Zack Snyder’s long-awaited Superman epic “Man of Steel” was released this past summer to big box office numbers and middling reviews. Many of the negative reviews were very focused on what were perceived to be wild departures from the character that audiences and readers have come to know and love for decades. Judging by reviews and fan chatter online, “Man of Steel” was every bit as polarizing as Bryan Singer’s 2006 superhero drama “Superman Returns.” People seem to either love these movies or hate them — there is very little middle ground with fans on the Web.
However, it is important to realize that controversy is okay. Even if you didn’t love the movie, you don’t have to let its mere existence get you down for a few important reasons.
A Bold New Direction
As a character, Superman has a rich and storied history that dates back to 1938. In the 75 years since the character’s inception, he has been many things: a champion for the poor, a global protector, a being of pure electricity and even a Soviet crusader. Different writers have always tried to use the same basic architecture to tell bold and unique stories with the character in the comic books, and the films featuring that character should be no exception.
It is also worth pointing out that one person’s “idea” of Superman can be incredibly different from other thanks in large part due to that 75-year history. A person in their 60s will have a very different idea of the qualities that define Superman than someone in their 20s. Which of these interpretations is correct? Is there a correct interpretation? These are questions that few people have been asking in the wake of the most recent film’s destruction-heavy third act.
“Man of Steel” may have been a hardline, science fiction-centric departure from the fantasy and adventure stories that the character usually appears in, but so was “Superman Returns” to a certain extent. One of the great things about Superman as a character is that he fits so wonderfully into a wide variety of different “realities.” Even if you didn’t like the specifics of Zack Snyder and David Goyer’s latest cinematic take, you have to applaud them for moving in a direction that can at the very least be considered “unique” when compared to what came before it. There aren’t many characters that can be pulled in so many wildly different directions throughout their history.
Even if you hated “Man of Steel” with everything in your being, you at least have to admit that something wildly different to what came before it is something to be embraced, controversy and all.
Sony Pictures successfully rebooted their Spider-Man franchise in 2012, with the release of “The Amazing Spider-Man,” a film that would go on to make $752,216,557 worldwide. The project was initially seen by some as a curious move, considering it was rebooting a franchise that had only first appeared 10 years prior that was very successful in its own right. The move clearly paid off, however, and a second, third and fourth film in the new “The Amazing Spider-Man” franchise are already planned for 2014, 2016, and 2018, respectively.
The point is this: if you didn’t like “Man of Steel” and see it as an affront to everything you knew and loved about your favorite character, you likely don’t have to wait very long for another interpretation comes around. There were 19 full years between the release of the last Christopher Reeve Superman film, “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace,” and Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns.” The popularity of superhero films, in general, does not appear to be waning thanks to mega-hits like “The Avengers” and its upcoming sequel, there will likely never be a cinematic disappearance of Superman that is that long again.
“Man of Steel” hits home video and digital on demand services in early November. You can use sites like http://www.dsl.com to find a DSL Internet service provider in your area to download and stream the film through official channels at that time.