I gotta say, I’m a little disappointed in David S. Goyer. He’s a good writer. You’d think he’d have more sense than this.
If you read all the reviews for Man of Steel, you’d see the main problems with it are 1) there’s almost no relationship between Lois Lane and Superman, 2) it’s a tad too long, and 3) there’s rarely a sustained sequence because of all the flashbacks. All of that is easily fixed.
In the movie, the first 20 minutes take place on Krypton. It shows us the intellectual/historical civil war they were having and just exactly why the planet blows up.
After that, we see Clark Kent as a fisherman. And then a flashback. And then he’s a bus boy. And then there’s a flashback. After a few of those episodes, Clark ends up working as a bel hop in the arctic somehow. This is where we meet Lois Lane. While in the arctic, Clark and Lois find an old Kryptonian ship where, for some reason, a hologram Jor-El and his Superman suit are waiting for him. There is then a ton of exposition where Clark asks his alien dad a bunch of questions that we, the audience, already know the answers to. After that, Lois gets curious and starts backtracking all of Clark’s jobs, which we’ve already seen. Once there’s a little connection between Lois and Clark (kind of like the TV show from the 90s), the bad guys show up and there’re a bunch things that blow up (but no one really dies). Insert flashback here.
At the end, there’s just Zod and Superman punching each other so hard they’re knocking over buildings (at this point I kept thinking “they’re both invulnerable, why are they still trying to bust the other guy’s orbital socket?”). Then when Zod threatens to kill earthlings, Superman breaks his neck somehow; then Superman feels really bad that he killed someone even though thousands of people must’ve died in his battle royale against other people who can’t be hurt who wear clothing that can’t tear.
After the whole thing is done and entire cities are destroyed, Clark goes back home and says “I wish dad was here to see me” and mom replies “he always knew.” Cue a flashback of Clark as an 8-year-old with a cape playing with the dog.
How could this be fixed?
Cut the entire Krypton opening. As the audience, we don’t need that; it doesn’t matter. It helps to give a more three-dimensional background of Jor-El, but since he’s in another 20 minutes of the movie as a hologram, we don’t really need that either (although now that I think about it, Superman’s dad is Krypton’s top scientist and General Zod is their top soldier; so how does Jor-El kick everyone’s ass?).
We start on earth with Clark as an 8-year-old with a cape playing with the dog. We’d need a scene or two showing how Clark’s dad teaches him that all life is precious (this would show why he feels bad about killing anyone, even Zod). Then cut to modern times with Lois Lane researching in the arctic, Clark saves her, and she backtracks him. It’s here that we see a bunch of flashbacks. As she’s researching. We can get a few minutes getting to know Lois. We don’t need to see everything twice. Now that we have a little bit about Lois and a little bit about Clark, the story can go on without interruption.
Although, if I had my druthers, I’d change the very end a little bit: Zod realizes that Superman protects life above everything else so he starts attempting to kill people all over the place. His new goal is the utter destruction of Earth. He throws people miles in the air, tears down buildings, drowns islands, tears people in half… That’s when Superman realizes that he has to kill Zod. And, as a call back, we know that this decision is tough for him.
There. I fixed all three problems, saved a few dozen million dollars, and all it cost is few more minutes of Kevin Costner.
All in all, it’s an ok movie. I liked Superman Returns a lot more.
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