Man of Steel, Iron Man, and other superheroes

man of steelWent and saw Man of Steel today. I liked it. But let me back up a little bit.

Of all the superheroes, I’ve always liked Superman the best. I never had a good reason. I never saw the old movies, and I never read the comics. I just thought he was cool. A survivor of Krypton, come to Earth. With the most basic of superpowers: flight, strength, and heat vision, because heat vision. Cool, right?

In the last year I’ve seen (in this order) the Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Iron Man. Before this year, whenever they came out, I saw the first two Maguire Spider-Man films. Those five and Man of Steel entirely comprise my first-hand experiences of superhero movies, and indeed superheros in general. I never got into comics. I don’t own any of the games, and I never watched the TV shows. So that’s all.

Tobey Maguire’s kind of a doofus. This is almost incontrovertible. But those movies were entertaining to watch, even if the villains were entirely more fun to observe. I was much younger when I saw Spider-Man 2 but Doctor Octopus gave me nightmares. Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina still blow me away. But the third movie wasn’t reviewed well at all, and I didn’t have enough interest in the reboot so soon after.

The Avengers was a good…superhero movie. It has a bunch of superheroes. They fight the evil aliens. There’s explosions. The funny parts are funny, the serious parts are serious, the dramatic parts are (pretty) dramatic, and everyone performs well. Is it a breakthrough in cinema? No, it’s just a really good action super-movie. It was enjoyable. Cool beans.

Iron Man 3 (which I saw before the first two, I know, yadda yadda) was not that fun to watch. It was too cornball, too silly, too forgettable. There’s the creepy alien dudes with the super-hot blood. And the (mild spoiler) fight at the end with all the Iron Mans. Whoop.

I’d heard from my friends that the first Iron Man was better. So I watched it. And didn’t like it any better. I saw most of the physical humor coming a mile away, and I didn’t care for the plotline, really. Tony Stark is such a dick that I have trouble believing in him as a superhero. That and his only superpower is having a lot of money, and being smart. But he wants to stop the terrorists!!! So he’s a good guy!!! I just didn’t like it very much. I don’t feel a need to complete the trilogy, and if there are any more movies in the same vein I might stay away altogether.

(just as a side note, a specific part in Iron Man that kills it for me, and this does have a spoiler of the ending: when Tony Stark is building the Iron Man suit he straps on his leg thrusters and says something like “We’re going to try the rockets at 1% capacity,” which comes right before he is comically thrown backward into a wall by a huge burst. So he messed up somewhere. Sure. At the end of the movie, when he flies the Iron-er Man into space to freeze him, his own suit, being powered by a shittier reactor, is at something like 2% power. But Iron Man survives because his suit has “emergency backup power,” because of couuuuurse it does. This scene doesn’t even matter in the end, because neither being low on power nor being frozen actually impacts the final fight. It’s silly.)

Back to Man of Steel, while it’s fresh in my mind. The movie is not the smartest, most fantastic piece of work ever. I know this. Even my threadbare knowledge of the comic book world confirmed that certain pieces of the plot were straight wrong versus the original storyline. Perhaps the most egregious is (spoiler-free) the role that Lois Lane plays in the movie, and particularly her knowledge of things that she ought not to know of.

But. Despite all that, it was enjoyable. The fight scenes were fun to watch. Sure, Superman is completely wrecking Metropolis and Smallville to do it. But damnit if it isn’t really satisfying to see trains being thrown around and people being dragged through buildings, justifiable because they’re super. The interactions between the bad guys and the military and Superman are interesting, even if occasionally long-winded or overdone.

There are a few types of superheroes. The rich/smart ones, like Batman, and Iron Man. The superheroes that could exist, if only the technology on our world was more advanced. The alien ones, like Green Lantern and Superman. The superheroes that could exist, if only we could find life on other planets. And the other ones with magical or other powers (where the first example that pops into my head is Dr. Strange), who really couldn’t exist based on current logical thinking but can serve in their own right.

I haven’t seen the Dark Knight trilogy, and it’s supposed to be really good. But I worry that I’m just not cut out for the superhero that isn’t, for the superhero in name only, for the man who does well because he simply has money, or brains, and is not elevated above our wildest dreams, like the Superman.

Sure, Superman’s fights all basically come down to punching the bad guy until he dies. But I enjoyed Man of Steel, and I enjoy Superman, more than every other comic book hero.

So sue me.