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David Poland

By David Poland

Superman & How I Analyze Movies

There has been a lot of discussion around Man of Steel lately. Nothing I have read has convinced me that the movie is coherent… not in terms of plot, but in terms of the constant philosophizing it does. Some people have been more dismissive than I about it. Others don’t care.

One reader, in particular, made the effort to speak to my issues with the film as noted in my review. And while I think it is futile to keep arguing over so minor a piece of work, I do want to address the general ideas of how I choose to do the job.

As I turns out, I am quite aware of the history of Superman and the mythology. The Superman Problem is not new. It has been a problem with the entire superhero canon, especially with DC. Once someone is “super,’ how does a film make them vulnerable in a away that makes the film interesting. Marvel has had an easier go of it, as the hook for Stan Lee & Co was superhero vulnerability from the start. However, if you wonder how The Hulk could be so great in Avengers and not have a good full-length film? Well… The Hulk is great for a while, not so great as a main character. So you make a movie about David Banner and then, doing the funny, raging Hulk of Avengers doesn’t fit. He’d be great in an intergalactic road movie with Thor and Tony Stark… which is, really, what Avengers was.

But I digress…

When I walk into movies… all movies… every movie… it is my goal to know as little about what I am going to watch and the hows and whys of why it exists as possible. Not only do I love to be surprised, even by small parts by great character actors and stuff like that, but I desperately want to judge the movie based exclusively on what I see on that screen. Now, of course, there are impediments. And a number after a title assures that there is a history. I pay attention to a lot of what is going on in the world of movies, but avoid early features and script comments and early reviews as much as possible. I don’t want to know, because I want to analyze the movie, not the stuff around it, not the response of others to it, not the things I expected or wanted.

I sometimes fail in trying to see a movie in a pure way. Can’t claim otherwise. But I walk into even the most encumbered movie trying to remove layers of outside influence.

How others do this, they can say for themselves. What they feel is appropriate, they can say for themselves. I speak for myself and only myself.

When a movie begins, I am reading the movie like a book. In that first “chapter,” the movie tells me its intentions. And my take on criticism is that my first responsibility is to understand what the film is trying to do and then, how well it succeeds in doing the job. The best movies almost all state their intention within the first scenes.

There have been 13 wide release movies this summer to date. I have seen 6 of them (Iron Man, Trek, Supes, Gatsby, Hangover, TITE) and I saw the first 10 minutes of F&F6, which, as noted above, told me exactly what kind of ride that movie was going to be… which is to say, much like the last one, though a little broader. Had no interest, really, in Epic, Purge, or the Tyler Perry (and LGF has no interest in me seeing a Tyler Perry movie… ever. So THERE). I was scared away from The Internship and traveling through most of its press reachout. And After Earth… well… kinda wanna… kinda hate the idea of even putting it in my head. It’s one of those movies that I might like more than others. Maybe not. But no one has pushed it on me and time has been tight, so I have focused on the marketing nightmare and not engaged the actual film. Don’t really need something else to complain about and God knows, the film doesn’t need any more piling on.

I’d say that all but The Great Gatsby and This Is The End offered up the clear direction we were heading in those first few scenes. Of course, you never quite know that until the movie has played out. The most surprisingly locked into the early scenes was The Hangover 3, which never achieved the relaxed absurdity of the first film. A giraffe being beheaded while Zach G simmered in his too-familiar character in a not-very-well-shot scene was about where this movie stayed.

Man of Steel opened with a certain Dune-y-ness. Of course, Dune has become a cult classic, so maybe that’s not so bad. How many ways can you do another planet with future and past and all that? Lots of movies refer to other movies and I am not grading down much for that. Noted, but not to distraction. Same with the laughable—and I may have laughed—penis ships and ships with sperm-y tentacles and vaginal shapes. Okay. Funny. But, let that go.

But then what seemed to be a core theme was offered up. The survival of Krypton’s people/species. The council (which just sits around talking but doing nothing according to both Jor-El and Zod) is taken to task, but then has responsibility removed by Jor-El who proclaims that everyone on Krypton is “already dead.” So why are we arguing? The Codex, I guess. And that’s when Man of Steel started to lose this viewer.

