Man Of Steel Abs And Other Reasons I Didn’t Love The New Superman Movie (Minor spoilers)

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No, that is not Wolverine you are looking at. That, ladies and gentlemen, is your new Superman. Now, I admire a great set of abs like any other red-blooded woman, but I found myself a bit traumatized by the fact that the new Superman movie, “Man of Steel” had my favorite superhero shirtless for the entire lengthy opening sequence of the film.

I guess you could say that I’m old school when it comes to my superhero movies. While I thought Christopher Reeves was beautiful, I didn’t ever look at him as a sex object. Of course I was 6 when the first Superman movie came out (Yes I know, technically it wasn’t the first, just the first of our modern era) but to me, objectifying Superman diminishes him as a hero, and makes him just a glorified Chippendales dancer who flies.

I was excited for this movie to come out, as I have mentioned previously ( http://kbjackson.com/voulez-vous-vous-gaver-de-chocolat-avec-moi-vegas-part-3/) I have always been a huge fan of Superman. I grew up watching “Superfriends” and the “Wonder Woman” series. As a 5 year old, I received a wonder woman bathing suit

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which I accessorized with my sister’s gold belt as a lasso and a yellow plastic headband that I put a red star sticker on and wore across my forehead. I had a sheer pink polyester robe that I wore over the suit. As I watched the episodes, when Wonder Woman would spin to change out of her street clothes into her suit, I would start spinning in circles, ripping off my robe as I went. I loved the idea that someone who looked like a regular person could then turn into someone “super.”

I didn’t see the first Superman movie in the theater, but my parents brought home the soundtrack album. I spent hours listening to the music, looking at the cardboard cover, dancing around. Nothing against Hans Zimmer, but John Williams is the greatest composer of my lifetime. His music was a huge part of what made those movies so great.

When Superman II came out, I was 9 years old. And I was obsessed. At the time I was really into barbies, and Superman came in and changed the way I played. Suddenly Hawaiian Barbie became Ursa, Beach Ken was General Zod.

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I would sit outside under the lilac tree at my parents’ house with all my barbies, Superman, and Barbie’s giant Winnebago.

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Sometimes the camper would hang off the edge of the rock wall, and Superman would have to fly in and save the day. Sometimes he just wooed Barbie, while Ken sat in the grass and brooded.

I asked my mom if she still had my superman doll. She sent me this:

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with the caption: “Sadly all that’s left of Superman.” I went through a destructive  creative phase. Most of my dolls ended up with Mohawks and altered clothing.

So, yeah, I loved Superman.

And I’m pretty protective of Superman.

I know a lot of people didn’t like Superman Returns, but I thought it was consistent with the rest of the series. I liked Brandon Routh, and I found Kate Bosworth much less annoying than Margot Kidder as Lois Lane.

So now comes “Man of Steel.”

“Man of Steel” is an origin movie. It spent a lot of time retelling what happened on Krypton, establishing Jor-el and General Zod. Clark’s childhood was all told as flashbacks, and showed him struggling to contain his superpowers. Unlike the first series, he was actually seen by his classmates doing something impossible. This changed the dynamic a bit later on, because as Lois tried to discover Superman’s identity, she was able to do so by following stories of people who had witnessed these feats over the years.

One of the biggest problems I had with this movie was the Lois Lane/ Clark Kent relationship. He comes into her life as an unknown man working on her crew. She sees some things that show him to be otherworldly from their very first encounter, but not in his suit. As a result, she uses her investigating skills to try to learn his identity, which she does. No bumbling Clark and Obtuse Lois at the Daily Planet.

This movie is also missing any sign of Lex Luthor, the “greatest criminal mastermind of our time.” Perhaps they plan a sequel to introduce him, but his comic relief was definitely needed here. General Zod is a great villain, but I was a bit distracted by the fact that he’s the creepy FBI agent from “Boardwalk Empire.”

When Superman first showed up in full costume, Zoe leaned over to me and whispered, “He looks like Danny from Grease.” And he did. I think he’s a good looking actor, but what were they thinking having Clark Kent be actually more attractive than Superman? I kept looking at his lower teeth and remembering the actor is British.

This version of Superman was less graceful. His takeoffs and landings reminded me more of the Incredible Hulk than Superman. The scenes were action-packed, to the point most of Metropolis was destroyed. The Superman I know and love would never allow that much destruction and loss of life.

Before we went to see “Man of Steel” we watched Superman and half of Superman II. My kids giggled at the cheesiness, and Nathan said, ” It’s too slow paced for kids today.” So what movie makers are aiming for is to create more action, more explosions and more chaos than their previous movies to keep a bunch of people who have developed ADD entertained? I don’t love all the nonstop action of today’s movies. It makes me anxious, and I can’t connect with the movie.

That brings me to my biggest complaint about this movie: it lacked heart. What I loved most about the old series of films, what moved me, was the overriding message of hope. I know this movie tries to claim the symbol on Superman’s chest means “hope” in Krypton, but there was nothing about the Superman they portrayed that made me feel hopeful- for humanity, for freedom, for the future. The spiritual metaphors so prevalent in the first series are completely lacking here.

As an action movie, it was entertaining enough. I felt it was wayyy too long, and could have (should have) ended at several different points. It was exhausting, not exhilarating.

We came home and watched the rest of Superman II. During this movie, Lois discovers that Clark is Superman when he trips over a bearskin rug in their Niagra Falls honeymoon suite and his hand falls into the fire. She sees that his hand is unblemished, and calls him out. He admits to her that he is Superman. But in the end, as they are standing at the Daily Planet, he kisses her. He kisses her so hard, he makes her forget he is Superman.

Now THAT is my kind of Superhero.

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