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Why Man of Steel Must Succeed

Posted by LewaLew , Dec 12 2012 · 661 views

You may have noticed my change to a Superman motif in recent days. While one may believe it's because of my argument for Superman in Kraggh's Works (insert weird music note characters here), it's actually because of the new handcuff poster for The Man of Steel. For the first time since I heard about Nolan's association with the picture, I actually felt hopeful about the upcoming film, which I had previously believed would try to heavily alter Superman in a TDK style for which Nolan has become so well known.
But even so, I still have reservations. Outside of Batman, DC has not had a successful film adaptation of one of its characters since Superman II. Green Lantern was a bust, (and rightly so) and Superman Returns, though a critical success, failed in the box office. The Man of Steel will be the first reboot since Batman Begins, and also the last DC adaptation until the Justice League film in 2015. Thus, It will be a test for Superman, for DC, and for the more fantastic side of superhero movies.
Firstly, The Man of Steel will test whether Superman will have a chance at hitting it big with a modern audience. The other big superheroes--Spider-Man, Batman, and the X-Men--have all found success, yet only Superman has struggled to conquer Hollywood of these superpowers among superheroes. The handcuff poster illustrates that this will still be Superman, but the realism will come with the world around him. It will be an exploration in the concept of how we in the Real World would react if someone that powerful could be accepted by a people like us, who traditionally fear a powerful change, like the inventions of the locomotive and the airplane to which Superman is so often compared. If The Man of Steel succeeds, Superman will most likely rebound, and will be once more seen as Batman's equal rather than an anachronism born of 1939. He may even have a shot at a half decent video game. If The Man of Steel fails, however, Superman risks falling into obscurity, much like when Disney threw out their hand drawn animators for a brief time following their consistent failures and PIXAR's consistent successes in the 2000's. They got the problem wrong--it was not the animation, but the story that caused their films to fail--yet until John Lasseter knocked some sense into them, they tossed traditional animation. Superman and the style of superhero he represents may be thrown out of cinema in favor of the "darker, grittier hero".
Secondly, The Man of Steel will test whether DC can do anything right without Batman. Green Lantern was a failure, both critically and financially, squandering a huge budget. Superman Returns, though successful with critics, failed to catch on like Batman Begins. If you ask me, Green Lantern squandered more than a budget, but also the characters and story of Green Lantern. They warped Parallax into some weird monster ink blot, and all the characters from Hal Jordan to Killowog to Thaal Sinestro and Abin Sur into bland, soulless special effects. Particularly with those gimmicky CG uniforms. Superman Returns, I haven't seen, but from what I've been told, it was less a terrible failure, and more just a disappointment because it was only a good film rather than a great one. The Man of Steel gives DC another chance, but if it fails to satisfy the studio folks, they may decide to shelve their current plans of Justice League, or perhaps decide not to give any of the DC characters besides Batman a shot at the big screen, instead restricting them to television shows like Smallville, Arrow, and Amazon or whatever they're calling the Wonder Woman show.
Lastly, the superhero film genre will suffer if The Man of Steel fails. Thanks to The Avengers, it wouldn't hurt quite as much as it could if The Avengers hadn't been a success, but it still poses a threat to restrict the genre to darker films like The Dark Knight. It's already evidenced in the darkening of Spider-man in The Amazing Spider-man, If The Man of Steel succeeds, however, it will solidify the base that has been built up by Marvel's more lighthearted films that a heroic hero like Superman or Captain America can still work in Hollywood.
Of course, this is all based upon speculation of how the movie industry would react to a failure, but then again, big companies have done silly and disappointing things before in response to failure. I suppose we'll have to wait and see until 2013.

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Jean Valjean
Dec 12 2012 03:03 PM

:kaukau: Thank you for posting this.  I actually was going to post such a blog myself, except tomorrow.  I hate to look like I'm merely following you, but we do think alike here.


I'm no a huge fan of the people involved and I have my disagreements with some of the directions they're taking with the film and how Superman is to be treated, so I'm a little upset that audiences are being subject to something that's not the definitive version and being treated like it is, and I'm also frustrated that because of Nolan's name it is very likely that this film will forever be associated with the Dark Knight trilogy (which I don't want Superman to be indebted to), but I decided that an imperfect Superman success will be better than him falling behind entirely.


You bring up a very good comparison with the tragedy that was the abandonment of traditional animation at Disney.  It was completely wrong, and the people at Pixar actually mourned for it, because to them traditional animation was as a father.


So now I saw the new trailer, and I got extremely excited.  As in, extremely excited.  I kind of turned once I saw that scene where he first learned to fly, when he zoomed out and flew over the globe, capturing iconic Superman imagery.  Yes, I still hated some of the casting decisions and I still hate the names involved, and I really hope it doesn't cause people to forget just how perfect John Williams was just to be hip, modern fans of Hans Zimmer, but I am now officially excited for the film, and it does indicate that it will go in many of the directions that I hope it does, primarily with the big question of "How does Superman's existence affect society?"  It's a big question that's truly epic in scope, and something I always wanted answered.  The other Superman movies showed a society that had already come to accept him, but it should be interesting seeing that journey of becoming the ideal.


