must be it!! True true true to the last bit!
    But I’ll always think, it’s not Superman’s fault, that’s the producers’ and directors’ fault.. THEY broke my heart, not Superman..

    Superman would never break my heart :)

  4. Mike Abundo on June 17th, 2013 6:57 pm

    “If you continue your attack, I will destroy this ship. The fate of our people lies in your hands.”

    The Superman we know and love would have at least tried that. Instead, Snyder’s Superman just decides “Krypton had its chance.”

  5. lelio on June 17th, 2013 7:14 pm

    I agree on all the things that you’ve said, I’ve actually told my self while watching the battle scenes “WHY?! WHAT!? WHYY!?” Especially the part where Superman twisted Zod’s neck, I felt that this is not Superman that we all know and this Superman is a Superman from another parallel universe. So after the movie and when the credits are rolling, I thought deeply about what I’ve watched.

    The question that came up to my mind was, if Superman really existed, would he have done the same? I think yes. He grew up on Earth that’s why he became almost human and that he’s capable of making bad choices. You’re right Superman is supposed to be much more than that, but what I would like to think is that this is just the beginning and that the Superman we all know is just starting to happen. I guess that’s why they’ve decided to call the movie just “Man of Steel” and not “Superman – Man of Steel, because he is not “Superman” yet.

    Overall I am not disappointed, I think the movie was phenomenal. I know they will make a sequel and I hope they make him the way we used to know him.
    If not then that’s the point where I’d be really disappointed.

    The part that I did not like is where he destroyed the satellite and military head guy complained how that equipment cost, considering he blew up a lot of buildings.

  6. cocoy on June 17th, 2013 8:20 pm

    I know what you mean. That scene was gut wrenching. Like watching a baby die.

    I think everything was leading up to that very moment. Here was this great, noble character…all the hopes and dreams of his people, and all the wonderful things the Kents taught him, and all the good that he has done up to that point…in that one moment he had to choose between saving innocent lives, and his own innocence. His choice wasn’t taken lightly.

    Superman chose saving lives over his own innocence.

    And Lois saw it. I think their love story solidified because of it, but yes, I agree with you, the Man of Steel that we knew is gone now. He was replaced by this flawed, entirely mortal being.

    Could he have used his hands and blocked Zod’s heat vision? Would that have stopped Zod? Blind him? Or was snapping his neck the only thing that could have been done to that point?

    I agree with you. It broke my heart. But something in me thinks that this is for the better. He’s a better character now, flawed. He took a life. Like everything we know that scars a soul.

    Twice in the film Clark screamed. The first was when his earthly father gave his life to protect him. The second was when he lost his innocence.

    Yes, a little part of me died too knowing Superman isn’t innocent anymore. And maybe for someone with god-like powers, knowing he isn’t a boy scout, knowing he isn’t perfect advances the story. He’s human now, more than ever.

    We’re not in Kansas anymore.

  7. Gerry Alanguilan on June 17th, 2013 8:37 pm

    “Like watching a baby die.” That’s appropriate to me. Up to this point Superman was an innocent. After that, well, he’s now something else.

  8. Rhardo on June 17th, 2013 10:14 pm

    The best, honest, genuine, and sensible review on Man of Steel I’ve ever read.

  9. JR Bumanglag on June 17th, 2013 10:44 pm

    “What would you have me do? Just let them die?”

    That inner turmoil, that is our Superman bursting out of the seams. The argument between Jonathan and young Clark after the bus accident, is the character we all know and love. He wants to do good despite having to put himself in the front of the fire. Unfortunately, that moment was wasted when he finally donned the red and blue. A pinch of destruction here. A whole lot of death over there. Wouldn’t it have been great if at the exact moment Kal-El was about to crack Zod’s neck, he remembers…

    “What would you have me do? Just let them die?”

    And he finds a better way to beat him. But no, he doesn’t. He regrets it after, obviously. But it fell flat. Down to earth. Crashing to the core. If there ever is a sequel, I only wish to see him redeem himself and vow to never kill again. And take the fight somewhere isolated. Or protect first, fight later.

    Oh and Metropolis was left in ruins. How can Lois’ co-worker invite her to watch a ballgame? How?

    Also, maybe Clark should’ve been writing while he was traveling. I think it would have been a great transition to his future stint at the Daily Planet.

  10. Carver on June 18th, 2013 12:24 am

    Wow! This is something I had never considered. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Gerry. I guess I didn’t think of the movie in the way you did because I was allowing myself to ride along its darker tone.

    I have my own views about what was missing in “Man of Steel.” Posted it on my blog. But, in a nutshell, it was about how they articulated and resolved the theme.

