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Sunday, 9 June 2013

Straight Up Reviews #2 Superman Returns

Well since Man of Steel is coming out in 5 days I figure I would torture you fans with a review of a Superman Movie that you guys all dread, Superman Returns.........Now that I taken the time to look around for torches and pitchforks let me tell you why.  Well it's because I like this movie.  Don't get me wrong I understand where the fans are coming from and I will point out the major flaws, but it won't make me hate this movie.  Hell some of my favorite reviewers at Channel Awesome hate it with a passion but that doesn't make me adhere to it. 
As with Teen Titans Go I am gonna go with a little personal history, as well as history of the franchise.

If you have seen my "Could It Exist In Real Life?" article on the blue bomb, you'll know I am a big fan of Christopher Reeve. Even as I write this article I am currently watching a Superman Marathon on YTV.  However I first got into the series by watching his third film. One of my earliest memories were of Clark Kent getting into a fist fight with Superman.  At the time I didn't know 2 things, one that Superman turned evil, in my point of view I thought that nerdy sloucher was being a dick for choking Superman.  And 2 that Superman and Clark Kent were one and the same.  As I grew up I gotten more into Superman, from watching the Lois and Clark and the Animated series.  My most recent mediums I have seen were this one and the Justice League. It was then and there I learned about the DC Universe and to an extent the DCAU. As well as the loved and hated Smallville.  While I understand why most hate the show and I'll get to that next time.  I do have one thing to say "Chris Reeve's last Performence is worth 10 years of Torture."  So naturally I am stoked that Man Of Steel is coming out.  Though it I must nitpick from what I see on the trailer.  I don't think Russel Crowe was a good choice to play Jor-El.  Don't get me wrong he's a great actor and I might be wrong since he did do things that Russel Crowe wouldn't be expected to do and succeeded. However to me he should have been Zod.  He's got the beard for it and it would sound awesome in his original voice to hear him shout "KNEEEEEEEEEEEEL!!!!" Anyway I ramble on. Now for some history.

Superman first debuted in 1939 by Canadian Joe Shuster and American Jerry Siegel.  Since then he has become not just a franchise but a legend.  Comics, Video Games, TV shows, Serials, DCAU.  There is not one medium that the Man of Steel has shown his face, or his S. There is not one person in the world that doesn't know him.  Some of which like myself treat him like he exists and that he's around, we just don't know where.   The story itself is like so.   The Planet Krypton is on the verge of collapse.  Jor-El, a local scientist and councilman tries to warn the higher ups, but they fail to listen.  Taking matters into his own hands, Jor-El takes his infant son, Kal-El and places him on a spaceship headed for earth.  The planet explodes, but Kal-El makes it out in time and his ship lands not too far from Kent Farm in Smallville Kansas.  The Kent Family take him in and adopt him as their son calling him Clark.  At the same time they discover that on earth he exhibits supernatural abilities such as super speed and strength.  Once old enough Clark finds out about his alien origins and sets off with remnants of his ship to find out who he really is.  Years later he gets a job as a mild mannered reporter for the daily planet.  However, when danger is near, he becomes Superman.  Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and Standing for Truth, Justice and the American way, (Till he gives up his citizenship.). He battles fearsome foes such as, Lex Luthor, a billionare Genius who discovers Superman's weakness, Brainiac an organic A.I. that is bent on self preservation and universe domination and Darkseid a god like being who seeks the Antilife equation. 

For further history read the comics or watch the movies.  Now onto Returns.

This movie takes place after the events of Superman 2.  Astrologers discovered what appear to be the remains of Krypton.  Searching for answers Superman built a ship and flew off.  The Journey itself took 5 years to complete.  At that time Superman, was absent things changed drastically.  Lois, bitter at his unexplained absence, won the Pulitzer prize for her article "Why The World Doesn't Need Superman."  and got together with Richard White, son of Perry White and apparently had a child together named Jason.  To make matters worse, Lex Luthor was released from prison and is out from revenge stealing the Crystals from the Fortress of Solitude.  After the 5 year Journey, Superman returns to earth to look for his place in the world once again.  As he struggles to keep up with the changing world, he tries to rekindle things with Lois and stop Luthor before he destroys metropolis.

I am gonna say exactly what the problems are both in universe and meta.  But as a challenge I am gonna try to find a way to solve said problems.

First and foremost is the journey itself.  According to Jor-El It took Kal-El thousands of years to get to Earth and through relativity, he only aged 3 years.  So wouldn't it take him, that exact same time to travel back to what was left of Krypton? Yes and no.  What people fail to realize is that there are a series of logical facts that are taken into account:

1.  Kal-El's infant ship was made only for the purpose of one way traveling.  So odds are that Jor-El couldn't make it go fast to save time, but at least fast enough to get him off planet.  There is also Time Dilation, the thousands of Krypton years could very well be the few of our years.

2. Even if that wasn't possible the other solution is the Fortress itself.  As Lex pointed out, Continents, weapons and vehicles are grown from the crystals.  Since Superman had enough time to spend in the fortress over the years, he may have been not only built a new ship but also improved the flight capabilities of it. Making his trip back much more quicker than the trip to earth. Hence the line "Gods are selfish beings that fly around in red capes and don't share their power with the world." Is true, from a certain point of view.  Of course he couldn't tell the world about his faster than light space travel, since it's forbidden to interfere with human history. 