The idea of a Codex… of a genetic pool that is already fully created and pre-programmed is fresh and fascinating. I’m interested.

What Man of Steel is now telling me, as a viewer and as a critic, is that it takes its ideas fairly seriously, blowing up Krypton and shooting Kal into space is not enough drama for the filmmakers, and they are interested in offering up some political subtext.

Again, sign me up. I am happy to see a more serious Superman movie with more on its mind.

But it strikes me immediately that even though Jor-El and Zod pretty much have “HERO” and “VILLAIN” stenciled on their costumes, they are no quite as black-and-white as the movie seems to suggest that they are. They both have a plan to keep Kryptonian blood flowing into the future. But While Zod wants to do what he suggests Kryptonians have done before, which is to find a new habitable planet, rebuild, and populate with The Codex, Jor-El wants to send The Codex to an unnamed planet, along with his newborn son, where the sun should result in making genetic Krypronians nearly invulnerable… super.

The self-seriousness is in full bloom when one thinks about this argument. But there is no actually argument. The Villain is wrong… because he is The Villain.

In modern America, the similar argument is how to be a superpower across the globe. Do we invade countries and seek control in order to keep people from doing harm to themselves (in our perspective)? It’s a weighty and complex question on which well-intended people can disagree and argue harshly.

I LOVE the idea of having this level of discourse in the midst of a superhero movie.

But it turns out that The Codex is nothing but a red herring of the worst kind. Not only that, it’s barely discussed in any real way.

Worse, the closest thing to discourse is the argument of these two A-types, one of whom is “just following (genetically encoded) orders” and the other of whom is so arrogant that he thinks that the sun will (literally, kinda) shine out of his son’s ass to the degree that only good is likely to come of him being in control of the future of Krypton. Both are, pretty much, egomaniacal assholes. Neither suggests trust in anyone other than themselves or, in Jor-El’s case, their spawn.

But back to my point… in terms of my critical eye, the movie quite aggressively tells me, as it does every audience member, that this matters. A lot.

The second big issue that it focuses on with Superman-like vision is “What will people do when they find out an alien lives amongst them?”

Again… I didn’t turn this into an issue when it was a minor one in the film. It is relentlessly chewed on by His Two Dads. But instead of having a second act in which the issue is fully explored—which, admittedly, is a more traditional approach—it just skips any confrontation on this issue at all. The closest thing to a representation of humankind’s response is the military’s response and Lois Lane’s… which is a military response and a journalistic response which do not remotely represent regular people. And again, Dad, this time Pa Kent, is a classic, “Your mom and I can know and we love you anyway and aren’t afraid of you… but those people out there… they aren’t ready.” Patronizing, arrogant asshole. I guess he redeems himself by being willing to die for his stupidity, but he gives no real thought to how the loss will effect his son or wife, does he?

There is a lot of other stuff, as people argue about who knows what about Superman. Come on. Is this a movie that cuts to stuff around the planet repeatedly? Yes. Is it unfair for a critic to notice that the only voice in this world crisis is American? No. The destruction of Metropolis. Fine in a movie that is as happily goofy as Avengers. Not so okay as a “matter of fact” here… because the movie keeps claiming to be more thoughtful than that.

There are a million “wrong” things that I can happily swim past while watching a movie… If the movie tells me that is what it wants me to do. You couldn’t watch a James Bond film, certainly before Daniel Craig but even now, without giving up on disbelief. Sussing out “real” is not the critic’s job (except in some documentary criticism). The job, in my opinion, is to judge within context. And even then, in most cases, honorable people can disagree.

A movie like Iron Man 3 asks the audience to take it seriously only in the context of the personal story of Tony Stark. And that is why, in the 3rd act, when it becomes a CG show, it is a bit disappointing. But my standards for that film and Man of Steel was a different as the films themselves. This Is The End is NOT reality… not close. But what I love about it is the way it plays with the meta-reality of these famous actors. It’s not true, but it’s smart.

So that is what I have to say about that. Thanks for your time.

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47 Responses to “Superman & How I Analyze Movies”

  1. brack says:

    “Both are, pretty much, egomaniacal assholes. Neither suggests trust in anyone other than themselves or, in Jor-El’s case, their spawn.”