Meanwhile, I'm also happy to see that it seems Zack Snyder and Nolan have balanced each other out (but I repeat for the third time, I'm just unhappy that the executive producer is effectively "Mr. Batman").  It looks like it should be a grand science fiction story.


Speaking of story, this is a cool advertisement in that it does more than say "Hey look!  It's _____ superhero and we're making a movie about him!"  I mean, that's essentially the pitch with the Wolverine movie from what I've seen.  They're taking Wolverine, advertising that they have a plot, and they just put Wolverine on a poster.  Even the compelling plot twists displayed in the new Iron Man trailer are more about plot and not so much about story (although slight personal changes are indicated).  This looks to be a very character-centered piece, and not so much as "Superman: The Movie" so much as "Superman: The Story".  And let me tell you, that's good news.  it's a very strong pitch.  I think this advertisement makes it evident that Superman can still be used to tell legitimate stories, unlike what most people presume, and it continues the one good thing that I expected from Nolan: the use of a strong thesis statement in a story about larger-than-life archetypes.  In other words, the character has a purpose and the movie has a strong theme, or at least from what I'm seeing.  There will be a beginning and an end with definite character development and a resolution to conflict deeper than just plot points.


In other words, you can just bring up the posters all over again.  The Wolverine has a poster with the titular character, nothing creative.  The Iron Man movies have a picture of the titular character.  The Avengers has a picture of the titular characters assembled in an action sequence.  ThorThe Incredible HulkThe Amazing Spider-ManGreen Lantern, and so forth all consist of nothing more than the heroes striking poses.  This new poster takes the character and immediately adds direction by suggesting story, and emotional journey that must come to a conclusion.  That's a direction I want to see directors go with their intuitive understanding of characters.


Meanwhile, I look forward to some hardcore father action in this movie, and I look forward to a character who's more open and relateable than people ever suspected, unlike Bruce Wayne, who started as relateable but ultimately shut me out.  These will definitely be character movies.



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Bzpower Members' Teams

Here, the favorite teams of all the BZPower members I can find are listed. If you'd like me to add you, please comment in the Official Favorite MLB Teams Entry of the BaseBlog. I will try to add you as soon as possible.

National League

Central Division

Chicago Cubs: LewaLew, 55555, What?, Megan51, Makuta Jarvan

Cincinnati Reds: None

Pittsburgh Pirates: WERE DOING THIS

Milwaukee Brewers: Cherixon, Than the Moa

St. Louis Cardinals: Toa Onarax, Toaman25
West Division

San Francisco Giants: Nuju Metru, Iro, Great being Velika

Los Angeles Dodgers: None

Colorado Rockies: Shadix, Alpha123, xccj

Arizona Diamondbacks: Progenitus Worldsoul

San Diego Padres: thoron

East Division

Philadelphia Phillies: Akuna Toa of Sonics, Legolover-361, Sir Dr. Mr. Count Celu MD

New York Mets: Bambi

Atlanta Braves: None

Miami Marlins: None

Washington Nationals: None

American League

Central Division

Minnesota Twins: Zakitano, Takuma Nuva, Zerothemaster

Detroit Tigers: None

Cleveland Indians: Aho-Chan

Kansas City Royals: None

Chicago White Sox: terminallyCapricious

West Division

Texas Rangers: Rarity, tent163phantoka

Los Angeles Angels: thebeggarpie

Oakland Athletics: None

Seattle Mariners: Kakaru, Toa Kaithas, Swert
Houston Astros: Flaredrick: Forgotten One

East Division

New York Yankees: Captain Marvel, Kylus, Toa 11, Zarayna

Boston Red Sox: Chro, Iskandar

Toronto Blue Jays: Blade: Hero of Truth

Baltimore Orioles: Princess Grr (That's the Smeaginator, if he has another name change sometime again)

Tampa Bay Rays: Sumiki

2nd Favorites

Nuju Metru: New York Yankees

Iro: Oakland Athletics

WERE DOING THIS: New York Yankees

Zerothemaster: Colorado Rockies
Toa Onarax: Boston Red Sox
xccj: Seattle Mariners
Kakaru: Colorado Rockies
Flaredrick: Forgotten One: Texas Rangers
Great being Velika: Oakland Athletics

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I'm LewaLew, former BZPower RK, former Reporter, and former unofficial baseball blogger. Once, this blog served as the home of my primarily baseball-related musings. Now that I'm in college, I have little time for baseball and BZPower, so it sits here idle except for an occasional visit on my part. Please enjoy or cringe at what you read from my past, and if you'd like, go ahead and comment in the favorite baseball teams entry so that the next time a blue moon rolls around and I visit, I can add you to that content block.

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For those of you who don't know (which would mean everyone but Aho-Chan and Sumiki) the BaseBlog is beyond a blog, this is beyond baseball it's a blog that focuses on the great American sport of baseball. The idea of a baseball themed blog has actually been in the works by me ever since Super Bowl XLIV, when Aho-Chan posted a blog entry asking if anyone besides himself didn't care for the Super Bowl, to which I suddenly got the idea of a baseball-themed blog so I could talk about my favorite sport without waiting for someone else to post in the Official Baseball Topic in the Completely Off Topic forum.

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