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MAN OF STEEL Post-Release
#1

I came out pretty underwhelmed by it, and it's sinking in my estimation the more I think about it. There's a 20 minute opening on Krypton that's completely pointless (and the bastard child of the STAR WARS prequels and AVATAR), and there's only so much "Kryptonian flies into Kryptonian and crashes into building" that one can take before it's completely stale.

Cavill's fine, but he isn't actually given much to do.

I'm bothered by the fact Superman is never given a really heroic moment. His big reveal to humanity is to surrender to Zod. So basically, the first anybody on the planet sees him in the classic costume is when he's getting slapped in handcuffs. Absolutely nothing here compares to Routh's saving of the plane in SUPERMAN RETURNS. (Considering the inevitable collateral damage from his battle with Zod, I have trouble seeing people looking at Superman as a hero after this flick. They'd be terrified of him.)

Lane and especially Costner are aces. Crowe does well, but his role is pretty silly ("I'm dead but still a totally sentient conscience"). The film can be summed up rather easily as needing more Kansas and less Krypton.

People joke about the overuse of lifts in RETURNS, but this movie could just as easily be titled SUPERMAN FLIES INTO STUFF.

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#2

Yeah.  Underwhelmed would be a bit strong for me, but I just found this to be pretty solid as a setup for a potentially better sequel.

I really dug the back and forth between the past and present and wished that more of the tedious climactic finale had continued using that device to mix things up.

I liked Cavill quite a bit and I thought he did great with what was given.  But the writing was lacking.  It sets up interesting ideas, but makes the same mistakes that The Matrix Revolutions did by just bringing it all down to BIG FLYING PUNCHY FIGHTS that got tedious for me very quickly.

Chalk it up to me growing up on Dragonball where that shit happened all the time.  Seeing it in live-action isn't even a big deal, since it's all animation anyway.  And these sequences aren't anywhere inventive and varied enough to maintain how long they go on.  It's a lot of the same thing over and over.  If you've been waiting your whole life to see that, congratulations.  You'll get your wish.

At least with the Super Burly Brawl of Revolutions, the tedious pointlessness of the Neo/Smith fight was the point.  It was a fight that wouldn't end until Neo gave up.

Supes vs Zod doesn't have that.  There is no sense of progression about who is winning or how one will eventually win.  It comes down to the movie contriving a situation to force it to an end.  And while that moment got a big reaction from the audience, I have very mixed feelings about it.  (Devin covers some of that in his review).

This is gonna get into some raw territory... but The Avengers handled the destruction of a city much better.  Obviously, it was a much lighter film tonally.  But within all the relentless destruction, there were a variety of beats.  It obviously had the advantage of a team of superheroes that did their business in various ways.  It had the room to be more inventive.  And the point of the thing was to show all these characters working together.  It's a long sequence, but that stuff helps push it through.

About Snyder's stylistic choices:

Since he seems to have curbed his jones for speed-ramping completely for this movie, it's as if he needed to get his rocks off another way.  And that way is SERVO ZOOMS.  Servo zooms constantly.  Smashing into any establishing shot!  Often 2 times in one shot!

It's weird.

And being a lover of slow-motion photography, I've never minded the speed-ramping itself.  It was that it was used so arbitrarily in Snyder's previous films.

I think some VERY judicious use of slow-motion would've helped to vary the sense of pace and impact during all the smashy-smashy action.  As it is now, it's just so unrelenting and manic in its desperation to show has fast and powerful these characters are.  But dammit... use ALL the tools at your disposal!

I remember thinking that Joe Johnston used speed-ramping really well in Captain America to show off Cap's abilities.

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#3

I forgot to give the movie major points for the way it handles the Lois Lane character.  It totally fulfilled the expectations set when Amy Adams was cast.  She's great and the movie makes the character feel vital.

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#4

There were some odd things about the movie.  Superman's solution for everything was just to fly into it.  Giant planet terraforming machine?  I'll fly through it.  Zod beating on my mom?  I'll fly him through a few buildings.

Also, if it didn't matter if Superman was alive or dead for Zod to extract the Codex, while wouldn't Zod just ask Superman to give him some DNA and then go terraform another planet? There were thousands of outposts.  It seems stupid to insist on terraforming Earth when there was so much resistance.  Being the last of your species, getting repopulated would be your primary goal.  Where the repopulation happens wouldn't matter so much, at least in the beginning.