    Kal-El was the first offspring to be born naturally for hundreds of years. He believed that was the future for Kryptonians. Zod just doing his job? When we first see him he’s muderering his own people. How is he not a villain? Is he just a guy following orders, just like the Nazis following Hitler? He is Hitler. Plus I’m not really convinced that all Kryptonians can’t go against their programming. How do you have a problem with Jor-El then, since he’s only “following orders” as well?

    I could go on, but the fact is you have your reasons for disliking the movie. That’s fine, but don’t be surprised that people will disagree with your reasoning and use supporting evidence of events and words spoken in the film that back up our points. I think that’s only fair. Otherwise, why have this blog at all? I’m sorry if some on here attempt to take cheap shots at you, people can write stupid things.

  2. Joe Leydon says:

    “Is this a movie that cuts to stuff around the planet repeatedly? Yes. Is it unfair for a critic to notice that the only voice in this world crisis is American? No.” But hasn’t that been a convention in not just sci-fi and comic-book movies, but practically all US-produced films since… well, forever? (Which, of course, makes it so jarring — and refreshing — to see Japan as the center of the known universe in so many Godzilla movies.)

  3. jepressman says:

    Oh my. So Man of Steel isn’t a comic book super hero movie but is some code for the writers and Snyder’s politics?This interpretation of Superman, Jor-EL,Zod and Pa Kent and Krypton would not likely occur to the general movie-goer but it does occur to movie critics? This is just goofy.

  4. Hallick says:

    I don’t think you have to go so far as to call Pa Kent an “arrogant asshole”. His methodology is questionable for sure, but his heart seemed to be in the right place. He’s just a guy trying to protect his adopted son. Probably as much from the bullshit attention (papparazzi, talent agents, stalkers, hangers on, etc) as the scary governmental kind. But he’s so tunnel vision about it that he doesn’t appear to have prepared his son at all for the day when the big secret can’t be hidden anymore. When Zod yells at Clark something like “I was bred to be a warrior! Where did you learn how to fight? On a farm!?!”, that was actually one hell of a good point.

    Pa Kent didn’t raise Clark to be a hero, he raised him to be a pacifist. And not just a pacifist but also an abject PASSIVIST. Not only doesn’t he fight the hooligan at the backwoods bar, he turns around and walks out of the place for good (how exactly did that help out the barmaid he was attempting to defend anyway?). Despite his words, Pa Kent’s real flaw was in acting like there would NEVER come a day when Clark could drop the act and reveal himself for what he is.

  5. Bulldog68 says:

    I agree that I wish they would splice in a few world reaction scenes. Take a page from Roland Emmerich, who despite some weak scripts always seems to get that global perspective thing going.

    But then superhero movies, maybe because of their comic origin, are inherently American stories and an American viewpoint. There is no superhero from Kazakhstan. And the few that have unamerican origins are either aliens or migrate to America. The villains on the other hand, can be any nationality.

    I still don’t really agree with your unforgiving nature of MoS, but letting the same thing slide with Avengers, Thor, which was The Event that proved that there were other being s from other worlds in the Avengers Universe. Not even a brief news clip in Japanese.

    And what about all those X Men. Mutants penetrate the White House for god’s sake. Are mutants only an American issue. Where is the worldwide reaction to that shit?

    If you can’t forgive Mos. then you shouldn’t forgive the rest.

  6. David Poland says:

    It’s interesting, brack. But again, it’s the text of the film that tells us that Zod is doing not what he was told to do, but what he was literally born to do.

    A fascinating conceit… but not investigated by the film or most viewers, it seems.

  7. David Poland says:

    jepressman – If it makes you feel any better, most critics skipped right over it too.

  8. David Poland says:

    Halick… seriously… where do you get that Pa Kent raises him to be a pacifist? He raises him to be scared to show what he is and what he can do. Not sure how that makes him a pacifist.

    Adn he utterly fails as a humanitarian, uninterested in letting Clark use his power for good, lest he be found out.

    I hear ya… but I just don’t see any evidence for the claim in the film.

  9. David Poland says:

    Joe – Yes, it is the convention… as it is for most Japanese movies not to acknowledge the US.

