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7 Responses

  1. Steve says:

    **spoiler alert**

    I think you absolutely can film a Superman that would be interesting – but it would require a more existentialist take and American audiences are too …. I won’t say.

    You can’t save everyone, humans are self-destructive, and there are negative consequences to being a pseudo-god trying to do the right thing. They hit it for a second, just a second, when after killing Zod Superman kneels into Lois and she comforts him. I felt for him. Can you imagine the emotional and psychological turmoil that would be tearing a person in this position apart? Where does he draw the line on who to save – people die every second of the day somewhere. You make Superman make tough choices where people die, cities are destroyed, and maybe it’s even humans who are causing all the destruction and death. WWIII starting? He feels responsible. Superman’s exhausting himself to save them, and the humans are just trying to kill each other anyways. So what’s the point? Why does he try so hard? Why does he suffer so much physically, emotionally and psychologically for them? And if he can’t even save them all, why is he even here? What’s the point of his existence? Why did his father send him away, to fail? It’s more about the internal struggle, not the external. But that’s indie filmmaking, not Hollywood.

    I think it would be amazing to enter the ‘mind of God’ like this, if god was 1 notch down from being all powerful. I think Arronofsky might be able to pull it off if the studios stayed out of it. But they wouldn’t, and I don’t think mainstream audiences would go for it.

    To me, the problem isn’t the character or the story possibilities, its the audience and the studios insistence on hitting the lowest common denominator.

    • Scott Nye says:

      Further evidence – hundreds, if not thousands, of really, really great Superman stories from the past 75 years of comics. But they, too, would be mostly rejected by studios and audiences, for various reasons.

      I don’t think an existentialist take is necessarily needed, but I think there’s a false perception that audiences simply won’t accept an idealist Superman in this day and age. The same could be said for the late 70s, so SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE had Lois voice the absurdity of Superman’s boy scout attitude, only for him to emerge the more charming and persuasive position. People LIKE idealism and hope, so long as it’s sold in earnest, with an acknowledgment of the reality of things.

      This is part of why I found SUPERMAN RETURNS so thoroughly effective. It introduced a flawed Superman (abandoning Earth and all) who nevertheless always made an effort to do the right thing, only to be put in a position in which that couldn’t possibly be more difficult – having to basically give up the love of his life and his son. But, I don’t know, maybe that’s not as awesome as killing someone, as many overlook how totally wrenching that decision would be.

      • steve says:

        I also don’t think an existentialist approach is needed, but I’d personally love to see that take. That’s the kind of story that excites me most. It’s one way to go.

        I think there is definitely room for an idealist hero in today’s world. Can’t we have something to look up to, or are we all so miserable that we have to tear down everything?

  2. steve says:

    I liked Superman Returns too.

  3. Seth H. says:

    I think you’re shortchanging the audience a bit Steve. After all, if they were up for a nihilist take on Batman in The Dark Knight, it stands to reason they could handle an existentialist Superman. I think mass audiences are willing to go along with pretty much anything as long as the story moves along at a nice clip and there’s a decent payoff.

  4. Tony Scarfone says:

    Tyler thanks for a great episode. I am way behind on episodes and I just now listened. Such a lively discussion that moved between serious film analysis and fanboy jibber jabber. I really enjoyed it! Thank you.

  5. Miguel says:

    I liked Man of Steel a lot more upon a second viewing. I think my first viewing was clouded by expectations of a journey into a Nolan-verse-like deconstruction of the superhero. I believe Zack Snyder is a structuralist, using pre-existing stories and characters to exalt themes of revenge, war, fascism, fatherhood, and the value of humanity. Whether or not he did this effectively is up to the viewer but for me, it really worked.

    Also, the way I read the end (spoiler) was that Kal-El’s reluctance to break Zod’s neck was fueled as much by his distaste for murder as it was knowing that Zod will likely be the last of his species that he will ever see. I disagree with Mike in that he only came to terms with the damnation of his species at that point in the film – and the cry echoed by Kal-El was as much for the act of murder as it was for the end of his species.

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