I think it’s fair to say that not many people like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Even our own review here on 3rd World Geeks generally says it’s good but terribly flawed. One of the issues a lot of comic book fans have with Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder’s new movie as well as Man of Steel actually, is what they’re doing with Superman. And I just so happen to be one of those comic book geeks.
Now, I don’t actually have issue with Henry Cavill’s portrayal of the Man of Steel himself. I think he does an okay job of pulling off the role and is good with what’s given to him. My problem with the new DC movie Superman is that, well, this new Man of Steel is so different from the Superman I grew up with. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that they’re totally getting the character wrong.
To sort of illustrate my point, let’s first talk about Superman’s myriad of superpowers and abilities. He’s super-strong; he’s actually strong enough to push a planet out of it’s orbit! He also has super-speed, hence the phrase “faster than a speeding bullet.” Superman also has the moniker “The Man of Steel” as his skin is nigh-impenetrable. Superman can also fly into the deepest reaches of space if he wanted to. Heck, he can see through wall and even burn a person just by looking at them due to his various “vision” powers! That’s how powerful he is!
Now, imagine if you just had one of Superman’s amazing abilities. Just one. What would you use it for? I would say the immediate answer would be for good… but that’d be a lie. Oh, you know in your heart of hearts you’d probably use it for some unscrupulous purposes once in a while. But not Superman! No, Superman wouldn’t do that because he’s more than just a man and more than just his super powers. He’s more of a symbol. To borrow from Spider-Man most famous phrase, Superman is the epitome of a person wielding great power (in Superman’s case, “great powers,” plural) with great responsibility.
Superman is essentially the epitome of everything good a person should embody. Clark Kent was adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent and raised on a farm in Kansas. There, Clark’s parents taught him not just how to fit in with regular people, but the value of being a good person for no reason but to just be good. Clark didn’t need to witness his parent’s murder at the hand of street crime like Batman to use his powers for good. Nor did he have to be kidnapped by terrorists to figure out that his weapons could be used for good like Iron Man. No, Clark Kent decided to become Superman and use his super abilities for the good of mankind because he knew it was the only right thing to do.
Superman is essentially optimism personified. He symbolizes that everything will be alright even if they world is in bad shape. And it’s actually kind of refreshing to see such a picture of such positivity, especially today. The world has gotten really cynical and grim in the eyes of a lot of people, which is probably one of the reasons why Batman, with his cold and dark demeanor, has become so popular. But unlike Batman, who’s decided that the world will go to hell in a handbasket, Superman still looks at the world and sees hope in it and that we can turn things around for the better.
And this is the version of Superman we got time and time again before. He was like that in the comic that started way back with Action Comics #1 in 1938. He was still a beacon of hope during the old Max Fleischer cartoons of the 1940’s. He was still the boy scout when he appeared in his various TV outings like Lois and Clark, Superboy, Smallville and more. He was still the picture of positivity when he entered the DC Animated Universe produced by Bruce Timm. And Christopher Reeve practically embodied what Superman is when he took on the role in those old feature films. I mean, at the end of each film, you would see him flying in the sky just as the sun rose on the horizon before smiling at the camera. If that’s not the picture of positivity, I don’t know what is!
But what Superman did we get with the new films brought out by Zack Snyder and Warner Bros? We got a Superman who would scowl a lot, was super serious and, while not as grim as Batman, a man who didn’t really understand why he was trying to protect the world. This was a man who wasn’t sure if he should be using his abilities to save anyone as he felt there would be consequences to his actions. In short, Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. sucked out one of the most integral elements of what makes Superman an endearing character: his positive outlook in life.
The movie producers seem to think that we all want our superheroes to be gritty like Batman, who thinks the world is a cruel place and we have to live in a world of fear and darkness. Superman is the total opposite. He’s more than just the most powerful superhero. The character honestly believes there’s goodness in the world and we have to nurture it. Superman is the yin. Batman is the yang. Unfortunately, Zack Snyder decided to make Superman also a yang, which totally goes against what Superman stands for.
In fact, we need Superman to be that symbol of pure good more than ever. With all the trouble the world is facing, we need someone who can inspire us to do good for no other reason but it’s the decent thing to do. Warner Bros and Zack Snyder took that away from us because they only see the darkness, not the lighter side of goodness that Superman symbolizes.
What do you think of the Superman from the new movies? Let me know in the comments section below!