Overall, though, the movie was still enjoyable.  It was interesting seeing Clark develop into Superman.  It was also cool to see him be more self conscious about how powerful he was throughout the movie, like with the handcuffs, and at the end when he said he would help the country, but only on his terms.    That's a confident, bad ass version of Superman that makes him more than just a boy scout.

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#5

The movie uses the trope of a half-breed having to choose between his two homes.  But the movie doesn't go all the way with it.  Such themes are spouted by characters, but when it comes down to it... there wasn't enough build-up to dramatize those choices.

Post-release, but I'm still giving fair warning...

I want to talk about the way Zod is eventually defeated and how Superman reacts to it.  In his first time out at superheroics, Superman full on murders Zod by breaking his neck.  That sets an interesting precedent for a character who is generally seen as a boy-scout.  I wonder if Nolan and Goyer did this very intentionally for the specific end game of changing that boy-scout perception.  But ignoring the possibility that this will be dealt with in a sequel, I think the film drops the ball in terms of dealing with it now.

That big mournful scream in the trailers was right after he killed Zod.  And that reaction, clearly meant to indicate how painful it was for him to destroy the only other Kryptonian left in the universe (to his knowledge), felt out of line with what little the film set that up.  There wasn't enough sense of Superman holding back to give Zod a chance to change his tune.  They just flew around smashing into building after building completely reducing Metropolis to dust.

For a movie that openly tries to deal with the way our world would react to the existence of Superman and our acceptance of him as a friend, it's really nonchalant about the insane amount of catastrophic death and damage his presence has caused.  And yet the movie is so keen on establishing the Clark Kent: Reporter persona at the end that it's almost as if the world (and the movie) completely forgot about the state of Metropolis is left in.  And this is a movie that blatantly states how Clark is someone who is compelled to help people in danger (stated outright by Lois).  And yet, there is VERY little sense of that compulsion when it comes to the insane amount of collateral damage during the finale.

This happening so soon after Star Trek Into Darkness also treated the utter demolition of a city so brazenly... I'm getting pretty worn out by it.

Seriously... the amount of destruction (I can only come up with so many synonyms for this...) is ridiculous to the point that some of my friends (who really enjoyed the movie) were seriously worried that we'd get another instance of time-traveling reset-button!  I didn't consider that myself specifically, but I did wonder if there would be some kind of stupid Kryptonian building rebuilder to help rebuild Metropolis.

With the way the movie disregards the damage done, it might as well have.

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#6

So, how is Michael Shannon? I've been hesitant to ask because he's a favorite around these parts, but I've been worried that he was going to be the weak link in the cast.

I just don't see him as a Zod type character.

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#7

I have no baggage with the Zod character.

I thought Michael Shannon was fun.  He chews that scenery, but he also gets to play one of those villains who truly believes what he is doing is right.

But all that said, I think it's still the script that doesn't give him enough to do aside from BE THE BAD GUY.  Or maybe Shannon's performance is a little one-note?

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#8
ADoes Chris Meloni get to shout?
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#9

I assume he shouts something during battles.  But it's not a performance that struck me as 'shouty.'

I actually really liked Meloni in the movie.  He has a bit of an arc/rivalry with one of the Kryptonians.

Also, when I was talking about the movie with friends afterwards, I kept referring to him as Elias Koteas.

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#10
Quote:
This is gonna get into some raw territory... but The Avengers handled the destruction of a city much better.  Obviously, it was a much lighter film tonally.  But within all the relentless destruction, there were a variety of beats.  It obviously had the advantage of a team of superheroes that did their business in various ways.  It had the room to be more inventive.  And the point of the thing was to show all these characters working together.  It's a long sequence, but that stuff helps push it through.

Yeah...no. Just no, Mr. Mc"I hate Nolan so much I want to kill myself"nooj

My problem with The Avengers (and plenty of other similar films) is there's no real weight despite the fact that it's an enemy invasion attacking U.S. soil. It should be a big deal considering that people are clearly dying, yet The Avengers is so lighthearted, so breezy, none of it really mattered at all.

