Like most of the world, I went to see the new Superman (aka “El, Kal El”) film this week. The reboot of the man in red boots took in an estimated $150 million at the domestic box office in its opening weekend, which, at an average of $10 per ticket (to use easy math) means that 15 million North Americans enjoyed the cinematic MMA match between Kal and Zod, nearly 5% of the population.
While the reviews have been mixed, instead of piling my own critical analysis on the heap of commentary, I thought I’d share the lessons that I learned from Man of Steel.
Now, if you’re not part of the 5%, stop reading. There will be major SPOILERS below, so be warned….
1.Jor El is The Tailor of Krypton. I’m a size 38 regular, with a 15.5 inch neck (which is a pretty standard size) and even I have trouble sizing a new suit or a dress shirt, but somehow Jor El, Kal’s multi-talented daddy, was able to perfectly predict his 30-old year old son’s measurements from birth. That new super-suit fits Kal like a body glove! Of course, he forgot to pack the Underoos, but honestly, who among us hasn’t forgotten to pack underwear when heading off on a 3 year journey across the stars? Next time I need a suit to be tailored, I’m going Krypton all the way.
2.Newspaper journalism has never been easier to get into. The encouraging news for media studies grads is that The Daily Planet is hiring. Apparently, the qualifications to join the journalistic ranks of a major metropolitan newspaper are limited to fishing, waiting tables at a seedy, northern Canadian bar, and lurking around cemeteries. As far as I could tell, Clark Kent’s CV reads like the series overview of The Littlest Hobo.
3.General Zod can’t take the pain. General Zod and his not-so-merry band of revolutionaries set out to destroy humanity by terraforming Earth to be more like Krypton simply because they’re afraid of going through the awkward and slightly painful phase that young Kal experienced as a child. In flashbacks, we see that Kal struggled with super hearing and X-Ray vision, making his childhood uncomfortable and awkward. Hello: puberty! But I suppose they don’t have puberty on Krypton (given that they are al spawned from underwater baby trees) otherwise Zod would man up and take a little “soaking up the radiation” of our young sun in order to enjoy the awesome super powers that would make him irresistible to legions of lovely Earth ladies.
4.Metropolis has a real Blitz spirit. At the end of The Avengers, we saw New Yorkers mourning the deaths of their fellow citizens with flowers and signs. At the end of Man of Steel, after a much greater devastation and loss of life, Metropolis seemed to bounce back with a can-do spirit. Working life at the Daily Planet appears chipper and cheery when Clark Kent arrives to take his new job, with no mention of either the massive loss of life in their fair city nor the immense rebuilding that would be the largest public works program since the Marshall Plan.
5.The film is essentially the tragic love story of Zod and Faora. One of the things I did enjoy and respect about the movie was that there was no hint of romance between Zod and Faora. It reminded me a bit of A Few Good Men, where Demi Moore’s lawyer was equal among attorneys with Tom Cruise and the story never descended into romantic territory. That said, through another lens, Zod and Faora could have solved the extinction of their species simply by getting together. Jor El proved at the beginning that Kryptonians could reproduce naturally (something Zod found to be very icky; but of course he never tried it) and so instead of plucking babies from the underwater baby tree and infusing them with life from the partial skull from Hamlet, Zod could have simply used their trip to Earth to ask the lovely Faora on a date and see if one thing led to another. Earth is actually a great place for dating. We’ve got mini-putt, the drive-in, and lots of great restaurants. In fact, suped-up Zod could have literally swept Faora off her feet with a cocktail in Metropolis (instead of wrecking it), dinner in Paris, and dancing in Brazil all in one evening. They already have so much in common, I really think they could have been a perfect match as a dual-career, military couple. What’s the lesson in all of this? Well, maybe the person you’re supposed to be with (either for loving company or for saving your species, or both) is right in front of you. Just open your eyes, and your heart, to the possibilities.