    But again, it is the aspirations of MoS, including putting the other end of the terraforminf machine in the Indian Ocean and the lack of an American theme that make this a hole in the MoS game.

  10. LexG says:

    I know Poland bristles at the mere mention of the name, but that throwaway in this article about “Eh, I saw the first 10 minutes of FAST 6 and it told me all I needed to know” might represent the moment DP has morphed into Jeff Wells. That’s a Wells line if EVER there was one.

    Also begs the question, does DP mean he saw some promo footage at a festival… Or did he like THEATER-HOP INTO AN AUDITORIUM AT THE GROVE playing Whitman’s Sampler then duck back out? Because Christ is that a sin against the Movie Gods. Or at least against the audience members you SURELY distracted plopping down for a few in the middle of a movie that people actually paid to see. Kind of arrogant.

  11. Joe Straatmann says:

    Yeah, there are lots of points where this movie seemed to be reaching for something more but just didn’t want to deal with it. Raising the possibility that Jor-el and Zod are two sides of the same coin, but other than a “We’re not so different, you and I” mentality (Thankfully, those lines aren’t uttered), it doesn’t want to potentially make Jor-el flawed. It doesn’t want to assume there was even a tinge of arrogance in Jor-el that also exists in Zod no more than it wants to make Zod a sympathetic man who’s just doing what he’s been born to do in protecting the future of Krypton, but Superman gives him no choice. Nope, Jor-el’s the benevolent father figure and Zod’s, “I WILL FIND HIM!”

    If they wanted such a movie based around the broad strokes, that’s fine. But it’s the MOVIE ITSELF that brings up these things. The movie brings up the genetics thing and Zod doing what he was born to do and opens these doors, but there are empty rooms beyond them.

    We’re watching a movie where Superman reveals himself to a priest and there are all sorts of conversations to be had, and the movie doesn’t want to have them. It just wants to show that shot with Clark in front of Jesus for its Christ allegory. Never mind that I find Christ allegories extremely arrogant, but it’s not even that good with being a Christ allegory.

    Look, I was entertained by it. I look forward to a sequel that improves the things I liked and tries to have more character, more dialogue than monologue, and something that actually has a moral dilemma rather than forced melodrama. My fear is that because of the massive amounts of cash and the warpath people are taking to anyone who disagrees that this is a great movie and there’s nothing wrong with it, nobody’s going to try to improve this thing. They’re already trying to fast-track a sequel for 2014 and hopefully, they’ll back off on that a bit. If they don’t, well, enjoy more of the same with added hollowness and less polish because you asked for it.

  12. Joe Leydon says:

    David: Can’t say I agree with your view of Jonathan Kent. I fact, the sheer ferocity of your criticism — “patronizing, arrogant asshole,” etc. — makes me wonder whether there’s something about the character that triggers some sort of personal response in you. It’s a bit like IO a few years back, when he got positively apoplectic about War of the Worlds because the movie suggested that people would behave selfishly, not selflessly, during a global cataclysm. That one element of the movie seemed to have a disproportionate effect on him.

    Look, I am certainly no fan of the movie. And I totally agree with much of what you’ve written. But I actually thought Pa Kent’s paranoia was one of the movie’s more interesting aspects. More than once, he tells young Clark (and I’m paraphrasing from memory) that when people found out about him, “It’ll change everything.” It wasn’t just that he feared how folks would react to someone with super powers. He feared how people would react to a super-powered extra-terrestrial — that is, walking and talking, living and breathing evidence that we’re not alone in the universe. To me, that made a lot of sense, because some people view this in religious terms — in other words, they sincerely believe that God really did create human beings, and only human beings, “in His image.” Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a sequel, there’s mention made of deeply religious folks who freak out because they see Superman as some kind of spawn of Satan.

  13. brack says:

    David – did you ever consider Jor-El was “born” to save Krypton? He’s no different than Zod. Plus I doubt Zod was born to kill whoever doesn’t agree with his vision.

  14. LexG says:





  15. Martin S says:

    The global context was in the final draft and pulled before shooting, because it was another huge action scene where the Zod and crew go to international cities, (Faora in China, IIRC…), and destroy them.