  11. Fred on June 18th, 2013 12:40 am

    This is definitely a different Superman. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to a primarily chaotic good version of the character. I’ll always prefer the lawful good Supes.

  12. Jamie Bautista on June 18th, 2013 12:47 am

    Eerie how similar (even in word choice) yours and Mark Waid’s reviews were. I probably means how real those concerns are. And perhaps working on Birthright (and reading it) also maybe gives a very distinct and clear image of who and what Superman is, and the “Man of Steel” version is a clear and specific opposition to that image.

  13. DCel on June 18th, 2013 1:10 am

    This incarnation is the one who broke the promise. Even if what he did he did without choice. In the name of peace and sanity. He shouldn’t have done in as Superman.

    Wait I’m mixing fandoms…

    Maybe this is why this movie is called Man Of Steel. Because he can’t do that as Superman.

    Still, it doesn’t sit well with me too.

  14. Carlo Bernardino on June 18th, 2013 1:29 am

    I watched the featurette about the movie where Goyer and Synder was talking about creating a “Movie” Superman not the comicbook one. But upon reading your review I now just want to download the movie. I’m a fan of birthright and I’m sure they used a lot of material from it but upon reading Mark Waid’s and your review, I knew that they did something wrong with the movie, I wasn’t expecting them deciding on having Supes kill someone. Him not saving pa may have worked on the film but that was a Very Spider-Man-ish thing to do. The burden of Clark Losing his planet was enough tragedy for a single being. This action also makes me think of how could they show the human side which is really what makes Superman relatable.
    That said, Superman not killing is what makes him the superhero we love, changing that robs everyone of hope, they shout stop calling that “This symbol means hope” shit because clearly they’ve murdered the character. On screen realism isn’t for Superman if it leads him to choose killing. This film does not deserve a box office earning from me.

  15. xtaline on June 18th, 2013 11:09 am

    The moment I saw they took off the red brief in the costume, I knew it was downhill from there. That red brief mismo was an icon!

    After seeing that pic w/o the red brief, I decided right away I’m not watching it! And after your review Sir, I was right in doing so! :)

  16. Miguel on June 18th, 2013 11:11 am

    I came here to express my mind about your entry, and I found the reply by “lelio”.

    Completely agree with him, couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Superman in reality would have MUCH to learn, he would have to wisen up, he has to BECOME the Superman we know.

    If it was only Superman’s nature over nurture, there is no point in aspiring to be like him, because we wouldn’t be able to reach him, this movie made Superman human, I have faith that he can still show us a better way, he can become something better out of being something like us.

    From my perspective, it was a completely realistic Superman and it was nothing short of brilliant.

  17. Mimai on June 18th, 2013 11:15 am

    This. Akala ko mataas lang expectations ko comparing it to Avengers and even Star Trek. But this exactly does all the explaining.

  18. Shintaro on June 18th, 2013 4:00 pm

    Sloppy nga yung collateral damage, dagdagan lang sana ng mga evacuation scene, ok na.

    Pero tungkol yung ending: bakit kung ibang heroes pumapatay, hindi naman issue? Yung maraming Marvel characters pumapatay. Yung Japanese heroes pumapatay. Si FPJ pumapatay. Parang sinasanto nga ng mga tao si Superman at ang version na ito ay alien biologically pero isip at ugali tao din lamang na hindi naman perpekto.

    (Bati costume sinasanto din, eh lahat ng ibang na-movie may difference kahit konti. Bahala na para sa akin.)

    I-point out ko rin sana na itinapon niya sa bangin ang walang-kapangyarihang si Heneral Zod sa Superman II, parang pinatay niya na rin yun. Tapos may specific comics story ata silang ginaya na pinatay rin niya si Zod. Nabagabag naman yung loob niya.

  19. Paul Garcia on June 18th, 2013 11:56 pm

    Understand the pain of seeing the other “Superman.” But, for me, in order to learn the bitter truths of life, one has to commit a mistake, confront an experience similar to Catch-22, and to rise again. I admit that I enjoyed Man of Steel (but no intentions of watching again), but I also feel the zeitgeist of superhero adaptation to the silver screen is DARKER/GRITTIER/”REALISTIC”. (Come to think of it, I felt reading The Authority comics.)

  20. frbarba on June 19th, 2013 4:15 am
  21. Gerry Alanguilan on June 19th, 2013 6:52 am

    Ah, so you didn’t write that Ferdie? You just agree with it? The one point that I completely agree with is this: “This was basically WB giving Superman to people who have no knowledge of it what so ever …” I think this goes to the very heart of why this film is so flawed. They simply got the hottest dudes that’s sure to bring in the big bucks, never mind if they really didn’t “get” Superman. And yes, it’s my honest opinion that these guys don’t get Superman. I’m willing to give Christopher Nolan the benefit of the doubt because based on interviews, he resisted the idea of Superman killing anyone. It was Snyder who was gung ho for it.