I thought Man of Steel absolutely nailed just how dire and, seemingly, helpless the situation was. People are clearly, violently, dying and that moment with Laurence Fishburne trying to save that employee was absolutely fantastic (and a moment of great acting as well). Yeah, it definitely did get a bit out of hand as that fight dragged on, as it's so weird that Lois Lane goes back to work even though Metropolis is basically leveled by the end of the movie; but even so, I was fairly enthralled throughout those action films. They hit hard in a way that I've always wanted a superhero film to--you could really feel those Kryptonians pummel each other. Basically, this is the Dragon Ball film I've always wanted.

On the rest of the film: I really liked it--more than I thought I would. I do agree that the script runs into the same problems that TDKR did, but the performances are great across the board and Cavill is a pretty good Superman.

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#11

Wait, so THE AVENGERS' finale doesn't work because it's too light, but MAN OF STEEL's finale does because it has "weight"?  Even though in THE AVENGERS they're actively trying to help people on the ground and dealing with the ramifications of what's happening and in MAN OF STEEL Superman is actively causing so much of the destruction and pressing on with more?

Why is the final fight of this movie even in Metropolis?  Once Superman disabled the stupid laser thing, there's no reason he should have kept that fight in a populated area.  All Zod wanted to do was kill him.

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#12
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dark Shape View Post
All Zod wanted to do was kill him.

"...please let me kill your Superman?...please...?"

"FOR GOD'S SAKE, LET THE BOY KILL SUPERMAN"

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#13
AYeah, but Avengers wasn't going for weighty. The tone just doesn't ask for that. It was just concerned with being a romp, really... with some lip service to the direness of the situation. People use the Saturday morning cartoon aspect of it as some dig at the movie, but I see it as a strength.

Now, that comes with its own problems, I agree. But lack of engagement wasn't a problem for me due to the variety of action beats, the fun ensemble, and the thrill of seeing the Avengers work together. And hey, they at least make an attempt to get people to safety.

Man of Steel REALLY wants to be weighty. Almost everything about it screams it. It actively does not want to be seen as a lark. The dialogue, the themes it attempts to tackle, the cinematography, the score... And I'll give it the points for ambition, but that reach for weightiness does not come cheap.

Like, I completely understand why the final moments of Supes suddenly feeling pressure to save one family after disregarding thousands of others is normally an acceptable dramatic convention. But this movie really stretched my engagement of that convention.

In the end, that moment had enough intimacy to work well enough for me in the moment. But the movie didn't make enough of an effort outside of that moment to make it work beyond that. It raised all sorts of questions that this movie doesn't bother to deal with. Considering what the producer of the film said about not attaching some post-credit Easter Egg to avoid being seen as a commercial for a sequel... shouldn't this film have done a more thorough job in dealing with the ideas and themes it set up?
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#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dark Shape View Post

  All Zod wanted to do was kill him.

And you know...kill everyone else on the planet. Dude was kind of pissed about the whole "rest of his people dying" and stuff.

Quote:
Wait, so THE AVENGERS' finale doesn't work because it's too light, but MAN OF STEEL's finale does because it has "weight"?

Yup.

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#15

Zod's only motivation once his ship crashes is to kill Kal-El.  He doesn't care about anything else, and doesn't start targeting civilians until he's already lost the fight.  Superman could take the fight to space or take the fight to the Arctic and it'd make no difference to Zod whatsoever.

Sorry, am I thinking too much?

This is also a film where we see that each of Superman's cells contains a Kryptonian child.

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#16
A[quote name="The Dark Shape" url="/community/t/148183/man-of-steel-post-release#post_3527973"]Wait, so THE AVENGERS' finale doesn't work because it's too light, but MAN OF STEEL's finale does because it has "weight"?  Even though in THE AVENGERS they're actively trying to help people on the ground and dealing with the ramifications of what's happening and in MAN OF STEEL Superman is actively causing so much of the destruction and pressing on with more?

 
Why is the final fight of this movie even in Metropolis?  Once Superman disabled the stupid laser thing, there's no reason he should have kept that fight in a populated area.  All Zod wanted to do was kill him.
[/quote]

It is in fact Superman who is the first to draw collateral damage blood too.

To be fair, he does do it in a fit of rage to save his mother. And one could argue that this is the first time he's had to enter super heroics of this scale.

But shouldn't he feel SOME kind of remorse for all the shit he demolishes? That's my real issue.