    Goyer said at the premiere, they wanted to start with Superman as an American, because he sees America as his home. How that effects international issues, like airspace and civil war, comes next. Snyder said roughly the same thing to BBC.

    When Superman is seen instantly a citizen of the world, then his life in Smallville and Metropolis mean nothing. That perspective wouldn’t hit Superman for decades, until everything and everyone that connected him to Smallville and Metropolis were gone. That’s what makes him feel human.

    The Codex, like the Fortress, are established for future solutions to the DC superhero population and Superman derivatives. It doesn’t help MOS narrative, but it’s the equivalent of all the last-minute Shield/Avengers add-ons to IM, Cap and Thor.

    The Pa Kent thing doesn’t gel because of the structure. They wanted to contrast Jor-El’s prince to John’s son, but what it implies is while John is afraid for Clark, he’s also afraid of him. That’s a weird undertone to being a stepfather of a child you didn’t choose, of Joseph to Jesus, that they didn’t play out.

  16. Yancy says:

    Dave, you liked Ang Lee’s HULK. (So do I.)

  17. Don Lewis says:

    Not sure why but my comments keep not making it in. I’ll try again from work….

    I’m with you 100%, David. MAN OF STEEL is just a BAD movie. The things you outlined above are just 2 examples of the film flip-flopping and throwing stuff out that either makes no sense, is wrong/dumb or worse, dubious. Done to see like it’s adding depth when it’s really adding unexplored ideas and not the least bit interested in fleshing them out.

    I too avoid knowing as much as I can about movies before I see them and the same is true when I went into MAN OF STEEL. I was really, really excited by the trailers but by the start of the 3rd act, I was bored. Then the interminable fight scene takes place. Yawn.

    When I got home I read reviews of it and was surprised by so many fan types loving what I really think is a bad movie both construction wise, script wise and character wise. The issues of what Superman does and how he does it didn’t even really hit me until I read other, bigger Superman fans complaining it and those issues just compounded my dislike of the film.

    By contrast, I went and saw STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS finally yesterday and had a blast with it. Then, got home and read reviews that pointed out really well how it too is a DUMB, bad movie. Ans, I agree. However, it was done in a way that the glaring issues didn’t punch me in the face and bore me. MAN OF STEEL is all glitz and no substance. It tries to add substance but Goyer/Snyder fall flat with it by refusing to stick to any agenda they set out, no matter how half baked.

  18. hcat says:

    ‘ Well… The Hulk is great for a while, not so great as a main character’

    Disagree with this, I would think he is the most cinematic of the Marvel heros, they just keep getting sidetracked with the need for goofy supervillians.

    A brilliant man who gains unlimited power but only at the loss of his intelect, an uncontrollable, unbeatable force of violence that grows and grows when his brutish anger is met by others brutish anger. Think of the operatic stories you could tell if they didn’t just treat him as any other hero punching the bad guy. Hulk is at his most compelling when he is feeling cursed, confused and being hounded, as a cross between Jean Valjean and Quasimodo. This was the Hulk in all those Tales to Astonish, thats what I hoped for in Lee’s Hulk (and what a better time to tell a tale about the dehumanizing cost of brutality than the first few years after 9/11 when we as a country felt an overwhelming need to SMASH!).

  19. Joe Leydon says:

    It’s funny that The Hulk actually was very successful as a protagonist in a TV series where there were (if I remember correctly) no super villains, just regular (albeit sometimes exceedingly unpleasant)human antagonists.

  20. hcat says:

    And for five years at that. And with constant repetition, Banner enters town, some accident, kid sees transformation, Banner befriends kid finds people muscleing his family, throws some guys in leisure suits around, ensures kids silence, walks off to one of the greatest television scores (clearly modeled on The Fugitive), cue Dukes of Hazzard.

    Decent way for a kid to spend a friday night.

  21. Sam says:

    Maybe you’re onto something, hcat. I’ve always thought the Hulk was prime material for some great psychological thriller. The premise lends itself to any number of interesting possibilities for exploring the psyche and human weakness in the context of a rousing adventure movie.

    So I was at a loss for why Ang Lee’s attempt was so joyless and Leterrier’s so witless.