    How can I tell they didn’t get it? IT was their emphasis on the “cool” factor. There were a lot of really cool awesome moments. Cool awesome Krypton scenes. Cool awesome flying scenes. Cool awesome fight scenes. Cool awesome action and destruction scenes. But they never understood what Superman stood for. And what he was. First they stripped him of his true colors and costume. Superman is never meant to be this dark. In the DC universe, Superman was supposed to be the vibrant color and light, compared to Batman’s dark and grey and grit. Superman’s costume is part of who he is. That’s kind of a flag. You don’t mess with that. No, they decided to make him “darker” to make him “realistic”.

    And then there was the destruction. Not a single moment…. NOT A SINGLE MOMENT did Superman stop and look and feel utter horror at the stupendous devastation and death that his fighting had cost. In the back of his mind, he must feel some kind of guilt… remember, Zod found Earth because Kal-El was in it. Do you think Earth and Metropolis would have been better off had Kal-El never arrived on Earth? I’m starting to think YES. And amidst the flattened crater and blocks and blocks of pulverized Metropolis, what does Superman do? Does he mourn the loss of what must be hundreds of thousands, perhaps a million people? No, he gets cute with Lois and kisses her.

    And yes, the worst thing? Superman kills. I’ve said enough about this. Only people who don’t know who Superman is, who don’t care about who he is as a character, people who only care about the big bucks and prestige that working on a Legendary character could bring them would allow Superman to behave like this. They forget why he is such a Legendary character to begin with.

  22. Anton Deleon on June 19th, 2013 9:12 pm

    This was an excellent review you posted. From a fanboy’s perspective, what you have said is all true. Why was there so much damage, collateral particularly? I saw the film a few days ago, preparing myself to see a darker version, yet, i did not expect this kind of treatment for an icon that has been present for such a long time.

    My disappointment got the best of me when he said, “Krypton had its chance.” Believe me when i say this, but that was just not the Superman i grew up on. Regardless of being raised on Earth, Kal-el flourished the idea that he was of two worlds. He loved earth and krypton equally–if this was a Christopher Reeve movie from the eighties, this line would never have been spoken.

  23. Shintaro on June 21st, 2013 11:21 am

    “Believe me when i say this, but that was just not the Superman i grew up on.”

    “Post-Crisis” na kasi yung orientation eh. Nung 1986 ni-reboot ng DC yung universe nila at na-establish na mas malapit yung kalooban siya sa Earth… parang yung Lois and Clark tv show kung di ako nagkakamali.

  24. Paul Garcia on June 24th, 2013 12:14 pm

    Master Gerry, in reflection, you and Waid are not alone. Plenty of people are indeed disappointed. Originally, I wanted to treat my old folks to watch this, but my Golden Age Superman fan–aka, nanay–passed it for she really doesn’t want the current Superman mold nowadays. Frankly speaking, she’s right.

  25. Gerry Alanguilan on June 24th, 2013 7:15 pm

    I also didn’t want to bring my parents to this, Paul. And if I had kids, I wouldn’t show them this either. If Christopher Reeve’s Superman snapped Terence Stamp’s Zod’s neck in Superman II, it would have traumatized me as a child, and I would not be a Superman fan today.

  26. Why most of us felt that MAN OF STEEL stole something from us… and why, I think, the producers did it. | THE POSTAL on July 21st, 2013 4:09 pm

    [...] I’m not a huge fan of Superman, I’m a forever follower of the Bat… but the movie was really bad. This blog by a well-known inker in the comicbook industry, Mr. Gerry Alanguilan, will sum up my disappointment to the movie: http://gerry.alanguilan.com/archives/4746 [...]

  27. Tamasu on July 21st, 2013 5:12 pm

    I think that the “Superman kills” part was the reason why he would never kill again.

    And it’s like, Superman: Day One(not a comic book series). He doesn’t know anything yet except the fact that he has powers.

  28. Gerry Alanguilan on July 22nd, 2013 7:13 am

    Sorry “Tamasu”. But I don’t buy the bullshit that you have to kill someone before you know it’s wrong. Is Superman a 5 year old or a full grown man? That’s the problem I have with Man of Steel. The filmmakers were only after the “cool!!!! and “awesome!” factor, but they didn’t have an inkling of what Superman’s character is supposed to be. They don’t GET Superman.