 Now I know what you're thinking "Why didn't he just listen to Jor-El and accept that Krypton is dead."  As stated before, this film supposedly took place after 2, so if Zod, Ursa and Non survived odd are other Kryptonians are out there.  You can't blame the bastard for feeling alone in the universe.

The second problem that many people have with the movie is that it relies on fans of the Donner/Lester series.  I don't blame them from that.  The John Williams Music Cues, Marlon Brando, hell Lex Luthor's speech about land is said almost word for word.  Me I am a fan but I don't know the majority of Superman fans, because each majority is actually a sub majority.  There is an entire fandom that loves the comics, an entire fandom that loves the movies, and eventually when Man of Steel comes out, there is gonna be a majority based only on that.  However the fans I do know got their start on the Donner/Lester movies, hell I go on Youtube every day and see in most clips regarding Christopher Reeve.  Under the comments they all say the same thing "Reeve is the real Superman." Or  "They shouldn't have fired Donner."  Bryan Singer himself, stated that his first introduction to Superman was the original 3 hour cut that is only seen in some channels and that he wanted to share his experience with the audience.  I for one believed the guy, I mean he did give us X-men 1 and 2 after all.

The third problem I would call spoilers on, but almost every fan knows this one already.  Superman has a son.  Now this can be argued to death, even to this day people argued both how possible and impossible the situation was.  From the Mallrats argument of Superman's Sperm killing Lois to the baby itself punching a hole through her from a simple kick.   I would have been there agreeing with you guys if not for one small detail you all overlooked.  This same small detail, wins the argument that this movie was just a modernized sequel to the first two films and this I will call spoilers for since it does have to do with a movie that the majority fanbases love.  In Superman 2, Superman finally reveals his identity to Lois Lane.  He takes her to the Fortress of Solitude to tell her his origins.  It was then and there, he decides to become a human being so he could settle down with her and marry her.  In order to do that he is put into a machine, that causes concentrated beams of Red Sunlight to shine into him depowering him permanently.  After the process he does what he's been wanting to do since Superman 1, he bangs Lois.   And then in the end of the movie he erases her memory through a kiss.  While the odds are slim to none that they conceived a child during that....ahem....moment of passion.  There have been situations, both comic, TV, Movie, and animated series alike, where he has lost his powers and has taken advantage of it so he could have a romantic moment with his love interest.  Of course then Nu52 screwed that up by pairing him with Wonder Woman and as both a Batman/Wonder Woman and Superman/Lois Lane shipper that pissed me right off.  Nothing against two superheroes but it kinda ruins the romance.  With Batman and Lois Lane, they are mortals to the respective gods.  Ergo it makes them feel insecure, because as mortals they feel that they are inadequate to them and don't think they have a chance in the world.  However in the end they come to realize that Wonder Woman and Supes aren't looking for gods.  This makes good drama and in turn, make great romance. With Supes and Wonder Woman all it does is make me think of that episode of Smallville where Lana Lang and Clark Kent both have superpowers and shake the earth with their love making.  It's funny at first, but the novelty wears off.  But I ramble on.  The point though is, there are ways aside from a kryptonite condom for Supes to conceive a child, it's not rocket science. 

The fourth problem is relatively minor compared to above is Lex Luthor's plan.  The entire plan revolves around using one of the Crystals to create a Continent so he could sell it.  However there were two consequences he discovered upon testing it.  One is that the Krystal draws power from surrounding electrical areas, causing a temporary EMP that shuts off the power in nearby surroundings.  The other is that due to relative physics, two land masses can't occupy the same space without one destroying the other.  The latter fault will cause the deaths of billions.  Many fans contribute this as a problem for various reasons.  Among the few is Continent turning into Kyrptonite (Some even calling it cliche) and despite that Superman being able to lift it off the ground without it killing him.  I call bullshit on that for the various reasons.

1. Superman needs a weakness because otherwise he'd be too powerful and makes less interesting stories.
2. The Crystals didn't just copy the kryptonite it copied all the surrounding minerals under the sea: Salt, soil, sand, even traces of lead.  These in combo gave him temporary protection against the kryptonite while at the same time diluting it.
3. Superman has been known to withstand Kryptonite on some occasions and if not, rarely without some protection.  It's part of the character.  Even if he's powerless and not able to do anything, he is a determinator.  No, matter the odds he doesn't know when to quit.

The fifth and final reason is that there are no fights in it. Now those who've seen the movies/shows or read the comics would know that Superman has dealt with foes with his fists, from Darkseid to General Zod.  He even fought Luthor whilst the latter designed a kryptonite powered suit to gain an advantage. However in the case of Superman it is extremely justified that he doesn't fight all the time.  Many of the comics he was in save for the petty thugs he fought here and there, he has often tried to solve problems without resorting to violence.  The reason being was he wanted to set an example for humans that while there is nothing wrong with fighting for your beliefs, there is always a better alternative.  While I cannot wait for the first onscreen battle since Superman Fought the Zod Trio in 2, I hope they do not focus  all their power in entertaining us with just that.

Even after the flaws pointed out, do I still love Superman Returns? Yes.  Because enjoying a movie adaptation isn't about loving it and hating everyone else for not adhering to your view.  It's all about knowing the things you like about it, while accepting the faults.   A good enthusiast knows what they like, while a great one doesn't show ignorance of what's not to like. 

As usual debate, argue and let me know what I missed. Stay Tuned For More and Look up in the sky.

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