    But yeah, maybe it’s the focus on the antagonists in the Hulk movies. It’s not just supervillains but the stereotypical Hollywood handling of the military, too — that crap didn’t work in either film.

    The real conflict is not Banner vs. some external force but with his own inner nature. Making that the focus of a Hulk movie might be the secret to making a good one.

  22. Don Lewis says:

    I’ve always thought Hulk succeeded as a TV show because we get to know David Banner so well. That week in and week out of making new friends, potential love interests, etc. only to know something was going to make him freak out and have to leave town. I mean, granted I was only a little kid and as an adult, it may have gotten old, but I felt bad for the guy.

    And, he was so well played by Bill Bixby. The empathy and humanity of Banner hadn’t been pulled off onscreen until Ruffalo did it so it all makes sense, to me anyway.

  23. Joe Leydon says:

    Also: As I recall — and don’t laugh — The Incredible Hulk actually dealt with social issues, like teen alcoholism and domestic violence. Of course, these issues were dealt with in blunt-instrument fashion — Hulk pounded an abusive father until the guy broke down crying, and indicated he had been an abused child — but the producers didn’t bring in any extra-terrestrials, or demolish any cities.

    They did, however, piss off Steven Spielberg once, when they used footage from Duel in order to save money during an episode involving big-rig trucks. But I bet even Spielberg liked the show in general.

  24. Yancy says:

    It seems to me that those with an affection for The Hulk that is rooted in the original Lee/Kirby stuff appreciated Lee’s film. The desert base, etc. I’m one of those guys. Even as a child, I was terribly disappointed that the television show was so vanilla.

  25. Pete B. says:

    One aspect of the Hulk TV show, besides the great Bill Bixby, was just the visceral nature of the show. Lou Ferrigno was such a physical presence he felt like he was bursting out of your television. The CGI in either movie never captured that in the theater.

  26. leahnz says:

    Pete B, that’s probably relative – my teenage boy thinks the TV Ferrigno hulk is the most hilariously cheesy thing ever (we have a new cable station that plays nothing but old 70’s/80’s tv series reruns now, which is where we’ve been watching ‘twin peaks’) compared to the Hulk in The Avengers (I can’t remember if he’s seen Lee’s incarnation), so it probably depends on sensibilities and the type of images you’re conditioned/accostomed to.

    (“throws some guys in leisure suits around”, hahaha groovy polyester)

  27. christian says:

    I hated the HULK tv show. It had nothing to do with Kirby or Marvel and it was just laughable to me, despite its good Bixby intentions.

  28. Hallick says:

    “Halick… seriously… where do you get that Pa Kent raises him to be a pacifist? He raises him to be scared to show what he is and what he can do. Not sure how that makes him a pacifist.”

    I’m not saying that Pa Kent literally made the philosophical decision to raise his adopted son as a pacifist and denounce violence in every form (or that Clark ever believed in this path himself). But how can you not at least draw the conclusion that Clark was raised a de facto pacifist by dint of Pa Kent’s constant admonishment to push all of his self-defense instincts down and let humans walk all over him if need be? Pa Kent knew that alien though he may be, Clark still had the same emotional wellspring as other humans his age so the only way to make sure that he never found himself in a situation where his temper would override his self-control and cause a tragedy was to raise him as a pacifist in everything but name. And I go so far as to say that Clark was taught to be a passivist as evidenced by Pa Kent’s hand-wringing over him even saving a school bus full of kids along with his insistence that Clark stay under that overpass and watch him die in the tornado. If you’re not supposed to lift a finger to save drowning children or your own doomed dad, you bet your butt you’re being raised a passivist.

    “And he utterly fails as a humanitarian, uninterested in letting Clark use his power for good, lest he be found out.”

    From what I saw in the movie, I don’t think Pa Kent was interested in letting his son use his powers for anything EVER. He might have saw himself as a humanitarian protecting mankind from knowledge they aren’t ready to handle (nevermind that he and his wife handled it gracefully themselves)

  29. christian says:

    The script is utterly blank as to what Pa Kent’s motives are. Since we don’t even get to see the moment when they actually find out their son is an alien.

  30. js partisan says:

    Joe, that shit has become a trope. A tired fucking, that Boston showed to be rather fucking flawed Selflessness can win, and that entire movie is fucking bullshit. His son somehow surviving… such bullshit.

