Man of Steel
Although the Superman-doesn’t-kill controversy surrounding Man of Steel has died down significantly since the film’s June premiere, it will probably flare up a little with the Blu-ray release next week. And so while Screen Junkies is definitely late for Round 1, it’s coming out swinging with its send-up “Man of Steel: The Animated Series.”
There’s no point in spoiling the brief video, so I’ll just say that, as the title suggests, it combines the morality and logic of the film with the tone and look of the beloved cartoon, with comical results.
Determined not to be upstaged by the god of mischief, the Man of Steel dropped by Sesame Street to teach a valuable lesson of his own. Appearing on today’s episode of the beloved children’s series, which kicked off its 44th season on Monday, Man of Steel star Henry Cavill explained the meaning of respect to Elmo, the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs.
“Respect means treating someone in a way that makes them seem cared for and important,” Cavill tells Big Bad, who’s quick to pick up on the lesson. There’s even a “Piggies Rock!” cake involved (Loki only had cookies).
You can watch Cavill’s “Word on the Street” appearance below. Entertainment Weekly also has a behind-the-scenes details, and a photo of the actor posing with Super Grover during his visit to the studio (his segment was taped shortly before the June 14 release of Man of Steel).
Warner Bros.’ announcement of a “Batman vs. Superman” sequel to Man of Steel at Comic-Con International triggered a 161 percent surge in digital sales of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns in July, setting a record for a full-priced DC Entertainment digital title, Variety reports.
The publisher previously mentioned “a huge jump in month-over-month [digital] sales” of Frank Miller’s pioneering 1986 work, but didn’t offer more than that. Like most publishers, DC doesn’t reveal actual sales figures for either print or digital.
The influential four-issue miniseries brings an aging Batman out of retirement a decade after the death of Jason Todd to save Gotham from sinking deeper into decay and lawlessness. With the help of a new, female Robin, Carrie Kelly, the Dark Knight ends the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city and confronts two of his greatest enemies. But then he must face his former ally Superman in a battle that only one will survive.
Although Man of Steel director Zack Snyder was quick to caution at Comic-Con that the sequel wouldn’t be an adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns, actor Harry Lennix read dialogue from the book — “I want you to remember, Clark, in all the years to come, in all your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat” — and Miller was reportedly set to meet with the filmmaker.
I know several aspects of the film have stirred passions of some devotees who know and like Superman better than your average movie-goer, and there are sharply divided views on some of the Man of Steel’s actions. (I thought it was a pretty-OK film, far better than the last couple of Superman films, and most of its major problems could have been corrected by an edit that left some of the less Supermanly activity on the cutting-room floor. And a Krypto cameo. And 100 percent more more Jimmy Olsen).
I don’t really pay much attention to box-office receipts, nor do I aggregate film reviews, but, as far as I can tell, the movie seems to have done all right and to have been generally well-received. It may not have been The Dark Knight but, at the very least, it didn’t go over like a radioactive lead balloon, like Jonah Hex or Green Lantern. I hope it did well enough to generate a sequel, mostly because I’d like to see Hollywood get a chance to dig deeper into Superman’s superlative rogues gallery than just using Luthor and/or the Phantom Zone criminals over and over.
And partly because I think it would be awful if the next Superman film wasn’t a Superman film, but a Superior film.
Like the recently did with Iron Man 3, the folks at How It Should Have Ended turn their attention to another big summer superhero movie — Man of Steel. Just like their alternate ending to IM3, this one ends with an appearance by a certain Caped Crusader … but he isn’t the only guest star this one features.
Check it out below.
Countless words have already been written about the carnage and wanton destruction depicted in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel — the big Metropolis battle would’ve left an estimated 129,000 dead and another 250,000 missing — and many more will likely be devoted to the subject. But leave it veteran cartoonist Kyle Baker to come up with an imaginative and (dare I say it) fun critique of the blockbuster that’s more devastating than any long-winded review or essay.
Mass Murderer of Steel is a browser game that allows players to try their hand at recreating the citywide brawl between Superman and General Zod. With the click of a mouse, you can send the two Kryptonians hurling into a building, raining down bricks onto the streets of Metropolis and death onto its screaming citizens. Not even the city’s sole tree is safe …
SPOILERS for Man of Steel, obviously
I’m not here to talk about whether or not Superman would’ve done that. As many have pointed out, that was already settled for mass audiences in Superman II. Instead, I’d like to offer six things that could have made Man of Steel a much better movie, regardless of whose Superman it represents.
“This old version of To Kill a Mockingbird where Atticus kills a rabid dog isn’t *my* Atticus”
– Max Robinson, commenting on fan complaints about Man of Steel
I’ll try to keep this as non-spoilery for Man of Steel as possible, but if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want to know anything about it, you may want to skip this.
There’s been a lot of discussion the past week about certain choices Superman makes in Man of Steel and whether those are things that character would/should do. Mark Waid describes being so upset by Superman’s actions that he stood up and yelled in the theater. In that review, the writer talks about “the essential part of Superman that got lost in Man of Steel.” And while I agree with what Waid describes as essential, not everyone does. In fact, some folks – like Robinson – question whether readers have the right to make those kinds of statements about someone else’s characters.
So have you heard there’s a new Superman movie out? It’s mostly playing in small art-house theaters with a minimal marketing budget, so you might’ve totally missed it. You should check it out.
If you haven’t seen it, fair warning: Here there be spoilers.
This isn’t a review because, honestly, you’ve probably already made up your mind. However, it is a look at how the changes to the Superman mythos made in Man of Steel have altered the origin, and indeed the character, intrinsically.
A lot of these observations were inspired by a podcast discussion of the movie at Part-Time Fanboy, in which host Kristian Horn caught on to something that hadn’t really stood out to me on my first viewing (the episode was recorded earlier in the week and should be available today). Since the recording, I’ve been thinking about what he said, and the more I think about it, the more I see how it seriously alters Clark Kent, and may in fact be the root of my problems with the Man of Steel.
Most people just looking for an exciting movie or a badass Superman enjoyed Man of Steel, and there is plenty to like: There’s some excellent design, particularly of Krypton, the bar has been raised on super-person battles, and most of the acting is fine to actually quite good; Kevin Costner’s delivery of the line “You are my son,” despite being over-used in trailers, choked me up.
Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel has grossed $141.3 million domestically since its June 14 premiere, breaking the record for a June opening on its way to a $214.6 million worldwide box office. That’s not bad for four days’ work. Of course, the franchise reboot had an estimated $225 million production budget, plus another $150 million for marketing and distribution, so Zack Snyder & Co. still have a way to go.
Clearly the film has legs, which means plenty of more Superman stories online and in print. Here are just a handful of them (warning: potential spoilers!):
• BuzzFeed turned to Watson Technical Consulting to calculate the real-life toll Man of Steel’s sprawling battle between Superman and General Zod would take on Metropolis — or, in this case, New York City — both in terms of money and human life. The disaster experts paint a grim picture in the days following the fight: 129,000 known dead, more than 250,000 missing (most of whom would’ve also died) and nearly 1 million injured. The strictly physical damage is pegged at $700 million, compared to 9/11′s $55 billion (with a further economic impact of $123 billion). The overall damage would be about $2 trillion.
One big potential problem with any Superman incarnation is his relationship with the audience. Even if the story centers around a credible moral dilemma, it risks having him make a choice with which the audience disagrees. Put another way, you can start with a Superman with a definite code of ethics, who always tries to do the right thing, and who puts others’ welfare above his own, and you might still end up with the Injustice comic, the pure-Straczynski issues of “Grounded,” or Superman Returns. For a significant group of fans, these are cautionary examples of How Not To Do Superman (although apparently those Injustice comics sell reasonably well…).
Accordingly, it helps if the audience trusts the particular Superman writer, which is where Scott Snyder, David Goyer, and Christopher Nolan come in. Snyder is already a big deal at DC thanks to his Batman work. Likewise, last year Goyer (screenwriter) and Nolan (producer/director) wrapped up a wildly successful Batman film trilogy.
Still, it’s easy to do Batman. For one thing, Batman doesn’t need to be a nice guy. Like James Bond or Don Draper, his main focus is the work, and the style with which he gets the particular job done. If Bats gets to make a hard moral choice, as he did at the conclusion of The Dark Knight, that’s just gravy.