I suppose Ma Kent does say something along the lines of, "It's just stuff."

That's COLD, Ma Kent!
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#17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post

Yeah, but Avengers wasn't going for weighty. The tone just doesn't ask for that. It was just concerned with being a romp, really... with some lip service to the direness of the situation. People use the Saturday morning cartoon aspect of it as some dig at the movie, but I see it as a strength.

Now, that comes with its own problems, I agree. But lack of engagement wasn't a problem for me due to the variety of action beats, the fun ensemble, and the thrill of seeing the Avengers work together. And hey, they at least make an attempt to get people to safety.

Man of Steel REALLY wants to be weighty. Almost everything about it screams it. It actively does not want to be seen as a lark. The dialogue, the themes it attempts to tackle, the cinematography, the score... And I'll give it the points for ambition, but that reach for weightiness does not come cheap.

Like, I completely understand why the final moments of Supes suddenly feeling pressure to save one family after disregarding thousands of others is normally an acceptable dramatic convention. But this movie really stretched my engagement of that convention.

In the end, that moment had enough intimacy to work well enough for me in the moment. But the movie didn't make enough of an effort outside of that moment to make it work beyond that. It raised all sorts of questions that this movie doesn't bother to deal with. Considering what the producer of the film said about not attaching some post-credit Easter Egg to avoid being seen as a commercial for a sequel... shouldn't this film have done a more thorough job in dealing with the ideas and themes it set up?

I don't really mean that as a dig against tone; it's fine that it has a Saturday Morning Cartoon vibe. But walking out of that theater I felt like a lot of that movie felt like a kid just slapping a bunch of action figures around...it felt weightless, and I really couldn't connect to anything that was occurring during that final battle in the city. It has a lot more to do with how it was directed as an action film than actual tone. I don't have a problem with "fun."

But I just really enjoyed watching MoS unfold, and it did a great job of selling the audience on the fact that it's a bunch of meta-humans going at it--something that I don't think Marvel's films ever managed to do; and again, that has nothing to do with tone.

But here's the thing: I actually do see your point, and I do understand that spectacle for the sake of spectacle has become a real problem for these types of films. That said, it just didn't really bother me enough to take me out of the film or hinder my enjoyment of the movie.

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#18

Do they handle the Pa Kent stuff well? One of my favourite touches in the 78 film was around the mundanity of Pa Kent's fate, and the associated trauma this has on Supes. It's such a small, everyday moment in Donner's film, quite unlike the big, tragic, emotionally crass moment it could have been.

Slightly concerned from what I've read about how Costner is dispatched in this one. Am hoping he isn't taken out by a flying number plate to the forehead or similar, mid-tornado.

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#19
AAll he does is monologue about Clark's future, but Costner is really good. His fate is completely over-the-top, though.
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#20
AAll he does is monologue about Clark's future, but Costner is really good. His fate is completely over-the-top, though.
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#21
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dark Shape View Post

All he does is monologue about Clark's future, but Costner is really good. His fate is completely over-the-top, though.

True, but they sell it enough that it works.

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#22
AYeah, I thought that moment was great. It's over the top, but not played up that way.
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#23

The discussions about Zod, Kal, death, and destruction are all interesting and valid; after the screening, a number of my fellow critics who all happen to be fans of the character mulled over the film's climactic act of violence and whether or not it really breaks that much from who Superman really is as a hero. In the most literal sense, it deos- he doesn't kill. He goes out of his way not to kill. So murdering Zod is a huge deal, and I suspect that Goyer and Nolan will return to that murder again and again as a plot point, either to emphasize Kal's dedication to his "no killing" credo or to pull him away from it even further. I'm going to guess the former; this is Kal in his salad days, his first jaunt out as Superman. He hasn't yet become the man that we know and revere from the comic books. If they're smart, they're going to use Zod's murder as a recurring point of regret for Kal as he rigidly adheres to his policy of preserving life.

That said, the "collateral damage" comments strike me as somewhat disingenuous. Kal doesn't kill, yes, but he does create situations where other people die, and if you need further proof of that, then please read Kingdom Come, a graphic novel that (spoiler warning for those who haven't read it) ends with a nuclear apocalypse that kills countless superheroes- and happens to be a direct result of the actions Kal takes (or won't take, depending on how you look at it) in the rest of the narrative. It's fantastic stuff and perhaps my favorite Superman moment of all time, partly because it's dramatically satisfying and partly because it undercuts his mission to preserve life. While he doesn't kill anyone with his own hands, he is indirectly responsible for the massive loss of life at the story's climax, much as he is responsible for the collateral damage incurred in his battles with Zod.

I will echo Nooj's sentiment regarding the Kansas fight: the dude saw his mother in danger and lost it. It's also worth noting that we're watching Kal-el in his fledgling days as Earth's champion, as opposed to the veteran hero seen in, again, titles like Kingdom Come. He's still driven by his belief that all life is worth defending, and he's not a murderer at his core- we see that throughout the flashbacks- but he's also young and undisciplined. Superman doesn't kill, but Kal-el isn't really "Superman" yet, so when his rage leads to the destruction of Smallville's town center, and when his reckless fight against Zod leads to Metropolis being leveled even further, it fits the character within the context of the film. My hope is that, again, the next film touches on the lessons he learned from fighting Zod and we see him grow into the preserver of life we all know and love.

Interestingly, I don't think that him murdering Zod is actually against character if you want to treat him as a Jewish superhero (which I'm inclined to for a boatload of reasons). Applying Jewish law to that scenario, he had to kill Zod. He had no other choice. Granted, the film paints him into that corner, but he's perfectly within his rights to take Zod's life to protect the family Zod threatens with his heat vision. That doesn't stop the moment from feeling very, very antithetical to Superman as laid out on the comic book pages, but, frankly, I thought it worked and didn't totally violate Superman's code of ethics. He does give Zod chances to surrender- maybe not in that fight, but in other areas of the film, definitely. I think their brawl should have been broken up with at least one beat where Kal pleads with Zod to stop one last time, but there's enough "you don't have to do this" sentiment thrown around elsewhere that the absence of it in their climactic clash didn't bother me.

Overall, I liked Man of Steel. It could have used a good, healthy trimming- it could have been 20 minutes shorter without losing anything- and I think it has no idea what "choice" really means. (Plus, Zod, who believes in eugenics, clearly hasn't had a philosophical and ethical discussion with Faora, who believes in evolution. You'd think that would have come up at one point or another.) But it's ambitious, and I think it meets its own ambitions for the most part; it's bold, it's beautifully shot, and it has massive scale and scope. Not only that, it manages to recycle themes and plot points from Donner's Superman films without actually feeling like it's recycling them; Snyder makes these ideas his own and does his own thing with them, improving on them in some ways (Krypton, Zod's motivation, Russel Crowe being awesome all over the place, etc). That's kind of a feat given how vulturous popular cinema has become of late, and I think the film deserves credit for achieving that goal if nothing else.

I will say that as much as I like Amy Adams, and as much as she's good here, she's sort of wasted. Lois Lane is kind of a cipher; we don't really get to know her all that much as a character, and what motivates her to snoop as much as she does. It's nice that even though she's put in damsel in distress scenarios, she's not really a helpless victim- these things happen to her because she's actively asserting herself in situations and trying to help. But it mostly feels like the producers just grabbed a famous, talented actress for the role in the hopes that she could flesh out a thinly-written character. Cavill's also good, and he's obviously in a much more fleshed-out role, but somehow he and Adams manage not to play off each other all that well. There's something missing between them, which I found kind of surprising.

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#24
AI think there's a fundamental conflict in this movie. It wants to be the fresh cinematic take on the character, but a lot of the storytelling uses the public's general awareness of the character as a crutch at times.

The Lois/Clark romance seems like something that should've been set up here and paid off in a later movie. It didn't feel earned here.

But it's Lois and Superman! They have to kiss now!!!!
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#25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ska Oreo View Post

True, but they sell it enough that it works.

It's a really great visual and Costner sells it.  Really just one of those things that you remember after it's over and think, "Wait a second..."

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post

I think there's a fundamental conflict in this movie. It wants to be the fresh cinematic take on the character, but a lot of the storytelling uses the public's general awareness of the character as a crutch at times.

Definitely.  Someone who walks into this movie without a decent understanding of Superman is going to be lost right after the odd cut from the capsule landing to adult Clark on the fishing boat.  And the film fully expect you to be aware of the Superman/Lois romance and know about Clark's Daily Planet persona.  None of this is really actually established in the movie itself.

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#26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post

I think there's a fundamental conflict in this movie. It wants to be the fresh cinematic take on the character, but a lot of the storytelling uses the public's general awareness of the character as a crutch at times.

The Lois/Clark romance seems like something that should've been set up here and paid off in a later movie. It didn't feel earned here.

But it's Lois and Superman! They have to kiss now!!!!


This, this, this. It felt really forced. In fact, I'd just flat-out write it off as fan service and leave it at that. They kiss because they're supposed to because they're Lois and Superman. That's the rule. Except that it didn't really fit in the movie at all, and they don't really bond beyond Superman saving Lois' life (which, admittedly, is probably the strongest aphrodisiac in existence). Feels like they could have gotten together in the sequel and it would have played better.

Speaking of: why the Daily Planet? Why? I honestly hated, hated, hated the idea that Clark, who has revealed himself to the military and to Lois' co-workers at the Planet, decides that the best way to go incognito is to go work at a place where one person definitely knows his identity and where several others might be able to recognize him through his stupid disguise. Maybe that stuff still works on characters within their own narratives. It doesn't work on audiences anymore, and seeing him go through this decision-making process where he concludes that he's best positioned to help Earth by putting on glasses and starting on as a reporter for the Planet is really frustrating.

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#27
AIt's kinda amazing how cool with Supes the army is in this movie after everything that happened.

At most, they just wanna see where this guy goes in his spare time. But in the aftermath of Metropolis's ruin, he also destroys a pricey satellite (because PRIVACY!!!! which is about as cheap ploy to curry audience favor as is stealing from eeeevil banks in heist movies like NOW YOU SEE ME) and says, "I'M A LIBERTARIAN!!! See ya, suckuzzzz!!" (flies away)

And of all the people to just brush it off with, "Oh Supes, you scamp!!" it's the grumpy Commander Locke from the Matrix sequels!! Hahahah...

But it's all in good fun, because the young soldier is smitten with Cavill's SO HAWTNESS.
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#28

Seeing Harry Lennix basically play Lock all over again made me laugh. Hey, like Brian Glover said, you play to your strengths in this game- and Lennix's strength is being a grizzled, iron-jawed military hardass!

I didn't even think about the privacy stuff whatsoever. Not in the way that seeing Iron Man 3 made me think about the Boston Marathon bombings, at least. The film doesn't take even a moment to explore that stuff, it just brushes right past it.

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#29

http://www.chud.com/138253/tag-team-revi...-of-steel/

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#30
Regarding destruction of property; you're going to let things slide for the alien god who is the only defense against hostile alien gods.
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#31

You don't know!!!  YOU WEREN'T THERE!!!

You're also gonna let things slide when you're crushed by rubble and dead!

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#32

Lex Luthor is totally going to be pissed off at Superman in Man of Steel 2 because his cousin was crushed by some rubble.

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#33

Lex should be a member of quintuplets.  (I have no idea how to word this... one of quintuplets?  one of 5 quintuplets?  in a quintuplet?)

Mex, Tex, Bex, and Rex all perished when the LexCorp building was destroyed.

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#34

It's interesting that the world does indeed seem to "let it slide", speaking to Kal-el's role in the destruction of Metropolis, but realistically I think that the people of Earth would be far more afraid of him given the way that the last act plays out. The sequence really could have used another moment or two where Kal stops his assault on Zod to save innocent lives; as it stands the whole thing plays, but it doesn't have the thematic resonance it needed to be truly successful.

Speaking of Lex Luthor, and referencing Kingdom Come again,  I'd be interested in seeing Man of Steel 2 present Luthor as a scheming villain who uses a facade of concern for humanity's sovereignty in a world where Superman exists. Maybe using the Mankind Liberation Front would be a big stretch, but something along those lines could be compelling.

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#35
Quote:
Originally Posted by agracru View Post

It's interesting that the world does indeed seem to "let it slide", speaking to Kal-el's role in the destruction of Metropolis, but realistically I think that the people of Earth would be far more afraid of him given the way that the last act plays out.

Especially when certain shots of Supes hovering in the air over the military gave me serious Dr. Manhattan vibes.

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