    That aside, Pa Kent is a red state dad, that’s scared of the world. The world is too big a place for him. He can’t fathom the world being accepting, so he wants to protect his son. Nevertheless, this entire movie is bullshit. The cast is fine, but they are trapped in a fucking Transformers movie, that can only go down from here. Why? Zod should have been last. Going to Luthor or any other character in a sequel, is just a lateral move, and the people in charge of this film series could never fathom what to do with Mongol. Thus, leaving them with bullshit sequels, that will be forgotten with a reboot in the next decade.

    This is not Superman. I could give a fuck what Playlist or anyone else says/states about the reasoning behind this iteration. Superman is hope. This movie is fucking despair with inflated casualties, because the fucking writers/producers think that makes their movie “HARD” and “REAL.” It makes it fucking bullshit, is what it makes the film.

  31. Joe Leydon says:

    JS: I think you’re totally wrong, if not dangerously naive, about human nature. But I suggest we just agree to disagree. I hope we never find out for sure which one of us is correct.

    As for Pa Kent: Isn’t one of the underlying themes of the X-Men movies the fear and loathing “normal” people have for super-powerful people? Well, you can’t get much more super-powerful than Superman, so wouldn’t you agree Pa Kent might have valid reason to be fearful of how his adoptive son would be accepted?

    Leah: Not surprised to hear your teen-age son isn’t impressed by the Hulk TV series. Back when my son still was a grade-schooler, I managed to get him to watch all of one episode of the old Johnny Quest show. He wasn’t impressed.

    Yancy: I grew up reading the original Hulk comics, and I can’t say I was a fan of Lee’s movie. The whole business of Banner’s father being some kind of mad scientist who experimented on his son was an “innovation” that was a major turn-off for me. Don’t know if this was something introduced in the comics long after I stopped reading them. But even if it was — I didn’t care for it.

  32. leahnz says:

    ha that’s funny Joe – i love Johnny Quest but the boy, not so much, you’re right; darn these kids and their new-fangled animation! then again when i was a kid i was glued to the original ‘scooby-doo’ series every saturday morning trying to solve the mysteries, so maybe i was a massive dork.

    (isn’t the whole purpose of supes cultivating his iconic ‘clark kent: mild-mannered glasses-wearing nerd’ persona early on the crucial device he uses to ‘fit in’ to society, so that he can anonymously/invisibly/unobtrusively hide in plain sight and observe and interact with humanity and thus serve them accordingly without the baggage and fuss that living as superman would likely entail? oh wait i forgot, it’s all about baggage and fuss now, psychological torture and darkness, ‘you have to decide what kind of man you’re going to be’ angst – lord fuck a duck HE’S NOT A MAN, that’s the whole point, that’s what makes him unique and bitchin’! (and the kents knew this, that trying to suppress clark’s basic nature was futile and that his power was a gift to humanity, to serve with compassion and intelligence his destiny); give the whole ‘what makes a man’ snoozefest a rest already and use your imagination…but nevermind, that would require an imagination rather than just changing the basic nature and essence of the superman character to be ‘dark’ to suit these cynical, sucky times rather than think of a fresh, innovative way to honor an icon of hope, god forbid)

  33. Pete B. says:

    Leahnz –
    You’re right. It is probably relative. The Hulk was a show that both my Dad and I would watch together. I’m sure it hasn’t aged well for today’s youth.

    We also watched Wonder Woman, and I’m sure that show hasn’t aged well either, but Lynda Carter certainly did.

  34. leahnz says:

    PeteB, i used to watch Wonder Woman too as a kid (another retro series playing on our new cable channel, fascinating to see how those old shows play now and hold up, or not) – i loved Carter’s WW, she was so righteous and such an earnest up-with-women feminist, she could even turn the female villains to her righteous cause by appealing to their better ‘it’s up to us women to lead the way to a better tomorrow’ nature, always positive and strong; i actually wonder if writers today in this supposedly ‘post-feminist’ era would even attempt to say some of the stuff WW espoused back then on a mainstream series. anyway she was (and sadly still is really) the only female protagonist superhero for us girls to relate/look up to, it burns my ass that the powers that be are contemplating making fucking ‘antman’ movies or whatever retarded thing it is yet WW continues to get the cold shoulder, totally bogus. (the other show i’ve been watching is ‘the streets of San Fransisco’, another blast from the past, man michael douglas was young. and Karl malden’s nose was epicly bulbous)

  35. brack says:

    Lex is a virgin? That’s not a surprise.