With that in mind, we turn to the week’s two newest Superman vehicles, one an ongoing comic book, and the other a new film incarnation, to see what choices they present to our hero.
“Dude, I didn’t even get a free ticket. Are you kidding me? It’s DC. Even Marvel invites me to the movies.”
– Superman: Birthright writer Mark Waid, answering the question, “Did you get a ‘based on work by’ credit in [Man of Steel] due to Birthright?” In the conversation that follows, he adds, “They’re not legally obligated to. Why would they? When they did before, that was Paul. Paul’s gone,” with “Paul” being Paul Levitz, former President and Publisher at DC Comics. Update: It’s worth noting here (as Waid points out in our comments section below) that Waid was asked the question and answered it directly, versus complaining about it. As he said in a follow-up tweet: “I’m not complaining about the situation. I could be mad about the policy change, but why? That won’t mend it.”
I didn’t stay for the credits after the movie ended when I saw it earlier this week, so I didn’t see who did and didn’t get credited. But it’s a shame that this policy changed when Levitz left, for many reasons. Blogger Andrew Wheeler makes a good argument for why crediting and compensating creators for their contributions makes good business sense: “I know the moral argument is pointless and the legal one is dead, but I feel there’s a clear financial argument. Incentivising the best writers to give good ideas to companies that trade entirely on ideas seems sane to me.”
With director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel opening today nationwide (many theaters had screenings as early as 12:01 a.m.), it’s impossible to swing a dead Kent without hitting a dozen Superman-related items online or in print. Although most of them are directly related to the Warner Bros. franchise reboot, there are plenty with clear comic-book ties. Here are just a handful of them:
• Superman gets the cover of this week’s Entertainment Weekly, on which Neal Adams and Murphy Anderson’s rendition of the Last Son of Krypton (from December 1972′s Action Comics #419) is given prominence over the movie and TV versions — possibly because Man of Steel star Henry Cavill was featured in April, but hey, we’ll take it. But poor, poor Brandon Routh …
• Mark Waid, whose 2003-2004 miniseries Superman: Birthright (with Leinil Francis Yu) influenced Man of Steel, saw the movie last night and tweeted, “That thunder you heard at around 9:15 EST was the sound of my heart breaking in two.” He followed that with a review on his Thrillbent website that he prefaced with, “It’s a good science-fiction movie, but it’s very cold. It’s not a very satisfying super-hero movie. That said, if your favorite part of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE was Superman standing in the Fortress while Jor-El lectured him, you’re gonna love MAN OF STEEL.”
As part of the big push for the opening of Man of Steel, and the 75th anniversary of Superman, DC Comics Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee appeared this morning on Bloomberg Television to discuss the evolution of the character, the new series Superman Unchained, digital comics, and what trickle-down effect the film might have on the company’s comics.
Lee on Superman Unchained: ““I was working with Scott Snyder and we said if we could only tell one Superman story, this is what we would tell. If you only have one shot you want to do all the classic element of superman. We have lots in there. We have Lois. We have Lex Luther doing diabolical things. There is a new villain named Rathe. I think we can reveal that now. That is an exclusive. Scott will hate me for that [Laugher]. We are adding things to his mythology and that’s how you keep him fresh and relevant.”
To mark the premiere of Man of Steel on Friday, Mondo will offer two limited-edition prints (both with variant editions) created by Ken Taylor and Martin Ansin. Taylor’s print and its variant will go on sale at random times on Thursday, so you’ll have to follow the boutique on Twitter to find out when you can get it. The “metal variant” of Ansin’s print will go on sale Friday at a random time.
The regular edition of Ansin’s print, however, will be sold via a timed sale, which is only the second time Mondo has offered this (the first was for last year’s The Dark Knight Rises print from Olly Moss). The poster will be on sale for three days. They will start the sale at 12:01 a.m. Central on Friday, and will be open until 12:01 a.m. on Monday, with no purchasing limits. The number printed will be determined by how many are sold in that amount of time. After that, the edition will be closed, printed and never reprinted again.
Check them out below.