    Get your own pussy you lazy bum.

  36. Bulldog68 says:

    About the glassed thing at the end. Anyone else got the feeling that they hinted at Clark Kent is no longer incognito. Everyone recognizes who is and now this is just the world we live in.

    So much was changed from the comics, and due to modern technology, changing the phone booth is out, and maybe like the way everyone knows Tony Stark is Iron Man, in this movie universe, everyone will know Clark Kent is Superman.

    Now how that will impact on his journalistic career in this pseudo realistic world is left to be seen. Imagine Clark Kent requesting an interview with Osama Bin Laden. Can Osama really say no?

    I liked it more than most of you guys here and really looking forward to the sequel because if it’s anything like the Nolan Batman trilogy, then it should continue the same arc. I want to see how they continue these issues.

  37. christian says:

    I love how these conversations are dotted with revolting schtick – where’s the usual clown car deniers to chime in and feign ignorance?

    (cue circus music as DP enters with a broom)

  38. hcat says:

    ‘The whole business of Banner’s father being some kind of mad scientist who experimented on his son was an “innovation”’

    I think that was added to the comic later in the run, if not the experimintation certainly the abuse. I think it was supposed to help explain a hidden well of rage in Banner. Wasn’t thrilled with that myself, but that is at least of better use to the story than the parents mysteriously leave in the night of Amazing Spiderman, or whatever this codex, modified kyptonian master race addition is to Superman.

    I get that in a comic run that has been going for half a centuary or more you may want to go back and toss a few more layers in to make it more interesting and add to the mythology, but in a film you’ve got two hours and change, keep it clean and simple, bitten by a spider-fights crime, planet explodes-phantom zone villian still exists. Was the original Zod not motivated enough with simple conquest?

  39. hcat says:

    Lex should at least hide the word Waldo somewhere in the middle of his desperate repetitive posts, make it at least somewhat interesting.

  40. hcat says:

    I haven’t revisited the Hulk show in awhile, sure it only appealed to me because I was a kid, but sort of going back to the draper thread, don’t you think one of the reasons it was so popular was that it was a kid’s show on a friday night that families watched on the one color television in the house with the choice between maybe six channels (I’m including uhf there). Which would also explain the enormous back in the day popularity of Little House on the Prairie or Happy Days as well.

    When we talk about influences on content, the hardware always seems to have much more impact than other content.

  41. christian says:

    Ang Lee did great things with his HULK – an artist using the CG palette with skill and with comic book panache. The Freudian/Chekovian Dad stuff never worked for me. But I think Lee is ripe to do another superhero film.

  42. hcat says:

    I could see Lee doing a deep-space Silver Surfer, no mention of earth or the larger comic continium. Cosmic set designs, strange creatures, a whole universe to play with.

  43. christian says:

    His BMW short was awesome and i would love to see him do a Bond.

  44. Joe Leydon says:

    HCAT: There’s probably a book (or at least a PhD dissertation) waiting to be written about how certain series were must-see viewing for entire families back in the day. I would add Gunsmoke to that list (especially when it aired on Saturday nights — which, hard to believe now, used to be home to some of the highest-rated shows on TV), Bonanza and maybe Ed Sullivan as well. Also: Certain shows obviously aired at just the right time and day for its target audience. Trapper John, M.D. aired for something like 7 years at 10 pm ET on Sundays. Was it really that popular, or merely the “least objectionable option” (as I believe the phrase used to be among TV critics and programmers) in that timeslot? Clearly, it had a huge viewership. But, seriously, when was the last time you heard anyone talk about it, or express either love or hate for the show?

  45. leahnz says:

    ang lee should do Wonder Woman

  46. anghus says:

    My dad loved Trapper John MD

  47. Martin S says:

    ICYMI, I think this sums up the generally accepted problems.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon